Trump administration allegedly to hoist ‘toxic pseudo-constitutional sludge’ up the flagpole and see if it flies

Census

Garrett Epps thinks he—even he, mournfully, is not quite so confident—puts an end to the notion of Donald Trump getting his oh-so-precious citizenship question in the 2020 Census, legally at least. It’s not really a question of the Constitution, he writes: “Not to put too fine a point on it, I haven’t had to wade through such toxic pseudo-constitutional sludge since the last time I sneaked into an Oregon militia meeting.” He believes arguments in support of a do-over simply don’t fly. Which, for him, leaves a question of whether Trump will defy the Supreme Court.[1]

The aforementioned “sludge” explicitly includes[2] Hugh Hewitt’s argument for an executive order and not one but three questions, including one explicitly on legal status,[3] and Josh Blackmun’s argument citing the 14th and 15th Amendments.[4]

I want to believe Epps. But it’s important to note that these mother fuckers are all—each and every damned one of them—lawyers. I hope Epps is right. But the scorn he heaps on his colleagues’ arguments might be over the top.

Garrett Epps, “The Census Case Could Provoke a Constitutional Crisis,” Atlantic, July 8, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/07/census-case-could-provoke-constitutional-crisis/593425/

Josh Gerstein, “Justice Department replaces attorneys in census citizenship-question battle,” Politico, July 8, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/07/08/justice-department-census-citizenship-question-battle-1399523

J. M. Rieger, “The Trump administration has changed its story on the census citizenship question at least 10 times in four months,” Washington Post, July 8, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/08/trump-administration-has-changed-its-story-census-citizenship-question-least-times-four-months/


Nancy Pelosi

Amber Phillips, “Nancy Pelosi’s clumsy rebuke of the liberals in her party,” Washington Post, July 8, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/08/nancy-pelosis-clumsy-rebuke-liberals-her-party/


  1. [1]Garrett Epps, “The Census Case Could Provoke a Constitutional Crisis,” Atlantic, July 8, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/07/census-case-could-provoke-constitutional-crisis/593425/
  2. [2]Garrett Epps, “The Census Case Could Provoke a Constitutional Crisis,” Atlantic, July 8, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/07/census-case-could-provoke-constitutional-crisis/593425/
  3. [3]Hugh Hewitt, “The census belongs to the president. He needs to get it back. Here’s how,” Washington Post, June 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/06/29/census-belongs-president-he-needs-get-it-back-heres-how/
  4. [4]Josh Blackman, quoted at length in Eugene Volokh, “Is the Government Required to Count the Number of Citizens in Each State?” Reason, April 25, 2019, https://reason.com/2019/04/25/is-the-government-required-to-count-the-number-of-citizens-in-each-state/

Oh gee, an economic plan for Palestine. See what happened to the last one.

Palestine

This is what economic development means to the Palestinians:
07_09:10:47-2
The ruins of a terminal at the Gaza airport. Image by Said Khatib (Agence France-Presse) on September 9, 2018, via the Times of Israel, fair use.[1]

Israel destroys whatever the Palestinians build and, with its blockade of Gaza, seeks to stop them from building anything at all. And it continues an ethnic cleansing campaign against Palestinians in the territory it controls, both inside and outside the 1967 borders. So Jared Kushner’s plan[2] means only more destruction. And yes, Binyamin Netanyahu is absolutely a fascist[3] as he relies on right-wing coalitions that include parties devoted to annexation of the West Bank to build governments.

Raphael Ahren, “As Bahrain showed, even Trump’s Arab allies see two-state solution as essential,” Times of Israel, July 5, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/as-bahrain-showed-even-trumps-arab-allies-see-two-state-solution-as-essential/


  1. [1]Agence France-Presse and Times of Israel, “20 years after its opening, destroyed Gaza airport embodies grounded peace hopes,” Times of Israel, September 12, 2018, https://www.timesofisrael.com/20-years-after-its-opening-destroyed-gaza-airport-embodies-grounded-peace-hopes/
  2. [2]Raphael Ahren, “As Bahrain showed, even Trump’s Arab allies see two-state solution as essential,” Times of Israel, July 5, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/as-bahrain-showed-even-trumps-arab-allies-see-two-state-solution-as-essential/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “A simple definition of fascism,” Not Housebroken, July 6, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/06/a-simple-definition-of-fascism/

More ‘bad apples’ at Customs and Border Patrol

So I was bored with the weather in California. There generally are not four real seasons in California, just a ‘wet’ season and a dry season, only through most of my adult life, the wet seasons haven’t been very wet. So it’s mostly just been dry, so much so that when in the last few years we got a few seasons that might count as ‘normal,’ people thought they were deluges.

So, today, here in Pittsburgh, I got a ride that took me near the Whole Foods where I had a few things to pick up. It was well-timed.

The sky was so dark by the time I pulled into the parking lot, my automatic headlights had come on. I probably hadn’t been in the store five minutes, certainly not ten, but as I came out the rain was truly torrential and I was surrounded by thunder and lightning. I was drenched by the time I got to my car and the torrent continued as I drove home and walked back to my apartment.

Now, this is rain.


Migration

Brian Resnick,[1] get the fuck over yourself and retract. Every piece of this story[2] confirms Philip Zimbardo’s work.[3] Every single piece.

Geneva Sands and Nick Valencia, “2nd Customs and Border Protection-connected secret Facebook group shows mocking images,” CNN, July 5, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/05/politics/cbp-second-facebook-group-images/index.html


  1. [1]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; Brian Resnick, “Philip Zimbardo defends the Stanford Prison Experiment, his most famous work,” Vox, June 28, 2018, https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/6/28/17509470/stanford-prison-experiment-zimbardo-interview
  2. [2]Priscilla Alvarez, “Lawmakers, including Ocasio-Cortez, lash out over conditions following border facility tours,” CNN, July 2, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/01/politics/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-clint-texas-facility/index.html; Caitlin Dickerson, “‘There Is a Stench’: No Soap and Overcrowding in Detention Centers for Migrant Children,” New York Times, June 21, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/21/us/migrant-children-border-soap.html; Adam Harris, “An Astonishing Government Report on Conditions at the Border,” Atlantic, July 3, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/07/government-report-details-inhumane-conditions-migrant-facilities/593242/; Miriam Jordan, “Judge Orders Swift Action to Improve Conditions for Migrant Children in Texas,” New York Times, June 29, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/29/us/migrant-children-detention-texas.html; Alejandro Lazo and Jacob Gershman, “Lawsuit Alleges Government Mistreatment of Migrant Children,” Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lawsuit-alleges-government-mistreatment-of-migrant-children-11561608969; Sam Levin, “‘Happy hunting!’ Immigration agents swapped cheery messages about raids, records reveal,” Guardian, July 3, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/03/ice-us-immigration-messages-raids; Katie Mettler, Mike DeBonis, and Reis Thebault, “Border agents confiscated lawmakers’ phones. Joaquin Castro captured photo and video anyway,” Washington Post, July 2, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/02/ocasio-cortez-says-dispute-with-border-patrol-agents-started-after-one-tried-take-stealth-selfie/; Geneva Sands and Nick Valencia, “2nd Customs and Border Protection-connected secret Facebook group shows mocking images,” CNN, July 5, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/05/politics/cbp-second-facebook-group-images/index.html
  3. [3]Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (New York: Random House, 2008).

Raining on Donald Trump’s parade

IMG_20190705_195607
I finally got a close-up of those orange flowers I’ve been seeing recently. I don’t think they’ll be in bloom very much longer—despite the copious amounts of rain we’ve been receiving, a preponderance now seem to have wilted.


Donald Trump

So Donald Trump made himself the butt of many jokes at his war celebration by suggesting that the U.S. Revolutionary Army seized airports. A writer at the Guardian also noticed that he conflated the War of 1812 with the U.S. Revolution.[1]

It can’t quite be said that Trump explained this away: “I knew the speech very well so I was able to do it without a teleprompter but the teleprompter did go out and it was actually hard to look at anyway because there was rain all over it.”[2]

So:

  1. Never ever rely on technology for your speech. Test the fuck out of the technology before you use it. Always have notes. Yes, they taught me this when I was an undergraduate. Yes, I got burned once or twice when I failed to do this. And yes, I taught this to my own public speaking students. This is basic stuff.
  2. Trump’s claim that he “knew the speech very well”[3] is undermined by the gaffes. I mean, really, if you’ve been caught without your notes, would you really think to say the Revolutionary Army seized the airports? Really?

But of course we already knew Trump is an idiot, in addition to being a racist, misogynist, Islamophobic, transphobic (I’m sure I’m missing something, maybe more than one thing) delusional raging narcissist-in-chief. So there’s really not much more to be said about this. I hope.

British Broadcasting Corporation, “Trump blames ‘airports’ gaffe on teleprompter,” July 5, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/48885319

Kate Lyons, “Flight of fancy: Trump claims 1775 revolutionary army ‘took over airports,’” Guardian, July 5, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/05/flight-of-fancy-trump-claims-1775-revolutionary-army-took-over-airports


Census

After the Supreme Court called the government’s reason for the question “contrived,” many wondered how the government could suddenly come up with a new rationale.

“What were they going to say?” said Dale Ho, director of the Voting Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union and a lead attorney for plaintiffs in the New York lawsuit. “ ‘Here’s our real reason? Or here’s a new reason?’ Well, that’s kind of reverse engineering on a decision that’s already been made, which was the very definition of pretextual. . . . We had them in an inevitable checkmate.”[4]

Thomas Wolf, counsel with the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, said there is “no path” forward for the government to add the question at this point.

“The court vacated the Voting Rights Act rationale as a contrived pretext,” he said. “What they’re trying to do now is the textbook definition of a pretext — telling the court, ‘We plan to do this but we don’t know why yet.’ ”[5]

Tara Bahrampour et al., “Trump administration scrambles to save citizenship question on census,” Washington Post, July 4, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-administration-scrambles-to-save-citizenship-question-on-census/2019/07/04/238fe3fa-9e85-11e9-9ed4-c9089972ad5a_story.html

Tara Bahrampour and John Wagner, “Government lawyers step up effort to get a citizenship question on 2020 Census, court filing shows,” Washington Post, July 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/trump-says-he-is-thinking-of-executive-order-to-revive-census-citizenship-question/2019/07/05/d3ec5986-9f20-11e9-9ed4-c9089972ad5a_story.html

Aaron Blake, “Trump just admitted something he probably shouldn’t have about the census citizenship question,” Washington Post, July 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/05/trump-just-admitted-something-he-probably-shouldnt-have-about-census-citizenship-question/


  1. [1]Kate Lyons, “Flight of fancy: Trump claims 1775 revolutionary army ‘took over airports,’” Guardian, July 5, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/05/flight-of-fancy-trump-claims-1775-revolutionary-army-took-over-airports
  2. [2]Donald Trump, quoted in British Broadcasting Corporation, “Trump blames ‘airports’ gaffe on teleprompter,” July 5, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/48885319
  3. [3]British Broadcasting Corporation, “Trump blames ‘airports’ gaffe on teleprompter,” July 5, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/48885319
  4. [4]Tara Bahrampour et al., “Trump administration scrambles to save citizenship question on census,” Washington Post, July 4, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-administration-scrambles-to-save-citizenship-question-on-census/2019/07/04/238fe3fa-9e85-11e9-9ed4-c9089972ad5a_story.html
  5. [5]Tara Bahrampour and John Wagner, “Government lawyers step up effort to get a citizenship question on 2020 Census, court filing shows,” Washington Post, July 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/trump-says-he-is-thinking-of-executive-order-to-revive-census-citizenship-question/2019/07/05/d3ec5986-9f20-11e9-9ed4-c9089972ad5a_story.html

Fascism, U.S. style

Census

I was thinking possibly that this story[1] would offer some advancement in understanding from the one[2] I included in yesterday’s issue. The answer is no, not really.

My feeling last night was that it can’t possibly go far. And the obstacles to including the citizenship question still seem insurmountable or at least very nearly so.[3] But it sounds like Donald Trump isn’t taking an effective Supreme Court no[4] for an answer.

And this is a president who I don’t think even has the mental capacity to regard himself as above the law. Rather, and I realize this may seem like splitting hairs, it seems to me he believes that his lawyers can do anything; that no defeat, even at the level of the Supreme Court, is permanent; that any problem can be solved through lawyering; and if it isn’t solved, it means his lawyers are incompetent. (I had forgotten that Hugh Hewitt may indeed offer a path forward for something even worse: Three questions, including one explicitly about legal status, instead of one, merely about citizenship.[5] But CNN seems to find a consensus among legal experts that this will not work.[6]) Further, I think he feels entirely righteous (does he ever not feel righteous about anything?) about the privilege (there have been a few times in my life when I could have used such access) he has to access this kind of lawyering.

Tara Bahrampour, Matt Zapotosky, and Josh Dawsey, “Reversing course, Trump administration will look for a way to add citizenship question to 2020 Census,” Washington Post, July 3, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-appears-to-contradict-his-own-administration-on-census-citizenship-question/2019/07/03/b720bb94-9da4-11e9-b27f-ed2942f73d70_story.html

Ariane de Vogue and Maegan Vazquez, “Trump faces ‘limited paths forward’ on census citizenship question,” CNN, July 4, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/04/politics/census-path-forward-white-house/index.html


Migration

What we see with the Customs and Border Patrol,[7] we are beginning to see with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.[8] But of course, yet again, we’ll be expected to see these as “a few bad apples.” Again, Philip Zimbardo tells us to expect otherwise.[9] I’m still waiting for a retraction from Brian Resnick.[10]

Sam Levin, “‘Happy hunting!’ Immigration agents swapped cheery messages about raids, records reveal,” Guardian, July 3, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/03/ice-us-immigration-messages-raids


Nonhuman Animals

Ross Andersen, “A Journey Into the Animal Mind,” Atlantic, March 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/03/what-the-crow-knows/580726/


War on Drugs

Lakshi De Vass Gunawardena, “Are We Fighting a Losing Battle in the War Against Drugs?” InterPress Service, July 3, 2019, http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/07/fighting-losing-battle-war-drugs/


  1. [1]Tara Bahrampour, Matt Zapotosky, and Josh Dawsey, “Reversing course, Trump administration will look for a way to add citizenship question to 2020 Census,” Washington Post, July 3, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-appears-to-contradict-his-own-administration-on-census-citizenship-question/2019/07/03/b720bb94-9da4-11e9-b27f-ed2942f73d70_story.html
  2. [2]Noah Bierman and David G. Savage, “Citizen question may be back on 2020 census as Trump administration reverses course again,” Los Angeles Times, July 3, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-census-immigration-tweet-supreme-court-20190703-story.html
  3. [3]Tara Bahrampour, Matt Zapotosky, and Josh Dawsey, “Reversing course, Trump administration will look for a way to add citizenship question to 2020 Census,” Washington Post, July 3, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-appears-to-contradict-his-own-administration-on-census-citizenship-question/2019/07/03/b720bb94-9da4-11e9-b27f-ed2942f73d70_story.html; Ariane de Vogue and Maegan Vazquez, “Trump faces ‘limited paths forward’ on census citizenship question,” CNN, July 4, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/04/politics/census-path-forward-white-house/index.html
  4. [4]Garrett Epps, “Is the Citizenship Question Dead?” Atlantic, June 27, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/court-wants-real-reason-citizenship-question/592864/; Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung, “Trump fumes as Supreme Court blocks census citizenship question,” Reuters, June 27, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-court-census/trump-fumes-as-supreme-court-blocks-census-citizenship-question-idUSKCN1TS1BL
  5. [5]Hugh Hewitt, “The census belongs to the president. He needs to get it back. Here’s how,” Washington Post, June 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/06/29/census-belongs-president-he-needs-get-it-back-heres-how/
  6. [6]Ariane de Vogue and Maegan Vazquez, “Trump faces ‘limited paths forward’ on census citizenship question,” CNN, July 4, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/04/politics/census-path-forward-white-house/index.html
  7. [7]Priscilla Alvarez, “Lawmakers, including Ocasio-Cortez, lash out over conditions following border facility tours,” CNN, July 2, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/01/politics/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-clint-texas-facility/index.html; Caitlin Dickerson, “‘There Is a Stench’: No Soap and Overcrowding in Detention Centers for Migrant Children,” New York Times, June 21, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/21/us/migrant-children-border-soap.html; Adam Harris, “An Astonishing Government Report on Conditions at the Border,” Atlantic, July 3, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/07/government-report-details-inhumane-conditions-migrant-facilities/593242/; Miriam Jordan, “Judge Orders Swift Action to Improve Conditions for Migrant Children in Texas,” New York Times, June 29, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/29/us/migrant-children-detention-texas.html; Alejandro Lazo and Jacob Gershman, “Lawsuit Alleges Government Mistreatment of Migrant Children,” Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lawsuit-alleges-government-mistreatment-of-migrant-children-11561608969; Katie Mettler, Mike DeBonis, and Reis Thebault, “Border agents confiscated lawmakers’ phones. Joaquin Castro captured photo and video anyway,” Washington Post, July 2, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/02/ocasio-cortez-says-dispute-with-border-patrol-agents-started-after-one-tried-take-stealth-selfie/
  8. [8]Sam Levin, “‘Happy hunting!’ Immigration agents swapped cheery messages about raids, records reveal,” Guardian, July 3, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/03/ice-us-immigration-messages-raids
  9. [9]Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (New York: Random House, 2008).
  10. [10]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; Brian Resnick, “Philip Zimbardo defends the Stanford Prison Experiment, his most famous work,” Vox, June 28, 2018, https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/6/28/17509470/stanford-prison-experiment-zimbardo-interview

Migration and the 4th of July, even before the 4th of July

It’s not even July 4th yet and people around here are shooting off fireworks like there is no tomorrow. I can’t, for the life of me, understand the appeal. I hate the noise.


Migration

Department of Homeland Security investigators have now confirmed much of what has previously been reported but Trump administration and Customs and Border Patrol officials denied[1] about conditions in the concentration camps for migrants along the southern border.[2]

Katie Mettler, Mike DeBonis, and Reis Thebault, “Border agents confiscated lawmakers’ phones. Joaquin Castro captured photo and video anyway,” Washington Post, July 2, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/02/ocasio-cortez-says-dispute-with-border-patrol-agents-started-after-one-tried-take-stealth-selfie/

Maura Dolan, “Trump may not use military money for border wall, federal appeals court decides,” Los Angeles Times, July 3, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-trump-border-wall-military-funds-9th-circuit-20190703-story.html

Adam Harris, “An Astonishing Government Report on Conditions at the Border,” Atlantic, July 3, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/07/government-report-details-inhumane-conditions-migrant-facilities/593242/


Nike

There is a new blog post entitled, “Colin Kaepernick is right.”

Eli Rosenberg and Michael Brice-Saddler, “A GOP governor wants to cancel a Nike contract after flag-shoe flap, but the city it’s headed for isn’t backing down,” Washington Post, July 3, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/03/gop-governor-wants-cancel-nike-contract-city-its-headed-isnt-backing-down/


Census

Noah Bierman and David G. Savage, “Citizen question may be back on 2020 census as Trump administration reverses course again,” Los Angeles Times, July 3, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-census-immigration-tweet-supreme-court-20190703-story.html


  1. [1]Adam Harris, “An Astonishing Government Report on Conditions at the Border,” Atlantic, July 3, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/07/government-report-details-inhumane-conditions-migrant-facilities/593242/
  2. [2]Priscilla Alvarez, “Lawmakers, including Ocasio-Cortez, lash out over conditions following border facility tours,” CNN, July 2, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/01/politics/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-clint-texas-facility/index.html; Caitlin Dickerson, “‘There Is a Stench’: No Soap and Overcrowding in Detention Centers for Migrant Children,” New York Times, June 21, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/21/us/migrant-children-border-soap.html; Miriam Jordan, “Judge Orders Swift Action to Improve Conditions for Migrant Children in Texas,” New York Times, June 29, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/29/us/migrant-children-detention-texas.html; Alejandro Lazo and Jacob Gershman, “Lawsuit Alleges Government Mistreatment of Migrant Children,” Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lawsuit-alleges-government-mistreatment-of-migrant-children-11561608969; Katie Mettler, Mike DeBonis, and Reis Thebault, “Border agents confiscated lawmakers’ phones. Joaquin Castro captured photo and video anyway,” Washington Post, July 2, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/02/ocasio-cortez-says-dispute-with-border-patrol-agents-started-after-one-tried-take-stealth-selfie/;

Drink from a toilet, why don’t you?

Migration

Believe the worst. Believe the absolute worst, no matter how over the top it may seem. And remember, I didn’t tell you so, but Philip Zimbardo did.[1] And Brian Resnick, from whom I’ve still not seen a retraction, must be judged complicit.[2] As is the National Border Patrol Council (a union) attempting to dismiss members of an absolutely repugnant Facebook group as exceptions rather than the rule.[3] Zimbardo addressed that too.[4]

I have to tell you: For me, folks such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have infinitely more credibility than anyone working for the Department of Homeland Security, including the inspector-general who denies that detainees are forced to drink from toilets.[5] And there is so much more than what I present here, indeed, more than what I can bear to even look at.

“CNN and other media outlets toured the Clint facility last Wednesday [June 26] but were barred from taking any pictures or video.” They found relatively sane conditions and an apparently well-supplied facility,[6] but:

While CNN was told by a CBP [Customs and Border Protection] official at the Clint facility the environment was the same on Wednesday as it was last week when legal monitors visited, a CBP source with firsthand knowledge of the facility said, “Typical. The agency prepped for you guys.” The source added, “It’s a never-ending cat and mouse game.”[7]

As I have previously written,[8] this situation[9] looks precisely as Zimbardo might predict, only now, even more so.[10]

A. C. Thompson, “Inside the Secret Border Patrol Facebook Group Where Agents Joke About Migrant Deaths and Post Sexist Memes,” ProPublica, July 1, 2019, https://www.propublica.org/article/secret-border-patrol-facebook-group-agents-joke-about-migrant-deaths-post-sexist-memes

Priscilla Alvarez, “Lawmakers, including Ocasio-Cortez, lash out over conditions following border facility tours,” CNN, July 2, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/01/politics/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-clint-texas-facility/index.html


San Francisco

Incredibly, some alleged ‘experts’ still try to deny[11] that San Francisco is becoming a place where only the really rich, not even techies earning six-figure incomes, can afford to live, while the realities of gentrification, homogenization, homelessness, and destitution set in for all.[12] Now the Guardian joins the fray saying pretty much what any ‘non-expert’ could and would tell you: It’s true and it sucks.[13] Those so-called ‘experts’ need to get the fuck over themselves.

But also, the techie whiners who don’t have it even remotely so bad as the folks they shoved aside so they could move in to San Francisco.[14] Because there’s an obvious at least partial solution to affordable housing there: They stole the city from people who had lived there all their lives, even for generations. They can easily live elsewhere. They could all move the fuck out.

Julia Carrie Wong, “‘We all suffer’: why San Francisco techies hate the city they transformed,” Guardian, July 1, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/jul/01/san-francisco-big-tech-workers-industry


Donald Trump

Given the letter of the law as previously reported,[15] I do not see how the administration has a defense on withholding Donald Trump’s tax returns. I would think a summary judgment would be in order. But I guess it’s harder than that.[16]

Jeff Stein and Rachael Bade, “House Democrats sue Trump administration over president’s tax returns,” Washington Post, July 2, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/07/02/house-democrats-sue-trump-administration-over-presidents-tax-returns/


Census

Noah Bierman and David G. Savage, “Trump administration abruptly gives up fight over citizenship question on the census,” Los Angeles Times, July 2, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-census-trump-citizenship-20190702-story.html

Ann E. Marimow, Matt Zapotosky, and Tara Bahrampour, “2020 Census will not include citizenship question, Justice Department confirms,” Washington Post, July 2, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/2020-census-will-not-include-citizenship-question-doj-confirms/2019/07/02/0067be4a-9c44-11e9-9ed4-c9089972ad5a_story.html


  1. [1]Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (New York: Random House, 2008).
  2. [2]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; Brian Resnick, “Philip Zimbardo defends the Stanford Prison Experiment, his most famous work,” Vox, June 28, 2018, https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/6/28/17509470/stanford-prison-experiment-zimbardo-interview
  3. [3]National Border Patrol Council, “National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) Issues Statement on ProPublica News Article Regarding Facebook Group ‘I’m 10-15,’” July 1, 2019, https://bpunion.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/July-1-2019-Press-Release-Facebook-Group.pdf
  4. [4]Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (New York: Random House, 2008).
  5. [5]Priscilla Alvarez, “Lawmakers, including Ocasio-Cortez, lash out over conditions following border facility tours,” CNN, July 2, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/01/politics/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-clint-texas-facility/index.html
  6. [6]Priscilla Alvarez, “Lawmakers, including Ocasio-Cortez, lash out over conditions following border facility tours,” CNN, July 2, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/01/politics/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-clint-texas-facility/index.html
  7. [7]Priscilla Alvarez, “Lawmakers, including Ocasio-Cortez, lash out over conditions following border facility tours,” CNN, July 2, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/01/politics/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-clint-texas-facility/index.html
  8. [8]David Benfell, “It’s time to be clear: Migrant children are being held in concentration camps and the Trump administration is fascist,” Not Housebroken, June 24, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/06/24/its-time-to-be-clear-migrant-children-are-being-held-in-concentration-camps-and-the-trump-administration-is-fascist/
  9. [9]Priscilla Alvarez, “Lawmakers, including Ocasio-Cortez, lash out over conditions following border facility tours,” CNN, July 2, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/01/politics/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-clint-texas-facility/index.html; Caitlin Dickerson, “‘There Is a Stench’: No Soap and Overcrowding in Detention Centers for Migrant Children,” New York Times, June 21, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/21/us/migrant-children-border-soap.html; A. C. Thompson, “Inside the Secret Border Patrol Facebook Group Where Agents Joke About Migrant Deaths and Post Sexist Memes,” ProPublica, July 1, 2019, https://www.propublica.org/article/secret-border-patrol-facebook-group-agents-joke-about-migrant-deaths-post-sexist-memes
  10. [10]Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (New York: Random House, 2008).
  11. [11]Melissa Caen, “Experts Say Article Claiming San Francisco ‘Broke America’s Heart’ Is Misleading,” KPIX, May 22, 2019, https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2019/05/22/experts-say-article-claiming-san-francisco-broke-americas-heart-is-misleading/
  12. [12]Karen Heller, “How San Francisco broke America’s heart,” Washington Post, May 21, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/how-san-francisco-broke-americas-heart/2019/05/21/ef9a0ac0-70ea-11e9-9eb4-0828f5389013_story.html; Dan Kopf, “San Francisco’s Diversity Numbers Are Looking More and More Like a Tech Company’s,” Atlantic, May 9, 2016, https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/05/san-francisco-diversity-migration/481668/; Alexis C. Madrigal, “Who’s Really Buying Property in San Francisco?” Atlantic, April 19, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/04/san-francisco-city-apps-built-or-destroyed/587389/; Julia Carrie Wong, “‘We all suffer’: why San Francisco techies hate the city they transformed,” Guardian, July 1, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/jul/01/san-francisco-big-tech-workers-industry
  13. [13]Julia Carrie Wong, “‘We all suffer’: why San Francisco techies hate the city they transformed,” Guardian, July 1, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/jul/01/san-francisco-big-tech-workers-industry
  14. [14]Julia Carrie Wong, “‘We all suffer’: why San Francisco techies hate the city they transformed,” Guardian, July 1, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/jul/01/san-francisco-big-tech-workers-industry
  15. [15]Brian Faler, “Treasury misses congressional deadline for turning over Trump’s tax returns,” Politico, April 10, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/04/10/trump-tax-returns-congress-1342027
  16. [16]Brian Faler, “Treasury misses congressional deadline for turning over Trump’s tax returns,” Politico, April 10, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/04/10/trump-tax-returns-congress-1342027

(Not really) anarchists

IMG_20190701_121541
All of a sudden, beginning just a few days ago, these flowers are ubiquitous. They’re everywhere I go, sometimes in gardens, sometimes growing wild.


 

Antifa

So I’d made a couple errors on Twitter yesterday and meant to go to bed. I wound up tossing and turning—I was worried about money and yesterday was a dismal Lyft day when I really could have used a decent one—and wound up tangling with self-identified (but fraudulent) anarchists on Twitter. The point is simple and in the title of a new blog post, “Violence is the illegitimate authority that begets all other illegitimate authority.”

The context for this is Antifa, which claims to act in defense of marginalized communities and protesters. But a funny thing happens when you ask the folks at demonstrations if they want this intercession: They say, Hell, no.

The idiots on Twitter called me “bourgeoisie” and even white supremacist. But if you ask folks protesting police violence on the streets of Oakland, California, for example, they’ll tell you that Antifa (also known as the Black Bloc) is just a bunch of white kids wanting to smash windows and skulls and who hijack their demonstrations. And they’ll be right: You can find these kids doing just that even without provocation, even in the absence of a demonstration, and then bragging about it.

That is not, no way, no how, anarchism. But these kids seek to wrap themselves in the righteousness of anarchism as they harm both anarchism and the legitimate protests against state oppression they claim to defend. Which is bullshit.


Whaling

Ulrike Putz, “Japan resumes commercial whaling, but days could be numbered,” Al Jazeera, June 30, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/06/japan-resumes-commercial-whaling-days-numbered-190628083537070.html


Liberalism

On June 28,[1] I asked what sort of liberalism Vladimir Putin declared obsolete.[2] Most people don’t ask that question as they don’t recognize that there are, in fact several different usages of the term ‘liberal’ in current usage, and in my dissertation, I argued when people use the term, they need to be clear about which they mean.[3]

Today, I was in for a bit of a pleasant surprise: Pankaj Mishra is very clear about his assumption that Putin conflated ‘liberalism’ as favoring expansive individual rights and representative government emerging from the Enlightenment era with ‘neoliberalism.’[4] It’s a different take: I had not recognized liberalism in this way.

Existential Comics, July 1, 2019, fair use. I’m not familiar with Nozick, but assuming the (unknown to me) author of this comic is correct, he likely marks the departure of capitalist libertarianism from “classical liberalism” as I understand it.

My understanding was drawn from capitalist libertarians who seek to reclaim the term ‘liberal’ as derived from Adam Smith but in fact discount Smith’s context[5] and from Jürgen Habermas.[6] This is what I call “classical liberalism,” and I distinguished it from “New Deal” liberalism and “liberalism” as “whatever a conservative opposes.”[7]

If Mishra is correct (and I have little reason to doubt him), then the Adam Smith variant as hijacked by capitalist libertarians and neoliberals, accompanies the conception arising from the Enlightenment era,[8] a conception I hadn’t been aware of. The difference between us is not huge. I have not actually read Adam Smith’s works—sorry, I could only get to so much—but am aware that Smith’s advocacy of laissez-faire was accompanied (in a separate book all too conveniently overlooked by capitalist libertarians) by a recognition of a social context beyond capitalism. This context entails moral obligations and this in fact is the basis for my distinction between Smith’s “classical liberalism” and capitalist libertarianism.[9] (It’s also forgotten that even Friedrich Hayek recognized a need for the state to intervene for social goods that the profit motive could not support.[10]) Mishra, I should hasten to acknowledge, clearly recognizes those shortcomings and what they have wrought and complains of “liberalism’s self-appointed defenders[’] . . . reflexively fanatical faith in market mechanisms.”[11]

Pankaj Mishra, “Putin’s Wrong, But So Are Liberals,” Bloomberg, July 1, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-07-01/putin-s-wrong-on-liberalism-but-so-are-liberals


  1. [1]David Benfell, “Vladimir Putin’s ‘mark,’” Irregular Bullshit, June 28, 2019, https://disunitedstates.com/2019/06/28/vladimir-putins-mark/
  2. [2]Tom Parfitt, “Liberalism is obsolete, declares Putin,” Times, June 28, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/liberalism-is-obsolete-declares-putin-vx2xhhc2w
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  4. [4]Pankaj Mishra, “Putin’s Wrong, But So Are Liberals,” Bloomberg, July 1, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-07-01/putin-s-wrong-on-liberalism-but-so-are-liberals
  5. [5]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  6. [6]Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, trans. Thomas Burger with Frederick Lawrence (Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1991).
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  8. [8]Pankaj Mishra, “Putin’s Wrong, But So Are Liberals,” Bloomberg, July 1, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-07-01/putin-s-wrong-on-liberalism-but-so-are-liberals
  9. [9]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  10. [10]F. A. Hayek, The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek, ed. Bruce Caldwell, vol. 2, The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents; The Definitive Edition (1944; repr., Chicago: University of Chicago,
    2007)
  11. [11]Pankaj Mishra, “Putin’s Wrong, But So Are Liberals,” Bloomberg, July 1, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-07-01/putin-s-wrong-on-liberalism-but-so-are-liberals

Newspaper publishers love Donald Trump: Another political cartoonist fired

Censorship

In New Brunswick, Canada, “Brunswick News Inc., which owns the Saint John Telegraph-Journal, the Moncton Times & Transcript, and the Moncton Fredericton Daily Gleaner, has now disassociated itself from [Michael] de Adder.” It appears the publisher, who has business interests in the U.S., does not wish to offend Donald Trump.[1] De Adder has a web site which presently features a number of cartoons disparaging Trump.

Unsurprisingly, Brunswick News denies that the cartoon in the tweet below had anything to do with de Adder’s contract termination, claiming they were merely “bring[ing] back” another cartoonist.[2] But, in fact, newspapers have been known to run a number of political cartoonists, covering a broad spectrum of opinion. Somewhat more persuasively, Wes Tyrell, president of a Canadian cartoonist association, said de Adder had told him “there were a series of taboo subjects he could not touch. One of these taboo subjects was Donald Trump.”[3]

This[4] is yet another example undermining journalistic claims of “editorial independence” from the business sides of the corporate conglomerates that control media organizations. Some would say this is not even remotely a surprise.[5]

I refuse to subscribe to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (which also blocks ad-blockers and is therefore unacceptable) for firing Rob Rogers who also dared to criticize the U.S.’ own dear leader.[6] It’s unlikely I would subscribe to a New Brunswick paper for the foreseeable future anyway. But they are most definitely now on my shit list.

D. D. Degg, “Brunswick News Inc. Cancels Michael de Adder – Updated,” Daily Cartoonist, June 29, 2019, https://www.dailycartoonist.com/index.php/2019/06/29/brunswick-news-inc-cancels-michael-de-adder/

Migration

Miriam Jordan, “Judge Orders Swift Action to Improve Conditions for Migrant Children in Texas,” New York Times, June 29, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/29/us/migrant-children-detention-texas.html


  1. [1]D. D. Degg, “Brunswick News Inc. Cancels Michael de Adder – Updated,” Daily Cartoonist, June 29, 2019, https://www.dailycartoonist.com/index.php/2019/06/29/brunswick-news-inc-cancels-michael-de-adder/
  2. [2]Saint John Telegraph-Journal, [microblog post], Twitter, June 30, 2019, https://twitter.com/TJProvincial/status/1145343394685882368
  3. [3]Wes Tyrell, quoted in D. D. Degg, “Brunswick News Inc. Cancels Michael de Adder – Updated,” Daily Cartoonist, June 29, 2019, https://www.dailycartoonist.com/index.php/2019/06/29/brunswick-news-inc-cancels-michael-de-adder/
  4. [4]D. D. Degg, “Brunswick News Inc. Cancels Michael de Adder – Updated,” Daily Cartoonist, June 29, 2019, https://www.dailycartoonist.com/index.php/2019/06/29/brunswick-news-inc-cancels-michael-de-adder/
  5. [5]J. Herbert Altschull, Agents of Power: The Media and Public Policy, 2nd ed. (White Plains, NY: Longman, 1995); David Croteau and William Hoynes, Media/Society: Industries, Images, and Audiences, 3rd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge, 2003); Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (New York: Pantheon, 2002).
  6. [6]Kim Lyons, “Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Cartoonist Fired as Paper Shifts Right,” New York Times, June 15, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/15/business/media/pittsburgh-cartoonist-fired.html

Neoliberals gotta be neoliberals

Migration

Calling round five for Donald Trump. The score is now three rounds for Nancy Pelosi, one for Trump, and one draw. The neoliberal party performed true to form: ‘Compromise’ really means capitulation,[1] just as it did throughout the Barack Obama presidency. In this case, to concentration camps.[2]

And I gotta tell you: I’m just not impressed by Chuck Schumer and Pelosi pointing fingers at each other.[3] These people are fucking grown-ups. They know—or should know—how their respective chambers work. Political malpractice is simply no excuse for concentration camps.

Finally, I guess I need to dredge out that definition of a concentration camp again:

a place where large numbers of people (such as prisoners of war, political prisoners, refugees, or the members of an ethnic or religious minority) are detained or confined under armed guard —used especially in reference to camps created by the Nazis in World War II for the internment and persecution of Jews and other prisoners.[4]

Notice that it contains no reference to the conditions under which human beings are being held. These centers are concentration camps no matter how much money you throw at them.

Now, as to the situation in Italy, in which a rescue ship carrying migrants rammed a “war ship” to dock at Lampedusa: You cannot simultaneously call a ship a “war ship”[5] and claim that this ship “work[s] at sea for the safety of everybody.”[6] That is not what warships do and this is a flat contradiction. Especially when the rescue ship is completing a rescue. Duh. Luigi Patronaggio, the prosecutor involved, makes Trump look intelligent. Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen from afar of the Italian flavor of injustice, it’s even worse than the U.S. system.

Annalisa Camilli and Francis D’Emilio, “Migrant aid ship captain detained; Italy police boat rammed,” Associated Press, June 29, 2019, https://apnews.com/a68a99dd9f4c49d995a21f12f75cc3ac

Lauren Fox et al., “House passes border funding bill after Pelosi reversal outrages progressives,” CNN, June 27, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/27/politics/border-funding-migrant-crisis-nancy-pelosi-house-senate-bills/index.html

Mike DeBonis and Rachael Bade, “‘A betrayal’: Inside the bitter rift between Pelosi and Schumer over border bill,” Washington Post, June 28, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/a-betrayal-inside-the-bitter-rift-between-pelosi-and-schumer-over-border-bill/2019/06/28/26fbb3b8-99bf-11e9-8d0a-5edd7e2025b1_story.html


Iran

Megan Rose, Robert Faturechi, and T. Christian Miller, “Trump Keeps Talking About the Last Military Standoff With Iran — Here’s What Really Happened,” ProPublica, June 24, 2019, https://www.propublica.org/article/trump-keeps-talking-about-last-military-standoff-iran-what-really-happened-farsi-island-navy


Joe Biden

Once upon a time a lying racist “touchy feely” misogynist pervert was afraid of losing an election. So he sided with racists. But he wants you to believe he’s worked for civil rights his entire career.[7]

When I think back on the Civil Rights era, I remember not just Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, and a lot of other Blacks. I remember as well whites who had the guts to go into the Deep South on voter registration drives, trying to register Blacks to vote. I remember not just Blacks but whites who put their lives on the line for Civil Rights. Biden wasn’t one of them.

Michael Kranish and Laura Meckler, “Joe Biden called busing a ‘liberal train wreck.’ Now his stance on school integration is an issue,” Washington Post, June 28, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/joe-biden-called-busing-a-liberal-train-wreck-now-his-stance-on-school-integration-is-an-issue/2019/06/28/557705dc-99b3-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html


  1. [1]Lauren Fox et al., “House passes border funding bill after Pelosi reversal outrages progressives,” CNN, June 27, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/27/politics/border-funding-migrant-crisis-nancy-pelosi-house-senate-bills/index.html
  2. [2]David Benfell, “It’s time to be clear: Migrant children are being held in concentration camps and the Trump administration is fascist,” Not Housebroken, June 24, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/06/24/its-time-to-be-clear-migrant-children-are-being-held-in-concentration-camps-and-the-trump-administration-is-fascist/
  3. [3]Mike DeBonis and Rachael Bade, “‘A betrayal’: Inside the bitter rift between Pelosi and Schumer over border bill,” Washington Post, June 28, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/a-betrayal-inside-the-bitter-rift-between-pelosi-and-schumer-over-border-bill/2019/06/28/26fbb3b8-99bf-11e9-8d0a-5edd7e2025b1_story.html
  4. [4]Meriam-Webster, “https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/concentration%20camp,” n.d., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/concentration%20camp
  5. [5]Annalisa Camilli and Francis D’Emilio, “Migrant aid ship captain detained; Italy police boat rammed,” Associated Press, June 29, 2019, https://apnews.com/a68a99dd9f4c49d995a21f12f75cc3ac
  6. [6]Luigi Patronaggio, quoted in Annalisa Camilli and Francis D’Emilio, “Migrant aid ship captain detained; Italy police boat rammed,” Associated Press, June 29, 2019, https://apnews.com/a68a99dd9f4c49d995a21f12f75cc3ac
  7. [7]Michael Kranish and Laura Meckler, “Joe Biden called busing a ‘liberal train wreck.’ Now his stance on school integration is an issue,” Washington Post, June 28, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/joe-biden-called-busing-a-liberal-train-wreck-now-his-stance-on-school-integration-is-an-issue/2019/06/28/557705dc-99b3-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html