Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Response to Kafka Comes to America

(See: Just Above Sunset: Kafka Comes to America)

The overall theme of President Trump’s "new-and-improved" travel ban and Congress’s new "Obamacare replacement" plan, both released on Monday, seems to be this:

In an over-abundance of caution and a sharp eye toward cost control, Donald Trump and his Republicans have unilaterally decided to reduce the number of lifeboats on the ship of state. Yes, this greatly increases the chance of innocent people dying, but not to worry! That’s a chance they’re willing to take, particularly in light of all the money we will save!

It’s not really surprising that, when you listen to the party’s defenders of the new GOP-care bill, you don’t hear them say much about how many people it will or will not cover, since that’s never really been a concern of Republicans, although getting as many Americans as possible covered by good health insurance plans has been a longtime major focus for Democrats.

And, in fact, the new GOP plan — with its doing away with mandates, its Medicaid "block grants" to states, so-called medical “savings accounts” and huge premium increases for those who don’t keep a continuity of coverage — seems designed to allow government-aided healthcare to fade out of existence entirely, by attrition, eventually returning us to the totally “free-market” approach of pre-healthcare reform, proving that despite all those Republican promises, “Repeal and Replace” is, in the long run, just another way of saying “Repeal”.

And where will this leave the so-called “middle class” — or, even worse, the “working poor” — and, even worse still, the “non-working poor”? Will more of them get sicker, stay sicker, and even die because of this?


Yeah, but is that such a bad thing?

Your answer to that may depend on whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat. After all, what’s keeping that poor person from going out and getting a job, pulling himself out of poverty by his bootstraps? (Okay, but what if that little six-year-old "poor person" can’t find a job? "Hey, nobody said life will always be fair!”)

But it's also worth asking ourselves:

If the Republicans were right all along when they kept insisting, throughout the Obama years, that Obamacare is such a total disaster! — and everybody knows it! — then why is it, now that they finally get the chance to just shut it down, they seem too absolutely scared shitless to do it?

Then there’s this cutting the number of refugees admitted from 110,000 to 50,000 per year. And the point of that? The reason we take in any refugees has to do with helping them escape imminent danger, which means that any refugees we refuse to take in are probably in grave danger, possibly, of losing their lives.

So why are we reducing the quota? Is this a money issue, in that we only have enough in the budget to save a certain number of lives? In fact, why is there even any limit to the number of lives we help save in the first place? Either we care about saving refugees or we don’t, and if we really don’t, why aren’t we just reducing that number to zero?

Come to think of it, has the White House ever offered any answer to the criticism that their “solution” to the imaginary “problems” that spring from drastically reducing travel from these six countries  from which there has been not one terrorist immigrant who has ever killed any American  has created many more real problems than the imaginary problems they are trying to solve?

And if not, why don’t they just shut the stupid program down?

The answer, of course, has to do with “form over function”. It’s really about image, not reality.

That is, the people Donald Trump is trying to "keep faith with" don’t give one flying damn about whether the Muslim travel-ban actually “works" or not; all that matters to the people who elected him is that somebody is seen doing something about “certain" people, and especially Muslim people, period. The point is not to solve some actual problem or other, it’s just to send a message to everybody that we mean business!

When it comes right down to it, what these people couldn’t stand about Barrack Obama is that he was too nice! Being “nice” is bad, in itself, because it sends a message of weakness! And if you look weak, your enemies will take advantage of you. Forget about “doing the right thing”, the only thing that matters is that your enemy fears you.

Your enemy is (as is Donald Trump, too, by the way) constantly looking you over in hopes of finding some weakness to exploit, in hopes of somehow humiliating you. 

And this over-concern with “messaging” also figures in why we on the left (although also those in the center) become so frustrated with those on the right showing so little regard for actual “truth”. We need to understand, for example, that Donald Trump’s election victory did not ever depend on his superior ability to know and adhere to any “truth”. He won both his primaries and the general election because of his skill in showing what a strong guy he is, what an effective bully he is — or maybe, if you insist, what a complete jerk he is.

There are lots of people in the world who are impressed with the somewhat charismatic dim-wit who, nevertheless, is gifted with the ability to push people around. If that weren’t true, the world would never have tyrants. This past year, in America, that number apparently reached the critical mass needed to elect one president of the United States, but the important thing to remember is that that mass was still not as great as the mass who were not as impressed.

Maybe more people over the next few years will come to see this new GOP healthcare offering as vastly inferior to the plan it replaces, or better yet, for the out-and-out, bait-and-switch scam it seems to be. Maybe most Americans will come to the same conclusion about all of Trump’s phony Potemkin-village-like programs supposedly designed to “keep us all safe”.

Or maybe our only hope is for, somehow, the critical mass of Americans who don’t respect bullies to go back to vastly outnumbering those who do.

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