Sunday, March 12, 2017

Trump's "short attention span"

I just read an interesting article about comments by the Afghan ambassador to the United States. The ambassador says he was told to "keep conversations short" and that President Trump "does not have a long attention span." Mr. Trump then proceeded to engage in relatively long, in depth conversations.

One has to wonder who told the ambassador about the short attention span. I can remember hearing comments of this sort, but they tended to be from Trump opponents who need Donald Trump to be stupid to fit their preconceived notions.

So I have to wonder -- are Trump staffers saying he has a short attention span or are these comments from outsiders without first hand knowledge of the president?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Always a negative spin

It's struck me for over a year how the press uniformly places a negative spin on any story about Donald Trump. We see another example in the New York Times story about President Trump asking (almost) all US Attorneys to resign.

The Times can't express outrage over the replacement of all US Attorneys. After all, President Clinton did the same thing soon after he took office and other presidents have acted similarly. But we need to provide a negative spin to anything done by President Trump, so the story emphasizes the sudden, unexpected nature of the move. It emphasizes that the former attorneys are being moved out more quickly than happened in the past, and outlines actions by conservatives and the conservative press to make this look like President Trump is bowing to pressure from the extreme right.

I don't know what's really going on in the Trump White House. Even through the filter of a biased media it's apparent that the new administration's actions have been a bit confused. Yet this is true of any new administration. Look at the Obama administration's "reset" with Russia where they couldn't even get the alphabet right on the button.

So I continue to watch the actions of the new administration and the news media which reports them. But, along with much of the country, I've learned to take the media reports with a healthy grain of salt, confident that whatever President Trump did this time it's not as bad as the media reports.

Friday, March 10, 2017

"Decaying infrastructure" -- who decides?

Again there is a news story about America's decaying infrastructure, this time saying instead of Donald Trump's $1 trillion we need to invest $4.6 trillion over 8 years.

This sounds like the country is falling apart around us. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gives the nation's infrastructure a grade of D+, not even a passing grade. Yet we seem to survive and some even think we prosper with this abject failure around us.

Before everybody panics, consider the source of these estimates. The D+ grade and $4.6 trillion estimate come from the civil engineering professional group. What do civil engineers do? They design, build, and repair infrastructure. What happens when infrastructure spending increases? More jobs for civil engineers!

We've been hearing about decaying infrastructure in the United States for years and years. The report cards all seem to give a grade of D and tell us how much more money we need to spend. However, while there is certainly infrastructure in need of repair in the United States, relying on a group which has a financial interest in fixing infrastructure seems the wrong way to judge.

Friday, March 3, 2017

A mixed message from Democrats

I finally got around to listening to President Trump's speech to congress along with the Democratic response. The Democratic response struck me for suggesting the parties work together while retaining the standard partisan stereotypes.

The Democratic Party response was given by Steve Beshear, former governor of Kentucky. He starts by talking about how he was governor during the Great Recession and he "put people first and politics second."

Having said this, does Mr. Beshear practice what he preaches in the Democratic response? Of course not.

After criticizing some of President Trump's first actions on taking office (no problem here, he disagrees politically), Mr. Beshear moves on to health care. He criticizes Republican alternatives to Obamacare, which is fair, but then goes back to standard, no-cooperation partisan politics attacking Republicans as insensitive monsters:

"Behind these ideas is the belief that folks at the lower end of the economic ladder just don't deserve health care."
Sorry Mr. Beshear, I don't think you'll find any Republican saying poor people should not have health care. I've only heard Democrats say that about Republicans (the Republican health care plan is this: "Die quickly." -- former Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida).

So partisanship continues.