Thursday, July 20, 2017

Nothing Changes, by Donald J. Trump

Giorgio de Chirico, "Le Muse Inquietanti" (The Disturbing Muses), 1945. Via.

Donald J. Trump

I. Song of the Pre-Existing Condition
Nothing changes.
Nothing changes.
Once you get something
for pre-existing conditions, etc., etc.

Once you get something, it’s awfully tough
to take it away. But what it does, Maggie,
it means it gets tougher and tougher.
As they get something, it gets tougher.
Because politically, you can’t give it away.

So pre-existing conditions are a tough deal.
Because you are basically saying
from the moment the insurance,
you’re 21 years old, you start working
and you’re paying $12 a year for insurance,
and by the time you’re 70, you get a nice plan.
Here’s something where you walk up
and say, “I want my insurance.”

It’s a very tough deal, but it is something
that we’re doing a good job of.

II. Song of 1812
Well, Napoleon finished a little bit bad.
But I asked that. So I asked the president,
so what about Napoleon? He said: “No, no, no.
What he did was incredible. He designed Paris.”
The street grid, the way they work, you know, the spokes.
He did so many things even beyond.

And his one problem is he didn’t go to Russia
that night because he had extracurricular activities,
and they froze to death. How many times
has Russia been saved by the weather?

III. Duet
It’s been a long time. Nothing changes.
Wait till you see what we’re going to do on trade.

Sounds like it’s going to be very interesting.

Much more interesting than anybody would understand.


IV. Song of the FBI Person
And nothing was changed
other than Richard Nixon came along.

And when Nixon came along it was pretty brutal,
and out of courtesy, the FBI started
reporting to the Department of Justice.
But there was nothing official,
there was nothing from Congress.

There was nothing — anything.
But the FBI person really reports
directly to the president of the United States,
which is interesting, you know,
which is interesting.


I can't quite guess anything about what Trump imagines the health insurance situation is like, or if he really imagines anything at all, as he pulls this exotic curtain over his lack of actual knowledge. He may be talking about Medicare with the $12 a year (around 1970, the Medicare tax was 0.6%, so it would be $12 a year for an annual income of $2000, which wasn't very much) and the desire to collect when you're 70, but there's no place he can fit the concept of the pre-existing condition into this picture, which is "tough". I can't believe he's unaware of the existence of health insurance to pay for one's medical expenses in the present, but that's what it looks like (Update: Jordan in comments suggests he's talking about life insurance, which sounds more coherent in some ways, though far less coherent in others; it's loony either way).

It was of course Baron Haussmann, under Napoleon III in the 1850s-60s, who designed the Paris boulevards spoking out from the Place de l'Étoile; Napoleon I had nothing to do with it; he'd been dead for 33 years when the digging began in 1854. I'm pretty sure President Macron is pretty well aware of these facts and didn't tell Trump any different.

It makes little sense to imagine Napoleon failing to depart for Russia "that night"—this must be a reference to the army's failure to leave occupied Moscow in 1812 when it became clear that the Russians had no interest in surrendering, and start the retreat soon enough to avoid the winter. But it's "interesting", to use a favorite Trump word, that Emperor Trump doesn't seem to realize it was a retreat and Napoleon had already lost the war—had really never had a chance of winning, in spite of his success in seizing the city.

On the history of who the FBI director reports to, Wikipedia summarizes:
Since the 1920s, the FBI has been supervised by the Department of Justice and the FBI Director has answered to the Attorney General. The Director briefed the President on any issues that arose from within the FBI until the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 was enacted following the September 11 attacks. Since then, the Director reports to the Director of National Intelligence, who in turn reports to the President.
You might say Nixon's third FBI head, L. Patrick Gray, following J. Edgar Hoover and (for two days in May 1972) Hoover's companion Clyde  , did the opposite of what Trump asserts, spending more time with the president than he ought to have done, when he joined in the Watergate conspiracy and was forced to resign. The fourth, William Ruckelshaus, returned to the normal practice during his two months—there's no reason to think he did it "out of courtesy" (to whom???), and the fifth, Clarence Kelley, maintained this practice. Gray would be the only FBI director in the history of the agency who collaborated with the president in the way Trump hoped James Comey would. He clearly thinks it was discourteous of Comey to reject his friendly advances.

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