Who will watch the watcher? It can’t be the executive branch. But the obvious alternative is scarier.

I forgot to mention a new blog post, entitled, “The callousness of the moment” in the last issue.


Updates

  1. Originally published June 14, 10:11 am.
  2. June 14, 9:42 pm:
    • Cable News Network has a useful summary of the the Justice Department Inspector General’s report on James Comey’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server.[1] This is somewhat more helpful than the Bloomberg report[2] I posted here earlier.
    • Increasingly impatient with a political failure to act, bankruptcy judges are increasingly working to provide relief to student loan borrowers.[3] For inquiring minds, no, I don’t expect this to benefit me personally as I already have all my loans consolidated on a REPAYE plan and am currently recertifying for whichever plan (probably REPAYE) offers the lowest monthly payments (so far, these have been zero). (Student Loans)
    • In my last issue, on the topic of breaking up California, I pointed out that “if you don’t like the conservative bias of the electoral college or if you don’t like the conservatism of the U.S. Senate, breaking up high-population states is the thing to do.”[4] I told you so. An analysis in the Sacramento Bee confirms that where there are now two Democratic U.S. senators representing California, the plan would likely result in six Democratic senators representing the three new states.[5] That Democratic Party politicians aren’t interested[6] tells you they’re interested in something other than representing their constituents or advancing even marginally less conservative policy. Which was my point.
  3. June 15, 3:50 am:
  4. June 15, 2:20 pm:
    • Defending the Trump Administration policy of separating children from their parents, Jeff Sessions cited Romans 13, which needs to be read in context with Romans 12.[7] (Unauthorized migration)
    • Donald Trump said he would not sign the more moderate of two compromise bills that were being set for a House vote to fund the border wall and secure legal status for folks previously protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.[8] (Unauthorized migration)
    • Massachussetts is starting a program to help older workers get hired.[9] (Ageism)
  5. June 15, 5:40 pm:
    • A federal judge revoked Paul Manafort’s bail due to allegations of witness-tampering. “It was not immediately clear where Manafort would be jailed.” Rudy Giuliani said “that the Mueller investigation ‘might get cleaned up with some presidential pardons’” but backtracked. Donald Trump thought it was so unfair that Manafort was going to jail[10] and not “[James] Comey and Crooked Hillary [Clinton] and all of the others.”[11] (James Comey)
  6. June 15, 6:30 pm:
  7. June 15, 10:56 pm:
    • So Paul Manafort is going to jail[13] and—I don’t know if there’s really a connection—suddenly, Mitch McConnell is blowing his top at Robert Mueller. Donald Trump’s and Rudy Giuliani’s idiocy was to be expected. But, as Jonathan Chait puts it, “McConnell so far has held back from joining Trump’s effort to make the Justice Department into a palace guard at his personal disposal. At times he has flashed the yellow light to Trump’s most aggressively lunatic threats.”[14] Could it be that somebody’s getting much too close for comfort? (James Comey)
  8. June 16, 1:50 pm:
    • For me, this is something of a non sequitur, but Natasha Bertrand takes Paul Manafort’s jailing as Robert Mueller’s warning to Donald Trump about lying in an interview[15] that, to my eyes, doesn’t even look like it’s going to happen. It’s an interesting read anyway. (James Comey)
    • If you’ve read Colin Woodard’s American Nations or even looked at the associated map, you might realize that Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is on the frontier between what he labels Greater Appalachia and what he labels the Midlands. I see his description of the folks of Greater Appalachia[16] as looking very much like—enough so that I’m inclined to think that they’re at least the ideological ancestors of—authoritarian populists, the larger part of Donald Trump’s base.[17] I’m guessing the publisher of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is an authoritarian populist. He fired a cartoonist for proposing and drawing too many cartoons critical of Trump. The cartoonist had worked there for 25 years.[18]
    • I remain deeply skeptical of polling methodology in the current environment due to its low response rates,[19] but some Brookings scholars have concluded 1) that Donald Trump has now for all intents and purposes captured the Republican Party, and 2) that—here’s where the polling data comes in—the Republican Party increasingly represents only old folks who are dying off.[20] This is an interesting read and I recommend it—some of what they say is surely pertinent—but we’ve been hearing the demographic argument for a while. As I’ve previously noted, it flatly hasn’t worked out so far,[21] and I’m deeply suspicious that in any population of human beings, some will be more conservative than others. The analysis here assumes that all the young will remain progressive or ‘liberal’ or at least less conservative as they age while a saying that dates back at least to 1785 suggests a quite different experience that seems to have been echoed over the centuries since.[22]
    • Add a lawsuit filed by the New York state attorney general to the list of thorny legal messes that Donald Trump now faces.[23]
  9. June 17, 12:51 am:
    • I guess I’ll never actually know and I have to confess I’m wondering: I’m watching for signs of favorable treatment for John Manafort—you know, the conservative meme of a ‘country club’ prison. Given the coverage I’ve seen so far, it doesn’t look like it.[24] But Cable News Network’s story seems like it might be bending over just a little too far to make that point. There is the “VIP” designation and, translated into terms of incarceration, I don’t know what, if anything, that actually means. One thing that’s odd is it sounds like he’s able to keep his cell phone,[25] which would 1) undermine the point of the detention,[26] and 2) be very unusual for any prisoner anywhere, because cell phones are usually treated as contraband; California’s prisons, for example, go to great (and failing) lengths to try to keep cell phones out. (James Comey)
  10. June 17, 3:44 am:
    • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s publisher defended firing a cartoonist, saying the latter had become “too angry.”[27] (Donald Trump)
    • A story in Politico suggests that Donald Trump’s capture of the Republican Party is complete.[28]
    • The Washington Post’s story on Paul Manafort’s jailing indicates that the jail in question has a “VIP section” but otherwise talks about conditions ordinary prisoners face.[29] (Cable News Network’s story discussed those conditions as well.[30]) It’s still not clear, though it seems awfully probable, that Manafort had to give up his cell phone. (James Comey)
  11. June 17, 2:57 pm:
    • I’m late getting to this but a couple days ago, James Hohmann had a very useful “Daily 202” newsletter that begins with the controversy on separating families.[31] (Unauthorized migration)
    • Pro-Tip: If you’re going to cite a Bible passage in support of some policy, as Jeff Sessions did regarding separating families, that passage should actually support the policy.[32] (Unauthorized migration)
    • Roger Stone has revealed a meeting with a Russian, whom he now thinks might have been an FBI plant, offering ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton.[33] (James Comey)
    • Tristan Snell explains the New York state attorney general’s suit against the Trump Foundation as exposing Donald Trump as a con man.[34]
  12. June 17, 6:33 pm:
    • The Associated Press has reported on the conditions at a prison where some families are being allowed to remain together, where there are some unaccompanied children, and where some children have been separated from their parents.[35] (Unauthorized migration)

James Comey

Jeremy Herb and Marshall Cohen, “6 takeaways from the Justice watchdog report on the Clinton email investigation,” Cable News Network, June 14, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/14/politics/takeaways-ig-report-comey-fbi/index.html

Chris Strohm, “Comey Broke From FBI Procedures in Clinton Probe, Watchdog Finds,” Bloomberg, June 14, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-14/comey-broke-from-fbi-procedures-in-clinton-probe-watchdog-finds

Natasha Bertrand, “Mueller’s Warning to Trump: The Cover-Up Is Also a Crime,” Atlantic, June 15, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/06/muellers-targets-keep-digging-deeper-holes/562985/

Jonathan Chait, “Mitch McConnell Turns Against Robert Mueller,” New York, June 15, 2018, http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/06/senate-republican-leader-mitch-mcconnell-turns-on-mueller.html

Spencer S. Hsu, Ellen Nakashima, and Devlin Barrett, “Paul Manafort ordered to jail after witness-tampering charges,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/manafort-ordered-to-jail-after-witness-tampering-charges/2018/06/15/ccc526cc-6e68-11e8-afd5-778aca903bbe_story.html

Tom Jackman, “Manafort checks into VIP section at Virginia jail where Chris Brown, Michael Vick also did time,” Washington Post, June 16, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/manafort-checks-into-vip-section-at-virginia-jail-where-chris-brown-michael-vick-also-did-time/2018/06/16/8ad19196-71a2-11e8-afd5-778aca903bbe_story.html

Katelyn Polantz, “What life is like for Paul Manafort in jail,” Cable News Network, June 16, 2018, https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2018/06/16/politics/paul-manafort-virginia-jail-life/index.html

Manuel Roig-Franzia and Rosalind S. Helderman, “Trump associate Roger Stone reveals new contact with Russian national during 2016 campaign,” Washington Post, June 17, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-associate-roger-stone-reveals-new-contact-with-russian-national-during-2016-campaign/2018/06/17/4a8123c8-6fd0-11e8-bd50-b80389a4e569_story.html


Donald Trump

Edward-Isaac Dovere, “‘This is the new Republican Party,’” Politico, June 13, 2018, https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/13/trump-republicans-sanford-resistance-644721

Elaine Kamarck, Alexander R. Podkul, and Nicholas W. Zeppos, “Trump owns a shrinking Republican party,” Brookings Institute, June 14, 2018, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2018/06/14/trump-owns-a-shrinking-republican-party/

Jacqueline Thomsen, “Five things to know about the lawsuit against the Trump Foundation,” Hill, June 14, 2018, http://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/392392-five-things-to-know-about-the-lawsuit-against-the-trump-foundation

Ann Telnaes, “An American editorial cartoonist has been fired for skewering Trump. He likely won’t be the last,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/opinions/wp/2018/06/15/an-american-editorial-cartoonist-has-been-fired-for-skewering-trump-he-likely-wont-be-the-last/

Daniel Lippman, “‘He’s just become too angry’: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette publisher defends firing cartoonist,” Politico, June 16, 2018, https://www.politico.com/amp/story/2018/06/16/pittsburgh-cartoonist-firing-publisher-gazette-650389

Tristan Snell, “The proper way to view the Trump Foundation scandal,” Cable News Network, June 16, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/16/opinions/trump-foundation-scandal-opinion-snell/index.html


Replication

Philip Zimbardo has some explaining to do.[36] This is a very sad thing for me to say: I was deeply impressed by his book, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, in which he advances a theory of the power of the situation, which resonates with me, even if I am considerably less optimistic than he is about individuals’ ability to overcome it. That theory is based on his ethically problematic work in the Stanford Prison Experiments and he tells a very touching tale of how it was his girl friend (whom he later married) who persuaded him he’d gone too far.[37] Yes, this is a book I cited in my dissertation.[38]

Brian Resnick, “The Stanford Prison Experiment was massively influential. We just learned it was a fraud,” Vox, June 13, 2018, https://www.vox.com/2018/6/13/17449118/stanford-prison-experiment-fraud-psychology-replication


Student Loans

Katy Stech Ferek, “Judges Wouldn’t Consider Forgiving Crippling Student Loans—Until Now,” Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/judges-wouldnt-consider-forgiving-crippling-student-loans-until-now-1528974001


California

Phillip Reese, “‘Three Californias’ would likely mean four more Democrats in U.S. Senate,” Sacramento Bee, June 14, 2018, http://www.sacbee.com/site-services/databases/article213195344.html


Unauthorized migration

James Hohmann, “Trump is losing the debate over splitting up immigrant families,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://s2.washingtonpost.com/camp-rw/?e=YmVuZmVsbEBwYXJ0cy11bmtub3duLm9yZw%3D%3D&s=5b23c997fe1ff66463922db0

Jennifer Rubin, “Leave the Bible out of it, child separation is not ‘Christian,’” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2018/06/15/leave-the-bible-out-of-it-child-separation-is-not-christian/

Kelsey Snell and Susan Davis, “President Trump Injects Fresh Chaos Into Immigration Debate,” National Public Radio, June 15, 2018, https://www.npr.org/2018/06/15/620356425/president-trump-injects-fresh-chaos-into-immigration-debate

Julie Zauzmer and Keith McMillan, “Sessions cites Bible passage used to defend slavery in defense of separating immigrant families,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/06/14/jeff-sessions-points-to-the-bible-in-defense-of-separating-immigrant-families/

Nomaan Merchant, “Hundreds of children wait in Border Patrol facility in Texas,” Associated Press, June 17, 2018, https://www.apnews.com/9794de32d39d4c6f89fbefaea3780769


Ageism

Robert Weisman, “Help wanted, but not from older workers: Many struggle to find jobs as employers post openings,” Boston Globe, June 14, 2018, http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/06/14/help-wanted-but-not-from-older-workers-many-struggle-find-jobs-employers-post-openings/CIQgOC1AYXqlGIFtZWkcHN/story.html?camp=breakingnews:newsletter


  1. [1]Jeremy Herb and Marshall Cohen, “6 takeaways from the Justice watchdog report on the Clinton email investigation,” Cable News Network, June 14, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/14/politics/takeaways-ig-report-comey-fbi/index.html
  2. [2]Chris Strohm, “Comey Broke From FBI Procedures in Clinton Probe, Watchdog Finds,” Bloomberg, June 14, 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-14/comey-broke-from-fbi-procedures-in-clinton-probe-watchdog-finds
  3. [3]Katy Stech Ferek, “Judges Wouldn’t Consider Forgiving Crippling Student Loans—Until Now,” Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/judges-wouldnt-consider-forgiving-crippling-student-loans-until-now-1528974001
  4. [4]David Benfell, “You want proof that most U.S. politicians abhor their constituents? Here it is,” Irregular Bullshit, June 13, 2018, https://parts-unknown.org/reading/2018/06/13/you-want-proof-that-most-u-s-politicians-abhor-their-constituents-here-it-is/
  5. [5]Phillip Reese, “‘Three Californias’ would likely mean four more Democrats in U.S. Senate,” Sacramento Bee, June 14, 2018, http://www.sacbee.com/site-services/databases/article213195344.html
  6. [6]Andrea Diaz, “3 Californias? The initiative to break up the state may be on the ballot in November,” CNN, April 13, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/13/us/california-closer-to-split-into-three-states-trnd/index.html
  7. [7]Julie Zauzmer and Keith McMillan, “Sessions cites Bible passage used to defend slavery in defense of separating immigrant families,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/06/14/jeff-sessions-points-to-the-bible-in-defense-of-separating-immigrant-families/
  8. [8]Kelsey Snell and Susan Davis, “President Trump Injects Fresh Chaos Into Immigration Debate,” National Public Radio, June 15, 2018, https://www.npr.org/2018/06/15/620356425/president-trump-injects-fresh-chaos-into-immigration-debate
  9. [9]Robert Weisman, “Help wanted, but not from older workers: Many struggle to find jobs as employers post openings,” Boston Globe, June 14, 2018, http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/06/14/help-wanted-but-not-from-older-workers-many-struggle-find-jobs-employers-post-openings/CIQgOC1AYXqlGIFtZWkcHN/story.html?camp=breakingnews:newsletter
  10. [10]Spencer S. Hsu, Ellen Nakashima, and Devlin Barrett, “Paul Manafort ordered to jail after witness-tampering charges,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/manafort-ordered-to-jail-after-witness-tampering-charges/2018/06/15/ccc526cc-6e68-11e8-afd5-778aca903bbe_story.html
  11. [11]Donald Trump, quoted in Spencer S. Hsu, Ellen Nakashima, and Devlin Barrett, “Paul Manafort ordered to jail after witness-tampering charges,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/manafort-ordered-to-jail-after-witness-tampering-charges/2018/06/15/ccc526cc-6e68-11e8-afd5-778aca903bbe_story.html
  12. [12]Jennifer Rubin, “Leave the Bible out of it, child separation is not ‘Christian,’” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2018/06/15/leave-the-bible-out-of-it-child-separation-is-not-christian/
  13. [13]Spencer S. Hsu, Ellen Nakashima, and Devlin Barrett, “Paul Manafort ordered to jail after witness-tampering charges,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/manafort-ordered-to-jail-after-witness-tampering-charges/2018/06/15/ccc526cc-6e68-11e8-afd5-778aca903bbe_story.html
  14. [14]Jonathan Chait, “Mitch McConnell Turns Against Robert Mueller,” New York, June 15, 2018, http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/06/senate-republican-leader-mitch-mcconnell-turns-on-mueller.html
  15. [15]Natasha Bertrand, “Mueller’s Warning to Trump: The Cover-Up Is Also a Crime,” Atlantic, June 15, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/06/muellers-targets-keep-digging-deeper-holes/562985/
  16. [16]Colin Woodard, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (New York: Penguin, 2011).
  17. [17]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  18. [18]Ann Telnaes, “An American editorial cartoonist has been fired for skewering Trump. He likely won’t be the last,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/opinions/wp/2018/06/15/an-american-editorial-cartoonist-has-been-fired-for-skewering-trump-he-likely-wont-be-the-last/
  19. [19]David Benfell, “On a nine percent response rate,” May 28, 2018, https://parts-unknown.org/drupal7/journal/2017/05/28/nine-percent-response-rate
  20. [20]Elaine Kamarck, Alexander R. Podkul, and Nicholas W. Zeppos, “Trump owns a shrinking Republican party,” Brookings Institute, June 14, 2018, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2018/06/14/trump-owns-a-shrinking-republican-party/
  21. [21]David Benfell, “A national divorce,” Not Housebroken, September 8, 2015, https://disunitedstates.org/2015/09/08/a-national-divorce/
  22. [22]Garson O’Toole, “If You Are Not a Liberal at 25, You Have No Heart. If You Are Not a Conservative at 35 You Have No Brain,” Quote Investigator, February 24, 2014, https://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/02/24/heart-head/
  23. [23]Jacqueline Thomsen, “Five things to know about the lawsuit against the Trump Foundation,” Hill, June 14, 2018, http://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/392392-five-things-to-know-about-the-lawsuit-against-the-trump-foundation
  24. [24]Spencer S. Hsu, Ellen Nakashima, and Devlin Barrett, “Paul Manafort ordered to jail after witness-tampering charges,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/manafort-ordered-to-jail-after-witness-tampering-charges/2018/06/15/ccc526cc-6e68-11e8-afd5-778aca903bbe_story.html
  25. [25]Katelyn Polantz, “What life is like for Paul Manafort in jail,” Cable News Network, June 16, 2018, https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2018/06/16/politics/paul-manafort-virginia-jail-life/index.html
  26. [26]Spencer S. Hsu, Ellen Nakashima, and Devlin Barrett, “Paul Manafort ordered to jail after witness-tampering charges,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/manafort-ordered-to-jail-after-witness-tampering-charges/2018/06/15/ccc526cc-6e68-11e8-afd5-778aca903bbe_story.html
  27. [27]Daniel Lippman, “‘He’s just become too angry’: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette publisher defends firing cartoonist,” Politico, June 16, 2018, https://www.politico.com/amp/story/2018/06/16/pittsburgh-cartoonist-firing-publisher-gazette-650389
  28. [28]Edward-Isaac Dovere, “‘This is the new Republican Party,’” Politico, June 13, 2018, https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/13/trump-republicans-sanford-resistance-644721
  29. [29]Tom Jackman, “Manafort checks into VIP section at Virginia jail where Chris Brown, Michael Vick also did time,” Washington Post, June 16, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/manafort-checks-into-vip-section-at-virginia-jail-where-chris-brown-michael-vick-also-did-time/2018/06/16/8ad19196-71a2-11e8-afd5-778aca903bbe_story.html
  30. [30]Katelyn Polantz, “What life is like for Paul Manafort in jail,” Cable News Network, June 16, 2018, https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2018/06/16/politics/paul-manafort-virginia-jail-life/index.html
  31. [31]James Hohmann, “Trump is losing the debate over splitting up immigrant families,” Washington Post, June 15, 2018, https://s2.washingtonpost.com/camp-rw/?e=YmVuZmVsbEBwYXJ0cy11bmtub3duLm9yZw%3D%3D&s=5b23c997fe1ff66463922db0
  32. [32]Jennifer Hansler, “Cardinal Dolan: There is no Bible passage to justify family separation,” Cable News Network, June 16, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/16/politics/cardinal-dolan-family-separation-cnntv/index.html
  33. [33]Manuel Roig-Franzia and Rosalind S. Helderman, “Trump associate Roger Stone reveals new contact with Russian national during 2016 campaign,” Washington Post, June 17, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-associate-roger-stone-reveals-new-contact-with-russian-national-during-2016-campaign/2018/06/17/4a8123c8-6fd0-11e8-bd50-b80389a4e569_story.html
  34. [34]Tristan Snell, “The proper way to view the Trump Foundation scandal,” Cable News Network, June 16, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/16/opinions/trump-foundation-scandal-opinion-snell/index.html
  35. [35]Nomaan Merchant, “Hundreds of children wait in Border Patrol facility in Texas,” Associated Press, June 17, 2018, https://www.apnews.com/9794de32d39d4c6f89fbefaea3780769
  36. [36]Brian Resnick, “The Stanford Prison Experiment was massively influential. We just learned it was a fraud,” Vox, June 13, 2018, https://www.vox.com/2018/6/13/17449118/stanford-prison-experiment-fraud-psychology-replication
  37. [37]Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (New York: Random House, 2008).
  38. [38]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).

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