Muslim ban, take two: Daily Bullshit, February 21-26, 2017

Updates

  1. February 21, 2:29 pm:
  2. February 22, 01:16 am:
  3. February 22, 11:57 pm:
  4. February 23, 01:09 am:
    • A fresh video of the Larsen C crack.[58]
    • It may now be possible to quantify the risk of crossing climate change thresholds.[59]
    • Another story on the utterly unsurprising White House denial that there was any rift between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.[60]
    • An interview with a Russian newspaper editor who says the Kremlin believes Trump to be utterly manipulable.[61]
    • The Dakota Access Pipeline protest area is apparently being forcibly evacuated.[62]
  5. February 23, 01:18 am: HTML editing errors corrected (oops).
  6. February 23, 1:38 pm:
    • Betsy DeVos echoes a common conservative complaint that professors ‘indoctrinate’ college students with left-wing views.[63]
  7. February 24, 04:26 am:
  8. February 25, 03:55 am:
    • Apparently, they’ve decided that age discrimination in hiring is real.[65] (Unemployment)
  9. February 26, 12:09 am:
    • An interview with the linguist who advised the makers of the film Arrival.[66] (Sapir-Whorf)
    • Tom Perez defeated Keith Ellison to become the new Democratic National Committee chairperson.[67] (Democratic National Committee)

Muslim ban

Updates were expected. It appears that drafting the new order is taking time.[68]

Vivian Salama, “President’s revised travel ban reportedly targets same 7 nations, adds green-card exemption,” Seattle Times, February 20, 2017, http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/ap-source-revised-travel-ban-targets-same-countries/

Jonathan Turley, “Executive Redux: Administration Set To Issue New Order On Immigration,” February 20, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/20/executive-redux-administration-set-to-issue-new-order-on-immigration/

Jordan Fabian, “White House punts new travel order to next week,” Hill, February 22, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/320735-white-house-punts-new-travel-order-to-next-week


Presidential golf

I can think of more serious presidential hypocrisies than this:

Donald Trump regularly assailed President Obama for playing golf, then spent the first weekends of his own presidency doing just that. He attacked Obama for using Air Force One to campaign, and did it over the weekend just a month into the job. He mocked Obama for heading out of Washington at taxpayer expense, but appears to have no qualms about doing so himself.[69]

How about when Barack Obama embraced and extended George W. Bush’s neoconservative and neoliberal policies after campaigning on “hope” and “change?” And how about when Obama’s supporters fell silent on the very policies they so vehemently opposed once it was “their” president carrying them out?

Josh Dawsey, “Trump forgets his Obama criticisms,” Politico, February 21, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/trump-obama-golf-235217


Trump and Russia

Mark Z. Barabak, “No, Trump critics. It’s highly unlikely he has committed treason,” Los Angeles Times, February 20, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-russia-treason-20170220-story.html

Brad Reed, “Russia’s psychological dossier on Trump reveals they’re already ‘nervous’ he’ll be ousted,” Raw Story, February 20, 2017, http://www.rawstory.com/2017/02/russias-psychological-dossier-on-trump-reveals-theyre-already-nervous-hell-be-ousted/

Sean Illing, “A Russian newspaper editor explains how Putin made Trump his puppet,” Vox, February 22, 2017, http://www.vox.com/conversations/2017/2/22/14697718/donald-trump-putin-russia-kremlin-hillary-clinton


Undocumented Migrants

Joel Rubin, “It’s legal for an immigration agent to pretend to be a police officer outside someone’s door. But should it be?” Los Angeles Times, February 19, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-immigration-deportation-ruses-20170219-story.html

Jonathan Easley, “Poll: Americans overwhelmingly oppose sanctuary cities,” Hill, February 21, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/320487-poll-americans-overwhelmingly-oppose-sanctuary-cities

Tal Kopan, “Trump admin outlines plan to crack down on undocumented immigrants,” CNN, February 21, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/21/politics/dhs-immigration-guidance-detentions/index.html


The New Normal

So once upon a time, drought was forecast to be “the new normal” in California, due to climate change.[70] Now scientists think that climate change may intensify “atmospheric rivers” that have brought heavy rains and flooding to California this winter.[71] This isn’t quite a contradiction: William Burroughs predicted that climate change might lead to more extreme weather.[72] That could mean both more intense droughts and more intense storms. Also, rain isn’t enough: California’s water system counts on snowpack accumulation—warmer conditions suggests that more precipitation will fall as rain and less will fall as snow—which functions as a massive reservoir, helping to fill man-made reservoirs as the snow melts in the summer.

Allan Adamson, “Climate Change Can Supercharge Atmospheric Rivers That Bring Drought-Ending Floods In California,” Tech Times, February 21, 2017, http://www.techtimes.com/articles/198326/20170221/climate-change-can-supercharge-atmospheric-rivers-that-bring-drought-ending-floods-in-california.htm


Betsy DeVos

Trump projects himself as the epitome of U.S. anti-intellectualism. So it’s natural that higher education folks are worried about his secretary for education, Betsy DeVos, who is “best known for supporting vouchers and charter schools, [and] has no background in the sector,”[73] and yet who accuses professors of ‘indoctrinating’ their students (translate ‘indoctrination’ as ‘teaching critical thinking’).[74] But “secretaries of education don’t set the agenda, don’t write the policies, and depend on Congress and good timing to get things done”[75] and, moreover, she’s being sidelined even within the administration.[76] I am concerned about the following passage, taken from the open letter the president of Macalester College has written to her:

Higher education in the United States should be an engine of social mobility: Not only is this just, it is necessary to the health of our economy and our civic life.[77]

Brian Rosenberg here conflates two issues that need to be kept separate and in so doing, reduces higher education to job training. What “is necessary to the health of our economy and our civic life”[78] and in fact an internationally recognized (albeit not in the U.S.) human right[79] is 1) that people have access to economic opportunity necessary to support themselves and 2) that they have the education and skills to participate intelligently in civic life. But the first of these does not and should not follow from the second; it is to suggest that higher education is the only path to economic justice, which isn’t justice at all.

Brian Rosenberg, “My ‘Dear Betsy’ Letter,” Chronicle of Higher Education, February 9, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/My-Dear-Betsy-Letter/239153

Kelly Field, “How Much Power Does Betsy DeVos Really Hold to Shake Up Higher Ed?” Chronicle of Higher Education, February 16, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/article/How-Much-Power-Does-Betsy/239226

Esme Cribb, “White House: ‘No Daylight’ Between Sessions, DeVos On Transgender Order,” Talking Points Memo, February 22, 2017, http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/sean-spicer-sessions-devos-trump-transgender-guidelines

Caitlin Emma, “Spicer denies Cabinet feud over transgender student protections,” Politico, February 22, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/trump-transgender-students-jeff-sessions-betsy-devos-235265

Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz, “Betsy DeVos Criticizes Professors in Remarks to Conservative Conference,” Chronicle of Higher Education, February 23, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/betsy-devos-criticizes-professors-in-remarks-to-conservative-conference/117049


Kura-Araxes

The Kurgans were not really a people. The term kurgan actually refers to a style of burial, common around the Caspian Sea in the early Neolithic. I was looking into all this as I was just about to settle on my first idea for a dissertation topic.[80] This, involving Yamnaya men,[81] is the latest twist. And no, the article title isn’t sexist: “Early Bronze Age men from the vast grasslands of the Eurasian steppe swept into Europe on horseback about 5000 years ago—and may have left most women behind.”[82]

So it’s been five years since I looked into all this seriously, but the article[83] leaves some unanswered questions: First, why did the men leave their women behind? Second, what happened to those women? Third, what happened to the men who lost out to these ‘horsemen’ in Europe? Third, were the unions between the ‘horsemen’ and women in Europe consensual? Also, I don’t know the relationship between the marauding Kura-Araxes (who seem like they could have been an archetype for Star Trek‘s Klingons) I was just beginning to look at and the Yamnaya people who are a subject of this article.

But when the researchers looked at the DNA later Europeans inherited from the Yamnaya, they found that Bronze Age Europeans had far less Yamnaya DNA on their X than on their other chromosomes. Using a statistical method developed by graduate student Amy Goldberg in the lab of population geneticist Noah Rosenberg at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, the team calculated that there were perhaps 10 men for every woman in the migration of Yamnaya men to Europe (with a range of five to 14 migrating men for every woman). That ratio is “extreme”—even more lopsided than the mostly male wave of Spanish conquistadores who came by ship to the Americas in the late 1500s, Goldberg says.

Bearing all those questions in mind, I still can’t help but think of women’s sometimes (only sometimes) admitted and common preference for jerks and assholes.[84] With a ratio of ten to one, the competition among men for mates would have been extreme—and I have to suspect, bloody—which, all other things being equal (they weren’t), would suggest that women very much had a choice of suitors. “The Yamnaya men could have been more attractive mates than European farmers because they had horses and new technologies, such as copper hammers that gave them an advantage, Goldberg says.”[85] Or, I’m thinking, women did en masse what they so frequently do today: choose the assholes.

Ann Gibbons, “Thousands of horsemen may have swept into Bronze Age Europe, transforming the local population,” Science, February 21, 2017, http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/02/thousands-horsemen-may-have-swept-bronze-age-europe-transforming-local-population


Larsen C

Brian Kahn, “Scientists Got a New Look at the Growing Larsen C Crack,” Climate Central, February 21, 2017, http://www.climatecentral.org/news/scientists-larsen-c-crack-21178


Climate Change

I mentioned the idea of several climate tipping points a few days ago.[86] I am really and truly not just making this stuff up. But supposedly this new work “allows the risk of crossing dangerous temperature thresholds to be quantified.”[87] I’m skeptical about that, but if true, it might eventually allow for accurate forecasting of when we hit these tipping points. Just don’t hold your breath: “The issues with green house gases are extraordinary and complex and the consequences of rising green houses gases will have global impacts,”[88] which is, I suppose, one way of saying that emergent properties remain unpredictable.[89]

Kevin Roark, “Computer model predicts the likelihood of crossing several dangerous climate change thresholds,” Phys.org, February 22, 2017, https://phys.org/news/2017-02-likelihood-dangerous-climate-thresholds.html


Dakota Access Pipeline

Rebecca Hersher, “Protesters Leave Dakota Access Pipeline Area; Some Stay And Are Arrested,” National Public Radio, February 22, 2017, http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/02/22/516448749/protesters-leave-dakota-access-pipeline-area-some-stay-and-are-arrested


What the Doctor Ordered

So, okay, I couldn’t resist. And if sex sells, yada, yada, yada. . . . But there is actually something to analyze here. Consider, for example, this passage:

What is remarkable is that [Per-Erik Muskos, a 42-year-old local council member for Övertorneå in northern Sweden] sees the logical time slot for the health-driven sex as being during the work day. Swedes already enjoy a relatively easy work schedule —an average of 1612 hours per year, according to the OECD, 9% percent less than the OECD average. And it does not appear that they are burning the midnight oil working late: only 1% of Swedes work overtime, according to the OECD Better Life Index.

All of which makes it surprising that if couples need time to reconnect, that time should come from hours in the office, rather than all those hours before and after work (Övertorneå has a population of 2,000: this is hardly a national rallying cry).[90]

I believe this is a brilliant example of U.S.-style neoliberal and Puritan guilt meeting up with a society that still values humanity. In the U.S. traditionally, we’re not supposed to even talk about sex, let alone get an hour off work for it. And with productivity being all-important under neoliberalism, it’s simply outrageous that human beings should get an hour at company expense to take care of a basic need.

After all, that’s why full-time work is only eight hours out of twenty-four, plus weekends. But even those of us who don’t have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet often seem to feel guilty about taking time off.

One thing is clear: Sweden’s many lifestyle benefits don’t seem to be ruining its economy, as many in the US would like to think. The European Union estimates that the Swedish economy will grow at 2.4% this year, down from 3.3% in 2016 but stronger than the EU-wide estimate of 1.6% (and a smidge higher than the IMF’s estimate of US growth of 2.3%, where workers do not enjoy fika, paid parental leave or sex-breaks). Mandated sex-breaks may be just what Sweden needs to regain its mojo.[91]

Jenny Anderson, “A Swedish politician is advocating for the ultimate workplace benefit: paid breaks for sex,” Quartz, February 22, 2017, https://qz.com/916655/a-swedish-politician-argues-employees-need-paid-sex-breaks-for-health-and-wellness/


Unemployment

Marissa Evans, “The Stubborn Problem of Ageism in Hiring,” CityLab, February 24, 2017, https://www.citylab.com/work/2017/02/ageism-in-hiring-is-rife-and-not-easy-to-fix/517323/


Sapir-Whorf

Linguists seem not to like the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis much,[92] at least not right now. But an earlier article on this same movie notes that “some linguists have turned again to ideas of linguistic relativity. . . . Yet some still say that Arrival goes too far: ‘they took the hypothesis way beyond anything that is plausible,’ linguist and cognitive scientist Betty Birner said of the film in an interview with Slate.”[93]

We covered the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis when I was an undergraduate in a communication program at CSU East Bay and from what I’ve seen since, it seems to come in and out of fashion. My own impression is that it is an idea that seems to have some intuitive appeal and therefore, despite the absence of empirical support,[94] never actually goes away. Allegedly, it “was ridiculed and dismissed by followers of the linguist Noam Chomsky, who argued that all languages share certain grammatical characteristics.”[95] But from what I understand, Chomsky’s notion of natural grammar is also on the outs right now, I think losing out to George Lakoff’s work on metaphors (the rivalry between Lakoff and Chomsky was apparently intense). What was true when I first learned about Sapir-Whorf, that “[t]here’s no scientific evidence that that is right in any significant way,” is apparently still true today.[96]

I noted in 2011 that “the ongoing controversy over the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis involves a linear cause and effect relationship, with all the fallacies that this entails, between language systems and cultural concepts (Graddol & Swan, 1989, pp. 147-149).”[97] This was for a class in my Ph.D. program, a program which neglected complexity theory, so I stopped short of writing what I actually think here. Yes, I still think that Sapir-Whorf relies on linear cause and effect. Yes, I still think that’s a huge problem.

What makes more sense to me is that our understanding of the world around—which Benjamin Lee Whorf hypothesized was constrained or limited by our language—may arise jointly with the language we use to describe it in a relationship of mutual causality.[98]

Richard Connor, “‘Arrival’ linguist: ‘I had never thought about communicating with aliens before,'” Deutschewelle, February 25, 2017, http://www.dw.com/en/arrival-linguist-i-had-never-thought-about-communicating-with-aliens-before/a-37711115


Democratic National Committee

“[Tom] Perez’s allies bristle at the notion that he is not a true progressive, citing his work as a civil rights attorney and as Labor secretary.”[99] Hillary Clinton, for whom Perez was a proxy in the battle against Keith Ellison, a proxy for Bernie Sanders, also bristled at the notion that she was not a “true progressive.” So what I think seems to be happening here is that mainstream Democrats are desperately trying to redefine progressivism to embrace neoconservatism and that which neoconservatives consider a moral imperative: neoliberalism. That way, they can continue with the very “same-old, same-old” that Sanders warned against.[100] Which is to say, they are wed to the losing idea of trying and abjectly failing to defeat the Republicans at their own game, trying to win back the South, trying to gain the support of Wall Street and the business community at the expense of working people and the poor, trying to prove they are strong on national security, and generally moving ever further to the right.

Jonathan Easley, “Perez wins bid to lead Democratic Party,” Hill, February 25, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/321099-perez-wins-bid-to-lead-democratic-party


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  41. [91]Jenny Anderson, “A Swedish politician is advocating for the ultimate workplace benefit: paid breaks for sex,” Quartz, February 22, 2017, https://qz.com/916655/a-swedish-politician-argues-employees-need-paid-sex-breaks-for-health-and-wellness/
  42. [92]Richard Connor, “‘Arrival’ linguist: ‘I had never thought about communicating with aliens before,'” Deutschewelle, February 25, 2017, http://www.dw.com/en/arrival-linguist-i-had-never-thought-about-communicating-with-aliens-before/a-37711115; Ben Panko, “Does the Linguistic Theory at the Center of the Film ‘Arrival’ Have Any Merit?” Smithsonian, December 2, 2016, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/does-century-old-linguistic-hypothesis-center-film-arrival-have-any-merit-180961284/
  43. [93]Ben Panko, “Does the Linguistic Theory at the Center of the Film ‘Arrival’ Have Any Merit?” Smithsonian, December 2, 2016, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/does-century-old-linguistic-hypothesis-center-film-arrival-have-any-merit-180961284/
  44. [94]Richard Connor, “‘Arrival’ linguist: ‘I had never thought about communicating with aliens before,'” Deutschewelle, February 25, 2017, http://www.dw.com/en/arrival-linguist-i-had-never-thought-about-communicating-with-aliens-before/a-37711115; David Graddol and Joan Swann, Gender Voices (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989); Ben Panko, “Does the Linguistic Theory at the Center of the Film ‘Arrival’ Have Any Merit?” Smithsonian, December 2, 2016, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/does-century-old-linguistic-hypothesis-center-film-arrival-have-any-merit-180961284/
  45. [95]Ben Panko, “Does the Linguistic Theory at the Center of the Film ‘Arrival’ Have Any Merit?” Smithsonian, December 2, 2016, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/does-century-old-linguistic-hypothesis-center-film-arrival-have-any-merit-180961284/
  46. [96]Richard Connor, “‘Arrival’ linguist: ‘I had never thought about communicating with aliens before,'” Deutschewelle, February 25, 2017, http://www.dw.com/en/arrival-linguist-i-had-never-thought-about-communicating-with-aliens-before/a-37711115
  47. [97]David Benfell, “Of course hermeneutic inquiry is bound to culture—and a few other things,” October 26, 2011, https://parts-unknown.org/drupal7/journal/2011/10/26/course-hermeneutic-inquiry-bound-culture%E2%80%94and-few-other-things
  48. [98]Joanna Macy covers mutual causality at length in Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory (Delhi, India: Sri Satguru, 1995).
  49. [99]Jonathan Easley, “Perez wins bid to lead Democratic Party,” Hill, February 25, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/321099-perez-wins-bid-to-lead-democratic-party
  50. [100]Jonathan Easley, “Perez wins bid to lead Democratic Party,” Hill, February 25, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/321099-perez-wins-bid-to-lead-democratic-party

Conspiracy theories are fun: Daily Bullshit, February 16, 2017 (updated)

I’ve renamed this from the (Almost) Daily Bullshit to the (Supposedly) Daily Bullshit. While I spend several hours each day going through news, I’ve been finding it difficult to produce an issue here every day, and the real truth of the matter is that it seems like I’m often better off starting an issue and updating it over a period of two or three days. This way, more of each story is covered in each issue, with maybe a little better analysis.

The bad part of this is that when I update the publication date from one day to the next, the URL for the issue changes because the URL includes the date. I update the shortened URL at greybeard95a.com manually, so that gets fixed. But original URLs are subject to change (so share the shortened URL, not the original) until newer issues are published.


Updates

  1. February 16, 4:39 pm

    • A Glenn Greenwald interview on Democracy Now! on the possibility of a “deep state coup” against Donald Trump (Intelligence Community)[1]
    • Jonathan Turley on Trump’s latest claims regarding the Muslim Ban.[2]

Intelligence Community

if you look at The Wall Street Journal report, it’s pretty much exactly the same as every other significant report about Russia over the last six months, many of which have proven to be completely false. It’s based on anonymous officials making extremely vague claims. . . .

We ought to have a serious, sober, structured investigation of the claims that Russia hacked the DNC and John Podesta’s emails and that there were improper ties between Donald Trump and the Russians, and that ought to be made public so that we can see the information. But this constant media obsession of leaking whatever someone whispers to them about Donald Trump and Russia, because they know it will get their reporters huge numbers of retweets on Twitter and tons of traffic by people who are being fed what they want to hear, is really feeding into the worst kind of hysteria and even fake news that the media says they’re trying to combat. These are really serious claims that merit serious investigation, and that’s exactly what we’re not getting.[3]

In the last installment, I relied on an Observer article to call the intelligence community, with all its considerable assets, disloyal,[4] because it was withholding information from the president.[5] The Wall Street Journal has now confirmed the story. “[I]n . . . previous cases in which information was withheld, the decision wasn’t motivated by a concern about a president’s trustworthiness or discretion, the current and former officials [familiar with the decision] said.”[6] And, utterly unsurprisingly—and I think meaninglessly—the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has denied the story.[7]

Some supporters of Trump, including Breitbart News, are now accusing the intelligence agencies of attempting to wage a “deep state coup” against the president. Meanwhile, some critics of Trump are openly embracing such activity, like Bill Kristol, the prominent Republican analyst who founded The Weekly Standard. He wrote on Twitter, “Obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state.”[8]

On my other point that this “is why we must be suspicious of the scandal on the Trump administration’s alleged ties to Russia,”[9] the WSJ repeats that “U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia stole and leaked emails from Mrs. Clinton’s campaign to undermine the election process and try to boost Mr. Trump’s chances of winning, an allegation denied by Russian officials.”[10] I have been skeptical of this claim, partly because the supporting evidence is classified[11] and partly because remote (psycho)analysis of Vladimir Putin’s motives seems really dubious.[12] Now let’s just ask ourselves: What if U.S. intelligence agencies had reached their conclusion about Trump even before the election, when these allegations first emerged? What if these agencies are already acting to bring Trump down?

Some supporters of Trump, including Breitbart News, are now accusing the intelligence agencies of attempting to wage a “deep state coup” against the president.[13]

For me, it’s just much too easy to wonder if perhaps the series of accusations against Russia is really a disinformation campaign in an ongoing mission to delegitimize Trump. Admittedly, this is mere and pure speculation. I have absolutely no evidence to back it up. And, worst of all, it’s what Trump wants me to believe. But what can I say? I’m wondering.

The deep state, although there’s no precise or scientific definition, generally refers to the agencies in Washington that are permanent power factions. They stay and exercise power even as presidents who are elected come and go. They typically exercise their power in secret, in the dark, and so they’re barely subject to democratic accountability, if they’re subject to it at all. It’s agencies like the CIA, the NSA and the other intelligence agencies, that are essentially designed to disseminate disinformation and deceit and propaganda, and have a long history of doing not only that, but also have a long history of the world’s worst war crimes, atrocities and death squads. This is who not just people like Bill Kristol, but lots of Democrats are placing their faith in, are trying to empower, are cheering for as they exert power separate and apart from—in fact, in opposition to—the political officials to whom they’re supposed to be subordinate.

And you go—this is not just about Russia. You go all the way back to the campaign, and what you saw was that leading members of the intelligence community, including Mike Morell, who was the acting CIA chief under President Obama, and Michael Hayden, who ran both the CIA and the NSA under George W. Bush, were very outspoken supporters of Hillary Clinton. In fact, Michael Morell went to The New York Times, and Michael Hayden went to The Washington Post, during the campaign to praise Hillary Clinton and to say that Donald Trump had become a recruit of Russia. The CIA and the intelligence community were vehemently in support of Clinton and vehemently opposed to Trump, from the beginning. And the reason was, was because they liked Hillary Clinton’s policies [particularly on Syria] better than they liked Donald Trump’s.[14]

Russia’s denial here offers absolutely no help as most countries engaged in the sorts of operations Russia is accused of will seek to keep them secret because public exposure would invite a counterproductive backlash against ‘foreign interference.’ And, possibly due to a limited imagination, I fail to discern any benefit to admitting to such interference. Russia, whether actually guilty or not, has been ‘caught.’ The country’s denials obviously seek to prevent a backlash. But with such a motivation, we should rather be surprised by a confession, especially if they admitted helping Trump, and in such a case, we could accept that the charges are confirmed. The truth of Russia’s denial lies principally in its quest to avoid negative consequences and we, the general public, continue to lack sufficient information to confirm or refute that Russia intervened in the election or had inappropriate contact with the Trump transition team or has it now with the Trump administration.

[T]he CIA was elected by nobody. They’re barely subject to democratic controls at all. And so, to urge that the CIA and the intelligence community empower itself to undermine the elected branches of government is insanity. That is a prescription for destroying democracy overnight in the name of saving it. And yet that’s what so many, not just neocons, but the neocons’ allies in the Democratic Party, are now urging and cheering. And it’s incredibly warped and dangerous to watch them do that.[15]

So here’s that great conspiracy theory line in which the protagonist primes her or his audience to be suspicious that her or his (mostly or entirely unfounded) allegation might be true, asks a series of questions that assume at least some truth to the allegation and build toward dastardly, deep, dark possibilities, and then declares, “I don’t know!”

I don’t know.

Democracy Now! “Greenwald: Empowering the “Deep State” to Undermine Trump is Prescription for Destroying Democracy,” February 16, 2017, https://www.democracynow.org/2017/2/16/greenwald_empowering_the_deep_state_to

Shane Harris and Carol E. Lee, “Spies Keep Intelligence From Donald Trump on Leak Concerns,” Wall Street Journal, February 16, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/spies-keep-intelligence-from-donald-trump-1487209351

Louis Nelson, “Office of Director of National Intelligence: We don’t withhold intel from Trump,” Politico, February 16, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/office-director-national-intelligence-trump-intel-wsj-235080


Antarctica

This is not Larsen C, which is surely coming, but a calving off the Pine Island glacier.[16] We would very much prefer that the Pine Island glacier remain intact, right where it is.[17]

Brian Kahn, “Antarctica Just Shed a Manhattan-Sized Chunk of Ice,” Climate Central, February 15, 2017, http://www.climatecentral.org/news/antarctica-iceberg-climate-21167


Muslim Ban

There appears to be a discrepancy on the question of whether the Trump administration will appeal the Ninth Circuit’s ruling. Department of Justice lawyers apparently told the court that they would not appeal, that the order would be rescinded and replaced.[18] Jonathan Turley, however, understands Trump to have said “that he would appeal the 9th Circuit Court’s ruling against his travel ban.”[19]

Brent Kendall, “Trump Administration Plans New Immigration Order Next Week, Ends Legal Push in Appeals Court,” Wall Street Journal, February 16, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-administration-plans-new-immigration-order-next-week-ends-legal-push-in-appeals-court-1487275058

Jonathan Turley, “Trump Says Administration Will Issue New Immigration Order Next Week and Appeal Ninth Circuit Ruling,” February 16, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/16/trump-says-administration-will-issue-new-immigration-order-next-week-and-appeal-ninth-circuit-ruling/


  1. [1]Democracy Now! “Greenwald: Empowering the “Deep State” to Undermine Trump is Prescription for Destroying Democracy,” February 16, 2017, https://www.democracynow.org/2017/2/16/greenwald_empowering_the_deep_state_to
  2. [2]Jonathan Turley, “Trump Says Administration Will Issue New Immigration Order Next Week and Appeal Ninth Circuit Ruling,” February 16, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/16/trump-says-administration-will-issue-new-immigration-order-next-week-and-appeal-ninth-circuit-ruling/
  3. [3]Glenn Greenwald, quoted in Democracy Now! “Greenwald: Empowering the “Deep State” to Undermine Trump is Prescription for Destroying Democracy,” February 16, 2017, https://www.democracynow.org/2017/2/16/greenwald_empowering_the_deep_state_to
  4. [4]David Benfell, “The republic is in danger,” (Supposedly) Daily Bullshit, February 15, 2017, https://parts-unknown.org/reading/2017/02/15/the-republic-is-in-danger-daily-bullshit-february-13-15-2017/
  5. [5]John R. Schindler, “The Spy Revolt Against Trump Begins,” Observer, February 12, 2017, http://observer.com/2017/02/donald-trump-administration-mike-flynn-russian-embassy/
  6. [6]Shane Harris and Carol E. Lee, “Spies Keep Intelligence From Donald Trump on Leak Concerns,” Wall Street Journal, February 16, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/spies-keep-intelligence-from-donald-trump-1487209351
  7. [7]Louis Nelson, “Office of Director of National Intelligence: We don’t withhold intel from Trump,” Politico, February 16, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/office-director-national-intelligence-trump-intel-wsj-235080
  8. [8]Chuck Schumer, quoted on Democracy Now! “Greenwald: Empowering the “Deep State” to Undermine Trump is Prescription for Destroying Democracy,” February 16, 2017, https://www.democracynow.org/2017/2/16/greenwald_empowering_the_deep_state_to
  9. [9]David Benfell, “The republic is in danger,” (Supposedly) Daily Bullshit, February 15, 2017, https://parts-unknown.org/reading/2017/02/15/the-republic-is-in-danger-daily-bullshit-february-13-15-2017/
  10. [10]Shane Harris and Carol E. Lee, “Spies Keep Intelligence From Donald Trump on Leak Concerns,” Wall Street Journal, February 16, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/spies-keep-intelligence-from-donald-trump-1487209351
  11. [11]David Benfell, “Blaming the Russians,” Not Housebroken, December 17, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/?p=9151
  12. [12]David Benfell, “Vladimir Putin’s motives,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/?p=9162
  13. [13]Democracy Now! “Greenwald: Empowering the “Deep State” to Undermine Trump is Prescription for Destroying Democracy,” February 16, 2017, https://www.democracynow.org/2017/2/16/greenwald_empowering_the_deep_state_to
  14. [14]Glenn Greenwald, quoted in Democracy Now! “Greenwald: Empowering the “Deep State” to Undermine Trump is Prescription for Destroying Democracy,” February 16, 2017, https://www.democracynow.org/2017/2/16/greenwald_empowering_the_deep_state_to
  15. [15]Glenn Greenwald, quoted in Democracy Now! “Greenwald: Empowering the “Deep State” to Undermine Trump is Prescription for Destroying Democracy,” February 16, 2017, https://www.democracynow.org/2017/2/16/greenwald_empowering_the_deep_state_to
  16. [16]Brian Kahn, “Antarctica Just Shed a Manhattan-Sized Chunk of Ice,” Climate Central, February 15, 2017, http://www.climatecentral.org/news/antarctica-iceberg-climate-21167
  17. [17]Fred Pearce, With Speed and Violence: Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in Climate change (Boston: Beacon, 2007).
  18. [18]Brent Kendall, “Trump Administration Plans New Immigration Order Next Week, Ends Legal Push in Appeals Court,” Wall Street Journal, February 16, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-administration-plans-new-immigration-order-next-week-ends-legal-push-in-appeals-court-1487275058
  19. [19]Jonathan Turley, “Trump Says Administration Will Issue New Immigration Order Next Week and Appeal Ninth Circuit Ruling,” February 16, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/16/trump-says-administration-will-issue-new-immigration-order-next-week-and-appeal-ninth-circuit-ruling/

The republic is in danger: Daily Bullshit, February 13-15, 2017

So yes, there’s been a lot of news about White House chaos. And yes, I’ve seen the scandal the Left thinks it has on Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, an accusation that, it must be said, finds support in Russian denials. My advice to the Left is to not count your scandals until they hatch and to remember who the source is for your information. And as to the rest, I’m still deciding what’s actually news that I want to pay attention to. And finally, because the word ‘fascism’ is getting bandied about so much lately, I’ve gone to work on a definition for the term, documented in my research journal: A simple definition of fascism.


Intelligence Community

Fig. 1. Twitter profile avatar for @AltDIA, February 15, 2017, fair use.
Fig. 1. Twitter profile avatar for @AltDIA, February 15, 2017, fair use.
The intelligence community is now disloyal, even withholding information from the president.[1] No matter what we think of Donald Trump, this has to be alarming: It suggests that spies have gone rogue with their secret budget; their spying, both foreign and domestic; and their drones and special ops forces. Civilian oversight of spy agencies inherently relies on cooperation from the agencies themselves and now we may suspect this oversight is effectively entirely absent.

Which is why we must be suspicious of the scandal on the Trump administration’s alleged ties to Russia. As I said above, consider the source.

John R. Schindler, “The Spy Revolt Against Trump Begins,” Observer, February 12, 2017, http://observer.com/2017/02/donald-trump-administration-mike-flynn-russian-embassy/


Extinction Event

Scott Waldman, “Climate Change Has Already Harmed Almost Half of All Mammals,” Scientific American, February 15, 2017, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/climate-change-has-already-harmed-almost-half-of-all-mammals/


Antarctica

Maddie Stone, “What Happens When That Enormous Antarctic Ice Shelf Finally Breaks?” Gizmodo, February 15, 2017, http://gizmodo.com/what-happens-when-that-enormous-antarctic-ice-shelf-fin-1792186478


  1. [1]John R. Schindler, “The Spy Revolt Against Trump Begins,” Observer, February 12, 2017, http://observer.com/2017/02/donald-trump-administration-mike-flynn-russian-embassy/

Human extinction within ten years? Daily Bullshit, February 11-12, 2017 (updated)

Updated for a story on the relationship between the Trump administration and the intelligence community.[1]


Unauthorized Migration

Federal officials call an eye-catching series of raids ‘routine,’ but “[i]n at least one case, it seems clear that [Donald] Trump’s order changed someone’s fate” and, apparently, Trump’s order has improved morale among “immigration agents [who] expressed frustration . . . that they were not fully allowed to enforce immigration laws under the Obama administration.”[2]

Abigail Hauslohner, Lisa Rein, and Sandhya Someshekhar, “Federal agents conduct sweeping immigration enforcement raids in at least 6 states,” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, February 10, 2017, http://www.startribune.com/fear-spreads-in-l-a-after-immigration-raid-described-as-routine-by-authorities/413425633/

Amy Taxin and Alicia A. Caldwell, “AP Fact Check: Are immigration raids result of Trump policy?” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, February 10, 2017, http://www.startribune.com/ap-fact-check-are-immigration-raids-result-of-trump-policy/413456923/

Elliot Spagat, “Homeland Security head is pressed to define ‘sanctuary city,'” Minneapolist Star-Tribune, February 11, 2017, http://www.startribune.com/homeland-security-head-tours-border-as-wall-plan-takes-shape/413428173/


Democrats and Demography

P. G. Sittenfeld, “A NewDEAL for Democrats — and the Nation,” Congressional Quarterly Roll Call, February 10, 2017, http://www.rollcall.com/news/newdeal-trump-democrats-sittenfeld


Human Extinction

Guy McPherson “predicted the near-term extinction of many species, including human beings, by the middle of 2026.” He points at methane releases in the Arctic and expects a cascade of feedbacks leading to “something called abrupt climate change, also known as nonlinear climate change.”[3]

While I don’t really think this could happen quite that fast, this is, in essence, one scenario I worry about. And I’m cognizant that there are other feedbacks also in play.[4] Even if “[a]ctual measurements of methane in the atmosphere don’t show any such sudden, accelerating spike, and climate scientists don’t believe anything like this ‘clathrate gun’ scenario is underway,”[5] Arctic methane is only one of several ways in which tipping points may be breached.[6] That there are so many such tipping points suggests that there will be a tipping point in which enough has changed that the ecosystem will fundamentally change.

And emergent properties mean we really don’t have any idea what the emerging ecosystem will look like.[7] The cause for fear lies in that there are many more possible ecosystems which do not support human life than there are that do.

I’m mostly pulling this out of my ass, but I tend to think more along Frank Fenner’s timeline of 100 years (as of 2010),[8] and to believe that even once a major tipping point leading to this new ecosystem is breached, humans don’t immediately go extinct, as the feedbacks that destabilize the old ecosystem stabilize a new one over a period of some decades (or possibly longer). In this imagining, we might already have breached this tipping point, or we might breach it within the next ten to fifteen years, and we would not immediately know. But conditions will get worse and worse, until human life is no longer possible.

Charlie Smith, “Could abrupt climate change lead to human extinction within 10 years?” Georgia Straight, February 11, 2017, http://www.straight.com/news/868051/could-abrupt-climate-change-lead-human-extinction-within-10-20-years


Intelligence Community

In light of [concerns about the Trump administration’s personnel and practices], and out of worries about the White House’s ability to keep secrets, some of our spy agencies have begun withholding intelligence from the Oval Office. Why risk your most sensitive information if the president may ignore it anyway? A senior National Security Agency official explained that NSA was systematically holding back some of the “good stuff” from the White House, in an unprecedented move. For decades, NSA has prepared special reports for the president’s eyes only, containing enormously sensitive intelligence. In the last three weeks, however, NSA has ceased doing this, fearing Trump and his staff cannot keep their best SIGINT secrets.[9]

John R. Schindler, “The Spy Revolt Against Trump Begins,” Observer, February 12, 2017, http://observer.com/2017/02/donald-trump-administration-mike-flynn-russian-embassy/


  1. [1]John R. Schindler, “The Spy Revolt Against Trump Begins,” Observer, February 12, 2017, http://observer.com/2017/02/donald-trump-administration-mike-flynn-russian-embassy/
  2. [2]Amy Taxin and Alicia A. Caldwell, “AP Fact Check: Are immigration raids result of Trump policy?” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, February 10, 2017, http://www.startribune.com/ap-fact-check-are-immigration-raids-result-of-trump-policy/413456923/
  3. [3]Charlie Smith, “Could abrupt climate change lead to human extinction within 10 years?” Georgia Straight, February 11, 2017, http://www.straight.com/news/868051/could-abrupt-climate-change-lead-human-extinction-within-10-20-years
  4. [4]Fred Pearce, With Speed and Violence: Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in Climate change (Boston: Beacon, 2007).
  5. [5]Scott K. Johnson, quoted in Charlie Smith, “Could abrupt climate change lead to human extinction within 10 years?” Georgia Straight, February 11, 2017, http://www.straight.com/news/868051/could-abrupt-climate-change-lead-human-extinction-within-10-20-years
  6. [6]Fred Pearce, With Speed and Violence: Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in Climate change (Boston: Beacon, 2007).
  7. [7]Fritjof Capra, The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems (New York: Anchor, 1996).
  8. [8]Cheryl Jones, “Frank Fenner sees no hope for humans,” Australian, June 16, 2010, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/frank-fenner-sees-no-hope-for-humans/story-e6frgcjx-1225880091722
  9. [9]John R. Schindler, “The Spy Revolt Against Trump Begins,” Observer, February 12, 2017, http://observer.com/2017/02/donald-trump-administration-mike-flynn-russian-embassy/

Scottish parliament to vote on Brexit: Daily Bullshit, February 7-10, 2017 (updated 3x)

Updated for

  1. the appeals court hearing on Donald Trump’s Muslim ban.[1]
  2. for more on the hearing,[2] for a rather alarming story on trust in the media,[3] for the outcome of the British parliament’s vote on Brexit,[4] for the outcome (I missed this earlier) of the Scottish Parliament’s vote on the same issue,[5] and for an article on why it’s right to call it a Muslim ban.[6] On the latter point, I’d just point to that C-5A-sized loophole about how more—an unspecified number—countries might be added later. But perhaps we could start with Indonesia. Which we probably can’t tell from Pakistan anyway.
  3. for the outcome of the hearing[7] and for the Sioux running out of legal options to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.[8]

Scottish independence

I’m unclear on the point. We already know that Scotland’s electorate opposed Brexit[9] and we have little reason to suspect that’s changed. But we also know that most Scots oppose another referendum on independence at this time,[10] which suggests rather strongly to me that one would not pass. And finally, we know that, as an entity, Scotland is effectively invisible to the European Union, that it is entirely subject to whatever Article 50 deal Britain negotiates with the Union.[11] So the only way that Scotland can negotiate access to the EU is to be independent, which its voters apparently do not want. I’m really not seeing the way forward here.

Deutschewelle, “Scotland to hold nonbinding vote on rejecting Brexit,” February 6, 2017, http://www.dw.com/en/scotland-to-hold-nonbinding-vote-on-rejecting-brexit/a-37425380

British Broadcasting Corporation, “Holyrood votes against triggering Brexit,” February 7, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-38880999


Dakota Access Pipeline

Steve Almasy, “Dakota Access Pipeline: Army issuing final permit,” CNN, February 7, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/07/politics/dakota-access-pipeline-easement-granted/index.html

Ernest Scheyder and Terray Sylvester, “North Dakota tribe says running out of options to stop pipeline,” Reuters, February 8, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/usth-dakota-pipeline-idUSKBN15N2HP


Muslim Ban

The short version is that Trump “lost dramatically and completely.”[12]

I previously discussed my surprise over the clumsy performance of the Justice Department in defending the Trump executive order on immigration. Those concerns were magnified after the oral argument before the Ninth Circuit that was made available on YouTube. The performance by August Flentje, special counsel to the assistant U.S. attorney general, was surprisingly lackluster and seemingly ill-prepared. The shaky start that I described earlier seems now to be seismic as the Justice Department stumbles toward a ruling that can come as early as today. As Flentje observed during his uninspired argument “I’m not sure I’m convincing the court.”[13]

Jonathan Turley relies on a general rule that courts generally defer to the executive branch on national security matters.[14] So far, that seems not to be holding this time,[15] probably because, whoops:

The tendency by judges not to question the president on national security issues is rooted in the belief that the president, aided by national security advisors and the wealth of information at their disposal, is in the best position to make such decisions, said Matt Waxman, a national security law expert at Columbia University.

“But I’d argue that is a customary practice that is heavily reliant on the credibility of the executive branch,” said Waxman, who served on the National Security Council and in the State Department under President George W. Bush.[16]

One thing I would not say about the Trump administration is that it is credible.

Trump, Waxman said, “squandered a lot of that credibility” with his “wild and shifting claims about national security” and his unorthodox decision not to seek input from national security experts before rolling out the travel ban.

“I think it is quite possible and even likely the courts will not show the president the same level of deference they have shown previous presidents on national security,” he said.

Shirin Sinnar, a national security expert at Stanford Law School, echoed Waxman.

“It is a unique situation here,” she said. “We know national security agencies were sidelined, so it is hard to see how this idea of the executive branch being entitled to deference would apply.”[17]

And there is a more substantial defense of the order offered by Jonathan Hafetz.[18] Then there’s Amy Davidson’s impression, in which the government’s performance at the hearing appears truly awful.[19] Turley believes the order is defensible and he “believe[s] that the weight of binding authority on these trial courts favors President Trump,”[20] and, to say the least, this is a high-profile case, which is to say that poorly-performing lawyers will surely be embarrassed.

That Justice Department lawyers are nonetheless performing so poorly in a high-profile case catches my attention. It’s true they had been told not to defend the order by an acting Attorney General[21] who was subsequently fired[22] and therefore may have had less time to prepare a defense of the order. But in my dealings with lawyers over the years, I have become suspicious that lawyers may not always actually act in their clients’ best interests, that sometimes when they believe when to do so would be to act in the interest of justice, they may intentionally lose a case. Trump can fire an acting attorney general; I’m not so sure he’s persuaded the attorneys at the Justice Department.

By the way, I suppose I should emphasize that all this is over a temporary restraining order. In theory, Trump might still prevail at trial. But he’s surely going to have to up his game to do that.

Devlin Barrett, Brent Kendall, and Aruna Viswanatha, “Court Grills Lawyers on Donald Trump’s Immigration Order,” Wall Street Journal, February 7, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trumps-immigration-action-in-courts-hands-1486491207

Joel Rubin, “Courts rarely second-guess the president on national security. But that doesn’t mean they can’t, experts said,” Los Angeles Times, February 7, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-live-updates-9th-circuit-arguments-courts-have-been-reluctant-to-1486509412-htmlstory.html

Amy Davidson, “The Ninth Circuit and President Trump’s Lies,” New Yorker, February 8, 2017, http://www.newyorker.com/news/amy-davidson/the-ninth-circuit-and-president-trumps-lies

Jonathan Turley, “Ninth Circuit Deliberates Appeal Over Trump Executive Order,” February 8, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/08/ninth-circuit-deliberates-appeal-over-trump-executive-order/

Austin Wright, “Top Democrat: U.S. allies see Trump order as Muslim ban,” Politico, February 8, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/trump-muslim-ban-us-allies-ben-cardin-234799

Josh Gerstein, “3 key Trump mistakes that led to the travel ban court defeat,” Politico, February 9, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/3-key-trump-mistakes-that-led-to-travel-ban-court-defeat-234884

Richard Primus, “Will the Supreme Court Back Trump?” Politico, February 10, 2017, http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/02/will-the-scotus-back-trump-214763

Ariane de Vogue and Laura Jarrett, “Trump furious after court upholds block on travel ban,” CNN, February 10, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/09/politics/travel-ban-9th-circuit-ruling-immigration


Trust in Media

It seems to me that journalists need to get on top of this. Now.

Joe Concha, “Trump administration seen as more truthful than news media: poll,” Hill, February 8, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/media/318514-trump-admin-seen-as-more-truthful-than-news-media-poll


Brexit

Angela Dewan and Simon Cullen, “House of Commons OKs Brexit bill,” CNN, February 8, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/08/europe/brexit-bill-parliament-vote-article-50/index.html


  1. [1]Devlin Barrett, Brent Kendall, and Aruna Viswanatha, “Court Grills Lawyers on Donald Trump’s Immigration Order,” Wall Street Journal, February 7, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trumps-immigration-action-in-courts-hands-1486491207
  2. [2]Amy Davidson, “The Ninth Circuit and President Trump’s Lies,” New Yorker, February 8, 2017, http://www.newyorker.com/news/amy-davidson/the-ninth-circuit-and-president-trumps-lies; Jonathan Turley, “Ninth Circuit Deliberates Appeal Over Trump Executive Order,” February 8, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/08/ninth-circuit-deliberates-appeal-over-trump-executive-order/
  3. [3]Joe Concha, “Trump administration seen as more truthful than news media: poll,” Hill, February 8, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/media/318514-trump-admin-seen-as-more-truthful-than-news-media-poll
  4. [4]Angela Dewan and Simon Cullen, “House of Commons OKs Brexit bill,” CNN, February 8, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/08/europe/brexit-bill-parliament-vote-article-50/index.html
  5. [5]British Broadcasting Corporation, “Holyrood votes against triggering Brexit,” February 7, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-38880999
  6. [6]Austin Wright, “Top Democrat: U.S. allies see Trump order as Muslim ban,” Politico, February 8, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/trump-muslim-ban-us-allies-ben-cardin-234799
  7. [7]Josh Gerstein, “3 key Trump mistakes that led to the travel ban court defeat,” Politico, February 9, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/3-key-trump-mistakes-that-led-to-travel-ban-court-defeat-234884; Richard Primus, “Will the Supreme Court Back Trump?” Politico, February 10, 2017, http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/02/will-the-scotus-back-trump-214763; Ariane de Vogue and Laura Jarrett, “Trump furious after court upholds block on travel ban,” CNN, February 10, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/09/politics/travel-ban-9th-circuit-ruling-immigration
  8. [8]Ernest Scheyder and Terray Sylvester, “North Dakota tribe says running out of options to stop pipeline,” Reuters, February 8, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/usth-dakota-pipeline-idUSKBN15N2HP
  9. [9]Peter Geoghegan, “Scots against Brexit,” Deutschewelle, June 18, 2016, http://www.dw.com/en/scotland-plays-it-cool-over-brexit-debate/a-19326241; Peter Geoghegan, “Scotland eyes British exit,” Politico, October 12, 2016, http://www.politico.eu/article/all-eyes-on-scotland-scottish-national-party-conference-nicola-sturgeon/; Peter Geoghegan, “Scottish nationalists huddle to talk Brexit, independence,” Deutschewelle, October 12, 2016, http://www.dw.com/en/scottish-nationalists-huddle-to-talk-brexit-independence/a-36015386; Rowena Lindsay, “Scotland revives independence bid in wake of Brexit vote,” Christian Science Monitor, September 2, 2016, http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2016/0902/Scotland-revives-independence-bid-in-wake-of-Brexit-vote; MercoPress, “Scotland ‘undoubtedly’ closer to an independence referendum,” January 18, 2017, http://en.mercopress.com/2017/01/18/scotland-undoubtedly-closer-to-an-independence-referendum; Nicholas Winning, “Scotland to Consider New Independence Referendum Bill,” Wall Street Journal, October 13, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/scotland-to-consider-new-independence-referendum-bill-1476363221
  10. [10]Elisabeth O’Leary, “Scottish independence vote may be decided ‘within weeks’: Sturgeon ally,” Reuters, February 5, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-scotland-idUSKBN15K0UA
  11. [11]Gabriela Baczynska, “European Commission says after Brexit vote: Scotland part of UK,” Reuters, June 25, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-eu-scotland-commission-idUSKCN0ZB0LQ; Telegraph, “Spain rejects Nicola Sturgeon Brexit plan for Scotland in seemingly fatal blow,” December 22, 2016, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/22/spain-rejects-nicola-sturgeon-brexit-plan-scotland-seemingly/
  12. [12]Jeffery Toobin, quoted in Ariane de Vogue and Laura Jarrett, “Trump furious after court upholds block on travel ban,” CNN, February 10, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/09/politics/travel-ban-9th-circuit-ruling-immigration
  13. [13]Jonathan Turley, “Ninth Circuit Deliberates Appeal Over Trump Executive Order,” February 8, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/08/ninth-circuit-deliberates-appeal-over-trump-executive-order/
  14. [14]Jonathan Turley, “Judges In Seattle and Boston Reach Opposing Opinions On Trump Executive Order,” February 4, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/04/108507/; Jonathan Turley, “Ninth Circuit Rejects Motion For Immediate Reinstatement Of Executive Order But Schedules Expedited Argument For Monday,” February 5, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/05/ninth-circuit-rejects-motion-for-immediate-reinstatement-of-executive-order-but-schedules-expedited-argument-for-monday/; Jonathan Turley, “Ninth Circuit Briefing Completed Today For Ruling On Trump Appeal,” February 6, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/06/ninth-circuit-briefing-completed-today-for-ruling-on-trump-appeal/
  15. [15]Ariane de Vogue and Laura Jarrett, “Trump furious after court upholds block on travel ban,” CNN, February 10, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/09/politics/travel-ban-9th-circuit-ruling-immigration
  16. [16]Joel Rubin, “Courts rarely second-guess the president on national security. But that doesn’t mean they can’t, experts said,” Los Angeles Times, February 7, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-live-updates-9th-circuit-arguments-courts-have-been-reluctant-to-1486509412-htmlstory.html
  17. [17]Joel Rubin, “Courts rarely second-guess the president on national security. But that doesn’t mean they can’t, experts said,” Los Angeles Times, February 7, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-live-updates-9th-circuit-arguments-courts-have-been-reluctant-to-1486509412-htmlstory.html
  18. [18]Jonathan Hafetz, “Why Courts Appear Willing to Reject Trump’s Travel Ban Order,” Lawfare, February 6, 2017, https://www.justsecurity.org/37388/courts-reject-trumps-travel-ban-order/
  19. [19]Amy Davidson, “The Ninth Circuit and President Trump’s Lies,” New Yorker, February 8, 2017, http://www.newyorker.com/news/amy-davidson/the-ninth-circuit-and-president-trumps-lies
  20. [20]Jonathan Turley, “Judges In Seattle and Boston Reach Opposing Opinions On Trump Executive Order,” February 4, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/04/108507/
  21. [21]Mark Berman and Matt Zapotosky, “Acting attorney general declares Justice Department won’t defend Trump’s immigration order,” Washington Post, January 30, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/01/30/trump-says-all-is-going-well-on-immigration-order-amid-questions-and-confusion/
  22. [22]Jordan Fabian, “Trump fires acting AG for refusing to defend travel ban,” Hill, January 30, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/317018-trump-fires-acting-ag-for-refusing-to-defend-travel-ban

Why Donald Trump’s Muslim ban might be overturned: Daily Bullshit, February 6, 2017

Muslim Ban

I tend to rely on Jonathan Turley in understanding legal matters for a couple reasons. First, he’s prolific and authoritative in explaining legal issues of the day. Second, he is sufficiently privileged that I find his perspective useful in helping to assess how the elite may be viewing the events of the day. But if Turley’s wrong in thinking “that the weight of existing precedent favors the Administration and that the district court is vulnerable on standing issues,”[1] Jonathan Hafetz offers an explanation for Judge James Robart’s order that may be helpful. Hafetz covers four points, but among those points, Donald Trump has undermined his own case, both with his disrespect for the judge and with his longstanding calls for a ‘Muslim ban.’ The latter shows discriminatory intent (and the former is just stupid, pissing off the very folks Trump needs to rule in his favor).[2] Turley, who seems to have a serious blind spot on discrimination in our society, may understate the latter.[3] He writes,

The professors however also go all in on the argument that this ban should be viewed as an anti-Muslim ban:

Here, there is substantial evidence that the ban was motivated by animus against Muslims. For example, on January 28, 2017, a week after the inauguration, Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani stated in an interview that President Trump had previously asked him about legally implementing a “Muslim ban.” Indeed, for nearly a year preceding the election, President Trump’s campaign website referred to a “Muslim ban,” indicating discriminatory intent.9 The evidence that there was no bona fide reason for the ban will be developed further through discovery.

I will not repeat the reasons for why I do not understand how a court can rely on such statements in its analysis, but I do not view that as a winning argument.[4]

Turley doesn’t “repeat the reasons for why [he does] not understand how a court can rely on such statements”[5] and I don’t know where he states them initially, so I can’t evaluate them. But ultimately there are two layers to this question. First, is Robart actually right on the merits? Hafetz offers a decent explanation for why he might be. But second, how will the courts ultimately see the matter? Here, Turley might be right even if he’s wrong.

Jonathan Hafetz, “Why Courts Appear Willing to Reject Trump’s Travel Ban Order,” Lawfare, February 6, 2017, https://www.justsecurity.org/37388/courts-reject-trumps-travel-ban-order/

Jonathan Turley, “Ninth Circuit Briefing Completed Today For Ruling On Trump Appeal,” February 6, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/06/ninth-circuit-briefing-completed-today-for-ruling-on-trump-appeal/


California Drought

Ellen Powell, “As the snowpack piles up, is California’s drought over? No, say experts,” Christian Science Monitor, February 4, 2017, http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2017/0204/As-the-snowpack-piles-up-is-California-s-drought-over-No-say-experts


  1. [1]Jonathan Turley, “Ninth Circuit Briefing Completed Today For Ruling On Trump Appeal,” February 6, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/06/ninth-circuit-briefing-completed-today-for-ruling-on-trump-appeal/
  2. [2]Jonathan Hafetz, “Why Courts Appear Willing to Reject Trump’s Travel Ban Order,” Lawfare, February 6, 2017, https://www.justsecurity.org/37388/courts-reject-trumps-travel-ban-order/
  3. [3]Jonathan Turley, “Judges In Seattle and Boston Reach Opposing Opinions On Trump Executive Order,” February 4, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/04/108507/; Jonathan Turley, “Ninth Circuit Rejects Motion For Immediate Reinstatement Of Executive Order But Schedules Expedited Argument For Monday,” February 5, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/05/ninth-circuit-rejects-motion-for-immediate-reinstatement-of-executive-order-but-schedules-expedited-argument-for-monday/; Jonathan Turley, “Ninth Circuit Briefing Completed Today For Ruling On Trump Appeal,” February 6, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/06/ninth-circuit-briefing-completed-today-for-ruling-on-trump-appeal/
  4. [4]Jonathan Turley, “Ninth Circuit Briefing Completed Today For Ruling On Trump Appeal,” February 6, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/06/ninth-circuit-briefing-completed-today-for-ruling-on-trump-appeal/
  5. [5]Jonathan Turley, “Ninth Circuit Briefing Completed Today For Ruling On Trump Appeal,” February 6, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/06/ninth-circuit-briefing-completed-today-for-ruling-on-trump-appeal/

No snark today. Just the Daily Bullshit, February 3-5, 2017 (updated 4x)

Updated for developments on Donald Trump’s Muslim ban.[1] And again for more.[2] And again.[3] And yet again, but this time for an article on an apparently forthcoming decision on calling a new referendum on Scottish independence.[4] and an article on how Trump’s order on sanctuary cities is being interpreted in Oregon.[5]


I have a new blog entry up, entitled, “Why should I care?


Unemployment

Lauren Weber, “The End of Employees,” Wall Street Journal, February 2, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-end-of-employees-1486050443


Standing Rock

Sandy Tolan, “Supporters say Dakota Access pipeline is back on. Activists counter: See you in court,” Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-dakota-access-20170201-story.html


H-1B Visas

Stephen Nellis and Mica Rosenberg, “Facebook vulnerable to expected changes in key visa program,” Reuters, February 3, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-facebook-immigration-idUSKBN15H2WY


Muslim Ban

The Ninth Circuit is famously liberal and famous for having for its decisions overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. It apparently did not simply agree[6] with Jonathan Turley that the order, however unwise, is well within the president’s authority,[7] but “instead asked both the state of Washington and the Trump administration early Sunday to file more arguments by Monday afternoon.”[8] Even if the appeals court ultimately upholds the lower court decision, given the history between the Ninth Circuit and the Supreme Court, one might suspect that a further appeal to the latter might succeed. Of the latter possibility, Turley writes,

This is the worst procedural foundation for an appeal [to the Supreme Court] but, given the national security claims, it is not beyond the realm of possibility for the Administration to secure review.[9]

I suppose it’s worth noting that Turley is careful to note that “[n]one of this means that the challenges to the Executive Order are frivolous or that parts of the Executive Order could not be struck down.” He just believes “the weight of existing case law favors the Administration.”[10]

Laura Jarrett, Rene Marsh, and Laura Koran, “Homeland Security suspends travel ban,” CNN, February 4, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/03/politics/federal-judge-temporarily-halts-trump-travel-ban-nationwide-ag-says/index.html

Jonathan Turley, “Judges In Seattle and Boston Reach Opposing Opinions On Trump Executive Order,” February 4, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/04/108507/

Associated Press, “Court Denies Justice Department’s Request to Immediately Reinstate Trump Travel Ban,” Wall Street Journal, February 5, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/court-denies-justice-departments-request-to-immediately-reinstate-trump-travel-ban-1486286937

Colin Dwyer, “Court Denies DOJ Request For Stay; Trump Immigration Order Remains Suspended,” National Public Radio, February 5, 2017, http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/02/04/513415447/airlines-again-board-travelers-barred-by-travel-order-as-trump-vows-to-fight

Jonathan Turley, “Ninth Circuit Rejects Motion For Immediate Reinstatement Of Executive Order But Schedules Expedited Argument For Monday,” February 5, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/05/ninth-circuit-rejects-motion-for-immediate-reinstatement-of-executive-order-but-schedules-expedited-argument-for-monday/


Scottish Independence

Elisabeth O’Leary, “Scottish independence vote may be decided ‘within weeks’: Sturgeon ally,” Reuters, February 5, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-scotland-idUSKBN15K0UA


Unauthorized migration

However, in 2014 Oregon sheriff’s were jolted to the realization that [complying with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detainer requests] breaks civil and human rights because the ICE request was not actually lawful.

“In Columbia County, there was an individual convicted of a crime who fell in their county jail,” [Coos County Sheriff Craig Zanni] said. “The office received one of those ICE detainer requests, so they held the individual after their sentence was up, but ICE didn’t come and get them. The individual sued the county for unlawfully detaining them for $300,000 and won.”

During the lawsuit, ICE refused to support the sheriff’s department. . . .

“To be blunt, we were asked if we would honor a detainer request, and we said if it was signed by a magistrate we would. Their response was getting it signed is a lot of work. I said no, it’s not, we do it everyday for warrants. If one of my people arrested someone this afternoon, they take them to the jail and fill out a probable cause statement that will be reviewed by a judge in the morning. If there isn’t probable cause, that person goes out the door. That’s constitutional. We do it every day and I don’t know why on the federal level they think it’s such a big deal.”[11]

Jillian Ward, “Coos County, state of Oregon, make sanctuary status,” Coos Bay World, February 4, 2017, http://theworldlink.com/news/local/coos-county-state-of-oregon-make-sanctuary-status/article_89b296b1-5db0-557f-9a35-61aafc601671.html

  1. [1]Laura Jarrett, Rene Marsh, and Laura Koran, “Homeland Security suspends travel ban,” CNN, February 4, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/03/politics/federal-judge-temporarily-halts-trump-travel-ban-nationwide-ag-says/index.html
  2. [2]Associated Press, “Court Denies Justice Department’s Request to Immediately Reinstate Trump Travel Ban,” Wall Street Journal, February 5, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/court-denies-justice-departments-request-to-immediately-reinstate-trump-travel-ban-1486286937; Colin Dwyer, “Court Denies DOJ Request For Stay; Trump Immigration Order Remains Suspended,” National Public Radio, February 5, 2017, http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/02/04/513415447/airlines-again-board-travelers-barred-by-travel-order-as-trump-vows-to-fight; Jonathan Turley, “Judges In Seattle and Boston Reach Opposing Opinions On Trump Executive Order,” February 4, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/04/108507/
  3. [3]Jonathan Turley, “Ninth Circuit Rejects Motion For Immediate Reinstatement Of Executive Order But Schedules Expedited Argument For Monday,” February 5, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/05/ninth-circuit-rejects-motion-for-immediate-reinstatement-of-executive-order-but-schedules-expedited-argument-for-monday/
  4. [4]Elisabeth O’Leary, “Scottish independence vote may be decided ‘within weeks’: Sturgeon ally,” Reuters, February 5, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-scotland-idUSKBN15K0UA
  5. [5]Jillian Ward, “Coos County, state of Oregon, make sanctuary status,” Coos Bay World, February 4, 2017, http://theworldlink.com/news/local/coos-county-state-of-oregon-make-sanctuary-status/article_89b296b1-5db0-557f-9a35-61aafc601671.html
  6. [6]Colin Dwyer, “Court Denies DOJ Request For Stay; Trump Immigration Order Remains Suspended,” National Public Radio, February 5, 2017, http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/02/04/513415447/airlines-again-board-travelers-barred-by-travel-order-as-trump-vows-to-fight
  7. [7]Jonathan Turley, “Judges In Seattle and Boston Reach Opposing Opinions On Trump Executive Order,” February 4, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/04/108507/
  8. [8]Associated Press, “Court Denies Justice Department’s Request to Immediately Reinstate Trump Travel Ban,” Wall Street Journal, February 5, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/court-denies-justice-departments-request-to-immediately-reinstate-trump-travel-ban-1486286937
  9. [9]Jonathan Turley, “Ninth Circuit Rejects Motion For Immediate Reinstatement Of Executive Order But Schedules Expedited Argument For Monday,” February 5, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/05/ninth-circuit-rejects-motion-for-immediate-reinstatement-of-executive-order-but-schedules-expedited-argument-for-monday/
  10. [10]Jonathan Turley, “Judges In Seattle and Boston Reach Opposing Opinions On Trump Executive Order,” February 4, 2017, https://jonathanturley.org/2017/02/04/108507/
  11. [11]Jillian Ward, “Coos County, state of Oregon, make sanctuary status,” Coos Bay World, February 4, 2017, http://theworldlink.com/news/local/coos-county-state-of-oregon-make-sanctuary-status/article_89b296b1-5db0-557f-9a35-61aafc601671.html

Surprise, surprise! And that ain’t Donald Trump’s little finger either: Daily Bullshit, January 30-February 1, 2017 (updated 4x)

Updated for:

  1. more stories on Donald Trump’s immigration orders.[1]
  2. more of the same.[2]
  3. yet more.[3]
  4. a story on the DeVry settlement,[4] a story on how refugees often end up working and being abused in slaughterhouses,[5] three more stories on Trump’s immigration orders,[6] and a story on the British Parliament passing an initial reading of a bill beginning the Brexit process.[7]

Note that stories on Trump’s immigration orders fall into two categories: the Muslim ban and unauthorized migration.


It occurs to me that the cultural reference from which I entitle this entry may be a little obscure. It’s an old Gomer Pyle joke from my childhood. Pyle was the main protagonist in a television comedy (an Andy Griffith spin-off), a U.S. Marine who endlessly frustrated his sergeant with his combination of good intentions and utter stupidity. In this comedy, Pyle had a love interest and the joke is that when making out, Pyle asks his beloved if he might stick his pinky finger in her belly button. Except, as she rapidly observes, it isn’t her belly button he sticks something in. And he replies (I trust it’s obvious I’m culling this quote from memory), “Surprise, surprise! That isn’t my little finger either!”


Muslim ban

Did Donald Trump fuck up royally in issuing an order restricting entry into the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries?[8] Even the neoconservative Weekly Standard labels it his “first substantive and serious public policy snafu”[9] and a “fiasco.”[10] Neoconservatives should normally seek to exploit public paranoia in support of a muscular foreign policy, which is precisely what Trump did, so I’m guessing the answer to that question would be a resounding yes.

Larger questions are starting to emerge. Clearly, Trump overstepped. His authoritarian populist and paleoconservative base will cheer but lots of other folks are calling his ban a ‘Muslim ban,’ calling it Islamophobia, calling it xenophobia, and calling it stupid and harmful.[11] It appears unlikely to survive legal challenge.[12] Erstwhile[13] “[a]cting Attorney General Sally Yates [a holdover from the Obama administration] has ordered Justice Department lawyers not to defend challenges to” the ban, “declaring in a memo Monday she is not convinced the order is lawful.”[14] All this seems unlikely to deter Trump, who replied to the acting attorney general by firing her[15] and is simply enacting authoritarian populist policy and, like authoritarian populists themselves, “identif[ies] the country as a whole with an idealized version of themselves, and to equate any dissent from their values with disloyalty by alien, ‘un-American’ forces.”[16]

But the lesson I emerged from the dot-com crash with was that when something doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t make sense and it cannot last. Trump’s presidency is starting to look that way. How Trump falls—assuming rather largely that he in fact does—is a complete mystery to me. I’m not really buying the impeachment scenarios that have been floating about because Republicans would have to impeach him—and they couldn’t even manage to impeach Barack Obama whom they most assuredly would have impeached if they could have. But that lesson is very much on my mind at the moment.

Barbara Demick and Molly Hennessy-Fiske, “Federal judge blocks deportations under Trump’s ‘extreme vetting’ order for refugees and others with valid visas,” Los Angeles Times, January 28, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-trailguide-updates-federal-judge-blocks-deportations-under-1485658337-htmlstory.html

Eric Levenson, “How many fatal terror attacks have refugees carried out in the US? None,” CNN, January 29, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/29/us/refugee-terrorism-trnd/index.html

James Queally, Javier Panzar, and Matt Hamilton, “Protesters block LAX traffic, face off with police as they rally against Trump’s travel ban,” Los Angeles Times, January 29, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-lax-protest-20170129-story.html

Mark Berman and Matt Zapotosky, “Acting attorney general declares Justice Department won’t defend Trump’s immigration order,” Washington Post, January 30, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/01/30/trump-says-all-is-going-well-on-immigration-order-amid-questions-and-confusion/

Alan Berube, “These communities have a lot at stake in Trump’s executive order on immigration,” Brookings, January 30, 2017, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2017/01/30/these-communities-have-a-lot-at-stake-in-trumps-executive-order-on-immigration/

Alicia A. Caldwel and Jill Colvin, “Refugees and immigration: What Trump did — and then what happened,” Seattle Times, January 30, 2017, http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/a-look-at-trumps-executive-order-on-refugees-immigration/

Jordan Fabian, “Trump fires acting AG for refusing to defend travel ban,” Hill, January 30, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/317018-trump-fires-acting-ag-for-refusing-to-defend-travel-ban

Edward Helmore and Alan Yuhas, “Border agents defy courts on Trump travel ban, congressmen and lawyers say,” Guardian, January 30, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/29/customs-border-protection-agents-trump-muslim-country-travel-ban

Mark Hemingway, “Immigration Executive Order Fiasco Shows We Need Leadership From President Trump,” Weekly Standard, January 30, 2017, http://www.weeklystandard.com/immigration-executive-order-fiasco-shows-we-need-leadership-from-president-trump/article/2006572

Michael Warren, “‘Clear Adjustments Needed’ for White House,” Weekly Standard, January 30, 2017, http://www.weeklystandard.com/clear-adjustments-needed-for-white-house/article/2006566

William Gallo, “Despite Public Backlash, US Security Officials Defend Trump Travel Restrictions,” Global Security, January 31, 2017, http://www.globalsecurity.org/security/library/news/2017/01/sec-170131-voa04.htm

Dan Levine and Jeffrey Dastin, “Tech companies to meet on legal challenge to Trump immigration order,” Reuters, January 31, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-immigration-tech-idUSKBN15F08H

Irwin M. Stelzer, “Let Apple Pay for Their H-1B Visas,” Weekly Standard, January 31, 2017, http://www.weeklystandard.com/on-silicon-valley-and-h-1b-visas/article/2006581

Maria Sacchetti and Milton Valencia, “With visas revoked, travelers barred entry despite court order,” Boston Globe, February 1, 2017, http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/02/01/document-filed-boston-court-reveals-visas-were-revoked-for-people-from-banned-countries/D6NBbEBA1HrF4IUrJjuljI/story.html


Unauthorized migration

Vanda Felbab-Brown, “Why the border wall’s costs far outweigh its benefits,” Brookings, January 30, 2017, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2017/01/30/why-the-border-walls-costs-far-outweigh-its-benefits/


H-1B Visas

It isn’t just, as Marissa Kendall notes, that “[c]ritics of the H-1B program argue it’s being abused by companies that use it to replace their American workers.”[17] This and other abuses are, in fact, quite well-documented[18] and surely most people who were around for the dot-com crash either personally trained their own replacements or know people who did. But as the neoconservative Weekly Standard’s Irwin Stelzer notes,

My lawyer friends would remark that these free-market enthusiasts do not come to this issue with clean hands. The market has not produced American laborers with appropriate skills in sufficient quantity in part because the Valley’s firms got together to reduce the market’s ability to perform the function of any free market—increase supply in response to increased demand by raising prices, in this case wages paid to skilled workers.[19]

Stelzer[20] is referring to the 2014 wage-fixing case that implicated several major Silicon Valley firms[21] and it’s more than a little unexpected for a neoconservative to make this observation. Neoconservatives embrace neoliberalism as a moral imperative[22] (Daniel Stedman Jones, in his otherwise excellent history, conflates the two and both Jones[23] and Mark Blyth, in another otherwise excellent history, fail to distinguish between neoliberalism and capitalist libertarianism[24]) and it is with neoliberalism that a strong anti-worker—and there’s no reason to think better-paid high tech workers should be exempt—and explicitly anti-union bias emerges.[25] In this light, Stelzer’s argument actually appears capitalist libertarian, which neoliberalism derives from, but should not be conflated with.

Marisa Kendall, “Report: Trump plans H-1B and other work visa reforms,” San Jose Mercury-News, January 31, 2017, http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/01/30/trump-poised-to-overhaul-work-visas-relied-on-by-silicon-valley-tech/


Slaughterhouse work

For the meat industry—which supported Trump over Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, in terms of campaign donations—Trump’s crackdown [on refugees from Muslim-majority countries] marks the second disappointment in a week. The industry also cried foul over Trump’s recent moves against high-profile trade deals. Just as meat companies rely on foreign workers to do their dirty work, they also rely of foreign markets to maintain profit growth.[26]

Tom Philpott, “Refugees Make Your Dinner. Literally,” Mother Jones, January 31, 2017, http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/01/meat-industry-refugees-trump


Unauthorized migration

Maura Dolan, “San Francisco sues Trump over executive order targeting sanctuary cities,” Los Angeles Times, January 31, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-san-francisco-trump-20170131-story.html


Brexit

Laura Smith-Spark, “Article 50: UK parliament votes in favor of starting Brexit process,” CNN, February 1, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/01/europe/article-50-brexit-parliament-vote/index.html

  1. [1]Eric Levenson, “How many fatal terror attacks have refugees carried out in the US? None,” CNN, January 29, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/29/us/refugee-terrorism-trnd/index.html; Alan Berube, “These communities have a lot at stake in Trump’s executive order on immigration,” Brookings, January 30, 2017, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2017/01/30/these-communities-have-a-lot-at-stake-in-trumps-executive-order-on-immigration/; Vanda Felbab-Brown, “Why the border wall’s costs far outweigh its benefits,” Brookings, January 30, 2017, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2017/01/30/why-the-border-walls-costs-far-outweigh-its-benefits/
  2. [2]Irwin M. Stelzer, “Let Apple Pay for Their H-1B Visas,” Weekly Standard, January 31, 2017, http://www.weeklystandard.com/on-silicon-valley-and-h-1b-visas/article/2006581
  3. [3]Dan Levine and Jeffrey Dastin, “Tech companies to meet on legal challenge to Trump immigration order,” Reuters, January 31, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-immigration-tech-idUSKBN15F08H
  4. [4]Alex Arriaga, “DeVry Will Pay $2.75 Million to Settle Deceptive-Advertising Claims,” Chronicle of Higher Education, January 31, 2017, http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/devry-pays-2-75-million-to-settle-deceptive-advertising-claims-with-n-y/116650
  5. [5]Tom Philpott, “Refugees Make Your Dinner. Literally,” Mother Jones, January 31, 2017, http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/01/meat-industry-refugees-trump
  6. [6]Maura Dolan, “San Francisco sues Trump over executive order targeting sanctuary cities,” Los Angeles Times, January 31, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-san-francisco-trump-20170131-story.html; William Gallo, “Despite Public Backlash, US Security Officials Defend Trump Travel Restrictions,” Global Security, January 31, 2017, http://www.globalsecurity.org/security/library/news/2017/01/sec-170131-voa04.htm; Maria Sacchetti and Milton Valencia, “With visas revoked, travelers barred entry despite court order,” Boston Globe, February 1, 2017, http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/02/01/document-filed-boston-court-reveals-visas-were-revoked-for-people-from-banned-countries/D6NBbEBA1HrF4IUrJjuljI/story.html
  7. [7]Laura Smith-Spark, “Article 50: UK parliament votes in favor of starting Brexit process,” CNN, February 1, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/01/europe/article-50-brexit-parliament-vote/index.html
  8. [8]Alicia A. Caldwel and Jill Colvin, “Refugees and immigration: What Trump did — and then what happened,” Seattle Times, January 30, 2017, http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/a-look-at-trumps-executive-order-on-refugees-immigration/
  9. [9]Michael Warren, “‘Clear Adjustments Needed’ for White House,” Weekly Standard, January 30, 2017, http://www.weeklystandard.com/clear-adjustments-needed-for-white-house/article/2006566
  10. [10]Mark Hemingway, “Immigration Executive Order Fiasco Shows We Need Leadership From President Trump,” Weekly Standard, January 30, 2017, http://www.weeklystandard.com/immigration-executive-order-fiasco-shows-we-need-leadership-from-president-trump/article/2006572
  11. [11]Mark Berman and Matt Zapotosky, “Acting attorney general declares Justice Department won’t defend Trump’s immigration order,” Washington Post, January 30, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/01/30/trump-says-all-is-going-well-on-immigration-order-amid-questions-and-confusion/; James Queally, Javier Panzar, and Matt Hamilton, “Protesters block LAX traffic, face off with police as they rally against Trump’s travel ban,” Los Angeles Times, January 29, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-lax-protest-20170129-story.html
  12. [12]Barbara Demick and Molly Hennessy-Fiske, “Federal judge blocks deportations under Trump’s ‘extreme vetting’ order for refugees and others with valid visas,” Los Angeles Times, January 28, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-trailguide-updates-federal-judge-blocks-deportations-under-1485658337-htmlstory.html
  13. [13]Jordan Fabian, “Trump fires acting AG for refusing to defend travel ban,” Hill, January 30, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/317018-trump-fires-acting-ag-for-refusing-to-defend-travel-ban
  14. [14]Mark Berman and Matt Zapotosky, “Acting attorney general declares Justice Department won’t defend Trump’s immigration order,” Washington Post, January 30, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/01/30/trump-says-all-is-going-well-on-immigration-order-amid-questions-and-confusion/
  15. [15]Jordan Fabian, “Trump fires acting AG for refusing to defend travel ban,” Hill, January 30, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/317018-trump-fires-acting-ag-for-refusing-to-defend-travel-ban
  16. [16]Kim Messick, “Modern GOP is still the party of Dixie,” Salon, October 12, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/10/12/modern_gop_is_still_the_party_of_dixie/
  17. [17]Marisa Kendall, “Report: Trump plans H-1B and other work visa reforms,” San Jose Mercury-News, January 31, 2017, http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/01/30/trump-poised-to-overhaul-work-visas-relied-on-by-silicon-valley-tech/
  18. [18]Josh Eidelson, “The Tech Worker Shortage Doesn’t Really Exist,” Business Week, November 24, 2014, http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-11-24/the-tech-worker-shortage-doesnt-really-exist; Karin Klein, “The truth about the great American science shortfall,” Los Angeles Times, February 24, 2014, http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-stem-science-math-shortage-20140224,0,6706502.stor; Julia Preston, “Large Companies Game H-1B Visa Program, Costing the U.S. Jobs,” New York Times, November 10, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/11/us/large-companies-game-h-1b-visa-program-leaving-smaller-ones-in-the-cold.html; Kyung M. Song and Janet I. Tu, “Do visas for skilled foreigners shut out U.S. tech workers?” Seattle Times, May 5, 2013, http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020924182_h1bworkersxml.html; Jordan Weissmann, “The Myth of America’s Tech-Talent Shortage,” Atlantic, April 29, 2013, http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/04/the-myth-of-americas-tech-talent-shortage/275319/
  19. [19]Irwin M. Stelzer, “Let Apple Pay for Their H-1B Visas,” Weekly Standard, January 31, 2017, http://www.weeklystandard.com/on-silicon-valley-and-h-1b-visas/article/2006581
  20. [20]Irwin M. Stelzer, “Let Apple Pay for Their H-1B Visas,” Weekly Standard, January 31, 2017, http://www.weeklystandard.com/on-silicon-valley-and-h-1b-visas/article/2006581
  21. [21]Mark Ames, “The Techtopus: How Silicon Valley’s most celebrated CEOs conspired to drive down 100,000 tech engineers’ wages,” PandoDaily, January 23, 2014, http://pando.com/2014/01/23/the-techtopus-how-silicon-valleys-most-celebrated-ceos-conspired-to-drive-down-100000-tech-engineers-wages/; Mark Ames, “Steve Jobs threatened Palm’s CEO, plainly and directly, court documents reveal,” PandoDaily, February 19, 2014, http://pando.com/2014/02/19/court-documents-reveal-steve-jobs-blistering-threat-to-ceo-who-wouldnt-join-wage-fixing-cartel/; Dan Levine, “Judge rejects $324.5 million settlement over Apple, Google hiring,” Reuters, August 8, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/08/us-apple-google-ruling-idUSKBN0G822T20140808; Yves Smith, “Why George Lucas, Eric Schmidt, (and yes, Steve Jobs) Should Go to Jail: Conspiring to Reduce Wages of 100,000 Tech Pros,” Naked Capitalism, January 24, 2014, http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/01/george-lucas-eric-schmidt-steve-jobs-go-jail.html; David Streitfeld, “Tech Giants Settle Antitrust Hiring Suit,” New York Times, April 24, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/25/technology/settlement-silicon-valley-antitrust-case.html; David Streitfeld, “Plaintiff in Silicon Valley Hiring Suit Maligns Deal,” New York Times, May 12, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/12/technology/plaintiff-maligns-deal-in-silicon-valley-suit.html
  22. [22]Gertrude Himmelfarb, “Irving Kristol’s Neoconservative Persuasion,” Commentary 131, no. 2 (2011): 25-29.
  23. [23]Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 2012).
  24. [24]Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2013).
  25. [25]Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 2012).
  26. [26]Tom Philpott, “Refugees Make Your Dinner. Literally,” Mother Jones, January 31, 2017, http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/01/meat-industry-refugees-trump