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

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