Weekend Open Thread: Watch Out for Problem Solving 101


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Now that OJB has established that “Alexa, make the refs call pass interference in the red zone on the Patriots” is not an actual command (which is probably just as well, or some New Orleans fan could probably have used something like it to put the Saints into the Super Bowl, we’ll end (or start) the week with some ruminations on how people might solve problems with good advice.  Look forward to (or beware of, depending on how you feel about the problem solver) these possible solutions to some current problems.

1. Problem: No One Will Host the Academy Awards

The Oscars are coming up in three weeks and nobody is willing to host them, for fear of revealing skeletons in their closets.  Also, the producers of the Oscars tried to elbow three of the five Best Song nominee from being performed, to save time, upsetting the natural order of the universe and drawing admonishment from favored performer Lady Gaga until they capitulated.

How would you solve the problem?

SOLUTION:

Divide the show, except for the last three awards, into five equal parts.  Each will be hosted by one of the five performers.  Best Song will be moved to the third-to-last award, and whoever wins that award will host Best Director and Best Movie.  Then do this again every year forever.

2. Problem: Sickouts by Air Traffic Controllers Can Totally Wreck Your Government Shutdown

(I didn’t say that the problems would all be be sympathetic; this is more in the nature of “watch out, because they’re surely going to able to figure this one out.)

Premier Trump knows that he’s not going to get the Democrats to provide money for his desired border wall/fence/slats/barrier — which will not solve any of the problems it is supposedly intended to solve, but shutting down the government will raise the profile of the only issue that Trump seems to think can win him reelection (and four extra years of what he hopes is protection against federal indictment).  He just doesn’t care.

Cutting off most government functions is no skin off his nose; he doesn’t like most government functions anyway.  And to the extent that federal workers suffered terribly during the five weeks of the December-to-January shutdown, Trump sees that as a positive thing, because he’s all about holding hostages as a negotiating tactic.

What stopped the shutdown was probably not the fact that Trump’s poll numbers were going down; all he’ll need in 2020 is to do better in the right states than his opponent, and work is probably already underway on photoshopping images of all of the major candidates in KKK garb into their old yearbooks.  Instead, it was the totally unforeseeable (by Trump) fact that shutting down the government would also end up shutting down a bunch of airports (when TSA workers would call in sick rather than being forced to work for free.)  Turns out that that piqued public interest in a way that Trump didn’t like.

“SOLUTION”

Some people seem to think that we will not be sent into a second “aftershock” shutdown.  We will.  I don’t think that there is a chance in hell that Trump’s largely inept advisers won’t figure out what he can do to get back his hostages. He has the power to declare any federal worker “essential.”  So that’s what he’ll do — along with preparing to slam public sector unions and employees who refuse to work for free while in the process of losing their homes.

Without the pressure placed on air travel, there’s no clear choke point that will break Trump’s will.  And because (for those other than federal employees) the fact that most of the disastrous effects of having no government don’t appear until well down the line — such as, “goodbye, Joshua Tree tourist economy” — don’t expect as much of a public outcry.  The one thing that could make a difference is pressure on Senate Minority Mitch McConnell to bring up legislation that could pass the Senate even if Trump doesn’t want it.  But McConnell is not easily pressured unless lots of Republican Senators decide that they might lose.

What’s the solution for those who want to see an end to shutdowns without a permanent monument to the desire to poke Mexico in the eye with a sharp stick?  Sorry: some things are beyond even OJB.

3.  Problem: Two People Claim to Be President of Venezuela

Not our problem.  We’ve knocked off too many Latin American, African, Asian, and even European countries’ governments to have any credibility with the rest of the world.  If you’re a politician, set out your marker now that you don’t favor imposing pro-American governments on countries that haven’t voted for them.  And don’t talk about deficiencies in their vote counting if we won’t get our own house in order.  Let’s see more Presidential candidates go on record about this so that they can be ruled in or out.

This is also your retrofitted Weekend Open Thread, so do that WOT thing.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose worker's rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You'll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)