Notes and Comment Blog

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965

Jan 28th, 2017 10:16 am | By

Funny thing: Trump’s hot new immigration ban is illegal. It’s kind of odd that no one managed to tell him that before he announced it.

The Times explains how it’s against the law:

President Trump signed an executive order on Friday that purports to bar for at least 90 days almost all permanent immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries, including Syria and Iraq, and asserts the power to extend the ban indefinitely.

But the order is illegal. More than 50 years ago, Congress outlawed such discrimination against immigrants based on national origin.

That decision came after a long and shameful history in this country of barring immigrants based on where they came from. Starting in the late 19th century, laws excluded all Chinese, almost all Japanese, then all Asians in the so-called Asiatic Barred Zone. Finally, in 1924, Congress created a comprehensive “national-origins system,” skewing immigration quotas to benefit Western Europeans and to exclude most Eastern Europeans, almost all Asians, and Africans.

Mr. Trump appears to want to reinstate a new type of Asiatic Barred Zone by executive order, but there is just one problem: The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 banned all discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin, replacing the old prejudicial system and giving each country an equal shot at the quotas. In signing the new law, President Lyndon B. Johnson said that “the harsh injustice” of the national-origins quota system had been “abolished.”

I guess laws are just for the little people? Trump doesn’t have to obey them if he doesn’t feel like it? And twenty billion people celebrated his inauguration?

Part of an extreme vetting plan

Jan 28th, 2017 9:15 am | By

Trump’s way of observing Holocaust Remembrance Day:

President Trump on Friday closed the nation’s borders to refugees from around the world, ordering that families fleeing the slaughter in Syria be indefinitely blocked from entering the United States, and temporarily suspending immigration from several predominantly Muslim countries.

In an executive order that he said was part of an extreme vetting plan to keep out “radical Islamic terrorists,” Mr. Trump also established a religious test for refugees from Muslim nations: He ordered that Christians and others from minority religions be granted priority over Muslims.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day. Nice timing.

The executive order suspends the entry of refugees into the United States for 120 days and directs officials to determine additional screening ”to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States.”

The order also stops the admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely, and bars entry into the United States for 90 days from seven predominantly Muslim countries linked to concerns about terrorism. Those countries are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

Announcing his “extreme vetting” plan, the president invoked the specter of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Most of the 19 hijackers on the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Pa., were from Saudi Arabia. The rest were from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon. None of those countries are on Mr. Trump’s visa ban list.

Oh well but Trump has business interests in Saudi Arabia, so you see how he couldn’t possibly include them.

The president signed the executive order shortly after issuing a statement noting that Friday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, an irony that many of his critics highlighted on Twitter. The statement did not mention Jews, although it cited the “depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.”

Trump, keen to inflict some depravity and horror on innocent people himself, has ensured that refugees who were on the way here when he issued his order are now being detained at airports, as if they were criminals.

President Trump’s executive order closing the nation’s borders to refugees was put into immediate effect on Friday night. Refugees who were airborne on flights on the way to the United States when the order was signed were stopped and detained at airports.

The detentions prompted legal challenges as lawyers representing two Iraqis held at Kennedy Airport filed a writ of habeas corpus early Saturday in the Eastern District of New York seeking to have their clients released. At the same time, they filed a motion for class certification, in an effort to represent all refugees and immigrants who they said were being unlawfully detained at ports of entry.

Mr. Trump’s order, which suspends entry for all refugees for 120 days, created a legal limbo for people on their way to the United States and panic for families who were awaiting their arrival.

He likes it that way. He likes to inflict depravity and horror.

It was unclear how many refugees and immigrants were being held nationwide in the aftermath of the executive order. The complaints were filed by a prominent group including the American Civil Liberties Union, the International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center, the National Immigration Law Center, Yale Law School’s Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization and the firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton.

The lawyers said that one of the Iraqis detained at Kennedy Airport, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, had worked on behalf of the United States government in Iraq for 10 years. The other, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, was coming to the United States to join his wife, who had worked for an American contractor, and young son, the lawyers said. They said both men had been detained at the airport on Friday night after arriving on separate flights.

Simply because brain-dead Donald Trump waved his tiny hand and said it shall be so.

The lawyers said they had not been allowed to meet with their clients, and there were tense moments as they tried to reach them.

“Who is the person we need to talk to?” asked one of the lawyers, Mark Doss, a supervising attorney at the International Refugee Assistance Project.

“Mr. President,” said a Customs and Border Protection agent, who declined to identify himself. “Call Mr. Trump.”

The executive order, which Mr. Trump said was part of an extreme vetting plan to keep out “radical Islamic terrorists,” also established a religious test for refugees from Muslim nations: He ordered that Christians and others from minority religions be granted priority over Muslims.

Unconstitutional, but whatever.

“We’ve never had an issue once one of our clients was at a port of entry in the United States,” Mr. Doss said. “To see people being detained indefinitely in the country that’s supposed to welcome them is a total shock.”

“These are people with valid visas and legitimate refugee claims who have already been determined by the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to be admissible and to be allowed to enter the U.S. and now are being unlawfully detained,” Mr. Doss said.

It’s shameful. Shameful. We’re a pariah state now, and rightly so.

One of the people being held had worked on behalf of the United States government in Iraq for 10 years. He had all the right papers and permissions, but they’re holding him anyway – and planning to send him back to Iraq. He came here from Stockholm.

According to the filing, Mr. Darweesh was granted a special immigrant visa on Jan. 20, the same day Mr. Trump was sworn in as president. Mr. Darweesh worked with the United States in Iraq in a variety of jobs — as an interpreter, engineer and contractor — over the course of roughly a decade.

Mr. Darweesh worked as an interpreter for the Army’s 101st Airborne Division in Baghdad and Mosul starting shortly after the invasion of Iraq on April 1, 2003. The filing said he had been directly targeted twice for working with the United States military.

A husband and father of three, he arrived at Kennedy Airport on Friday evening with his family. Mr. Darweesh’s wife and children made it through passport control and customs, but agents of Customs and Border Protection stopped and detained him.

Brandon Friedman, who worked with Mr. Darweesh as an infantry lieutenant with the 101st Airborne, praised Mr. Darweesh’s work. “This is a guy that this country owes a debt of gratitude to,” Mr. Friedman said. “There are not many Americans who have done as much for this country as he has. He’s put himself on the line. He’s put his family on the line to help U.S. soldiers in combat, and it is astonishing to me that this country would suddenly not allow people like that in.”

There is no end to the evil of Trump. He will ratchet it up every day.

The special relationship

Jan 28th, 2017 8:52 am | By




Jan 28th, 2017 8:02 am | By

Yesterday Trump outdid himself. First he put his name to a bombastic but empty statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day that made no mention of Jews or Roma or leftists or lesbians and gays or disabled people – and then later in the day he slammed the door on refugees.

President Trump on Friday closed the nation’s borders to refugees from around the world, ordering that families fleeing the slaughter in Syria be indefinitely blocked from entering the United States, and temporarily suspending immigration from several predominantly Muslim countries.

Also yesterday, a new Twitter account appeared: St Louis Manifest. The St Louis was a ship – this ship:

On May 13, 1939, the German transatlantic liner St. Louis sailed from Hamburg, Germany, for Havana, Cuba. On the voyage were 937 passengers. Almost all were Jews fleeing from the Third Reich. Most were German citizens, some were from eastern Europe, and a few were officially “stateless.”

Cuba turned the ship away, and so did the US.

Following the US government’s refusal to permit the passengers to disembark, the St. Louis sailed back to Europe on June 6, 1939. The passengers did not return to Germany, however. Jewish organizations (particularly the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) negotiated with four European governments to secure entry visas for the passengers: Great Britain took 288 passengers; the Netherlands admitted 181 passengers, Belgium took in 214 passengers; and 224 passengers found at least temporary refuge in France. Of the 288 passengers admitted by Great Britain, all survived World War II save one, who was killed during an air raid in 1940. Of the 620 passengers who returned to continent, 87 (14%) managed to emigrate before the German invasion of Western Europe in May 1940. 532 St. Louis passengers were trapped when Germany conquered Western Europe. Just over half, 278 survived the Holocaust. 254 died: 84 who had been in Belgium; 84 who had found refuge in Holland, and 86 who had been admitted to France.

From St Louis Manifest:

There are, of course, many many more.

Such disdain

Jan 27th, 2017 6:13 pm | By

Chris Cillizza at the Post wonders how long it will take for Trump to lose it over all these leaks that show what a chaotic childish fool he is.

I’ve never seen so much leaking so quickly — and with such disdain for the president — as I have in the first six days of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Two recent examples:

1. This from the New York Times today on Trump’s impulsiveness:

Mr. Trump’s advisers say that his frenzied if admittedly impulsive approach appeals to voters because it shows that he is a man of action. Those complaining about his fixation with fictional voter fraud or crowd counts at his inauguration, in their view, are simply seeking ways to undercut his legitimacy.

Yet some of his own advisers also privately worry about his penchant for picking unnecessary fights and drifting off message. They talk about taking away his telephone or canceling his Twitter account, only to be dismissed by a president intent on keeping his own outlets to the world.

Intent on keeping his phone and his Twitter, and too stupid to grasp the need to grow up now.

2. This from WaPo on Trump’s inauguration crowd estimates:

Trump’s advisers suggested that he could push back in a simple tweet. Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a Trump confidant and the chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, offered to deliver a statement addressing the crowd size.

But Trump was adamant, aides said. Over the objections of his aides and advisers — who urged him to focus on policy and the broader goals of his presidency — the new president issued a decree: He wanted a fiery public response, and he wanted it to come from his press secretary.

Time and again, the image of Trump pushed by his “aides” is one of a clueless child — someone who acts on impulse, disregarding the better advice of people who know better. We know he needs to be managed or else he will say and do stupid things, the message seems to be. We’re working on it.

Yes, exactly – but then didn’t they already know that? Why are they working for him if they’re worried about the fact that he’s a clueless child? It’s not as if he concealed it until now.

Trump has shown that his tendency to obsessively consume media — especially cable television — is unchanged in the six days since he has become president. He appears to be making policy decisions via things he watches or reads. (Remember Trump’s famous/infamous statement that he got his military information and advice “mostly from the shows.”)

At odds with all of this, however, is the fact that Trump is both deeply proud and hugely image-conscious. Having to read and watch allegedly loyal “aides” casting him as a sort of feckless child constantly in need of guidance wouldn’t seem to be the sort of thing that would sit well with him.

Oh I wouldn’t call him “deeply proud.” That sounds too grown-up. He’s deeply conceited and prickly. That’s sort of the same thing, but less flattering.

So anyway, Cillizza thinks he’ll blow soon. Yep, that seems likely.

A vote for domestic violence

Jan 27th, 2017 5:13 pm | By

Russia’s lower house of parliament in its wisdom has gone ahead and decriminalized some forms of domestic violence. No wonder Trump is such a fan of the place!

Under the proposed legislation, first-time offenders who do not cause serious injury will face a maximum of 15 days police custody instead of up to two years in jail.

It now needs the approval of the upper house and President Vladimir Putin.

Campaigners say the bill – dubbed the “slapping law” – would mean the “exoneration of tyrants in the home”.

The State Duma voted 380-3 for the bill, two days after it passed its second reading.

Isn’t that nice. 380 out of 383 think women deserve to be punched by men provided it’s only once a year.

But MPs from the Communist Party opposed the bill.

“Women don’t often go to the police or the courts regarding their abusive husbands, now there will be even fewer such cases, and the number of murders will increase,” said lawmaker Yury Sinelshchikov.

On Wednesday, Maria Mokhova, the executive director of the Sisters crisis centre for abuse victims, told Reuters: “This law calls for the exoneration of tyrants in the home.

“The message is: ‘Let’s not punish a person who at home beat up his family, just because he has the right to do that.'”

Russian interior ministry statistics show that 9,800 women died as a result of a serious assault in 2015, and that a quarter of murders and serious assaults take place in the home.

A petition launched by women’s rights activist Alena Popova calling for comprehensive legislation against domestic violence has reached nearly 239,000 signatures.

I can’t wait to see the US become ever more like Russia.

Please hold for the president

Jan 27th, 2017 4:46 pm | By

It’s taken me all day to catch up with the story about Trump going whining to the Park Service demanding new photos that showed 10 billion people on the Mall for his inauguration.

On the morning after Donald Trump’s inauguration, acting National Park Service director Michael T. Reynolds received an extraordinary summons: The new president wanted to talk to him.

In a Saturday phone call, Trump personally ordered Reynolds to produce additional photographs of the previous day’s crowds on the Mall, according to three individuals who have knowledge of the conversation. The president believed that the photos might prove that the media had lied in reporting that attendance had been no better than average.

Trump also expressed anger over a retweet sent from the agency’s account, in which side-by-side photographs showed far fewer people at his swearing-in than had shown up to see Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.

According to one account, Reynolds had been contacted by the White House and given a phone number to call. When he dialed it, he was told to hold for the president.

He’s that pathetic and ridiculous and vain and childish. And he has the nuclear codes.

Word rapidly spread through the agency and Washington. The individuals who informed The Washington Post about the call did so on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the conversation.

Yeah…it’s “sensitive” because it demonstrates how pathetic and ridiculous and vain and childish he is.

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the call simply demonstrated that Trump’s management style is to be “so accessible, and constantly in touch.”

“He’s not somebody who sits around and waits. He takes action and gets things done,” Sanders said. “That’s one of the reasons that he is president today, and Hillary Clinton isn’t.”

No actually it’s because Comey sent that letter to Congress just before the election. Taking action isn’t an inherent good; it has to be the right action. Action in the form of badgering government officials to produce non-existent evidence of adoring crowds is not the right action, to put it mildly.

Reynolds was taken aback by Trump’s request, but he did secure some additional aerial photographs and forwarded them to the White House through normal channels in the Interior Department, the people who notified The Post said. The photos, however, did not prove Trump’s contention that the crowd size was upward of 1 million.

That’s because Reynold’s ignored his clear duty to fake them.

Trump, meanwhile, has continued to press the argument that the media has given a misleading account of the crowds that attended his inauguration.

“I had a massive amount of people here,” the president told ABC News anchor David Muir in an interview Wednesday. “They were showing pictures that were very unflattering, as unflattering — from certain angles — that were taken early and lots of other things.”

As he guided Muir through the West Wing, Trump paused at a photo on the wall, taken from behind him as he delivered his inaugural address: “Here’s a picture of the event. Here’s a picture of the crowd. Now, the audience was the biggest ever, but this crowd was massive. Look how far back it goes. This crowd was massive.”

He blathered at Hannity on Fox about it yesterday, too, saying the photograph was from the wrong end, from the back, and if they’d taken it from where he was, why, it would have looked entirely different. Yes, it would, but that’s because of how human eyesight works, not because there were actually more people provided you looked from the Congress end of the Mall.

And he has the nuclear codes.

He thought it was very, very unfair

Jan 27th, 2017 3:58 pm | By

Trump says more bad shit.

President Donald Trump said in a new interview Friday that persecuted Christians will be given priority over other refugees seeking to enter the United States, saying they have been “horribly treated.”

Speaking with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Trump said that it had been “impossible, or at least very tough” for Syrian Christians to enter the United States.

“If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair — everybody was persecuted, in all fairness — but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought  it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them.”

Trump did not name a reason or offer any evidence about why the agencies that vet refugees, including the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department, would have prioritized Muslim refugees over Christians.

Don’t be silly: it’s because they’re all Sekrit Mooslims.

Also on Friday, Trump signed an executive order freezing refugee applications from seven Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and Africa, including Syria. It’s unclear how his pledge to help persecuted Christians from those countries will accord with that plan.

The United States admitted a record number of 38,901 Muslim refugees in 2016, according to a study conducted by Pew. But nearly the same number of Christians, 37,521 were also admitted.

What are you gonna trust, Pew or Trump’s imagination?

Trump hates women

Jan 27th, 2017 3:28 pm | By

The theocrats marching to demand a restoration of forced pregnancy got a boost from the Trumpists today.

Abortion opponents gathered on Friday in Washington for their annual march, which has taken place every year since 1974 to protest the Supreme Court’s 44-year-old Roe v. Wade decision from 1973.

■ Vice President Mike Pence, the highest-ranking official to ever speak in person at the march, told the crowd that “life is winning.”

■ Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, also addressed the crowd.

■ The march drew thousands of activists.

They want to make sure women go back to being victims of their own bodies.

In previous years, no president or vice president has ever addressed the march in person. This year, the Trump administration will be out in full force with the appearances of Mr. Pence and Ms. Conway.

President Trump, in one of his first official acts, signed an order prohibiting foreign aid to health providers abroad who discuss abortion as a family-planning option. And in a break with previous Republican presidents, he has embraced the idea of a litmus test for his Supreme Court nominees and pledged explicitly to name someone who opposes abortion. He said he would announce his choice on Thursday to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last February.

Handmaid’s Tale, here we come.

Dropping in

Jan 27th, 2017 11:45 am | By

The Trump-May meeting from the BBC’s point of view.

Prime Minister Theresa May is holding talks at the White House with US President Donald Trump.

They posed for photographs in front of a bust of Sir Winston Churchill – which Mr Trump pointed to, saying it was “a great honour” to have it back.

The new president had the bust restored to the Oval Office after it was removed by former president Barack Obama.

Mrs May smiled and told him: “Thank you, we were very pleased that you accepted it back.”

Sigh. A Fox News talking point. That whole fraudulent fuss about Churchill’s bust was a racist dogwhistle back in the early days of Obama’s tenure. Oh oh oh, the Mooslim from Kenya kicked the hero of Dubya Dubya Too out of the sacred Oval Office, oh oh oh, the bust of The Hero must always be in The Sacred Oval Office, that’s the law of the land and has been since 1672 as everybody knows.

Please. Churchill was a Tory; Obama is not a Tory; there’s no law that says Churchill’s bust has to be in the president’s office.

Theresa May and Donald Trump

The biggest lie

Jan 27th, 2017 10:48 am | By

The White House has put out a statement in the name of Trump that’s titled On International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.

Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest.‎ As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent.

In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.

It’s interesting how generic “the victims” are. They are simply “innocent people” and “the innocent.” But the Nazis didn’t slaughter only generic “innocents,” as a by-product of war. Of course they didn’t. They slaughtered millions of very specific people, on purpose, to make them dead. They slaughtered all the Jews they could manage to get their hands on. They slaughtered Roma people, leftists, lesbians and gays, disabled people – all of them not tangentially but deliberately and because they were in those categories.

But Donald Trump can’t afford to articulate that, can he, not even in the orotundities of his speechwriters. Donald Trump can’t afford to articulate that because he engages in exactly the same kind of hatemongering and incitement that the Nazis did. Donald Trump can’t afford to articulate that because he has nothing to do with “love and tolerance,” he’s all about hatred and intolerance. Donald Trump can’t talk honestly about what Hitler and his gang did because his rhetoric and behavior and policies are much too similar to risk it.

This claim that he wants to “make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world” is perhaps the biggest lie he’s told yet.

H/t Stewart

Hastily upgrading

Jan 26th, 2017 4:58 pm | By

PBS News has a startling little item:

The @POTUS twitter account, one of the White House’s main social media accounts, appears to be controlled by a user with a personal gmail account, the PBS NewsHour has confirmed.

They took a screen shot:

This screenshot, taken at 12:47 p.m. ET on Jan. 26, 2017 shows that the @POTUS account is linked to a Google Gmail account beginning with the letters "ds." Minutes after this screen shot was captured, the account reset process was changed.

Oh well. It’s only the president.

The Next Web first reported on the apparent vulnerability of several accounts associated with the new White House earlier today. The finding was widely shared on Twitter by technology journalists.

In addition to being linked to a personal gmail account, the Twitter account appeared to have the lowest possible level of security, foregoing settings that would require a user to enter additional personal information to reset the password on the account.

As we put together this report, the account appeared to be in the process of upgrading to a higher level of security.

I hear a faint cry somewhere out in the ether…emaaaaaaaaaaails


Part of a crackdown

Jan 26th, 2017 1:53 pm | By

More on the silencing of the EPA:

The Trump administration is examining the website of the Environmental Protection Agency to determine which information will remain, underscoring concerns that climate change and other scientific data might be removed.

EPA employees have also been instructed not to release press releases, publish blog posts or post anything on social media. It’s part of a crackdown by the new administration that seems to be especially felt at the EPA and the Interior Department, leaving some employees “terrified.”

EPA spokesperson Doug Erickson said the objective of the website review is to have an agency page that reflects the new administration’s policies.

But the science is what it is, regardless of policies.

Asked if climate change data on the EPA site would be removed because it doesn’t reflect the ideas of the new administration, Erickson responded, “you can speculate that if you want but I didn’t say that. I am only saying we are reviewing the website to make sure material on it reflects the new administration.”

Trump was outspoken during the campaign about wanting to curb environmental regulations that he said were hurting businesses. The President has also been a known climate change denier, tweeting in 2012 that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”

Which is one of those “alternative facts,” aka lies that Trump pulls out of his ass. The EPA website should not be reflecting Trump’s lies and delusions.

Career staffers at the Interior Department, which includes the Park Service, are “terrified” that their day-to-day operations could run afoul of the Trump administration’s desires, a source with knowledge of the situation inside the government agency tells CNN.

Tensions are even higher after Friday’s tweets, the source says, leaving many at the department feeling like they have to be extra careful as they go about their daily routines because it is unclear what could set off the White House or Trump’s political appointees.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said reports of gag orders to the EPA are “just appalling” and that the Trump administration seems “to be happy to be in a fact-free zone.”

Speaking to reporters in the Capitol Wednesday, Pelosi also addressed reports of efforts to take down climate change material on the EPA website, calling such activity a “deterioration of intellectual sources to prevent information to flow.”

Jeremy Symons, a former career employee at the EPA who worked through the transition between President Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, said this sort of information lock down is “unprecedented.”

Welcome to the New Age of Ignorance.

Press are directed to the Press Office, which is also silenced

Jan 26th, 2017 1:42 pm | By

Obviously I can’t vouch for this, because it’s anonymous, so keep that in mind – but for what it’s worth, this is being passed around on Facebook:

From an EPA staffer:
“So I work at the EPA and yeah it’s as bad as you are hearing:
The entire agency is under lockdown, the website, facebook, twitter, you name it is static and can’t be updated. All reports, findings, permits and studies are frozen and not to be released. No presentations or meetings with outside groups are to be scheduled.
Any Press contacting us are to be directed to the Press Office which is also silenced and will give no response.
All grants and contracts are frozen from the contractors working on Superfund sites to grad school students working on their thesis.
We are still doing our work, writing reports, doing cancer modeling for pesticides hoping that this is temporary and we will be able to serve the public soon. But many of us are worried about an ideologically-fueled purging and if you use any federal data I advise you gather what you can now.
We have been told the website is being reworked to reflect the new administration’s policy.
Feel free to copy and paste, you all pay for the government and you should know what’s going on. I am posting this as a fellow citizen and not in any sort of official capacity.”

It’s consistent with what the news media are reporting, but with some more details.

“They don’t understand this country.”

Jan 26th, 2017 1:33 pm | By

It’s only the first week of the Trump putsch and already we’re miles deep into Nazi territory.

The New York Times talked to Steve Bannon yesterday, and what he said is blood-chilling. He could be reading from a volume of collected rants by Goebbels. It would be gross if he were just the Breitbart guy, but he’s now at the center of the executive branch.

“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for awhile,” Mr. Bannon said during a telephone call.

“I want you to quote this,” Mr. Bannon added. “The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”

That’s fascist talk. That’s Kill the Other talk. He’s talking about The Jews, and all of us are those Jews he’s talking about. We “don’t understand this country” – we are not of it – we pollute it.

During a call to discuss Sean M. Spicer, the president’s press secretary, Mr. Bannon ratcheted up the criticism, offering a broad indictment of the news media as biased against Mr. Trump and out of touch with the American public. That’s an argument familiar to readers of Breitbart and followers of Trump-friendly personalities like Sean Hannity.

“The elite media got it dead wrong, 100 percent dead wrong,” Mr. Bannon said of the election, calling it “a humiliating defeat that they will never wash away, that will always be there.”

Like the blood guilt, am I right? We can never wash away the pollution.

“That’s why you have no power,” Mr. Bannon added. “You were humiliated.”

Of all of Mr. Trump’s advisers in the White House, Mr. Bannon is the one tasked with implementing the nationalist vision that Mr. Trump channeled during the later months of the campaign, one that stemmed from Mr. Bannon himself. And in many ways Mr. Trump’s first week has put into action that vision — from the description of “American carnage’’ Mr. Trump laid out in his inauguration speech, to a series of executive actions outlining policy on trade agreements, immigration, the building of a border wall and the demands that Mexico pay for it.

It shouldn’t have been this easy. That’s the enduring stain: that the fascists took power this easily.

A savvy manipulator of the press, and a proud provocateur, Mr. Bannon was among the few advisers in Mr. Trump’s circle who was said to have urged on Mr. Spicer’s confrontational, emotional statement to a shocked White House briefing room on Saturday, when the White House disputed press reports on the inauguration crowd size. He mostly shares Mr. Trump’s view that the news media has misunderstood the movement that the president rode into office.

On the telephone, Mr. Bannon spoke in blunt but calm tones, peppered with a dose of profanities, and humorously referred to himself at one point as “Darth Vader.” He said, with ironic relish, that Mr. Trump was elected by a surge of support from “the working class hobbits and deplorables.”

Yes, it’s all hilarious. No doubt they’ll stand around the gas chambers cracking wise.

Hey gang, let’s re-open the black sites!

Jan 26th, 2017 12:45 pm | By

One of the little items he’s trying to hustle through while no one is looking –

[T]he draft of a Trump administration executive order that spilled into public view early Wednesday — a document that raised the prospect of reviving C.I.A. “black site” prisons like those where terrorism suspects were once detained and tortured — has the potential to further fracture a national security team already divided over one of the most controversial policies of the post-9/11 era.

The White House disclaimed the document, which was leaked to The New York Times and other news organizations, but three administration officials said the White House had circulated it among National Security Council staff members for review on Tuesday morning. And many of its proposals — which also include halting transfers out of the Guantánamo Bay prison and sending new detainees there, which President Barack Obama refused to do — echo years of Republican national security policy and President Trump’s own speeches.

If there’s something evil that can be done, Trump will want to do it. That’s apparently who he is. He always errs on the side of sadism, violation of rights, brute force, violence, punishment, revenge. It’s what attracts him.

Mr. Trump said on Wednesday, as he had several times during the presidential campaign, that he thought torturing terrorism suspects was justified. But in an interview with ABC News, the president also said he would defer to Mr. Mattis and Mr. Pompeo.

“I will rely on Pompeo and Mattis and my group,” Mr. Trump said. “And if they don’t want to do, that’s fine. If they do want to do, then I will work toward that end. I want to do everything within the bounds of what you’re allowed to do legally. But do I feel it works? Absolutely, I feel it works.”

He “feels” it works – based, I’ll wager, on nothing. It’s what he “feels,” off the top of his head, and he’s confident that that’s good enough. He’s never had to justify his own claims, and he has no idea either how to do it or that it’s necessary.

Asked about the draft order during a press briefing on Wednesday, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said that it was “not a White House document” and that he had “no idea where it came from.” He complained about “reports’ being published attributing documents to the White House that are not White House documents.”

But the three administration officials familiar with the document, who discussed internal deliberations on the condition of anonymity, portrayed that account as false. They said the White House had circulated the draft order among national security staff members in the same way that a flurry of other pending executive orders had been distributed for review: with no warning and scant time to provide comments.

So they’re still sticking with the “tell lies” approach.

On Wednesday, some Republicans and many Democrats reacted angrily to the draft executive order, saying they would not stand for any attempt to circumvent or weaken laws against torture.

“Even the suggestion that we may bring back these discredited policies does serious damage to our international standing and will make our allies in the fight against terror wary about cooperating with us,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. “I will do everything in my power to ensure that these grievous mistakes of the past are never repeated.”

Thanks, Donnie.


Jan 26th, 2017 12:12 pm | By

Trump complains that the media choose unflattering photos of him – he complained about it in that interview with David Muir of ABC – yet he chose this photo to tweet:


Big boy now

Jan 26th, 2017 11:18 am | By

You know how tv news shows use a photo to signal a break for commercials, right? Last night CNN used this one for the purpose, causing me to laugh myself breathless:

Image result for trump signing

Well chosen.


Jan 26th, 2017 10:57 am | By

No automatic alt text available.
Rick Baldwin

The biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning

Jan 26th, 2017 10:27 am | By

Aaron Blake at the Post does another annotated transcript, this time of the interview Trump did yesterday with ABC News, his first interview from Inside The House. It is, of course, astonishing. I saw a few clips of it last night, and was duly astonished.

This is one choice bit:

DAVID MUIR: Let me just ask you, you did win. You’re the president. You’re sitting …


DAVID MUIR: … across from me right now.


DAVID MUIR: Do you think that your words matter more now?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes, very much.

DAVID MUIR: Do you think that that talking about millions of illegal votes is dangerous to this country without presenting the evidence?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, not at all.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: Not at all because many people feel the same way that I do. And …

DAVID MUIR: You don’t think it undermines your credibility if there’s no evidence?


PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, not at all because they didn’t come to me. Believe me. Those were Hillary votes. And if you look at it they all voted for Hillary. They all voted for Hillary. They didn’t vote for me. I don’t believe I got one.

Emphasis added. You think it’s dangerous to announce made-up “facts” now that you’re in the boss job? No, not at all. NO, NOT AT ALL.

This is one of the snippets I saw last night:

DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, I just have one more question on this. And it’s — it’s bigger picture. You took some heat after your visit to the CIA in front of that hallowed wall, 117 stars — of those lost at the CIA. You talked about other things. But you also talked about crowd size at the inauguration, about the size of your rallies, about covers on Time magazine. And I just wanna ask you when does all of that matter just a little less? When do you let it roll off your back now that you’re the president?


PRESIDENT TRUMP: Okay, so I’m glad you asked. So, I went to the CIA, my first step. I have great respect for the people in intelligence and CIA. I’m — I don’t have a lot of respect for, in particular one of the leaders. But that’s okay. But I have a lot of respect for the people in the CIA.

That speech was a home run. That speech, if you look at Fox, okay, I’ll mention you — we see what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming and — and they were all CIA. There was — somebody was asking Sean — “Well, were they Trump people that were put–” we don’t have Trump people. They were CIA people.

That location was given to me. Mike Pence went up before me, paid great homage to the wall. I then went up, paid great homage to the wall. I then spoke to the crowd. I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl and they said it was equal.

I laughed. I admit it. I howled with laughter. Look, we’re doomed, so we might as well get some laughs out of it.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: People loved it. They loved it. They gave me a standing ovation for a long period of time. They never even sat down, most of them, during the speech. There was love in the room.You and other networks covered it very inaccurately. I hate to say this to you and you probably won’t put it on but turn on Fox and see how it was covered. And see how people respond to that speech.

That speech was a good speech. And you and a couple of other networks tried to downplay that speech. And it was very, very unfortunate that you did. The people of the CIA loved the speech. If I was going to take a vote in that room, there were, like, 300, 350 people, over 1,000 wanted to be there but they couldn’t. They were all CIA people. I would say I would’ve gotten 350 to nothing in that room. That’s what the vote would’ve been. That speech was a big hit, a big success — success. And then I came back and I watched you on television and a couple of others.

DAVID MUIR: Not me personally.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: And they tried to demean. Excuse me?

DAVID MUIR: Not me personally.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Not you personally but your network — and they tried to demean the speech. And I know when things are good or bad. A poll just came out on my inauguration speech which was extraordinary that people loved it. Loved and liked. And it was an extraordinary poll.

DAVID MUIR: I guess that’s what I’m getting at. You talked about the poll, the people loving your inaugural speech and the size of your …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, because you bring it up.

DAVID MUIR: I’m asking, well, on day one you …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, you just brought it up. I didn’t bring it up. I didn’t wanna — talk about the inauguration speech. But I think I did a very good job and people really liked it. You saw the poll. Just came out this morning. You bring it up. I didn’t bring it up.

Except at the CIA. And on Twitter. And all those other places.

Then Trump does a neat little bit of jiu-jitsu, by identifying the size of the crowd with the scorned masses.

DAVID MUIR: See, I — I’m not interested in the inaugural crowd size. I think the American people can look at images side by side and decide for themselves. I am curious about the first full day here at the White House, choosing to send the press secretary out into the briefing room, summoning reporters to talk about the inaugural crowd size. Does that send a message to the American people that that’s — that’s more important than some of the very pressing issues?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Part of my whole victory was that the men and women of this country who have been forgotten will never be forgotten again. Part of that is when they try and demean me unfairly ’cause we had a massive crowd of people. We had a crowd — I looked over that sea of people and I said to myself, “Wow.”

And I’ve seen crowds before. Big, big crowds. That was some crowd. When I looked at the numbers that happened to come in from all of the various sources, we had the biggest audience in the history of inaugural speeches. I said the men and women that I was talking to who came out and voted will never be forgotten again. Therefore I won’t allow you or other people like you to demean that crowd and to demean the people that came to Washington, D.C., from faraway places because they like me. But more importantly they like what I’m saying.

DAVID MUIR: I just wanna say I didn’t demean anyone who was in that crowd. We did coverage for hours …


PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, I think you’re demeaning by talking the way you’re talking. I think you’re demeaning. And that’s why I think a lot of people turned on you and turned on a lot of other people. And that’s why you have a 17 percent approval rating, which is pretty bad.

That’s the ticket! It’s the pesky latte-drinking media people who are the exploiters, and Trump the billionaire working stiff who is the defender of those honest flyover people who drink only Bud Light.

Another snippet I heard last night – this one did not make me laugh.

DAVID MUIR: Mr. Trump, let’s talk about many of the things that have happened this week. Chicago. Last night you tweeted about the murder rate in Chicago saying, “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible carnage going on I will send in the feds.”


DAVID MUIR: You will send in the feds? What do you mean by that?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: It’s carnage. You know, in my speech I got tremendous — from certain people the word carnage. It is carnage. It’s horrible carnage. This is Afghanistan — is not like what’s happening in Chicago. People are being shot left and right. Thousands of people over a period — over a short period of time.

This year, which has just started, is worse than last year, which was a catastrophe. They’re not doing the job. Now if they want help, I would love to help them. I will send in what we have to send in. Maybe they’re not gonna have to be so politically correct. Maybe they’re being overly political correct. Maybe there’s something going on. But you can’t have those killings going on in Chicago. Chicago is like a war zone. Chicago is worse than some of the people that you report in some of the places that you report about every night …

“Politically correct.” He’s calling the rules and restrictions that govern how law enforcement goes about its job “politically correct.” So it’s “politically correct” to say cops should not shoot people out of hand? It’s “politically correct” to insist that there are and must be limits on what kind of force cops use under what circumstances? It should just be “whatever you feel like in the moment because hey do it to them before they do it to you”?

Stupid question. Of course it is.