While much of Washington is currently atwitter (and a-Twitter, of course) over the growing possibility that in the near future, one or more top White House advisors may be shown the door (centering, so far, around Mike Flynn, Sean Spicer, and Reince Priebus), I personally think Trump should consider cutting his losses in a different way. Palace intrigue is always fun to speculate about, of course, but aside from personalities, President Donald Trump should really consider just cutting his losses on the whole idea of a "temporary ban" on immigration. He should, in short, declare victory and move on.
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No, that's not a Donald Trump hair joke. It is nothing more than the end of a simile on lying. Rugs are the epitome of lying, since nothing lies more obviously than a rug. Of course, I could have gone with a different motif, but Al Franken had already used the title: "Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them," so I had to go with what was available, as it were.
I had fully intended to write another column postulating that our president and a few of his advisors are nothing short of blithering idiots (you know, the usual thing), but then I got hooked into the modern world of technology and instead sat through the entire hour-long oral arguments hearing in Washington v. Trump, which turned out to be fascinating. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals helpfully live-streamed the audio of a conference call where the lawyers from the Trump administration and the state of Washington made their case to a three-judge panel, on the merits of the temporary restraining order that a district judge in Washington issued that shut down President Trump's executive order banning people from seven countries from entering the United States. So any citizen could, in effect, sit in the courtroom and hear the cases made. I have to admit a certain level of wonky awe that this is the world we live in -- where such things are not just possible, but are now routine.
If it weren't such a serious subject, the irony would be downright hilarious. Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tried his hand at being politically correct. Why he did so is a mystery known only to the inner workings of the Trump administration, but the eventual outcome was nothing short of utter failure -- undermined, in the end, by his own boss.
We're going to start today with a story that sounds like an urban myth, but actually happened. The state government of Indiana, 120 years ago, was almost taken in by a crank mathematician. He got them to introduce a bill he had written that would have changed state law to state that the value of pi was what he said it was. The language of the bill is inexact at best -- it might better be described as "completely incoherent" -- and actually suggests multiple ways of calculating pi, none of which are correct. The easiest to understand was to calculate it as a ratio of 5/4 to 4, which would give 3.2. The other methods are pretty indecipherable, to be polite.
Welcome back to our annual year-end awards column!
Donald Trump is never going to stop being Donald Trump. I think that much should be obvious to all by now. What this means for his term in office is really anyone's guess at the moment, but what concerns me the most is how he may just continue to redefine reality to suit his own ego's needs. This is currently on display in the calls for investigating Russia's hacking during the election. Team Trump seems content to define their own reality, which might be stated: "It's just another sore-loser complaint from Democrats and the mainstream media -- they can't accept the fact that Trump won, so they're making stuff up about Russia interfering in the election to feel better, that's all." Trump rejects the consensus of what is now the entire intelligence-gathering apparatus of the federal government, because he doesn't like what they're reporting to him.
For the past eight years, America has had an African-American president. Faced with the prospect of a white woman succeeding him, America instead just elected an angry white man as president. Call it the triumph of angry white men everywhere. Millions of Americans are about to find out what it's like to be led by the equivalent of the drunk uncle at the Thanksgiving table who refuses to follow the rules of politeness and political correctness. Was it a backlash against our first black president? Or rampant misogyny towards Hillary Clinton? Or just free-floating rage against a changing culture that is becoming more tolerant and multicultural by the year? It's impossible to accurately say, really. The only thing that can be said for certain is that angry white men are now dominant.
Tonight was (finally!) the last presidential debate of the 2016 election season. I thought it was a better debate (if less entertaining) than the first two, personally. A lot of actual policy positions were discussed, the candidates interacted with each other without so much of the "everyone's screaming at once" interludes, and the moderator kept the subjects moving along at a good clip. So my overall impression of the final debate was that it was a lot more like a normal presidential debate than the previous two.
In deciding how to describe the ongoing fratricide within the Republican Party, several metaphors and phrases sprang to mind. Rock, hard place. Rats, sinking ship. Petard-hoisting. There are several which are apt and appropriate, but I finally settled on the wise words of Pogo Possum. Because the Republican Party truly has fulfilled Pogo's reflective prediction: "We have met the enemy and he is us."