Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Big, fat, beautiful heart

"You Gotta Have Heart", from a 1994 production of Damn Yankees at the Paper Mill Playhouse, photo by Ken Jacques/New York Times.

Steve M wonders about Trump's idea that the president needs to govern with "heart", which he was lecturing media personalities about in a pre-SOTU event yesterday at lunch:
“I've really learned a lot,” the president said of his first year in office during a lunch with television correspondents ahead of his first State of the Union address. “You know, governing — when you're a businessperson, you don't have to worry about your heart, the heart. You really do what's best for almost purely monetary reasons. You know, you make your money. You competing against people. In many cases, you don't like them, you want to beat, and all that stuff.... So having a business background and a successful business background is great, but oftentimes you do things that you would never do in business because you have to also govern with heart.
In that case, as Steve points out, it looks like he hasn't learned much at all, since he had the same idea in the same words last April, in an interview with John Dickerson:
for what we're doing here, Washington, you really need heart, because you're talking about a lot of people. Whereas business, you don't need so much heart. You want to make a good deal.
And with a little additional searching, for that matter, as early as January 2016, when Newmax feared he was promising a single payer health insurance system under his presidency (remember those days?), it was in terms of his heart, and Ted Cruz's lack of one:

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


Vincent van Gogh, Landscape with Snow, 1888. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Thannhauser Collection.
Anybody's guess why Donna Hayashi Smith, who's been a curator with the White House collections staff since at least 2003 and manager of the collections for quite a while, thought it would be a good idea to ask the Guggenheim Museum for the loan of this bleak picture (just when van Gogh had first fled Paris for the sunny south, he found it blanketed with a fresh snowfall, a bad omen) as an ornament for the president's private living quarters, but it's a safe bet it wasn't Donald's or Melania's idea. How would they even have heard of this painting's existence? What in it would have appealed to them?

You can even think she meant it as a kind of snark—that guy in the black hat is lonely, but not as lonely as Donald, the first president since Andrew Johnson not to have owned a pet (even Johnson did, according to the Whackyweedia, take up with some White House mice, white ones. but he didn't bring any animals to the residence). Or even quiet advice—get a dog, Donald! But it lacks everything valued—heat and sumptuousness—in Trump's aesthetic, other than being worth a lot of money.

Much more in line with the Trumpian aesthetic, as we know, is the counter-offer from the Guggenheim's chief curator, Nancy Spector, which has gotten a lot of publicity, an installation piece by the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, America, shown in a single-stall, gender-neutral bathroom on the fifth floor from September 15 2016 to September 15 2017, and offered by the artist to the Trumps for as long as they'd like to use it:

Monday, January 29, 2018

Cheap shots: Naked Came the Sock Puppet

In reality, he was just quoting some praise from a real tweet by @TheOfficialABCD, but forgot to put in quotation marks. But it's just as funny, and infra dig, as if he really were revealed using a sock puppet, and Trumpian, this trick of inserting a bit of praise under your own name—why not just retweet the guy like a normal person, for goodness' sake?

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Literary Corner: There Is a Cooling, And There's a Heating

Long-term sea ice concentration for January 27 2018, compared to median value for this day, 1981-2010, as indicated by red line. Setting records! Via National Snow and Ice Data Center.

In his year at the heart of world political power, it's remarkable how much Donald Trump has retained his capacity for childlike wonder, as in the fresh, almost dewy trimeter lines of this lyrical response to a question on the 2016 Paris Agreement, which he has announced the United States will leave in November 2020, from his interview with British fashion icon Piers Morgan on ITV (see today's Independent story, "Donald Trump appears to misunderstand basic facts of climate change in Piers Morgan interview"), when he talks about his longing to rejoin the agreement, because of his fondness for the president of France, but fears he can't unless it's a different agreement, as if Mom had said he couldn't:

It Used to Be Global Warming
by Donald J. Trump

I. If Somebody Said, Go Back
If somebody said, go back
into the Paris accord,
it would have to be a completely
different deal because
we had a horrible deal.
Would I go back in?
Yeah, I'd go back in.
I like, as you know, I like
Emmanuel. I would love to,
but it's got to be a good
deal for the United States.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Annals of Derp: Jordan Peterson, Clinical Psychologist

£7.99 from Mugtopia UK.

Following up on the previous post, here's Conor Friedersdorf complaining about the journalistic tactics used by UK Channel 4 News on the innocent and unsuspecting Jordan Peterson, in that interview:
Peterson was pressed by the British journalist Cathy Newman to explain several of his controversial views. But what struck me, far more than any position he took, was the method his interviewer employed. It was the most prominent, striking example I’ve seen yet of an unfortunate trend in modern communication.
First, a person says something. Then, another person restates what they purportedly said so as to make it seem as if their view is as offensive, hostile, or absurd.
And of course we've seen David Brooks getting upset over this too.

So I ran across a transcript of the the thing (from an all-trite blogger called Katana17, the Daily Stormer also has one), helpfully red-lettering all the spots where Newman seems to be trying to restate Peterson's statement, and I'm going to, sort of, dispute that, first in a segment Friedersdorf doesn't look at, where Peterson is explaining how he never said that trans activists are the same as Mao Zedong. He merely said that they're the same in every important respect:
Newman: I mean there’s no comparison between Mao and a trans activist, is there?
Peterson: Why not?
Newman: Because trans activists aren’t killing millions of people!
Peterson: The philosophy that’s guiding their utterances is the same philosophy.
Newman: The consequences are, …
Peterson: Not yet!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Joyless and graceless

Anton Raphael Mengs, German, 1728-79, An Allegory of Truth. From Kate Foley's Pinterest.

Q: A government shutdown in the face of Congress's inability to follow a normal appropriations process was resolved, but only for three weeks, with almost none of the real problems solved, including the immigration issue, on which Trump has intruded himself again with a proposal completely unacceptable to the Democrats without whose votes the government can't proceed. The Women's March last weekend drew between 1.6 and 2.5 million marchers still unable to accept this presidency. New tariffs apparently designed to destroy the US solar energy industry were announced. Canada and Mexico, unable to persuade the US administration to cooperate in an updating of the NAFTA agreement, are likely to desert it in favor of the 11-member TPP, leaving the US isolated. There has been an average of one school shooting in the US every two days since the beginning of 2018. Representative Pat Meehan (R-PA) has joined the parade of men in power who have used taxpayer money to pay off the victims of their sexual harassment. What should David Brooks write about on Friday?

A: This YouTube performer, Jordan Peterson ("The Jordan Peterson Moment"). He

analyzes classic and biblical texts, he eviscerates identity politics and political correctness and, most important, he delivers stern fatherly lectures to young men on how to be honorable, upright and self-disciplined — how to grow up and take responsibility for their own lives.
Q: Who?

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Davos, Man!

Some of Davos from the Snow Train. Check that out, it's a video!

Mr. Bret Stephens ("Davos Man Meets America First", a grammatically peculiar headline) trots out the old Bill Safire device of speaking for the leader in what he hopes sounds like an impression of the leader's voice, with what's introduced as a leaked text of the keynote address Trumpy's going to give to the World Economic Forum in Davos, only with a complex Trumpian wrinkle, not in the strangled cadence in which Stephen Miller has (I presume) written it, but at he imagines Trump might have written a speech himself, with all the "like"s and "believe me"s written in in advance, and the cheery tone of one of his rally speeches instead of Miller's characteristic paranoid gloom. But Stephens makes a ponderous clown, and he mucks up the parody something terrible, with polysyllables and elaborately if not elegantly structured sentences studded with parentheses:

Fellow plutocrats!
I know you’re as glad to see me as I am to see you. No, really. Like, I know you voted for Trump. Or maybe you didn’t vote for me, because your wives, if you had voted for me, they’d withhold sex. But, when I won, in your hearts, you were very happy. And now you’re all so much richer, and your wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, whatever — I’m a very tolerant person — they aren’t withholding, probably.
Am I right? I’m right.
And the idea of Trump publicly acknowledging that women hate him so much they'd go on a sex strike to stop him being elected! That will never happen, though Stephens's hypothesis that a sex strike took place could be true, for all I know. Though it's certainly realistic to picture him assuming everybody in the audience is a man and a US citizen/voter (there won't be anybody from the shithole countries, because they've all decided to walk out, and good for them), and that everybody's getting lots of sex out of the ongoing equities bubble, but then maybe that's Stephens as well.

Art of the Deal

Léon Bakst, costume design for the wicked fairy Carabosse in a production of Sleeping Beauty, 1921. Via Wikimedia Commons. If you get her at your christening party, your kid might get a bad deal.

Sometime last week Senator Chuck Schumer bumped into President Donald Trump at a Capitol Hill function (honoring old Bob Dole), and remarked, we're told by Politico,
that there will be no deal on Dreamers if hard-line conservative GOP Sen. Tom Cotton is involved, according to several congressional sources.
Schumer also told the president that he was not being well-served by White House staffers during negotiations over the fate of 700,000 young immigrants who face potential deportation if no deal is reached to protect them.
Trump "grew defensive", and Politico asked Senator Cotton for comment:
In a brief interview, Cotton said Schumer did not want him in the room for the Dreamers' talks, "probably because I would get a good deal, and he wants a bad deal."
Cotton may just be really stupid, but I think he shows there a remarkable mastery of the strangeness of Trumpian language, in the fairy-tale sweep of that: Schumer desires the bad. Schumer rejects Cotton because Cotton is "probably" going to defeat evil. What else were you expecting?

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

For the Record: Devin Nunes and the Chamber of Secrets

Supposedly right near the bathroom where Jason Chaffetz caught the mountain troll. Next thing you know Chaffetz dropped out of school! Coincidence? Image via Pottermore.
Or is it Devin Nunes and the Poisoner of Azkaban? It's Mysterygate, the scandal so devastating we're not allowed to know what it is! Locked in a room in the Capitol that only House members can penetrate, a magical memo composed by Devin Nunes, the plucky young wizard and outlaw head of the House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee who's been running Trumplebore's Secret Army in the halls of Congress, detailing the FBI's campaign to spy on those simple citizens Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn and catch them in their totally innocent activities! Or maybe, as Congressman Schiff said on January 18,

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Brooks: Pay a little attention to us Herrenvolks

The Gunpowder Plot conspirators, not Democrats, via Wikipedia. Guido Fawkes, third from right, looks nothing like that stupid mask—he did not wear a fucking soul patch.

Just in case you think I'm being overoptimistic about the Democrats' exit from the government's weekend shutdown, you're not alone. So does Michelle Goldberg, the New York Times's new Voice of the Left (more relaxed than Krugman, less relaxed than Egan, and almost as fashion-forward if that's possible as Kristof), who's downright enraged ("Schumer Sells Out the Resistance"), vicariously:
It’s hard to overstate how disgusted many progressive leaders are. “It’s Senator Schumer’s job as minority leader to keep his caucus together and stand up for progressive values and he failed to do it,” Ezra Levin, a co-founder of Indivisible, a left-wing advocacy group modeled on the Tea Party, told me. “He led them off a cliff. They caved.” (An Indivisible chapter is planning a Tuesday evening protest outside Schumer’s Brooklyn apartment.) Representative Luis Gutiérrez, Democrat of Illinois, said in a statement, “This shows me that when it comes to immigrants, Latinos and their families, Democrats are still not willing to go to the mat.”
....Democrats reinforced their reputation for fecklessness. “Make no mistake: Schumer and Dems caved,” tweeted Fox News’s Brit Hume. “What a political fiasco.” It makes me sick to say it, but he’s right.
And it's not just savvy Brit Hume, but world-class concern troll David F. Brooks ("Democrats Go for the Jugular! (Their Own)"), making me suspect that I must have been right in the first place.

Brooks is in his good old Iraq-era snarky mood, too, more cheerful than I've seen him in years, as if he were smelling a real war coming:

Monday, January 22, 2018

So, the shutdown has shut down. Next?

Image via fivethirtyeight.

I don't know. I'd appreciate if people didn't say "Democrats caved". I've been running around saying for three days that it's not the Democrats' shutdown. If we didn't do it, then it stands to reason we didn't give up on it.
Here's the Republican messaging: WE RULE! OUR DADDY IS THE BIGGEST!

For the Record: Junior

Image by Instagram via Deadspin.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Notes from the Undrained Swamp

Domenico Remp (1620-99) Wunderkammer or Cabinet of Curiosities, via Wikimedia Commons.

Happened to look at the Axios front page, at a report on this evening's meeting between Schumer and McConnell, which sounds like progress since they were reported to be not speaking to each other at all this afternoon, but didn't get anywhere, and checking out the White House gossip there for just the last few hours, which is really something else, as it adds up:

1. Trump is pissed off with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, accused of "going rogue" when he was hanging out with Florida governor Rick Scott a couple of weeks ago and decided to make Florida exempt from Interior's program to force oil and gas drilling on all coastal states whether they like it or not, although Florida's Gulf Coast has the best reserves off any coast in the Lower 48, and although the way he did it is apparently illegal:
The department’s offshore leasing policies are guided by a strict process set by statute that can only take certain areas out of consideration gradually through a multi-year process that specifically weighs various factors, like environmental risks and oil and gas resource potential. By tweeting Florida would be removed just days after announcing the offshore leasing plan, and without considering any of those factors, Zinke didn’t follow the statute.
But he's not totally pissed off, because he really likes Zinke, who was a Navy Seal. I imagine it's somebody other than Trump who is truly pissed off with Zinke, and told Axios about his feelings as part of an effort to do something about this criminality. Good luck!
Foreign Policy wondered, for instance, "Does Trump want a 19th-century foreign policy?" He doesn't know
And so on. He has no precondition on anything except "I have to be the winner." And the "base" has to agree with it, which makes it quite a bit more complicated.
The whole episode left congressional leaders puzzled: Why, they wondered, would the president tweet something negative about their legislation and rattle Republican lawmakers without ever raising concerns with them — and then act as if nothing had happened?

Saturday, January 20, 2018

First they came for the oboes

And I was silent, for I was like who plays oboe?

Eleanor Roosevelt showed up

Don't know how visible she is--not wearing her pussy hat. Couldn't get a shot of Bill de Blasio or Shirlayne McRae, who is speaking now.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Hi, It's Stupid: Eros, Sex, and Comedy, Not

Eros, or sexual love, discovers Psyche, the soul, asleep in the garden. Edward Burne-Jones, ca. 1870, Yale Center for British Art.

Hi, it's Stupid to say I'm boycotting stories about the sexual errors, from misbehavior to actual crime, of male comedians, except maybe Bill Cosby, on whom I'm pretty sure I've passed judgement already so it's too late, and Fatty Arbuckle if any new evidence turns up. But I am. I'm not proud of this.

I might be interested in asking why it is that the current crop of stories of men abusing women fall so neatly into two categories, those involving men wielding immense political or financial power from Dominique Strauss-Kahn (a socialist, but that didn't stop me from denouncing him) through Harvey Weinstein (a noted supporter of liberal causes, but I'm not impressed) to Roger Ailes and President Trump, and those involving men who tell jokes for a living. With the peculiar overlap case of the man who used to tell jokes for a living and later became a Senator from Minnesota. What's up with that?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

President Trump is Not Authorized to Speak for the Trump Administration (continued)

Image via The Vintage Laundry

GOP lawmakers had spent the morning trying to make sense of Trump’s early-morning tweets, which seemed to directly contradict the Republican legislative strategy by calling for the separation of a long-term extension of the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) from a short-term spending bill to keep the government open through mid-February.
While Republicans like Ryan suggested that the president was endorsing the GOP’s approach, others found the tweets inexplicable and unhelpful ahead of a possible election-year shutdown.
“We don’t have a reliable partner at the White House to negotiate with,” said Graham, entering the Capitol building on Thursday morning.

It's one thing to stage meetings between the Emperor and his legislators, preferably public, so he'll be able to refrain from using expressions like "shithole", giving him the opportunity to appear stern, thoughtful, and engaged in the legislative process, but Congressional Republicans really need to figure out ways of preventing him from actually participating, and especially through Twitter, which the entire nation at risk of being captured by whatever fascist blowhard is addressing Trump through the Fox cameras at the moment. He is too "uninformed" (General Kelly's word) and too self-involved to play any useful role other than signing the bill when it shows up at the White House and telling his base how great it is. Sometimes, as in this case, he threatens to torpedo the whole process and endanger the lives of millions of children out of pure ignorance.

If they're afraid he won't sign, in some fit of pique, and they really need to know what Trump thinks, General Kelly (who Trump seems to genuinely fear, even more than he fears Sessions and Tillerson) is a much better guide than the Twitter feed.

If There is No Wall

Vasily Kandinsky, Composition 8, 1923. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Donald Trump is best known as an oral poet, a jammer, improvising his work for a live audience from a repertory of formulas, like an ancient Irish bard in the banquet hall of heroes. In his other main literary genre, the Tweet, many of the same features are found, the formulaic repetition, the hortation, the dart from topic to topic, but it has never seemed at least to this reader to add up to poetry—too instrumental, I think, too devoted to trying to dominate the reader with its threats and demands and even cries of pain, a combination of the imperial rescript, the child's whine, and the barking of the Labradoodle. The recent doubling of the maximum Tweet length from 140 to 280 characters may be changing that, though, giving him room to stretch and lyricize, if this morning's cycle is anything to go by.

Note especially the way he veers playfully off topic in the third section and then returns, bringing the larger work to a unifying close.

If There is No Wall
by Donald Trump

I. The Wall is the Wall
The Wall is the Wall,
it has never changed or evolved
from the first day I conceived of it.
Parts will be, of necessity,
see through and it was never
intended to be built in areas
where there is natural protection
such as mountains, wastelands
or tough rivers or water.....
II. NAFTA is a Bad Joke
....The Wall will be paid for,
directly or indirectly,
or through longer term reimbursement,
by Mexico, which has a ridiculous
$71 billion dollar trade surplus with the U.S.
The $20 billion dollar Wall
is “peanuts” compared to what Mexico makes
from the U.S. NAFTA is a bad joke!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Women of Trump

Maybe he could take on a phalanx of female bodyguards, like Colonel Qadhafi. Photo by Yahoo via Pakistan's The Express Tribune.

This piece of op-ed by Jen Kerns in The Hill, enthusiastically acclaimed by Uday or Qusay, has something very odd about it:

It literally refuses to tell the reader its own story: That there's something "astounding" about the number of women the Emperor has hired as opposed to his three most recent predecessors. Why haven't the media been acclaiming this? Kern blames it on liberal bias, but why isn't she saying what it is?

Shriveled Nature

The phantom hatrack, or, Ronald Colman has had too many, From Sidney Franklin,  Her Night of Romance, 1924, via Fritzi.

Today, another mini-chapter outtake from David Brooks's The Road to Character, his study of how we should all adopt the moral style of the eminent liberals of the past, from Michel de Montaigne to Bayard Rustin, while abjuring their dangerously individualistic views on politics. Today, it's the central Victorian philosopher, John Stuart Mill ("John Stuart Mill Showed Democracy as a Way of Life").

This year we’ve been so besieged by Donald Trump’s shriveled nature that we sometimes forget what full and courageous human life looks like. And so today I’d like to hold up John Stuart Mill...
Brooks doesn't care much for the materialist, pragmatic, liberal, deeply egalitarian philosophy of course, so he denies it—

He staged a lifelong gentle revolt against his father’s shallow intellectual utilitarianism
—without noting that he did this by creating his own deep intellectual utilitarianism, or even using the word elsewhere in the column, leaving a casual reader with the impression that J.S. Mill wasn't a utilitarian at all himself.

He tells us the familiar story of Mills's weird upbringing, from the "shallow intellectual utilitarian" father's teaching him Greek from the age of three to his nervous breakdown at 20, and comments on how he was clearly unlike Donald Trump in important ways, just in case you were tempted to think they resembled each other:

Monday, January 15, 2018

Wait, a socialist?

With Yolanda and Martin Luther III on the Magic Skyway ride at the New York World's Fair in 1964. Via ABC News.

So Sarah Palin was astonished to hear CNN spreading rumors that Dr. King was some kind of non-Republican:
CNN however just set a new low bar for things to be said about the influential figure.
In a tweet, the media outlet said, “He’s an environmental hero. He was a socialist before it was cool. He never let a political disagreement turn nasty.”
Wait, a socialist?...
Appears CNN finally figured out that Martin Luther King Jr. was actually a registered Republican so in their desperation to IGNORE that inconvenient tidbit they decided to make him a socialist hero.
I sent her a note, but she hasn't responded.
He wasn't "actually a registered Republican" (or Democrat) either, as you might imagine, and took considerable care, as befits a professional religious leader, to remain detached from partisan politics, though he wasn't quite able to do that in 1964:

Is Conservatism a Thing?

Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, 1877, by Robert Antoine Muller, via

A lengthy comment from Jordan:
Maybe I'm in a contrary mood but despite the tremendous intelligence and accuracy of what both you and Jim are saying, I must emphatically disagree.
There is conservatism that's real. It's coherent and clear doctrine, and it's useful to ask and answer the question. Whenever I'm talking to conservatives -- just like when, say, talking to Evangelical Christians or Nazis or predatory capitalists or anarchists -- whether they're smart or dumb, erudite or ignorant, old or young, they all are saying the same thing.
What's happening in this thread is totally legitimate: you, Jim and I all disagree with Conservatism because we can see what's wrong with it; we know how it doesn't work, how it works by means of false or contradictory assumptions, how it falls apart when applied to reality...we can win the argument (which I've done, many times, just, presumably, as have you).
But you have to start with both positions on the playing field before one of them defeats the other. You have to let both attorneys make their cases -- you can't just object throughout the defense attorney's opening statement because the guy is guilty and why are we wasting our time with this sophistry.
Let them build the house and then, only then, let us tear it down. Let them say that all of their ideas of fairness and distribution of wealth and aid and education are based on meritocracy, as opposed to ours (because they do, they really do, whether they're truck drivers or billionaire donors), and, once we all agree that this is their position, we tear them down by showing how it doesn't work; how Brooks (say) reveals its self-contradiction...just like a really smart atheist can make a fundamentalist question his faith.
OK, so you're making me trot out old Marx again, and the base and superstructure story.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

It's happening and it's wrong

Separating Asylum Families at the Southern Border

Guest post by longtime commenter redhand, self-described "aging boomer" who practices immigration law in suburban New Jersey.

Photo from Auschwitz via Daily Mail

Last December The New York Times reported that the Trump Administration was considering a new policy of "Separating Families to Combat Illegal Immigration". As the NYT article notes, previous administrations have stopped short of resorting to policies like family separation, because of concerns that it could force people into the hands of dangerous smugglers who sell themselves as a way to evade the Border Patrol, or force people with legitimate claims for asylum to remain in life-threatening situations in their home countries.

The proposed practice would require that parents be put into detention while their asylum claims were determined.  At the same time their children would be put into separate "shelters" and have "sponsors" (other relatives residing in the United States) sought for their custody while the children's right to remain would be decided.

It is unclear whether this "policy" has been formally implemented by published Department of Homeland Security guidance, but in fact that is already happening.  The Houston Chronicle "has identified 22 cases since June in which parents … with no history of immigration violations were prosecuted for the misdemeanor crime of improper entry and had their children removed. Minors cannot be kept in federal prison."

A particularly horrifying case is detailed by The Houston Chronicle in an article titled "Her husband murdered, her son taken away, a mother seeking asylum tells a judge, 'I have lost everything'."  I have a number of such cases going back years where mother and child entered the United States illegally and were apprehended at the border, put into removal proceedings, and released after "credible fear interviews" disclosed that the mother had brought the child to the United States because of family-based persecution, in which the child was targeted to get at the parents.  In one such case a gang pursuing a vendetta against a Guatemalan family called the home, and the child picked up. The gang member said: "Tell your mother that we will kidnap you and deliver you back to her in pieces in a plastic bag."

I don’t see how prosecuting the mother in such a case for an alleged unlawful entry or "alien smuggling" (i.e. the child) and separating the child from her is anything other than a lawless subterfuge to deny this family the right to claim asylum.  How can such a child possibly advance an asylum claim on his or her own?  Are we as a society willing to deprive this family of a basic right to claim asylum because the Trump administration is unhappy with the influx of refugees (many of whom are admittedly just economic refugees) and doesn’t care if lives are lost in the process?

The American Immigration Council, a nonprofit public advocacy arm of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, together with other human rights groups has filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security detailing how this practice is both illegal (a due process violation of a foreign citizen’s right to claim asylum) and immoral.  One hopes that reason and humanity will prevail and that this despicable practice will be discontinued.

In the meantime, I urge all who know of foreign citizens who must flee to the United States to seek asylum to do so properly. The preferred way to make the claim, and one that should prevent the Department of Homeland Security from separating families (because no criminal charges can be filed) is simply to have the have the family go to a recognized border crossing and port of entry, where they can directly approach immigration officials and claim asylum.

I’ve had a number of clients do this. It is the best way to seek asylum where we see that the US Government will now resort to any legal artifice it can to deny foreign citizens their right to claim asylum.

For the Record: Family-based immigration

Americans: Friedrich and Elisabeth Trump and their three children, 1915. You can see the hereditary bone spurs in the odd way Friedrich positions his feet. The future neighborhood segregationist and Klan fan Fred is the weasel-faced older boy. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

I love a mystery

Drawing by Barry Deutsch, via Bicultural Familia.

Meritocracy (merit, from Latin mereō, and -cracy, from Ancient Greek κράτος kratos "strength, power") is a political philosophy which holds that certain things, such as economic goods or power, should be vested in individuals on the basis of talent. Advancement in such a system is based on performance, as measured through examination or demonstrated achievement.
The Rise of the Meritocracy is a satirical novel by British sociologist and politician Michael Young which was first published in 1958. It describes a dystopian society in a future United Kingdom in which intelligence and merit have become the central tenet of society, replacing previous divisions of social class and creating a society stratified between a merited power holding elite and a disenfranchised underclass of the less merited. The essay satirised the Tripartite System of education that was being practised at the time.[1]
Meritocracy is the political philosophy in which political influence is assigned largely according to the intellectual talent and achievement of the individual. Michael Young coined the term, formed by combining the Latin root "mereō" and Ancient Greek suffix "cracy", in his [writing,] to describe and ridicule such a society, the selective education system that was the Tripartite System, and the philosophy in general.

We've often seen David Brooks inveighing against "meritocracy", and it really is mysterious, as Jordan noted in comments earlier today. Not mysterious that he should be against meritocracy, at least in the allocation of political power, which I think should be regarded as basic democracy, neither left nor right: there's no legitimate power above the people that's entitled to set an exam for who's going to represent us, I'm against that too—but that he should be convinced that it exists in the United States (outside of the civil service, which has used meritocratic principles very successfully since the 1883 reform, and is not something David Brooks has ever shown any interest in), and it really makes him angry, as something crass, utilitarian, not quite decent, as in these passages from The Road to Character:

The Main Cause of the Badness

From Sergei Eisenstein's ¡Qué Viva México!, 1933, via Screen Dance Studies.

Looking for David Brooks's column in yesterday morning's Times, I found a whimper with a headline so stale and dispirited ("How Democracies Perish") that I thought I must be looking at an old column I'd dealt with already, and figured he'd taken the whole Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend off.

As it turned out, of course, the title was so familiar because it was ripped off, from a book that's to be released on Tuesday and is already being talked about, Steven Levitsky's and Daniel Ziblatt's How Democracies Die, an assessment of the present danger to democracy, such as it is, in the United States. Brooks had written a new column—it merely looked like an old one, which isn't that unusual—and it's not totally boring, once you get down inside. Not that he's writing about Levitsky's and Ziblatt's book or even aware that he's indirectly referencing it; he's on the new book with a melancholy title that came out last week:

Friday, January 12, 2018


So weird. Sometime in the course of last night/this morning Rectification Central got 92 hits from people at Ann Althouse's blog, the Shithole post, but I can't find a link to account for it in her post or comments. It may have been in one of several comments that have been deleted.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Not the Real New York Times

Conway: Trump Not Authorized to Speak for White House

Shithole Countries

Holy racial hatreds, Batman, can we make this president go away now?
WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday balked at an immigration deal that would include protections for people from Haiti and African countries, demanding to know at a White House meeting why he should accept immigrants from “shithole countries” rather than people from places like Norway, according to people with direct knowledge of the conversation....
When Mr. Trump heard that Haitians were among those who would benefit, he asked if they could be left out of the plan, according to the people familiar with the conversation, asking, “Why do we want people from Haiti here?” (New York Times)
Washington Post scooped the story, here:
Trump had seemed amenable to a deal earlier in the day during phone calls, aides said, but shifted his position in the meeting and did not seem interested.

Martin writes, at Washington Monthly,
That Trump would spout out such clear Nordic/Aryan supremacy in the midst of so many witnesses, including members of the opposing party, suggests that he’s either insane, or completely indifferent to how he is perceived about racial matters. Maybe, like when he suggests we should steal Iraq’s oil, he simply has no idea how that sounds to most people.
I don’t know, but whether he’s evil, insane, or stupid, there really needs to be a more concerted effort to put an end to this travesty of a presidency.