My Not-Flashy-Slogan Is “Restructure ICE,” and Why “Abolish ICE” Is Not And Should Not Be The Same As “Open Borders”

“Restructure ICE” is not exactly a sexy clickbait slogan, but it is a better slogan, tactically and strategically, than Abolish ICE.  The government employees who work for ICE are a mixed multitude, I imagine.  Some may have joined for better reasons than others.  Some, I suppose, were working for a different agency and got folded into ICE.  Any political slogan that fails to recognize the humanity and the need for a paycheck of ICE employees is not based on sound strategic thought.  That said, calls by Senators Kamala Harris, Jeff Merkley, and Kirsten Gillibrand are worth looking at for what they actually propose.  If ICE is not fulfilling a mission that we the people are happy with, we need–via our elected representatives–to alter (or, if necessary, abolish) it.  The thread below by Moira Whelan explains the issues very well, in my opinion.  “Open Borders” is never going to be a popular proposal, by the way.  Democratic politicians should make that clear yesterday–do not let Trump lie about you without hitting him back ten times as hard with tireless repetition of your actual positions, and then (and only then) by pointing out his deceptions and deflections and lies.  Customs agents have been around for centuries, and they will, and should, continue to be there for border control.  But if ICE is not protecting us from terrorists and gangs and drugs, and if the president’s policies are giving us less protection against gangs and drugs, we ought to know that–and Democrats as well as conscientious reporters should emphasize it.

https://mobile.twitter.com/moira/status/1012882770207571968

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Charting The President’s Complete Disregard For The “Forgotten American Men And American Women”

The chart below, from the St. Louis branch of the Federal Reserve, shows the dramatic shift in who’s carrying the burden of funding the US government.  No wonder the corks popped in the boardrooms and the third homes of the super-rich!  There are minor shifts and there is one huge drop-off–that would be corporate tax payments to the Treasury.  No problem? Not unless you were expecting that you, a living, breathing person, wouldn’t be stuck paying for the two big-ticket items, that is the military and the social safety net.  If corporations don’t pay nearly as much, guess what? You and I, natural persons, we pay.  If your income is mainly from investments, you are probably in luck, though–the class war has gone your way.

 

https://fredblog.stlouisfed.org/2018/06/movement-of-the-federal-tax-receipt-front/

(H/T Paul Krugman tweet)

Supporting Seniors! Women’s Rights! The Real Elitists Of Hannityworld Say “Quelle Horreur”

Sean Hannity actually put up the graphic shown below on his TV show the other day.  He apparently thinks it’s a horror story.  Who will let him know that his day has come and gone?  He and Trump may have “nicer boats,” as Trump said in Fargo, but I sure hope they don’t have more votes!

https://mobile.twitter.com/nycsouthpaw/status/1012403674562297856

“One-on-One” Talks In Helsinki? Isn’t There A Third In The Room?

Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump are planning to meet in Helsinki next month for what will reportedly be “one-on-one” talks.  There is plenty of reason to believe that this is a misnomer.  What worries me most is the “third” lurking in the background.  Putin, you can be sure, does not actually need to bring a literal pee tape into the room.  Putin does not need to place on the table a pile of transcripts of all the kompromat material he has intercepted from Trump Tower and Trump’s Samsung phone.  Putin is already living, as the saying goes, rent-free in our president’s head.  No wonder if Trump agrees to do Putin’s bidding.  Easing off sanctions imposed by the US and EU after the little green Russian men invaded Crimea and eastern Ukraine in 2014, that would be a big plus for Putin.  Russian state TV is already crowing that “Trump is ours.”  Imagine what they will say after this summit–especially if Putin leans on Trump to say negative things about NATO.  I’ll concede that Trump, even leaving aside the likely effect on his brain of Putin’s kompromat and blackmail operation, is temperamentally opposed to alliances of democratic republics, and temperamentally attracted to thuggish rulers.  But what Putin has on Trump sure seems to be pretty heavy.  I do hope that Robert Mueller, the Southern District of NY prosecutors, the NY Attorney General, and the media bring even more unambiguous evidence of Trump’s collusion to light, and soon.  If Manafort really owed Oleg Deripaska ten million bucks, for example, that in itself may not implicate Trump–but it’s just one example of a nefarious web, far worse than Watergate or the Teapot Dome or Iran-Contra, in my opinion.

The one-on-one is bad enough.  It’s the “third” mediating terms that are even more dangerous.

Justice Kennedy Concurring This Morning: “But Don’t Think You Can Turn Up The Temperature Of The Water In This Pot Which Is Already Hot Enough For Me”

Justice Roberts this morning: I am signaling my virtue by issuing the dicta that  Korematsu was a bad decision and totally not relevant to 2018.  Also we are not experiencing anything like the 1930s at all.

Justice Sotomayor: I see your Calvinball game and I am old enough to remember Masterpiece Cakeshop (H/T nycsouthpaw).

Justice Kennedy: This big cast iron pot I am now sitting in seem to be getting warmer.  I am warning you politely in my concurring opinion, do not turn it up any higher or I will become even more uncomfortable (still, money is speech, as I said in 2010).

 

 

Why Did No-Deal Trump Give Harley-Davidson Any Excuse?

Our president-who-will-never-be-blamed-no-matter-what has blamed Harley-Davidson for their plan to move production out of the USA.  “Of all people,” he exclaimed.  They are using my tariffs as an excuse, he moaned.

Wouldn’t it have been smarter and higher-IQ, Mr. Dealmaker President, if you hadn’t given them the perfect excuse to lay off American workers?  Maybe they were looking for an excuse–why the hell did you give it to them?

Update: Trump has freaked out over Harley-Davidson in a series of tweets. Could he be worried that some cult followers might be quite attached to their Harleys, and to the very idea of Harleys, and that he better sic the dogs of tariff (and tax! wow!) war on them before they come out and criticize him directly?  When a guy from Bikers for Trump goes on TV this morning and dares to say he’s not as loyal to his Harley as he is to Trump, you have to think, maybe this Trump thing does have a teeny tiny bit of cultishness going on?

President Trump Ridicules Magna Carta As “Very Weak” And “Very Unfair To The King”

President Trump has reportedly announced his intention to visit the City of London’s Trump Street and Russia Row–which are located right next to each other, but there’s no collusion at all. Then he plans to walk a block to the Guildhall galleries, with their nearly pristine copy of the Magna Carta, where he is said to plan a photo spray while he attacks the document on display as a very bad idea, very weak, and very unfair to the King. He is also said to be interested in learning more about the impure ethnic origins of the “barons.”

The attack on judges, courts, and due process?  The grasping after the “dispensing power” that went out in the 1680s? All that was just a warm-up act.  Now he’s coming after the politically correct 13th century.

Due Process Good For Me But Not For Thee

In February due process was good, it was important, it was under assault by the deep state, it was the foundation of our constitutional republic.  Now, who needs it, it’s a relic of the past, it’s just political correctness, we can’t afford it no more.  Trump and/or whoever is tweeting from his social media account complained loudly in February that due process was dead, alluding to his former aide Rob Porter.  In fact Trump made the choice to ask for or accept Porter’s resignation.  The only “due process” issue was in Trump’s scheming mind.  Porter’s ex accused him of abuse, more accusations followed, and Porter left the White House (how and when he left was obfuscated and muddled, at a minimum, by John Kelly).  Trump could have stood up for Porter and kept him on, but he didn’t.  He is never accountable for anything, but he loves to play the snowflake victim card.  That was February.  Today, President Trump tweeted on his way to the golf course that “we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came.”

My takeaway is a) that Trump is not confident that the Supreme Court will back him up this week on the travel band and b) that due process is good for some people but not for “those people,” who not so coincidentally happen to be brown, black, poor, and in general vulnerable.  Trump hosted a TV event with “Angel Families,” whose anguish seemed very real.  I believe their suffering should be taken into account in any consideration of US immigration policy.  So should the needs of job-creating American businesses.  That includes tech companies in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.  That includes the nail factory hurt by Trump tariffs–tariffs are taxes, btw–and it includes the many businesses who are shorthanded and can’t find enough medium-skilled factory workers or retail workers or bus drivers or restaurant workers or hospital workers or delivery drivers.  It even includes big agribusiness operators in California and Arizona and Texas and the Midwest who need as many harvest hands as they can get.  I also believe that Rupert Murdoch was right when he tweeted on July 12, 2015: “Mexican immigrants, as with all immigrants, have much lower crime rates than native born…Trump wrong.”

Trump’s attacks on Mexicans, immigrants, judges, due process, and political correctness–it’s all of a piece: “I alone can solve it.”  And I alone can protect you forgotten men (women, maybe or maybe not) from the elites who disrespect you (and gave you that horrid Obamacare which we will replace with something beautiful someday).  I alone can protect you from the “American Carnage” caused by mongrelization.

It was possible to vote for Trump, and to vote for Republicans, in 2016 and still believe that he would “pivot” and become more “presidential.”  It is no longer possible to pretend that Trump has any respect or any “feel” for our constitutional democratic republic.  It is not possible to believe that a Republican Congress will do its constitutional duty and give us any oversight of Trump’s assault on our Constitution.  Trump has–or ought to have–forced us to act to preserve and protect our freedoms by tossing Republicans overboard this November, almost regardless of who seems to be the “best candidate” in a particular race.  If our political leaders do not defend due process, we must remove them, via the due process of elections.  Trump may walk back his tweet and say it was sarcasm, and why can’t people take a joke.  He is welcome to tiptoe off the political stage, and that’ll be when I laugh at the joke.  I know, I know, he’s not much of a tiptoeing guy.  Still I’ll humor him for his effort and laugh.

 

I Favor Zero Tolerance For Idiots Who Throw Starburst Candy At The Leader Of The Free World, Angela Merkel

Among the many “no, really, not-the-Onion” and not-funny-either stories these past few days, Donald Trump throwing Starburst candy at German Chancellor Angela Merkel and spewing out “don’t say I never gave you anything” at her–that is about the stupidest and most disgraceful, despite all the competition for “worst.”  Though the Melania Trump jacket that said “I don’t really care, do u” is bad too.  The euphemisms and denials are horrible, too: a person who says “tender age shelters” out loud should have their mouths washed out with soap.  Yes, I am sure that some celebrities and some so-called “leftists” have been vulgar and rude and profane.  I disapprove of their immature behavior.  But it is pretty hard to be disrespectful of the office of the presidency these days.  I favor a new policy: zero tolerance for criminal behavior by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  Did you know lying to Congress is a crime, including lying about your contacts with agents of foreign adversaries such as Russia?  I favor zero tolerance for insider trading, which is a felony crime.  Hello there Wilbur Ross–have you no shame?  I favor zero tolerance for money laundering, even if it means a former campaign manager for a president, a man who, as the president pointed out, has served other presidents (and very possibly other criminals, I might add) over several decades–even so, money laundering is a felony, and there should be zero tolerance for money laundering, otherwise we become infested with money launderers.  If a money launderer makes it all the way to the presidency, that person should still face justice, in this life, and with zero tolerance for criminal behavior.  Mercy is important too–all in good biblical time, my pretty little Trump.

This Truth Sandwich Is So Delicious! I Am Feeling Disenthralled Already

Margaret Sullivan is on target again with her June 17 Washington Post column, “Instead of Trump’s propaganda, how about a nice ‘truth sandwich’?”  She amplifies George Lakoff’s framing of how to respond to Trump’s deceitful framing: reporters should “first, get as close to the overall, big-picture truth as possible right away…then report what Trump is claiming about it…And then, in the same story or broadcast, fact-check his claims.  That’s the truth sandwich–reality, spin, reality–all in one tasty, democracy-nourishing meal.  Avoid retelling the lies.  Avoid putting them in headlines, leads or tweets, [Lakoff] says.  Because it is that very amplification that gives them power.  That’s how propaganda works on the brain: through repetition, even when part of that repetition is fact-checking.”

Many good reporters–or previously good reporters who have not yet adjusted to Trump’s relentless gaslighting–were schooled to adopt a fact-based, objective viewpoint, a “view from nowhere,” and to avoid imputing bad-faith motivations to public figures, especially presidents.  Also, many if not most of us would dearly wish to have a president who is a reliable witness and a trustworthy steward.  Our wish to grant legitimacy and respect and dignity to our leaders (whether “biblically” based or not) has been abused by presidents in the past.  I am old enough to remember Lyndon Johnson and the “credibility gap,” and several mendacious presidents since.  But Trump is really different, not in a good way.  His open authoritarianism and disdain for liberty is new and ominous.  Trump has been a deceptive salesman for almost fifty years, and a vicious bully for longer.  He is not going to change–the only issue is how we will respond.  Daniel Dale has wisely advised TV and print reporters that to cover Trump adequately at all, they need to match his energetic and consistent lying with equally energetic and consistent debunking.  That debunking, and the truth-sandwich approach, give busy-yet-concerned voters a fighting chance to absorb what is at stake this November–and perhaps sooner, if the rhetorical attack on Mueller escalates into another Saturday night massacre.

There is no good substitute, painful as it may be, for constant suspicion of this president.  The truth sandwich is not just a technique, it is a survival manual if we really care about preserving, protecting, and defending the freedoms many of us have come to take for granted in our constitutional democratic republic.

For President Donald Trump, lying is an everyday, all day thing; and signifying is sometimes even more fabulous than lying.  Do not get hung up on whether a particular utterance of his is a “demonstrable falsehood” or a bald lie–but do match his energy and consistency, and do not get sucked down the rabbit hole of his mendacious framing.

 

P.S. Some sources on political lying and response thereto:

George Lakoff twitter feed and framelab.us; also his book, Whose Freedom?

Greg Sargent, Plum Line blog, Washington Post–on political persuasion “saturated with bad faith”; also Brian Beutler, Crooked.com and twitter, and Daniel Dale twitter

Augustine, On Lying (De Mendacio)

Hannah Arendt, “Lying in Politics”

It’s Very Biblical To Heed Biblical Warnings About People Like Trump

If we are going to talk about zero tolerance policies, let’s talk about zero tolerance for unbiblical cruelty toward our neighbor.

It may be very Biblical to enforce the law (though Sarah Huckabee Sanders deceitfully implied that the president is simply enforcing a law passed by Democrats requiring separation of families applying for asylum, while in fact he is using his discretion over border policy–Democrats passed no law requiring what Trump is doing; moreover those families are not illegal immigrants, they are doing something perfectly lawful–applying for refuge–though they may or may not win their cases).  And Jeff Sessions may believe that quoting Romans 13:1 settles everything (“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God”).

But it is very biblical, even more biblical, to heed the warnings of scriptural witnesses.  In the book of First Samuel, the people clamor for a king to rule over them.  Samuel the aged judge goes to the Lord, who instructs Samuel to give the people what they want, but to solemnly warn them first about “the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”  Samuel does exactly that (chapter 8): “he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen…he will appoint for himself commanders… and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.  He will take your daughters to be performers and cooks and bakers.  He will take the best of your fields and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers….he will take…the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work…you shall be his slaves.  And in that day you will cry out because of your king, who you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer in that day.  But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, ‘No! but we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.”  Battles against the disrespectful elites, no doubt.  So that we also may be like Russia and China and North Korea.  With courtiers like Scott Pruitt and Tom Price and Betsy DeVos.

Scripture also warns us (Proverbs 24): “do not envy the wicked, nor desire to be with them; for their minds devise violence, and their lips talk of mischief.”  Authority is a tricky thing, Mr. Attorney General.  Have you noticed in your study of the scriptures that some rulers are evil, not godly, in the end not legitimate, and come to bad ends?

And Sarah Sanders, have you read Isaiah 10 lately: “Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, who write oppressive statutes, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of their right…what will you do on the day of punishment…to whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth?”

And Vice President Pence, have you considered the opening chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah: “Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves.  Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts.  They do not defend the orphan and the widow’s cause does not come before them….Therefore says the Lord of hosts…I will turn my hand against you…those who forsake the Lord shall be consumed…you shall be like an oak whose leaf withers, and like a garden without water.  The strong shall become like tinder, and their work like a spark; they and their work shall burn together with no one to quench them.”

 

Yes, I Am Sitting Up At Attention, Mr. President–From Now Until Election Day Tuesday November 6

I am quite willing to sit up at attention, Mr. Trump sir.  And plan to do so until we voters toss you overboard on Tuesday, November 6, 2018.  Yes, I know that you cannot be tossed literally overboard on November 6, 2018.  But on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, election day, we the people will have our first chance, nationwide–or constitutional-republic-wide, I should say–to restore real oversight by the legislative branch over your many abuses of power, starting with the Emoluments Clause and obstruction of justice but not limited to those low-hanging and obvious high crimes and misdemeanor lying in plain sight.  I place no trust at all in any members of the Republican Party to preserve, protect, or defend our Constitution.  And so, while I would normally like to choose the best possible person for political office without regard to political party affiliation. your abuse of your office obliges me to vote all Democratic all the time until there is a Democratic Congressional majority to oversee you.  I really don’t care if you tell me that you were kidding or that it was just sarcasm and I should be smart enough to not take you literally.  Bye Donald.

When And Why Was “Trump Street” In The City Of London Renamed “Russia Row”? Answer Me That!

Walking near London’s Guildhall the other day, looking for remnants of the London Wall, I expected to see “Trump Street” but was amazed to see a sign for “Russia Row” instead.  What remarkable foresight these Londoners have, thought I.  No wonder they were such a great imperial power.  But when? and how? and why–the renaming, that is.  You’re welcome:

https://theprintnews.co.uk/2017/11/story-behind-trump-street-russia-row/

https://www.london-walking-tours.co.uk/secret-london/trump-street.htm

https://www.citymetric.com/politics/city-london-russia-row-leads-directly-trump-street-2821

 

As Churchill reputedly said, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.  Justin Trudeau, did you know that at the west end of Russia Row/Trump Street it intersects Milk Street?