Thursday, April 18, 2019

OUR RIDICULOUS ELECTORAL SYSTEM IS WHY DEMOCRATS PROBABLY WON'T TRY TO IMPEACH

Donald Trump absolutely deserves to be impeached, with all evidence of unfitness for office placed before the public in a compelling and dramatic way. We can debate whether impeachment is worth the effort, given the fact that we know no Republican in the Senate will ever vote to convict, but we know now, unambiguously, that impeachment would be a highly appropriate course of action.

It won't happen, and one reason it won't happen is our preposterous electoral system. No other country prolongs the selection of a chief executive for two damn years -- but that's how we do it. The easy response to calls for impeachment is "Why impeach? An election is coming up." But an election is coming up in a year and a half. That's a long time for an unfit president to serve unchallenged.

A president can serve for eight years, but the one remedy we have when we've elected a corrupt one is effectively taken off the table in years three and four. And if Trump is somehow reelected -- which I think is a real possibility, especially given the likelihood of Howard Schultz splitting the anti-Trump vote -- it will be said for a couple more years that we can't impeach because the voters chose Trump again (even if once more it's without a plurality of the popular vote). And in years seven and eight? We'll be back where we were when Democrats took over Congress at the end of the George W. Bush presidency -- once again, "Why impeach? An election is coming up."

In other words, the only remedy we have for an unfit chief executive is ruled out by custom for three quarters of any two-term president's time in office. And, of course, we've also decided that a president can't be indicted while in office. So we have no remedy for flagrant unfitness for the office, with Donald Trump as president. Terrific.

TOO HAPLESS TO CONSPIRE, TOO INCOMPETENT TO OBSTRUCT, ACCORDING TO MUELLER

I'm not having the kind of day that permits me to absorb all the Mueller news in a leisurely fashion, but I'll make a brief observation. First, this, from CNN:
The special counsel's investigation into possible collusion found that members of the Trump campaign knew they would benefit from Russia's illegal actions to influence the election, but didn't take criminal steps to help, Robert Mueller's report said.
"Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in the election interference activities," the report said.
I can't help thinking that if this were the Nixon crew we were talking about, they wouldn't be quite so ... passive. (The aiding and abetting was supposed to happen after the inauguration, of course.)

And then this, from The Washington Post:
Repeatedly, it appears Trump may have been saved from more serious legal jeopardy by his own staffers, who refused to carry out orders they thought were problematic or legally dangerous.

For instance, in the early days of the administration, when the president was facing growing questions concerning then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s conversation about sanctions with a Russian ambassador, the president ordered another aide, KT McFarland, to write an email saying the president did not direct those conversations. She decided not to do so, unsure if that was true and fearing it might be improper.
Trump's inability to ascertain that his own orders have been carried out may have prevented him from being declared an obstructor by Robert Mueller.

So there's Team Trump: awash in dirty deeds, but leaving it to the help -- the Russians -- to hack the election, and prevented by the boss's incompetence from engaging in the full range of intended obstruction. Or as the GOP would put it, pure as the driven snow.

A SANDERS NOMINATION WOULD BE TERRIBLE FOR DEMOCRATS -- OR POSSIBLY EXCELLENT

While I'm waiting for Mueller Day to begin, I'm distracted by this list of takeaways from a recent Emerson poll of the Democratic primary field (hat tip: Jena Friedman):
26% of current Bernie Sanders supporters said that they would rather vote for President Donald Trump over Senator Elizabeth Warren, if that were the eventual 2020 matchup.
That seems like sexism, but there's also this:
While 100% of [Pete] Buttigieg’s supporters said they would support Bernie against Trump (if that were the General Election matchup), only 79% of Bernie’s supporters said they would vote for Buttigieg over Trump in a General Election.
Maybe that's homophobia -- or maybe a significant portion of the Sanders vote is simply not obtainable by anyone else who might run as a Democrat. Maybe these people wouldn't vote for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez if she were eligible and running. Maybe they wouldn't run for -- I'm groping for a Sandersesque white male here -- Glenn Greenwald or Michael Tracey or Matt Taibbi.

I want to know more about these people. Are they left-wing at all? Or are they just people whose preference is for a candidate who can do performative male outrage against the Establishment in a non-posh accent? And is that because they're adolescent iconoclasts (of all ages)? Or are some of these people the same folks who put Trump over the top in 2016? What if the white male Democrats should run in order to win back Rust Belt voters who defected in 2016 is ... Bernie Sanders?

My guess is that it's much more complex than that. Sanders would probably lose some swing voters who are moderate. But he might peel off a few Trump voters in the process. What's the net gain or loss? I can't tell one way or the other.

We're also told this:
Only 51% of current Bernie supporters actually voted in the 2016 General Election for the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton – 7% voted for Trump, 23% voted for a third-party candidate, and 19% did not vote.
Simultaneously I'm thinking, What the hell is wrong with these people? and Maybe Sanders at the top of the ticket would bring out a lot of voters in 2020 who'd never vote for another Democrat.

I'm sorry we still have to work through all this. A true Democrat really should be able to win this thing, although I'm not at all confident. (I was much more confident in the Democrats' chances of retaking the House in 2018.) I guess we just have to accept the fact that we'll lose a lot of Sanders voters if he's not on the ticket -- but he might be a stronger candidate than many people believe if he is the nominee, because he'll attract voters who don't seem to care about ideology at all.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

MILO YIANNOPOULOS: ALWAYS BE GRIFTING

Milo Yiannopoulos wants to be loved again, so he's written a (very short) new book:



The book clocks in at a whopping 96 pages (54 pages in the Kindle edition). Here's the promotional copy:
Recently, I became poor. It's disgusting, and it means God loves me less than He loves you. I know my tragic penury won't last forever, but in case you, too, have been fired for something you said, or deplatformed for something you believe, or were just abruptly cut off from your trust fund, this book will explain how to navigate life when you are unexpectedly yanked from privilege and told to, err, earn a living.

Enjoy the hilarious tale of my cataclysmic fall from wealth, grace, and high-end hair salons, but be sure to pay close attention to the tips I've picked up along the way and you might just make it out alive--and with minimal split ends.
You could almost imagine a different world in which Yiannopoulos became an apolitical attention-seeker who landed himself a reality show or series of HBO standup specials. But no, he had to be a morally repellent shill for the worst possible ideas, as we're reminded when we read his author bio:
MILO YIANNOPOULOS is an award-winning journalist, a New York Times-bestselling author, an international political celebrity, a free speech martyr, a comedian, an accomplished entrepreneur, a hair icon, a penitent and, to the annoyance of his many enemies, an exceedingly happy person. He is the most censored, most lied-about man in the world, banned from stepping foot on entire continents for his unapologetic commitment to free expression. But he is also, somehow, one of the most sought-after speakers anywhere, invited by foreign governments, wealthy individuals and even the occasional courageous private company to share his unique blend of laughter and war. Milo lurches from improbable triumph to improbable triumph, loathed by establishment Left and Right alike. His first book, Dangerous, sold over 200,000 copies, despite never being reviewed in any major publication. Milo lives in New Jersey with his husband, John.
(It's not true that Dangerous was never reviewed by a major publication -- here's the USA Today review.)

The book title is curious, given that Yiannopoulos used to go around wearing this shirt:



This isn't Yiannopoulos's first book since his downfall -- apparently we missed a book he wrote last year in which, to judge from the title, he addressed the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal and, of course, made it all about himself. (The title was Diabolical: How Pope Francis Has Betrayed Clerical Abuse Victims Like Me—and Why He Has To Go.)

Racist/sexist/creationist/white nationalist sci-fi author Vox Day tells us that Yiannopoulos has at least one more book in the works:
... Milo will be releasing a major new book soon, the long-awaited FEMINISM IS CANCER. It’s excellent, it’s relevant, it’s very funny, and I won’t be surprised if it is an even bigger success than DANGEROUS was.
Yiannopoulos also wrote the foreword to this book by Day:



Send the meteor. The mere existence of this book demonstrates convincingly that human civilization does not deserve to survive.

WHY PETE BUTTIGIEG PROBABLY WON'T BE THE NOMINEE

We're having another wave of Buttigiegmania. Politico's Playbook reports, breathlessly:
BUTTIGIEG SHRUGS OFF ANTI-GAY HECKLERS: “South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg swept into Iowa on Tuesday, drawing some of the biggest crowds of the 2020 race so far in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. He faced anti-gay hecklers at two events, including in Des Moines where a man in the crowd shouted ‘remember Sodom and Gomorrah!’ just after Buttigieg talked about marrying his husband, Chasten, who attended the event.

“The man kept shouting but the crowd chants of ‘Pete! Pete!’ drowned him out. Buttigieg calmly looked on as security escorted away the individual. ‘The good news is, the condition of my soul is in the hands of God, but the Iowa caucuses are up to you,’ Buttigieg said to laughter and cheers.

“In all, three hecklers over two Iowa events were taken away and each time Buttigieg unflinchingly carried on after cracking a joke or commenting on freedom of expression. A campaign aide said it was the first time the mayor faced such security incidents since touring nationally.”
Here's the video:



Also from the Playbook:
BUTTIGIEG EDGE: “Two days after officially entering the presidential race, Buttigieg was expecting 50 people at a Polk County meet and greet. As RSVPs rolled in, organizers moved it from a small gym at Franklin Junior High to the large gym, to an auditorium and finally moving it outside. A good thing: a stunning 1,650 people showed up in the end.

“It isn’t just the number of people that stands out: Buttigieg has yet to staff up with organizers in Iowa, so this turnout was mostly organic. Buttigieg spoke to a progressive Iowa group in December and has visited the earlier this year but this crowd was exponentially larger.”
The Washington Post has "Pete Buttigieg: Why He's So Dreamy" -- no, sorry, that's not the correct headline, it's actually "Why Is Pete Buttigieg So Popular? Here Are Some Theories." The theories, which overlap, are: Buttigieg is a novelty for Democrats (i.e., not an Eastern Democratic senator), aspects of his profile excite liberals (he's gay, he's young), Dems haven't had a clear leader post-Obama (I'm not sure why that should enhance the popularity of Buttigieg and not one of the several thousand other Democrats running for president), Buttigieg seems like a good matchup against Trump (he seems unflappable, he's a white guy after a woman lost), and he has "intangibles." In other words, nobody knows.

Oh, and:



So Mayor Pete might really be the nominee, hunh? I have my doubts. Steve Kornacki tosses some cold water on that idea:







If there's ever a revival of the old Stuff White People Like blog, Buttigieg should be the first new entry. Also -- and I hate to say this because I don't really dislike him -- he seems to embody every stereotype in every David Brooks column ever: a meritocratic striver and a person who's come to the life-altering realization that meritocratic striving won't bring true happiness, and who's decided instead to "give back."

At some point, the race will leave all-white Iowa and New Hampshire and head into states where Buttigieg is less relatable, and where "non-traditional résumé for a presidential candidate" doesn't carry with it the delightful frisson of alternativeness. (I think a lot of white people look at Buttigieg's lack of standard presidential credentials and see him as a really cool band that puts out lo-fi recordings, or an awesome restaurant that looks like a hole in the wall.) Buttigieg will eventually have to sell himself to the entire Democratic base. Barack Obama did it as an insurgent; in addition to the candidates Kornacki names, Bernie Sanders didn't in 2016. We'll see how this unfolds, but I suspect Buttigieg will fade eventually, unless he finds a way to be more than the cool kids' favorite obscure craft beer.

****

UPDATE, THURSDAY:



Did I say "Stuff White People Like"?

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

DO THE FOX NEWS TWO-STEP

I didn't watch the Bernie Sanders town hall on Fox last night, but he's getting good reviews for it, like this one, from Politico:
Bernie Sanders entered the Fox's den on Monday night — and he not only survived the hourlong encounter, but often dominated.

Appearing at a Fox News-hosted town hall, smack in the middle of Trump Country, the Democratic presidential front-runner played the part, swatting down tough questions from the hosts about health care, defense spending and his newfound wealth. At one point, the Vermont senator even led the network’s audience in a call-and-response that found them cheering loudly for his policies.
But as The Washington Post's Philip Bump tells us, after the town hall, Fox went on the attack.
After Sanders completed his closing statement ... the heavy machinery of Fox News swung into motion as the network transitioned into [Martha] MacCallum’s nightly show.

MacCallum interviewed the network's politics editor, Chris Stirewalt. The two discussed the focus of a number of the anchors' questions: How Sanders would pay for his proposals. They agreed that it was a weak spot in his rhetoric.

MacCallum then spoke with two guests, economist Art Laffer and businessman Andy Puzder....

Both Laffer and Puzder were disparaging of Sanders’s arguments.

The next guest? Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law and representative of his reelection campaign.... Baier [had] promised Sanders that they would ask Trump for his tax returns....

"Oh, my gosh. We’re back to the tax returns!" [Lara Trump] replied....

“It seems to be a good talking point, though, for the Democrats, because Russia was not sticking, as we saw,” she added....

An hour later, Sean Hannity's program began.

"We saw Crazy Bernie on the air tonight," Hannity said. "Whew. That was hard to watch. Bernie Sanders for two hours! Wow. Gee, let's hear every Communist idea we possibly can."
Fox wants advertisers to believe that it isn't what it actually is -- a channel that feeds paranoia and rage to bubble-dwelling liberal-haters all day and night -- so the programming is interrupted every now and then for moments when non-Republicans are treated as human beings and an occasional right-wing idea is looked at with skepticism. These moments pass quickly, but if they become viral, Fox wins -- the channel is still the epicenter of conservative fury, but people outside the bubble are lulled into believing that Fox can play fair.

It also happened yesterday afternoon, when Fox was covering the Notre-Dame fire.
During two separate occasions on Monday afternoon, Fox News anchors Shepard Smith and Neil Cavuto had to dump out of interviews after their guests wildly speculated and parroted conspiracy theories that the blaze that suddenly destroyed much of the historic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was an intentionally malicious act.

... Smith interviewed witness Philippe Karsenty, the deputy mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine and a controversial right-wing media figure. Early in the call, Karsenty suggested that the Notre Dame blaze ... was a terrorist attack....

Smith interrupted, informing Karsenty ... that he would not allow such speculation on air....

Karsenty, meanwhile, continued to try to raise the possibility—without evidence—that the fire was intentional....

“No, sir, we’re not doing that here, not now, not on my watch,” Smith exclaimed....

Several hours later, Cavuto had a similar experience with Catholic League president Bill Donohue, who immediately raised the notion that this inferno was tied to other church burnings.

... Cavuto went on to request that Donohue avoid bringing up his suspicions as no connections have been made by officials. The Catholic League leader, however, was unable to help himself....

The Fox News anchor interjected, [telling] Donohue that while he appreciates his time, “we cannot make conjectures about this.” Cavuto then dropped the call.
We're supposed to congratulate Smith and Cavuto for taking a stand against rumormongering and bigoted speculation -- but why were these two guests on the air at all?

Karsenty isn't the deputy mayor of the Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine -- he held that office years ago, but now he's simply a member of the town council. A more important fact about him is that he's fought a years-long legal battle to demonstrate that footage of the death of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy killed on the Gaza Strip in 2000 was fabricated. This has become his life's work. A quick trip through YouTube also finds him endorsing Donald Trump in 2016 ("French patriot, Philippe Karsenty calls it urgent for Americans to elect a strong-man to defend western civilized people from Islamic socio-political conquest"), when he's not being interviewed by Dennis Prager, Roger Simon of PJ Media, or Jamie Glazov of David Horowitz's FrontPage Magazine.

Of all the people in Paris, this is the guy Fox asks about the Notre-Dame fire? That's not an unfortunate mistake -- Fox wanted Karsenty on the air, and also wanted Shepard Smith to shut him down. Fox has it both ways: A Muslim-bashing rumor is fed into mainstream discourse for the core audience, but then advertisers, as well as gullible dupes in the mainstream political culture, see Smith rebuffing Karsenty. Lather, rinse, and repeat with Cavuto and Bill Donohue, a veteran right-wing provocateur and verbal bomb-thrower.

Don't fall for it. It's not responsible behavior on Fox's part. It's Fox pleasing the base while fooling the alleged sophisticates.

WILL MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE MUELLER REPORT DEVOLVE INTO GOSSIP?

Is this NBC report a hint of media coverage to come?
Some of the more than one dozen current and former White House officials who cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller are worried that the version of his report expected to be made public on Thursday will expose them as the source of damaging information about President Donald Trump, according to multiple witnesses in the investigation....

Of particular concern is how Trump — and his allies — will react if it appears to be clear precisely what specific officials shared with Mueller, these people said.

“They got asked questions and told the truth and now they’re worried the wrath will follow,” one former White House official said....

“You have a whole bunch of former White House officials and current White House officials, but especially former White House officials, who were told to cooperate,” the former White House official said. “So people went and did that, and now the uncertainty is just how much of that information is going to be in that report and how identifiable to individuals is it going to be. And nobody knows.”
I don't know how much of the Mueller report we'll actually get to read. I've been assuming that there'll be more redacted than unredacted words in the document released by Attorney General Bill Barr. But I think Barr will leave in just enough mildly negative information about the president and his circle to make it seem, to credulous observers, that he's done an honest job and hasn't engaged in a cover-up.

So if very little much damaging information is made public, the press will need to cover some other aspect of the story -- and what could be more tempting than backstairs gossip? We may reach the point where the press is talking less about the crimes of Russiagate than about boldface names and their proximity to Trump's doghouse.

I hope this doesn't happen, but I won't be at all surprised if it does.

Monday, April 15, 2019

WHO DO BREITBART READERS BLAME FOR THE NOTRE-DAME FIRE? BET YOU CAN'T GUESS!

The fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris is the lead story at Breitbart right now, and if it surprises you that Breitbart would be leading with something other than politics right now, you probably haven't figured out the inevitable reader reaction to the fire, as seen in the comments:
Before the embers cool, the new Mosque will be under construction.

****

Maybe "some people did something".

****

Muslims generally blow churches up. They must be on a budget these days too.

****

They used all their explosives in human bomb class, and there was no one left alive who knew how to detonate them!

****

All those other French churches vandalized lately probably have nothing to do with it !
Let’s guess a construction worker tossed a cigarette butt.

****

Survived the Nazis, but not rapefugees, SJW's, and Macron. Wow.

***

Are Mohammedans, by chance, doing the work?

****

Mohammedans? Work?

****

You are right. They always destroying churches in their third world nations during Christians' Holy Week. They were vandalizing in the first world for a while now. Now, they are now working in the first in destroying it.

****

Breaking news:

Ilhan Omar and Ragshida Tlaib were seen dancing on a rooftop

****

The renovation is being handled by Allahu Akbar Construction.
Company spokesperson, Waleed al-Farouk Akmed said they weren’t sure what caused the fire but that the structure will likely need to be razed.

****

"Silence"......said Akmed.....

****

That is why is not wise to hire non-Christians to renovate ..Christian churches... "accidental" fires can happens.

****

You knew they were snakes when you let them in.
This is the Trump base. It would be nice if hand-wringers such as David Frum and Bret Stephens would take a few moments out from their condemnations of Ilhan Omar and the Democrats who defend her to notice that significant percentages of the Trump electorate hate all Muslims and believe that practitioners of Islam are incapable of living in peace with the rest of us in America or other Western countries.

There is no doubt in my mind that a Hitler-style "final solution" for Muslims in America would win widespread support among the Trump base, either under this president or under a future president who combines Trump's crude racism with a burning genocidal rage and a willingness to reject all current constraints in the service of that rage. This worries me more than an indelicately worded reference to 9/11 in an obscure Ilhan Omar speech.

*******

UPDATE: Now it's everywhere on the right.

DEMOCRATS ARE DOOOOOOMED, DAVID FRUM EDITION

David Frum sees doom for the Democrats:
Many of President Donald Trump’s tweets backfire, but not his tweet attack on U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar. That one tweet succeeded to perfection. Trump wishes to make Omar the face of the Democratic Party heading into the 2020 elections—and now he has provoked Democrats to comply.
I have Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez holding on Line 1 -- but go on.
Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have offered full-throated endorsements of Omar. “Ilhan Omar is a leader with strength and courage. She won’t back down to Trump’s racism and hate, and neither will we. The disgusting and dangerous attacks against her must end,” Sanders tweeted. Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, and Pete Buttigieg have expressed themselves more circumspectly, but have still aligned themselves with her in ways not easy to undo. “We are stronger than this president’s hatred and Islamophobia. Do not let him drive us apart or make us afraid,” O’Rourke tweeted. Of the 2020 hopefuls, only Amy Klobuchar added any caveat to her statement about Omar. (“You can disagree with her words—as I have done before—but this video is wrong.”) Joe Biden and Cory Booker have thus far refrained from comment.
Oh, so there's a range of responses. According to Frum, Omar is the face of the Democrats, but the Democrat leading in the race for president hasn't defended her. And while Klobuchar may be the only presidential candidate who has acknowledged disagreeing with Omar in the past, she's not the only prominent Democrat who has. Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, strongly defended Omar and lashed out at Trump ("he has no moral authority to be talking about 9/11 at all") but also said, "I have had some problems with some of her other remarks, but... not with that one." And Nadler's was one of the strongest defenses of Omar by a Democrat. Nancy Pelosi's first statement was widely derided as weak.

More from Frum:
Having promised not to “let him drive us apart” from Omar, Democrats are now stuck with responsibility for the reckless things the representative from Minnesota says, not only about Jews, but about other issues, too....
How are they stuck? Democrats are defending her now even though her Democratric colleagues in the House have approved two resolutions denouncing anti-Semitism in response to previous remarks of hers. If anything, Democrats have made it clear that they'll throw her under the bus in a heartbeat if they feel sufficient pressure, or if they find her remarks genuinely offensive. They don't feel that way about this one.
Here’s the full sentence from which Trump took his sound bite: “CAIR was founded after 9/11, because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

CAIR was, in fact, founded seven years before 9/11. That error should matter to more than fact-checkers. It severs CAIR from its own history of radical advocacy and apologetics.
CAIR was founded in June 1994, when Omar was a 12-year-old refugee who'd spent about two years in America. I'm going to assume there was nothing sinister about the error.

And now we get the guilt by association:
Omar’s co-headliner at the California fundraising event was a lawyer named Hassan Shibly. Shibly is the lawyer for Hoda Muthana, a New Jersey–born woman who married an Islamic State fighter, proclaimed her adherence to ISIS in writing, and now seeks to return to the United States.
She wants to return knowing she'll be up on charges if she does. Frum doesn't acknowledge that she's willing to face U.S. justice.
Muthana’s case turns on technicalities of the citizenship laws, and she is entitled to legal representation.
How generous of Frum to acknowledge that an accused person in our system is entitled to a lawyer, and that we shouldn't cast aspersions on the lawyer even if the client is guilty (even though Frum does).
Shibly has stressed his own condemnation of ISIS and Muthana’s choice to join it. Yet Shibly has also spoken in extreme ways against Jews in Israel and the United States. He tweeted back in August 2014: “God as my wittiness, Israel & it’s supporters are enemies of God and humanity! How many more children must Israel kill 4 U 2 C?#Gaza.”
Why did Shibly tweet that on August 3, 2014? Here's why:
Aug. 3, 2014

JERUSALEM — ... an Israeli Air Force missile struck near the entrance of a United Nations school sheltering displaced Palestinians in Rafah, killing 10 people and wounding 35 others and drawing a new round of international condemnation.

The growing civilian death toll has stirred outrage in Europe and large parts of the Arab world and, combined with Sunday’s strike near the Rafah school, prompted Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations to call the attack a “moral outrage and a criminal act” and to demand that those responsible for the “gross violation of international humanitarian law” be held accountable.

The State Department also condemned in harsh terms what it called “today’s disgraceful shelling” outside the school in Rafah. Witnesses near the school, where about 3,000 Palestinians had sought shelter, said that those killed or hurt were waiting in line for food supplies when a missile hit. A State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said that “the suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians.”
Frum thinks Omar's phrase "some people did something" is insufficiently respectful of 9/11, but in the case of this massacre, Frum can't even acknowledge that anyone did anything. He writes as if Hassan Shibly is just randomly condemning Israel out of rabid Jew-hatred.

Frum continues:
Some have urged that Omar’s “some people did something” words about 9/11 be understood in context. Let’s try that. After the Christchurch massacre in New Zealand, Trump tweeted: “My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!” By using died rather than were murdered—and by describing the crime as “senseless”—Trump abstracted a politically motivated act from the politics that motivated it. The crime became a ghastly tragedy, requiring no words from him about the white-nationalist beliefs of the killer or the larger international movement that shared those beliefs.

“Some people did something” performed exactly the same exonerating service for Islamic extremism as Trump’s tweet about Christchurch did for white nationalism.
This is nonsense. There was some criticism of Trump's words after the Christchurch massacre, but Christchurch wasn't Charlottesville -- what Trump said never became a significant story. The attacks on Omar are now in their seventh day and they're a major focus of the right-wing attack machine. There were no banner headlines in response to what Trump said after Christchuch -- nothing like that New York Post front page about Omar.
It cannot be pleasant for Omar’s colleagues to have to wonder and worry what that next remark will be—knowing that Donald Trump and his Twitter feed will be waiting to blame all Democrats for the provocations of one. But by not putting themselves on record about Omar when they could, Democrats now find themselves bound to her for the duration. This problem will get worse, and its political consequences will become ever more costly for Democrats who want to win national elections and govern the country.
To repeat what I said earlier, Democrats won't feel "bound to" Omar "for the duration" -- they'll readily condemn her if she says something they regard as genuinely offensive, or even politically radioactive. In this case, however, they sincerely believe that she's done nothing of the sort, and that her attackers are acting in extremely bad faith (and they're correct).

Donald Trump has said far worse things than Ilhan Omar, and has spent more years saying them as a national political figure. David Frum has condemned those words, and condemned Republicans who are "bound to" Trump "for the duration." Yet somehow he believes Trump and his defenders have all the power now. Why isn't Trump's unambiguous hatemongering "costly" for Republicans "who want to win national elections and govern the country"?

Sunday, April 14, 2019

WHY TRANSPORTING IMMIGRANTS TO "SANCTUARY CITIES" MAKES SENSE TO CONSERVATIVES

The obvious question is: If you're Donald Trump or one of his supporters, and you don't want undocumented immigrants in America, doesn't this defeat the purpose?
An idea floated by President Donald Trump to send immigrants from the border to “sanctuary cities” to exact revenge on Democratic foes could end up doing the migrants a favor by placing them in locations that make it easier to put down roots and stay in the country.

The plan would put thousands of immigrants in cities that are not only welcoming to them, but also more likely to rebuff federal officials carrying out deportation orders. Many of these locations have more resources to help immigrants make their legal cases to stay in the United States than smaller cities, with some of the nation’s biggest immigration advocacy groups based in places like San Francisco, New York City and Chicago....

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University announced this week that an analysis found that immigrants in sanctuary cities such as New York and Los Angeles are 20% less likely to be arrested out in the community than in cities without such policies.
But conservatives don't think this would be embedding the immigrants more securely in America because they don't regard big liberal cities as part of America. As far as the right is concerned, our voters are fraudulent, our gun laws are illegitimate, our multiculturalism is treasonous, and basically everything about us says "un-American hellhole." Real America consists of outer-ring suburbs, exurbs, and small rural towns. If you live in a gated community, you live in America. If you live in Denver or Boston or Seattle, you live in the Third World.

For years they've substituted anecdotes for data in their assessment of the impact of immigrants on society, so they assume every single person they'd be transporting to our cities is a violent criminal or future welfare sponger. They think we know this about immigrants, but we want them in our cities to illegally pad the voter rolls, or to show our liberal friends that we're "woke."

But mostly they think we're not part of their country. And in a way they're right -- they don't live in cities and they never visit. They have no idea how urban life works; everything they think they know about city life derives from news broadcasts and crime dramas of the late '60s, '70s, '80s, and early '90s. They still fear crack and the Black Panthers; they still laugh at Jackie Mason jokes about Puerto Ricans stealing hubcaps. They think they're just shipping the immigrants across another border -- one they'll never cross.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

DO CONSERVATIVES LOVE IMMIGRATION THE WAY THEY USED TO LOVE 9/11?

I was scrolling through a page at Rush Limbaugh's site this morning and I saw a graphic that made me do a double take:



I don't want to read too much into these things but ... really? Is this the way Limbaugh's audience feels about Trump and immigration?

I lurk at a lot of right-wing sites, and I'm used to seeing immigration graphics like this, on another Limbaugh page:



But the first one -- with the sun and the triumphant Trump -- what the hell is that?

During the George W. Bush years, I regularly said that conservatives loved 9/11 -- that it was the best day of their lives, because it gave them (or so it seemed at the time) a permanent right to claim the moral high ground. They wanted war and more war. They loved regime change. They delighted in patriotic symbols and angry or sentimental patriotic music. Only one Republican has won the popular vote in a presidential election since 1988, and 9/11 was the reason. For Republicans, 9/11 was the gift that kept on giving (until the 2006 midterms, when it stopped giving).

Right-wingers still play the 9/11 card occasionally -- they're doing it now, with their usual shamelessness, as they distort the meaning of a phrase in a speech by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar -- but for the most part it's lost its power. We now have Republican president who (falsely) claims he was always opposed to the Iraq War, for which 9/11 had been a stated justification.

So maybe immigration is the new 9/11. Conservatives wallow in it as they wallowed in 9/11 because it makes them feel unquestionably morally superior. Trump as the exultant enemy of ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION is the new George W. Bush in front of the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner.

Trump won't stop illegal immigration, of course, but that might be to his advantage. Remember, George H.W. Bush went to war with Iraq, drove Saddam's forces out of Kuwait, then declared victory and ended the war -- and he lost his reelection bid the following year. He was no longer a "war president." His son went to war with Afghanistan and Iraq, botched both conflicts, was mired in two quagmires -- but he claimed great triumphs, and a sufficient number of voters bought it long enough to get him reelected.

That's the sweet spot for Trump: persuading his base that he's winning while never actually having enough success to declare victory. In that way, the increase in border crossings right now might be helping him. Limbaugh's graphics crew certainly seems to think so.

Friday, April 12, 2019

MAYBE ELIZABETH WARREN SHOULD STOP REFERRING TO HER POLICY PROPOSALS AS POLICY PROPOSALS

Elizabeth Warren is trailing a lot of men -- Biden, Bernie, Buttigieg, Beto -- in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. The Washington Post's Jacqueline Alemany believes sexism is one of the main reasons for that, but not the only reason:
“I do think that there is an element of sexism,” Lily Mason, an assistant professor of politics at the University of Maryland and the author of 'Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity,' told [me].

But also: “The people who will talk about policy in a thoughtful and coherent way are at a disadvantage."

Warren is “by far the most policy savvy candidate with the smartest and best policy people working for her. In a rational world, she would be winning. But ... it's not a rational world — and we tend to make political choices based on identity rather than policy. She's telling people who she is. But she's not making people think about who they are.”

Policy talk: It's just not that exciting, Mason points out, because the language doesn't involve “conflict, fighting, winning and losing."
Except that Warren's policy talk invariably includes language about “conflict, fighting, winning and losing." For example, Warren just rolled out a proposal for a new tax on corporations. She has a post at Medium describing the policy, but before we get to the details, there's this graphic:



She writes (emphasis in original):
It’s almost Tax Day, and chances are you’ll be paying federal taxes this year. Maybe it’s a lot, maybe it’s a little. But you’ll be kicking in something for our military, for medical research, for highways and bridges — the kinds of investments our federal government makes to defend our country and strengthen our economy.

Well, guess what? You will be paying more for running the federal government than a bunch of big American corporations that made billions of dollars in profits in the last year.

Amazon reported more than $10 billion in profits and paid zero federal corporate income taxes. Occidental Petroleum reported $4.1 billion in profits and paid zero federal corporate income taxes.

In fact, year after year, some of the biggest corporations in the country make huge profits but pay zero federal corporate income taxes on those profits.
But what's the title of the post?
I’m proposing a big new idea: the Real Corporate Profits Tax
We know that people don't read everything online that they're interested in -- they often just absorb the headlines. And the headline here is pure wonkery. So are the headlines of news stories about the proposal:



Or look at her campaign website. Here's part of what she's posted about criminal justice:
It’s not equal justice when a kid with an ounce of pot can get thrown in jail while a bank executive who launders money for a drug cartel can get a bonus. It’s not equal justice when, for the exact same crimes, African Americans are more likely than whites to be arrested, more likely to be charged, more likely to be convicted, and more likely to be sentenced.

We need criminal justice reform and we need it now. That means ending racial disparities in our justice system. It means banning private prisons. It means embracing community policing and demilitarizing our local police forces. It means comprehensive sentencing reform and rewriting our laws to decriminalize marijuana.

Equal justice also demands that everybody – no matter how wealthy or well-connected – is held accountable when they break the law. That means new laws and a new commitment to prosecuting giant corporations – and their leaders – when they cheat their customers, stomp out their competitors, or rob their workers. It means judicial nominees that follow the rule of law instead of catering to the wealthy and the well-connected.
Is that enough “conflict, fighting, winning and losing" for you? But the headline for that couldn't be more boring: EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW.

You can watch Warren, in this video, compellingly use the story of her own child care struggles as a springboard for talk about the need to help everyone in America obtain access to affordable child care -- or you can decide to skip the video because the title is "Elizabeth Warren: High-quality child care should be a right."



She is compelling -- but if you don't read her posts, watch her videos, or see her on the stump, you don't know that. You just know her as a wonk.

She's still a woman in what's turned out to be a very male-skewed race for the nomination. She's a sixty-something woman running four years after a sixty-something woman lost a general election Democrats thought she should win. And she was in a bind with regard to attacks on her statements about Native American identity -- addressing the issue seemed to backfire for her, but ignoring the Swift boat attacks hurt John Kerry in 2004, and ignoring the Willie Horton attacks damaged Mike Dukakis's campaign in 1988.

So she's going to continue fighting an uphill battle. But maybe she should package policy more overtly in appeals to emotion. There's probably a double bind if she does that, too -- women can't be seen as too emotional. But more voters might listen if she makes this small adjustment in her pitch.

RAGEOCRACY: GOVERNMENT BY THE ANGRY GUY AT THE END OF THE BAR

This is what happens when the people running your government get most of their ideas from right-wing comment threads:
White House officials have tried to pressure U.S. immigration authorities to release detainees onto the streets of “sanctuary cities” to retaliate against President Trump’s political adversaries, according to Department of Homeland Security officials and email messages reviewed by The Washington Post.

Trump administration officials have proposed transporting detained immigrants to sanctuary cities at least twice in the past six months — once in November, as a migrant caravan approached the U.S. southern border, and again in February, amid a standoff with Democrats over funding for Trump’s border wall.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco was among those the White House wanted to target, according to DHS officials. The administration also considered releasing detainees in other Democratic strongholds.
The main driver of the idea was lifelong consumer of right-wing rage media Stephen Miller, of course:
White House senior adviser Stephen Miller urged senior DHS officials to make the plan a reality, the source said. The plan finally died after Miller and other White House officials pushed it in February, according to the source.

Miller was angered that DHS lawyers refused to produce legal guidance that would make the plan viable, saying the proposal would likely be illegal.

DHS officials believe that the legal standoff is one reason why Miller has pushed for the firing of John Mitnick, the general counsel for DHS, who is still with the department.
I mentioned right-wing comment threads above, and now here's a response to this idea at Free Republic:
Hmmm. I’ve seen that exact strategy proposed here numerous times.

Do it, Mr. Trump, DO IT!
Other comments:
I’ve been advocating this for months. Bus them all to Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, and Napa Counties, Chicago, K Street in DC, Austin TX, and just for grins Martha’s Vineyard. (Yes I know you have to take a ferry to MV.)

Let’s see how they like these poor huddle masses living in their neighborhoods.

****

Duh. Everyone has been saying this.

****

You forgot Chappaqua!
What would this have accomplished? Any crime or chaos that resulted would have been the fault of the administration. But it would have felt good. It would have felt vengeful. (The Washington Post says that the cities targeted included San Francisco, New York ... and Chicago, of course, since the vast majority of right-wing rage at Democratic cities is irrationally focused on Chicago, because Obama.)

There's been a lot of angry-drunk, angry-commenter GOP behavior in the news this week. There was this yesterday:
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), one of President Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill, on Wednesday introduced a bill to remove Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

The Florida Republican introduced the Preventing Extreme Negligence with Classified Information Licenses Act, or PENCIL Act, a nod to Trump’s insults calling the California lawmaker “little pencil neck Adam Schiff.”
And there was the exchange between John Kerry and Kentucky congressman Thomas Massie in a House hearing, after Massie brought up Kerry's objections to a proposed White House panel on climate change:
REP. THOMAS MASSIE: Let me read your statement back to you: "Instead of convening a kangaroo court, the president might want to talk with the educated adults he once trusted to fill his top national security positions."

It sounds like you're questioning the credentials of the president's advisors? But i don't think we should question your credentials today. Isn't it true you have a science degree from Yale?

JOHN KERRY: Bachelor of Arts degree.

MASSIE: Is it a political science degree?

KERRY: Yes, political science. My regret.

MASSIE: How do you get a bachelor of arts in a science?

KERRY: Well, it’s liberal arts education and degree -- it’s a bachelor.

MASSIE: OK, so it’s not really science. So, I think it’s somewhat appropriate that somebody with a pseudoscience degree is here pushing pseudoscience in front of our committee today.
Get it? Get it??? Kerry -- even though he had nothing to do with the fact that his field was named "politcal science" years before he attended college -- claims a science degree, only it's not a science degree! Kerry says climate change deniers are pseudo-scientists, but he's the pseudo-scientist! YA BURNT, FRENCHIE!!!!1!1!!!!

This is all Republicans have. They have no ideas for solving America's problems. Instead of policy, they have trolling. But it's enough to give them near-majority support from America's voters, and majority support from America's white voters. That may be enough to keep them in control of most of the government for years to come.