Thursday, June 21, 2018


Shermichael Singleton, a black, somewhat anti-Trump Republican strategist:

As Singleton learned- to his dismay- on the June 8 edition of Bill Maher's Real Time, a lot of Americans have a negative view of American workers, urban and rural.

As this video indicates, Singleton was fighting a losing battle with the audience and Bill Maher.  In an exchange which lasted from 39:15 to 42:50, Linda Chavez began

I'm sorry we are at a 50-year low in terms of illegal  immigration in the country. We are losing more Mexicans. We have fewer Mexicans today coming in than are leaving. We do a wonderful job of assimilation.

This conversation took place before the recent influx of immigrants and refugees trying to enter the nation through our southern border from central America and the controversy ensuing over the Trump Administration to separate parents and children. It is understandable, therefore, that Sanchez would remark that there are fewer Mexicans entering than exiting.

Understandable- but disingenuous. The primary reason for the net outflow is that there is a lag caused by the recovery from the Great Recession, which is what deterred so many Mexicans from migrating.

But Sanchez's claim (given that she's referring to immigrants rather than refugees) that "we do a wonderful job of assimilation" is fatuous. Many immigrants are not assimilating- and for precisely the reason she gives- they've come here to work- for welcoming them.

Sanchez is no fan of diversity. After a comment from Fareed Zakaria, she remarks

Part of the problem that the Democrats have- you use the word "assimilation," I've been using that word for thirty years and I will tell you it's a dirty word in the Democratic Party. They don't want to talk about assimilation; they'd rather talk about multiculturalism.

After a little pushback from Singleton, Sanchez continues

And we need immigrants. We need more legal immigrants. We need more immigrants in the United States. We have a tremendous labor shortage right now. And it's not just the STEM workers. It's people who work in poultry processing plants, people who clean toilets and buildings, people who take care of other people.

It is true that the USA is approaching full employment, in part because many individuals have dropped out of the job market. Some jobs are available- jobs in the gig economy are increasingly low-skilled, wages are not growing, and benefits are declining. Unions are being undermined by GOP governments and judges and the quality of jobs has declined. The concept of a "labor shortage" is greatly misunderstood. There is a shortage of jobs with a livable wage.

After Singleton asked "but can we not prioritize jobs for our own people?'" Sanchez responded "No, because our people don't want those jobs. Trust me. They don't want those jobs."

We know Donald Trump is lying when he says "trust me." Sanchez isn't lying; she's merely misguided. She contends

I'm sorry. If I'm an employer I don't necessarily want to hire somebody who has been on disability, who hasn't worked in the last, you know, 15 months. I would rather have somebody who comes here, who sees the bottom rungs of the ladder as a stepping-stone and wants to...

Darn those employees who get injured on the job! Who wants them, anyway?

I understand the resentment of people- workers- who at some point in their working life get something for nothing. It is, of course, not something for nothing- they've paid into it; they've worked; and now they're in need. And Linda Chavez assumes they're now lazy.

But Chavez likes the worker who "sees the bottom rungs of the ladder as a stepping-stone and wants to" work his or her way up. They are unusual these days because most workers realize that upward mobility is not what it once was or what they were taught that it is. If you can get people to believe that advancement is likely, you can get them to work for meager wages and benefits. Those are the workers Linda Chavez craves.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018


The late, great Phil Ochs, who met a tragic and untimely end, once wrote "and now it can be told, I'm a quarter of a century old."

 And now it can be told: Hillary Clinton is a sucker.

At Keene College in New Hampshire in 1996, First Lady Clinton defended the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1994, signed by her husband, by stating

They are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘superpredators.’ No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.

At a fundraiser in April, 2016, Mrs. Clinton was interrupted by gay black activist Ashley Williams, who brought out a banner reading "we have to bring them to heel" and confronted Clinton to "explain for the record" why she "called black youth 'superpredators.'" The candidate offered to address it but Williams left before she had a chance. Afterward, Mrs. Clinton told Jonathan Capehart

In that speech, I was talking about the impact violent crime and vicious drug cartels were having on communities across the country and the particular danger they posed to children and families.  Looking back, I shouldn’t have used those words, and I wouldn’t use them today.

My life’s work has been about lifting up children and young people who’ve been let down by the system or by society.  Kids who never got the chance they deserved.  And unfortunately today, there are way too many of those kids, especially in African-American communities.  We haven’t done right by them.  We need to.  We need to end the school to prison pipeline and replace it with a cradle-to-college pipeline.

As an advocate, as First Lady, as Senator, I was a champion for children.  And my campaign for president is about breaking down the barriers that stand in the way of all kids, so every one of them can live up to their God-given potential.

Looking back, I shouldn't have used those words, and I wouldn't use them today. Not only would she not use those words in these times, Clinton conceded, but she went a step further. She apologized, stating "I shouldn't have used those words." She acknowledged being wrong.

And she was wrong, because human beings shouldn't be compared to animals- "superpredators." She shouldn't have done used the term, even though the individuals she was referring to were violent gang members. Viewed in context, she had remarked in 1996

But we also have to have an organized effort against gangs. Just as in a previous generation we had an organized effort against the mob, we need to take these people on. They are often connected to big drug cartels. They are not just gangs of kids anymore- they are often the kind of kids that are called "superpredators." No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about how they ended  up that way but first we have to bring them to heel. and the President has asked the FBI to launch a concerted effort against gangs everywhere. They are often connected to big cartels- they are not just gangs of kids anymore.

In April, 2015 Hillary Clinton gave a speech commending "law enforcement leaders who are calling for a renewed focus on working with communities to prevent crime, rather than measuring success just by the number of arrests or convictions." She attacked "mass incarceration" and advocated community policing, as well as "reduced prison terms for some drug crimes."


In a stunning upset, Mrs. Clinton was defeated in the presidential race by the guy who proclaimed "We must maintain law and order at the highest level or we will cease to have a country, 100 percent. We will cease to have a country. I am the law and order candidate.”

In late May, the President commented “We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in—and we’re stopping a lot of them—but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals.”

We see what he is doing on the southern border to the "animals," including the women bringing their young children. He cites nonexistent law: "Tell them to start thinking about the people devastated by Crime coming from illegal immigration. Change the laws!" He's still the "law and order candidate."

Trump spokespersons claimed he was referring solely to MS-13 members. Despite his history, some people bought it, giving him the benefit of the doubt Hillary Clinton never had. However, on Tuesday of this week:

The Atlantic's David A. Graham responds

Trump left himself no such plausible deniability in Tuesday’s tweet. The infestation he refers to isn’t simply illegal immigrants per se, though he mentions the gang as well. Nor is this merely the pious language of enforcing the law, though Trump uses that elsewhere.

 “Infest” is the essential, and new, word here. (Also popping up in the tweets is the older coded word “thugs.”) It drives full-throttle toward the dehumanization of immigrants, setting aside legality in favor of a division between a human us and a less-human them. What are infestations? They are takeovers by vermin, rodents, insects. The word is almost exclusively used in this context. What does one do with an infestation? Why, one exterminates it, of course.

Even without the context of Trump's other racially-tinged remarks, it was obvious to anyone who lived through or knew the 1960s and 1970s what Donald Trump meant when he bragged about being "the law and order candidate."

President Trump means to quash the "animals" and the insects. But Hillary Clinton, reacting to the surge of street crime in the late 1980s and 1990s, had the temerity to refer to gang members as "super predators."  That was a mistake.  The election later that year indicated it also was a mistake to admit it was a mistake.

"We need to put each candidate under this scrutiny,” Ashley Williams said during the primary campaign. I suspect it was precisely Hillary Rodham's willingness to adjust and accommodate that no other candidate, not even Donald Trump as President, that she was singled out for one improper remark. She has been, it turns out, a sucker.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Sacred Cows

On Tuesday, President Trump maintained his "the bestdefense is a good offense" politics:

Keep in mind- as Trump or his Ghost Tweeter would put it- that the President herein does not defend his policy, instead blaming it on Congress and Democrats.

Keep it in mind, especially, upon reading the CNN Politics headline "Every living first lady has spoken out against familyseparation."

There are two problems with the headline.  The more obvious is that Mrs. Trump not only did not criticize the President's policy, she reinforced one of the media's continuing themes: both sides do it. She "hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together..." She also wants a "country that follows all laws," which is one of the Administration's (misleading) talking points, and "a country that governs with heart," which the President himself has periodically advocated.

Far better were the statements of Mrs. Carter and Mrs. Bush. Mrs. Carter stated in part "the practice and policy today of removing children from their parents’ care at our border with Mexico is disgraceful and a shame to our country." Mrs. Bush wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post in which she observed "this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart. "

These two were the most eloquent and courageous responses of the five to a bad and very unpopular policy imposed by President Trump and Attorney General Sessions and carried out by Homeland Security secretary Nielsen. Then we come to the wives, one of them a presidential candidate, of the two most recent Democratic presidents.

Michelle Obama struck a bipartisan note, favorably retweeting a portion of Bush's article and added "Sometimes truth transcends party."  President Trump's policy was enacted in May, 2018 and differs substantially and significantly from the one imposed by Mrs. Obama's husband, who was condemned by Mr. Trump as "one of the worst Presidents ever," who "co-founded ISIS." As recently as late last year, Donald Trump doubted that Barack Obama was born in the USA. But "sometimes truth transcends party."

And "crooked Hillary," whom candidate Trump vowed would be incarcerated were he to become President, stated "what is happening to families at the border is horrific."

Like Mrs. Trump, Mrs. Bush, and Mrs.Carter, Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Obama assiduously avoided mention of the name of the individual- Donald J. Trump- who is responsible for what appears to be, and what they (save possibly Melania) believe, is a ghastly policy.  It's understandable in the case of Melania (who should have remained silent), Republican Laura, and Rosalynn, who was First Lady over 37 years ago and, truth be told, is 90 years old. (I would say age is the elephant in the room but that would be partisan.)

None of the women uttered the words "Donald Trump," but otherwise give credit to Laura Bush and Rosalynn Carter. Melania Trump's remarks, which were not demanded by the media, politicians, or the public, were at best neutral. Given who they are, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton were no more impressive.

The bar is set low for former First Ladies, as CNN's headline demonstrates Two of them cleared it: two of them did not. The unimpressive remarks of those two might go a bit in explaining the current state of the Democratic Party.

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Meanwhile, In Berlin

Representing the Putin-Trump plan for dismantling the Trans-Atlantic Alliance, we have

Crime in Germany has been declining, an inconvenient, yet not uncomfortable, fact for a demagogue who used the racially charged "law and order" to lie his way to the top some nineteen months ago.

But Trump is right that there is impatience within the grand coalition Prime Minister Angela Merkel formed earlier this year. Yet, Monday morning in the USA brings the news

German Chancellor Angela Merkel tonight accepted an end-of-the-month deadline from Interior Minister Horst Seehofer on border control.

The compromise would help de-escalate a row that had threatened to blow up the 70-year-old alliance between the two conservative parties — Bavaria’s Christian Social Union and the Christian Democratic Union — destabilising her government.

Mrs Merkel said she would hold talks with other EU countries on migration issues and report back on July 1.

Mr Seehofer said tonight he wanted to proceed step-by-step in his plan to turn back some migrants at the country’s borders.

In the USA, we have a chief executive who has imposed tariffs on those European allies (and Canada), as well as withdrawn from the Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris climate accord and moved the nation's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. These have all been moves strongly opposed by allies and democratic nations in general, whose objections have been met by a figurative middle finger from President Trump.

His new national security adviser, John Bolton, once said "If I were redoing the [UN] Security Council today, I’d have one permanent member because that’s the real reflection of the distribution of power in the world.” His views have not changed. The President's have: he'd add mainland China and Russia.

By contrast, Merkel has worked out an arrangement, however temporary, with her chief domestic foe, preparatory to meeting with  Italian Prime Minister Conte, later French President Macron, and with the European Union at the end of the month. “In the CDU, we are of the conviction that German and European interests have to be considered together,” Merkel has said (video below from early June).

We've been doing it differently here, with a chief executive who has imposed tariffs on those European allies (and Canada), as well as withdrawn from the Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris climate accord and moved the nation's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. These have all been moves strongly opposed by allies and democratic nations in general, whose objections have been met by a figurative middle finger from Donald Trump.

The President's new National Security adviser, John Bolton, once said "If I were redoing the [UN] Security Council today, I’d have one permanent member because that’s the real reflection of the distribution of power in the world.” His views have not changed. The President's have: he'd add mainland China and Russia.

Nations working together to come up with solutions to mutual problems may seem a novel approach because Washington has not practiced it since, roughly, the January 2017 inauguration of the "I alone can solve it" authoritarian. The concept of cooperation is almost as awkward as the concept of shame for Donald Trump and his supporters

In tweeting Monday morning "We don’t want what is happening with immigration in Europe to happen with us!" President Trump continues an ultra-nationalistic and ultimately futile approach toward the surge in refugees in the USA and Europe. Fortunately, the German chancellor, seeking a coalition- or at least cooperation- among allies, is leading the continent in addressing the issue. President Trump does not understand: but this is what leadership looks like.

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Too Bad, So Sorry

Melania Trump spokesperson Stephen Grisham on Sunday morning issued a statement which read

Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform. She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.

In unison: let us clap our hands for a First Lady who hates to see children separated from their families. By now, she has presumably turned off her television set and avoided videos on social media so that she's not forced to see what her husband has wrought. The New York Times' Peter Baker explains

The president has falsely blamed Democrats for the situation, saying that he was simply enforcing a law that they had written. But no law requires families to necessarily be separated at the border. Children have been taken away from their parents because of a Trump administration “zero tolerance” policy enacted this year to prosecute all unlawful immigrants as criminals.

Steve M. adds

Melania isn't challenging her husband -- this is part of the administration's bamboozlement process. Stephen Miller embraces the family separation policy, Kirsjen Nielsen says family separation isn't administration policy, the president blames it on Democrats -- it's all one big "sorry not sorry," with Miller speaking to the immigrant-haters, the president speaking to the Democrat-haters, and Nielsen and Melania attempting to confuse everyone else.

But there is something additional: heart.

It turns out that even Mrs. Trump's appeal to governing with heart is an echo of- and probably a shout-out to- the President.  In defending his decision to strike a Syrian air base, in an April, 2017 interview with the Associated Press Mr. Trump cited the "human responsibility" of the presidency. He added "here, everything, pretty much everything you do in government involves heart, whereas in business most things don’t involve heart. In fact, in business you’re actually better off without it.”

In September he claimed at a press availability in the White House that he has "a love for these people" and "a great heart" for Dreamers.

Prior to his State of the Union address the following January, the president remarked

When you're a businessperson, you don't have to worry about your heart, the heart.  You really do what's best for you — you know, for almost purely monetary reasons....

I'm telling you, the immigration is so easy to solve if it was purely a business matter, but it's not.  And I think that's something that I've learned maybe more than anything else.  You have to govern with all of the instincts of a businessperson, but you have to add much more heart and soul into your decisions than you would ever have even thought of before.

The President has argued that he governs with "heart," and now his wife "a country that governs with heart." We have seen what Mr. Trump means by that and have no reason to believe his wife means anything else. Melania Trump chose on her own to enter the political fray and issue a statement intended to take the heat off the President of the United States of America for a very unpopular policy.  We should not pretend she has done anything different.

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Sunday, June 17, 2018


Responding to a question about North Korea, in his interview with Trump TV on Friday President Trump stated "I went there, I gave him credibility. I think it’s great to give him credibility."

Two New York Times reporters reviewed a United Nations report issued in 2014 and in the run-up to the Kim-Trump summit, they wrote

People accused of political crimes are arrested and sentenced to prison camps without trials, while their families are often kept in the dark about their whereabouts. Up to 120,000 inmates were in the country’s four major political prisons in 2014 and were subjected to gruesome conditions, according to the United Nations report.

Prisoners are starved, forced to work, tortured and raped. Reproductive rights are denied through forced abortions and infanticide. Some are executed — sometimes in public. Hundreds of thousands of political prisoners have died in the camps over the past 50 years, the United Nations report found.

In addition to the political camps, North Korea also operates prisons for those accused of ordinary crimes. Some prisons are short-term labor camps. Others hold prisoners who face long-term torture, starvation and other suffering.

For its 2017 report, Human Rights Watch noted

Those accused of serious political offenses are usually sent to political prison camps, known as kwanliso, operated by North Korea’s National Security Agency. These camps are characterized by systematic abuses, including meager rations that imperil health and can lead to starvation, virtually no medical care, lack of proper housing and clothes, regular mistreatment including sexual assault and torture by guards, and public executions. Political prisoners face backbreaking forced labor, including in logging, mining, and agricultural.

UN officials estimate that between 80,000 and 120,000 people are imprisoned in political prison camps.

They're sometimes called "political prison camps," sometimes "labor camps."  But they actually are concentration camps. Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Dachau were among death camps run by the Nazis while they operated a string of concentration camps.

Kim Jong-un runs a group of concentration camps, and the President of the USA calls him a "strong head" who "speaks and his people sit up at attention.” "I went there, I gave him credibility. I think it’s great to give him credibility," Donald Trump said. And so he did.

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Lie Of The Day (June 15, 2018)

This is a whopper:

These, however, are lies:

“I think that the report yesterday, maybe more importantly than anything, it totally exonerates me. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. And if you read the report, you’ll see that.”

"Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign. … I feel a little badly about it. They went back 12 years to get things that he did 12 years ago?
“You know, Paul Manafort worked for me for a very short period of time. He worked for Ronald Reagan. He worked for Bob Dole. He worked for John McCain, or his firm did. He worked for many other Republicans. He worked for me, what, for 49 days or something? A very short period of time.”

“I feel badly for General Flynn. He’s lost his house. He’s lost his life. And some people say he lied, and some people say he didn’t lie. I mean, really, it turned out maybe he didn’t lie. So how can you do that?”

“I hate the children being taken away. The Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law.”

“Barack Obama, I think you will admit this, he said the biggest problem that the United States has, and by far the most dangerous problem … is North Korea. Now, that was shortly before I entered office. I have solved that problem. Now, we’re getting it memorialized and all, but that problem is largely solved, and part of the reason is we signed, number one, a very good document. But you know what? More importantly than the document — more importantly than the document, I have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un.”

As the Washington Post’s Fact Checker helpfully tells us, this is “only a partial list.” Further, Salvatore Rizzo explains why each of these is inaccurate, and it is clear that in at least four cases, the falsehood was not simply a matter of judgement and Trump would have known the statement is inaccurate.

The report covers only a period prior to the election. Therefore, it could not have "exonerated" Donald Trump, nor will anyone who reads it imagine that it does so.

Admittedly, the President may have been (though probably not) unaware that Michael Flynn worked 144 days, not 49 days, for his campaign, though he likely realized it covered a substantial period of time. However, he surely knows that it has not “turned out” that “maybe he didn’t lie.” Trump himself has stated “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.

The President understands, further, that his Administration’s policy of separating children from parents charged with violation of immigration law as they present themselves as refugees to border authorities is a new one. He probably is aware also of the 4/18 memorandum, revealed Friday evening by MSNBC’s Ari Melber and, signed by Attorney General Jefferson B. Sessions, in which (Melber explains)

The Trump Administration shifts from a long-standing set of policies that prioritized enforcement against immigrants deemed more dangerous and offered more protection for folks who are not considering (sic) dangerous as well as for children and families. This new policy orders a “zero tolerance policy for” all offenses and states the “zero tolerance policy supersedes the other existing policies I mentioned”- meaning the more family-oriented policies of past administrations in both parties are now out.

President Trump knows, moreover, that his agreement to agree with Kim Jong Un has not “largely solved” the problem of North Korea. The most significant plank reads “the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” That does not mandate complete denuclearization (which is interpreted differently by Seoul than by Washington, anyway) not does it mandate even working toward it- rather a commitment to work toward it. 

Unfortunately, WaPo refers to the partial list as “false and misleading claims” rather than “lies.” Worse, it refers to the statements as “whoppers”- which tens of millions of Americans, some of them voters, find quite tasty.

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Shermichael Singleton , a black, somewhat anti-Trump Republican strategist: About two-thirds or more in urban & rural areas s...