Saturday, June 03, 2017

Hey, If Nepotism Is Good Enough For The Oval Office — Why Not This Blog?

An H/T goes to one of the eight "Followers" of this blog (Actually subscribers who receive each new post in their e-mail In Boxes.) for today's post by Esquire's Charles P. Pierce. (BTW, the "Followers" of this blog are mentioned in this linked page.) This helpful "Follower" even included a lagniappe: bio info about the essay's author that the blogger usually derives from a variety of sources on the Web. If this is (fair & balanced) familial preferential treatment, so be it.

[x Esquire]
The Whole Republican Party Is Shoring Up Trump's Delusions
By Charley P. (Charles P. Pierce)

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It should come as no surprise to anyone, but the administration is waging a more vigorous war against reality and oversight than Karl Rove ever thought of waging. For example, from "Tiger Beat On The Potomac," we learn of the latest attempt to keep the president*'s delicate mellow unharshed.

At meetings with top officials for various government departments this spring, Uttam Dhillon, a White House lawyer, told agencies not to cooperate with such requests from Democrats, according to Republican sources inside and outside the administration. It appears to be a formalization of a practice that had already taken hold, as Democrats have complained that their oversight letters requesting information from agencies have gone unanswered since January, and the Trump administration has not yet explained the rationale. The declaration amounts to a new level of partisanship in Washington, where the president and his administration already feels besieged by media reports and attacks from Democrats. The idea, Republicans said, is to choke off the Democratic congressional minorities from gaining new information that could be used to attack the president.

And, as is typical of this crowd, the restrictions are not only egregiously self-serving, but also extremely petty:

One month ago, Representative Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats sent a letter to the Office of Personnel Management asking for cybersecurity information after it was revealed that millions of people had their identities compromised. The letter asked questions about how cybersecurity officials were hired, and in Rice's view, it "was not a political letter at all." "The answer we got back is, 'We only speak to the chair people of committees.' We said, 'That's absurd, what are you talking about?'" Rice said in an interview. "I was dumbfounded at their response. I had never gotten anything like that … The administration has installed loyalists at every agency to keep tabs on what information people can get."

And then there's Mick Mulvaney, the Tea Party goon from South Carolina who's in charge of the Office of Management and Budget despite the fact that he knows nothing about management and less about the budget. Having put together a budget with a $2 trillion math error in it, Mulvaney has moved on to attacking the Congressional Budget Office, which took a look at the new healthcare law and subsequently moved en masse to Norway. (Not really.) In response, Mulvaney has decided that maybe it's time for the CBO to go—or that's what he told The Washington Examiner, anyway.

Mulvaney, speaking in his office in the Old Executive Office Building, described the CBO's scoring of the House Republican healthcare bill as "absurd," arguing that it was a perfect example of why Congress should stop being so deferential to the group. "At some point, you've got to ask yourself, has the day of the CBO come and gone?" Mulvaney said. "How much power do we give to the CBO under the 1974 Budget Act? We're hearing now that the person in charge of the Affordable Health Care Act methodology is an alum of the Hillarycare program in the 1990s who was brought in by Democrats to score the ACA." He continued, "We always talk about it as the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Given the authority that that has, is it really feasible to think of that as a nonpartisan organization?"

But what about the budget as a whole, with all that pesky math? Mulvaney's answer is astonishing.

"When crafting the budget, we assumed for purposes of the budget that whatever we did would be paid for with the offsets by way of the exemptions, the loopholes, the deductions, so forth. We just made an assumption."


"I wouldn't take what's in the budget as indicative of what our proposals are."

Not only is the director of the Office of Management and Budget bad at math, the director of the Office of Management and Budget plainly has no idea what a budget actually is. This strikes me as something of a flaw in the administration's plan to devise a national budget that doesn't balance itself by selling Montana to Russian mining interests.

For years now, starting with its adoption of voodoo economics—Thanks, Poppy!—in the late 1970s, the Republican Party has staked its political future on magic asterisks, scientific illiteracy, and on camouflaging plutocracy in overalls and a CAT hat. This is how it produced a Mick Mulvaney in the first place.

But what's going on now is different. It's become plain that nobody of political influence in the Republican Party wants to do anything that upsets the delusions of the unqualified dolt in the Oval Office. (Remember in his big speech on Thursday, when he talked about how his tax plan was sailing through Congress? There is no tax plan. Anybody want to tell him that?) And, so far, the response to this, across the board, has been supine complicity in whatever fiction the White House is selling on a particular day. Our republic truly has gone bananas. This is the height of the art form that is American conservative governance.

It's also the way autocracies work. But I repeat myself. # # #

[C.P. Pierce graduated from St. John's High School in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, and from Marquette University in Journalism (BA). Pierce's first job was as a forest ranger for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He wrote for Worcester magazine in the 1970s, where he covered the Blizzard of 1978. In the 1980s and '90, he was a staff reporter for the Boston Phoenix and, later, a sports columnist for the Boston Herald. Pierce is currently the lead political blogger for Esquire, a position he has held since September 2011. He also wrote for ESPN's Grantland. He has also written for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe Sunday magazine, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Sports Illustrated, The National Sports Daily, GQ, and the e-zine Slate as well as the Media Matters blog Altercation, hosted by historian/pundit Eric Alterman. Pierce makes appearances on radio as a regular contributor to NPR programs "Only A Game" and "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!." Recently Pierce has begun making weekly appearances on the Stephanie Miller Show. He represented the Globe on several occasions on ESPN's "Around the Horn" and often co-hosts with Bob Ryan on NESN's Globe 10.0.]

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