- Glenn Sonnenberg
Musings from the Bunker 12/24/20
Good morning, “Donald Trump is right!” Yes, you heard me. Just because he is the most narcissistic and mendacious man to occupy the White House in our lifetimes does not mean he always is wrong. But even when right, he’s a day late, more than a dollar short (in this case, literally), inconsistent with his prior actions, is part of the problem, and creates chaos… THE COVID RELIEF BILL Mr. Trump has announced his opposition to the carefully crafted and heavily negotiated $900 billion dollar COVID relief bill and its $1.4 trillion dollar omnibus spending bill. He wants more money to go into the hands of the unemployed and underemployed and he points out that the bill contains huge amounts of corporate largesse that is targeted at many Congressional “sacred cows.” He also wants to limit the foreign aid that’s part of the omnibus bill. Of course he himself said weeks ago that he would veto any bill over $1 trillion (and, so, the $900 billion price tag) and the foreign aid is consistent with earlier bills he has signed. Plus, he’s too late. Right now, this bill must be passed so that we can avoid a government shutdown and economic calamity. But the underlying premise of why Mr. Trump has made this assertion bears thought (again, he has seized upon an important issue but has addressed it in the wrong way). THE LACK OF TRUST IN OUR LAWMAKERS IS WELL DESERVED Americans don’t trust their politicians. Some of that has to do with well-publicized scandals, some due to the relative inaction in confronting problems and some because everyone distrusts anyone else from the “other side.” But Mr. Trump points out a serious flaw in the system. Bills that are necessary (particularly where time is of the essence) end up bogged down like a ship with barnacles below the water line. Here are some of the items in the COVID relief bill:
It isn’t enough that businesses received PPP loans (that are being forgiven in most cases) in the last relief bill, but they have successfully lobbied to deduct the expenses paid with those proceeds (in effect “doubling down” and creating even greater benefits—how can one deduct an expense paid by someone else?)
Funding for a women’s history museum and a National Museum of the American Latino (not unworthy institutions, but hardly a necessary part of the relief package)
$10 billon for “gender programs” in Pakistan
Funds to study the Springfield Race Riot of 1908
A commission charged with educating “consumers about the dangers with using or storing portable fuel containers for flammable liquids near an open flame.”
$40 million to the Kennedy Center
Support for the horse racing industry (particularly in—you guessed it—Kentucky)
I’m not suggesting that these aren’t worthy places to direct our nation’s capital. I’m just saying that they should be openly discussed and stand on their own, rather than buried in a 5,593 page relief bill that few, if any, people have read from front to back.
Transparency is critical to democracy. The lack of transparency allows for the “swamp” to spread pork out without serious public discussion or analysis.
A BLOT ON OUR HUMANITY
The abuse of the President’s pardon power knows no bounds of reasonableness or decency. And there’s more to come. But Tuesday it was truly awful:
The President continues to focus on pardoning his operatives and sycophants, using his pardon power for reasons not envisioned by the founders. What originally was to be employed in acts of mercy is now being used as a payoff for good behavior, loyalty and keeping quiet. Aides who were convicted of lying to prosecutors are now free. It’s like a crime syndicate rewarding “loyal soldiers.” Fully over 80% of all pardons granted to date are to Mr. Trump’s political and financial allies and friends.
Even more sinister is the pardoning of four war criminals employed by the Blackwater security firm. Murderers with fabricated witness testimony. These are four people found guilty of murdering 17 defenseless civilians in Iraq. It is difficult to find justification for the pardoning of non-contrite murderers, whose deplorable actions have besmirched our reputation and are a blot on our humanity.
The President remains active in trying to unwind the Mueller investigation. And the President remains silent regarding the Russian hack of our government. NOW THE VACCINE SEEMS LIKE A GOOD IDEA… There have been many memes and jokes about all the people who argued COVID was a hoax perpetrated by the Democrats, or “just another flu” who were among the first to receive vaccinations. Why the change of heart? One of my favorites: ‘People who should’ve been vaccinated before Marco Rubio: --My mom --Everyone’s grandma --Everyone’s grandpa --Every nurse --Every doctor --Every person who didn’t spend the last ten months telling people this modern plague is “no big deal” --Dolly Parton” Hear. hear. Have a good day, Glenn