Adventus

"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

So, that happened.....


The cartoons before the election about Trump emblazoning his name on the front of the White House and painting the columns gold were funny.

This is not.

The report was that Trump brought two candidates for his nomination to the Supreme Court to a reception in the White House, flew them in with their wives.  There were earlier reports that Trump was determined to keep his choice a secret until he announced it; and bringing two candidates was obviously part of that ploy.

So imagine being the guy flown to D.C. by the President just to be told you were the cover story to keep the choice a secret until the big reveal.  Imagine even going to D.C. knowing the other candidate was coming, too.  Or did they know?  Because frankly, if it was me, I'd have told the President "Thanks, but no thanks."  If you aren't the choice, why do you want to be the cat's paw?

It's disgusting and degrading and demeaning.  It is also pure Trump:  it's all about him, and we are all just pasteboard figures in his megalomania theater.

You need no more proof of that than the fact that Trump had to assemble White House staff to applaud him when he entered the room.  It isn't enough you are the President and everyone stands when you enter (yes, I've watched "The West Wing.").  You need applause, too.

What happens when Trump takes a shit?  Does he get a gold star?

I'm serious.  What kind of insecure, needy, narcissistic person needs people to applaud him whenever he is on camera to encourage him to speak to the nation?  He called this circus.  It's an unprecedented act to call for a prime-time TV spot so you can make a 5 minute announcement (which he stretched to 15).  And you can't do it without an audience and paid applause?

The worst part, the most disrespectful part, was parading both candidates into the White House in front of Congressional leaders.  I was truly surprised he didn't bring them both before the cameras before choosing one and sending the other home in shame.  But the need for applause, for approval, for approbation in something as simple as a cursory announcement of a Presidential prerogative:  this man as President of the United States is truly frightening.

In Response to Sen. John Neely Kennedy


Via Wounded Bird:

Sen. John Kennedy said the United States has the "right to control its border," adding that it would be "stupid to let people who want to hurt us into our country."

"We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws," Kennedy said. "I support the following rule: If you want to come to America, you have to be rigorously vetted to make sure you are not a terrorist, regardless of your religion or country of origin."
Yes, it is stupid to let lightning, toddlers, lawnmowers, buses, beds, and other Americans with guns into our country.

When are we going to put a stop to this carnage?

Give Trump a Chance


Before executing a major policy, experienced and effective political operations lay the necessary groundwork to ensure that when they do have to fight, they will do so on the most favorable ground. First, they engage in extensive behind-the-scenes consultation to understand the landscape, with an eye toward learning about the array of potential consequences. They then investigate the political, legal, and practical obstacles to implementation, and figure out which tweaks can neutralize opponents and sidestep judicial challenges. They start narrow to deprive opponents of sympathetic plaintiffs and only broaden the policy later, when the high-profile battle is won. Then when the opposition is disorganized and demoralized, and its fear-mongering discredited, you come back for more.

Or you don't....

Gen. Talib al Kenani commands the elite American-trained counter terrorist forces that have been leading the fight against ISIS for two years.

“I’m a four star general, and I’m banned from entering the U.S.?” he said.

His family was relocated to the U.S. for their safety, and he’d had plans to see them next week, until he was told not to bother.

“I have been fighting terrorism for 13 years and winning,” he said. “Now my kids are now asking if I’m a terrorist?”

“There are many American troops here in Iraq,” he said. “After this ban how are we supposed to deal with each other?”

“This ban needs to be reviewed,” Kenani said. “We thought we were partners with our American friends, and now we realize that we’re just considered terrorists.”

Should we give Trump a chance?, NPR's 1A asked this morning.  To do what, shoot the country in the other foot?

The Tinpot Dictator Strides onto the Balcony


Slate described it perfectly:

The firing of Yates represents a spectacular example of Trump lashing out at a person who has dared to assert a moral vision that conflicts with his squalid and fearful worldview. The move looks all the more gratuitous and petty given that Yates was imminently on her way out the door anyway: As a holdover from the Obama administration, she took the job of acting attorney general on an interim basis while Trump’s pick for the permanent position, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, went through the Senate confirmation process.

But then Trump gave me more reason than ever to support any Democratic Senator who refuses to vote for Jeff Sessions:

The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States. This order was approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel.
Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.

It is time to get serious about protecting our country. Calling for tougher vetting for individuals travelling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country.

Tonight, President Trump relieved Ms. Yates of her duties and subsequently named Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to serve as Acting Attorney General until Senator Jeff Sessions is finally confirmed by the Senate, where he is being wrongly held up by Democrat [sic] senators for strictly political reasons

“I am honored to serve President Trump in this role until Senator Sessions is confirmed. I will defend and enforce the laws of our country to ensure that our people and our nation are protected,” said Dana Boente, Acting Attorney General.
'Betrayed'?  Really?  Et tu, Brute? L'etat, c'est moi?  Who does this guy think he is?

Ms. Yates may be "weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration (which this executive order has nothing to do with), but she's strong on professional ethics, a concept that would die of thirst crossing the desert of the President's thought process.

Calling for "tougher vetting" is one thing; creating chaos with a directive that scares even David Frum for its authoritarianism is another.

And Jeff Sessions is "being wrongly held up by Democrat [sic. dog whistle!  Drink!] senators for strictly political reasons"?  These guys really don't know where they are, do they?

And Dana Boente, I've never heard of you before, but forever after may history know you as Robert Bork, Jr.

Oh, let's just pile on, shall we?

[SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, R-AL]: You have to watch out because people will be asking you to do things you just need to say “no” about. Do you think the Attorney General has the responsibility to say no to the President if he asks for something that’s improper? A lot of people have defended the [Loretta] Lynch nomination, for example, by saying, “Well [Obama] appoints somebody who’s going to execute his views. What’s wrong with that?” But if the views the president wants to execute are unlawful, should the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General say no?

[SALLY] YATES: Senator, I believe the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General has an obligation to follow the law and the Constitution, and to give their independent legal advice to the president.
But when the POTUS is a Republican?

As I say, she is right.  Eloquent, too:

On January 27, 2017, the President signed an Executive Order regarding immigrants and refugees from certain Muslim-majority countries. The order has now been challenged in a number of jurisdictions. As the Acting Attorney General, it is my ultimate responsibility to determine the position of the Department of Justice in these actions.

My role is different from that of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), which, through administrations of both parties, has reviewed Executive Orders for form and legality before they are issued. OLC’s review is limited to the narrow question of whether, in OLC’s view, a proposed Executive Order is lawful on its face and properly drafted. Its review does not take account of statements made by an administration or it surrogates close in time to the issuance of an Executive Order that may bear on the order’s purpose. And importantly, it does not address whether any policy choice embodied in an Executive Order is wise or just.

Similarly, in litigation, DOJ Civil Division lawyers are charged with advancing reasonable legal arguments that can be made supporting an Executive Order. But my role as leader of this institution is different and broader. My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts. In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right. At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful.

Consequently, for as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.

Compare and contrast with the statement coming out of the White House.   And Dana Boente is still Robert Bork's water boy.

Who's in charge here?


Not the President:

"It deals with people who are being deported. The action never spoke to it, never intended to deport people," Spicer said.

A federal judge in New York on Saturday issued an order keeping U.S. officials from deporting people who fell under the travel ban and who were detained in American airports despite having valid visas.

Spicer claimed on Monday that the federal government never meant to deport any those who were detained. He said that officials detained them and determined whether or not "they sought to do us any harm."
Government officials are not the government, and the buck doesn't stop with Trump, it stops with the underlings.  Who, by the way, "did a phenomenal job of making sure that we processed people through."

Trump preaches it round and square.  And then he blames Delta Airlines:

"Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning. Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage, protesters and the tears of Senator Schumer. Secretary Kelly said that all is going well with very few problems. MAKE AMERICA SAFE AGAIN!" he wrote in a series of tweets.
Nobody, by the way, knows where that "109" figure came from.   The number of people affected is much closer to 90,000.  Best get used to that kind of lie coming out of the White House.  But no matter, being detained illegally is not such a big deal!

"I think it's a shame that people were inconvenienced, obviously. But at the end of the day, we're talking about a couple hours," Spicer told reporters in his daily briefing. "I'm sorry that some folks may have had to wait a little while."

He said that detained travelers were "temporarily inconvenienced" and that the order was meant to "make sure that somebody is inconvenienced a little."

"People experience this all the time, sometimes going in and out of TSA," he said. "We have to wait in lines, too." 

Sort of like false arrest, which is remedied the minute they let you go!  Oh, wait, it isn't.....

So long as the person is deprived of his personal liberty, the amount of time actually detained is inconsequential.

Well, anyway, being held by agents is the same thing as standing in line, and it was all Delta's fault!  Look, over there!  A terrorist!   Booga-booga!  [sound of running feet, slamming door]

Monday, January 30, 2017

Who wants to be "Robert Bork"?


Ewwwwww!

The acting Attorney General Sally Yates has told Justice Department lawyers not to make legal arguments defending President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees, according to sources familiar with the order.

The move sets up a dramatic clash between the White House and the Obama-appointed Yates.
One minor correction: the move sets up a dramatic clash between the WH and the Rule of Law.
That screen-shot commentary is via NTodd, because the story has already changed:

President Donald Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday night for "refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States," the White House said.

"(Yates) has betrayed the Department of Justice," the White House statement said.
Dana Boente, US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, has been named new acting attorney general, the White House said.

Sally Yates is the hero in this scenario:

"My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts," she said in a letter. "In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution's solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right."
....
"At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful," Yates wrote.*
And unless Dana Boente uses some fancy footwork, Boente will be playing the role of Robert Bork.

I've seen this movie, and it wasn't called "Finding Nemo."  It was something about a massacre, as I recall.....


*Lawyers do have this responsibility to the law and the courts; I'd like to see Boente display the same sense of professional ethics.

It's not easy being Kellyanne

Strange visitor from a distant planet....

Kellyanne Conway, consummate Christian:

I went on three network Sunday shows. I spoke for 35 minutes on three network Sunday shows. You know what got picked? The fact that I said alternative facts, not the fact that I ripped a new one to some of those hosts for never covering the facts that matter to America's women, 16.1 million women in poverty as we sit there, the 12.4 million who have no health insurance. Everybody should feel outraged. The billions of dollars we have spent as a nation on public education, only to have millions of kids trapped in schools that fail them and never really promote and protect their intelligence and prepare them for the world that they all deserve. They shouldn't be restricted by the zip code where they live. They should be lifted up.

This has all been a colossus failure, and nobody wants to talk about that. They want to talk about it's always zing. It's always playing gotcha. There's no question that when you look at the contributions made by the media, money contributions, they went to Hillary Clinton. We have all the headlines, people should be embarrassed. Not one network person has been let go. Not one silly political analyst and pundit who talked smack all day long about Donald Trump has been let go. They are on panels every Sunday. They're on cable news every day. Who's the first editorial—the first blogger that will be left out that embarrassed his or her outlet? We know all their names.

I'm too polite to call them by name. But they know who they are, and they're all wondering, will I be the first to go? The election was three months ago. None of them have been let go. If this were a real business, if the mainstream media were a thriving private sector business that actually turn a profit, which is not true of many of our newspapers, Chris, 20 percent of the people would be gone. They embarrassed, they failed to protect their shareholders and their board members and their colleagues.

And yet we deal with him every single day. We turn the other cheek. If you are part of team Trump, you walk around with these gaping, seeping wounds every single day, and that's fine. I believe in a full and fair press. I'm here every Sunday morning. I haven't slept in a month. I believe in a full and fair press. But with the free press comes responsibility. And responsibility is to get the story right. Biased coverage is easy to detect. Incomplete coverage impossible to detect. That's my major grievance, is the media are not—they're not giving us complete coverage. President Trump has signed all these executive orders this week. He's met with these heads of states. He's done so many things to stimulate the economy, to boost wages, to create jobs. Where's the coverage?

I think that was my favorite line.  Like her boss, it's all about her.   Somehow.  Please to admire her wounds on the way out, won't you?  Truly she is a martyr for truth, justice, and the American Way.  And she meekly submits.  Surely she has carried our sorrows.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? (Isaiah 53:7-8)

Right?   Trump to a "T," isn't it?  And Kellyanne right beside him!  Why, she would never even name names.  She's too polite for that.  Demanding mass firings of people who didn't say or write nice things about her boss, however; well, that would just be human decency, wouldn't it?  That would simply be cosmic justice.  That would simply be protecting the bottom line.

But because that will never happen, Kellyanne Conway walks around with gaping, seeping wounds.  Besides, Trump has done so much to stimulate the economy, boost wages, create jobs, all within one week!  Where's the coverage?

Shares fell in Europe and Asia on Monday and the dollar dipped against the safe-haven yen after immigration curbs introduced by Donald Trump added an extra layer of uncertainty to the economic impact of the new U.S. president's policies.

Wall Street appeared headed for a weaker opening, with e-mini futures contracts on the S&P 500 down 0.3 percent.
Typical media lies!

Canary in the Coal Mine


The United Church of Christ, the National Association of Evangelicals, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, the Episcopal Church have all raised objections to Trump's ban on Muslims (let's be honest about that).  Some of those churches, as well as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church's Council of Bishops, the Union for Reform Judaism, signed a letter against Trump's ban.  The Southern Baptist Convention sent a letter this morning protesting the ban.

That list doesn't include Muslim groups, and secular groups, and individuals like Fr. James Martin, also listed at the links, who protested Trump's action.

Interestingly, the objections of all those groups, except for the SBC, were made last week, before Trump signed the order on Friday that created so much controversy and chaos over the weekend.  It was announced; the news was available.  Religion News Service and Huffington Post reported on it as late as Friday, as early as Wednesday, and yet on the news channels over the weekend:

*crickets*

Which is a mockery of our claims to be a "Christian" nation, or of the complaints that our country is run by right-wing Christians.  When he was governor, Mike Pence objected to Trump's idea (during the primaries) of a ban on Muslims.  Now, of course, he tacitly supports it.  Only Franklin Graham has come out in support of Trump's ban; even Focus on the Family has objected.

Just a reminder that there is an alternative voice out there; even if almost no one wants to listen to it....

"We are trying to protect the future!"


No, seriously.  Tomorrow belongs to....Trump?

“This is not about religion ― this is about terror and keeping our country safe,” Trump said Sunday.

Sure it is.  As Domenic Montenaro originally pointed out, this executive order is not a "Muslim" ban, except when it is:

Upon the resumption of USRAP admissions, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual's country of nationality. Where necessary and appropriate, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall recommend legislation to the President that would assist with such prioritization.
All countries covered by this order are majority Muslim countries.  Clearly, refugee claims by Muslims will not be prioritized under this order, ever.  Which is also, clearly, a violation of the First Amendment.  It doesn't matter whether the refugees addressed by this order are U.S. citizens or within U.S. jurisdiction:  "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...."  Congress can't do it, the states can't do it (through the 14th Amendment), and the President can't do it.

But it's okay, because so far only 109 people have been affected (well, directly and critically, anyway), and bothering 109 people is a small price to pay to abandon Constitutional principles in the name of a danger that doesn't really exist:


Courtesy of the Cato Institute, via Southern Beale.  Adding that, per another chart at Cato, deaths from terrorist acts in the U.S. between 1975 and 2015, per 100,000, went up to 1 in 2001.  Otherwise, it stands at "0".  Comparable death rates per 100,000 from other sources can be determined at your leisure.  I got things to do.

At least the future is protected; right?

"He started a joke/which started the whole world crying..."


Trump started it yesterday:

My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months. The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror. 

His minions kept it up today.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Sunday defended President Donald Trump’s latest executive order on immigration and refugee vetting, arguing the Obama administration originally flagged the seven “countries of particular concern.”

“The Obama administration put these first and foremost,” Spicer told ABC’s “This Week.”
So, here's what happened under Obama:

The Department of Homeland Security today announced that it is continuing its implementation of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 with the addition of Libya, Somalia, and Yemen as three countries of concern, limiting Visa Waiver Program travel for certain individuals who have traveled to these countries.

Pursuant to the Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security had sixty days to determine whether additional countries or areas of concern should be subject to the travel or dual nationality restrictions under the Act. After careful consideration, and in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security has determined that Libya, Somalia, and Yemen be included as countries of concern, specifically for individuals who have traveled to these countries since March 1, 2011. At this time, the restriction on Visa Waiver Program travel will not apply to dual nationals of these three countries. DHS continues to consult with the Department of State and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to develop further criteria to determine whether other countries would be added to this list.

Last month, the United States began implementing changes under the Act. The three additional countries designated today join Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria as countries subject to restrictions for Visa Waiver Program travel for certain individuals. Under the new law, the Secretary of Homeland Security may waive these restrictions if he determines that such a waiver is in the law enforcement or national security interests of the United States. Such waivers will be granted only on a case-by-case basis. As a general matter, categories of travelers who may be eligible for a waiver include individuals who traveled to these countries on behalf of international organizations, regional organizations, and sub-national governments on official duty; on behalf of a humanitarian NGO on official duty; or as a journalist for reporting purposes.
Emphasis added.

Note, first, this decision in February of last year was reached "in consultation with the Director of National Security and the Secretary of State" and the Secretary of Homeland Security.  Well, we don't have a Secretary of State just now (or the top four people in the State Department).  And Trump's Secretary of DHS learned about the executive order after Trump signed it.

As for the similarity of countries named in Trump's order v. the countries "named" by Obama, let us please note DHS in 2016 was acting pursuant to a 2015 law, and in accordance with that law it promulgated rules to implement that law.  Congress named those countries, not President Obama on his own initiative.  The DHS Secretary took 60 days to determine what countries should be added to "travel or dual nationality restrictions under the Act."  The Department announced it would release "an updated Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) application with additional questions on travel to Libya, Somalia, and Yemen" in the spring of that year, to address other questions about travel.

Trump created international chaos, and then went off to watch "Finding Dory."  He acted, in other words, entirely unilaterally.  He acted like a king, or a CEO firing off a company memo.  He is neither, and he nor his staff seem to understand that.  Trump flackeys were telling NPR this morning that his order covers the same countries as Obama did.  However, Obama didn't ban anyone from any country.  The countries were selected under a law passed in 2011, and again in 2015.  It was determined by Congress, after committee hearings and discussion.  Rules were passed after deliberation and, again, pursuant to law.  Most importantly, chaos was not created.  Travelers were not detained at airports, or returned to their countries of origin where their passports were seized.

Governments don't exist to create chaos, but to prevent it.  Chaos is the lack of governance; it is the absence of government.  The chaos Trump created over the weekend is the very opposite of governance.  His petulant refusal to take responsibility for what he did, to try to blame the media for the chaos his order created, is profoundly disturbing, and certainly brings us into 25th Amendment territory.  But the sheer childishness of "But Obama did it first!" is breath-taking.  Besides, could it be clearer the President doesn't understand how government works?  Under Obama DHS formulated rules pursuant to law, and announced the rules would take effect with systems in place to apprise those affected of what the rules change would mean.  Our President, on the other hand:

If the ban were announced with a one week notice, the "bad" would rush into our country during that week. A lot of bad "dudes" out there!

Every time you think it can't get worse.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

To the Unknown Immigrant


Reince Priebus  and Kellyanne Conway insist we should remain calm, that all is well.

Meanwhile, no one can find Dory:

Some were turned back from boarding their flights, others were handcuffed in airports, patted down and interrogated on their political beliefs. Mothers, fathers, children, students, employees suddenly found that the unthinkable had happened. They had been banned from returning to their jobs and studies, to their families and homes because they were Muslims.

The thought was almost too evil, too grotesque, to countenance. The hours after the ban felt like living through a chapter of history that we’d left behind. Events unfolded the likes of which we had only ever seen in documentaries, in fragments of newsreels from the archives. Travellers in tears, stern officers “just following orders”, refugees on the cusp of safe harbour wild with despair at the uncertain fate to which they must return, confused children huddled behind their parents as they plead with authorities, their faces speaking of fear, confusion and the sense that something is about to change for ever.

And something has. The Islamophobia that we have witnessed rise over the past decade has finally burst its banks. The first thought was that surely common sense would prevail, surely there would be some grace period, surely there would eventually be a challenge from some sensible authority that would stop the madness. None of these things came to pass.
Turns out, a lot of people travel to and from America, for work.  Turns out a ban on travel could have major economic consequences.  Who knew?

The Institute of Directors (IoD) and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) both agreed the ban would be bad for business while Sir Martin Sorrell, the head of advertising group WPP, expressed concerns about the effect on his workers and their families and said he had an “instinctive dislike” of such measures.

Sorrell, who has offices in New York as well as London, the far east, India and Australia, said he was not aware of any immediate effect of the ban on his staff, but added: “We are concerned about the impact it may have on our people and their families both inside and outside the USA and on innocent people generally.”

Innocent people?  Kellyanne Conway insists a little inconvenience is good for you!

“325,000 people from overseas came into this country just yesterday through our airports,” she said on Fox News Sunday. “You’re talking about 300-and-some who have been detained or are prevented from gaining access to an aircraft in their home countries and must stay for now. That’s 1 percent, and I think in terms of the upside being greater protection of our borders of our people, it’s a small price to pay.”
....
 Conway suggested that the order is fair because her own travel was slowed down after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “I was stopped many times after 9/11,” she said. “I didn’t resemble, or share a name with any kind of conspiracy, but this is what we do to keep the nation safe.” 
Of course, she doesn't ever say she was detained without charge and denied access to a lawyer, but I guess all inconveniences are the same, huh?

While this has caused chaos around the world this weekend,  don't blame the newest occupant of the White House:

“Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW,” the president wrote. “Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world – a horrible mess!”

And yes, this mess hits close to home:

In 2015, Texas received more refugees than any other US state, despite attempts by its Republican leaders to foment a hostile atmosphere. Last September, the governor, Greg Abbott, announced Texas would pull out of the federal refugee resettlement programme, citing safety concerns.

Yet Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the country – perhaps the most diverse.

“I never have been in a situation since I came to the United States that someone told me, ‘You’re not welcome here,’” Alsaadi said. The president’s ban, he thinks, “doesn’t make any sense” – least of all for immigrants who put their safety on the line in the service of American interests.

“Is that the favour that [Trump] can return to them?” Alsaadi said. “It’s kind of hard to believe where things are going right now.”

Besides:  remain calm!  All is well!

America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border. America has always been the land of the free and home of the brave. We will keep it free and keep it safe, as the media knows, but refuses to say. My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months. The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror. To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion - this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order. We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days. I have tremendous feeling for the people involved in this horrific humanitarian crisis in Syria. My first priority will always be to protect and serve our country, but as President I will find ways to help all those who are suffering.
This is all the media's fault!  Damn the press for reporting on what Rudy Giuliani said!

“When he first announced it, he said ‘Muslim ban,’” Giuliani said in a Fox News interview. “He called me up and said, ‘Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.’”
Nothing to see here, folks.  Remain calm.

The virtually unprecedented sight of members of the legislative branch of U.S. government trying with little success to enforce orders from the judicial branch against the will of the executive branch has already prompted some to suggest that Trump’s executive order is sparking a constitutional crisis.
They know exactly what they're doing:

Even Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, on Sunday contradicted himself in stating whether the ban applied to permanent residents. He first told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “as far as green card holders moving forward, it doesn’t affect them.” But minutes later, he said, “Of course it does.”

If anything was wrong, Trump should certainly have heard.


"Why Doth the Heathen Rage?"


“It’s working out very nicely,” Trump said of his executive order on Saturday. “You see it at the airports, you see it all over.”

He don't say nothin'/He don't do nothin'/He don't feel nothin'/He don't know nothin':

A spokesman for Angela Merkel said the German chancellor regretted Trump’s decision to ban citizens of certain countries from entering the US, adding that she had “explained” the obligations of the Geneva refugee convention to the new president in a phone call on Saturday.

“The chancellor regrets the US government’s entry ban against refugees and the citizens of certain countries,” Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.

“She is convinced that the necessary, decisive battle against terrorism does not justify a general suspicion against people of a certain origin or a certain religion.

“The Geneva refugee convention requires the international community to take in war refugees on humanitarian grounds. All signatory states are obligated to do. The German government explained this policy in their call yesterday.”

'bout time....


Friday, January 27, 2017

Man Child in the Promised Land


This is the kind of stuff you need to dig into, at some point.  None of this is undiscovered country, but if you don't chase it down you just get the surface "he said/she said" which is the froth of our national "discussion."

The basic claim here was made on a tweet.  In fact, according to this interview on CNN, Greg Phillips admits all of his information has been released on Twitter.  He mentions  in that interview that a "federal grand jury" that conducted an investigation and found "10,000" people registered illegally and voted illegally.  I can't find a reference to any such grand jury report on Google.  There was an investigation in Illinois in 1982.   62 people were charged with federal election crimes.  Most of those people were poll watchers, election judges, etc. 62 obviously is not 10,000.  There are websites out there with various claims, most highly unreliable sources of information.  If you listen to Mr. Phillips, he clearly has no basis for his assertions except xenophobia and conspiracy theories.  And I can't find any news account or grand jury report supporting this claim.

But back to the foundational issue:  the entire claim of millions of illegal votes having been cast has only been made on Twitter.  Donald Trump knows no more about it than what can be conveyed in 140 characters.  Whether or not there is any basis for the claims (and there isn't, so far), the only source for it is in tweets.  Of course, Trump has shifted his sources for this claim over and over again.  But for now, Greg Phillips seems to be Trump's go-to guy.

Interestingly, and in-line with that 1982 grand jury report out of Illinois, Greg Abbott has claimed to have prosecuted 50 cases of voter fraud when he was Attorney General of Texas.  I can't verify that number, but since 2012, 15 cases of voter fraud have been prosecuted in Texas.  All of them involved, not impersonation voting, but "vote stealing."

A new FBI anti-corruption task force is trying to clean up the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. According to the Justice Department, in 2013, more public officials were convicted for corruption in South Texas than in any other region of the country. One of the practices the task force is looking at is vote-stealing.

Now, the FBI investigation is not the Texas AG's investigation.  But that gives you an idea of the kind of "vote fraud" we are talking about.  Again, not impersonation voting, but corruption of public officials.  The charges in 11 of 15 cases was "unlawful assistance of a voter."  The problem is largely a matter of acquiring a signature on a mail-in ballot.  Interestingly, the Texas AG seems to think the problem is most rampant in south Texas:

“It’s a problem we’ve asked legislators to address because if you’re concerned with voter fraud or voter intimidation, what better place to start with (mail-in ballots) because you don’t have to show an ID,” Hinojosa said from his office in Brownsville. “I’m not saying those prosecutions are ill-intentioned, but they are very specifically oriented toward South Texas.”

“You don’t see them engaging in an investigation or prosecutions of people that are sending in mail-in ballots to Livingston, Texas,” which is 60 percent white, Hinojosa added.

In addition to Verino, investigators arrested and prosecuted five other Brownsville politiqueras – one of whom was 85 years old. Verino was indicted on 10 election violation charges, but entered a plea deal for one charge and was placed on probation.

Charges against the five other women included filling out ballots for voters and failing to provide a state-required signature after assisting a voter during the July 2012 primary runoff election. Sixty of the 93 cases investigated by the attorney general’s office since 2004 were in South Texas – a region largely made up of Democratic and Latino voters.

Of 360 complaints made, the 15 prosecuted were in south Texas.  Well, as the President would say:  "take a look at what is registering."  Then again, none of those cases involved in person voting.  Such cases of voter fraud are, indeed, as rare as hen's teeth.

Part of the problem, then, is playing fast and loose with the language.  Is failing to sign a form for a mail-in ballot "fraud"?  The law doesn't call it that.  But "fraud" is such a fun word to use, especially since it denotes people standing in line who look like they shouldn't be voting.  I should note here the White House denied that Trump mentioned any specific Central or South American countries where these alleged illegal voters could have come from based on their appearance; but it didn't deny the rest of the reported anecdote.

Fraud, you know, is in the eye of the beholder.

And in the "be careful what you ask for" column, there is this statement from "True the Vote," a Tea Party based organization worried about brown voters:
On Thursday, True the Vote sent out a fundraising email saying it had “already initiated a comprehensive forensic audit of the 2016 Presidential election.”

Its focus, according to the email, “will include, but not be limited to, non-citizen voting, falsification of identity, double voting, mail-in ballot fraud, votes cast in the name of dead voters, and federal registration flaws.”
Of course, there is no "federal registration" of voters, so "federal registration flaws" is a non-issue.  The one known case of double voting in November was a voter who tried to vote twice for Trump.  Her lawyer is arguing she is not competent to participate in her own defense, so we should not look upon her as a source of mockery or even schadenfreude.  If anyone else voted illegally (non-citizen, false identity, mail-in fraud, etc.), we can't tell who they voted for.  So the solution is....?  Other than, of course, keep people who don't look like they should be voting from voting.....

To put this in perspective:  Trump claims 5 million people committed a felony in order to vote for Hillary Clinton (and still she lost!).  There are about 2 million people in state and federal prisons in America.  Is it really likely 2.5 times that many people are vote fraud felons?  As Chris Ashby explains, given the nature of a national election in this country:

a conspiracy of this magnitude would require the participation of Republican and Democratic governors, state and local election officials, political party observers and representatives of major party, minor party and independent candidates, as well as voters, election lawyers and members of the news media.

But President Trump is obsessed with vanity metrics, so he can’t accept the fact that he lost the national popular vote by the equivalent of the margin in California. Instead, he proposes to subject our election system to a show trial—and in the process, to make waste of taxpayer dollars, his administration’s political capital and the American public’s time, attention and confidence.
Which is why even Jason Chaffetz isn't interested in this investigation; well, not yet, anyway.

And, of course, there's no way to tell who voted for whom, so the whole exercise is a pointless one on that scale, too.  It can't prove Trump would have won the popular vote, even if he wants to say it did.  It can't even prove what Phillips claims it proves, because there's no way he had the data only days after the election, upon which to base such a claim.

This is not, in reality, an issue worthy of the time it takes to discuss it.  We shouldn't expend the energy is takes just to point out Greg Phillips is a conspiracy nut and his claims are absolutely baseless; that the reason he can't produce evidence is because no such evidence could possibly exist.  He should be ignored as another know-nothing with a Twitter account.   One reason we don't have accurate information on who voted in November is that those numbers are still being compiled; but Greg Phillips claims to already have the answer; he just can't tell you how he got it yet. Our President is a man who thinks the tweets of Greg Phillips are a source of reliable information, and a sound basis for a government investigation.  Then again, he is also a man who just introduced the Prime Minister of Britain at a press conference by talking about his Scottish mother and his presence in Scotland when the Brexit vote was cast.  As Josh Marshall says:  "It's difficult to fully grasp what a child this man appears to be."

Or how dangerous he is going to be.

Dog whistles?


We don' need no steenken' dog whistles!

"We also need to keep the ballot box safe from illegal voting," Trump said. "Believe me, you take look at what is registering, folks -- they like to say, Oh, Trump Trump Trump... take a look at what is registering.'"


The Dust Witch flinches....

There is a scene near to the climax of Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes where the father of one of the boys is trapped in the town library and is threatened by the Dust Witch.  It is clear she is going to kill him, that she is going to stop his heart through magic (or the power of suggestion, take your pick).  And just when all seems darkest, he starts laughing.

He laughs at the Witch; he refuses to take her seriously.  His laughter, in fact, becomes a weapon, but not because he means it to be such; he can't help it.  Suddenly, she's funny!  And being funny, she is no longer terrifying; and not being terrifying, she is powerless.

I suggest we take the same approach to someone who says this:

“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for awhile,” he said in an interview with the New York Times.

“I want you to quote this,” he said. “The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country."
Outrage should follow such statements, yes?  Shock and awe and horror should rain down upon someone who declares such open warfare on a free press, yes?

Nah.  He's funny.  Anyone that stupid should only be laughed at.  Steve Bannon wants you to take him seriously.  He wants to be the Dust Witch, waving his hands, invoking the "darning needle dragon-fly" to seal your lips, while he murmurs a spell which will stop your heart.  He wants to be scary!

He isn't.

I don't care what position he holds in the government, he is not THE government.  He is not the Courts and the Congress and the Administration and every elected official down to dog-catcher.  He is simply Grima Wormtongue with an inflated sense of his own importance and of the power of his point of view.

He's funny!  Laugh at him; that's really all he deserves.  The "media" is the "opposition party," and "they" don't "understand this country"?  Who is that implied "we" who does, pray tell?  Steve Bannon?

That's hilarious!  He's not even the proprietor of Cooger and Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show.  He's a joke.  The media should be embarrassed and humiliated by this guy?

That's comedy gold!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

“Some sort of institutional collapse, then you just lose shipping—"


I heard the author of this article interviewed on "Fresh Air," and he directly connected this new angle on "survivalism" to the election of Donald Trump; but that sounds like an easy retrojection to me, an anachronism invented by very recent events.  It's easy to point and laugh at "survivalists."  And it doesn't matter whether they are militia men in backwoods Idaho or super-rich in Silicon Valley:  either way, it's so stupid.  Remember the stories about the chaos in the SuperDome in New Orleans following Katrina?  Turns out it didn't happen that way at all.  Turns out the worst, the most inhuman responses to that flooding were the communities around New Orleans blocking bridges with armed police, forcing the suffering residents of New Orleans to keep suffering.  There was no apocalypse in NOLA, except the revelation that the people not involved in the crisis were terrified by their own fears of a breakdown in social order.

Consider Syria:  by all accounts, social order there is non-existent, as three groups vie for power and stomp flat everything, and everyone, between them.  Neither the rebels nor the government nor ISIS is concerned with the lives of the people living in Syria:  all they want is power.  Surely a post-apocalyptic scenario if ever there was one.

And yet reporters still manage to get in and out of Syria and talk to ordinary people whose stories will break your heart.  Ordinary life persists amid chaos; even the flow of refugees into Europe, while disruptive, is orderly.  There is no Mad Max flight out of the desert, no spreading wave of chaos undermining civilization as it eats at the foundations of social order.  There are simply people viciously fighting (the real nightmare scenario, and all of them supported by, and using the very tools and institutions of, civilization), and people seeking civilization.

And then there are the survivalists, who imagine owning real estate or Bitcoin after the "apocalypse" will somehow put them in good stead.  And not surprisingly, this is all mostly fed by movies:

 “Ever since I saw the movie ‘Deep Impact,’ ” he said. The film, released in 1998, depicts a comet striking the Atlantic, and a race to escape the tsunami. “Everybody’s trying to get out, and they’re stuck in traffic. That scene happened to be filmed near my high school. Every time I drove through that stretch of road, I would think, I need to own a motorcycle because everybody else is screwed.”
The words of a man who's never suffered want or deprivation on the scale of people living in poverty in America, much less of people living in poverty in the truly beleaguered parts of the world; or lived through the refugee horrors of Syria, or even Europe in World War II.  That's the funniest, saddest part of survivalist fears:  it's the privilege of wealthy white Americans afraid of losing their privilege. It's a fantasy, constructed on a fantasy, founded in a life most of the world would consider a fantasy.

Of course, there's a simple alternative to this:

“Twenty-five hedge-fund managers make more money than all of the kindergarten teachers in America combined,” he said. “Being one of those twenty-five doesn’t feel good. I think they’ve developed a heightened sensitivity.”

Let that sink in for a moment.  Think of the movies from the '30's where the rich guy is out of touch with the common man, and if he learns his lesson, the common man is perfectly comfortable with the rich guy's wealth, as it's attitude that counts. Is that the community we need to rediscover?

Johnson said, “If we had a more equal distribution of income, and much more money and energy going into public school systems, parks and recreation, the arts, and health care, it could take an awful lot of sting out of society. We’ve largely dismantled those things.”

Yes, we have, but why?  Maybe it has something to do with something more fundamental to the American experiment (because survivalism seems to be a peculiarly American pursuit).  Something like this, perhaps:

So, what I have decided, and I'm not going to let you vote on this (laughter) I have decided that the Jesus movement, the earliest Jesus movement is essentially a protest against the economy of extraction and the proposal and practice of an alternative economy.  And I get that because if you look in – well, I don't know if you know the Letter of James but the Letter of James, the lead apostle, is filled with warnings about the love of money which in context means don't sign on with Rome.  But in the Epistles of Paul, in Galatians, I think it's chapter 5, Paul has a list of what he calls the desires of the flesh are greed, lust, fornication, licentiousness, quarrelsomeness, which I think names – if accumulating more money is the goal of your life, that's the kind of society you will get and that's the kind of society that we have.  So I have come to think, --- you won't mind if I say this since the Cowboys have been winners lately – (laughter)  that the NFL is basically the liturgy for that society.  The NFL is all about sex, money, and violence and they now say the NFL's slogan is “We own Sunday”. (inaudible)    Paul answers desires of the flesh with a list of the fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, humility, kindness, patience.  These are the kinds of habits that will not be developed if our commitments are to the competition system.  They are habits that are only viable if we come to regard, if we come to practice solidarity with all our neighbors.  

There is always the response of philanthropy.  But while Andrew Carnegie built some fine libraries and John D. Rockefeller established the University of Chicago, what have they done for us lately?    Giving away money is still participation in the competition system.  It's a nice gesture, but it doesn't change anything:  it doesn't foster love, joy, peace, humility, kindness, patience.  It just allows a little of the wealth to trickle down more directly.  It doesn't direct anyone away from the goal of accumulating more money.  Perhaps the solution is not trimming the branches on the tree of evil, but getting down to its root.

The ACA is not "Obamacare"


And a "fence" is not a "wall."

Turns out there already is a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.  No, it doesn't run the entire length of the U.S./Mexican border, and that's because of property ownership and geography.  There are mountain ranges along the border, from California to Texas.  There is marshland along the Rio Grande.  Places where construction of a "wall" or a "fence" just won't go; places we simply can't get to, without building the roads to get there first.  And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

And then there is property ownership.  Anybody else remember the fracas the Supreme Court ignited a few decades back when it ruled on an eminent domain issue?  Republicans remember, because right wingers were engaged about "taking" by the government.  So you do you build a wall or a fence across the entire border?  First, you'll have to take some property.  And now your construction costs don't just include the price of material and labor; now there's a political cost, as well.

The largest portion of the barricade that is open, is in Texas; and that's because of private property ownership.  Want to guess how popular condemnation of that land for a barricade is going to be in Texas?

Back to that distinction between "Fence" and "Wall."  The barricade (a neutral term) along the border is 22 feet high in some places.  It's not a "fence" like the hurricane fence in the backyard that barefoot kids can climb over.  It's not a wooden privacy fence.  It's a concrete and steel construct built to block vehicles from crashing through it.  Or it's a tall steel barrier running through the city of El Paso (I've seen it, from the highway).  It may not be the stone construct of the Great Wall of China, but then that didn't keep the barbarians out, either, so maybe that's not a good example.  We think of a wall as impervious, but is there such a thing? The outer wall of my house was penetrated by a truck going at rather low speed.  With higher speed and greater determination, that truck could have easily entered my house, yet my house is a set of walls.

As a retired Border Patrol agent told Esquire:

"If it's a thousand feet high," he says, "they'll go underneath it. If it's a thousand feet deep, they'll go around it. If it's a thousand miles long, they'll go through it. A wall by itself doesn't work."

Here's the "wall" in San Diego.  Should we extend it out to the international limit?


So what's the difference between a "wall" and a "fence"?  And does it matter?  Donald Trump has convinced us it does.  But why do we believe him?  He's never been to the border, he's never studied the geography or cultures of the border; he just says he's going to build a wall on the border.  And at some point, he'll tell us it was done, and it's beautiful!

Even though nothing is really going to happen.

So why do we believe him?

Yeah, put a wall here.  Go ahead.  Hell, I triple-dog dare ya!

Houston, we have a numbering problem....

Yes, Houston is going to be home to the first Chinese Super Bowl.

Super Bowl LI.

I, for one, welcome our Chinese football overlords.  It is, after all, a logical consequence of pulling out of the TPP, and leaving China alone to determine trade in Asia.

Or it's a consequence of sticking with an outdated numbering system long after its utility has run over modern American usage.

You can just complain about football if you like.  Me, I find the distinction between Super Bowl L that wasn't, and Super Bowl LI that will be, fascinating.  I'm funny that way.....

Name it


You know, there isn't really any reason to work out a strategy to "deal" with this:

MUIR: What you have been presented so far has been debunked. It has been called false.

TRUMP: Take a look at the Pew reports.

MUIR: I called the author of the Pew report last night and he told me that they found no evidence of voter fraud.

TRUMP: Really, then why did he write the report?

MUIR: He said no evidence of voter fraud.

TRUMP: Excuse me, then why did he write the report? According to Pew report, then he’s groveling again. You know, I always talk about the reporters. They grovel when they wanna write something that you wanna hear, but not necessarily millions of people wanna hear or have to hear. *

The President is a liar; plain and simple.  He deals in a world of fantasy, of conspiracy theories, of picking his own "facts", not in the alternative, but simply because he prefers them.  It doesn't matter that he's risen to the highest office in the land, or that he was "brilliant" in his campaign, or that he voiced the voice of the voiceless.

He's a liar.  Every word, including "and" and "the."

He's a liar.  Simple as that.

*The Pew report in question focussed on voter registration rolls which still contained the names of dead people and people who had moved.  I've relocated from the state of Texas once in my life, and registered to vote in other states.  I re-registered when I returned to Texas, but never told the Secretary of State of Texas that I had decamped; nor did I notify the other states when I registered here again.  And of the many duties I had as executor of my father's estate, notifying the Registrar of Votes of his passing was not one of them.  Trump isn't even talking about voter fraud.  He's just making things up because he likes it that way.  There's a word for that.

The President Believes What He Believes

Here is the "study" Trump could be referring to, simply because he referred to it on October 22, 2016.  It's actually a blog post about a study, which carries this disclaimer at the top now:

Note: The post occasioned three rebuttals (here, here, and here) as well as a response from the authors. Subsequently, another peer-reviewed article argued that the findings reported in this post (and affiliated article) were biased and that the authors’ data do not provide evidence of non-citizen voting in U.S. elections. 
The article itself focuses on the Senate election in 2014, not on the general election of 2016, and it doesn't posit voter fraud across the country in all races (which is weird, because, what, illegal voters only vote for Senators?).

And as Politifact points out, the study relied on didn't analyze the responses to the questions.  When that was done, many respondents changed their answer about being "non-citizens," because they marked the wrong box on the form (and if they're lying now, how do you rely on their previous answers?  All determination of "non-citizens" voting in the article Trump relied on in October were based on self-descriptions of citizenship status):

"When we took out people who changed their answer on the citizenship question and only look at people who answered consistently that they were noncitizens, we found no reported noncitizens who voted," Schaffner told PolitiFact.

News 21, a national investigative reporting project, found 56 cases of noncitizens voting across all elections from 2000 to 2011.
Or roughly 5 per year; a far cry from 5 million in November, 2016.

Rick Hasen, an election expert at University of California at Irvine’s School of law, told PolitiFact that Trump’s statistic is bogus. He also cited Ansolabehere, Luks and Schaffner’s study rebutting Trump citation.

Hasen wrote in the Wall Street Journal recently that "the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit concluded last month than only a ‘tiny fraction’ of voters are noncitizens and that there is no evidence it is a serious problem."
Liberal judges, amirite?

Sarah Pierce, an associate policy analyst of the U.S. Immigration Program at the Migration Policy Institute, said there are substantial legal deterrents that are in place to keep a noncitizen from voting.

First, it’s a criminal offense to unlawfully vote in a federal election. Second, this offense is worthy of deportation, even without a conviction.

"Voting renders an individual permanently inadmissible — again, even without a conviction," Pierce said. "This means that if someone were to be found inadmissible for having voted, they could never return to the United States, even temporarily, no matter the circumstances.
And considering how few citizens vote, what's the upside to voting illegally in massive numbers that would swamp the system?

Oh and Trump isn't just complaining about California; he includes Virginia and New Hampshire in his rants, at least from time to time.  Then again, his Press Secretary says the problem is in the "urban areas" of states that didn't vote for Trump, like New York and California.

Olbermann is right; this guy is crazy.

Adding:  oh, crap.  And:  yes, that is the problem.  Also:  as others have noted, no, we aren't talking about Russia anymore.  And frankly, if we hear anymore about an investigation of voter fraud next week, I'll be mildly surprised.  Because if Trump can't handle it with a tweet or an executive order, I'm not yet convinced he can do anything.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Why investigate the "red" states?


Just in case you thought Trump's investigation into "voter fraud" is not a matter of ego satisfaction, Sean Spicer wants to disabuse you of any such notion:

"There's a lot of states that we didn't compete in where that's not necessarily the case. You look at California and New York, we didn't look at those two states in particular," Spicer said. "I mean, as the president has noted before, he campaigned to win the electoral college, not the popular vote."

He said that Trump would have campaigned more in "big states, very populous states in urban areas" if he was trying to win the popular vote.

"But he played the game according to the rules of the game, which is electoral strategy," Spicer said. "That being said, I think when you look at where a lot of these issues could have occurred in bigger states, that's where I think we're going to look."
It's all about why Trump didn't win the popular vote, and why California and New York, at least, were involved in voter fraud.  Because, you know, "large urban areas" and all that.

Yup.

Et in dystopia ego


The preferred metaphor here is probably "through the looking glass."  The POTUS has tweeted that he will investigate voter fraud, including dead people on voter rolls (which is not fraud, simply a record keeping problem), because he is being denied the claim that he won by the greatest margin of victory in U.S. history.

In other words, because of the raging narcissism of Donald Trump, the entire election process of last November, an election which selected hundreds of thousands of people to office from city government to the Oval Office, is to be treated as corrupted and the results unreliable because the man who now lives in the White House can't enjoy it because reality is the pea under his mattress, and he can't get any sleep.  If Trump is the victim of electoral fraud, what other elections must be called into question?  And does this only run one way, in favor of Trump and conservative Republicans?

This is not "through the looking glass."  This is 25th Amendment territory.  This is a challenge to the legitimacy of the democratic process which is the basis of this nation by the President himself, because he didn't win enough votes to salve his enormous ego.  This is the very definition of a man unfit to hold the office, and incapable of carrying out its duties.

This is what Republican senators were saying yesterday, in response to Trump's statement and Spicer's answers at the press briefing:

“I’m just not concentrating on that. I’m looking at the policies he’s putting forward, and they look good to me," Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) said, when asked about Trump's claim that millions of undocumented immigrants had committed voter fraud.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said he wasn't even paying that close attention to Trump's first days.

"I've been working on health care. Truly health care," Cassidy said. "I don't want to be like in a bubble, but I'm thinking about health care and getting our plan across."

Even Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tried to down play Trump's comments.

"There are always arguments on both sides about how much, how frequent and all the rest," McConnell said about Trump's voter fraud accusations Tuesday.

Other Republicans – two who pulled their support for Trump during the election– however, vehemently pushed back on the notion that Trump had been robbed of votes.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that he had "no evidence of it" when asked about voter fraud.

“I don’t think there is any evidence to support that. He won the election. Move on," Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said. “I'm not going to tell [Trump] what to do. I’m just saying he won the election, we ought to move on.”

Do they still want to move on this morning?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

You shall know the truth

No other snowflake is like this one.  Thank goodness....


and the truth shall make you sad.  Or just small and bitter:

"There is this constant theme to undercut the enormous support that he has," Spicer said. "I think it's unbelievably frustrating when you're continually told it's not big enough, it's not good enough, you can't win."

Trump approval rating:  42% approve, 51% disapprove.   That is the lowest on record.   Is that "good enough," or not?  What it is not is any indication of "enormous support."

Attendance at the inaugural is estimated at anywhere from 250,000 to 600,000.  Obama has 1 million at his second inaugural, 1.8 million at his first.

Old news, but then you learn more, and you have to wonder:  has this guy learned nothing in 70 years about how to treat people?

Trump has had a tumultuous relationship with the press, frequently calling the media dishonest and insulting individual reporters by name at his rallies and on Twitter. Still, two people close to Trump said he expected his coverage to turn more favorable once he took office. Instead, he's told people he believes it's gotten worse.

The bad press over the weekend has not allowed Trump to "enjoy" the White House as he feels he deserves, according to one person who has spoken with him.

The disjunct between the first sentence of the first paragraph, and the second, is glaring.  Why did he expect kinder treatment?  What was supposed to cause it?  And he hasn't been able to "enjoy" the White House?

Oh, dear.  Was he supposed to?  Does he really need the national press patting him on the back and telling him he's a very, very special snowflake, in order to be able to do his job as President?

Which would be funny, if he weren't the President.

The Face of Evil?



So I started with this, where the President's Press Secretary proves that meme to be true:

“I believe that we have to be honest with the American people, but I think sometimes we can disagree with the facts,” Spicer told reporters Monday in the first press briefing under President Donald Trump. 

I don't know how to understand that statement except as a confused obfuscation.  We may disagree on what the facts are; that, indeed, is the basis of argument.  You disagree that the facts on one side are dispositive, or the only facts of the matter, or with the reasoning based on those facts.  But you can't disagree with the facts.

The very nature of facts is that they can't be disagreed with.  But supposedly we're to judge the Trump Administration by what's in their hearts; not by what they say, but by what they mean:

“Our intention is never to lie to you,” he added.

Well, that's alright then.  Whenever they do lie, they'll just alter the facts to fit their views.

And that turned into some reporters deciding this press conference proved Spicer was a square guy after all, following the unhinged rant on the day after the Inauguration.

But then Kellyanne Conway goes on FoxNews and says this:

We invited the press pool into the Oval Office, I was there ... And it was to witness the President signing these executive orders ... We let the pool press in, and immediately the print pooler sent out the pool report that the MLK bust had been removed. It is false. I don't say his name publicly because I don't want him to get attacked like I do. Because of what the press is doing now to me, I have Secret Service protection. We have packages delivered to my house with white substances. That is a shame and yes I hold him into account for it. This guy puts it out. It gets tweeted and it gets reported 3,000 times. He still can't take it back. He apologized to his colleagues in the press; he has not apologized to the President. And the damage is done because then people look at Donald Trump as the 'R word'. The darn bust was right there. I was standing next to it. It was being hidden by a guard. Why don't you ask us? Why don't you say, where is the bust? It presumptive negativity.

She is not the first White House staffer to get Secret Service protection, but she knows the general public doesn't know that.   And she blames it on a reporter, because that's the way this White House rolls.

The only question is:  how will the journalists respond?