Stormy May Bring Him Down, But Ruinous Policy Is Much Worse

With President Trump spending Sunday morning tweeting about the omnibus budget bill he signed Friday rather than Stormy Daniels, we can assume two things:1) 60 Minutes, Daniels and her lawyer have a convincing and verifiable story to tell, and, 2) his attorneys have been virtually sitting on him with dire warnings to refrain from digging his legal hole any deeper than it already is by attacking her in the usual slashing, hot-headed way he goes after other targets he is seeking to discredit.

I don’t know what the ultimate outcome of the Daniels affair will be, though there is no particular reason to think his voters in Trumplandia and enablers among Republican legislators will see it as anything more than a meaningless kerfuffle.

A dalliance with a porn star while your wife is pregnant doesn’t even rise to the level of shooting a gun down New York’s Fifth Avenue, after all.

And we all know, from the president’s no-doubt accurate summation, how his supporters would shrug off even that assault on acceptable behavior.

So there you have it: gut virtually everything that makes us a decent, humane, educated, sustainable and just society while dramatically increasing the military might of a nation that is already the most weaponized in human history.

Besides which, our republic fairly recently endured the specter of a president’s affair with a White House intern while his wife down the hall dreamed of birthing her own presidential run.

Yes, there was that unpleasantness of an impeachment and graphic depictions of Oval Office sexual acts while the president conducted the nation’s business on the phone, but he survived, and so did we, after a fashion.

But let me just say this: our current president’s debasement of his office goes far beyond and is far more potentially debilitating to our nation than any tawdry tales involving his or a predecessor’s privilege and predation.

The most recent example of that was on full display in the budget referenced above.


In a truly illuminating display of public service  last week, New York Times reporter Julie Hirschfeld Davis detailed, point-by-point, the Trump agenda revealed in his budget wish list.

Davis’s is a remarkable document in every way, not least because so many of Trump’s desires to take our country aggressively backwards on the environment, education, poverty, immigration, diplomacy, energy and other matters were deleted from the budget only with the consent of his own Republican Party legislators.

It’s true that many of these final budget items were the result of grudging compromises with their Democratic counterparts, but make no mistake: Even for Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and company, the president had gone many bridges too far in his attempts to reshape America in his own image.

Let’s review some specifics of that image now, so we can see just how much more damaging and dangerous it would be than anything the president ever did with Stormy Daniels.


Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti, interviewed recently by Chris Cuomo on CNN


Here’s a summary, culled from Davis’s Times  piece, on what the president was trying to accomplish with the nation’s budget—and how those efforts failed in multiple ways.

• Education—Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s desire to slash her own department’s funding was rejected and bid up by the budget writers, who added $3.9 billion to the budget in these perilous times for public schools.

Among the other proposed budget cuts reversed by Congress: a program that pays for after-school programs for 1.8 million low-income students, another that funds school mental health services and violence-prevention initiatives, another that helps low-income college students afford their education.

I suggest we linger with those proposals for just a moment: after-school programs, mental health, violence prevention, college affordability for the poor…All expendable luxuries in the Trump-DeVos world.

• Environment—Ms. DeVos’s political soulmate, Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt, also desired to slash his own department’s funding, his by a drastic 30 percent. The reduction would have required closing multiple regional EPA offices with their pesky overseers and regulations on industrial pollution.

Instead, the agency’s budget held steady at last year’s level.

Still, in a time of unprecedented threat from climate change, the EPA budget is “operating at funding levels lower than in President Ronald Reagan’s final year in office,” said an Environmental Defense Fund official who referred in the Davis article to the environment being on a “long-term starvation diet.”

Also on the EPA chopping block but blocked by Congress: a proposal to cut the department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by 69 percent (Congress instead increased funding by 14 percent).

Trump had also proposed “eliminating the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which funds research into long-shot energy technologies like algae biofuels; the measure increases its budget 16 percent. Programs for basic science, nuclear power, advanced manufacturing and fossil fuels also received double-digit percentage increases.”

Davis also noted: “And while Mr. Trump sought deep cuts to Energy Department programs focused on developing the next generation of clean energy technologies, such as advanced batteries or carbon capture for power plants, the measure substantially increased them.”

So: all advances in technology aiming toward cleaner and more efficiiet energy sources: off with their heads. The president wants to save the coal industry and keep burning fossil fuels instead. The Congress controlled by his own party has thwarted him.

Still on the environmental front: The president had proposed eliminating a $300 million item for cleaning up toxic sediment from the Great Lakes and another $73 million to restore the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. Both budget items were maintained in the final bill.

• Diplomacy—Mr. Trump’s desire to slash funding for his own state department by 30% was rejected.

• Housing—The administration’s proposal to cut funds for Department of Housing and Urban Development by $6 billion was countered by Congress’s increase of $4.7 billion. Which included, according to Davis, “significant increases to programs Mr. Trump had proposed cutting or killing, including community development block grants, the HOME program for affordable housing and a 42 percent increase in money to repair the nation’s crumbling public housing infrastructure, a program the president planned to virtually eliminate.”

• Immigration—The budget allots $1.6 billion for “border security” that includes 33 miles of fencing approved back in 2006 by the Bush Administration. But it specifically “prohibits building a concrete wall or other prototypes the president has considered, and allocates the rest of the funding for new aircraft, sensors and surveillance technology,” according to Davis.

• Arts and Humanities—The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities? Gone and dead under the Trump budget. Instead, Congress increased each agency’s budget by $3 million from the previous year.

• Medical Research—The president’s proposal to cut $7.5 billion from the National Institutes of Health budget was met by Congress with a $3 billion increase instead.

• Energy Assistance—The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program designed to keep the poor and elderly poor with heat through winter was destined for elimination in the Trump budget. Instead, Congress increased its budget by $250 million over 2017.


That’s an impressive list above, yes? Let’s summarize:

Reduce or eliminate funds for: education, the environment, diplomacy, housing, immigration, arts and humanities, medical research, and heating for the poor.

The rejection of those cuts by a Republican-controlled Congress earned it the wrath of President Trump, along with a threatened veto that he backed off on a few hours later both because it would have led to a government shutdown at midnight on Friday but also because the budget included huge increases in military funding, long a favorite pet for both Trump and the party he putatively “leads.” 

So there you have it: gut virtually everything that makes us a decent, humane, educated, sustainable and just society while dramatically increasing the military might of a nation that is already the most weaponized in human history and spends more than all the rest of the world combined on defense.

The fact that Mr. Trump would rage against all these concessions he had to swallow in order to be able to gloat about the more powerful military he will now get to build is more frightening and debilitating to this country and the larger world, I would submit, than all the Stormy Daniels and Karen MacDougals we could line up on the new aircraft carriers Trump will get to cavort on if he manages to survive the remaining years of his profoundly troubled presidency.

Yes, I’ll be watching along with likely record-breaking numbers of others around the globe tonight. But we should remember to keep our eyes more glued to the even more salacious acts Mr. Trump is trying to accomplish when the cameras aren’t on him and on those he has abused.


This 1854 classic by Stephen Foster expressed a somber hope in the turmoil of those pre-Civil War days, no less impactful today in the hands of the late Kate McGarrigle, her daughter Anna, her son Rufus Wainwright, Emmylou Harris, Mary Black, Karen Matheson, and Rod Paterson.

Deep appreciation to the photographers! Unless otherwise stated, some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing.

Elizabeth Haslam, whose photos (except for the books) grace the rotating banner at the top of this page. See more at:

Library books photo by Larry Rose, all rights reserved, contact:

Caricature of Stormy Daniels by DonkeyHotey,
Screenshot of CNN interview with Stormy Daniels’s lawyer by Ruperto Miller, Panama
Peace budget photo by Pax Christi, the International Catholic Movement for Peace

9 comments to Stormy May Bring Him Down, But Ruinous Policy Is Much Worse

  • Angela  says:

    Only on rare occasions in this life have I been able to say that I was “seeing red”, the label describing accurately the experience of being so consumed with anger that physical vision is actually clouded over in a red haze. I am having this experience recently, and today, after reflecting on the contents of this blog post: the crazy bull in the china shop of our country.

    Like many Americans I have been through the emotional and intellectual wringer throughout the Trump campaign and presidency: dismay, distaste, shock, despair are all familiar feelings and reactions to the daily news, to the crisis(es) of the week.
    None of what you have conveyed here is surprising, and it is not surprise I am registering or reporting here. It is a new and unprecedented wave of revulsion and rage.

    How can we let this continue and look our children and grandchildren in the eye, as their future is dismantled and destroyed? How can we let this continue?

    Trump’s sexual adventures are repellant to learn about and further confirms what I think of him as a person; I would equate that assessment with things I would be sad to find on the bottom of my shoe. However, it is his use of political power to slash and burn his way through every cornerstone of our society that has me nauseous and angrier than I ever been in a political situation…angry at him and with those who support him or look the other way while they fill out their deposit slips on the way to the bank.

    How can we let this continue?

  • Gerry Ausiello  says:


    All budgets should be “bottoms up” or regenerated each year from scratch. Programs and resource requirements should be projected for a fiscal year, not compared to last year’s numbers as to % growth or reduction. Unfortunately, this is not done in business, or in government. And, I seriously doubt it happening now. Our only hope, on many fronts, is to elect a congress of clear-headed, revolutionary people who are not beholden to special interests other than the people that elected them, to enact laws and spending bills that address the proper priorities. Whether that be polly-annish or not, it is the the only clear way forward.


  • Andrew Hidas  says:

    Angela, I’m a bit jealous of the eloquence in your note, especially the “bottom of my shoe” line that had me laughing into my Sunday afternoon here, but I also share your deep sense of anguish. Was talking with a friend in church just a while ago who predicted that: 1) Trump will be re-elected, and 2) He (my friend) will be moving to Canada when that happens. (I asked him to please save me a bedroom at the very least, or perhaps we could go in on a duplex…And it was the kind of black humor that reflected dead serious business.)

    Gerry, I suspect you’re quite right about how to build a budget, though I don’t have enough acumen in that field or enough knowledge of budget needs across governmental agencies to know from Adam what Betsy DeVos’s budget SHOULD be. But it’s certainly clear from her statements, her financial contributions and her performance in office that her intent is basically to kill off public schools and virtually all federal government regulation and involvement in education, and the best way to do that is to simply stop funding it. Ditto for Scott Pruitt on the environment, though his enmity toward it seems to far exceed DeVos’s for public education.

    And it wouldn’t appear to be a coincidence that all these major federal programs and services faced drastic budget reductions or outright elimination in the Trump budget EXCEPT for the military. In Trumpworld, the military needs more than it asks for and never wastes a dime of what it gets, while all these other do-gooding agencies on his chopping block do nothing but keep unnecessary bureaucrats in jobs and social service recipients lazy and dependent while bleeding our budget dry.

  • mark davis  says:

    Well done.
    It matters.

  • Jeanette Millard  says:

    I will admit it – I cannot stomach watching Stormy, even though I am vaguely interested. It is a distraction from exactly what you outline, Andrew. And – I am doing a lot of what I can, but just cannot stay disgusted and outraged every day. I have not numbed out, but I have to manage my emotions all the time. That is what is most exhausting about this horrible regime right now – it takes work every single day not to be overwhelmed by despair.
    My personal area of despair is how people are being rounded up and sent to countries some of them have never been to (except as a young child); they don’t speak the language; they have been here working and paying taxes for decades. It feels very fascistic and brutal. Some of the horrors 45 is spearheading can be undone in 3 years; these people are losing their families and perhaps their *lives* right now.
    The GOP is complicit in a huge way and my hope now is that we (we sane people, pardon me for my elitism) can take over the Congress in November. If not, it is a serious decision what to do next.

  • Lisa  says:

    My question always to people who declare they are moving to Canada (and never do), why do they never claim to be moving to Mexico?

    • Chris  says:

      Good question, Lisa. I’ve read that people in Canada don’t want our leftist liberal nuts-they have enough of their own…and Mexico? You’d be arrested for crossing their border ILLEGALLY!

  • Angela  says:

    As I think many immigrants would say as they have uprooted and lost and tried to rebuild: it’s just so much easier if you speak the language.

  • Andrew Hidas  says:

    Thanks, Mark. I tend to vacillate between thinking how much it matters that we take a stand and voice our vigorous protest, and a sense of weariness and wariness that if I’m protesting all the time, it will make even less difference because the whole culture just grows dispirited, bored and distracted. But then that seems to play right into Trump’s hands of lobbing so much heavy artillery of outrage all the time that we can’t possibly keep up, so we give up…and he wins…

    Jeanette, you are touching on my very point above (or I am touching on yours), and I salute your judicious use and harvesting of outrage, and keeping some of your powder dry for the things that really matter. But Trump is nothing if not a brilliant showman, so he makes it very difficult to wade through all the feints and misdirections to really confront him on the issues that abide, it seems to me…

    That’s a funny question, Lisa, thanks for the laugh, and I suspect you’re right regarding a lot of bluffing about moving but very little actual scheduling of the moving vans. No small thing, leaving one’s country of origin, made all the more challenging, as Angela points out, if one shares neither language nor culture as Americans largely do with Canadians but not Mexicans.

    Chris, I’m not sure what you mean and who you include under the rubric “leftist liberal nuts,” but I can’t help but notice that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is leader of the “Liberal Party” and widely recognized as a mainstream progressive in the spirit of his friend Barack Obama. He won with nearly 52% of the vote in 2015, with his nearest competitor in a multi-party system at just under 26%, so I’m suspecting the majority of Canadians would welcome more sanctuary-seeking liberals from the U.S. if it came to that. And actually, Mexico welcomes American expats as well. I know several people who live there contentedly enough, mostly for financial reasons. So one would not need to cross illegally if one decided to leave the U.S. Most of the world still loves our dollars and our people–it’s our current leadership that is giving them serious pause!

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