Quick Takes: “Three Months Past Dignity”

* In outlining the damage Trump has already done to our democracy, Adam Gopnick writes that “we’re three months past dignity.”

Perhaps the most tragic sins against democracy, to which we have already become accustomed, are Trump’s lies. When you have a President who lies as he breathes, for whom lying is simply the normal way of dealing with any difficulty, democratic governance becomes close to impossible. We all forgive fantasy, storytelling, self-justification, faulty memory, mythological insistence. America has survived them all. But telling malicious and scurrilous lies without remorse or regret is a venom that paralyzes the entire political system, for the simple reason that democratic politics are really just a proceduralized form of argument—my evidence here, yours there; our side’s claim like this, yours like that—and when lies are the first premise, the back-and-forth of rational contention becomes impossible. No sane response is possible to an egregious lie except silence, and silence lets the lie win. Trump accuses Barack Obama of wiretapping him, an obvious lie, but the lie becomes part of the fabric of the event, to be adjudicated rather than exploded. He blithely says that he thinks Susan Rice, Obama’s national-security adviser, may have committed a crime, and Rice, playing by rules that were suspended three months ago, says that she “won’t dignify” the remark with a counter-remark. The appeal to dignity is the classic appeal of those who live in an honor society where conduct and credibility are assumed to be inseparable. We are three months past dignity now. That’s the tragedy, and it has already happened.

* Even though Sec. of State Rex Tillerson actually said that it was up to Russia to address Russian election interference (someone is going to have to fill me in on how that works), apparently that wasn’t solicitous enough for Putin.

The Kremlin said on Monday that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will not meet President Vladimir Putin when he visits Moscow on Wednesday, a move that could point to tensions over a U.S. missile attack on a Syrian air base last week.

John Kerry, Tillerson’s predecessor, often met Putin as well as the Russian foreign minister when he visited Moscow, and Putin granted several audiences to the Texan when he ran oil major Exxon Mobil before taking his current job.

Putin even personally awarded Tillerson a top Russian state award — the Order of Friendship — in 2013, and it was widely expected that the former oilman would meet Putin on what is his first trip to Russia as secretary of state.

But Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on Monday that no such meeting was planned, suggesting Tillerson will follow strict diplomatic protocol and only meet his direct counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

* S&P has come out with another evaluation of the Obamacare exchanges. Here are the highlights:

1. The U.S. ACA individual market shows signs of improvement, as most insurers’ 2016 results were better than 2015 results.
2. But the market is still developing and will need a couple more years to reach target profitability.
3. 2016 results and the market enrollment so far in 2017 show that the ACA individual market is not in a “death spiral.”
4. However, every time something new (and potentially disruptive) is thrown into the works, it impedes the individual market’s path to stability.

* The divide between red and blue states continues to widen.

Gov. Jerry Brown…signed legislation Monday raising California’s mandatory minimum to $15 an hour by 2022, acting within hours of a similar bill signing in New York…

In adopting the measure, California joined New York as the first states in the nation to enact a plan to raise their statewide minimums to $15. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed his state’s legislation and was cheered by labor unions at a rally moments before Brown spoke in California.

* Josh Marshall has an interesting take on the Nationalists v (((Globalists))) in TrumpLand.

We have the close-to-feral blood and soil nationalist champing at the bit to take down the globalist elites sucking the blood out of Trump’s real American supporters having to make common cause with perhaps equally caricatured doyens of the world of New York money, who yes are Jews. And real estate barons. And Goldman Sachs bankers. Everything in Trumpland is turned up to 11. Nationalists may hate (((Globalists))) but they’re all blood enemies of nuance, subtlety, anything low drama or anything that would be half-plausible in a Hollywood script.

None of this will end well.

* On a lighter note, Terry Heyman writes “The Kushner Family Passover Haggadah.” Here’s just a taste of the story about how Moses led his people out of Egypt:

Eventually Moses learned of his true family’s identity and tried to help the Jews. (Family must always remain loyal—through felony convictions, product boycotts or impeachment.) Moses started @RoguePALACEfamily to spread hope, but failed to get Pharaoh to pivot on the Jewish labor issue. That’s when God had to step in and visited ten terrible plagues upon Egypt. They were:

Gender Neutral Bathrooms
Tuition-Free Public College
Paid Family Leave
Sensible Gun Control
$15.00 Federal Minimum Wage
Internet Privacy
Carbon Tax
Dodd-Frank
Campaign Finance Reform
Universal Health Care

Egyptians suffered greatly during these plagues. Everyone was getting the same opportunities. Pharaoh couldn’t handle it. After each plague, Pharaoh agreed to let the Jews go. But once the plague disappeared he’d tweet:

“FAKE NEWS got it wrong again — Jews know they r better off w/me than Moses. LOSER!!”

Curiously the tweets always happened on Shabbat. But amid great sorrow over the final plague of universal health care, Pharaoh relented.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.