Monday, July 15, 2019

Roundup Wound Up

Don't know if this was connected to the raids or not.
Trump's ICE roundups seem to have ended up more Ruritania than Third Reich, as our valiant anti-immigrant paramilitary couldn't find anybody to arrest, at least in New York City, per NPR:
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Saturday that ICE officers had already attempted to make arrests in the city, but they were not successful.
Activists have been spreading the word to migrants to not open their doors if an immigration agent knocks, since they cannot use force to enter a residence.
While across the river, The Times reported,

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Then there's the trope of maddening indirection

Drawing via Corner Poetry.
The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — President Trump on Sunday weighed in on the friction between a group of four freshman Democratic congresswomen and Speaker Nancy Pelosi: He suggested that the congresswomen — none of whom are white — should “go back and help fix” the countries they came from. His message was immediately seized upon by Democrats, who called it a racist trope.
Trope? Reader, Democrats did not call it a trope of any kind. Speaker Pelosi said it was "xenophobic"

and Ben Ray Luján said it was "racist":
“That is a racist tweet,” Mr. Luján said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Telling people to go back where they came from — these are American citizens elected by voters in the United States of America to serve in one of the distinguished bodies in the U.S. House of Representatives. I think that’s wrong.”
And Ted Lieu has called him "a racist ass". What I say is

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Is This Phase One of Lumpy Identity Politics?

In a really annoying exchange with some Rose Twitter folks:

Erased! That's a funny idea of what polls are supposed to do. "Waiter, send this poll back! It's ignoring me, merely because I belong to a minority!"

Friday, July 12, 2019

Above His Pay Grade

Four Epstein victims, Twitter/Miami Herald via Women in the World.

I see Alex Acosta didn't do much reverting, during his command performance for Trump yesterday or his resignation today, to that weird little thing he'd told the Trump transition team:
“Is the Epstein case going to cause a problem [for confirmation hearings]?” Acosta had been asked. Acosta had explained, breezily, apparently, that back in the day he’d had just one meeting on the Epstein case. He’d cut the non-prosecution deal with one of Epstein’s attorneys because he had “been told” to back off, that Epstein was above his pay grade. “I was told Epstein ‘belonged to intelligence’ and to leave it alone,” he told his interviewers in the Trump transition, who evidently thought that was a sufficient answer and went ahead and hired Acosta. (Vicki Ward via TPM)
Yesterday he said Justice Department regulations forbade him to talk about it, the Washington Examiner thinks, but I think they may be trying to hard to interpret nonsense:
“So, there has been reporting to that effect. And let me say, there’s been report to a lot of effects in this case. Not just now but over the years. And again, I would, I would hesitate to take this reporting as fact,” Acosta said.... This was a case that was brought based on the facts,” said Acosta. “And I look at the reporting and others. I can’t address it directly because of our guidelines.”
I'm pleased to report that I instantly thought the story was bullshit:

News From Eurasia

Trisulti Monastery east of Rome, where Stephen Bannon maintains his gladiator school/"populist" academy in defense of the Judeo-Christian way of life in spite of being evicted five weeks ago, apparently. Photo by M. Williams/DW

This BuzzFeed story doesn't seem to be getting any play in the US—I heard it on BBC—but it involves hard evidence (Lordy, tapes!) of a meeting (reported in the news magazine L'Espresso in February) between Russian officials and representatives of Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini's fascistoid Lega party at Moscow's Metropol Hotel in October. BuzzFeed has a recording of the meeting, in which participants develop a plot for the Kremlin to deliver $65,000,000 to the Lega in advance of last spring's European elections, violating Italy's campaign contribution law (which allowed foreign donors up until a new law this January, but only up to a maximum of €100,000) and evading European anti–money laundering and Know Your Client regulations:

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Grand Collusion

Pierre Fresnay and Erich von Stroheim in Jean Renoir's La Grande Illusion (1937), via NYTimes.

There's so much going on on all Trump fronts at the moment it's almost unbearable trying to pick a subject, but this thing from Michael Isikoff at Yahoo looks to me like the smokingest gun ever, maybe not that smoking, in the Trump-Russia matter, and I don't think it's been getting enough attention—that the Seth Rich Deep State conspiracy murder theory was originally concocted by Russian intelligence:
Russia’s foreign intelligence service, known as the SVR, first circulated a phony “bulletin” — disguised to read as a real intelligence report —about the alleged murder of the former DNC staffer on July 13, 2016, according to the U.S. federal prosecutor who was in charge of the Rich case. That was just three days after Rich, 27, was killed in what police believed was a botched robbery while walking home to his group house in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C., about 30 blocks north of the Capitol.
and offering a conspiracy theory to account for the crime, claiming

Standing Orders

Photo via Reuters Money Control.

Typical Donald. His "donation" of his salary, $400,000 annually while his sole proprietorship businesses make $434 million (according to the 2018 report), amounts to less than one thousandth of his income (0.09%). It's a casual tip to the nation, like John D. Rockefeller's dimes. The America First Action PAC alone spent more than that, $427,000, holding campaign events at Trump properties, which he wouldn't have earned if he weren't president. We went through some of that, and the money taxpayers provide for government officials and White House aides to spend in his properties, last month. To say nothing of the money taxpayers spend on his air travel to visit his properties with his entourage every weekend or golf carts for him and the secret service to toddle across the greens in.

Trump's own argument seems to be that it would be "ridiculous" for him to obey the Constitutional strictures on foreign and domestic emoluments because that would be bad business practice: "I'm taking a loss as it is!"

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Trump's Book

Commenter Thundermonkey reminds us that Trump used to have a book he was attached to. We've all heard this before, but I never did read the original context of its write-up by Marie Brenner, in Vanity Fair, September 1990, reprinted at the beginning of the last presidential campaign:
Donald Trump has always viewed his father as a role model. In The Art of the Deal, he wrote, “Fred Trump was born in New Jersey in 1905. His father, who came here from Sweden . . . owned a moderately successful restaurant.” In fact, the Trump family was German and desperately poor. “At one point my mother took in stitching to keep us going,” Trump’s father told me. “For a time, my father owned a restaurant in the Klondike, but he died when I was young.” Donald’s cousin John Walter once wrote out an elaborate family tree. “We shared the same grandfather,” Walter told me, “and he was German. So what?”
Although Fred Trump was born in New Jersey, family members say he felt compelled to hide his German background because most of his tenants were Jewish. “After the war, he thought that Jews would never rent from him if they knew his lineage,” Ivana reportedly said. Certainly, Fred Trump’s camouflage could easily convey to a child the impression that in business anything goes. When I asked Donald Trump about this, he was evasive: “Actually, it was very difficult. My father was not German; my father’s parents were German . . . Swedish, and really sort of all over Europe . . . and I was even thinking in the second edition of putting more emphasis on other places because I was getting so many letters from Sweden: Would I come over and speak to Parliament? Would I come meet with the president?”

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Spectrum Disorder

Photo by Bill McCullough, New York Magazine, April 2019.

This turned out to be a post by Jeet Heer, and not nearly as idiotic as The Nation's teaser makes it look; he was thinking not of the celebrated public philosopher of centripetality David Brooks and a campaign such as Brooks might design on the basis of his own political thinking, but of the fictional David Brooks who was the protagonist of Brooks's column of 28 June, looking for a Democratic presidential candidate he could support. But it was kind of idiotic:
The best thing about Brooks’s column is his frank use of the first person singular. Although he makes gestures to other hypothetical moderate voters, he is candid that the question is whether the Democrats will nominate someone “I can vote for.” This “I” is honest, since Brooks is speaking for a tiny faction, Never Trump conservatives, who twice demonstrated in 2016 that they were a powerless rump minority in the real world of politics.
But he's wrong about that for starters, since Brooks in fact isn't honest at all—he claimed at the outset to be speaking for 35% of the electorate: