We are experiencing an invasion on a level never seen before in history. Millions of people pouring across our borders, legally, invited by the state and corporate entities to replace the White people who have failed to reproduce, failed to create the cheap labor, new consumers, and tax base that the corporations and states need to thrive. … Mass immigration will disenfranchise us, subvert our nations, destroy our communities, destroy our ethnic bonds, destroy our cultures, destroy our peoples — long before low fertility rates ever could. Thus, before we deal with the fertility rates, we must deal with both the invaders within our lands and the invaders that seek to enter our lands. We must crush immigration and deport those invaders already living on our soil. It is not just a matter of our prosperity, but the very survival of our people.

The Manifesto of Brenton Tarrant
explaining why he killed 50 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand

Last month, more than 76,000 illegal migrants arrived at our border. We’re on track for a million illegal aliens to rush our borders. People hate the word “invasion,” but that’s what it is. It’s an invasion of drugs and criminals and people.

President Trump,
explaining his decision to veto the bipartisan Congressional resolution
terminating the state of emergency he declared in order to build his wall

This week’s featured post is “Fear of White Genocide: the underground stream feeding right-wing causes“.

This week everybody was talking about white supremacist terrorism

50 people were killed and another 41 injured in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday. One man has been charged with murder, and two other suspects have also been arrested.

The suspect, Brenton Tarrant, live-streamed 17 minutes of the massacre on Facebook, and had previously published a manifesto on 8chan. I look at the manifesto in the featured post.

Josh Marshall echoes my feelings about how Trump responded:

He gave a generic condemnation of the massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand and then proceeded to give a meandering speech about foreign “invasion”, i.e., immigrants “rushing our border”, calling them “murderers and killers”. In other words, moments after denouncing the massacre he went on with a lie-laden screed much of which was indistinguishable from the attacker’s manifesto.

and the college admissions scandal

As so often happens when some illegal plot is uncovered, it turns out that the bigger scandal is what people do legally every day.

As it stands now, well-to-do families can game the college admission process in a lot of ways, and there’s no consensus about where to draw the line. Of course parents who can afford it move to the upscale school district that will give their kids the most advantages. From there, families with money can spend it on courses that will pull up SAT scores, producing an additional advantage over students too poor too afford such courses, as well as those too poor even to retake the test. At an elite high school, you can make the varsity team in sports that inner-city public-school kids may never have heard of, like water polo or lacrosse. Ivy League schools have teams in such sports, so you might get recruited as an athlete, increasing your chances further.

Maybe Mom or Dad is a good writer who can coach you on writing a convincing college-application essay, or maybe they’ll get frustrated with you and just write it themselves. They can even hire a consultant to design your whole high school career, so that your resume will look good to Ivy League schools. Activities originally envisioned as opportunities to find yourself — sports, theater, music, student government, community service — instead teach you to manufacture a persona that will be attractive to those who will judge you. Or your wealthy parents can help you fake that career, bribing teachers and coaches to back up your story, or paying proctors to look the other way when a smarter kid takes a test for you.

Those last things are illegal, but you crossed the line into unfair a long time ago. But where, exactly? What’s cheating, and what’s just doing right by your child? How are you going to feel as a parent if you challenge your sons or daughters to make it on their own, and then you see less deserving kids vault over them?

One corrosive idea in the background of all this is that getting onto the right track is more important than learning the virtues that a meritocratic system is supposed to nurture and reward. Getting degrees is more important than developing talents. High test scores matter more than the knowledge the tests are supposed to measure. Education is not a thing of value in itself, it’s a gate to get through any way you can.

and  the first significant Republican rebellion against Trump

The Senate took two moves to oppose Trump this week.

Thursday, 12 Republicans crossed over to vote with the Democrats on the resolution to terminate Trump’s national emergency declaration. The emergency is still in effect though, because Trump vetoed the resolution. There weren’t enough votes in either house to overturn a veto, so now the issue is up to the courts.

This issue gave senators a clear choice between supporting Trump and defending Congress’ constitutional power to control spending. The 41 Republicans who supported Trump should be reminded of this every time they try to pose as defenders of the Constitution. That ship has sailed and they chose not to be on it.

One interesting fact about who sided with Trump against the Constitution: Republicans who are up for re-election in 2020. Among that group, only Susan Collins voted for the resolution. Thom Tillis of North Carolina had a particularly bizarre performance: He had explained in the Washington Post why his principles required him to vote for the resolution, and then he voted against it. I guess we know what his principles are worth now.

Wednesday, the Senate voted 54-46 to end US aid for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. The resolution is virtually identical to one passed by the House in February, so some Yemen resolution should soon be headed to the White House, where Trump is expected to veto it. The Senate had previously passed a Yemen resolution in December, when Republicans still controlled the House; then-Speaker Paul Ryan refused to let the House vote on it.

The resolution invokes the War Powers Act of 1973, which puts a time limit on conflicts not approved by Congress. In the unlikely event that Congress could override Trump’s expected veto, there would undoubtedly be a battle in court over the constitutionality of the WPA, which both Congress and the White House have danced around since 1973. Presidents of both parties have held that the WPA intrudes on the President’s constitutional power as commander-in-chief, while supporters of the WPA have held that it reclaims Congress’ constitutional power to declare war. (Significantly, the WPA itself was passed over President Nixon’s veto.)

The Yemeni War started in 2015, when Houthi rebels deposed President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who fled to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have been trying to restore him to power ever since, while the rebels are believed to be armed by Iran (though both the Houthis and Iran deny this). Since the Obama administration, the US has provided logistic and intelligence support for the Saudi forces, but US troops have not been involved in the fighting.

Increasingly, the Yemeni War is seen as a humanitarian disaster. National Interest sums it up:

Four years later, the Saudis have failed to disgorge the Houthis from the capital city or make significant inroads in the country. The deaths from direct violence and the Saudi bombing campaign are inconclusive but are estimated at over 50,000 people. Before the intervention, Yemen was the poorest country in the Middle East and had to import over 90 percent of its food supplies. A Saudi naval blockade along its coasts has led to a man-made famine with up to fourteen million people on the brink of starvation. The lack of nutrition and the destruction of health- and water-related infrastructure due to the bombing has led to the largest outbreak of cholera in modern history, with 10,000 new cases a week. It is the worst humanitarian crisis happening in the world.

Saudi Arabia has become a source of conflict between Trump and Senate Republicans. The Trump administration has identified itself with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), a friend and possible financial patron of Jared Kushner, and Trump himself has accepted MBS’ improbable claim of innocence in the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In December, the Senate passed a resolution condemning MBS’ role in the murder.

The killing of Khashoggi now appears to be part of a much larger scheme to silence critics of MBS.

and gun control

The Connecticut Supreme Court rejected a lot of the claims that parents of Newtown massacre victims raised against the company that manufactured the weapon, but it left one tantalizing avenue open: wrongful marketing. The claim is that Remington advertised the Bushmaster rifle in a way that encouraged its illegal use.

The case is still far from won, but it does get to go to the discovery phase. That means plaintiffs can look at the Remington emails and internal memos concerning the Bushmaster’s marketing, which might be very embarrassing for the company.

and you also might be interested in …

Beto is in, Sherrod Brown is out. Now we’re mainly waiting on Joe Biden’s decision to complete the field. (I refuse to devote serious attention to this race until we have a complete field.) Beto’s first campaign event was in Keokuk, Iowa, the next town up the river from Quincy, Illinois, where I grew up. So I watched the video wondering, “Why haven’t I ever been to that coffee shop?”

One way to defuse criticism about lack of experience is ignore it and to do your job at a high level. In Congress, that means Investing time in researching the issues, so you can ask questions that are smart and pointed rather than just showy. Here, second-term Rep. Nanette Barragan of California nails Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen about the Trump administration’s illegal policy of turning away migrants seeking asylum.

And here, freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York grills Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross about where the idea of adding a citizenship question to the census actually comes from. (This clip was posted by the conservative Daily Caller, so the title seems critical of AOC. But I’m using it because it includes her full questioning of Ross, rather than just the highlights.)

Peter Beinart notes a dog that hasn’t been barking: Most Democrats running for President did not invoke God in their announcement speeches. This is a change from a few cycles ago, when such speeches routinely ended with “God bless America” or some other religious phrase.

A second interesting point: Not long ago, political rhetoric in both parties had an ecumenical slant, with worship of God portrayed as something that united Americans, even if Americans pictured God in divergent ways. Now, at least on the left, religion is more likely to be mentioned as a source of divisions we need to overcome.

Meanwhile, rhetoric on the right has become increasingly sectarian. Republicans uphold Christianity while denouncing Islam (something George W. Bush pointedly refused to do after 9-11: “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace.”). On the extreme right, blatant anti-Semitism is common. And while Trump himself on occasion denounces anti-Semitism in general, he has refused to recognize or criticize anti-Semites in his base (like the neo-Nazis who chanted “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville), and used anti-Semitic tropes himself in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Remember how Barack Obama hinted that his supporters might riot if he lost? Me neither, because it never happened.

Trump, however, did just that this week:

I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.

The New York attorney general’s office isn’t letting go of the Trump Foundation scandal. New York wants Trump to pay $5.6 million “in restitution for spending money from his charitable foundation on business and political purposes”.

and let’s close with something

My favorite performers of anachronistic music do the Pinky and the Brain theme in an early-20th-century nightclub style.

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  • Allen Shriver  On March 19, 2019 at 10:11 am

    Doug, I had to laugh. When you referred to Keokuk as the next town “up the river” you showed your Quincy upbringing. The Mississippi is “the river” to those who live along it as if there was no other river.

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