Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Pathetic, And Not Even A Response

In my immediately previous post, I criticized forced-birth advocates for their cowardice in promoting legislation, nationally and within states, which would punish doctors while absolving women of all responsibility for violation of laws restricting abortion. But not all cowards are Republican.

Donald Trump's State of the Union address was ideologically extreme, extraordinarily self-congratulatory, and boldly dishonest. It also was framed to appear bipartisan, as Grump, wrapping himself "in the same great American flag," declared "all of us, together, as one team, one people, and one American family, can do anything" and called on Congress "to craft a bipartisan approach to immigration reform."

In his "response" Joseph P. Kennedy was extremely bipartisan and stunningly empty. In a speech billed as the "Democratic Response to the State of the Union," Representative Kennedy mentioned the name of the fellow who gave that address exactly zero times.

The Massachusetts Democrat failed to addresss issues critical to liberals/progressives and Democrats, including privatization, the minimum wage, and the widening income gap.

He said nothing about Citizens United or the role of money in politics or about voting rights and voter suppression.  He uttered the phrases "global warming" or "climate change" exactly as often as he used the word "Trump." He mentioned "an all out war on environmental protection," neglecting to tell us who was waging it.

He advocated "A good education that you can afford," a goal even some conservatives would support in theory. Still, Kennedy said nothing about Betsy DeVos and what she is doing to individuals with student loans  while promoting for-profit education scammmers and dismantling public education.

He said nothing about housing and hunger, and the words "poor" or "poverty" escaped his lips with the same frequency as did "Trump."

He sympathized with "the parent who lies awake terrified that their transgender son or daughter will be beaten and bullied at school" but nothing about the parent frightened that an advocate of the Second Amendment- pimped for by the President moments earlier- may one day barge into the school with an assault weapon and cut down her child.

No one wants her transgender son or daughter beaten and bullied but there was no indication that the Massachusetts Democrat wants to hold anyone accountable for that. He'll blame no one, not even  a President who moments earlier took credit for "historic actions to protect religious liberty," including the right to discriminate at schools against those same transgendered students.

Congressional Democrats booed when the man whose name was not uttered by Mr. Kennedy remarked "Under the current, broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives." However, the word "immigration" never was mentioned, and the word "immigrants" only once, when the man representing Fall River, Massachusetts and speaking from Fall River, Massachusetts boldly praised "a proud American city, an American city built by immigrants."

He mentioned "Muslim" or "Islamic" as often as he did "Trump."  He couldn't muster even a nod to criminal justice reform, stating only "You bravely say, 'me too' you steadfastly say, 'black lives matter.'"  Responding to the president who has tried to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, Kennedy avoided the term "reproductive freedom," instead coming out fearlessly for women's suffrage.

Word has it that Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi chose Joseph P. Kennedy III to represent their party in its non-response to project a younger image. For all those who noticed, the man whom Kennedy was too intimidated to mention and whom he would not criticize was a scant 70 years of age when elected.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

When "Murder" Is Legal

In another example of the confluence of bad conservative policy and cowardice, on Monday the Senate voted 46-51 against invoking cloture on debating a bill which would have banned abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.  With sixty votes needed to cut off debate, the move fell nine votes short after Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania voted in favor and Republicans Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) voted with the majority of Democrats.

The Spirit-filled, committed Christian Donald Trump strongly backed the legislation, which appears to run afoul of Roe v. Wade, and thus is unconstitutional.

Unsurprisingly, that was no obstacle to the measure commanding support of 48 (49, if Senator McCain had returned) of 51 (52 with McCain) Repub senators. The "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Act" is rationalized by the largely-unsupported notion that the fetus can feel pain before the third trimester and, as Rewire explains

Though the legislation made exceptions for cases of life endangerment, it excluded “psychological or emotional conditions.” Rape survivors who needed an abortion would be required to obtain counseling or medical treatment for related injuries at least 48 hours prior, and the care could not occur at an abortion clinic. And the bill ordered cases of rape and incest against a minor to have been documented with “a government agency legally authorized to act on reports of child abuse” or “a law enforcement agency.” The bill text was unclear about who would be responsible for reporting in those cases.

Even if those exceptions are met, a woman in any one of a number of states might in the future be unable to exercise her constitutional right because

the proposed law would require the abortion doctor to perform the procedure “only in the manner which … provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive” — meaning by avoiding the most common and safest form of later-term abortion. Lawmakers in a number of states have tried to ban that procedure, known as dilation and evacuation, but have been blocked from doing so by the courts.

Though the bill would provide for a prison term of up to five years for the doctor, it makes no mention of any penalty or punishment for the woman soliciting what sponsors proscribe as murder. Under terms of the proposal, if she solicits, or conspires, to commit a criminal offense, it is waived off, as appears to be the case in all 17 states which ban abortion roughly 20 weeks post-fertilization. (If there is an exception, please send link to Nor is there a penalty for women who violate the federal government's prohibition of "partial-birth" abortion. (Self-induced abortions, much rarer, are a different matter.)

I'm not suggesting that there should be punishment for a woman who runs afoul of such a regulation, which in either circumstance is bad policy. However, with a few exceptions (such as William Saletan and Chris Matthews), the media ignores this stunning imbalance. In an analogous situation, a distraught woman would pay a hit man to kill her husband and, when the plot is uncovered after the murder is committed, she would be let off with a good, stern warning (or less).


After all the rationalizations are considered- as Saletan bravely does- there is only one reason the woman is given a pass but the doctor is prosecuted. Even many "pro-life" voters would be highly incomfortable if a would-be mother paid a penalty. If a woman is held liable for seeking and paying a murderer, the forced-birth movement withers away.  It's not hard to see, then, why she is held blameless. But it is unjustified, unjustifiable, and cowardly.

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Russian And American Whine Fest

Question for a Monday morning: What does the Kremlin have in common with Nikki Haley and Donald Trump Jr.

Given that Governor Haley supported the bid of Marco Rubio for the GOP nomination for President, the answer is not obvious.  However, last June, Bloomberg recognized

Russia’s cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system before Donald Trump’s election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported.

In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database. Details of the wave of attacks, in the summer and fall of 2016, were provided by three people with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation into the matter. In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states, one of them said.

Not quite four weeks later, The New York Times reported a meeting held the previous month at Trump Tower among three Trump campaign officials, two Russian lobbyists, and three other individuals to pass along "dirt" on the Clinton campaign. Thousands of emails had been stolen from the DNC computer system, which now we know the Dutch intelligence service had discovered in 2015. Since last summer, we've learned also of the pioneering use of social media platforms to distort the American electoral process.

Yet, with Monday the deadline set by Congress for the Treasury Department to start imposing enhanced sanctions against Russia

“We do think this is a direct and obvious attempt timed to coincide with the elections in order to influence them,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday, according to a Reuters report. “We do not agree with this and are convinced that there will be no influence.”

Sensitive lads, they, as if publication of verifiable information rises to with light years of the espionage activity conducted by the Kremlin in the run-up to national elections in the USA in 2016.

But snowflakes abound in the Trump era.  After Hillary Clinton read from "Fire and Fury" the short excerpt "One reason why he liked to eat at McDonald's: Nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely pre-made," we got these from one of Washington's (or Manhattan's) best-known spoiled brat:

And we got this from an apparently underworked ambassador to the United Nations:

Steve M. notes that at the 47th Annual Country Music Awards in Nashville in 2013, Brad Paisley mocked "ObamaCare" and performed a skit ridiculing it. The Obama Administration did not respond.  On Sunday Joy Villa appeared at the 60th annual Grammy Awards in a dress "in a dress meant to make a statement. The singer wore a white wedding dress that she hand-painted with the image of a fetus surrounded by a rainbow paired with a purse that read "choose life." No Democratic politician yet has criticized that. We look forward to Nikki Haley's condemnation.

This is a very, very sensitive group we're dealing with now, whether the Kremlin or the crowd in the White House working for the president who supports the regime in Moscow.   As the investigations proceed and facts accumulate, the cries of anguish from this crowd will only increase.

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Same Trump, Different Venue

During the presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump claimed on Facebook "Saudi Arabia and many of the countries that gave vast amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation want women as slaves and to kill gays."  In one of the general election debates, he argued Saudis are "people that push gays off buildings" and "kill women and treat women horribly."

Later but merely four months into his presidency, he presented a gift worth $109.7 billion when, as The Independent reported, he “signed the largest arms deal in history with Saudi Arabia despite warnings he could be accused of being complicit in war crimes and after blaming Saudi Arabia himself for producing the terrorists behind 9/11."

While Trump was campaigning, China was "ripping us off, folks" in "the greatest theft in the history of the world."   As President, he visits Chiese President Xi Jinping and suddenly it's "I don't blame China. After all, who can blame a country for being able  to take advantage of another country to the benefit of its citizens?"

There is more going on here than always blaming America first.  When the President fired FBI Director James Comey in May, he didn't do the deed himself. Instead, he boldly gave his bodyguard a letter to deliver the bad news to Comey.

It's more comfortable doing things that way rather than in-person, man to man, man to woman, or by some direct means. That's why it was disconcerting to read that CNN's usually rational and even occasionally insightful Fareed Zakaria was surprised when

On Friday at the World Economic Forum, Trump gave a good speech that was forthright, intelligent and conciliatory, embracing the world rather than condemning it. The address was extremely well received here at the World Economic Forum by both American business leaders and even non-American attendees, who are overwhelmingly skeptical of Trump overall.

By most accounts, the speech was not quite the huge hit Zakaria believed it was. Still, his point is valid: the President of the United States of America (formerly the leader of the free world) was positively civilized. He did not drool at the mouth, suggest racist motives, or slur his words. He was at his best.

But that's not surprising. Zakaria argues "if the speech represents a new approach for the president, it will be a huge step forward." Yet, it is not a new approach. It is the same old Trump, dressed up and cooled off in front of an audience which did not want to see Twitter Trump.

Twitter is the perfect stage for Donald Trump. It allows him to spout off at all his enemies, real and imagined, while not directly facing them. At Davos, he merely had to be Salesman Trump, asking the world to join him in entering the age of utopia he is ushering in as alpha president.

Back in Washington, D.C. in the land he hates, Trump will not be a different Trump. He will be the same Trump, lobbing insults and invective every which way as the mood, and his interests, suit him. It's easy to do when you're communicating at long distance, your spine is jello, and your leadership is no leadership at all.

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Saturday, January 27, 2018

No Red Line There

Mark Warner, ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, means well.  He has tweeted "any attempt to remove the Special Counsel, pardon key witnesses, or otherwise interfere in the investigation, would be a gross abuse of power" and "all members of Congress, from both parties, have a responsibility to our Constitution and to our country to make that clear immediately."

Nonetheless, the Virginia senator also tweeted "I've said it before, and I am saying it again: firing the Special Counsel is a red line that the President cannot cross." 

Saying it repeatedly, unfortunately, won't make it magically happen, though perhaps Warner meant that this President cannot cross a red line with Mueller any more than the previous one did with Syria, which meant nothing, notwithstanding helping defeat Hillary Clinton.

As Natasha Bertrand has noted, "Trump asked Comey for loyalty; asked him to drop the Flynn probe; fired Comey; pressured Sessions not to recuse; pressured Sessions to fire McCabe; pressured Coats, Rogers, Pompeo & multiple congresmen to say he wasn't under FBI investigation; and tried to fire Mueller."(He also fired Sally Yates.)

Trump calls the investigation a "witch hunt" and has such members of Congress  as Senators Cornyn and Johnson criticizing the FBI and Representative Trey Gowdy undermining the FBI. Devin Nunes has beeen such a toady for Dear Leader that if he isn't being paid a salary as a member of the President's communications team, he should sue. (Meanwhile, Martin Luther King's birthday came and went without a hint of criticism from them over FBI surveillance of the Reverend Dr.; can't imagine why.)

But the best evidence that firing Mueller is no "red line" that cannot be crossed ironically comes from the Senator who at one time seemed exorcised by the possibility. The Daily Beast's Betsy Woodruff reports

Sen. Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican in his first term, made headlines over the summer when he signed on to legislation with Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) that would have shielded Mueller from being fired. But Tillis has largely abandoned the push to move that legislation forward while conceding that the bill doesn’t have the support to get through Congress. His office says he still supports the bill, but that the matter isn’t urgent since Trump says he doesn’t plan to fire Mueller....

On Thursday night, The New York Times reported that Trump tried to fire the special counsel last summer. (Tillis spokesperson Daniel) Keylin told The Daily Beast that despite the revelation, Tillis continues to trust that the president isn’t planning to fire Mueller, who is leading an investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 election.

The Senator is blowing smoke up our posterior or, as the commercial puts it, our kiester (Wisconsin).  Woodruff further explains

the dialing back of the Senator's support is significant. Unlike Graham, who veers between bashing Trump and golfing with him, and Coons and Booker—both Democrats—Tillis could bring the legislation to shield Mueller serious bipartisan bona fides. When he introduced his bill, Tillis similarly didn’t believe that a firing of Mueller was near, but he pitched the legislation as a precautionary measure.

“I don’t have any evidence to suggest the White House had any intention of doing it [firing Mueller], but it’s a helpful way for us to take it off the table,” he explained.

Now the proposal has been all but taken off the table- not because firing Mueller is a longshot but because it would put congressional Republicans into a bind.  They would have to choose between giving to Trump a pass on an act which would instantly incite massive demonstrations nationally or angering the President's base, much of which is unyielding. Republicans who would vote in favor of Tillis-Coons also would be subject to Trump's angry and derisive tweets, and Republicans don't like to get their feelings hurt.

And then there is the matter of taxes for the wealthy, which Sarah Ellison described in August as it pertained to Paul Ryan, who had condemned Donald Trump for his 7/15 charge that Mexico was sending "their rapists" to the USA; allegation that Judge Curiel was biased because his descendants were from Mexico;  travel ban; and comments on the Access Hollywood tape. Nevertheless the House Speaker has made a

bargain (which) is clear—it’s the one spelled out by Grover Norquist back in 2012, when Norquist defended the choice of Mitt Romney by saying he’d also have endorsed a monkey, a plate of lasagna, or a potted plant. All Norquist wanted was “a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen” to sign legislation. Ryan wants to gut the safety net for the poor and cut taxes for the wealthy, and believes that with Trump he can do that. He said recently that he had dreamed of cutting Medicaid since his keg-drinking days. Having Trump’s digits on the Resolute Desk—whatever the existential risk to the principles of the country as a whole—is a small price to pay.

Of legislation protecting Robert Mueller, Maine Republican senator Susan Collins in December remarked "I haven't seen the need for that because I really don't think the President is going to fire Mr. Mueller.  But certainly the introduction of the bill sends a strong signal." It certainly did. And its virtual withdrawal has sent an even stronger one.

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Friday, January 26, 2018

Next, Ask Him What Communion Is

Among the many far-right, fact-averse Republicans in the United States House of Representatives is one from a district in the Florida Panhandle. You cannot feel sorry for Matt Gaetz when, pummeled Wednesday evening by Chris Cuomo, he stated

That’s why it’s so important that the current Uranium One investigation is happening at the Little Rock field office and not at the head shed in Washington, D.C.

But like the notion that a secret society is just an off the cuff comment is laughable. I can’t even believe you would make that with a straight face. A secret society is a group of people that get together in secret to plan.

It took less than 24 hours for Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson to start to walk that one back. Still,  Charlie Pierce early Friday would announce "Good morning. The meeting of the Secret society scheduled for 11 am has been moved to 1 pm for astrological reasons."

The Secret Society stuff is too good to overlook. But so is the Immaculate Conception (or the concept of the Immaculate Conception), and another reason to put Matt Gaetz near the top of the list of value-free Republicans. And so it was that this exchange took place:

CUOMO: The president, who is not shy, never said anything about it.

One other thing and then I’ve got to let you go. You say that this is the biggest coincidence since the Immaculate Conception. What are you talking about?

GAETZ: Well, look, the notion — and, again, this will really be illuminated by the memo. But the notion that this five months, not any five months, but this particular five months is where the black hole is, I mean that is one hell of a coincidence because it’s precisely the time that someone would be hatching a conspiracy, meeting with their secret society, building out their insurance policy to deprive the American people —

CUOMO: Now, you have the meeting of the secret society, you don’t even know that one exists, but what do you mean by the Immaculate Conception?-


GAETZ: No, that was Lisa Page’s text. She said — she said that we need to be able to get together and have our secret society meeting.

CUOMO: What do you mean by the Immaculate Conception?

GAETZ: That was the substance — look, I was making a point that this is an absurd coincidence.

CUOMO: By what? Like what do you think happened with the Immaculate Conception?

GAETZ: The Immaculate Conception, it’s obviously a religious doctrine that deals with the Christian faith.

CUOMO: I know. But I’m saying like, where is the analogy? That’s what I don’t understand. What do you think happened with the Immaculate Conception?

GAETZ: Look, did you really bring me on to discuss my religious views, Chris? I mean, I’m a Christian. I believe that (INAUDIBLE) Jesus was born.


CUOMO: I’m saying you made the analogy, and I don’t understand. The Immaculate Conception is not how Jesus was born.

GAETZ: It was the conception. That’s the nature of the —

CUOMO: No, it wasn’t. It was Mary’s conception. It was the mother’s conception without original sin. It was not the conception of Jesus.

Facts matter, Congressman. If you’re going to make an analogy, at least know what you’re talking about because you’ve got to have a basis for these things. You only know what you show. You’ve got to release that memo. It’s got to have the facts and you better figure out what this secret society is before you say there’s a shadow organization within the FBI.

If your answer to any question about the Immaculate Conception is that it "deals with the Christian faith," you should know you're on thin ice.  You also acknowledge what you don't know, because the theory deals with a theory of one branch (albeit the largest) of Christianity.  Matt Gaetz,  reportedly a Baptist, is not a Roman Catholic.

One website, run by "dedicated and trained theologians" under a CEO with a Master's degree in Christian Theology from a Protestant seminary, is less objective than accurate. Concluding "the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is neither biblical nor necessary," it explains

Many people mistakenly believe that the Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ conception was most assuredly immaculate—that is, without the stain of sin—but the Immaculate Conception does not refer to Jesus at all. The Immaculate Conception is a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church in regards to Mary, Jesus’ mother. The official statement of the doctrine reads, “The blessed Virgin Mary to have been, from the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Christ Jesus the Savior of Mankind, preserved free from all stain of original sin” (Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, December 1854). Essentially, the Immaculate Conception is the belief that Mary was protected from original sin, that Mary did not have a sin nature and was, in fact, sinless.

Catholics celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on December 8. Within Eastern Orthodoxy, December 9 is the date of the Feast of the Conception by St. Anne of the Most Holy Theotokos. (Anne is Mary’s mother, according to tradition.) The Eastern Church does not hold to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, although they do consider Mary “all-holy,” that is, she never committed a sin.

The Immaculate Conception is not a virgin birth. Catholics believe Mary was conceived the normal way, but God made her immune from imputed or inherited sin. For as long as she’s been in existence, Mary has been free of sin. This allowed her to be the “second Eve” to give birth to the “second Adam” (see 1 Corinthians 15:45). Overshadowed by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35), Mary was a pure and holy “ark,” fit to carry the Son of God. As the ark of the Lord in Moses’ day carried the elements of the Old Covenant within it, so Mary carried the Author of the New Covenant within her...

Matt Gaetz performed quite a feat when interviewed by Chris Cuomo, as he was exposed as shooting off his mouth ignorantly on both politics and religions.  He showed little if any embarassment, however, because it was all in a day's work for a congressional Republican.

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Obvious Strategy

Teacher and Oakland, California resident Shannon Carey tweets

We go to the Holocaust Encyclopedia of the Holocaust Memorial Museum to learn that on July 15, 1937

The Inspectorate of Concentration Camps opens the Buchenwald concentration camp near the city of Weimar, Germany. Camp authorities will murder at least 56,000 prisoners in the Buchenwald camp system, some 11,000 of them Jews.

In December, SS chief Heinrich Himmler issued a decree which

authorizes the German Criminal Police to round up persons suspected of engaging in asocial or criminal behavior without evidence of a specific criminal act, to hold them for an indefinite period of time, and to incarcerate them in concentration camps.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions isn't that bad. Neither "Dreamers" nor illegal immigrants (yes, there are immigrants whose status is illegal)- who have committed a civil violation- will be placed into a concentration camp.

Still,  President Trump will not come before the general electorate for 3-4 years, and so the situation in Nazi Germany three years earlier in 1934 may be a little more relevant. At that time

The German government bans Jews from membership in the German Labor Front. Because membership in the German Labor Front is mandatory for wage laborers and salaried employees, this decree effectively deprives Jews of the opportunity to find positions in the private sector and denies to those already employed the benefits available to non-Jews.

Though megalomanical, bigoted, and authoritarian, Donald Trump is not quite a Nazi and that, combined with ineptness, civil institutions, interest groups, and the good intentions of others, will prevent the USA government from suffering the same fate as the Weimar Republic.

Nonetheless, it should be greatly disconcerting to most normal people that some individual (in Carey's example, students) are so insecure as to believe they need to carry their documents. However, Donald Trump is not normal and therefore it was curious to hear him remark on Wednesday of citizenship for the Dreamers

We're going to morph into it It's going to happen at some point in the future over a period of 10 to 12 years. Somebody does a great job. They worked hard. It gives incentive to do a great job. They've worked hard. They've done terrifically. Whether they have a little company or whether they work or whatever they're doing -- if they do a great job, I think it's a nice thing to have incentive of, after a period of years being able to become a citizen.

Inevitably, Trump will contradict himself and in the snowball's chance in hell he does not, the remark is irrelevant because he may not be President much longer and 10-12 years is a long time out, during which anything can happen.

Advocacy of a path to citizenship invariably contemplates an extended period of time in which a myriad of conditions may have to be met.  For the left, that itself ought to be considered a compromise position.  A path to citizenship ideally is uncomplicated and brief.

Nonetheless, some path to citizenship, rather than mere continuation of legalization for Dreamers, should be the opening bid for the left, just as The Wall is for President Trump.

Even were Trump's remarks on Wednesday sincere, he would retract them. Nonetheless, he has uttered them and must be held accountable for having done so.

A path to citizenship is unlikely to be accepted in the near- or mid-term future because it is something which unites the GOP donor base- fond of a pliable labor force- and its popular base, fond of denying benefits to the needy.

That is why the Democratic Party in ongoing Dreamer negotiations should propose actual, red-blooded American citizenship.  It will have to settle for less, of course, because the corporate wing of the Republican Party feasts on the insecurity of workers.  However, the insecurity of a substantial number of residents of the country not only undermines the interests of the individuals, but of the nation as a whole.

What applies to Dreamers applies to the larger group of illegal immigrants.  Having within a country's borders a contingent of individuals without citizenship or a chance to obtain it is perilous to national security. Obviously, it is perilous also the individual's security and will only increase the concerns of people such as Shannon Carey, legitimately uneasy over the jeopardy always faced by such immigrants.

Update: The White House on Thursday announced a proposal which would include a path to citizenship for 1.8 million individuals, in addition extensive restrictions on immigration.  Not going to happen (despite what is said today).

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Simplistic Jeff Sessions

With a straight face, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is attibuting the drop in crime in the first half of 2017 to President Donald J. Trump. It's amazing how rapidly crime can decline in the first few months of a presidency.  (Spoiler alert: it can't.) Politico reports

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is embracing newly-released FBI statistics as evidence that America has turned the tide in its battle against violent crime — a shift he credits in large part to the policies of President Donald Trump.

The FBI numbers, covering the first six months of 2017, show overall violent crime declined by 0.8 percent, with rape and robbery each declining by more than 2 percent compared with the same period in 2016.

However, murder increased by 1.5 percent during in the first half of 2017, according to the report released Tuesday.

A statement posted on the FBI's website referred to the reduction in crime as "slight."

However, Sessions said in an op-ed piece published Tuesday in USA Today that the report is evidence that Trump is delivering on the vow he made in his jarring inaugural speech last year to put an end to what he termed "American carnage."

"It is a promise that he has kept," Sessions declared. "Ensuring every neighborhood in America is safe again will take time, but we are already starting to see results."

If the Attorney General ignorantly believes a President can have such an impact on crime, perhaps we are already starting to see results.

"Researchers and gun control advocates," The New York Times notes, "say that since 2013, they have logged school shootings at a rate of about one a week."  However, the record of late has been significantly worse and the shooting incident in Benton, Kentucky on Tuesday "was one of at least 11 shootings on school property recorded since Jan. 1, and roughly the 50th of the academic year."

"We're restoring respect for law enforcement," Sessions claims. There is less evidence for that, however, than that potential murderers are being excused by the President. Also from the Times, from last November:

“I think that mental health is your problem here,” Mr. Trump told reporters at a news conference in Japan, the first stop on his 12-day overseas trip. Based on preliminary reports, the gunman in Sutherland Springs, Tex., was a “very deranged individual,” he said. “We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries.”

“But this isn’t a guns situation,” Mr. Trump added. “I mean, we could go into it, but it’s a little bit soon to go into it. But fortunately, somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction, otherwise it would have been — as bad it was — it would have been much worse. But this is a mental health problem at the highest level. It’s a very, very sad event.”

With statement(s) irresponsibly attributing these crimes to mential illness, the President has excused individuals involved in mass murder.  He has given such murderes license, and they have taken it.

Of course, crime levels respond to far more than whatever comments a President in Washington, D.C. makes about either law enforcement or mental health.  No one reason (not even abortion) is primarily responsible for the quarter century drop in violent crime in the USA. Responding to Sessions' ludicrous and irresponsible claim, Inimai Chettiar of the Brennan Center for Justice points out "politics implemented only a few months ago can't bring down crime. Crime is a very complex issue."

And so it is. However, any drop in violent or non-violent crime during any period will be touted (however dishonestly) by this Administration as it continues to promote the myth of a terrible country turned around and made "great again" by Donald J. Trump. Democrats must promote a counter-narrative, whether arguing  that crime is a complex issue or that the President is responsible for any spike.  But it cannot leave the field to the GOP, which has become a gang of toadies for the Authoritarian-in-Chief.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Willingly Snatching Defeat

Oh, for the good old days.

Those good old days would be Sunday, January 21, 2018- two days ago. It was on that date that with one part insight and four parts mere observation Matt Grossman wrote for Politico Magazine

Nearly every new Trump move has been treated as a five-alarm fire with united resistance, with Hillary Clinton die-hards just as active as Bernie bros. They tripled the ratings for MSNBC and spurred new liberal media outlets. Some followed online conspiracy theorists, who breathlessly enlarged every detail of the Russia investigation. Major Democratic donors, such as California billionaire Tom Steyer, have called for the president’s immediate impeachment.

But the sharpest changes have been on social issues surrounding gender and race. Democrats in the electorate have moved swiftly left on race, immigration and feminism. Trump’s ban on immigration from Muslim countries even provoked an outpouring of support for Muslims. Attitudes toward illegal immigration softened. Sexual harassment became a top-tier Democratic issue. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus gained a hearing with leaders in both chambers—and is now having its concerns become the party’s top priority.

Somewhere Grossman is probably (or at least should be) wishing he could take those words back. He was not to blame, though, because they were an accurate assessment of objective reality.  The previous day, an estimated one million-plus individuals, mostly but not exclusively women, had marched throughout the USA with a myriad of interests, but nearly every one seething at Donald Trump. As expected, surveys would indicate that most voters held either him or his lackeys in Congress responsible for shutdown of the government.

Politics is a zero-sum game for the two major political parties. And while activists and the general public backed the Democrats and Main Street seemingly agreed with revulsion toward the Republican Party, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer surrendered.

He didn't cave in on Thursday or Friday (better yet a week ago), when the public reaction would have been either a sigh of relief or a little annoyance at both parties for playing politics as usual. He did not submit in a matter of weeks, when it might have been clear his Party had taken the issue as far as it could, and at least had stood up for principle.

He took the worst- and weakest- course possible in the Trump era, in which perceived strength equals success. 

With uncharacteristic ambivalence, or something close to it, Charlie Pierce remarks

I'm not going to scream, “Sellout!” nor sing “Kumbaya.” I am just going to sum up the state of play in three questions.

Do you trust a promise from Mitch McConnell?

Do you think Paul Ryan can be trusted to control his caucus sufficiently to pass a bill based on a promise from Mitch McConnell?

Do you think the president* can be trusted to sign a bill based on a promise from Mitch McConnell?

Your mileage may certainly vary.

Your mileage may vary as in Google maps informing you that depending on which of three routes you select, the destination will take 37, 35, or 32 minutes to reach- when you can spare only 30 minutes.

Democratic victory in the next few weeks does not depend on one of the three scenarios Pierce presented playing out. It's not either-or; all three are required (MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle skeptical, too, starting at 1:26 below). And as many gambling pros will admit, a three-team parley is a bad bet.

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Don't Call Me "Romney"

Republican National Committee chairperson Ronna McDaniel wasn't let off the hook when she was interviewed on Prime Time Cuomo last week, and never should be.didn't get off easy when she was interviewed on Prime Time Cuomo last week.  And it could have gone worse.

The CNN host asked his guest "you accused (New Jersey senator Cory) Booker of 'mansplaining' to Nielsen, (Homeland) Secretary (Kirstjen) Nielsen, who's of course a woman. Why, why did you call it that?"  McDaniel responded

Well,Chris, I just think it would have been covered differently if it were a Republican senator yelling or lecuring a woman coming before the Senate, not giving her a chance to explain herself, grandstanding, I know he's auditioning for 2020. I understand that. But he was disrespectful and he did mansplain to her and shes an intelligent woman, she's the Secretary of Homeland Security and she deserved an oportunity to answer.

Cuomo then played a tape in which Booker responded

....It's a little insulting to say I should be treating cabinet secretaries one way or the other depending on their gender. I'm standing here as a United States senator in my official capacity, challlenging a cabinet secretary who's lying before the Senate on an issue that affects my state as well as the nation, something as serious as her lying about overt bigory coming out of the White House.

The New Jersey senator was "disrespectful" toward an individual who heads a Cabinet department who, when asked "Norway is a predominantly white country, isn't it?" by another senator, responded "I actually do not know that, sir, but I imagine that is the case."  (To be fair, Kirstjen Michele Nielsen, as she was named upon birth, grew up in Clearwater, Florida rather than Oslo.)

McDaniel argued that the media gave Elizabeth Warren a break when she complained of how she was "interrupted" (by "Democrats," she said, which was probably an unintentional error).  But "they talk to men like that all the time," Cuomo explained, and noted that President Trump himself had disparagingly referred to the Massachusetts senator as "Pocahontas."

The President also recently referred to Senator Minority Whip Durbin as "Senator Dicky Durbin," the latest in his litany of disparaging nicknames, including Sneaky Dianne Feinstein; Sloppy Steve (Bannon); Jeff Flakey; Al Frankenstien; Liddle Bob Corker, Wacky Congresswoman (Fredericka) Wilson, Crooked Hillary, Little Marco, Lyin' Ted; Low Energy Jeb; 1 for 38 (Kasich); Crazy Bernie; Cryin' Chuck (Schumer); Psycho Joe (Scarborough); and Crazy Megyn (Kelly).  But Cory Booker, says the RNC chairperson, was disrespectful to the Homeland Security secretary because he criticized a woman.

It's a little hard to imagine Ronna McDaniel, even while tossing around "mansplaining," as a feminist defender of the dignity of women.  It seems that she is even more supportive of Donald J. Trump than she lets on, as the Washington Examiner in December reported

President Trump reportedly asked Ronna Romney McDaniel to stop using her maiden name, “Romney,” publicly before she took over as chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.

Sources told the Washington Post the president made the request and then, in a “lighthearted way,” told McDaniel she could make whatever decision she wanted. But McDaniel, the niece of Mitt Romney and granddaughter of former Michigan Gov. George Romney, dropped the name.

The president was reportedly happy McDaniel stopped using her maiden name publicly, a senior administration official and adviser told the Washington Post. Advisers said Trump told people the name “Romney” often led to boos during events, which prompted the president’s request to the incoming Republican National Committee chairwoman.

Now, that is being loyal to the President of the United States. Actually, it's more like subservience, and a great testament to the GOP, party of strong women and family values.

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Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Bridge Too Far

Newly-inaugurated governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey has gone off the deep end.

Proof ironically comes from an Obama-era program. A June, 2012 memorandum from Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano set forth the rationale for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals by "the exercise of our prosecutorial discretion."

DACA did not establish "amnesty" for the children who arrived in the USA under the age of sixteen. and were on that date under the age of 31. They were required to have"continuously resided" in the country since 6/15/07 and been currently in school, a graduate of high school or possessor of a GED, or an honorably discharged veteran.

And criminals need not apply. Napolitano wisely required the indiviudal not to have "been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offfense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety."

On January 17 MSNBC's Chuck Todd (transcript here; relevant portion of the video at 3:20) asked Murphy about the Office of Immigrant Defensive Protection which the governor wishes to create. The New Jersey Democrat responded

Before Donald Trump got elected, we spoke about driver`s licenses for everybody regardless of status, statewide identification cards, instate tuition or financial aid for “dreamers,” then Donald Trump gets elected. And we still stand for all those.

The state of New Jersey is in a fiscal crisis, exacerbated by the disastrous eight-year reign of Chris Christie. Its public pension debt (and property tax burden) are the greatest in the nation, the latter driving residents (especially the elderly) to move out-of-state.

In response, Phil Murphy wants to give a break in tuition to immigrants who are not citizens and under current policy, will not be citizens. They would pay lower tuition in New Jersey state schools than residents in towns in Pennsylvania, Delaware, or New York State bordering New Jersey.

Murphy also  would like "driver's licenses for everybody regardless of status," which evidently would include illegal immigrants. He might want to be reminded that one Hillary R. Clinton, who in 2007 was on the fast track for the Democratic nomination for President. She was riding high before she ran into a roadblock, courtesy of rival Chris Dodd:

Had the late Tim Russert never asked this question, it is very likely Senator Barack Obama never would have been nominated and become President Obama.

Murphy's other immigration proposal contrasts with the DACA policy established in 2012. Todd asked him "among this (illegal immigrant) population), what should be enough to get you deported? If you were brought here, what should be enough to get you deported." Murphy replied

I think what we`ve done and the president has done this, it was  done in our campaign, we`ve crossed the wires between criminal justice and law enforcement on the one hand and immigrant status on the other hand. There is nothing inconsistent.

In fact, I think they add to each other with being really tough on law enforcement but being a welcoming state and community that people could come out of the shadows and feel free to engage with police and other community leaders. If you commit a crime, you ought to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Remarkably, Murphy's only concession to law enforcement was "if you commit a crime, you ought to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," which means..... nothing.

No politician ever would recommend someone not be "prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law." But he says nothing about what the law should be. Nor does he indicate whether once someone is prosecuted and convicted, he or she should be deported or instead allowed to remain in the state.

It's not hard to figure out why. DACA required the individual not be a felon or repeated misemeanant. Murphy would require no such thing, though he was by the question invited to concede that breaking the law would be a deal-breaker. Obeying the law should be a minimum, as the Obama Administration understood.

The governor of New Jersey would be more humane to both immigrants and non-immigrants were he to ensure that all residents, legal or illegal, receive basic human services, or better.

But citizenship, or the effort to obtain it, means something. Certain benefits, including access to a driver's license, in-state tuitiion, and protection against deportation should be conveyed to persons exclusive of those who are here (illegally or as Dreamers) who are precluded from being citizens. If Murphy attempts to follow through on the agenda he laid out to Todd, the Governor will be courting trouble both for himself and Democrats in New Jersey.

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Defending Trump

The publisher of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, an ardent Trump supporter, evidently has adopted his hero's style and fomented discord and disruption in the community.  The NPR affiliate in Pittsburgh summarizes

Members of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh said they are “saddened and humiliated” by an editorial published on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“Reason as racism: An immigration debate gets derailed” has also faced criticism from former Post-Gazette staff members, major foundations in Pittsburgh, and family members of the paper’s publisher, who have called the editorial a defense of racist rhetoric by President Donald Trump’s.

The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, which represents 150 current employees of the Post-Gazette, submitted a letter to the editor objecting to the editorial. Guild President Michael Fuoco said that it was rejected by the paper’s publisher, John Robinson Block, and will not be published.

The PPG did publish a critical letter signed by sixteen members of the family which owns its parent company, Block Communications.

Block begins the editorial- published on Martin Luther King's birthday- with "calling someone a racist is the new McCarthyism." (If the publisher even wanted to pretend the piece came from the editorial board, he would have written "racist.")

But Block is not the best messenger, arguing "we need to confine the word “racist” to people like Bull Connor and Dylann Roof."

Excluded would be: a) the late Jimmy 'the Greek' Snyder, fired when he commented 'The slave owner would breed his big black (man) to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid. ... That's where it all started... The black (athletic) talent is beautiful.";  b) the late Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott, who once remarked "Never hire another nigger. I'd rather have a trained monkey working for me than a nigger";  c) the living David Duke, who once maintained "White people don't need a law against rape, but if you fill this room up with your normal black bucks, you would, because niggers are basically primitive animals"; d) any of Duke's former operation, the Ku Klux Klan, or of the American Nazi movement.

Duke is no longer so explicitly racist. Now he thanks President Trump for his "honesty & courage" and contends "we are determined to take the country back" with "the promise of Donald Trump."

Yet, Block's editorial, despite first glance and common interpretation, was not about the promiscuously applied term "racist." He argues

But, when we have a chance to reform the immigration system, and save the Dreamers, and find common ground, let us not get distracted by another cudgel to use against the president. Calling the president a racist helps no one — it is simply another way (the Russia and instability cards having been played unsuccessfully) to attempt to delegitimize a legitimately elected president.

This is about Donald Trump and the myth of conservative victimization. For cultists who ridicule liberal "snowflakes," they are oddly insistent that Trump was "legitimately elected."  They also are determined to insist repeatedly- well before Robert Mueller completes his investigation- that nothing has been proven by the Special Counsel or, as Block imagines it, "the Russia and instability cards having been played unsuccessfully."

"If he is to be removed from office, let the voters do it based on his total performance — temperament as well as accomplishment — in 2020." we're forced to read from a wealthy publisher who fell asleep before the civics instructor got to Article II, Section 4 of the US Constitution. (I'm beginning to miss the time when conservatives feigned devotion to Mr. Madison's document.)

Such conservative snowflakes don't even have the courage of their convictions, in this case hostility toward Dreamers.  Block asks, curiously, "If the president had used the world “hellhole” instead, would that have been racist? If he had used the word “failed states,” would that have been racist?"

And if the Pittsburgh Steelers had beaten the Jacksonville Jaguars last weekend, would they have beaten the New England Patriots in Foxboro, Massachusetts this weekend?  We don't know and it doesn't matter. The Steelers did not win and the President did not say "hellhole" or "failed states," instead using a more profane and graphic term, which was very likely not an oversight.

"How many presidents have said crass things in the Oval Office in private meetings? Think of Kennedy, Clinton and Nixon, to name three," Block claims. However, The Hill reports Trump "called friends to brag after the meeting in which (he) reportedly referred to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as "'shithole countries.'" This may be the first report of a President proud of his obscene language and determined that several nations would know he held them in contempt.

"The goal," Block disingenuously contends, is "to save the Dreamers. That's what the White House meeting last week was about." At that meeting, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin presented a plan in which the Dreamers would be protected while several of the President's own objectives would be accepted by Democrats. After previously saying he would support whatever Congress gave him, Trump denounced the deal, denying the Dreamers and risking a shutdown of  the federal government so that his own dream of total Democratic capitulation on the Wall might be fulfilled.

The main objective of President Trump's strategy is not to build a wall, assuage hurt feelings on being called out as a  racist, or demonstrate world leadership by publicly condemning other countries as inferior.  As Charlie Sykes has noted, the Republican Party now is "a party devoted to trolling.... because conservative politics is now less about ideas or accomplishments than it is about making the right enemies cry out in anguish."

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Friday, January 19, 2018

No Compromise

The Illinois Senator and Democratic Whip on Thursday tweeted

He wasn't listening to Joe Scarborough, who earlier in the day sagely commented (beginning at 10:15 of the video below)

If you're a Democrat and you do anything to help this President who sounded racist and Republicans who have attacked Dick Durbin and questioned his integrity, questiioned his honesty- if you're a Democrat and do anything to help the government- help Republcans keep the government open without attaching a clean DACA bill to it, then you don't deserve to be in the majority this year- at the end of this year because you're too weak.

Democrats have to go after them. They were attacked, the President was racist in his remarks. He's now attacking the Congressional Black Caucus and basically said they're jokes. They called Dick Durbin a liar. You make them pay for that and while you make them pay for that, you also do what's good for the Dreamers and you get- you get a deal for theDreamers or you don't get a single vote. They own Congress. If they can't keep the government open, the voters will balme Republicans, not Democrats.

I believe that's likely, though Steve M. thinks voters will blame Democrats- but that it wouldn't hurt except in the short run. Senator Durbin was from the start an ardent supporter of Barack Obama, and it shows in his negotiating style.

Democrats must stop going in demanding half a loaf, getting a quarter-loaf, and believing they've accomplished something. As Scarborough understands, they hold most of the cards in this drama.  In "Fire and Fury," Steve Bannon is quoted characterizing liberals as "snowflakes."  Durbin's stance is part of what makes Democrats "snowflakes"- proposing significantly less than what they should.

It doesn't help with the Democratic base, which in this case is the immigrant community and its close allies.  And it hurts in the long run with voters generally, who have come to think of the Democratic Party as the one too weak to stand up for what it believes in.

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Verify, Do Not Trust

Huffington Post reports

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told a meeting of Democratic lawmakers that President Donald Trump’s campaign pledges to curb immigration ― including his promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border ― were uninformed, and that such a structure was unlikely to happen in full, according to multiple media reports.

Kelly made the comments to members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Wednesday in a closed-door session that was first reported by The Washington Post. His comments were confirmed by Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), who was at the meeting.

“I can confirm that Chief of Staff Kelly said today that the President’s campaign was not fully informed about the wall he was promising to voters,” Gutiérrez said in a statement. “Kelly went on to say that many campaigns are not fully informed about every policy and that campaigning and governing are two different things and that governing is harder.”

We don't have a quote from the Chief of Staff himself, but only an interpretation of his remarks by a member of Congress and immigration advocate.  But it sounds as if Kelly was, if he referred to "campaigns," giving the boss cover while attempting to make himself out as the voice of reason. The latter seems likely because

Gutiérrez also went on to confirm reporting by The New York Times that Kelly took credit as the “one who tempered” Trump’s more extreme opinions on the wall and the viability of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative, also known as DACA.

“Kelly took credit for educating the President on the wall and that a concrete barrier from sea to shining sea was no longer the conception of border security barriers supported today by the White House,” Gutiérrez said.

It surely is comforting to know, through Representative Gutierrez, that the Chief of Staff does not except a concrete wall to arise out of the Rio Grande and the Colorado River.  The next day the President went even further, backing down from his campaign boasts while pretending otherwise:

The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it. Parts will be, of necessity, see through and it was never intended to be built in areas where there is natural protection such as mountains, wastelands or tough rivers or water.....

The old joke runs "how do you know when X is lying?" Donald Trump has shattered the punch line "when his lips are moving," for he does it quite effortlessly when he tweets as well as when he speaks (no rhyme intended).

Nonetheless, that puts the President not at odds but on the same terrain as his chief of staff. Let us not forget

Video of a 2015 speech delivered by Representative Frederica S. Wilson revealed Friday that John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, misrepresented her remarks when he accused her of bragging about securing $20 million for a South Florida F.B.I. building and twisting President Barack Obama’s arm.

Mr. Kelly, escalating a feud between Mr. Trump and Ms. Wilson, had cast the congresswoman on Thursday as a publicity-seeking opportunist. However, the video, released by The Sun Sentinel, a newspaper in South Florida, showed that during her nine-minute speech, Ms. Wilson never took credit for getting the money for the building, only for helping pass legislation naming the building after two fallen federal agents.

She never mentioned pleading with Mr. Obama, and she acknowledged the help of several Republicans, including John A. Boehner, then the House speaker; Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo; and Senator Marco Rubio.

John Kelly is different than Donald Trump or Kellyanne Conway or Sarah Huckabee Sanders. He is more serious and reputable, and probably tells the truth more often than he utters falsehoods. But there is a reason all these individuals serve this particular President.

For the latter three, truth is an unpleasant option. For General Kelly, it can be thrown overboard when necessary, which puts him on an ethical plane above Sanders, Conway, or Trump. However, he is a reminder that service in uniform to the country does not inoculate one from dishonesty. As the immigration debate continues, nothing he (or anyone in the Administration) says can be assumed to  be completely accurate.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Consider The Source

As of a year ago when "Frederick Douglass has been doing an amazing job," President Trump didn't know that the abolitionist had died well over a century earlier.  He thought "people don't ask that question- why was there a Civil War" and believed "most people don’t know" Abraham Lincoln was a Republican and “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”

Donald Trump is profoundly, spectacularly ignorant. However, he isn't stupid.

Admiral Ronny Jackson, the White House physician for President Trump and formerly for President Obama, performed a physical examination upon his Commander-in-Chief and pronounced him in "excellent health."

Most skepticism today is focused on Dr.Jackson's contention that Trump is 6'3" and weighs 240 pounds, which places him one pound beneath "obese." Still, he would be classified as obese if he were not listed at 6'3",  the same height as John Ellis Bush (JEB), who is demonstrably taller than Trump. 

But few individuals care whether Donald Trump, who is intensely bigoted, has threatened nuclear war against Korea and probably presided over a campaign colluding with a foreign enemy and power, is wildly overweight.

Many people do, though, care about the President's cognitive health.  Dr. Jackson observed  that Trump scored 30 out of 30 on a test Wikipedia states was created in 1996 and "was validated in the setting of mild cognitive impairment." Jackson revealed that Trump allegedly scored 30 out of 30 on the test which according to Wikipedia "was validated in the setting of mild cognitive impairment, and has subsequently been adopted in numerous other settings."

The  doctor had previously concluded "I've got to know him pretty well. And I had absolutely no concerns about his cognitive ability or his, you know, his neurological function." Afterward he maintained "I have no reason whatsoever to think the president has any issues with his thought processes." Yet, Atlantic writer and  editor James Hamblin tweets 

The Montreal Cognitive Assessment is a 10-minute test that asks a person to draw a clock, repeat the phrase “I only know that John is the one to help today,” and identify a lion, rhinoceros, and camel. 

It would be extremely concerning if a President scored less than 30/30. 

Additionally, Jackson- who is not a neurologist- revealed that Trump himself had requested the exam. It appears to be "a widely used screening assessment for detecting cognitive impairment" and- despite the possibility of  gaming the test- Dr Jackson did not state whether Trump knew beforehand that the MoCA would be the test given to him.

We also were not told whether the 10-minute test was administered in ten minutes to a patient who has a notoriously short attention span.  But we do know this: Donald Trump is Dr. Jackson's boss.

Dr. Jackson is a United States Navy admiral specializing in emergency medicine, not neurology. He is, however, Donald Trump's subject, as suggested by Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution: the President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of  the individual states when called into the actual service of the United States.

With every outrageous tweet, statement, or action by the White House, Republican members of Congress stand idly by, rarely questioning the President, even lying for him in the instance of Senators Cotton and Perdue. They do so even though they are elected by their constituents and answerable only to their constituents.

And now we have a military doctor assigned to the White House who is answerable, at least de facto, primarily to Donald J. Trump. He has- surprise!- pronounced the President physically and mentally fit and sharp.

The President is ignorant of history and civics. Nevertheless, as this game illustrates, he is far smarter and shrewder than he's given credit for.

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Literally big, a former New York Giants offensive tackle is coming up big figuratively : So theres an active shooter and trump tells h...