Wednesday, May 3, 2017

100 Days In

100 Days is a totally arbitrary and entirely stupid number to use when judging the metrics of a Presidency. Just because FDR had an amazing First 100 Days doesn't mean you need to use him a yardstick for every other President ever, all right- I mean, the dude lasted four terms, ended the Depression, won World War II and died in office. It's like comparing Michael Jordan to Reggie Miller. Reggie was a legit baller. Doesn't mean he was good as Michael Jordan was though.

But hey, every one gets all hot and bothered about the whole 100 Days Bullshit, so this modest blog of mine should be no exception, right?  So, where are we- 100 days in?

Well, we're still here. So that's a start, right?

Let's start with Foreign Policy:

Oddly enough, while I may not be crazy about some of the Trump Administration's more aggressive moves internationally, I feel okay about this administration and foreign policy now. With Michael 'Pizzagate' Flynn and Steve 'Crazy As A Loon' Bannon either out or potentially on their way out, H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary James Mattis are forming, "an Axis of Adults" which is a relief, to say the least. I don't know if we'll stay out of a major conflict for the next three years or so- I sincerely hope we do- but I know that by their reputations, Mattis and McMaster are incredibly smart, capable people who know their shit. And they'll be advising the President. And that makes me slightly less queasy about President Trump's finger being on the nuclear button.

Diplomatically, I'm less sure about Secretary of State Tillerson- though by all accounts putting former South Carolina Governor Nicki Haley as UN Ambassador was a gifted choice on the part of this administration.

So people wise, I think we're okay. Actions wise, on the other hand...  I think much ado was made of Syria- but really it was largely cosmetic. The President was meeting with the Chinese President down at Mar-A-Lago when it all went down- we used Tomahawk Missiles, which didn't put any pilots at risk and Assad was back at it within a couple of days. (Though apparently with 20% less aircraft, which is a good thing.) Personally, I think our options are limited in Syria. A no-fly zone would have been nice a couple of years back, but now you'd need Russian cooperation and they've got a ton of hardware in the area and you get a whole ton of planes flying around up there and that increases the odds of accidents and international incidents. I thought it sent a message that 'no, you can't just gas random innocents anymore' and I hope we'll be willing to go there again if needs be, but I wouldn't imagine we'd do much more than that unless the situation changed somehow.

North Korea, on the other hand, is a far more dicier situation. It could be a really, really smart play. Or it could start the Korean War right back up again for, what I would imagine would be a truly hellish Netflix reboot after nearly a seven decade hiatus period. (Technically, we're still at war with North Korea. We just avoid shooting each other?) Why smart? Well, it sort of puts the onus back on China- who is in a position to do far more things to North Korea far more effectively that we are. If we're done placating the North Koreans with aid money and food shipments and are ready to go all in if we have to in order to secure a non-nuclear Korean peninsula that sort of puts China in an odd place.

On the one hand, China doesn't want a unified Korea as a potential economic/power rival right on their border. On the other hand, it probably doesn't want a nuclear North Korea making other regional powers like Japan and South Korea consider getting nukes of their own. And for sure it doesn't want the US going all in and forcing the issue on our terms. So there are powerful motivating factors for the Chinese to pressure the North Koreans to pipe the eff down and hand over the nukes. Whether or not that will be enough, I don't know- but this administration has proven willing to call North Korea's bluff so far- which- so far, seems to be working.

On balance, the major action so far hasn't been half bad. My Grade: with Bannon and Flynn out of the way? I'd give this a solid B with room to trend upward.

Which brings us to Domestic Policy, which so far seems to be, to borrow a phrase from Macbeth (which seems oddly appropriate, somehow), 'all sound and fury, signifying nothing.' There's been more piss and vinegar than actual major policy achievements so far on this side of the ball, but there's been a lot more talk and whispers of potential moves that have sounded less than cool to me as well.

Right off the bat, getting Judge Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court has to rank as the President's biggest success. I've said it before and I've said it again- but arguments about the Supreme Court are stupid, because if you switch around the parties, it's still the same exact argument but Trump got that done. Whatever else happens, he got someone on the Supreme Court. Which ain't nothin' Do I care one way or the other about Gorsuch? Not particularly. He's replacing Scalia, so obviously, he's going to be as Conservative as they come- but he doesn't do anything to the balance of the court. The next retirement or two- that's when people are going to lose their damn minds and when I'll start to scrutinize the issue a bit more.

While he's made some good choices for his national security team, his choices on the Domestic side of things have been less than inspiring. Jeff Sessions I'm honestly starting to think is a throwback to the worst kind of 1980s drug policy, which is not at all what we need right now in this country. Betsy DeVos is sending signals that she's ready to screw borrowers- including yours truly. I don't know where to begin with this lady and apparently Ben Carson got stuck in an elevator?

Health Care has been a disaster so far. The GOP had to scrap one attempt to pass a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and now seem to taking another run at it with no guarantees of success. Tax reform is also on the President's agenda and if it's an opening bid, it's one hell of a radical one. A border wall has yet to materialize and unless there's a tax on remittances included somewhere in these bills that the Republican Congress is failing to pass, I don't see how Mexico is going to pay for it. (But, I'd be down for something like this. Assuming it's not just talk, of course.)

Domestically, this administration needs message discipline and quickly. While I get the feeling that the President tweet randomly crazy sounding things just to give the media a seizure or two at a certain point, you've got to get your shit together. These comments on the Civil War are batshit nutty. While the prior administration may have had people close to your campaign under surveillance, randomly throwing out allegations that you yourself have been wire tapped isn't the same thing. Like at all.

If there's some kind of plan or agenda here, I'd dearly like to know what it is. Oh, and P.S. if you could not screw poor buggers like myself who are trying to pay off their student loans too much, that'd be great. My Grade: D Ugh. Just a dumpster fire on the domestic side of the aisle.

So, My Totally Arbitrary and Meaningless Grade thus far, a little over 100 Days into The Trump Presidency: C Not great, but not the apocalypse we were lead to believe either. 

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