Friday, January 25, 2019

In which we compare Nancy Pelosi to Arjuna

Arjuna and Krishna at the Battle of Kurukshetra. Via.

Well, good old Nancy, being the prime minister I always hoped she would be, teaching our lazy and learning-disabled emperor who holds the purse strings. If as they say he's really signing the bill he refused to sign five weeks ago, it's been a very expensive lesson for all of us, not just for him, but I think well worth it; if, as I suspect, what really kicked the White House and the Senate over was this morning's airport chaos, it's even testimony to the power of labor unions, because all the TSA workers who couldn't make it in were signaling to the obdurate rulers just what a strike would be like, you know. Yesterday, these fools couldn't imagine a TSA strike, and now they can, and it's terrifying.

Though it could just as well have been dim Ron Johnson screaming at McConnell:

“This is your fault,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at one point, according to two Republicans who attended the lunch and witnessed the exchange.
“Are you suggesting I’m enjoying this?” McConnell snapped back, according to the people who attended the lunch.
Most importantly, it's looking like an affirmation of the rule that governments shouldn't negotiate with hostage takers, and a hostage taker is what Trump basically is, as Professor Cole is reminding us: from thousands of migrant children captured as pawns in his war on immigration to Michael Cohen's father-in-law terrified in his effort to stop Cohen from testifying in public—threatening to break up NATO or NAFTA, threatening to nuke North Korea, threatening to rewrite libel law, threatening to take away journalists' access, threatening publicly to take your job unless you give precedence to his personal desires over the rule of law, as he did with Sessions, eventually putting his threats into action—his whole Art of the Deal, really, is take a hostage and extort what you want.

When I think about hostage situations, I always think of the families on the one hand being told by hijackers to come up with cash they don't have and on the other being told by the government that "we don't negotiate with hostage takers" and it seems so very harsh to me; "I'm really sorry these people are going to kill your kid when I have enough money to stop them, but it would be immoral to save his life". If I'm president, I think, I'm going to have trouble sticking to it, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one who was thinking about that during the shutdown, as we began hearing the awful stories from people, workers, either with their paychecks withheld or not getting paid at all—when Democrats could in fact have surrendered to the hostage taker and given him his damned bribe and relieved this suffering. But then that's why I'm not president, and I've argued this before, on the subject of Obama and Brennan picking victims in Afghanistan or Yemen, it's really Bhagavad-Gita stuff, because the leader who orders a bad thing for a good reason is in fact assuming a karmic burden (that's a Buddhist, not a Hindu use of "karma", because this isn't a Hindu post, sorry for any confusion) that would be too much for you or me, Arjuna suppressing his weary horror of making more war, and I'm glad I'm not them. Even if it has to be done, it's still a bad thing. But when it's a hostage situation, somebody needs to do it.

And it'll be better if it's somebody, like Obama or Pelosi, who knows it's a bad thing. Does that make any sense? It's clear at least that it had to be done this time, and it ended up pretty well, before Any horrible damage (is there any talk of compensating the contract workers? I hope so), and it certainly smells like victory. I expect Congress to give him some Wall money, in the immigration deal now being negotiated, but it'll clearly be a reward of the kind you give a fourth grader for protesting from inside the rules: "We'll be nice to you if you let the hostages go." I don't think Trump's going to try this again, in spite of the bluster that's already resumed—

—the threats don't sound serious. "I only reversed my decision out of compassion for the suffering I caused, but I'll definitely cause more of it." No he won't; not because he actually feels that compassion, but because he's learned that this maneuver ends up making him look weak. From here on in, I think, everything he can do is going to be making him look weak, and his options are rapidly foreclosing.

I feel certain he'll get something wall-ish out of the ongoing Senate negotiations, as a kind of behavior modification technique, to reinforce his sense that he can get stuff he likes if he shows some self-control. Kushner's idiocy (he's said to have been "surprised" that Manchin was the only Democrat to vote for the stupid bill his staff composed in the hope of splitting the Senate Democrats, because, as I've suggested with reference to Ivanka Trump, he may socialize with the wealthier sort of Democrats but has no idea what they think about, literally none, in the same way as he has no clue what Palestinian Arabs care about, only in the latter case he doesn't even get that they get a vote) is no longer possible to ignore; these people really don't know how to do politics. The hold of the Trumpies over the Senate Republicans seems broken to me by the events of this week.

I think today is a genuine turning point.

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