Week 5: February 19–25

Read of the Week

That Very Strange Press Conference

I think everyone who was there wishes they could just block out the entire thing. The press conference is worse than anything even George W. Bush managed to put together. This is like Reagan without a Nancy to keep him on track.

Here’s a take on this from Bernstein, who always manages to stay clearheaded. And some brave soul managed to recap this:

Immigration: Muslim Ban

The Republican Administration seems to be regrouping after its stinging defeats in court, and will issue an new Executive Order with fewer obnoxious and illegal provisions.
The people running the show here may think they can pull some “Art of the Deal” nonsense and sneak through half of what they want, instead of all, but so far indications are that the new Executive Order will just get caught up in the same court battles as the previous one was.

This hasn’t stopped the administration from going ahead with the Extreme Vetting part of the Muslim ban. Examples include:

  1. Muslim Travelers Entering the U.S. Are Having Their Global Entry Cards Revoked, this includes U.S. Citizens (obviously).
  2. A British National (not a dual citizen) was refused entry because he is a Muslim.
  3. Muslim asylum seekers are actually fleeing U.S. Border Patrols and escaping to Canada.
  4. The U.S. is pushing for a new law in Canada that would expand the role of pre-screening officials. This is hard to analyze but troubling in that Muslims from Canada may be subject to searches and other intensive vetting actions when attempting to enter the U.S.

And more quotes from the Third World Dictator’s Guide to Media Relations:

Immigration: Mexican Ban

The Administration is also expanding its deportment actions including increased ICE raids throughout the country.
This includes reports of ICE roadblocks, arrests happening outside schools and churches, and door to door canvassing for undocumented immigrants.
Apparently scammers are already taking advantage of the situation in New York by claiming to be ICE agents and extorting money from people.

A good timeline on this issue is available from this very cool web blog.

Overall, this is a very troubling trend as it shows more expansion of Federal activity than has been seen in decades. The only other issue that has been Federalized to this extent is the Drug War, which of course disproportionally affects Black minorities, just as this is affecting Latinos.

I expect a scathing response from the Tea Party crowd on “encroaching Federal power” any day now…

The Voter Fraud BS Continues

The Administration’s latest round of claims seems to involve people being bussed into New Hampshire to fraudulently vote and hand the state to Clinton. This is on top of their continued claim that the Republican President’s loss in the popular vote was due to millions of illegal votes.

The Washington Post is not having any of this nonsense. And neither are members of the Federal Election Commission:

I can’t remember any politician even talking about the election a month after the fact, let alone three months later, and I lived through Bush v. Gore. I know there are people who want to see this as some kind of 12-dimensional chess move, but there is a stain of illegitimacy about this administration, and the way they carried the election, that isn’t going away. And these attacks on the media, legitimate protesters, and even the voters themselves stem from this insecurity.

Is This Washington Infighting—or Administration Incompetence?

So we have an Administration plan to review intelligence agencies by an allied corporate group. Apparently, they’re obsessed with leaks coming from various agencies, which is a symptom of how unpopular their policies are as well as a lack of communication, in my opinion.

The Administration also fired a National Security Council staffer for making “disparaging” remarks about some of the President’s advisors and was forced to quietly fire 6 staffers from an already understaffed White House, including the Chief Digital Officer, because they failed to pass their FBI Background checks.
This could be a warning shot from the FBI not to start investigating them, or just the fact that the Administration doesn’t have enough legitimate contacts to staff an organisation and they are forced to bring in flunkies.

Overall, a troubling trend for this Republican Administration that had to withdraw its nominee for Labor Secretary, had a few issues finding a replacement for Flynn, and which has only filled 14 of the 549 key positions it needs Senate Confirmation on. This is way behind a normal Presidency and will leave them unable to carry out much of their agenda. Hopefully, they won’t decide to bring in a few hundred recess appointments over the Summer or something.

DoJ Investigation of Comey Continues

It’s kind of surprising the guy has kept his job this long since no one really likes him that much in either party. But I suppose he has allies in the Administration since he helped hand them the election.

Typical Republican B.S.

So there’s plans to remove the Endangered Species Act, moves to allow drilling for oil in National Parks, another Executive Order to rollback Wall Street regulations put in place after the Great Recession, and changes in Title IX to remove protection for Transgender students in Education. All of which are bad news, and are kind of a sideshow compared to the complete meltdown going on.

The White House Mole

By Andrew Sullivan

Another good reflection on the past week by Andrew Sullivan. It’s impossible to overstate how deeply weird and dysfunctional this administration is, even in the first month, and we’re still creeping towards the end.

Week 3: February 5–11

Those Germans Really Don’t Mess Around


Read of the Week:

In His Own Words: It’s time to use Trumpspeak against him

By @hhavrilesky

The Awl keeps chugging on despite the odds. And they’re still producing the best content for those of us who want to be less stupid.

The Immigration Tempest

This is my issue. I know there are other people who are worried about domestic actions, especially by law enforcement, but I am an immigrant to Australia as well as a 5th generation American. I have written all of my Congressmen and women for the first time ever, including a cursive longhand letter to my Representative who is quitting this circus in two years and may be moved on this issue.

There are too many articles to pick just one link. There are so many angles: the legal process, the Republican President’s unprecedented verbal attacks on the Judicial system, and the stories of how this mess has affected real people on the ground.

If you have an hour (or more) to spare, I would urge anyone who cares about this issue to listen to This American Life’s coverage on this. Particularly their most recent episode, also this episode on Iraqi translators and these two episodes on the refugee crisis from last year.

Flying Home From Abroad, a Border Agent Stopped and Questioned Me … About My Work for the ACLU

By @HinaShamsi

What is chilling about this story is the fact that she was not targeted by her work for the ACLU, but by her national origin. Others have been stopped and extensively questioned because of their religion. Even U.S. citizens. This is what “Extreme Vetting” really is. It’s a policy of making sure that anyone who isn’t welcomed by the race-bating crowd can no longer feel welcomed in America. And even if every change made by the Republican Administration is overturned, it is still going to cause long term damage to America’s image.

Raid in Yemen: Risky From the Start and Costly in the End

By Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger

Technically from the previous week, when this blog didn’t exist, but the story is still developing.

Another case where the Republican Administration’s incompetence manages to overwhelm what would otherwise be a simple “rally the troops” moment. I don’t expect them to necessarily get their act together as they have no clue about foreign policy, but if they find someone who does, then we may have more Wag the Dog moments to act as a distraction from the administration’s domestic agenda. If putting American lives at danger and killing civilians for no good reason can really be called a distraction.

That Breitbart Interview

uploaded by: Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg)

Again we see the Republican Administration’s incompetence on display, as everything about this is weak-ass minor league dictator bullshit. But we also have the administration trying to bypass any media they don’t control as much as possible. Which is scary.

The List of Made-Up Terror Bullshit

By Brian Naylor and Jessica Taylor

This will all blow over in less than a week. But the Republican Administration put out an inaccurate list of terror attacks that were supposedly not covered by The Media.
Again, we have their incompetence battling their attempt to pull something from the Third World Dictator’s Handbook on media relations. Their endgame is mostly to delegitimize The Media so they can
attempt to get through their tenure only talking to Breitbart or other outlets that will allow them to lie at will.

This item on the list irked me the most for some reason, but it’s all terrible

Style Guide on 45:

This is my new style guide on how to refer to the Republican President. Note the suggestion to refer to “The Republicans” who are responsible, most especially their base, for what is going on in America.
Which is why they spend so much time going after “the media” and pretending like they don’t own this.

Confirmation Hearings

Again there are too many articles on both DeVos and Sessions to link to something definitive. The Democratic Senators were finally motivated to show some backbone. The Republicans had to pull out every trick they could think of and my own Senators from a very red state (Kansas) had to justify their votes, especially for DeVos. They know they’ve done wrong, but in their political calculus the cost
of handing the administration a major loss outweighs anything else. They can’t afford to stop believing this is a normal administration or they would have to fight against both the center and right flanks and the entire party would probably split.

I know there are people who were discouraged that their first taste of political action was a defeat, but 1.5 million calls a day is enough to get everyone on the hill worried. This gives the handful of moderates who can be pushed cover to break from their party on other nominations. As long as we can manage to keep the pressure on in any case.

Final thoughts from a fellow Twitter user: