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Sometimes malice, sometimes stupidity, sometimes incompetence

James Fallow tweets:

Many people seem fixated on the cognition test. I don’t know how well Trump did on it but I’m guessing he passed it with a normal score.

If you want to know why Trump looks like he’s got dementia, read Mary Trump’s book. It’s not that he’s got a physical issue with his brain, except for the analytical parts have probably atrophied over the decades due to disuse. The reason he looks like he has dementia is because compared to all the presidents who have preceded him in the television age, he doesn’t have any practical experience analyzing and solving problems. George W. Bush also had that problem of falling up but at least he had the family training to know when things are going pear shaped and how to make it look like someone was in charge.

Trump doesn’t have this training. Mary describes Donald’s professional life as a kind of institutionalization. He made up for Fred Trump’s PR deficits and in turn, Fred made sure that Donald was protected from his worst instincts by appointing real professionals to do the actual work at Trump Management. That left Trump to promote the brand without doing any harm to the day to day business. All they had to do was pat Donald on the head and tell him he was doing great and no one got hurt. In other words, he’s never had to do any work for which he’s gotten credit as a businessman and when he’s not being watched, he gets himself into trouble financially.

He carried his “work ethic” to the White House. He doesn’t really do anything except sit behind the desk, watch TV and tweet. Because he’s so unpracticed as an analytical problem solver or leader, he just hasn’t done it. And he won’t do it at this late period of his life. He doesn’t have the mental discipline.

That doesn’t make him demented. It just means that he will continue to reach for the low hanging fruit and act like an autocrat and a bully who expects people to jump when he says jump. Someone will tell him he’s perfect because they don’t want to cross him.

Personally, I’d rather have a president who is suffering from dementia. You can wrap that person in cotton wool and remove all the sharp objects. But incompetence doesn’t give you the same opportunities. We’re just supposed to wait it out until we can vote.

For what it’s worth, Donald is probably perfectly capable of recognizing the elephant on the quiz. It’s the elephant in the room that he has no clue about.

Republicans move in for the kill

I suspected that they had a reason for enabling Donald. Now, we may find out what it is. And the first clue comes from that original Great Depression state – Oklahoma.

WaPo has a piece today about the unemployed in Oklahoma. Many have applied for unemployment benefits that they paid into for years. Many of those unemployment benefits are stalled while the applicants exhaust their savings, lose their cars and sell their houses. They get up in the middle of the night to get a ticket for an appointment with a state bureaucrat. There’s a limit on the number of tickets. If you miss that limit, you have to come back the next day.

Let’s put aside for a moment that this inadequate system is by design. The red states have shown themselves to be deliberately and intentionally unresponsive to the plight of the unemployed. In normal times, the idea is for the applicant to just give up and take any job even if it results in long term negative consequences for the worker. For example, if you have to take a low minimum wage job to exist, you can’t spend your time on a real job search for something more appropriate. But it doesn’t matter. In this country, not being self sufficient even for a few months is tantamount to a cardinal sin.

So, states like Florida, North Carolina and Oklahoma have made getting the benefits the worker paid for very difficult and time consuming. Eventually, desperation sets in and you go work at McDonald’s or some meat processing plant without any osha protections or benefits. Ta-da!

But what if there actually aren’t any jobs because of a pandemic? Then what do you do? Then you’re not getting unemployment AND there are no other jobs. Back in the 30s, Okies loaded up the truck and headed for California. But what if that’s not an option any more? What if there is literally nothing left to fall back on?

I think this is the moment Mitch McConnell has been waiting for. Because there is a fall back. It’s your social security benefits. Yep, why not make it easier for people to tap into their social security accounts? It’s a giant pool of money. Just take a loan. Heck, we won’t even make you pay it back when the crisis is over. You just agree to take a cut when retirement age rolls along.

Plus, we’ll cut your payroll taxes. Nevermind that the payroll tax cut doesn’t benefit you if you aren’t on a payroll. OTHER people can use the money. So what if the congressional budget office says it will have minimal impact on spending now. That’s not really the point is it? It just means that the social security trust fund that has been struggling because we won’t raise the payroll tax on higher income workers is going to be a lot less reliable.

Then, when retirements start happening in earnest, there won’t be enough money to go along. Then we can institute a means test. And there goes the whole thing.

Well, it’s about time, say their ultra wealthy backers. None of us signed on to Social Security back in 1935. Most of us weren’t even born, say the owners of the ownership society.

They’ve been so effective about eliminating pensions they didn’t sign on to when they bought the companies. Or the benefits they didn’t sign on to. Or the salaries. Social Security and Medicare are the final frontiers. They are so close to shrugging off the weight of the world they were burdened with during much of the 20th century. This pandemic was timed perfectly for them to clean up and make their exit.

No more unions. No more pensions. No more health care benefits. No more social security. And they’ve stacked the courts with the judges appointed by one of their own. A guy whose never met a tax or obligation he’s felt a duty to pay. They’re finally free! Liberty! Is this country great or what??

Too bad for you, you clueless whipkisser who bought their con for 4 decades. Too bad for you who didn’t. They don’t care about you. They got theirs and they got yours.

Bye-bye, suckers.

That’s why Mitch has stood by and done nothing. We just weren’t desperate enough. And now, we are.