Weekend Reflections: Shutdown, Breakdown, Meltdown

It’s a wall! It’s a barrier! It’s — Super-Optics!

Meanwhile, a small fraction of the United States Federal Government is officially “shut down” — which would be fantabulous, if it actually meant that the billions of tax dollars confiscated from the American people and their great-great-grandchildren to pay the salaries of huge numbers of non-essential and essentially ineffective government workers were being saved from the bottomless pit. Unfortunately, all those poor, suffering civil servants — many of whom have now had to survive missing one whole paycheck — will eventually get paid for the worktime they are missing.

Perfect! They will eventually get paid for the period during which they were doing absolutely nothing to contribute either to the American economy or to the vital operations of the U.S. Government — just like always.

No, I don’t have it in for civil servants. For the most part, they are just people trying to feed themselves, pay for a home, clothe their children, and so on. For whatever reasons, their lives somehow ended up on a path toward “the easy way,” namely low- to mid-level office work in a federal office, with all the advantages that entails: predictable hours, little competition or risk of demotion, a work environment that actually rewards those who do not out-hustle their peers, and a respectable, secure job that is, on the whole, neither physically nor mentally challenging, apart from the exhaustion induced by that “hamster wheel” feeling one gets from unimportant work.

John Bolton is talking these days about the “agreement” and “expectations” upon which the U.S. withdrawal from Syria is conditioned. That, of course, is poppycock, as both Trump’s original declaration and Mike Pompeo’s subsequent reaffirmations make clear. This “ongoing negotiations” line seems to be merely Bolton’s attempt to save face for himself, given that he has a need for ego-gratifying optics almost as desperate as his boss’s.

Bolton is a lot of things, none of them very savory, but one thing he is not is stupid. He has built his career on a reputation for hard-nosed tough talk on international affairs, and Trump’s open submission on Syria to two of his favorite tyrants, Erdogan and Putin, was so shameful in its manner and implications that even a career apparatchik, if he has an ounce of self-respect left, had to step up and try to make the position look stronger and less capitulatory than it appeared (i.e., was).

This is not “good cop, bad cop” posturing. We are seeing a fissure developing within the administration, as Pompeo proves himself the bigger, slimier bootlicker, while Bolton tries to save his reputation for another day, and another administration.

Pompeo’s position is no surprise. As I have noted before, Trump’s humiliating personal attack on Pompeo’s predecessor, Rex Tillerson, left little doubt as to the character of the man who inherited the secretary of state position, and who had to quietly accept the “praise” he was being given in the context of that revolting sissy-fit Trump threw at Tillerson.

Does anyone remember Betsy DeVos, Trump’s secretary of education? Does anyone remember the thrill all the confused, establishment-duped conservatives were feeling when Trump appointed a real, live advocate of “school choice” to head that department?

Leaving aside the bigger issue of whether “school choice” has anything to do with conservatism or educational freedom — quite the opposite, in fact, which explains why every conservative’s favorite 2016 whipping boy, Jeb Bush, was also the primaries’ most prominent advocate of school choice, and a friend of DeVos — I merely wish to ask: Is anyone keeping track of the obituary page? Is Betsy DeVos still around? Is the Department of Education even a topic anymore?

Meanwhile, another generation of American children is being raised by the government, under the supervision of federal indoctrination regulators and their funding controllers. And Betsy, if she is still among us, is no doubt filling her rolodex with offers to sit on various boards of directors and collect fat paychecks.

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