The First 100
29 Apr 2017
Arthur S. Reber

Good day folks. I’ve been away… Sorry about that. Other things commandeering my time and it’s good news. Oxford University Press has agreed to publish my new book. The working title is “Caterpillars, Consciousness, and the Origins of Mind.” It’s based on a pretty radical notion: that consciousness begins with the first emergence of life, that it isn’t and shouldn’t be treated as something that only appeared in our species. If anyone’s curious, a preliminary overview of the model appeared here, in the new journal Animal Sentience.

But back to politics: Today is a “special” day, the 100th of the Trump presidency — the specialness is, of course, based on a arbitrary standard. We could make the 101th the cut-off (like with Dalmatians), or 76 (from 1776) or any other that might be cooked up.  The 100-day thing began, apparently, back in FDR’s day when things were rather bleak and everyone was looking, hoping and needing quick fixes to the vast array of critical issues that the Great Depression had brought on. And it stuck cause “100” is a nice, round number.

So, we hit the magic number today which is usually the honeymoon period where the newly elected POTUS gets to do, or at least present the framework for doing, the many things promised. In an article in The New Yorker, David Remnick presented his overview of this period. One of the things he noted was that normally the rest of us folks go about living our lives. We enjoy this period by not worrying about politics because the new administration is doing what it’s supposed to do. Alas, nothing is normal with Trump. As Remnick put it, this time we’re here:

“His Presidency has become the demoralizing daily obsession of anyone concerned with global security, the vitality of the natural world, the national health, constitutionalism, civil rights, criminal justice, a free press, science, public education, and the distinction between fact and its opposite.”

Why? Here’s why: The economy grew at a mere 0.7%, not the 4% growth Trump claimed he would bring (it’d been averaging some 2.2% under Obama). He’s refused to release his tax returns, divest from his business interests, is in violation of the Emoluments clause, has ignored standard protocol with regards to nepotism, handing over administrative and regulatory responsibilities to his daughter and son-in-law. He vacations constantly on the taxpayers’ dime (each weekend trip costs the taxpayers over $3 million) and plays more golf than any president in history.

As for all those campaign promises: Well, there’s not going be any funding for that ridculous border wall and Mexico won’t pay for it. All efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare have foundered. Two shots at his promised Muslim ban got slapped down by the courts which, just in passing, recently ruled that he cannot defund sanctuary cities. NAFTA will stay. The US will not pull out of NATO, which suddenly became a really important alliance. The Iran treaty will not be torn up. China is no longer a currency manipulator but an important ally and trading partner. The proposed budget framework is a, to use his favorite word, “disaster.” Just the first quick look makes clear that it favors the rich and big corporations, fucks over everyone else and will blow a Bush-sized hole in the economy — the initial analyses project the debt to rise by roughly $7 trillion if a full budget along these lines passes. It won’t.

Then there’s been a whole bunch of really bizarre blunders, ill-conceived phone calls to world leaders, paranoid-infused tweets, a brewing Russia-linked scandal, and the current insane bout of saber-rattling over North Korea. Much of these crazy and dangerous adventures of his are designed to deflect attention from the three investigations into the Russian tampering with the election and Trump’s role in it. That gambit has actually worked but it has also had another, far more serious impact. World leaders are freaking out. They don’t know what the US is up to, what our aims are, what the priorities are, who’s a friend this week, who’s on the Trump shit-list…. Even if they can settle on some apparently stable position, Trump has another tweet-storm and shifts gears. The “Trump Doctrine” seems to be “promote chaos.”

Amusingly, I’ve seen some of his truly desperate supporters claim that this is deliberate and he’s playing a crafty game of international politics where he’s always on top of the situation and manipulating all others. Yeah. Right. I’m a scientist. We all learned early on to cling to Occam’s Razor — do not invoke complicated explanations for situations that can be accounted for by simple ones. The simple one is simple: Trump is totally unqualified to be president.

At the heart of it is the obvious: Trump has no grasp of … well, virtually everything. He discovered that health care complicated (and seems to think no one ever realized this!); never even looked at the details of NAFTA or NATO before claiming he’d pull out of both; didn’t have a clue about the long and complex history of relations between China and the Korean peninsula; failed to recognize that China stopped manipulating its currency in 2014, that Erdogan is moving Turkey toward a dictatorship, that imposing border tariffs will drive up costs of goods, that … and that and … that..

He seems to think Frederick Douglas is still alive and doing great things for “the Blacks.” Then there’s the lies, the duplicity, the deception and those off-the-freaking-wall interviews that keep coming, each one hot on the heels of the previous. They are all done with friendly news outlets and reporters which has had an unintended outcome. Because they just let him ramble on he manages to drown himself in his own, truly blistering ignorance. The transcript of the one with the AP is here. Read it and cringe.

And the weirdest part of all, almost beyond grasping, is that he still has support among some 40% of the electorate and over 90% of those who voted for him. I guess they’re pleased about that new deregulation that allows the mentally ill to purchase guns and the thousands of families of long-term, law-abiding, tax-paying residents broken up.

I, frankly, can’t wait to see the train-wreck the next 100 days will bring, especially since now he’s finally discovered what we all knew from the beginning: he’s profoundly ill-equipped for this job and hasn’t a fucking clue what being president is all about. He never reads anything and that included the job description for the position. The only good thing that’s come out of these 100 days is the endless fodder for comedians.

Donald J. never wanted to be president. He wanted to be called president. No training, background or experience needed for that. It’s like having “TRUMP” on buildings someone else put up.

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