Wednesday, January 25, 2017


After an awkward first weekend, the Trump administration is hitting its stride:
U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to sign executive orders starting on Wednesday that include a temporary ban on most refugees and a suspension of visas for citizens of Syria and six other Middle Eastern and African countries....

Trump ... is expected to ban for several months the entry of refugees into the United States, except for religious minorities escaping persecution, until more aggressive vetting is in place.

Another order will block visas being issued to anyone from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen....
The orders are among an array of national security directives Mr. Trump is considering issuing in the coming days, according to people who have seen the orders. They include reviewing whether to resume the once-secret “black site” detention program; keep open the prison at Guantánamo Bay; and designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.
Trump may be threatening martial law in Chicago (tweet from Trump last night: "If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible 'carnage' going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!"). He's promising an investigation into (nonexistent) voter fraud that seems likely to conclude that you're part of a massive threat to democracy if you moved from Cincinnati to Denver and they never took you off the Cincinnati voter rolls, even though you're registered in Denver and do your voting there.

And there's the approval of the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines, the gagging of many federal agencies, the upcoming Supreme Court pick, or the likelihood that every Trump Cabinet pick will be approved relatively easily.

Adam Serwer is right (and I was wrong in a few recent posts):

The conflicts I've noted within the administration don't seem to matter, at least in these first flush days: the populist-nationalist bomb-throwers are getting their wall and their de facto Muslim ban, while the Kochite establishmentarians are getting Kochism sold Trump-style.

Trump brazened his way into the White House, and he has continued to be an unhinged, unchecked id. Right now it seems to be working pretty well for him.

So you'd think that his opposition might have to be equally heedless and unrestrained. Ahhh, but, according to Frank Bruni in The New York Times today, you'd be wrong:
You know how Donald Trump wins? I don’t mean a second term or major legislative victories. I’m talking about the battle between incivility and dignity.

He triumphs when opponents trade righteous anger for crude tantrums. When they lose sight of the line between protest and catcalls.
Really? It sure looked to me as if he triumphed all the way through the primaries and the general election when people fought him following Marquess of Queensberry rules. But go on, Frank.
When a writer for “Saturday Night Live” jokes publicly that Trump’s 10-year-old son has the mien and makings of a killer.

“Barron will be this country’s first home-school shooter,” the writer, Katie Rich, tweeted. I cringe at repeating it. But there’s no other way to take proper note of its ugliness.

That tweet ignited a firestorm -- and rightly so -- but it didn’t really surprise me. It was just a matter of time. This is the trajectory that we’re traveling. This, increasingly, is what passes for impassioned advocacy.
Is it? I marched in New York over the weekend. I heard no mentions of that joke. I didn't see a single sign referring to Barron in any way. The joke mattered only within the media demimonde. Most of America didn't even know about it until we were told to be outraged. (For the record, I agree that non-adult president's kids should be off limits.)
Look elsewhere on Twitter. Or on Facebook.
No, Frank, you look. You're the highly paid columnist. If they're a cesspool of anti-Trump speech that gives you the vapors, quote some or shut up.
Or at Madonna, whose many positive contributions don’t include her turn at the microphone at the Women’s March in Washington, where she said that she’d “thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House,” erupted into profanity and tweaked the lyrics to one of her songs so that they instructed Trump to perform a particular sex act....

All of this plays right into Trump’s hands.
The obvious point is that equally crude, equally threatening talk by Donald Trump himself (or by alt-rightist goons) somehow has never played into our hands. The less obvious point is that even before Trump, when a Ted Nugent made crude and threatening remarks against a Democrat it might inspire a brief flurry of news, but no mainstream media hand-wringer ever said that it tainted the entire Republican Party and conservative movement. When right-wingers go bad, they're like white men who become mass murderers: Every one is just an isolated case. When someone on our side steps over the line, we're all guilty. And we have to maintain decorum even during the presidency of Donald Trump.

I actually don't think you should make a speech saying you want to blow up the White House. But Madonna was not the central figure on Saturday. No celebrity was. The marches belonged to ordinary women (and girls, and also men and boys) who were peaceful and earnest and hopeful, if a occasionally too cheeky for Bruni's delicate sensibilities.

But this is how a large portion of the "liberal media" reacts when we're in a political war. When the roles were reversed, the conservative press unfailingly took the Tea Party's side against President Obama. Right-wing media voices had one answer for charges that the teabaggers were violent or racist: Lies, all lies. There was no self-criticism -- on the right, there never is, except when conservatives lose, and then they're faulted for being insufficiently relentless. That's one big reason the right wins.


Lit3Bolt said...

But women are such a target-rich moral scold environment, while insulting billionaire white men threatens the foundations of Democracy Itself.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Sounds like an investigation of voter registration rolls.

Not actually the same thing, even if Bozo says it is.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Not sure why people are reporting alleged expectations of what Bozo will do rather than what he actually does, when he does it.

The Guardian is doing a lot of this.

Stellours said...


Keep up the good fight! :)

Anonymous said...

Not sure why people are surprised when he does what he has for months told us he was going to do.

The outcome is always better when you anticipate the worst.
Ten Bears

Phil said...

Frank Bruni is no liberal. He's part of the reason we got George W. Bush. Bruni thought he was a wonderful person and couldn't stop writing how great he was in the 2000 campaign.

rclz said...

This is yet another reason in a long line of them that I'll never subscribe to the NYT

Belvoir said...

Frank Bruni is really dumb and shallow and rotten. Don't know why a former food writer's opinions are given such prime real estate by the NYT. And as a fellow gay man, I find his longstanding support of Republicans sort of cowardly and nauseating.

Unknown said...

IMHO the opinions of those who begin by saying that the messenger is a (whatever) and therefore not worth much, and only denigrate their own argument. I think the point being made by mr Brooks is that the issues raised by the Women's marchers while very important, aren't recognized by the Trump voters whose lives have been in many cases, profoundly changed. These are the people that we need to pay attention to and get them to vote for our candidates. Anything less and the movement becomes one in which we are only listening to each other, and like the Occupy Wall Street movement we fail to gain converts and the movement dies out. For me climate change and getting money out of politics are key, but those issues don't speak to those who can't afford health care, don't have the skills for a new job, and whose kids are using iPhones etc to do things that they don't understand or appreciate, just to name a few. These are the people who rather than seeing as stupid or evil, we need to listen to and get them on our side with programs that matter (to them).