Tag Archives: Trump

Stop Being Surprised, He’s A Racist

The erstwhile president of the United States of  America managed a good trick. Combine 1950s racism with 1950s white supremacist sentiments.  Not bad for one Twitter storm.

He blended the “Go back to Africa” taunt with “those outside agitators are Commies,” (abetted by his little minion Sen. Lindsey Graham). This harkens back to one of the old Redemptionist themes, “all our darkies were happy until those Yankee abolitionist agitators came along.” The updated version was all our N-words were happy before those outside agitators from the north started meddling in our state’s rights.  The current version generalizes opposition to white supremacist views…those outside agitators are Commies and un-American.  Repetition doesn’t improve the sentiment.

But why does anyone pretend to be shocked? He espoused the blatantly racist birtherism plague. He came down the escalator to tell us about “those” drug dealers and rapists, and said he couldn’t get a fair trial before that Mexican judge (a native of Indiana.)  He said there were some “very fine people” among those chanting the Nazi slogans in Charlottesville.  And to put some icing on the cake, his supporters are whining that it’s racist to call out his racism. (See Brit Hume)

He didn’t so much respond to reporters questions today about his racist tweets, as he talked past them, and over the reporters who pressed on.  His isn’t the most powerful voice on the lawn or in the room as it is the most rude and persistent. There’s a distinction. A distinction lost on him.

Senator Angus King recalled lawyer Robert Welch, “have you no decency…at long last have you no decency.” Perhaps it is telling that Senator McCarthy tried the same interruptive, rude, response during that infamous hearing. It was the beginning of his end.

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Filed under Congress, House of Representatives, Immigration, Politics, racism

So, what is it?

Citizen Trump’s pronouncements on the situation for migrants on our southern border are confusing. For example,  are the conditions so dire they will be a deterrent to other people from Central America? (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.) Or, are they just fine, and the press — heretofore denied access — should all flock to the Rio Grande for photographs? (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.)

Are there children unwashed? Without toothbrushes? Without medical care? Without clean clothing?  Because… they don’t want showers? They don’t know how to brush their teeth? They are better off here than they were at home? (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.)  Or, if the conditions are bad enough people won’t want to subject their children to this treatment?  Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.)

The President has or has not seen the border detention facilities? He said he’d seen the facilities and everything was fine. (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.) Or, he hasn’t actually visited any of the detention centers, but he knows everything is just fine. (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.)

There are, frankly speaking, nothing but mixed messages coming from this incompetent administration regarding the conditions in which adults and children are being held.  Further, while we’re trying to find out what is happening in supposedly short term processing centers, we’re not asking enough questions about what’s going on in the TrumpCamps.

This morning the administration is touting improvement at CBP centers, saying only 26 children remain in custody. Good, but of those no longer counted among the border detainees, how many are reunited with family? How many are still separated from family members?

We can, and should be, more specific when asking about those youngsters who’ve been assigned to places like the Homestead facility.  Where are the adolescent girls held? Under what conditions? With what kind of supervision and assistance?  Do all the youngsters have immediate access to legal representation? To education? To health and recreation programs? Are the children under the supervision of adults who aren’t likely to refer to them by using insulting slang terms?

Unfortunately, we’re not likely to get definite answers, and those we do get will be contradictory and confusing.  This cannot continue.

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Filed under Immigration, Politics

Some Questions? Chasing C Words

The new GOP talking point is “it’s over,” “it’s done,” or some variant thereof. The “it” in question is the investigation of Trumpian malfeasance. Not. So. Fast. There are questions yet answered.

1. What explains the curious hiring of Paul Manafort as the chair of the 2026 Trump presidential campaign?   And, the even more curious change in the Republican 2016 platform concerning Ukraine?

2. What explains the efforts by Trump administration transition and early administration personnel to establish insecure back channels with the Russians?  What explains the fact that General Flynn is kept in place well after the administration is warned he has not been honest about his connections with the Russians?

3. What explains why the Trump administration expresses its desire to ease sanctions on Russian oligarchs in the face of Russian intransigence in Ukraine? Crimea?

4. What explains the reluctance of the Trump administration to follow standard procedures with regard to diplomatic relations and contacts involving the Russians? Why are there no note takers? Witnesses? Or, others who could verify US statements made during or as a result of these meetings or talks?

5. What explains the alignment between Russian efforts to weaken the NATO alliance and the rhetoric coming from the White House?

One possible explanation rests on the premise we’ve been chasing the wrong C words.  While the recent public investigations have centered on Collusion (a diversionary term of art) and Conspiracy, a legal term with a more precise definition, the C word we should be considering is COMPROMISE.

Has the President of the United States of America been compromised by a hostile foreign power? And, if so, how and to what extent?

So, no, Mr. President, until we more fully understand the underlying motives and results of your strange foreign policy decisions, until we can be assured there is no Compromise involved…it isn’t done and it’s not over.

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Filed under Foreign Policy, Politics

Patience: Selected Advice from those Far Wiser than I

This isn’t the beginning of the end, in terms of the investigations into the Trump Administration, it’s the end of the beginning.  I’d agree.  The Mueller investigation was narrowly focused, concerned with Russian interference, and run by a by-the-book investigator.  The initial investigation spawned other, perhaps more “dangerous” topics for the grifter in chief.  Witness, the efforts by the SDNY, the State of New York, the Manhattan District Attorney, various regulatory agencies, and so forth.

Collusion isn’t the point.  Not that the Oval Office Occupant wouldn’t like for us all to focus upon whatever collusion might be. The bar has been raised a few times as well.  It isn’t “collusion” if the campaign didn’t do it! Oh, but there were some 100 points of contact between Trumpians and the Russians, well then, it isn’t collusion if the president didn’t do it personally.  Oh, the president won’t release transcripts or even notes about his sessions with Comrade Putin? Oh well, it isn’t collusion if you can’t find the smoking gun so to speak.  However, “collusion” isn’t the point — the point is: Is the President of the United States of America vulnerable to Russian influence in matters of foreign and perhaps even domestic policy?  If so, is there evidence of this influence being applied?  Now let’s think about our diminished relationships with NATO allies, with NATO itself, with the British.  There’s enough smoke to indicate a nice sized fire. We need to see what’s burning.

No matter what Mueller says, the Oval Office Oaf will announce a victory.  And, it will be a grand victory — nothing like it in the history of the world, perhaps even since the Big Bang!  The Mueller Report won’t use the word “collusion” because it’s not a legal concept.  The word is “conspiracy.”  Therefore, because the Mueller Report won’t actually say “collusion” explicitly the president* will declare there wasn’t any.  We should expect this.  His cult followers certainly do.

Watch the SDNY.  These investigators and litigators aren’t finished.

Watch the State of New York.  These investigators and litigators are getting started.

Watch the House Committee investigations and hearings.  It may not do to get bedazzled by the number of subpoenas issued by various committees. Notice that there is a pattern to these requests.  The president* has taken some action and been opaque about it. The action and its motivation will be investigated. The question of “why” will emerge.  We can probably conjecture there are some basic reasons behind it — (1) the president stands to benefit from it; (2) it expresses or activates one of the president’s biases or prejudices.  Lather, rinse, repeat. Lather, rinse, repeat. There may be more than 80 requests for information and data, but we likely won’t be too far off target if we believe that information will demonstrate an abuse of power, an illegal activity, an immoral activity, or illustrate a pattern of deviousness previously not associated with any White House, including that of Richard M. Nixon.

This is the first act of a tragic play. For that matter, it’s likely only the first scene of the first act.

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Filed under Politics

The President Can’t Hide From His Words

On June 8. 2014 Las Vegas, Nevada police officers Soldo and Beck went to a pizza diner.  Their meal was interrupted by Jerad and Amanda Miller, two right wing anti-government extremists who had previously participated in the infamous Bundy Ranch stand off. Officers Soldo and Beck paid with their lives for the Millers’ warped minds and itchy trigger fingers.  The Millers and their ilk aren’t typical of American politics, but then that’s exactly what makes them dangerous.

Last November, the Washington Post reported:

“As a Republican, Mitchell Adkins complained of feeling like an outcast at Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky. “Hardcore liberals” made fun of him, he wrote, and he faced “discrimination on a daily basis.” He soon dropped out and enrolled in trade school.

But his simmering rage led him back to campus one morning in April 2017, when Adkins pulled out a machete in the campus coffee shop, demanded that patrons state their political affiliation and began slashing at Democrats.

“There was never any ambiguity about why he did it,” said Tristan Reynolds, 22, a witness to the attack, which left two women injured.”

Fortunately, the result wasn’t as lethal as in the Las Vegas, Nevada pizza parlor, but the core problem was similar.  Fast forward to October 26, 2018.  Cesar Sayoc sent out 13 pipe bombs to critics or opponents of President Trump.  We were lucky, none exploded either in the mail or at the destinations of the intended targets.

The Washington Post article, which described the increase in right wing violence offered this sobering information :

“Over the past decade, attackers motivated by right-wing political ideologies have committed dozens of shootings, bombings and other acts of violence, far more than any other category of domestic extremist, according to a Washington Post analysis of data on global terrorism. While the data show a decades-long drop-off in violence by left-wing groups, violence by white supremacists and other far-right attackers has been on the rise since Barack Obama’s presidency — and has surged since President Trump took office.”

Might we wonder why?  After Sayoc was arrested the tenor of the White House response left something to be desired:

Speaking at the White House, Trump praised the “incredible job” done by investigators and promised to punish the person responsible. Speaking later at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, Trump won applause from his loyalist supporters for calling for national unity and an end to political violence. But he soon attacked the media, encouraged chants of “CNN sucks” and set the audience up to boo the Democratic House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, and reprise “lock her up” chants aimed at Hillary Clinton. [Guardian]

It seems he just can’t help himself.  And now, after the arrest of Christopher Hasson, and the confiscation into evidence of his cache of weapons and ammunition, the President can’t bring himself to acknowledge how his “lock her up,” chants and repeated references to the press as the “Enemy of the People” might play a role in eliciting reactions like those of the Millers’, Sayoc, Adkins, and others.

He called the Hasson incident “a shame.” When asked if his rhetoric might have played a role in igniting Hasson’s rage, the President asserted his words have been “very nice.” [CNN video]  I’m not at all certain the record bears this out — there’s another example, again in Las Vegas, where Trump called out that he’d like very much to punch a heckler in the face.   Trump keeps hauling out the Enemy of the People line to describe the media, most recently three days ago, directly targeting the New York Times.  On February 12, 2019 the Times reported on the assault of a BBC cameraman at Trump’s rally in El Paso, Texas.  The White House keeps announcing that the President condemns violence and doesn’t condone attacks on reporters and opponents, however the list of incidents compiled by ABC news keeps getting longer.  So does the assemblage from Vox.   And these incidents and comments are not without consequences:

“A Kentucky gunman attempted to enter a historically black church, police say, then shot and killed two black patrons in a nearby grocery store. And an anti-Semitic loner who had expressed anger about a caravan of Central American refugees that Trump termed an “invasion” has been charged with gunning down 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue, the deadliest act of anti-Semitic violence in U.S. history.”

If the President’s word choices are determined by what will play well with his base, then he (and his advisers) might do well to consider the distinction between base and debase.  He is now speaking not merely to the deplorables, but to the despicables and the debased.  It’s been noticed.  The ADL reports that as of 2014 about 70% of Americans thought it was necessary for the government to step in to counter Antisemitism, the poll results now show about 80% believing the government should do more to protect against this scourge.

In April 2009 Janet Napolitano warned us about the rising temperature of right wing extremism in this country — and the conservatives prompted hit the fainting couches.

 The American Legion formally requested an apology to veterans. Some in Congress called for me to be fired. Amid the turmoil, my (Daryl Johnson) warning went unheeded by Republicans and Democrats. Unfortunately, the Department of Homeland Security caved to the political pressure: Work related to violent right-wing extremism was halted. Law enforcement training also stopped. My unit was disbanded. And, one-by-one, my team of analysts left for other employment. By 2010, there were no intelligence analysts at DHS working domestic terrorism threats.

What’s happening today? Not much.

“The Trump administration has done little to counter the impression that it is soft on right-wing extremism. Even before Trump took office, his presidential transition team began drawing up plans to redirect national-security resources away from white supremacists to focus solely on Islamic terrorism. The main target of this effort was Countering Violent Extremism, an interagency task force created by Barack Obama in the wake of the Charleston Church shooting to help prevent acts of violence before they happen. In 2016, the Office of Community Partnerships, which housed C.V.E., boasted a full-time staff of 16, about 25 contractors, and a budget of $21 million. But the Trump White House was skeptical of the preventative approach.”  [Vanity Fair 2018]

The situation within the Department of Justice at present describes a CVE program killed for all intents and purposes by a thousand paper cuts.

There are some actions we should consider:

  • Fully fund and restore the CVE efforts within the Department of Justice.
  • Keep records and statistical analyses of right wing terrorist groups and their activities within the United States.
  • Prioritize efforts to combat foreign influences which seek to foment racial and ethnic divisions in the United States.
  • Publicize the sources of funding for right wing extremist groups and their propaganda machines, including Dark Money organizations.

We can do some things individually.  I, for one, don’t find ethnic ‘jokes’ amusing, and I’m not above telling the reciter thereof so. If this makes the “Adkins'” of the world uncomfortable, so be it.  I don’t need to listen to anti-government spiels, unwarranted racial or ethnic diatribes, and I feel no compunction about indicating to those emitting this verbal garbage I’m quite through listening.  “I don’t hate you, I’m just through listening.”  If this drives the cockroaches back into the dark, fine. That’s where they belong.    If a person thinks a two year old Guatemalan girl and her 20-something parents are a “national security threat,” and doesn’t hold the same opinion of  some jerk with a personal arsenal harboring his sexual, political, ideological, whatever, perversions, then the person probably won’t enjoy my company anyway. I certainly won’t be enjoying his.

We DO want affordable health care. We DO want to address climate change issues. We DO want to rationalize and reform our immigration policies.  And, we need to tell our Congressional representatives and Senators we’d like this done in a country that doesn’t have to put up with the rhetoric of derision and division, and the verbal violence that leads to the real thing.

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Filed under anti-immigration, Gun Issues, Immigration, Las Vegas, Politics, racism, White Supremacists

Could we get a little perspective here? Immigrants, Numbers, and Trumpian Fearmongering

Oh mercy me! Merciful mercies…there are 5000 migrants “storming” our southern border, waileth the Trumpian fearmongers, intent as they are on creating a curtain of dread veiling the eyes of those who are susceptible to such manipulation.  Let’s take what’s probably an inflated number (5,000) of people seeking to apply for asylum along our southern border and compare that to some other examples of people “storming” in lines we see every day.

For example.  The Clark County Department of Aviation compiles statistics on the number of people who “storm” McCarran International Airport.  (pdf)  Wow, thus far in 2018 we’ve been “stormed” by 25,013,841 people!  But wait, we like these people. They come, some spend money at the airport, some get off the planes in Terminal 1 and go spend more money in our special Nevada play zones; playing with cards, and machines, and things with bells and whistles designed to help separate our tourists from their dollars.   Now, get out the old plastic brains and punch in 5,000 and divide that by 25,013,841.  Hint: You are going to get a small number with an exponent “e-4” on the tail end of it.  We can play with these numbers a bit more.

Try this.  Compare the 5,000 “storming” the southern border with the McCarran traffic for one month.  Let’s take a happy month for us — July — with many happy people who land in Nevada’s sunny climes to part with their paychecks; 2,991,599 of them in the month of July.  There are 31 days in July, so divide the number above by 31.  No exponent this time.  There’s an average of 96,503 passengers using terminal 1 each day in July.  Now, divide 5,000 by 96,503 and you’ll get 0.0518, turn that into a percentage and it’s 5.2%.  In other words the “storm” at the US southern border is a measly 5.2% of the number of passengers using McCarran International Airport Terminal 1 on a SINGLE DAY  in the month of July.

We can play with some other numbers from the northern part of the state, for example, RTC ridership in Washoe County.  The RTC published a report of YOY comparisons for April 2016 (pdf)  reporting 105.082 rides on the RAPID system, coming in at about 43.8 rides per service hour.  Handy calculator time again please.  Our word problem solution for this one is that 5,000 “stormers” are about 4.8% of the rides on the Washoe RTC RAPID system.  Not so much of a storm huh?

But wait, cry the fearmongers, these stormers will clog up our social services and get welfare… uh, not so much, non-citizens in Nevada aren’t eligible for social service benefits.  But but but — they’ll pack our schools!  There are 492,496 youngsters enrolled in Nevada public schools (exc downld) and again our calculator hops into action.  If every single one of the 5,000 Stormers from the “Great? Caravan” were a school aged youngster and they all enrolled in a Nevada public school they’d constitute a — wait for it — a 1.01% increase in public school population.  Hardly the stuff of alarmist proportions.  Realistically, they aren’t all school aged, they aren’t all coming here, and they aren’t anything remotely like a “storm” of invaders upon our southern flank. Please take two deep breaths and call a friend for consolation prior to any more anxiety attacks based on “swamping” our schools blathering.

So, why all the televised emphasis on the “caravan?”  It’s good “optics” for the racists.  Get a nice tight crowd shot of “illegals storming” the border and the fear factor kicks in — much more so than if we emphasize the FACT that most visa over-stays are people who fly in.

DHS has determined that there were 52,656,022 in-scope nonimmigrant admissions to the United States through air or sea POEs with expected departures occurring in FY 2017; the in-scope admissions represent the vast majority of all air and sea nonimmigrant admissions. Of this number, DHS calculated a total overstay rate of 1.33 percent, or 701,900 overstay events.”

Excuse me, but I’m having a problem here envisioning a “storm” of unlawful entries into this country when we have most visa overstays dribbling in through POEs by air and sea, and there’s a 1.33% overstay rate.  What I’m not having a problem seeing is that people like the current POTUS, and his sidekick the virulently racist Stephen Miller, are driving a PR campaign to convince people that Brown is Bad, and that “hordes” of “those (read ‘brown’) people” are “storming” our southern border.  I’m not buying it, and frankly speaking I don’t think anyone else should be buying into their malarkey either.

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Filed under Immigration, Politics

Make America Good Again: Trump plays the race deck

MAGA blue good again

I’d rather not hear anyone from the right side of the political aisle make accusatory noises about “playing the race card.”  The Oval Office oaf is playing the whole deck, including during his performance in Las Vegas.  The GOP motto of the moment appears to be “Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid.”   There’s a …. caravan coming.  This isn’t a dog whistle to the white nationalists among us, it’s a bull horn announcement for all to hear.

The image: Thousands of brown skinned people approaching our southern border; brown people who are likely rapists, drug dealers, gang members, and now “middle eastern” potential terrorists.   “Patriots” grab your Second Amendment Solutions, protect your women and children; face down this onslaught of brown peril!  He who is President hasn’t yet used the term “brown peril,” but it can’t be too long before he does. He has already let us know he’s a “nationalist.”  All he has to do now is add “white” to make the statement completely true.

Demonize these migrants often enough and perhaps people will forget he put children in cages, separated from their parents at the southern border, and some 136 of them have yet to be reunited with parents his administration admits it cannot locate. Demonize them stridently enough and perhaps people will come to the conclusion that whatever might happen to them in detention camps is warranted?  Demonize them vitriolically enough and his “base” will applaud indefinite detention of families and children in an increasingly cruel and uncivilized application of immigration policy?

Demonize them, and by extension demonize those immigrants who came before, and those who have long since become U.S. citizens, and castigate the Democrats as the party of “others.”  “Others” who are not like “real Americans” and therefore must be unintelligent, obsequious, corrupt and capable of being corrupted, illegal and thus easily tempted to do illegal acts (like voting); “Others” who must be eliminated from our body politic before despoiling the white purity of our republic.

This kind of rhetoric from the White House isn’t discriminatory, it’s eliminationist.  Democrats are an “angry mob.”  While the anger of the Proud Boys spills out from the Republican Club in NYC and protesters are beaten; while the anger of the White Nationalists surges in Charlottesville bearing tiki torches and driving a vehicle into a crowd, killing one person and injuring several others; while these incidents are publicized for all to see, Trump and his minions project their own anger, their own frustration, their own bigotry onto the others.  It isn’t too far from the mentality of the mobs which gathered to watch, and to applaud, the lynching of African American men, or who took part in the lynching of  Michael Donald in 1981.

If Trump can’t find any examples of terrorists in the crowd of migrant refugees, he can use two of his favorite tricks.  Trick OneReverse the burden of proof.  When asked about whether there were gang members and middle eastern terrorists in the crowds, Trump replied that the news organizations should be the ones to investigate the matter. He is telling us that he believes this mythology (or finds it useful) and that it is up to everyone else to fact check him. He conveniently places the burden of proof on the media to debunk his lies, while he keeps lying.

Trick Two: Never admit a mistake.  If an independent investigation demonstrates no connection between immigrants and Democrats, then it must be that the news media didn’t look hard enough, didn’t look in the right places, didn’t debunk all the possible permutations of his preferred conspiracy theory of the day.  There’s a variation on this theme:  Move the goal posts.  It’s not enough to release a birth certificate, it has to be the long form.  It’s not enough to release the long form, the long form has to be verified by original sources. And so it goes. If this doesn’t work there’s always the dismissive “it’s not important anymore” comment.  We’ve seen this before.  He simple doesn’t want to talk about those instances when he has been emphatically, demonstrably, totally, dead wrong. So, he doesn’t.  He moves on to his next lie.

Flood the zone:  More lies, more often, and more work for the fact checkers.  This past week has been instructive if we’re looking for big lies, little lies, and a preponderance of lies.  We’re going to have a 10% tax cut for the middle class!  Not while Congress isn’t in session.  Well, maybe when Congress meets after the mid-terms…. maybe never because his first round of tax cuts has blown up the deficit.

He’d rather say anything than admit his Senate Majority Leaders has let the cat out of the burlap bag when McConnell openly stated programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security would have to be cut to pay for Trump’s tax bonus to the top 1%.

Mexico is never paying for his wall.  But, we have to have a wall. We have to have a wall. There’s a caravan, so there has to be a wall.  That there is precious little public land in Texas on which to put this wall and buying up private land (and using the dreaded eminent domain) will be prohibitively expensive, doesn’t matter.  It’s the symbolism of the wall, the idea of a physical barrier between the hordes of women and children and the border which is important to the imagery.

Perhaps we should listen to the “survivors” of the “Bowling Green Massacre?”  There are “riots in California.”  Interesting.  I haven’t seen any sign of this on my television set, and I live in an area in which California news is quite common.  There are more lies about how many jobs are related to arms deals with Saudi Arabia — and more about the size of the deals themselves. [VanFair]

His White House will not respond to inquiries about those “terrorists” in the caravan of migrants, nor does he answer too many questions about specifics of the Saudi arms deals; he will, however, change his tune concerning the murder of Jamal Khashoggi to fit the Saudi attempt at explication of the moment. [BBC]

There are two weeks until the U.S. mid-term elections.  Two weeks.  This is the checkpoint.  This is the place where the road forks and the lies, the demonization, and the obfuscation continue or it can take the other route and the guard rails gradually move back into place.  No one else can do this for us. We have to do it for ourselves. Vote.

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Filed under Heller, Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics