Tag Archives: Day by Day

Their Vast Carelessness

“…they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

—Nick, from the Great Gatsby, on Daisy and Tom Buchanan

Every week is a slog and every Monday morning feels like deja vu as the crowd in the White House commits one more blunder, hires one more incompetent, sends one more tweet, and takes one more irrevocable step towards the downfall of democracy.

It’s easy to become fatigued, to think that other people will keep calling, that other people will march and protest, and that you can retreat for a while, rest, and let the world take care of itself. That’s what the left did during the Obama years, during the Clinton years, and more than anybody’s like to admit, during the Bush years, too.

Donald Trump and his ilk, when all is said and done and destroyed, will have no trouble returning to their money and their vast carelessness and by then it will be too late. If you’re ever going to care, you’ve got to care now.


So on Monday of last week, head of the FBI James Comey testified before Congress that the FBI had been running an investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia since last July. He would not specify who exactly or what exactly they were investigating, and he left aside why he had to announce a non-investigation of Hillary Clinton right before the election while remaining totally silent about an actual investigation of Donald Trump. He also confirmed what everybody already knew:

Continue reading Their Vast Carelessness

Goethe’s Oak

I’m running a day late this week, mostly due to hangover, but I’ve got an excuse. This was a three day weekend in Mexico, commemorating the birthday of what wasn’t their first president, or even their first republican president, but what was, because of a messy political century from 1820 to 1920 or so, their first real republican, democratic president, and the first indigenous president elected anywhere in Latin America.

Viva Juarez.

Another EO

We only got one real new executive order last week. The new travel ban was actually written two weeks ago, and since it was stopped by a federal court as soon as it was supposed to go into effect, until the next wrinkle on that shakes out, the one worth paying attention to is EO 13781, the “Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch.”

The EO, on its face, appears to be pretty tame, and definitely to appeal to the folks who got POTUS elected. It directs the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, who puts together the budget for the executive branch, to:

…submit to the President a proposed plan to reorganize the executive branch in order to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of agencies. The proposed plan shall include, as appropriate, recommendations to eliminate unnecessary agencies, components of agencies, and agency programs, and to merge functions. The proposed plan shall include recommendations for any legislation or administrative measures necessary to achieve the proposed reorganization.


Continue reading Goethe’s Oak

The Poor and Needy Neighbor

If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor. You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be. Be careful that you do not entertain a mean thought, thinking, “The seventh year, the year of remission, is near,” and therefore view your needy neighbor with hostility and give nothing; your neighbor might cry to the Lord against you, and you would incur guilt. Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so, for on this account the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, “Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.”

 —Deuteronomy 15


The CBO had not yet scored the AHCA at the time of this post’s writing. Now they have, and you can check out the full text here.

The most damning, immediate paragraph:

CBO and JCT estimate that, in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the legislation than under current law. Most of that increase would stem from repealing the penalties associated with the individual mandate. Some of those people would choose not to have insurance because they chose to be covered by insurance under current law only to avoid paying the penalties, and some people would forgo insurance in response to higher premiums.

That’s 14 million more people uninsured than right now, and the number would kick up into the mid-20-millions by 2020 when the Medicaid expansion runs out.

Of course, the administration’s not sure whether it trusts the CBO:


There are a couple of things I want to look at in depth this week, and I’ll be breaking them out into separate posts to keep this from stretching to a full 6,000.

First up is:

The American Health Care Act (AHCA)

So, TrumpCare. Or maybe RyanCare. Or, as more than a few have pointed out, even better, Don’tCare or NoCare. The GOP finally made public the bill to repeal and replace the ACA that they’d been hiding from both other Congresspeople and the public since two weeks ago.

First things first. If you want to know how any new plan after ObamaCare is going to affect you and America at large, you’ve got to understand what ObamaCare is. That’s a tall order, but luckily there are a plethora of resources dedicated to helping you out. And Michael Goodwin’s very long comic from 2014 at economixcomix.com is probably the easiest and most straightforward to read. No joke (and his analysis of the new Trump/Ryan bill before the markup last week beats what I’ve written here on the details, if you’ve got the time).

The new bill, the AHCA, debuted to excoriating reviews from pretty much all sides. The American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, the American Hospital Association, and much more important for Republicans, the American Association of Retired People, or AARP, came out against NoCare.

Why? Well, it wrecks some of the best (and depending on your perspective, only good) parts of ObamaCare.

In order to widen the risk pool and lower the cost of insurance generally, ObamaCare forced all Americans to either pay an ongoing series of income-scaled fines or purchase health insurance. Young, healthy people who might otherwise have gone uninsured would then purchase insurance and subsidize old, unhealthy people. In order to reduce the financial burden for those young people, the original ACA also provided generous tax credits for people making between 100 and 400% of the federal poverty line, which is $11,770-$47,080 for a single person and $24,250-$97,000 for a family of four.

Here’s Ezra Klein explaining that risk pool and ‘death spirals’.

Continue reading The Poor and Needy Neighbor

What A Mess

This administration is generating news faster than anybody can get a handle on it, and whether intentional or not, the blizzard of bullshit serves as a kind of shield, splitting our attention. So let’s see what happened last week and what’s worth keeping an eye on.

Jeff Sessions

I want to be clear that there were a lot of reasons to want Jeff Sessions far away from any position of power long before last week. To remind you, Jeff Sessions is a racist who has, for his entire political life, used his position to disenfranchise non-white voters. From the text of a letter submitted by widow of Martin Luther and activist hero in her own right Coretta Scott King submitted to the congress opposing Sessions’ nomination as a federal court judge in the 1980s:

Civil rights leaders, including my husband and Albert Turner, have fought long and hard to achieve free and unfettered access to the ballot box. Mr. Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens in the district he now seeks to serve as a federal judge…Mr. Sessions’ conduct as a U.S. Attorney, from his politically-motivated voting fraud prosecutions to his indifference towards criminal violations of civil rights laws, indicates that the lacks the temperament, fairness, and judgement to be a federal judge.

The conduct as a U.S. Attorney Mrs. King’s referring to? The Guardian just did a long piece on it. Apparently Sessions saw his federal prosecutor job as the best way to use the FBI to destroy the Democratic opposition in Alabama.  Mr. Sessions was the second guy to fail to be appointed as a federal judge in fifty years because the Congress thought he wasn’t up to the job.

A few years ago, the Supreme Court got rid of a provision of the Voting Rights Act that submitted all changes to election law in several southern states for review, since they were all almost unerringly racist. Now the responsibility for looking at that stuff falls to Jeff Sessions. Where do you think he’s going to land?

Added to all his baggage this week is that Sessions is apparently the latest member of the Trump administration to be embroiled in the ongoing Russia coverup.

Quick recap:

Jeff Sessions testified before Congress that he “did not have communications with the Russians.”

It has, unsurprisingly, come out that Sessions, of course, did have contact with the Russians. Specifically, he met with Russian Ambassador Kislyak twice, in Kislyak’s office and at the GOP convention in Cleveland, as the Trump team was softening the GOP’s platform on Russia for the first time ever. Sessions has claimed that he just didn’t remember having met with the ambassador.

First, lying under oath in front of Congress, just like Mike Flynn lying to the FBI, is a crime. Second, as has been pointed out everywhere, when the administration you’re about to be a part of is part of an ongoing scandal with Russia and when you’re before Congress testifying in order to be let into that administration, what are the chances you’re just going to happen to forget about having met with the chief Russian representative in the US? Low, I think.

Now, Sessions has said he’ll recuse himself from any investigations into the 2016 presidential campaign. Great, sure. But he pointedly did not say he’d recuse himself from any other investigation into what’s going on. Given that Flynn’s and Jared Kushner’s also-illegal contact with Kislyak took place post-election and that the White House seems pretty interested in covering up whatever else is going on, that recusal would not be enough from Sessions. Which is par for the course with this guy. Empty Wheel’s got a more complete analysis.

Russia, Generally

Let’s run this down.

Trump has had decades’ worth of business connections to Russian plutocrats and mobsters. After his several bankruptcies, they were the only kind of people who would lend to him.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s first campaign manager, stepped down last August when it came out that he’d received over $12 million for working with and lobbying for Ukraine’s pro-Russian ex-President. Manafort’s also got longstanding ties to Russia.

Then we’ve got Roger Stone, a GOP operative and Trump advisor during the campaign. Trump made his now-famous appeal to Russia to hack the Clinton emails. Stone says in August that he’s in touch with Wikileaks. On 1 October, he sends this tweet:

And on 7 October, Wikileaks lets loose the first set of emails hacked from John Podesta, meaning Stone had prior knowledge.

According to Vox:

After the campaign was over, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov publicly admitted that members of Trump’s “entourage” were in touch with Russia. “I cannot say that all of them, but quite a few have been staying in touch with Russian representatives,” he told the Russian news service Interfax.

In December, new National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, along with Trump’s son-in-law and now senior advisor and ‘shadow secretary of state’ make contact with Russian ambassador Kislyak, apparently to do a little pre-emptive—and illegal—diplomacy. They lie about it to the press and to VP Mike Pence and Flynn has to step down when his position becomes untenable.

From the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza:

There is nothing inherently wrong with the fact that Flynn, Sessions, and other Trump advisers talked to the Russian Ambassador. With the Kislyak affair, in which multiple conversations between Trump officials and the Ambassador have been concealed, so far, we have a coverup without a crime.

It’s become a kind of weird truism that “it’s the coverup, not the crime.” But, from Watergate through Iran Contra, it’s absolutely the crime that’s the worse thing. And what we have now is a widespread coverup operation. Maybe this is nothing, but you don’t lie in front of Congress to hide from nothing. And once the full story breaks, the lies in front of Congress are always just the tip of the iceberg.

The Joint Address

In case anybody’s not in the know, the joint address to Congress is the State of the Union. New presidents don’t call it that because they haven’t been POTUS long enough.

Trump made a speech.

It was a bad speech.

Pundits far and wide called it “presidential,” which is was by default, since he’s president, and some right-wingers fell all over themselves calling it a Reagan moment. I’m not linking to anything because they’ve got enough clicks and that’s garbage.

Trump’s big moment was when he called on a dead soldier’s widow. Trump got that soldier killed. He blamed the death on his generals. What’s more important is the raid that Trump ordered got many innocent civilians also killed, but nobody’s mourning for them or calling their families into the Capitol.

Celebrating that raid, “successful” in terms of intelligence or not, is poison. Putting somebody’s widow in front of the world so you can brag about her dead husband is poison.

That’s all you need to know.

What is great, though, is that the FUBAR situation with Jeff Sessions apparently has Trump hopping mad that attention got stolen away from what Sean Spicer described as a speech that “will go down in history as one of the best.”

Before we move on, think about that Spicer quote. In the same way that Trump’s assertion that he’s “the least antisemitic person” in the world puts him ahead of, say, every rabbi in the world, babies, and the yarmukle wearing reporter who asked him the question, Spicer is saying that Trump’s address ranks with Gettysburg, with Eisenhower or Washington’s farewell speeches, with Lincoln’s second inaugural, with Kennedy’s inaugural, with, literally speaking, Cicero and Pericles.

It’s dumb in the way a “my dad could beat up your dad” assertion is dumb.

The Taps

Maybe trying to steal the limelight back again, Trump sent this tweet late in the week:

Trump apparently “found out” about the wiretaps from a Breitbart article summarizing a paranoiac rant from a talk-radio host. The White House has provided no evidence to back the tweets up because, of course, there is no evidence. If there was, Trump would be all over the news with it.

Despite that there’s nothing to back this up, the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes of California, has said that he’ll be investigating. From CNN:

“One of the focus points of the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation is the U.S. government’s response to actions taken by Russian intelligence agents during the presidential campaign,” Nunes said in a statement Sunday. “As such, the Committee will make inquiries into whether the government was conducting surveillance activities on any political party’s campaign officials or surrogates, and we will continue to investigate this issue if the evidence warrants it.”

This is the same Rep. Nunes who refused to investigate the Michael Flynn thing, a case in which there was actual evidence of wrongdoing.

Democrats have, thankfully, taken a stand. Again from CNN:

“You make up something and then you have the press write about it, and then you say, ‘everybody’s writing about this charge,'” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It’s a tool of an authoritarian, to just have you always be talking about what you want to be talking about.”

The pretty-much definitive analysis comes from Jon Favreau, an Obama speechwriter and current head of Crooked Media, which produces Pod Save America, which is a podcast you should listen to right after you click on mine five extra times.


For all Trump’s posturing on how unfair it was to [not in reality] wiretap him [in a Watergate-like fashion, for campaign purposes], this White House is pushing ahead with spying on you.[1]

We’ve got a thing called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. It’s the thing that lets the government spy on you, and the thing that authorized the programs that Snowden leaked about. FISA has come under much criticism, and keeping it going was one of the huge failures (‘failures’ is the generous term; ‘totally intentional actions’ would be the more realistic one) that liberals can point to under the Obama administration.

Rather than using the wiretap “revelations” as an opportunity to revise our thinking on dragnetting the communications of millions of Americans, Trump’s pushing to get FISA re-authorized with zero changes.

Like I said last week, authoritarian government is a question of will (in the persons of Trump and Bannon) and a question of opportunity. FISA and other laws which expand the ability of the security state to spy on, detain, intern, or murder American citizens, are the opportunity.

The States

GOP lawmakers continue to prove…

Jesus, guys, I can’t even be glib. It’s one thing for us to sort-of-unwittingly elect a wannabe strongman. It’s another to realize that the GOP across the fifty states literally wants to do away with democracy as we know it.

In Georgia, the GOP’s stranglehold has been slipping despite it being one of the most heavily gerrymandered states in the Union. The GOP’s response has been to build a bigger tent, soften its policies, and really make an appeal across the aisle.

Oh wait no it was to further gerrymander the seats that were looking shaky.

GOP lawmakers in North Carolina, which is, remember, no longer a democracy, are trying to label protestors “economic terrorists,” with jailtime and fines commensurate with the name.

What Is War Good For?

Trump’s already been floating balloons about further foreign wars, namely with Iran.

Now, it’s becoming clear that with the help of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he’s trying to dismantle the State Department and run our foreign policy out of the White House with his son-in-law Jared Kushner. 

Immediately after taking office, Donald Trump forced resignations by a number of top level State Department management officials. When Secretary of State Rex Tillerson came on board, he engaged in an abrupt reorganization of remaining management without explanation. And as of yet, the Trump team has put forth nominees for only 7 of the 118 positions within the State Department that require Senate confirmation. The majority of leadership positions remain unfilled, including almost every Ambassadorship.

From a Department officer quoted in the Atlantic:

They really want to blow this place up. I don’t think this administration thinks the State Department needs to exist. They think Jared [Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law] can do everything. It’s reminiscent of the developing countries where I’ve served. The family rules everything, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs knows nothing.

Trump said on the campaign trail that as far as foreign policy, “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.”

The administration’s representatives don’t seem eager to explain how further cuts to State’s budget will improve our foreign policy.

There are, to understate, a lot of countries in the world. The US maintains contact with almost all of them. That means an ambassador for each, along with embassy staff and the consular, political, economic, public diplomacy, and management-track foreign service officers who work our embassies and consulates abroad. In DC at the State Department in Foggy Bottom, we’ve got country desks, analysts, clerks, on and on up to the deputy secretaries of state and the SOS himself. That infrastructure processes a huge amount of information and maintains an unfathomable number of personal and professional contacts with diplomats, businessmen, journalists, politicians, and activists in every country in the world.

The State Department has been underfunded since WWII, but its breadth and depth of knowledge and relationships gives us a huge number of options to use when dealing with any given foreign state.

Eliminating that apparatus leaves us with with many fewer options and makes the military, which is the only federal department getting an expansion under Trump, a much more attractive tool. Nails and hammers.

Obama Cares

The GOP is pushing ahead with its repeal-and-replace plan with regard to the Affordable Care Act.

Except that the draft of the replacement bill has been repeatedly hidden, in third-grade antics, from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

Until the text comes out, we don’t have much to go on, but any bill that has to be hidden from the public and even from the Congress is, count on it, not a good bill.


The Trump White House wants to cut 25% of the EPA’s budget. EPA facts:

For those who have forgotten the value of EPA’s mission, here are ten facts to remember and share:

230,000: Lives saved each year by EPA’s implementation of the Clean Air Act in 2020.

2.4 million: Asthma attacks prevented each year by EPA’s implementation of the Clean Air Act in 2020.

22.4 million: Avoided lost school or work days each year due to EPA’s implementation of the Clean Air Act in 2020.

30-1: Ratio of benefits to costs– the Clean Air Act provides $30 in health benefits for every $1 invested in compliance.

1,308: Number of enforcement actions concluded in fiscal year 2016 under the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act.

62 billion: Pounds of hazardous waste EPA enforcement actions required companies to commit to treat, minimize, or properly dispose of in fiscal year 2016.

190 million: Cubic yards of contaminated soil and groundwater cleanup commitments secured in fiscal year 2016 alone (enough to fill the Empire State Building over 138 times).

40,000: Pounds of toxic mercury cut from coal plants by the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule.

67: Percent of Americans across the country who think EPA should stay the same or be strengthened.

1: EPA Administrator who laughed about dismantling the EPA: 1 in over 40 years.

Just, Honestly, Horrible Shit

A man in Kent, Washington, walked up to a Sikh in his driveway, told him to “Go back to your own country,” and then shot him.

Four mosques have burned down as the result of arson since Trump’s inauguration.

Dozens of bomb threats at Jewish community centers continue to come in.

As we saw last week, the immigration plan under Trump is to deport the people who least need to be deported:




But At Least There’s This

Not everything is terrible. If you don’t know Chuck Tingle, the enigmatic, prolific, incredible-title creating erotica author, now’s the time:

Domald Tromp hasn’t been listening to his Timeline Briefings, and now he’s in trouble. To the frustration of his staff, Domald’s incompetence has allowed several unethical timelines to get dangerously close to this one, and facts regarding his administration’s deep connections to the Russian government are leaking left and right.

Domald decides to solve this problem old-fashioned way, with a tweet brazenly declaring that the previous President was wiretapping him. Domald hopes his bizarre fabrication will now dominate the news cycle while he heads out to golf with his Russian T-Rex buddies. Unfortunately, he has simply opened an even bigger can of worms.

Facebook’s about a year late on this, but they’ve finally rolled out their answer to fake news:

Der Spiegel‘s new cover is something we can start hanging on dorm walls:

And Marco Rubio, who has been too afraid of being “heckled” and “screamed at” to show up to his town halls, has now been kicked out of his Florida office, since the protestors he ignored turned out in force at the building. From Politico:

Citing protesting tips published by the new Indivisible movement, Rubio told the station that activists are instructed to go to town halls early and “take up all the front seats. They spread themselves out. They ask questions. They all cheer when the questions are asked. They are instructed to boo no matter what answer I give. They are instructed to interrupt me if I go too long and start chanting things. Then, at the end, they are also told not to give up their microphone when they ask questions. It’s all in writing in this Indivisible document.”

The only boo when you’re worth booing, Marco, which is all the time.

Also quoted in Politico, Gabby Giffords had some words:

“I was shot on a Saturday morning. By Monday morning my offices were open to the public,” Giffords said on Twitter. “To the politicians who have abandoned their civic obligations, I say this: Have some courage. Face your constituents. Hold town halls.”

Everything looks bad, but at least Gabby’s still around.

[1] To be 100% fair, it’s possible that some part of the intelligence community, probably the NSA, picked up some of the communications coming out of Trump Tower, given that the NSA tracks potential threats to the US, many of whom are in Russia, and some of whom Trump and associates might have been in contact with. Now, since a President can’t actually order anybody to wiretap anybody, if Trump’s wires were specifically tapped, it means one of two things: a FISA court found that there was sufficient evidence that Trump was colluding with a foreign power to damage the interests of the US to justify a wiretap; or a judge, on behalf of a law-enforcement agency, like the FBI, decided there was sufficient evidence that Trump and associates were breaking the law (with, for example, the Russian mobsters that Trump used to hang out with) to warrant a wiretap.

Memos, Missing Congresspeople, and a Misfiring Press Policy

This past week, like every week since the Inauguration, was a bad week.

The Immigration Memos

This is bar none the most important thing that went on in the last seven days, and I’m going to break them out into their own post tomorrow. For now though, here’s what you need to know.

John Kelly, an ex-four star marine general and current Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, promulgated two memos which outlined DHS’s plan for implementing Trump’s varying statements on and executive orders with regard to immigration.

Those memos addressed a slew of different aspects of current and (apparently) future immigration policy, but here are the highlights:

  • Under Obama, we changed our focus for deportation from other-wise law-abiding undocumented immigrants towards those who committed crimes after coming to the US. The new memos outline a new category for priority deportation which includes anyone convicted, charged, or who has “committed acts that constitute a chargeable offense.” That sounds pretty reasonable until you think about it. When it says “charged” and “committed acts that constitute,” what it means is that immigrants under suspicion of crimes will now be treated as criminals. As in guilty before proven innocent. Likewise, the memos make clear that residing without documents in the US is one of the offenses that DHS will not consider, which means that all 12 million undocumented immigrants are now priorities for deportation.
  • The memos call for the expedited hiring of 10,000 new ICE agents and officers and another 5,000 Border Patrol officers. Not only would that reportedly cost over $2 billion, ICE and the BP have already had trouble recruiting. Trump is currently seeking to relax the standards used to screen candidates, which would serve to further compromise two agencies already penetrated by the far right wing and, in some cases, the same gangs they’re trying to keep out.
  • The memos outline a directive to “assure the assessment and collection of all fines” against migrants “and from those who facilitate their unlawful presence.” Besides mirroring the way that some police departments use their black communities like a piggy-bank, this could potentially target everybody around a given migrant with the idea of making the current upswell of sanctuary movements much harder to sustain. Fine the migrant, the church that hosted him, the members that took him in, on down the line.
  • Both memos outline the “establishment of appropriate processing and detention facilities” and the expansion of “detention capabilities and capacities at or near the border with Mexico to the greatest extent practicable.” Right now, migrants are in general released after they’re assigned a court date, since those dates are usually years in the future. Trump’s administration now plans to hold them in detention for that period, paying around $100 a day per migrant. There are some dark, dark implications here that I’ll get to in the post about this.
  • The memos both mention expanding programs which allow local and state police to act as immigration officers. Which means that men and women with no training in immigration law will now be empowered to stop (brown) people on suspicion of being (brown) migrants and demand papers across the US.
  • And then there are several points which basically call for CBP and ICE officers to do their jobs.
    • Right now, migrants reaching the US can claim asylum, and if they can establish in an interview with an asylum officer that they have a “credible fear” that they’ll be subject to violence if they return to their own country, they get released into the US pending a hearing. One memo calls for an “enhancement…of the credible fear determination” process. Which read straight just means “do the job” and read between the lines in the way that every asylum officer and his/her boss must be reading it means “we want to see fewer asylum releases.” Which would put some of the most vulnerable immigrants in the world back into some of the most dangerous places in the world.
    • Same kind of language with regard to CBP and ICE’s ability to ‘parole’ immigrants into the US pending trial. And same obvious alternative reading, which is, “parole fewer people.”
    • Ditto the second memo in point O calls for public reporting of border apprehension data. Of course, CBP and ICE already do public reporting, so the memo asks specifically for “the number of convicted criminals and the nature of their offenses; the prevalence of gang members and prior immigration violators,” etc. Those are all stats they already collect. The memo is saying that now we’ll be emphasizing them.
    • Finally the memos address the wave of unaccompanied minors coming out of Central America. They acknowledge the plight of these kids and then call for prosecution of the parents of those minors who have family living without documentation in the US. That is, of that portion of the kids who actually make it up here, the ones that the memos themselves say are subject to the most inhuman depredations on the way, Trump’s administration wants to use those kids as a way to track and deport their families in the US, turning them, again, into effective orphans.
      • This is an example of an application of law meant to punish rather than to shape any kind of desirable outcome. Who wins in this scenario? The kids without parents? The deported parents whose kids are now in the US and who will now be trying to enter illegally again? The US citizens who paid to create an orphan who will have to go into the system? I’m pretty sure the only winners are the coyotes getting paid to move people over the border.

Continue reading Memos, Missing Congresspeople, and a Misfiring Press Policy

The Widening Gyre

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
—W. B. Yeats, “The Second Coming”

It starts to lose its luster when you say it every seven days, but what a week.
Today I want to talk about three things in detail. The first is the President’s already-infamous press conference from last Thursday, all of Sean Spicer’s forays, and the general confusion they’ve created. Second, the ongoing work of the administration and its allies in the Congress. Third, and this I’m going to break out into its own short post, Michael Flynn’s record-breaking resignation as National Security Advisor.

The Presser(s)

I don’t know how many of you watched the full hour-and-fifteen, but the level of mendacity had, I think, to have been unprecedented, and the style heretofore unseen outside of the West Wing.

The quickest way to get the gist across, though, is a short comparison to eight years ago. Here’s our last president addressing the situation and concerns of the auto industry:

And here’s our current president doing what seems to be his level best to get around to the same topic:

Continue reading The Widening Gyre

Day by Day

Well, so I took the autumn off to take the LSAT and apply to law school and it seems like things took a turn for the worse while I was away. It’s too late to stop that last election, and we’ve got things like Swing Left, the Wall of US, Indivisible, WolfPAC, and the Justice Democrats working on the next one. So it feels like the role of a podcast and a blog that catalogue our backfiring efforts to make the world safe for democracy abroad might be to chart the way that our methodology and its effects are now coming home to roost.

I want the series to fall somewhere between Doug Muder’s Weekly Sift, which is a weekly roundup and blog post with clear-eyed, compassionate and brilliant analysis and Paul Slansky’s The Clothes Have No Emperor, which is a brutal, day-by-day account of the scandals, corruption, and rank incompetence of the Reagan Administration quoted directly from the news. Like Muder, I’m going to pair the weekly news post with a piece on the blog, and they’ll go up on Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays or however it falls.

This first edition is going to be much longer and at the same time much less comprehensive than the norm—I’m going to breeze through the last four months or so, and I’ll both have too many words and be leaving too many out.

Continue reading Day by Day