Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Promise Of An Era of Broken Promises Is Broken

With all the Trump/Russia conspiracy theories in the mainstream news, constant handwringing over which country will declare war on Trump, and general criticism of Trump’s bombastic, hyperbolic oratory, it amuses me that such conventional complaints as “broken promises” continue to be leveled at the president. 

It becomes especially amusing when the chorus continues unabated while the US moves its Israel embassy to Jerusalem, fulfilling a promise every president of the last quarter century has made.

As I see it, this criticism comes mainly from three camps, with a few other varieties in between and at the margins.

● The person complaining is a wall-head. It won't matter if, at the end of eight years, unemployment is at 0.5%, the Democrat Party is in shambles, the race-divide is healed, Korea is reunified, Iran is led by a woman, and we're all puttering around the moon in self-driving Tesla-Xs. They won't be happy unless there's a border wall between the US and Mexico and that’s that.

● Trump promised X and the only way the person can conceive of X is by way of A. So, if Trump approaches X via B, that person counts it as a broken promise. You see this with how Trump has decided to address prescription drug prices. The critics all expected a price-fixing solution and had already published their rebukes. When Trump proposed something else, they pivoted to “broken promises!”

● The person is holding Trump responsible for obstacles that were essentially unforeseeable. The prime example comes from federal judges who ordered the administration to keep DACA running. Constitutionally, the orders are abominable. No sane person should count this as a broken promise but clearly not everyone is sane. (I somewhat arbitrarily include in this category people that are still holding Trump to his first 100 days, because it's equally idiotic.)
As I said, there are other forms of this complaint, some absolutely legitimate. For example, if the carried interest loophole is your obsession, then I can't argue that Trump hasn't let that one go. Trump also, like most presidents before him, promised to do things that can only be done by Congress. Myself, I tend to regard those as promises to try, but strictly speaking, he did break the sort of promises that have become customary for US Presidential candidates to make.

Then there are the "who cares?" broken promises. Trump said he'd release his tax returns after audit. He didn't. So what? He said he'd label China a currency manipulator. Instead he put a boot on their neck. He said he'd buy the Chinese president a McDonald's hamburger. Whatever.

This doesn't even touch on the added dimension that a lot of what reporters and pundits count as promises were never phrased as such by Trump. There's a tendency to count a lot of "I want to" and "we ought to" statements as iron-clad promises for the purposes of a take-down. As such, there’s a lot of disagreement from outlet to outlet as to which “promises” Trump has broken, and which ones he’s still working on.

Similarly, there’s the attempt to dismiss kept promises as things any other Republican would have done. But it’s not at all clear that any other Republican would have pulled out of the Paris climate accord, or ended DACA, or left the Iran deal, or even cut down the number of regulations on the books. Republicans past have habitually backed down on similar promises in response to much less outrage than Trump has withstood for keeping them.

I realize this all reads as Trump apologia, and it pretty well is. But seriously, go find any article about Trump's broken promises and let me know how far you get before your eyes glaze over.

In principle, no one should break promises or make ones they can't keep. But of the promises Trump made that can definitively be called broken, there's not a lot to get animated about. Unless you are really that concerned about the carried interest loophole.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Where in the World is the US Embassy?

So, I did something crazy the other day. Sit down for this: I made a map. No big deal, right? Maybe it is.

Monday, May 14, 2018

My thoughts on Boy Scouts going co-ed

There are a lot of strong feelings about the Boy Scouts of America going co-ed. You’d think that by having a son in Cub Scouts, I’d have a strong feeling, too, but my views are mixed. It’d be easy to be up in arms if I thought BSA was giving in to pressure from left-wing political groups and feminists, but from the ground, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Concepts of Centrism vs Alt-Centrism

In this first conception, the alt-center is illustrated as a "third-wing" as opposed to an actual center.

This next series of diagrams represents each position as sliders. If these were animated (and maybe I'll do that eventually) the left, right, and center sliders would fluctuate somewhat over time, while the alt-center sliders would swing wildly from end to end.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The thing about red pills that nobody talks about:

CAUTION: This medication will be rendered less effective when combined with "I-told-you-so's."

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Cranberry                                                      Lansbury
lime-                                                             crime
ade                                                               aid