Young looking Asian man with no smile but clapping his hands

Well, not really a vacuum. The past three weeks have been more like the space between our planets which is actually full of all kinds of stuff but doesn’t have much happening. The bloated Congress has been typically idle, and the administration has spent most of its time battling through an increasingly large number of scandals. Then there’s the solar wind that blows in all directions, constantly moving but achieving no forward progress. That’s been the Democrats’ lackadaisical plans for the next couple of years and the executive branch’s staffing changes. It is said that a lot can happen in a day, but following national politics makes it impossible to believe.

The leadership of both North and South Korea told the world they had begun work on ending the armistice and starting the process of denuclearization. Political prisoners have been offered conditional release and the countries now share a time zone. The likelihood of armed conflict has been temporarily lowered and China’s influence in the Pacific is being challenged. We cannot know for sure if Kim Jong-un is genuine in his calls for peace but cooperating with him is worth a try. If the trust is well-placed, another war will end, and the world will be a safer, more humane place. If not, we’re only back to where we are right now. We teach our children it’s okay to fail as long as they try. We should extend that principle to everyone else.

There has been some talk about Trump deserving the Nobel Peace Prize for his actions regarding Korea. No evidence is currently available to even suggest he is responsible for the progress. Therefore, putting ‘Trump’ and ‘Prize’ into the same sentence is a terrible idea unless he earns a Darwin Award. Should it turn out that the president did play a role, it wouldn’t be out of the question for him to share the prize with all concerned. There have certainly been less deserving recipients (Kissinger, Obama, the EU).

One leader Trump has been spending time with is Emmanuel Macron. The French president took Trump on a whirlwind romantic tour of Paris last year and Trump apparently became quite smitten. They are politically quite different but have easily found common ground à la Dubya and his war criminal puppy, Tony Blair. Macron foresees Trump being amenable to many of his wishes as shown by the recent attacks on Syria. With the slow demise of the wretched liver dumpling Angela Merkel, Macron sees his opportunity to take over Europe and further poison an entire continent with neoliberalism. To do that, he needs Trump to alter his stance on trade and slaughter innocent people near Europe’s borders. It may turn out to be a fruitful relationship because big business and killing people of color will earn any government respect and assistance from the United States.

Speaking of avoidable deaths, there were four more recent murders to please the people’s representatives. A 29-year-old man walked into a Tennessee Waffle House and opened fire with an AR-15 assault rifle. The death toll would have been worse had James Shaw not taken control of the weapon and forced the gunman, Travis Reinking, to flee. Shaw deserves every possible praise, award, and financial bonus. He put himself in grave danger to save the lives of complete strangers so is owed more recognition than the police officers and military personnel who do not keep anyone safe. What makes the story worse is that Reinking had multiple weapons taken away over concerns for his mental stability. The guns were handed back to Reinking’s father who immediately returned them to his son. Officers from the Secret Service, ATF, and a sheriff’s office in Illinois all knew of the murderer’s problems yet saw fit to give his military-grade weapons to his father. No-one who has a gun taken away should have it given back. Also, if an individual is known to have mental health problems, neither they nor anyone remotely close to them should be permitted to own a firearm. Then there are the common-sense measures I outlined in a previous article. Politicians will be salivating over this story because they can look good discussing the failures of the criminal justice system while sucking in millions of bloodstained dollars from the NRA. They reap big benefits without lifting a trigger finger.

Before I engage in my trademark bashing of the Democrats and electioneering in general, more has been happening within the Trump administration and the Senate. The Russia investigation and the Stormy Daniels scandal have dominated the airwaves. Mueller’s investigation has become a giant mess, so we are unlikely to ever know what truly happened in the lead-up to the 2016 election. There are just too many people and too much money involved for us to expect a clean, fair conclusion. The “geriatric president cheated on his former-model wife with a porn star” story has had no real developments. We know Daniels was paid off and have a strong hunch that Trump knew all about it. It’s not something I wish to spend my time studying but it’s big news for a lot of people and is proof of the lack of actual political developments.

More White House advisors left their positions and some cabinet secretaries/department heads are in hot water. For a party that prides itself on fiscal restraint, the GOP is wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on frivolous expenditures. From Ben Carson’s new china set to Scott Pruitt’s custom vehicle and airline tickets, administration officials are spending an unfathomable amount of time decorating their offices and enriching themselves. With the media fallout and the ethics investigations, they have no time left for governance.

The Senate confirmed the nominations of Pompeo at State and Jim Bridenstine for NASA administrator. As per the details in a previous article, Pompeo will move the State Department closer to the Department of Defense and ruin any chances for future diplomacy. The military and intelligence sectors will be provided with extra cover for torture, war crimes, spying, etc. Bridenstine, like pretty much every other administration official, is tremendously unqualified for his position. He has no science or engineering background: he has an MBA and spent a large part of his adulthood in the military. He was a director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum, a position for which he has recently come under scrutiny for financial impropriety. It is alleged that he used nonprofit funds to benefit companies of which he was/is a shareholder. He is a climate change denier and he supported creepy Ted Cruz for the presidency. As NASA administrator, Bridenstine will oversee climate change studies, the development of cutting-edge technologies, and a scientific endeavor of which Russia is a major “competitor.” We can only imagine how much he and his far-right buddies will destroy all of NASA’s hard work.

The Senate also engaged in bipartisanship to improve the lives of a politically marginalized demographic. Our senators changed a rule on children being on the floor to allow in those younger than one. I am so proud that infants who are not guaranteed a home, healthcare, or education have been given the freedom to suck their thumbs inside the United States Senate. For far too long, the floor has been dominated by old crones who don’t care about real issues like the temperature of formula or the smell of bink-binks. Some of the most powerful men and women in the world put their heads together and did what millions of their constituents have been begging for. The whole thing was orchestrated by new mother, Tammy Duckworth. She is a run-of-the-mill politician only interested in using her position to achieve things for herself and her family. Like almost every incumbent at every level of government, she has done something very easy and which is of no lasting consequence. As the 2018 elections are shaping up, it seems as though there is little chance for new, hardworking candidates to replace the lazy hacks we’ve been previously saddled with.

The Democrats have been raising millions more than the Republicans and are still likely to win a lot of seats this November. The Republicans have kept few of their promises and have given left-leaning voters no reasons to jump the fence. Despite the larger war chests, Democratic candidates are playing a dangerous game by losing out on airtime and rehashing old ideas for the future. Nationwide, and in Ohio especially, broadcast channels have been flooded with political ads for conservative candidates. They are getting their issues into people’s homes and their names on their minds. Every ad is one of two types: bragging about closeness to Trump and a neofascist platform or calling out an opponent for not being scummy or religious enough. Anywhere else, it would be a prudent move to let such ads sink their candidates, but this is America. Gun-loving, scripture-quoting, racist science deniers actually get elected to office here. Waiting for Republicans to self-implode is dangerous because it has never worked before and Republican candidates would not be using Trump in their ads if he and his policies were not still hugely popular.

Nancy Pelosi is adding her personal touch to her party wasting its golden opportunity. She has publicly expressed her intention to become speaker should the Democrats take the House. She carries a ton of baggage from her previous stint as speaker and she is presenting the right with a big target for their attacks. The Republicans can turn out voters by frightening them with the prospect of Pelosi once again controlling the nation’s legislation. She will also keep younger Democrats at home because they will see her party as being incapable of change. An old white bag of bones who has been in the House for years isn’t their idea of progress. Pelosi needs to move above her personal ambitions and do what is right for the country.

Another reason for young lefties to stay home or vote for a progressive party is the new Democratic platform. From its name alone, we can see there is nothing new or exciting in it. The “Better Deal” offers a few bucks here and there for different programs but doesn’t have anything that progressives want or the country requires. The name harkens back decades and the policies aren’t exactly forward thinking. If a political party is trying to take over a country, referring to a time before TVs existed is an absurd way to campaign. Also, better does not mean good. Bird shit is better than human shit but still no-one wants to eat it. Overall, it is just enough for them to seem opposed to Trump without losing the money from their right-wing owners, so it is business as usual for the Democratic Party.

In other news, teachers in Colorado and Arizona staged walkouts to demand better salaries. Still no-one in power has supported the teachers or brought the issue into the elections. Barbara Bush died and received an unjustified amount of mourning. She has three claims to fame: her husband became president for a little while, she hugged an AIDS victim, and squeezed out asshole kids. Flags should have been at half-mast if she had kept her legs shut and not given us Dubya or Jeb!. Hugging someone shouldn’t earn plaudits and marriage is no achievement. Before anyone wants to suggest misogyny is present, I think Dennis Thatcher and Peter Davis are nobodies too. California governor Jerry Brown gave in to Trump and ordered 400 National Guard troops to the border. He says the troops are fighting international gangs and drug trafficking, but the timing is awfully suspicious. Why Brown is fulfilling the president’s request and misusing the National Guard is a mystery.

It would be easy to say nothing is happening and nobody is present in national politics. As we have seen, a lot is taking place, it’s just that none of it is worth a damn. Candidates are working hard but doing everything wrong. Incumbents are sleeping on the job with regards to legislation. The executive branch has no time for anything except depositions and payoffs. The primaries are upon us, so I am excited about seeing our “vacuum” fill up with progressive victors and a year full of frantic action. Or not. Whatever.