Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The age of distraction

A Top Five list of matters on our nation's plate at this moment might look like this, don't you think?

1.) The acceleration of North Korea's missile-test program.

2.) The increasing bellicosity and estrangement from Europe of Turkey under Erdogan and its ramifications for the Syrian civil war, demographic trends in Europe, and a unified Western response to Russian and Iranian aims.

3.) The civil war among Congressional Republicans manifested most acutely by the question of how to repeal and replace the "Affordable" Care Act, an issue with implications for one sixth of the US economy.

4.) The nearly complete rot of America's educational system.

5.) The marked slowdown in entrepreneurial activity.

Okay, it would make for an interesting parlor game to pursue the tweaking of this list. I've no doubt left off some readers' pet front-burner issues, and perhaps elicited a what's-that-one-doing-up-there response to a few on the list.

The overarching point, though, is that the country is facing an array of pressing problems.

I might have included something about the destiny of the Supreme Court on the list. The current Capitol Hill hearings for nominee Neil Gorsuch are pretty significant, after all.

But consider what a clown show much of yesterday's proceedings were:

During one exchange today, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) pressed Gorsuch to reveal the names of donors to Judicial Crisis Network, which ran an amply-funded ad campaign to fight Garland’s confirmation.
Though he did not name Judicial Crisis Network by name, Whitehouse asked why the group spent at least $7 million to keep President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland from getting a confirmation hearing and is now spending $10 million to get Gorsuch confirmed.
“Ask them,” Gorsuch said.
“I can’t, because I don’t know who they are,” Whitehouse replied.
We could debate all day about why it matters who is willing to put their money up for the causes or candidates they believe in.
Whitehouse attempted to frame it as a matter of courtesy, in order to know what interests are backing Gorsuch’s confirmation.
That is vile, on its face. It suggests that Gorsuch would be the puppet to special interest groups, and there is nothing in his background, or from his confirmation answers to suggest that to be the case.

“You could ask right now as a matter of courtesy, as a matter of respect for the process that anybody funding this should declare themselves right now so we can evaluate who is behind this effort,” Whitehouse said.

It is Whitehouse who is guilty of disrespecting the process.

Wisely, Gorsuch turned it back on Whitehouse.

“It would be a politics question and I’m not, with all respect senator, going to get involved in politics,” he said.

Gorsuch said if lawmakers want to pass legislation that would require that political advocacy groups to disclose their donors, they could do that.
“If you want to have more disclosure, pass a law,” he said.

It is no shock that Whitehouse would play the outraged party and say Gorsuch’s answer was unsatisfactory.

According to Whitehouse, Gorsuch failed to give his views on the problem of special interest influence in the political process.

One problem, Senator Whitehouse: That wasn’t your question.

You wanted specific names. You didn’t want to know Gorsuch’s opinion on special interests.
Nice try, though. 
Al Franken went Whitehouse one further and just plain beclowned himself.

Dick Durbin and Dianne Feinstein likewise conducted themselves in an utterly ridiculous manner.

But, of course, the big preoccupation, at least among the east-coast chattering class, is the whole business involving the following list of players:

The bottom line is that a whole lot of people are investigating a whole lot of nothing.

The president could go a long way toward steering the nation's attention to actually important issues and away from everybody's zeal to stumble across a Watergate-magnitude scandal - or two, or three - but, as we know, that's not the way he rolls. It's not in his nature to do a clean back-down from his outrageous tweet about Obama wiretapping Trump Tower.

And, speaking of parlor games, it's an interesting exercise to try to parse where FBI director Comey is coming from. In the past year, he's gone from soft-spoken-but-firm-and-principled law enforcement official to tragic figure who crumbles even in the face of 30,000 Clinton-related emails, to a guy who appears to be frantically trying to stay on top of incoming evidence, or at least ostensible evidence, that seems to necessitate reopening an investigation into said emails, to a guy obsessed with investigating presidential campaigns per se.

But, even if one would substitute some other issue for one or two on the list above, are they not all far more vital to our national well-being than a bunch of data-combers trying to prove what we already know - namely, that even a great system of governance such as that enjoyed by the Unites States is peopled with fallible human beings prone to both honest error and temptation?

So now that that is out of our system here at LITD, don't look for endless posts on the latest developments on this.

Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed, as he should be, Donald Trump will be a mess, as he always has been, leakers will leak, media hounds will pounce on each leak, Russia will continue to foment chaos in American politics and institutions, and Democrats will continue to behave like cornered animals.

Meanwhile, there is plenty of importance to pay attention to.


  1. Since Tillerson has rejected further talks with Norkor and did not rule out preemption and is being so secretive, are we safe to assume that there has been or will be development of an international coalition in support? Preemption hasn't gone all that great for us since WW II has it?

  2. And regarding repeal of Obamacare, the party of no, what a show! They've been bitching for 7 years, tried numerous attempts at repeal during the Obama administration and now can't get it together enough to send us the plan to end all plans. I know, I know, you're no longer a Republican and you don't want any kind of plan, putting your faith in the free market. It all looks like those damned Pubs you have now distanced yourself from were full of crap all along, like many of us suspected.

  3. The North Korean situation makes my hair stand on end. I honestly don't know how it gets ratcheted down.

    Mike Lee rules! Nothing short of total repeal!

  4. Are you sure that is what the constituents want? Show us what you got now. You ain't got nothing and I'm glad, because this shows many of us we're going to rock and roll soon on a universal plan. As soon as we get rid of all your ilk and all the other Republicans who are fast being found out to be nothing but no and full of hot air. And if this country truly is exceptional, it will execute the most exceptional universal plan the world has ever known. And there is plenty of competition out there. We're the only major player without a plan.

  5. You will be fought with unprecedented ferocity in this effort to impose the tyranny of universal health care.

  6. And how long do you think it will take to "get rid of [my] ilk"? How many House and Senate seats do Dems think they can flip in 2018? Who is on their bench of presidential contenders for 2020?

  7. Trump's disapproval rating 2 months in is unprecedentedly high. Your majority ain't one when it comes to health insurance reform. We know all about the fight, and do not fear your ferocity.

  8. Just say no to the party of no!

  9. Social insurance is not tyranny. It has been tested in the courts many times.

  10. Who gives a shit how many times it's been tested in court? It's government forcibly taking some people's money and giving it to other people

  11. Ever heard this country referred to as a government of laws? That has historically been considered an exceptional brand of government. And you say who gives a shit?

  12. And you talk about unprecedented ferocity above like you won't be met with more of the same. Clinton won the popular vote by 3 Million votes. And a lot of Sanders supporters hated both her and your former party's pick. That's where I get my hope. Yep, you may have civil war on your hands. Too bad the military power lies with a mad man at present.