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

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

This Close To A Human Being

At some point....



...you have to admit he really means it.

Of course, "means it" to Trump doesn't eliminate the fact this is largely a campaign issue to him.  Once the elections are over he'll forget he ever brought this up.  But that has more to do with his "what as I saying?" attention span than with any cunning strategy of deception and distraction.

For the time being, he's outraging other conservatives, and that's not entirely a bad thing.

Something in the Water



Whether by luck or design, the IRA’s [Internet Research Agency, nothing to do with Ireland, for you old people]  campaign against America worked, and is still working. An examination of Twitter’s new dump of Russian troll data this month shows that the IRA’s tactics worked far better in the U.S. than in Russia or the Eastern European nations where the troll farm cut its teeth. English-language tweets by the IRA’s sockpuppet accounts enjoyed nine times the engagement than tweets in Russian and other languages. And, remarkably, Americans fell for the Russian interference even harder after the 2016 presidential election than before.

What does this tell us about American culture?  Well, for one thing:  disiniformation, you're soaking in it:

It's been 80 years since Orson Welles' 'War of the Worlds' radio broadcast terrified the nation

'War of the Worlds' radio broadcast sparked fear, panic 80 years ago in America, Orlando

'Alien Invasion' Radio Broadcast Terrified Listeners 80 Years Ago. Would E.T. Contact Cause Panic Today?

The widespread panic didn't actually happen, and those articles do try to say maybe there wasn't a panic, in a sort of "some people say" kind of way (or, as Paul Krugman once put it:  "Is the earth flat?  Opinions differ.").  Start with the first link above, read along, and you get this, finally:

Popular myth detailed people flooding out of their homes in a panic, but several theories have emerged in recent years suggesting that no widespread panic occurred -- especially since most people probably were listening to the comedy variety show, "Chase and Sanborn Hour," which aired at the same time, the Telegraph reported.

"Theories" is the key word there. This narrative begins to sound almost sacred, inviolable. I'm beginning to think I'm discussing bIblical interpretation who finds my dismisses my historical approach as merely a theory.  And that's after the article has said:

People likely didn't hear much of the broadcast, instead focusing in on the urgent-sounding news bulletins that cut in, experts told ABC News in 1988, on the 50th anniversary of the radio drama.

"People were vulnerable in 1938, and they were worried about the war, worried about the economy and perhaps were a little bit upset and nervous because it was Halloween," Dr. Joel Cooper, psychology professor at Princeton University, told ABC News in 1988.

Ah, yes, the insights of a psychiatrist 50 years later.  Journalism!  But the article is about the panic; the disclaimer that, well, maybe there was no panic at all, is buried so deep and is so slight, it barely registers except as:  "Opinions differ."

The Orlando article details the mass panic, but then abruptly ends on a very local note (hooray for brave newspaper editors!):

Orlando Sentinel publisher Martin Anderson, writing in a front-page column days after the broadcast, noted, “The Radio Hoax proves many things, including the philosophical statement of the cynic who declared one should never underestimate dumbness of the public. An yet, intelligent people have told us they were really scared to death; that they, somehow had missed the announcement explaining the broadcast was only a fabrication of Mr. H.G. Wells’ mind.”
So, you know, maybe it really happened.  Who can say?

Live Science, the third headline above, just goes with the common history, though you'd think a website upholding science would know better:

"Thousands of listeners rushed from their homes in New York and New Jersey, many with towels across their faces to protect themselves from the 'gas' which the invader was supposed to be spewing forth," the Daily News reported the next day. 

Yeah, that didn't happen:

In the immediate aftermath of the broadcast, analysts in Princeton’s Office of Radio Research, working under the direction of Professor Hadley Cantril, sought to verify a rumour that several people had been treated for shock at St Michael’s Hospital in Newark, NJ after the programme. The rumour was found to be false. In addition, when they surveyed six New York City hospitals in December 1938, they found that “none of them had any record of any cases brought in specifically on account of the broadcast”. A Washington Post claim that a man died of a heart attack brought on by listening to the programme was never verified. Police records for New Jersey did show an increase in calls on the night of the show. However, in the preface to his textbook Introduction to Collective Behaviour, academic David Miller points out that: "Some people called to find out where they could go to donate blood. Some callers were simply angry that such a realistic show was allowed on the air, while others called CBS to congratulate Mercury Theatre for the exciting Halloween programme". 

Where did this come from?  Newspapers, actually,  Real, honest to God "fake news."  With a real agenda:  the dangers of radio.

The newspapers had a clear agenda. An editorial in The New York Times, headlined In the Terror by Radio, was used to censure the relatively new medium of radio, which was becoming a serious competitor in providing news and advertising. "Radio is new but it has adult responsibilities. It has not mastered itself or the material it uses,” said the editorial leader comment on November 1 1938. In an excellent piece in Slate magazine in 2013, Jefferson Pooley (associate professor of media and communication at Muhlenberg College) and Michael J Socolow (associate professor of communication and journalism at the University of Maine) looked at the continuing popularity of the myth of mass panic and they took to task NPR's Radiolab programme about the incident and the Radiolab assertion that “The United States experienced a kind of mass hysteria that we’ve never seen before.” Pooley and Socolow wrote: "How did the story of panicked listeners begin? Blame America’s newspapers. Radio had siphoned off advertising revenue from print during the Depression, badly damaging the newspaper industry. So the papers seized the opportunity presented by Welles’s programme, perhaps to discredit radio as a source of news. The newspaper industry sensationalised the panic to prove to advertisers, and regulators, that radio management was irresponsible and not to be trusted."
Panic works best when it is exploited by those who would benefit from it; something we still seem to have yet learned in America.  Remember when the "gangs" were "looting" in New Orleans after Katrina?  The "rape gangs" in the SuperDome, the "predators" allegedly controlling life there?  People trying to leave the city were blocked by panicked sheriff's deputies, afraid the contagion of chaos would spread.  But there was no chaos, no decay of social order, no terror.  It was largely racism that fueled that fear, and the fear served white people well (who, as the AP famously said, were getting needed food from a flooded store that black people were "looting.").

The habit of reporting the panic and then slightly denying its veracity is one that the press hasn't gotten out of.  In 2012 PBS did a documentary on the panic, which noted:

“Ultimately,” Oliver Platt intones, “the very extent of the panic would come to be seen as having been exaggerated by the press.”

Again, the subjunctive: "would come to be seen." The narrative must be handled with all due reverence. Here it hardly outweighs the entire documentary about the fake panic that precedes that statement.  Indeed, this is a more accurate picture of what happened on the eve of Hallowe'en in 1938:

While newspapers made Oct. 30, 1938, a memorable night in the history of the United States, in reality it was a normal fall Sunday evening throughout North America. Four days after its initial, sensational report, the Washington Post published a letter from one reader who walked down F Street during the broadcast. He noticed “nothing approximating mass hysteria.” “In many stores radios were going, yet I observed nothing whatsoever of the absurd supposed ‘terror of the populace.’ There was none,” the reader reported. The Chicago Tribune made no mention of frightened mobs taking to the Windy City’s streets.
But the urban legend of panic persists.  MarketPlace used it this morning to discuss the 80th anniversary (plus one day) of the original broadcast (was I really born only 17 years later?  It seemed like an age earlier when I was young, now it seems like a mere lifetime today.  Even 80 years doesn't seem that long a span anymore.)  The broadcast is famous for the panic, not for the quality of the presentation (it's actually a far better than any movie adaptation of Welles' story).  The persistent myth of the panic is an object lesson in the durability of urban legends, but also in our national complicity in perpetuating conspiracy theories and fake tales of history.  It's not unlike the stories of poisoned candy, or apples with razor blades; stories you only hear this time of year.  What purpose do they serve, except to make sure every household buys packaged candy rather than make homemade treats (as if anyone would do that anymore anyway)?.  Or maybe it just helps us mistrust our neighbors, and trust the authority of the media. There's just the fact that we seem, ultimately, to fear our neighbors; why else would we expect them to turn on us once the power went off or the streets were flooded?  Our connections are through a set of shared ideals, not a common bond of blood or even history.  Who is to say our neighbors, when the chips are down, are as trustworthy as we are?

“Poland, Estonia, Ukraine, Georgia, they know Russia’s coming after them,” said Ryan Fox, a former NSA official now serving as COO of the smear-fighting startup New Knowledge. “They’ve been culturally trained to recognize Russia as a threat, so the skepticism of people in that region is pretty high... The U.S. was a far better environment for it to succeed.”

We think we have no enemies, because of our natural borders, and our neighbors are Canada and Mexico.  But we also fear the enemy who is us, and that makes us easy prey not only for fake panics, but for conspiracy theories about Jews and immigrants who are going to take away what we have.  What was the Russian invasion of social media, if not that?

Mark Your Calendars!



Vote Republican!  In SEVEN DAYS FROM TODAY!

Keeping the Elephants Away



The northern border of Mexico is the Rio Grande. 

And all news reports indicate the "caravan" is anywhere from 1000 to 1500 miles away from that border.  There was also a report this morning that Mexico is working hard to grant asylum to the walkers, so this dreaded invasion may never happen.

The border is "holy" now?  Sounds like something you'd hear about "Mother Russia" or the German der heimat ("homeland").  And, of course, it's the language (again) of white supremacists.



Donald Trump, Konstitooshinal Skollar



I know he's not reading this blog, but:  really?

Is he getting his legal advice from the guy at NBC?

And costs the country "billions of dollars"?  Statistics courtesy of Professor Otto Yerass.  Honestly, every word the man says is a lie, including "and" and "the".

It seems I cut him off prematurely, but it proves my point:  he wants this issue in front of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh:


And they have to agree with him, because any other answer makes us inferior!

Presidenting by inferiority complex is no way to lead a country.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Last Word

He's so butch!

I'm willing to accept this interpretation of the Trump-Axios interview:

Contrary to most media coverage, the “proposal to end birthright citizenship” is not a proposal at all, let alone a draft memo or executive order, but merely continued deliberation on the part of White House staff.

It wasn’t not a scoop – it was a setup. As you can see in the video, Trump was noncommittal on the actual proposal – “It’s in the process,” he said – but concluded by complimenting Axios’ reporter Jonathan Swan on knowing about it.

“I didn’t think anybody knew about that but me. I thought I was the only one. Jonathan. I’m impressed.”

“Good guess,” Swan said, tapping at his head.

Even though it presumes a level of competence and best practices that we have yet to see from the Trump White House.  Another article elsewhere pointed out the proposal would have to go through the DOJ and Homeland Security before it could be rendered as an executive order, which explains the stunning success of Trump's order separating children and parents at the border.  Not only was that a public relations debacle, it was clear the government had no idea what to do with the children or the parents, and was scrambling to do something because Trump demanded it.  There was not, in other words, any evidence of careful preparation, one more reason the whole policy collapsed in a shambles while the world watched.

Besides, further in the Axios interview (or earlier, I'm not checking that carefully), Trump said:

It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don't," Trump said, declaring he can do it by executive order.

When told that's very much in dispute, Trump replied: "You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they're saying I can do it just with an executive order."

"We're the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States ... with all of those benefits," Trump continued. "It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous. And it has to end." (More than 30 countries, most in the Western Hemisphere, provide birthright citizenship.)

"It's in the process. It'll happen ... with an executive order.

Cherry-picking parts of the interview doesn't really strengthen the argument this is purely a stunt.  Then again, this is Trump; he seldom knows what's really going on, and insists that what he wants is real, especially when it isn't.  All available evidence points to Trump being this dumb, not to Trump being as crazy as a fox.  On the other hand, it's not purely accidental:

Of course, the bluster is also sure to enrage people like Cezar Sayoc, Gregory Bush, and Robert Bowers, all of whom attempted or committed xenophobic mass-murder in the last seven days alone. The timing is appalling.

It does appeal to certain good people on both sides:

NBC News reported that Andrew Anglin of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website lauded the president for the proposed executive order that would, if enacted, bar the children of non-citizens from becoming citizens themselves if born on American soil.

“Master race president remains the master of races,” Anglin wrote.

On the other hand, maybe they aren't all quite as stupid as Trump:

NBC News noted that white supremacists online appeared to agree with liberals who consider the proposed executive order to be a political stunt meant to rally Trump’s base for the midterms.
In 2015,  Trump told Bill O'Reilly birthright citizenship could be changed with an act of Congress. Three years later he thinks he can do it himself. That's entirely in keeping with his ignorance and his hubris.  This was probably set up for Axios by the White House. That doesn't mean Trump doesn't mean it.

Still, following the massacre in a synagogue with language like this is grotesque.  The shooter explicitly targeted that synagogue because of its work with immigrants and refugees.  Now Trump is basically saying the killer's method was wrong, but his heart was in the right place.  Every time you think he can't sink lower, he finds a way.

Meanwhile, back in the voting booth


I went to vote on Sunday afternoon.  I've been there before when the lines were so long we had to snake through the building from one side to the other.  There were no lines that afternoon, but the signs still pointed us through the building to a central room obviously marked off to accommodate a large number of people in a small space, leading finally to the room with the voting machines.  The room was full, almost every machine occupied, but the process went quickly and the longest time I spent was checking my ballot before casting it, to be sure it said what I wanted it to say.

That's because I'm not hasty in voting, and I'd heard about people seeing their vote for Cruz or O'Rourke changed to the opposite.  I assume that meant they went back and changed that vote, since the machine in question, like the one in the picture, shows you the entire ballot you are about to cast before you cast it.  In Texas that means a ballot that runs for several pages on the screen, because we elect everyone from U.S. Senators to dog catchers.  The number of judges we elect (district, county court-at-law, Justices of the Peace, municipal) alone is breathtaking.  There are multiples of each in any large county (like Harris), and you end up with three choices:  straight ticket (still allowed under Texas law, apparently a curiosity in other parts of the nation, but soon to be banned here, I'm sorry to report), throw darts (i.e., pick randomly), or skip 'em altogether.

Being a proud yellow dog Democrat since '64, I voted a straight ticket.  I carefully checked to be sure my ballot reflected my preferences, the only way to vote on these machines.  But I noticed that  voting was lively, even at 5:00 p.m. on a Sunday.  The parking lot outside was full.  I can't imagine how people parked around that building in order to create the lines that had been prepared for (and undoubtedly responded to).  People must have parked across the streets (the building is on a corner) and dared the Houston traffic (notoriously pedestrian un-friendly).

I also noticed people were taking it quite seriously.  No surprise, but I think the primary reason voter turnout in Texas is low is because the ballot is so intimidating.  When I was a practicing lawyer appearing before judges in Travis County, I could barely keep up with the array of judges up for re-election or election (worse, because who know how competent they were?).  People who don't work with judges can't possibly know who to vote for.  Then there are the clerks (county and district), the County Commissioners (local county government), the County Judge (head of the Commissioner's Court, not a law judge), and municipal elections (mayor, council members, etc.).  It's a product of 19th century populism, but it's exhausting.  Easier to ignore the whole business, especially when the political culture is so attuned to bidness and taking care of bidness.  Which is not to say the political culture of Texas is going to change with this election; but the tectonic plates may just shift a bit.

We'll just have to wait and see.  Beto's campaign texts me several times a day right now (me and several million other Texans), and they claim young people are voting at rates twice of what was recorded in 2014.  The 30 counties in Texas (of 254) that account for the largest number of registered voters exceeded the turnout of all early voting in 2014 in just 5 days this past week.  Something is moving.  Whether it is a rough rude beast, and whether it is heading toward Bethlehem, remains to be seen.

Mike Pence, Konstitooshinal Skollar



Ahem:

The Fourteenth Amendment provides that [n]o State shall . . . deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

(Emphasis added.) Appellants argue at the outset that undocumented aliens, because of their immigration status, are not "persons within the jurisdiction" of the State of Texas, and that they therefore have no right to the equal protection of Texas law. We reject this argument. Whatever his status under the immigration laws, an alien is surely a "person" in any ordinary sense of that term. Aliens, even aliens whose presence in this country is unlawful, have long been recognized as "persons" guaranteed due process of law by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Shaughnessv v. Mezei, 345 U.S. 206, 212 (1953); Wong Wing v. United States, 163 U.S. 228, 238 (1896); Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356, 369 (1886). Indeed, we have clearly held that the Fifth Amendment protects aliens whose presence in this country is unlawful from invidious discrimination by the Federal Government. Mathews v. Diaz, 426 U.S. 67, 77 (1976). [n9] [p211]

Appellants seek to distinguish our prior cases, emphasizing that the Equal Protection Clause directs a State to afford its protection to persons within its jurisdiction, while the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments contain no such assertedly limiting phrase. In appellants' view, persons who have entered the United States illegally are not "within the jurisdiction" of a State even if they are present within a State's boundaries and subject to its laws. Neither our cases nor the logic of the Fourteenth Amendment support that constricting construction of the phrase "within its jurisdiction." [n10] We have never suggested that the class of persons who might avail themselves of the equal protection guarantee is less than coextensive with that entitled to due process. To the contrary, we have recognized [p212] that both provisions were fashioned to protect an identical class of persons, and to reach every exercise of state authority.… 

Yes, I repeat myself; but these days you have to run as fast as you can just to stay in one place.

Follow The Money


As ever, the greatest political insight in American history; and it was made up for the movie.

Yes, Trump is trying to throw sand in the air again; and yes, his concern clearly applies to brown people, not white ones.  You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Godwin's Law?



Kellyanne Conway complained on FoxNews yesterday:

“You’ve got people constantly making comments about Nazism, Nazi Germany, somebody from CNN tweeted out a picture of concentration camps when the migrants were trying to come over the border,” she accused. “That’s got to stop!”

I wonder if this tweet counts?

Brown People! Living Next Door to You!

"It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don't," Trump said, declaring he can do it by executive order.

When told that's very much in dispute, Trump replied: "You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they're saying I can do it just with an executive order."

"We're the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States ... with all of those benefits," Trump continued. "It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous. And it has to end." (More than 30 countries, most in the Western Hemisphere, provide birthright citizenship.)

"It's in the process. It'll happen ... with an executive order."

Donald Trump, konstitooshinal skollar

First, let's be clear:  this is red meat to Trump's base, but it is also the wet dream of a handful of "thinkers" (I use the term loosely) who want to institutionalize their racism and xenophobia, and see Donald Trump as the vehicle for achieving that end (one of them recently left the White House; we'll meet him in a minute).  The only purpose of this expected executive order is to spark a lawsuit they hope will end up before a court that includes Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on the bench.  A court that wants to reaffirm Dred Scott.  We'll get to that, but given the toxicity of Dred Scott, Roberts is not likely to want his name associated with its resuscitation.  But first, what would repeal of birthright citizenship do?

Repealing birthright citizenship would create a self-perpetuating class that would be excluded from social membership for generations. Working with researchers at Pennsylvania State University, the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) has found that ending birthright citizenship for U.S. babies with two unauthorized immigrant parents would increase the existing unauthorized population by 4.7 million people by 2050. Crucially, 1 million would be the children of two parents who themselves had been born in the United States. Under a scenario denying U.S. citizenship to babies with one parent who is unauthorized, our analysis finds that the unauthorized population would balloon to 24 million in 2050 from the 11 million today.
So, if we overturn the common law concept of jus soli (I'll explain in a minute; you'll need to know these details) and replace it with jus sanguinis, which is to say we should be more like Rome than our republican form of government has already made us (again, terms to be explained later), we would have a permanent class of non-citizens, and what do we do with them?  Are they never "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States"?  That would make them, in the original use of the term, outlaw.  Far from simply barring "sanctuary cities," this would create a class completely unprotected by the law.  That was the original use of the term and it did not allow for any romantic notions of virtuous rebels upholding the cause of the downtrodden.  And that, of course, leads to larger problems, like ripples on a pond after you throw the stone in it (or, more accurately, the broken shards of glass after you throw the same stone through a window.  Remember the "broken windows" argument that supposedly led then Mayor Giuliani to clean up New York City?  Well, this would smash every window in America, and rejoice at the damage.)

More crucially, the idea that the U.S.-born children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. of people born in the United States would themselves inherit their forefathers’ lack of legal status would have deep implications for social cohesion and the strength of the democracy itself. This perpetuation of hereditary disadvantage based on the legal status of one’s ancestors would be unprecedented in U.S. immigration law. It also would be contrary to the American sense of fair play that has rejected visiting the sins of the parents on the children, thereby perpetuating the kind of hereditary disadvantage as practiced in many countries in Europe.
So, there's that.  The President says birthright citizenship is "ridiculous."  As Bill Kristol says, it's not the immigrants who are dangerous to this country.

Now: can Trump do this?  Even Steve Inskeep, not the first person I go to for insight, understood the problem.  He told Scott Horsley that Trump's announcement sounded like someone saying you can cross the Pacific Ocean by plane, some say you can do it by rowboat, and Trump was saying he'd do it by scooter.  To say the law is not with him is to put mildly.

The legal basis for jus soli, that is, birthright by being born on American soil (v. jus sanguinis, birthright by being born to American citizens), is one that descends to America through English common law.  Keep that in mind and let's back up a moment and look at consequences of ending birthright citizenship again:

A report by an organization called the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) in 2012 asserted that revoking birthright citizenship would be bureaucratic, expensive, would result in a national ID card, and would not slow illegal immigration. Under current law, if a citizen parent gives birth in a foreign country, they must prove their own citizenship in order for their baby to have citizenship. The NFAP estimated this to cost $600 per baby, not including legal fees. The report alleged that if birthright citizenship were eliminated, every baby in the United States would be subject to this cost. For the four million babies born each year in the U.S., this would total $2.4 billion per year. In addition, currently the US government does not keep any record of births, instead using the records of individual states to issue passports. The report alleged that the end of birthright citizenship would leave the states unable to verify whether a new baby should be granted citizenship, requiring the federal government instead to issue birth certificates, and likely a national ID card. Finally, the report claimed that eliminating birthright citizenship would not reduce illegal immigration. The report said that immigrants come to the United States for economic reasons, and illegal immigrants cannot use a citizen child to be granted citizenship. The report also said that all proposals to end birthright citizenship, aside from a constitutional amendment, would be unconstitutional and quickly be overturned in court. 
Kind of hard to avoid that conclusion.  To establish the citizenship of my child at birth, I would have to establish the citizenship of myself and my wife, and that would require record keeping by the federal government, not the state of Texas.  A national ID card would be the obvious solution to this problem, but there is a separate one:  if Trump can decide children of "illegal immigrants" are not citizens, and make that decision retroactive (rather than merely prospective), what's to stop him from deciding anyone he considers an enemy is no longer a citizen?

Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?  But the power the President is claiming is the power to decide who belongs here, and who doesn't.  Where does he get that power, and what's the limit on it?  As we shall see, this analysis is of a piece with the analysis of critics of birthright citizenship.  Their argument that "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" gives wiggle room to exclude certain classes from the provisions of the 14th Amendment is very open-ended.  If citizens can be declared no longer "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" (which is the basis and effect of the argument, and the act if it comes, of repealing birthright citizenship), then which citizens are safe from being declared non-citizens?  This, I would argue, is the very basis for jus soli rather than jus sanguinis; declare the parents non-citizens, it is easy to deny citizenship to the children.  That denial is near impossible if one holds to the concept of citizenship by place of birth.

Let's go a bit deeper, and explore the criticisms and history of the language of the 14th Amendment.  First, the critics, as best I can find their arguments.  Axios identifies John Eastman:

John Eastman, a constitutional scholar and director of Chapman University's Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, told "Axios on HBO" that the Constitution has been misapplied over the past 40 or so years. He says the line "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" originally referred to people with full, political allegiance to the U.S. — green card holders and citizens.

I have no idea how he sets this misapplication as beginning in the '70's.  I haven't stumbled across any Supreme Court decisions on the issue that are much older than that, unless he's mistaken in the date of Plyler v. Doe, a decision that applied the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause to children of immigrant parents, holding the state of Texas could not deny access to public education to such children.  There is some hint there about how the Court would interpret the 14th Amendment which we'll return to.  I mention it now only because I can't think of any other event in the '70's or near them, that Eastman could be referring to.  As far as his argument regarding green cards, those didn't exist until 1950, and as we will see, that raises serious challenges to his argument.

Kris Kobach also opposes birthright citizenship, but his legal acumen and xenophobia have been so much on display lately the less said about him, the better.  The third proponent of some form of jus sanguinis is Peter Schuck who, like Eastman and Kobach, focuses his attention on the phrase "subject to the jurisdiction":

Schuck, Nov. 21, 2014: So what does “subject to the jurisdiction” mean? The Supreme Court long ago decided this phrase confers birthright citizenship only on those who are “not merely subject in some respect or degree to the jurisdiction of the United States, but completely subject to their political jurisdiction, and owing them direct and immediate allegiance” at birth. In that case, the court denied citizenship to an Indian born on a reservation but living elsewhere, because he was subject to tribal jurisdiction even though Congress held power over his tribe. (Indians became citizens only in 1924, by statute.) Later, the court granted birthright citizenship to the U.S.-born child of Chinese parents because her parents were here legally.

Schuck is right about the citizenship of Native Americans; and he's referring to the Wong Kim Ark decision in reference to the child born of Chinese parents.  The distinguishing facts between then (1898) and now is that Chinese residents in America were barred from being naturalized or even being a citizen by birth, by statute.  The Court specifically overruled that statute in holding Ark was a U.S. citizen by birth.  Schuck and others argue Ark is distinguishable because the parents were here legally.  It is a distinction without a difference in the application of the language "subject to the jurisdiction".  Ark's parents were subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, a jurisdiction which denied them the right to citizenship based on race (a pernicious category now which the Court would never use to uphold the denial of citizenship).  Undocumented immigrants are subject to the jurisdiction of the United States (it's one reason Trump can put so many of them in tent cities, and also why he can't separate children from parents).  If they are not, by Presidential declaration, then who is, except by Presidential declaration?  It's fundamentally impossible for the President to say "I can say they aren't, but I can't say you aren't."  The only possible distinction is race.  That is not a distinction even a court with Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Thomas could uphold.

Behind the Ark decision are a line of cases that deserve our attention, starting with Dred Scott.  It's not the majority opinion I'm interested in (the ruling was overturned by the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the adoption of the 14th Amendment in 1868), but the legal history of citizenship under common law outlined in the dissent:

So that, under the allegations contained in this plea and admitted by the demurrer, the question is whether any person of African descent, whose ancestors were sold as slaves in the United States, can be a citizen of the United States. If any such person can be a citizen, this plaintiff has the right to the judgment of the court that he is so, for no cause is shown by the plea why he is not so, except his descent and the slavery of his ancestors.

The first section of the second article of the Constitution [p572] uses the language, "a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of the Constitution." One mode of approaching this question is to inquire who were citizens of the United States at the time of the adoption of the Constitution.

Citizens of the United States at the time of the adoption of the Constitution can have been no other than citizens of the United States under the Confederation. By the Articles of Confederation, a Government was organized, the style whereof was "The United States of America." This Government was in existence when the Constitution was framed and proposed for adoption, and was to be superseded by the new Government of the United States of America, organized under the Constitution. When, therefore, the Constitution speaks of citizenship of the United States existing at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, it must necessarily refer to citizenship under the Government which existed prior to and at the time of such adoption.

Without going into any question concerning the powers of the Confederation to govern the territory of the United States out of the limits of the States, and consequently to sustain the relation of Government and citizen in respect to the inhabitants of such territory, it may safely be said that the citizens of the several States were citizens of the United States under the Confederation.

,,,,

To determine whether any free persons, descended from Africans held in slavery, were citizens of the United States under the Confederation, and consequently at the time of the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, it is only necessary to know whether any such persons were citizens of either of the States under the Confederation at the time of the adoption of the Constitution.

Of this there can be no doubt. At the time of the ratification of the Articles of Confederation, all free native-born inhabitants of the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New [p573] York, New Jersey, and North Carolina, though descended from African slaves, were not only citizens of those States, but such of them as had the other necessary qualifications possessed the franchise of electors, on equal terms with other citizens.

The Supreme Court of North Carolina, in the case of the State v. Manuel, 4 Dev. and Bat. 20, has declared the law of that State on this subject in terms which I believe to be as sound law in the other States I have enumerated, as it was in North Carolina.

"According to the laws of this State," says Judge Gaston, in delivering the opinion of the court,

all human beings within it, who are not slaves, fall within one of two classes. Whatever distinctions may have existed in the Roman laws between citizens and free inhabitants, they are unknown to our institutions. Before our Revolution, all free persons born within the dominions of the King of Great Britain, whatever their color or complexion, were native-born British subjects -- those born out of his allegiance were aliens. Slavery did not exist in England, but it did in the British colonies. Slaves were not, in legal parlance persons, but property. The moment the incapacity, the disqualification of slavery, was removed, they became persons, and were then either British subjects or not British subjects, according as they were or were not born within the allegiance of the British King. Upon the Revolution, no other change took place in the laws of North Carolina than was consequent on the transition from a colony dependent on a European King to a free and sovereign State. Slaves remained slaves. British subjects in North Carolina became North Carolina freemen. Foreigners, until made members of the State, remained aliens. Slaves, manumitted here, became freemen, and therefore, if born within North Carolina, are citizens of North Carolina, and all free persons born within the State are born citizens of the State. The Constitution extended the elective franchise to every freeman who had arrived at the age of twenty-one and paid a public tax, and it is a matter of universal notoriety that, under it, free persons, without regard to color, claimed and exercised the franchise until it was taken from free men of color a few years since by our amended Constitution.
That traces the idea of citizenship through the colonies and the Articles of Confederation down to the Constitution.  Note that slaves, like the Chinese later in the 19th century, could not be considered citizens as a matter of law, but could become citizens (consistent with the legal reasoning in Ark) by removing this disability (as the law calls it).  Removing jus soli in favor of jus sanguinis by Presidential edict is to remove this provision of the common law and replace it with the idea the only citizens in America are those the President says are citizens.  And he can make that determination based on race, since he would be removing citizenship from citizens now, or denying it to them in the future (as well or merely by provisions of the order) based solely on race (something tells me that white Europeans who have overstayed their visas and so are "illegal" would not face a challenge to their child's citizenship birthright).  Dred Scott, as I said, was overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (which Andrew Johnson vetoed, and the Congress passed into law by overruling his veto), and, for good measure, the 14th Amendment.

So what does the 14th Amendment say?

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

"Subject to the jurisdiction thereof" is almost universally regarded as referring to persons who are not foreign diplomats (not subject to U.S. jurisdiction by virtue of diplomatic immunity) and Native Americans (who are now citizens by act of Congress, so the application of the clause is very narrow, indeed).  It is this clause that some (a distinct minority) argue allows Congress to deny citizenship to person born here under the "wrong" circumstances.  But there is no support for that reasoning in the case law:

The Fourteenth Amendment provides that
[n]o State shall . . . deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

(Emphasis added.) Appellants argue at the outset that undocumented aliens, because of their immigration status, are not "persons within the jurisdiction" of the State of Texas, and that they therefore have no right to the equal protection of Texas law. We reject this argument. Whatever his status under the immigration laws, an alien is surely a "person" in any ordinary sense of that term. Aliens, even aliens whose presence in this country is unlawful, have long been recognized as "persons" guaranteed due process of law by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Shaughnessv v. Mezei, 345 U.S. 206, 212 (1953); Wong Wing v. United States, 163 U.S. 228, 238 (1896); Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356, 369 (1886). Indeed, we have clearly held that the Fifth Amendment protects aliens whose presence in this country is unlawful from invidious discrimination by the Federal Government. Mathews v. Diaz, 426 U.S. 67, 77 (1976). [n9] [p211]

Appellants seek to distinguish our prior cases, emphasizing that the Equal Protection Clause directs a State to afford its protection to persons within its jurisdiction, while the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments contain no such assertedly limiting phrase. In appellants' view, persons who have entered the United States illegally are not "within the jurisdiction" of a State even if they are present within a State's boundaries and subject to its laws. Neither our cases nor the logic of the Fourteenth Amendment support that constricting construction of the phrase "within its jurisdiction." [n10] We have never suggested that the class of persons who might avail themselves of the equal protection guarantee is less than coextensive with that entitled to due process. To the contrary, we have recognized [p212] that both provisions were fashioned to protect an identical class of persons, and to reach every exercise of state authority.
If you parse that legalese carefully, you find the Court holding that the 14th Amendment applies to persons, not citizens, and that nothing in the Court's history supports a limitation on the phrase in question.  Plyler was an equal protection case, and here the Court extended the protection of equal protection to the same limits as due process.  Undocumented immigrants may be subject to deportation for not having entered the country with permission, but they are still entitled to due process of law and equal protection under the law.  This is why Trump can't just round them up and push them back across the border, much as he would like to.  It's also why Trump can't override the 14th Amendment with the stroke of his pen.

I keep saying the real problem with Trump's proposed executive order is that it gives the President the power to decide who is, and who is not, a U.S. citizen, a power presumably available retroactively as well as prospectively.  That is not an idle or even abstract observation.  It comes directly from the White House itself:

Michael Anton, the former spokesperson for the National Security Council known as one of the foremost intellectual proponents of Trumpism, chose birthright citizenship as his first target for public writing after leaving the White House, with a column in the Washington Post calling on the president to simply declare, by fiat, that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution did not actually guarantee citizenship for everyone born on US soil.

That column was published in July of this year.  Axios reports it has been working on the story of Trump using an executive order to end birthright citizenship for weeks.  Coincidence?  And what about that notion that citizens are only who the President says they are?

For an illustration of how difficult it is to square this circle, just see Anton’s piece — in which he claims that membership in the “social compact” on which government is based only extends to people who “all other citizen-members” agree should be included. The implication is that “all other citizen-members” believe that universal birthright citizenship threatens the polity. But because Anton doesn’t state that outright, he doesn’t have to defend it. 
How would this "compact" be determined?  National referendum?  Or executive order?  Three guesses, the first two don't count.

It isn't too much to say this is where Trump would like to be going:

“U.S. citizenship is a privilege, it is not a right,” Hilton said. “It’s something that you should have to earn. I’m working towards that. I’m hoping to start the process next year actually… And to me, that’s something that’s so precious and shouldn’t just be handed out simply by being here.”

“I think the constitutionality of it is something that lawyers will argue about,” he continued. “I’ve seen both sides make the case just today that the way the Constitution is written was not intended to cover people who are just here for a short period of time.”

According to Hilton, the Constitution “is supposed to cover citizens or lawful residents who have been here longer than that.”

“It shouldn’t be handed out lightly,” he concluded.
The residency requirement is an interesting twist, especially as it doesn't exist in the Constitution, and what length of time constitutes "residency" is apparently, again, up to the Executive.

This is an act of pernicious nonsense, if Trump carries it out.  He may think he can do this by signature; the people pushing him to do it know it will wind up in the courts.  They are clearly hoping a Kavanaugh/Gorsuch court will rule their way.  However, considering Roberts outraged Scalia (low hanging fruit, I know) in the Obamacare case, by deciding he didn't want his Court identified with Scalia's argument, I don't see how Roberts would let Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and presumably Alito and Thomas, reissue the most damned and pernicious decision in Court history, reinterpreting the 14th Amendment and a century of case law in the process (as well as gutting the entire notion that race cannot be allowed to be a de jure determinant of status in America, even if it remains so de facto).  Will that happen?

“In my opinion, the arguments used to question the natural interpretation of the birthright citizenship rule are at best strained and at worst thoroughly dishonest,” [Garrett] Epps [, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law and a constitutional law expert] said. “That being said, of course, if Trump became president and appoints Judge Judy and God knows who else, the Supreme Court is perfectly capable of deciding that pi equals three, and nothing I say could stop it.”
Yeah, there's always that.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Who Knew It Would Be This Easy?



I was going to look up the recent "fake news" from the White House.  I didn't have to:
I guess they beat up all the "Middle Eastern terrorists" and drove them out into the Mexican wilderness?

BTW:  reports are they are just south of Mexico City.  If they head straight to McAllen, it will take 2 weeks or longer to get there, where they will be denied their legal right to apply for asylum.  Why we need up to 5000 military troops to meet what may be only a few hundred (based on the last "caravan") applicants for asylum, is not explained.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

I Alone Cannot Be Blamed for Anything

Nice work if you can get it.

A Uniter, Not A Divider

A protractor, not a ruler.

Tom Steger is a billionaire Democratic supporter who received a package from Cesar Seyoc.

Bringing the country together, one thoughtful tweet at a time.

Adding: apropos of the comment of trex:

They know exactly what they're doing. It is monstrous.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Something Happenin' Here

I heard a program on NPR yesterday that did its best to skirt the issue that 10 million people have already voted in the midterm election. We are on course, one expert asserted, to exceed voter turnout for midterms going back to 1966, and possibly for Presidential elections going back to 1914 (he thought an expectation of 50% turnout not unreasonable, which would set a record all on its own).  The elephant in the room was not speculation (however well informed) but the facts that Donald Trump lost the popular vote in 2016, and has had a disapproval rating 10 points higher than his approval rating for nearly his entire term. The Trump base, in other words, is a distinct numerical minority. Even if it is motivated to vote, it will be swamped by the rising tide of the majority. And this was the heart of the expert's argument: polling models of "likely voters" are already being proven out of date by voter turnout.

If that Trump supporter in the video above is in the majority, the country is done for. If two years of Trump has led either to more complacency or greater support for the minority President, our country is done for.  Record voter turnout does not point to the success of Donald Trump in the face of all the polling on his approval.

There is something going on, and it's not the triumph of racism and the Sayocs of our baser nature.

Friday, October 26, 2018

The President's Been In The Kahlil Gibran Again

And he's had one too many Hallmark Cards.
(Quoting himself? And this saccharine? Does he imagine this describes him?)

FAKE NEWS!

Any news story Trump doesn't like.

And our inept President inspired an inept bomber. Every cloud has a silver lining.

VERY Presidential

Thursday, October 25, 2018

"MUST BE CHANDED"


I just like it for "CHANDED"

Anybody old enough to remember when Trump sent the National Guard to the border?  And it turned out all they could do was support the Border Guard?  They couldn't get directly involved in law enforcement because, laws, or something, WHICH CLEARLY MUST BE CHANDED!

News reports are that Mattis is send 800 troops to the border, a border that is almost 2000 miles long. That averages out to 2.5 soldiers per mile of the border.

That'll stop those people from claiming their legal right to seek asylum in our country!

Drag Queen Story Hour!



I keep seeing articles on-line about how high voter turnout in Texas means Republicans are winning, an upside-down view that's become prominent only because media must report the horse race and must make it a horse race even if it isn't.  I have reasons to doubt this view of things because:  a)  early voting in Harris County (where Houston is) is breaking records, even though voting is only available this week from 8:00 to 4:30, working hours for most people (it goes to 12 hours a day next week).  That's already been a bone of contention, so let it lie.  More interesting is this robocall I just received, which I will quote in pertinent part:

Have you had enough of George Soros and the Radical Democrats attempts to promote mob rule and anarchy?  Republicans believe in jobs, not mobs.  Vote early, and be sure to vote straight Republican. Republicans believe in the rule of Constitutional law.  The Democrats promote mob rule and moral anarchy, open borders, abortion, the L-G-B-T-Q agenda (I swear you could hear the hyphens in his enunciation), Drag Queen Story Hour, socialism, and communism.  The Democrats must be stopped!

This is a call that ends with a plea for electing GOP judges (yes, judges are elected in Texas).  Which is weird, since I never imagined judges enforcing anarchy, open borders, the L-G-B-T-Q agenda, or holding Drag Queen Story Hour.

And communism?  How old is the audience you aimed this at?  I'm barely old enough to remember when Communism was a thing, and it doesn't even exist anymore anywhere on the planet.  And with God as my witness, I had no idea that "Drag Queen Story Hour" was a thing, much less a thing in Houston.  Apparently it goes on in public libraries, which raises my opinion of Houston immensely.  Not sure what drag queens have to do with socialism or communism, though.

Yeah, if the GOP is so confident high voter turnout is in their favor, why are they making calls like this?

If you say so, Mr. President



I knew it would come back to being the fault of the Democrats.  I even knew who would say it first:

“The language of moral condemnation and destructive routine, these are arguments and disagreements that have to stop, no one should carelessly compare political opponents to historical villains,” he said. “Which is done often, it is done all the time, it has got to stop. We should not mob people in public spaces or destroying public property. There is one way to settle the disagreements, it is called peacefully at the ballot box. That is what we want. As part of a larger national effort to bridge the divide and bring people together, the media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative in and often times false attacks and stories. They have to do it. They have to do it. They have got to stop. Bring people together. We are just 13 days away from a very, very important election, it is an election of monumental.”
Can't leave it there, of course:

“Democrats even support sanctuary cities that release violent gang members,” he said. “You see predators. I use that; some people don’t like it when I use that name.”
Or last Thursday in Missoula:

Trump summed up his 2018 campaign message in one sentence: "Democrats produce mobs, Republicans produce jobs."
Which really just scratched the surface:

Democrats have become the party of crime -- it is true! Who would believe you could say that, and no one will even challenge it? I said it a couple of months ago, 'They've really become the party of crime.' I said, 'I'm going to put that in, I'll say that when I make speeches.' And nobody has ever challenged it! (Maybe they have, who knows?)

They'll say, 'He gets a Pinnochio.' So, maybe they challenged it, but not very much. They have become the party of crime because of what they do!

They would rather devastate American communities than defend America's borders.

CROWD MEMBER: Cowards!

TRUMP: The Democrat Party has become too extreme to be trusted with power. Their radical policies are a danger to your family and to your country. If you want to Drain The Swamp, you must defeat the Democrats and you must defeat [Montana Democratic] Senator John Tester. 

Damn the media for its endless hostility!

And don't expect the White House to take any responsibility for all the people Trump has denounced being the recipients of bombs, because to take responsibility is to be a doormat (who knew?), and:

Borger reported that White House aides said, “We are not a doormat.”

“Our colleague, Pamela Brown is reporting that White House officials said ‘we’re not to blame,'” she said. “He should not be blamed for crazy things that violent people want to do. A senior official told Pam that ‘we’re not a doormat.'”

She added, “The president tonight said leaders must stop threatening opponents as if they’re morally defective. [I remember] when the president said that the opponents of Kavanaugh were evil. He used that word, evil. Is that morally defective? I would think so.”

“You have the White House coming out with a statement saying, you know, it’s not us, but this is the president of the United States. His words matter. His words echo throughout not only this country but the world,” she said. 
Damn the Democrats for promoting violence by being a political party that isn't Trump's!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Trolling: Not just for the Internet Anymore....


What I’m doing here is literary criticism. That’s my genre.

It's a curious thing for a Yale computer science professor to say.  It's his defense of an op-ed about Trump he's being interviewed on.  The quote from that op-ed he is explaining as literary criticism is this:

Mr. Trump reminds us who the average American really is.

As a mere adjunct professor at a community college who, however, actually teaches literary criticism, it's not my genre, it's my avocation.  And just as Dan Quayle was no Jack Kennedy, that statement is not literary criticism.  It's a proposition, an assertion, meant to be a statement of fact.  And it comes from a man who apparently hates all the people he works with and among at Yale:

I’m trying to understand the world as I see it, and in the world as I see it, two facts coincide: the dislike of the good people amid whom I spend my life for—people I’ve often lived across the street from: auto mechanics, glaziers, and ordinary, nonprofessorial, nonacademic, nonscientific types on the one hand—and the political divide in this country between those who support, not necessarily “like,” Trump, those who support him, and those who either can’t stand him or don’t support him or both.

This knowledge of non-professorial nonacademic nonscientific types leads him to strange conclusions, like this one:
I know you’ve heard his comments about Mexican rapists and all that. I assume you don’t think those are racially charged?

I think the idea that he’s a racist is absurd.

What did you think about—

I don’t think you understand that men—hard-line, wealthy, privileged WASPs—with Jewish sons-in-law are not racists. You take these things for granted. I’m a little older and I don’t.

Come again? I’m confused.

If he has accepted and embraced Jews in his family, it is absurd to call him a prejudiced or biased or bigoted man.

So just to be clear—

Absurd on the face of it.

If you accept Jews in your family, you cannot dislike Mexicans or African Americans or Muslims? That’s your theory?

You can dislike anybody you choose. That doesn’t make you a racist. You can dislike individuals. You don’t dismiss the race, and Trump never has, of course. He has never said, “Mexicans are a race I dislike.” They’re not a race at all, and he doesn’t claim who they are. I mean, it’s the left who’s made a race of Hispanics, which is idiocy, as if Spanish-speaking people were a race and French-speaking people weren’t. I mean, you started this and we have to deal with it. You’ve built a world in which we live. We do our best handling it.
Basically, he let his daughter marry one, so Trump can't be a racist.  Gelertner likes to challenge the meaning of terms:

What did you think birtherism was?

Birtherism, these tags are meaningless. If you’re referring to them specifically, tell me what it is.

He does it again here:

So just to get you on the record, you saw nothing strange or racist in birtherism?

I will assert that I have never met anybody who raised those questions for a racist reason. And “strange”—I have no idea what you mean by “strange.”

It's kind of like arguing with a troll.  The fact that he never met someone who raised those questions for what he considers an (undefined) racist reason is a bit of rhetorical sleight of hand, but it is central to his argument.  Since he doesn't know such persons, reports of other persons are irrelevant.  It's a solipsism almost as perfect as Trump's narcissism.  Behold:

I just want to read you something Trump said. “I’ve had horrible rulings, I’ve been treated very unfairly by this judge … Now, this judge is of Mexican heritage. I’m building a wall, OK?” So he was calling into question whether the judge could rule fairly because of his Mexican heritage, which I know you do not define as a race. Fine. Mexicans in and of themselves are not a race, I get that. But that seems like he’s making a statement that someone cannot judge fairly—

I don’t remember the context of the statement. I’m not going to comment on it. If you think I’m going to stand here and defend everything that Trump says, that’s not my business.

Well, you said he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body or something, and I’m bringing it up—

Right, I certainly believe that.

OK, so you have no comment about the Mexican-heritage statement?

No, but I don’t believe it was a racist statement. I would want to look up the context.

An internet troll couldn't do better.

Gelertner demands definitions when it suits him, but he never defines "racism," except implicitly.  And implicitly, racism is a unitary term which means one is unalterably opposed to all persons who are, I guess, not white, or white enough.  Since Trump let his daughter marry a Jew, that violates the unitary rule of racism for Gelertner, so Trump cannot be a racist.

Which is so absurd it's practically grounds for losing a tenured position at Yale.  Practically.

Gelertner's primary argument seems to be that of a very self-satisfied engineer:  he knows what he knows, and what he doesn't know is irrelevant and wrong and stupid.  If you don't agree with him, then you are stupid, too.  I've known some very intelligent engineers with this type of thinking (the particulars of it seem to be peculiar to engineers; not that other intelligent people can't be just as blinkered).  So I assume he calls it "literary criticism" because he actually disdains literary criticism and thinks it is sloppy reasoning engaged in by inferior thinkers, so that's one more jab in the eye of his critics; who are all beneath contempt, anyway.  But I must admit, I've never met an engineer so determined to believe only what he wants to believe, and ignore the rest:

And two, the reports from people inside the White House and journalists outside that his day consists of watching TV, golfing, etc.?

If you believe that, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. It’s not possible. It’s not conceivable. Anybody who’s been within 50 miles of the White House knows it is not possible to be president following that regimen. It’s a lie. Let me say it this way: I read it as a lie. I don’t believe it. No, I don’t believe it.

So reports from the White House about the President's schedule are fake news?  I guess because he hasn't seen the calendar himself, he can't know if it's true or not, eh?

I'm kinda glad I only teach at a community college....

The Possibility of a Pattern Emerges

Not a former FBI Assistant Director, but you never know....

It's getting hard to keep up:

Congressional screening office intercepts suspicious package addressed to Rep. Maxine Waters

And why should a random loon on in the intertoobs get all the crazy?

“We’re already seeing a little bit of a pattern,” [Former FBI assistant director Chris] Swecker said. “They’re going to be looking at this as a potential terrorist motive, whether it’s on one side or the other.”

“And as you correctly pointed out earlier,” he told Faulkner. “This doesn’t necessarily mean someone is espousing some sort of conservative ideology and targeting Democrats. It could be someone who is trying to get the Democratic vote out and incur sympathy.”

“That’s interesting,” Faulkner agreed.

“It could go either way,” Swecker added.
A little bit of a pattern?  D'ja think?

Some people say Soros is behind it and did it to himself.  It could go either way, I'm sure.  It would be irresponsible not to speculate.  Wildly.

By the way




The latest word from Houston:

Harris County voters broke another record for turnout in the midterm elections on Tuesday.

Polling locations received 64,781 people Tuesday, while 1,534 people mailed in their ballots. With Monday’s turnout, 181,916 people have now voted in Harris County.

In the 2014 midterms, 83,347 voters had cast their ballots by the second day.

Turnout in the 2018 midterms is on par with early voting in the 2016 presidential election. By the second day of early voting in 2016, just over 200,000 people had cast their ballots.

Turnout at each individual polling location remained roughly the same, with areas west and northwest of Houston seeing the most votes. However, turnout is up across the map.
Josh Marshall is right:

 Everything Shows a GOP Resurgence Except for the Evidence

Which is why I'm ignoring AP articles like this:

Kavanaugh And Caravan Firing Up GOP Voters: Race ‘Closer Than People Think’

Which contain contradictions to their own thesis like this:

It took voters in the Houston area less than six hours Monday to set a new opening day record for early voting during a midterm election. And in some Florida counties, two and three times as many voters cast ballots on the first day of early voting Monday compared to four years ago.

Public and private polling, however, suggests the GOP is getting more excited as Nov. 6 approaches.

“Republican enthusiasm doesn’t quite equal the white-hot enthusiasm of Democratic voters, but the Kavanaugh hearings got it pretty close,” said GOP consultant Whit Ayres.
I have to say, this is the first article I've read mentioning a "Kavanaugh bump."  Even the President is trying to use immigrants and tax cuts to get people to vote.  Kavanaugh?  Who?  I think I'll rely on articles like this instead:

Angry Americans will be more likely to vote, and Democrats are generally more angry about their hot-button issues than Republicans, according to the Reuters/Ipsos data.

That is a change from two years ago, when Republicans and Democrats were equally furious, said Nicholas Valentino, a voter behavior expert at the University of Michigan who collaborated on the poll and analyzed the results for Reuters.

The data suggests Democratic candidates could get a turnout boost that exceeds expectations, he said, possibly tipping the scale for them in tight races.

“That’s what happened in 2016,” Valentino said. “A lot of people who were predicted to stay home were very angry at (presidential candidate) Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, and they showed up to the surprise of everyone.”
Sure it's my bias; but Harris County went for Clinton in 2016, and everybody seems to forget Trump lost the popular vote, and is stuck at 52% disapproval.  His base is small and even if it is motivated, angry Democrats outnumber angry Republicans across the country.

And recent polling shows Beto within 4 points of Cruz; and GOTV is the name of the game now. The truth is, even polls I like (or sort of like) are as valuable a predictor of the future as chicken entrails.  Voter turnout is up, enthusiasm is high, and I prefer to be optimistic at this point.

 So I think I'll buy some more popcorn.

"And here...we...go!"


Headlines!  Get 'em while they're hot!

Secret Service Intercepts Suspicious Packages Sent To Clintons, Barack Obama

Debbie Wasserman Schultz offices evacuated after bomb threat: report

CNN NYC Offices Evacuated After Suspicious Package Sent To Network

Explosive device sent to CNN was addressed to Trump critic John Brennan: report

And: "TEXAS not included!"*

Reports that suspicious package was sent to White House are incorrect: source

This is, of course, because the Democrats were too partisan towards Kavanaugh, and this will energize the GOP base and depress Democratic voter turnout because what really matters is the horse-race.



Cant bring yourself to use your own best words?

Oh, one more headline, it turns out:

Secret Service also intercepted suspicious package sent to Eric Holder: MSNBC

Yeah, no pattern here, and the violence continues to be the sole province of the "left," and probably this was done to distract from their "mobs," amirite?


It's the internet; there's always somebody.


*What?  Too obscure?  NTodd made me do it.