Thursday, November 19, 2015


On the subject of Donald Trump's headline-grabbing refusal to reject Nazi tactics, I think Kevin Drum has a point:
It would be one thing if Trump floated the idea himself of warrantless searches and special IDs [for Muslims in America]. It's quite another if a reporter brings them up and Trump tap dances a little bit. Needless to say, in a better world Trump would have explicitly denounced all these ideas. Obviously we don't live in that world. Still, the only thing Trump actually said here is that we're going to have to look at a lot of things very closely. The rest was just a reporter fishing for a headline.
Drum is correct to say that Hunter Walker of Yahoo News threw out a couple of scenarios in his Trump interview and Trump was noncommittal, offering the kind of response we generally get from him when his lack of grounding in an issue leaves him incapable of an intelligent and informed answer. (Although, yes, he shouldn't need to be informed to reject the ideas Walker floated.)
Yahoo News asked Trump whether his push for increased surveillance of American Muslims could include warrantless searches. He suggested he would consider a series of drastic measures.

“We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said. “And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”

Yahoo News asked Trump whether this level of tracking might require registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion. He wouldn’t rule it out.

“We’re going to have to -- we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely,” Trump said when presented with the idea. “We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”
I agree with Drum: It's important to note that Trump didn't actually endorse "yellow star"-style identification for Muslims in America, or endorse warrantless searches or a registry of Muslims.

But it's worth knowing that if he's elected he plans, by his own admission, to adopt security measures that have been "frankly unthinkable." It's worth knowing that he wouldn't reject the approaches Walker enumerated out of hand. It's entirely possible that, when confronted with headlines such as "Trump Won't Rule Out Database, Special ID for Muslims in US," he'll double down and explicitly endorse special IDs, warrantless surveillance, and/or the database.

And it might be nice to get a few other presidential candidates on the record on all this. How far would they go? Don't we need to know that? When even "moderates" such as Jeb Bush and John Kasich are essentially calling for the United States to rebrand itself as an anti-Muslim Judeo-Christian nation, why shouldn't we ask how they'd treat Muslims who've done no harm to America?

Drum writes:
We know how to fight dangerous people. We know how to fight terrorism. And we don't have to shred the Constitution to do it. Instead of fishing for headlines and stoking the latest round of fatuous fearmongering from Republicans, maybe we'd be better served if reporters started asking them hard questions instead.
Is Drum saying that Republicans won't stoke fear unless reporters goad them? If he thinks that, he and I have been living in very different Americas, and not just since Friday's attacks in Paris.

Yes, ask Republicans hard questions -- but in all likelihood they'll just respond with the same poll-tested talking points. Then, two years from now, we could wake up with one of these people in the Oval Office executing plans to oppress innocent Americans in ways even Trump never dreamed of. (Back in 2000, we didn't George W. Bush was going to do what he did, did we?)

So why not prod and provoke the SOBs? If they have a sense of decency and respect for American ideals, they'll make short work of the questions. And if not, forewarned is forearmed.


Never Ben Better said...

Prod and poke for damned sure. Preferably with a cattle prod.

Victor said...

Or, NBB, a chain saw!

BKT said...

I beef cattle farmer I know has one bull that is unaccountably stubborn-- he claims it simply snorts and shrugs off attempts to goad it with a regular electric cattle prod. Today he sent me a link to the product below, with the (half-serious) musing that he may need one to move that bull.

I guess if you can't beat 'em, grill 'em where they stand.

Victor said...

I can see it now if one of the bigoted GOP assclowns becomes POTUS:
American Muslims will be forced to wear yellow crescent moons on their clothing.

If this country really is as full of chickenshit's as it seems at times - like, today - then the "American Experiment" should be judged as a total failure.

And in the near future, Muslims can join Native Americans (over the centuries), and Japanese-Americans (during WWII*), on the list of "Shit we Americans didn't learn, no matter how bad we looked to the rest of the sane people in the world" as a democracy.

*Funny how we didn't inter German-Americans in either World War.
Oh, yeah, that's right!
Nothing funny about it - they're white.

John Taylor said...

This kind of discrimination against Muslims is exactly what ISIS wants. These fools would play right into their hands.

Professor Chaos said...

Any person with a shred of decency wouldn't need to "tap dance" around the questions. He's being asked whether he would do things that are completely un-American, the answer should be a resounding "no!" You don't say "we'll have to consider" robbing a bank or kidnapping a child. You say "no, of course not." This should have been that simple.

Aunt Snow said...

Politicians should expect leading questions, and know what their principles are. I don't give Trump a pass on his knee-jerk authoritarianism, just because someone led him into it.

I concur with Professor Chaos on this.

CF2K said...

Snopes gave a demerit to Yahoo and a pass to Trump. I registered my displeasure.

Unknown said...

I'm not having this at all.

What Drum & Steve M. here too are arguing for is effectively UNDERSTANDING AND TOLERANCE for two really ugly dangerous things about Trump:

(1) his utter ignorance and incompetence in NOT UNDERSTANDING the very nature and the importance of Rule of Law, the purpose and thrust of a constitutional guarantee, what the U.S. Constitution in particular SAYS on protecting American citizens against arbitrary searches and seizes agents of their own government, and WTF those protections are needed in the first place; and

(2) Trump's consistent pandering to the authoritarian spirit running thick and hard thru the members and supporters of the political party from whom he's seeking to be nominated president.

That term, "warrantless search", is a deliberate obfuscation. The term should be LEGALIZED PROFILING, SNOOPING & RAIDS, or an American Stasi. The Constitution EXPRESSLY provides against that BECAUSE THAT'S AMONG WHAT THE BRITS DID IN RUNNING "THEIR" COLONIES!

For a person to allow that they'd 'consider' that, particularly on a MASS and OTHERWISE ETHNICALLY BIASED BASIS is the essential of institutionalized discrimination - it IS racism in action.

We got into this slippery slope in the first place because of how supposedly 'difficult' and 'taxing' it is on the NSA and FBI and other national and state law enforcement to articulate justification for a particular type of 'search', namely the interception of private telephone and cellphone and email conversations. It's actually NOT difficult, nor is it at all unreasonably taxing, to justify those at the outset; it's just that by their nature those types of human intercourse are highly prone to moving on very quickly in terms getting beyond the original interest in the named target to getting into WTF is the target talking to and Where TF is THAT person? IOW the obfuscation became popularized because large institutional bodies, in essence OUR surveillance apparatus, isn't answerable to us but rather to our own government and realizing that they have thoroughly compromised and corrupted the human beings in our representative democracy, both elected and employed, largely thru intimidation, inducing fear, and bribing them with the promise of campaign funds and future employment in the private sector.

Oh, you say, But Trump doesn't know all that! Well, fuck him: he's running for POTUS, he OUGHT to know it, or else we're just complicit in him allowing our own government and court system free rein to screw any of us.

I half think both Drum and Steve M. have taken this position to drive their reader comment threads. This is just untreatd bullshit.

Steve M. said...

I'm not arguing for tolerance of his ignorance. He's so ignorant you have to point out to him that what he advocates is analogous to what the Nazis and other fascists have done, and that ignorance makes him more dangerous than he might be otherwise.

Steve M. said...

And you apparently missed the point that I'm disagreeing with Drum on the appropriateness of Walker's story. Hell yes, it was worth it -- Trump has advocated Nazi-like treatment of U.S. Muslims either out of bigotry or out of ignorance. Either way, it should disqualify him. Either way, it should force every "both sides do it" enabler in the mainstream press to ask why a person like this is leading the presidential polls of one of our major parties. It's absolutely worth bringing that to light -- which is what I said in the post.

Ten Bears said...

Boiled down to ones and zeros, "warrantless searth" is a violation of our Fourth Amendment right to be secure in our homes, papers and property. Period.

If I recall correctly, early Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court John Marshall argued the Second Amendment provides relief for the tyrannies of the minority imposed upon the majority. It is inarguable that they are in the minority, nor the imposition of the tyranny upon the rest of us.

Dot dot dot

Unknown said...

Steve M., Sorry, that's all on me; I got all red stuff in the eyes over the start of your piece here and didn't get it out 'til you corrected me.
I feel bad now; need to make up for it, somehow ...

Here's maybe how, a bit: UPDATE! Some NBC reporter got Trump for a minute or so on rope line at a campaign event this even, and BOY HOWDY did he clarify things! Would he go for a database? HELL YEAH! Is he up for registering Muslims? IT'D BE A GOOD START, BUT NOT NEAR ENOUGH! In mosques then? EVERYWHERE - TRACK EVERYWHERE THEY GO, REGISTER 'EM RIGHT WHERE YOU CATCH 'EM!

Hope all that as a down payment on my apology.

Unknown said...

I took this from an AP story posted online at Business Insider:
"...Trump voiced support Thursday evening for creating a mandatory database to track Muslims in the United States ...
"I would certainly implement that. Absolutely," Trump told an NBC News reporter between campaign events in Newton, Iowa, according to video posted on
He said Muslims would be signed up at "different places," adding: "It's all about management."
Asked whether registering would be mandatory, Trump responded: "They have to be."
He said earlier this week that the country was "going to have no choice" but to close certain mosques because "really bad things are happening, and they're happening fast."
The first reference to the database idea came in an interview with Yahoo News published earlier Thursday in which the billionaire real estate mogul did not reject the idea of requiring Muslims to register in a database or giving them special identification cards noting their religion.
"We're going to have to — we're going to have to look at a lot of things very closely," Trump told Yahoo News.
He also suggested he would consider warrantless searches, according to the outlet, saying: "We're going to have to do things that we never did before."
Asked by reporters Thursday night to explain his Yahoo comments, Trump suggested his response had been misconstrued. "I never responded to that question," he said.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement Thursday condemning Trump for what the group described as "Islamophobic and unconstitutional" comments targeting American Muslims and Syrian refugees.
They also criticized Trump rival Ben Carson, who on Thursday compared blocking potential terrorists posing as Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. to handling a rabid dog.
"If there's a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood, you're probably not going to assume something good about that dog," Carson told reporters at a campaign stops in Alabama. "It doesn't mean you hate all dogs, but you're putting your intellect into motion."
"By mainstreaming Islamophobic and unconstitutional policies, Donald Trump and Ben Carson are contributing to an already toxic environment that may be difficult to correct once their political ambitions have been satisfied," CAIR's Robert McCaw ... in a statement."

Steve M. said...

Thanks for that (and no problem about the misreading). I was just working on a follow-up about Trump's double-down. Up soon, I hope.