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Soundtracking the Resistance - Trouble in the House

Trump Deals with Democrats, But Cancels DACA (Meanwhile Hurricane Irma Looms)

Sep 08, 2017 Soundtracking the Resistance Bookmark and Share

We have deals struck, and dubious friends treated dubiously this week. Oh what it is to see a little Republican discord. There’s also Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, the mistreatment of dreamers, the good side of Charlottesville, and a taste of Vitamin C on offer.

The Big Event

It’s not easy being on the same side as Donald Trump, largely because it’s impossible to tell where his side is. Even if you can locate it, odds are he’ll turn on a dime and espouse completely the opposite position. It might be for political gain, or it might just be because his spontaneous making it all up on the go style doesn’t exactly lend itself to consistency.

This week the President has confounded his own side by cutting deals with the Democrats to fund the government and raise the borrowing limit. A short-term fix it might be, but it’s more of a fix than anyone expected from the man in The White House.

Previously he’d been threatening to burn Congress down, bringing the federal government to a grinding halt just to raise a little money for his white elephant of a wall he wants to plant along (though apparently not all of it) the Mexican border.

Trump’s surprising plan, struck with his pals Chuck and Nancy as he likes to refer to Senate and House Minority leaders Charles Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, finds funding for another three months, pushing the fight back to December where both sides will have to go at each other to decide if federal employees spend Christmas getting paid or not. That’s if he doesn’t strike another deal, which is allegedly in the works.

It wasn’t only the other elected leaders of his nominal party Trump undercut with this decision. He managed to undo the plans of his Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who had been pushing for a longer-term resolution rather than short-term deals that move the problem no more than a few steps down the line.

Basically, it’s not easy being friends with a man who seems to be permanently casting about for the next bus to throw you under. What’s even more perplexing is the difficulty supposed allies have trying to discern what it is the president hopes to gain from any single decision.

This is all just the latest in a long line of internal escalations. Tensions within the Republican establishment have been rising for months, if not years. It’s exacerbated by the fact party grandees clearly dislike their president, and he dislikes them. A fragile alliance has just about kept the two sides together, but there have been plenty of signs Trump will throw them overboard if need be.

He’s already removed Reince Priebus from the heart of operations, and has been taking potshots on twitter at Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan for some time. For their part, they’ve tried to rein in criticism, but have been forced to offer at least mealy-mouthed condemnations for many of the deplorable things the president has said and done.

It will be interesting to see if this is the start of a permanent divergence, or another one of Trump’s sudden about-turns, undone as quickly as its done. Will they continue to walk away from each other, opening full on political war, or will this odd partnership at the heart of the national government hold? Answers on a postcard please, because it’s mighty hard to tell what’s coming up in the great soap opera that is American politics.

What’s Going On

It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to find Trump and his antebellum Attorney General Jeff Sessions going after the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Introduced by President Obama, it allowed young undocumented immigrants to work and live in the United States through renewable two-year deferrals of deportation. Or to put it another way, it didn’t punish children brought into the country illegally. Which is exactly what that delightful duo seems to want to do by scrapping the program. After announcing the end of the scheme on vague grounds, they’ve punted it over to Congress to come up with something else, a strategy which has worked wonderfully this past year.

With Hurricane Harvey exiting the stage-though the devastation left in its wake will be making no such exit-Hurricane Irma has arrived instead, sweeping into the Caribbean with all its Category 5 force, leveling anything it comes across. At least 23 people have been confirmed dead, a figure that’s almost certainly going to rise. Florida is watching uneasily to see if Irma might reach that far and where it will land, but it’s already doing plenty of damage in areas that are going to need time and support to recover.

The simmering tension between The United States (plus most of the rest of the world to some degree) and North Korea continues to radiate away after the dictatorship carried out its largest nuclear test to date. Trump has taken to twitter again to harangue China into taking action. There may be some movement in that space after China’s foreign minister said Beijing would back U.N measures, but that came with no clarity on what those measures might be. What we do know is nuclear weapons are terrifying, and if anyone were to use them again, it would be a catastrophic disaster. Not one we’d necessarily live through either.

Speak Up!

Dave Matthews Band have announced a unity concert in their hometown of Charlottesville in the wake of the appalling neo-Nazi, white supremacist rallying that went on there recently. “A Concert For Charlottesville,” billed as “An Evening of Music and Unity” features a stellar line-up including Pharrell Williams, Justin Timberlake, Chris Stapleton, Ariana Grande, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, The Roots, Cage the Elephant, and of course Dave Matthews Band.

As we mentioned above, just because a Hurricane leaves, doesn’t mean the destruction goes away. A Hurricane Harvey Relief Telethon will air on 12 September with a number of big names signed up. Alongside luminaries from different parts of the arts like Oprah Winfrey and Matthew McConaughey, Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland have also signed up. Beyoncé has already been fundraising on her own website to support the relief effort.

A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on Aug 31, 2017 at 6:56am PDT

Song of the Week: Can - “Vitamin C”

It’s been a sad year for influential Krautrock band Can. Founding drummer Jaki Liebezeit passed away in January, and now co-founder and bassist Holger Czukay has died, aged 79. At their best, Can were a crazy collection of experiments, determined to look beyond the narrow confines of their own musical world. The band incorporated everything from psychedelic rock to funk, jazz, and musical cues drawn from all over the world. This kind of broad, outward looking approach is too rare, and deserves to be celebrated. So, we end with “Vitamin C” which you all know, and should never tire of hearing again.

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