Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Continuing, Resolutely

Consider me in the "not a cave" camp regarding the vote to end the government shutdown in exchange for six years of CHIP funding. a promise for a DACA debate, and the possibility of another shutdown.  The deal wasn't perfect--of course settling the situation of the Dreamers sooner rather than later would be better as the lives of hundreds of thousands are in the balance.  But Sen. McConnell already gave us a clue that that was not the binary choice Dems (and a handful of Republicans) were actually going to get. In the meanwhile, CHIP remained unfunded, and Sen. McConnell had blocked a bid to keep the military and other federal workers paid. Hostages were piling up.

It should be clear that, just as the party that has neither the majority in the House and Senate nor the Presidency is unlikely to be the main culprit in causing a government shutdown in the first place, that the party that does have those advantages is also responsible for determining what gets voted on. It should be obvious, but there is no counting on the media not to report this as a "both sides" problem. The framing coming from the White House and from Majority Leader McConnell presented the most negative light: Those liberals were ready to support illegal immigrants over American citizens. And sure--that's crap. Kids brought here when they were minors had no control over coming here, and are as American as anybody, except for the paperwork. But given enough time, and without the ability to easily reframe that debate, Dems were facing losing support for the trying to do what not only seems right but is actually popular.

The thing of it is, while DACA is popular, government shutdowns are not. So, I don't see this vote as a "cave" so much as choosing a different time and battlefield. Dems responsibly voted to end the shutdown. And if Mitch McConnell is a man of his word, he will allow a debate on DACA. He said so.

Now, that means an awful lot rides on the good word of Mitch McConnell. Senate colleague Bob Corker was optimistic:

Addressing questions about whether McConnell would stick to his word on DACA, Republican Sen. Bob Corker said, “He’s going to do it. He said he’s going to do it. I’ve never gotten any sense that he’s not going to do it."
Corker added that it would be an “affront” to a larger number of his colleagues if McConnell didn't keep his promise.

 (Wouldn't it just be an affront, now?) But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been luxuriating in his effrontery for some time, now. There was that thing about denying President Obama a hearing on his SCOTUS pick. There was giving assurances to Senator Collins and Senator Flake  for votes over things that did not come to pass. But what McConnell promised just now was public and maybe just a little harder to go back on. And in three weeks, if he was not a man of his word, he deserves to get well and truly dragged for his bullshit.

There's no guarantee that, even if a debate takes place, an acceptable bill will get passed by the House and Senate, what with the Freedom Caucus and all that. Or that a bill gets signed by President Trump, given who his particular base is, and all that. (There were no assurances this time around either, which makes me wonder what people think would have happened this go-around.) Our best option on a good DACA resolution would involve neither a Republican Senate, nor racist-ass Trump in the White House--and that takes elections. But the next time, the debate about immigration can't hide behind insurance coverage for kids. It rests on McConnell having the debate, and the spotlight being on what Republicans do with that debate.  All in an election year.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Women's March 2018: We Persist

The turnout this weekend to marches and gatherings all over the US and the world answer the question people were asking this time last year: Is this a moment or a movement? It is not merely one movement, but several. A record number of women are now running for office in 2018. The #metoo movement, I think, took strength from the idea that women in numbers are a force to be reckoned with. Women's activism has affected health care and other issues, holding the line as best we can against an administration that has aligned with anti-abortion and anti LGBT forces in efforts to turn back numerous social advances.

Male allies also have stepped up and learned we can share power spaces together to accomplish good things, and that exclusion is a form of division and weakness, that women should be heard out, and silence about inequality has been violence to the people given the short end of the stick.

It's almost become a joke that the mainstream media has spent the last year interviewing panels of Trump voters and supporters, as if trying to figure out what those folks are seeing that eludes many others (and also try to understand why Trump's biggest fans hate the mainstream media so much). The true Trump fans might not be shaken by Trump's historically low poll numbers or even the disapprobation he gets from the organized and vocal "left" (and centrists and moderates and "Never Trump" Republicans) because they sincerely believe we're all falling for "fake news" (which has picked up the definition amongst them of being any news unfavorable to Trump).

I wish the media could focus on the people like myself, one of the millions of voters who know very well that Trump did not win the popular vote, that gerrymandering and voter suppression tactics affected this past election and have been doing so for some time. I wish we were able to discuss what one of the driving topics of conversation now has to be--registering eligible voters, ensuring all have ID's, getting every vote counted, and ensuring turnouts on election day are as notable and brave and inspiring as they are at protest marches. I think informing the people that they have a voice and can act as a corrective, collectively, through their own good efforts, would be a massive boon to our democracy and fight back against the lying and bad faith that Trump has come to represent. He has been as anti-science and environment, as ignorant about other cultures, as inept about the strength in our diversity, as we ever could have imagined.

There was a march in 2017. The airports and the malls and the parks and the capitol areas everywhere saw people become active and activist in this past year. This must persist because Trump and his administration and the Republican party for which they have stood has come to divide us, to try and deport Dreamers and take away rights and make us all smaller. We are large, and we contain possibilities. We are already great, and we need to fight back. We persisted, we will resist, we will support Democratic norms and diverse voices. We will try to keep the promise of America as a safe space for the religious pilgrim and the political refugee, and a productive space for the Dreamers and doers. We will.

Donald Trump, this is not just a promise. You may consider this a threat. We will be great--with or without you. And many of us think "preferably: without".

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Larry Nassar Hears His Victims

This person had a steady stream of young girls brought to him for his medical care, and he abused this trust. Confronted with the enormity of the harm and the sheer number of victims that he made and who had come forward, he found that he was perturbed and thought he might not be able to endure their voices and confronting the humanity he injured. But he was suffering nothing compared to the young women whose lives he so profoundly affected.

USA Gynastics should have known. MSU should have known. This never should have been able to happen to so many young women. Steps should be made to ensure something like this pattern of abuse by one man abetted by so many, never happens again.

The Trump Shutdown

It isn't an entire year that Donald Trump has been president, and yet, with Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, the government is now facing a shutdown because, as everyone probably should have known during 2016 but just enough failed to take into account--he hasn't the least clue what he's doing. 

He articulated a lot of promises during the campaign about building a wall that Mexico would pay for (but it most certainly will not) and deporting millions of undocumented immigrants. That sort of thing doesn't seem very in line with the idea of crafting "a bill of love" with respects to DACA recipients, anymore than his basically ending it by executive order did. 

It really doesn't make sense then, that Democrats should be faulted for the GOP deciding to hold both DACA and CHIP beneficiaries hostage in the continuing resolution debate. And yes, this is exactly what they had done, as Mitch McConnell, may his neck skin rise up to swathe his breathing holes, clearly Tweeted:

The intention being to bully the Democrats into picking CHIP kids over DACA, and probably ensuring DACA protection would never happen. I mean, the GOP basically considers DACA to be an amnesty. Trump put DACA on the line. Majority Leader McConnell never did boo about renewing CHIP. If the GOP cared about either, they could have easily ensured their continuation--even without Democratic agreement (although they would have had it). Instead, they held them to lord over Democrats for a continuing resolution that there's no real reason to believe the Democrats would have been against if there hadn't been hostage-taking by the party that happens to be the "government shutdown experts" in the first place. Thus resulting in the first time a government shutdown has occurred with a White House and Congress both in the same party's power.

And of course it's Republicans. Because they can't govern, because they don't seem to know what government is for.

Trump, the populist common guy communicator and all around deal-making sonofabitch, who bragged to all and sundry that he could get shit done, got no shit done. The wall isn't happening, the GOP, trying to pin the failure of the CR on Dems not loving DACA enough just made it clear who really is supporting Dreamers, and in the meanwhile, funding CHIP is now and always has been a thing McConnell could introduce, right?

The GOP owns this, but as with so many things a lot of people have a piece of the ownership of, let's put Trump's name on this one. This is the Trump Shutdown. The Shithole Shutdown. This is his inaugural 1st anniversary present.  He said he alone could fix it--he can't even explain it. 

And tomorrow, there will be marches. Because we resist.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

We Have All Been Here Before

There's not a lot I can add to the dialogue about the piece in about a date with Aziz Ansari except that kind of thing is pretty familiar to me as having mostly dated straight men. I don't think we talk about this thing we call dating or trying to have relationships with the opposite sex from a feminist perspective in a forthright way often enough--although Melissa McEwan's  description of The Terrible Bargain is the best thing I have ever read about the subject. 

As women, we get done dirty by men over and over again. We get talked down as being comic shrews and nags. We are chided for not wanting sex enough, but not being asked how we want it. We get asked to perform the emotional labor of making the relationship talks happen, but are scapegoated for being "serious" when we do. We are the ones who insist on the condoms, for some reason, like our reproductive propensity or our general health. We are supposed to draw the lines about what level of sexual activity is done involving our bodies, but are told we are wrong about where we draw those lines for reasons that have everything to do about our partners' satisfaction, and little to do with our own bodies. 

When we say anything in the vicinity of "No", it registers as "maybe" if we don't literally stand up and walk out. If we stay, there's still a "maybe", no matter what we say. If we consent to sex, we aren't supposed to stop it, even if we have a cramp or he's on our hair or there's a panic attack or I know my diaphragm moved or whatever. But this is obviously bullshit. What a woman feels during sex matters. And for what it is worth, yes, removing a condom is a breech of a very serious contract.  Why wouldn't a woman need to consent to the potentiality of pregnancy or STI? Why is her evaluation of her ability to deal with certain potentialities subordinate to any man's satisfaction?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Somehow, Twitter is Free

I don't know what this means for the rest of 2018, but Brit Hume has gone wild and it's only January.

(Also, while there is actually no penis talk as a result of Trump's good health report, there is an awful lot of speculation about whether his height and weight figures were fudged. I don't know--I think he snuck in at least an inch in height because at his age, people usually are not still growing, his height has previously been given as 6'2", and in pictures where he has stood next to Jeb Bush (actually 6'3") he seems shorter, and next to Barack Obama (6'1") he seems about the same. Sports Illustrated did a comparison of Trump's physique vs. athletes of similar height and weight stats which seems a bit unfair. I find that I genuinely do not care what Trump's weight is, and also wonder if I should be watching more football.)

Nothing We Didn't Know

I guess I've been a little derelict in my blogging the past several days in what should have been, for me, a "target-rich environment" for blogging opportunities. But, I must confess, I am almost bored with the surfeit of nonsense that is the Trump experience. If Trump has been explicitly racist in his policies and denies temporary protected status to people of El Salvador,  or says that all Haitians have AIDS and fails to understand the US shitty behavior to our neighbor, and denies these immigrants continued TPS status as well, and also treats all of the continent of Africa as if they are people in huts, we already know what he is. We could have known exactly what he was when he was denying apartments to "colored people" in the 1970's. We knew what he was when he was agitating against the Central Park Five in the 1980's (and later!).  There are only so many ways I know to phrase, once again, the central and overwhelming problem I have with a Trump presidency--his utter lack of qualification to serve as the head of a diverse nation and to represent us in front of a diverse international community. 

So, the disgraceful comments that Trump is alleged to have said with respects to calling Haiti and El Salvador and the African countries from which new Americans hope to come, don't surprise me, and I am mostly disgusted by the idea that there even should be an argument about what he meant based on whether he said "shithole" countries or "shithouse". The jist is the same. Senators Perdue and Cotton might feel fine temporarily assuming they did not hear what he said, and then pretending they heard no "shithole commentary". But we can all know very well what the White House immigration policy is, and in the meanwhile, Senator Graham knows what he knows, and the word is Trump even bragged to friends about dropping that nasty "shithole" statement about whole countries of people.  

He said this about millions of human beings, all equal in dignity to himself, all endowed by their Creator with the inalienable rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. He said this. There should not be a mistake in pretending that this is not either anything he would have said or historically proved himself to believe. 

The very worst thing he could think to say about his predecessor was that he might be born in Kenya. The people who voted for Trump don't understand what an international boob his comments make him seem.   

But this isn't new news. Trump is a racist--big whoop. The main argument shouldn't be "shithole" vs "shithouse" but whether his policies are unconstitutional and also really bad in outcomes and how they represent the US. It's as silly as getting bogged down in whether Trump said he did have a great relationship with China and North Korea, or would have a great relationship based on a barely aspirated "d". (During an interview where Trump rambled and seemed uninformed and more than a little ridiculous for several letters, words, whole paragraphs-worth.) How stupid! Trump easily thinks anyone could be his friend if they only figured out how to suck up to him properly. It's like his hopes for a great relationship with Putin. Trump is a man who believes people like him despite his money and power because they survive his temperamental trials by bullshit, and thinks he isn't either surrounded by "yes men" because all his employees assure him he isn't. He is a stooge.

And he also has a certain inoculation against the recent surfacing of claims that he is profoundly sexually immoral--being that the evangelicals have accepted him as their boy even though this kind of thing  is basically Trump's life story. Which tells us a whole lot more about the morals of evangelicals than it does about Trump. 

They rather his racism no matter what their ministries say about human dignity if he supports their notions of sexual prudery if he'd only appoint judges who are prudery-compliant. Which I find revolting but I will suffice to let them do themselves until they are chafed, if that is what they prefer.  My only concern is they should not get to make laws for people who aren't quite so morally fucked. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

When Things Don't Go His Way--Boom!

After President Trump's self-contradictory immigration meeting with legislators yesterday, the White House plan to end DACA was blocked by a judge. And when you put that together with the up-ending of part of his Dossier complaint by Senator Feinstein's release of the transcript of the Glenn Simpson interview-- why, you get Trump to go Boom! on Twitter again.

It's like Old Faithful in a way. Can't say I'd miss it if he stopped. Also, congratulations on the new nickname, "Sneaky Dianne Feinstein"! You're my kind of nasty woman!

Even TrumpWorld Grab-Bags Get the Blues

There is a limit to how much good faith one can presume of other people. When it comes to Senate Republicans, Senators Grassley and Graham pretty much exhausted whatever confidence I had in them with the "stunt" recommendation to the FBI to investigate Christopher Steele for possible criminal charges of lying to them. In the midst of an investigation into whether Trump campaign officials conspired with Russia to use stolen information to win an election, the person these partisan hacks decide to finger as a problem is the whistleblower?

Add to that the news that the DOJ is opening a new probe into the Clinton email server and that the Clinton Foundation is currently being investigated by the FBI, and it's hard for me not to see a pattern that looks like Republicans using the Justice Department for partisan ends. It doesn't even seem all that low-key. And while they are at it, pretending that the FBI was actually Hillary Clinton's fan club

This is the kind of thing that makes me dread blogging. It isn't healthy to look around and just see examples of shameful dealing everywhere.

But then, someone does something that really picks me up--Senator Dianne Feinstein decided to release a transcript of a congressional interview with Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS, which was the research company that produced the dossier. And it appears to confirm what by now we should already know--the dossier was not the reason for the FBI investigation into Trump/Russia connections, because they already received information from someone inside the Trump orbit. Simpson also related the Steele broke off contact with the FBI in October 2016 when he became concerned that there might have been a pro-Trump faction within the FBI (which wasn't such a stretch--anti-Clinton is probably more like it) when a narrative was fed to The New York Times that no links were found between Trump and Russia. 

Now, I know this new information probably isn't going to change the whole conversation (I don't know--Trump hasn't mean-Tweeted about FBI DD McCabe since it was reported that his speculation about McCabe having anything to do with the Clinton investigation was rubbish) but it sheds some light where there was obfuscation. 

In other Steele Dossier news (how is there more Steele Dossier news?), Trump attorney Michael Cohen is filing a defamation suit against Buzzfeed for publishing the not-actually-discredited document. This strikes me as amazing for much the same reason as Trump's threatening to file a defamation suit against anyone over Michael Wolffe's Fire and Fury--it certainly looks like an effort to silence people to prevent true information coming out, and the discovery process would probably be brutal and unfavorable to President Trump because, and stick with me on this, Trump has a four decade long, well-documented history in multiple books and publications as being really shady. Why, before he was a fan of Trump, Steve Bannon shopped oppo connecting Trump to organized crime.  The connections aren't hard to make. 

It also isn't hard to see what Russia might have gotten in return for their "investment". This story from Spencer Ackerman that a White House official floated the idea of the US withdrawing from Eastern Europe reminds me a bit of the search for "deliverables" Trump wanted to offer Putin last year. And if one wanted an example of what a financially-leveraged President might be able to do, say, for his creditors, there is a nice example of a favor with respects to waiving penalties for interest manipulation that he is doing for a few banks, including Deutsche Bank. (The very one Steve Bannon noted might be of particular interest to Mueller's investigation.)