Trump’s Ignoring Our Real ‘National Emergies’

  • If the caravan proceeds by foot, during the period of its journey 16,800 Americans will die from drugs.

  • In the period of the caravan’s journey, perhaps 690,000 Americans will become homeless, including 267,000 children.

  • In the period of the caravan’s journey, 8,850 Americans will die from guns, including suicides and murders.

  • In the period of the caravan’s journey, perhaps 9,000 Americans will die from lack of health insurance (people die at higher rates when they’re uninsured, although there’s disagreement about how much higher).

Maybe the real “National Emergy” is drugs, homelessness, gun deaths and lack of health insurance?

.. the issue isn’t really even immigration. Rather, it’s fearmongering. Scholars have found that reminding people of dangers makes them temporarily more conservative, so this kind of manipulation can be an effective campaign tactic.

Remember the 2014 midterm elections? This is a replay. In the run-up to voting, Republicans ratcheted up fears of a “border crisis” with terrorists sneaking in from Mexico to attack us, plus alarm about Ebola and the risk that the outbreak in West Africa could reach America.

.. Trump also tweeted then that if a New York physician who returned from West Africa developed Ebola (as he later did), “then Obama should apologize to the American people & resign.”

In the 2014 elections, Republican candidates ran hundreds of ads denouncing the Obama administration’s handling of Ebola. News organizations chronicled this “debate,” but in retrospect they were manipulated into becoming a channel to spread fear — and win Republican votes.

.. Yet Ebola, like the Central American caravan, is a reminder of the distinction between grandstanding and governing.

.. Obama’s technocratic Ebola program — working with France and Britain, plus private aid groups — may have worried voters, but it was effective.

.. the Ebola virus was contained and eventually burned out. Good governance often turns out to be bad politics, and vice versa.

.. Perhaps the approach with the best record is aid programs to curb gang violence in countries like Honduras, to reduce the factors that lead people to attempt the dangerous journey to the United States. Yet it’s not tangible and doesn’t impress voters. So Trump instead is talking about an expensive wall and about cutting aid to Central America, even though this would magnify the crisis there and probably lead more people to flee north.

.. I fear that we in the media have become Trump’s puppets, letting him manipulate us to project issues like the caravan onto the agenda.

.. Trump is right that, although there’s no evidence of it, “there could very well be” Middle Easterners hiding in the caravan. It’s equally true that the Easter Bunny “could very well be” in the caravan. Speaking of Easter, Jesus Christ “could very well be” in the caravan.

.. So let’s stop freaking out about what “could very well be” and focus on facts. Here are two:

  1. First, the Caravan won’t make a bit of difference to America.
  2. Second, we have other problems to focus on, from drugs to homelessness to health care, that genuinely constitute a “National Emergy.”

I am Muslim, register me.

I am Mexican, deport me.

I am African, imprison me.

I am LGBTQ+ refuse to serve me.

I am poor, blame me.

I am elderly, privatize me,

I am a woman, defund me.

I am homeless, ignore me,

I am disabled, bully me,

I am sick, uninsure me,

I am indigenous, pollute me.

I am a veteran, voucher me.

I am an American, Lie to me.

Steve Bannon believed in Trumpism. Donald Trump doesn’t.

Trump is losing control of his administration, and he likes it that way.

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump praised autocrats and exhibited strongman tendencies. But as president of the United States, Trump is proving to be one of the weakest, most disinterested executives in memory. He seems happy — even eager — to be both operationally and ideologically marginalized inside his own administration.

.. White House staff, congressional Republicans, military leaders, and executive branch officials are increasingly confident simply ignoring President Trump.

  1. After Trump tweeted that he wanted the military to ban transgender service members from serving, for instance, the Pentagon quickly said that it had not received an official order and was going to carry on with business as usual until it did.
  2. .. Similarly, after Trump tweeted his threats at North Korea, the key organs of American foreign policymaking — the State Department, the Defense Department, and so on — were quick to declare that nothing had changed, there was no military buildup or new red lines, and everyone should just ignore the commander in chief’s morning outburst.
  3. Senate Republicans are ignoring the president’s demand to keep holding votes on health reform.
  4. The National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget, the Treasury Department, and the Department of Health and Human Services are ignoring Trump’s campaign promises to raise taxes on the rich and protect Social Security and Medicaid from cuts.
  5. Attorney General Jeff Sessions — one of the few executive branch officials who seems to ideologically align with Trump — is ignoring Trump’s clear desire that he resign, or at least take a more aggressive hand overseeing Bob Mueller.

As CNBC’s John Harwood concluded in a recent overview, “fresh evidence arrives every day of the government treating the man elected to lead it as someone talking mostly to himself.”

Trump could react to all this with fury. He could elevate aides, like Bannon, who are committed to his ideological agenda and invested in reshaping the federal government around his vision, and fire Cabinet officials and top staffers who seem to be using his administration to drive their agendas. But he isn’t.

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes outlined a theory as to why. He argued that it’s wrong to see this as the government defying the president. This, he thinks, is exactly how Trump wants it:

I don’t think the president wants to be in charge. I think he wants to sit on his couch and yell at his TV screen and tweet things, but he’s almost happy to be able to kind of get it out of his system and not have anyone listen to him. I think his optimal equilibrium is hectoring Jeff Sessions but Jeff Sessions not quitting, or tweeting out the thing about transgender service members and the military ignoring him, or tweeting out threats to North Korea and not actually changing American posture.

I think that that we have arrived at a new equilibrium in which both

  • the interior members of his staff,
  • the actual federal bureaucracy,
  • the US Congress,
  • the US public,
  • the global public, and
  • global leaders

all basically understand the president is fundamentally a bullshit artist and you just shouldn’t listen to what he says.

There are two ways a president can make sure the federal policy roughly tracks his wishes. One way is to insist on it himself, but Trump has no interest in doing that. Another way is to outsource ideological enforcement to committed, empowered lieutenants.

.. Bannon was the closest thing Trump had to a lieutenant like that: He was the true believer running around the federal government trying to force various agencies and officials to align their work with Trump’s campaign promises

.. The problem is that Bannon could only win those fights if Trump wanted him to win those fights — and now we see Trump didn’t.

.. Instead, Trump has systematically elevated outsiders to his campaign and operation like John Kelly and Gary Cohn while alienating or firing allies like Bannon and Reince Priebus.

.. we’re watching a president who wants to comment on his own presidency without actually driving its agenda or being held accountable for anything he says.

.. The presidency Trump wants is one in which he can say whatever he likes but other people do the work and ignore him when necessary. Chief of Staff John Kelly seems to understand that:

.. The president of the United States is clearly unfit for the job, but the good news, to the extent that there is good news, is that everyone around him knows it, and he is willing to be sidelined as long as no one takes away his phone. Whether he is being marginalized by his own administration or choosing to marginalize himself I don’t know, but Bannon’s ouster is another piece of evidence that Trump is interested in Twitter, not Trumpism.

Ex-acting CIA chief: Trump is making North Korea situation worse

President Donald Trump would be best served to simply ignore the provocations of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, a former acting director of the CIA said Friday, and is “making it worse” by replying with a show of force.

.. “We have a new president and Kim Jong Un is trying to challenge him, is trying to get him back to the negotiating table,” former CIA acting Director Mike Morell said Friday on “CBS This Morning,” praising former President Barack Obama for largely ignoring the North Korean regime’s efforts at saber rattling. “Kim Jong Un wants to get back to a situation where we give them gifts when they do something bad. And then we are also making it worse, right? With our bluster and by sending aircraft carriers in there, we’re raising the crisis.”

.. “It’s best to just ignore this guy and to deter him from ever using these weapons or selling them and to build our defenses,” said Morell

Sean Spicer loses his cool: ‘Stop shaking your head’

But the exchange with Ryan sure seemed to venture into different territory. Instructing her to stop shaking her head came off as demeaning, and a number of White House reporters took issue with it on social media.

.. What’s even more puzzling about it is that Spicer continues to point to the lack of evidence of collusion while ignoring the fact that the FBI is investigating possible ties between Trump and Russia. The idea that an FBI investigation involving the administration doesn’t amount to a hill of beans just doesn’t make much sense. Yet the mere premise that Russia is an issue for the White House seemed to set Spicer off.

Racism: Avoiding Explanations that Suggest No Remedy

I think, a political and moral error to content oneself with explanations that suggest no remedy at all, or that suggest prima facie problematic responses like ridiculing, ignoring, disenfranchising, or going to war with large groups of fellow citizens, unless no other explanations are colorable. It turns out that there are lots of explanations consistent with increased susceptibility to racist appeals that also suggest remedies less vague and more constructive than, say, “fighting racism” or censoring the right-wing press.

Pence refuses to respond on Trump’s comments

The GOP VP nominee dodges reporters asking about Trump making the most aggressive, crude comments about women yet

TOLEDO, Ohio — Mike Pence took the stage here just over an hour after a tape emerged of Donald Trump crudely bragging about sexually harassing women and pretended as though no such tape existed.

.. “How can you ignore this question?” an ABC reporter asked repeatedly, as Pence simply smiled and shook hands.

.. “Governor, what’s your reaction to the Trump tape?” Pence was asked by POLITICO as he shook hands and an aide whisper over his shoulder. “Governor, The Washington Post report, what is your reaction?”

Pence simply kept shaking hands, moving down the line.

.. At the rally, Pence stuck to his usual stump speech, including a section in which he criticizes the media for focusing on some of Trump’s controversial past comments.

“And invariably, they’ll say, this time we got him, right? This time we found that there’s another tweet come out or something,” Pence said. “This time we got another thing, another issue that’s come forward. Then they turn on the television the next morning, and Donald Trump is still standing stronger than ever before and fighting for the American people. And he is going to fight all the way to the White House.”