Four weeks and counting the shutdown continues except the Trump-Congress tit-for-tat is fast approaching kindergarten level.
The Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is third in line for the office of President. The Democrats having won back the House she is a Democrat, and Donald Trump just canceled her morale-boosting trip, together with a congressional delegation, to the soldiers in Afghanistan. He was able to do that very simply by denying the use of the military aircraft scheduled to fly them there; he cited the shutdown. He even suggested they could fly commercial to Afghanistan, but disclosing plans to a war zone by such a high-level elected official has left some dismayed.
A day earlier, Ms. Pelosi had urged the president to postpone his State of the Union address, which is hosted by the House, again because of the shutdown.
Meanwhile some Federal workers are having difficulty buying groceries — some 800,000 either continue to work without pay or are just sitting at home waiting to return. Many, if they can, are taking on temporary jobs.
As the cost of the shutdown rises, so does the political cost. A new Marist poll finds 54 percent blame Trump for the shutdown while 31 percent believe the Democrats are the cause. But, cutting across party lines, 70 percent do not like the shutdown and agree it is a bad negotiating strategy. It looks like it might cost all incumbents, and Republicans are likely to suffer worse.
The latest shot fired is a threatened investigation by Democrats. It is alleged that Mr. Trump instructed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The House Intelligence Committee will investigate the claims according to its new chairman Adam Schiff, a Democrat, adding that suborning perjury before this committee is the most serious charge to date against the president.
From ground wars to space wars: President Trump has now announced new missile defense plans. A layer of space sensors to detect missile launches anywhere on earth is the intent. “Our goal is simple: to ensure we can detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States — anywhere, anytime, any place.” Inevitably the new plan invites comparisons with Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” concept introduced in the 1980s but later shelved because of its inordinate cost after the Soviet Union dissolved.
The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Review notes four countries (China, Iran, North Korea and Russia) that could be possible threats with missiles capable of hitting the U.S. “We have some very bad players out there,” according to Mr. Trump, though it is almost impossible to imagine any of the four countries mentioned launching a missile strike. Given the consequences, including a nuclear winter to threaten the planet as a whole, it is difficult to envision circumstances leading to nuclear war. And Russia warns of a new arms race.
Naturally, Mr. Trump wants immediate funding for these plans. But the House holds the purse strings. Oops! It’s back to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The game continues.