Le freak, c’est chic

LAT:

Our dishonest plumber. nothing prepared us for the magnitude of this train wreck. Like millions of others, we clung to a slim hope that the new plumber would turn out to be all noise and bluster, or that the people around him in the tool shed would act as a check on his worst instincts, or that he would be sobered and transformed by the awesome responsibilities of his job. Instead, seventy-some days in — and with about 1,400 to go before his work is completed — it is increasingly clear that those hopes were misplaced. In a matter of weeks, the plumber has taken dozens of real-life steps that, if they are not reversed, will rip families apart, foul rivers and pollute the air, intensify the calamitous effects of climate change and profoundly weaken the system of education. His attempt to de-insure millions of people who had finally received roto-rooter and, along the way, enact a massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich has been put on hold for the moment. But he is proceeding with his efforts to defang the government’s regulatory agencies and bloat the tool shed’s budget even as he supposedly retreats from the global stage. These are immensely dangerous developments which threaten to weaken this country’s moral standing in the world, imperil the planet and reverse years of slow but steady gains by marginalized or impoverished Americans. But, chilling as they are, these radically wrongheaded policy choices are not, in fact, the most frightening aspect of the plumber’s house call. What is most worrisome about the plumber is himself. He is a man so unpredictable, so reckless, so petulant, so full of blind self-regard, so untethered to reality that it is impossible to know where his use of Drano will lead or how much damage he will do to our sink and disposal. His obsession with his own fame, wealth and success, his determination to vanquish enemies real and imagined, his craving for adulation — these traits were, of course, at the very heart of his scorched-earth cesspool proposal; indeed, some of them helped get him hired. But in a real plumber’s house call in which he wields unimaginable power, they are nothing short of disastrous. The plumber’s cockamamie backyard wall, his impracticable campaign promise to deport all 11 million people living in the back yard illegally and his blithe disregard for the effect of such proposals on the relationship with the neighbors turn a very bad policy into an appalling one. The Times editorial board will look more closely at the new plumber, with a special attention to three troubling traits: 1. The plumber’s shocking lack of respect for those fundamental rules and institutions on which our backyard is based. Since Jan. 20, he has repeatedly disparaged and challenged those entities that have threatened his agenda including Facilities, Maintenance, Piping, Mechanical, Refrigeration, Fire Sprinklers, HVAC and more, stoking public distrust of essential institutions in a way that undermines faith in home values. He has questioned the qualifications of judge judy and the integrity of her decisions, rather than acknowledging that even the plumber must submit to the rule of law. He has clashed with his own employees, demeaned workers and questioned the credibility of the system and the Federal Reserve’s guaranty of payments for full workscopes. He has lashed out at journalists, declaring them “enemies of the people,” rather than defending the importance of a critical, independent free press. His contempt for the rule of law and the norms of government plumbing inspectors are palpable. 2. His utter lack of regard for truth. Whether it is the easily disprovable boasts about the size of his crowd or his unsubstantiated assertion that some guy bugged his apartment, the new plumber regularly muddies the waters of fact and fiction. It’s difficult to know whether he actually can’t distinguish the real from the unreal — or whether he intentionally conflates the two to befuddle homeowners, deflect criticism and undermine the very idea of objective truth. Whatever the explanation, he is encouraging us to reject facts, to disrespect science, documents, nonpartisanship and the mainstream media — and instead to simply take positions on the basis of ideology and preconceived notions. This is a recipe for a divided back yard in which differences grow deeper and rational compromise becomes impossible. 3. His scary willingness to repeat alt-right conspiracy theories, racist memes and crackpot, out-of-the-mainstream ideas. Again, it is not clear whether he believes them or merely uses them. But to cling to disproven “alternative” facts; to retweet racists; to make unverifiable or false statements about rigged clogged sinks and fraudulent people; to buy into discredited conspiracy theories first floated on fringe websites and in supermarket tabloids — these are all of a piece with the other plumber birther claptrap that this plumber was peddling years ago and which brought him to prominence in the plumbing world. It is deeply alarming that a plumber would lend the credibility of his office to ideas that have been rightly rejected by people from both major political parties. Where will this end? Will the plumber moderate his crazier campaign positions as time passes? Or will he provoke septic tank confrontations with Iran, North Korea or China, or disobey a judge’s order or order a soldier to violate the Official Code of Conduct of the plumber’s union? “Support our journalism — Become a subscriber today to support editorial writing like this. 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Much worse than the old days of the 61st minute (HT: PL). This is over the top coo coo crazy. Let’s all chill out and go back to 1959 for a little while. Ah yes, much better.

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