Fulfilling the Dream

What I represent is an America that still allows people to fulfill that American dream. … What I wanted people to know about my election is that this dream isn’t closed off.

Ilhan Omar

This week’s featured posts are “A New ICE Policy Endangers Everybody” and “Reset: Investigations Post Mueller“.

This week everybody was talking about Bob Mueller

Most of my reaction to Mueller’s testimony on Wednesday is in the featured post.


Mueller’s warning about Russian interference in our elections — that it’s real and they’re still doing it — made no impression on Mitch McConnell, a.k.a. “Moscow Mitch”, who killed two election-security bills that had passed the House: One would give states extra money to beef up the security of their election systems and insist on paper ballots (which can be recounted if something goes wrong with the voting machines); and the other would require candidates to notify the FBI if they are offered help by a foreign country.

Republicans are trying to portray these as partisan proposals, because they got almost no Republican votes in the House. But there’s nothing partisan about the content of the bills, unless Republicans believe they can’t win fair elections. For the same reason, McConnell killed H. R. 1, which would ban gerrymandering, eliminate anonymous political ads, and make many other admirable changes in our elections.

and “expedited removal”

This is the subject of “A New ICE Policy Endangers Everybody“.

and this week’s outburst of racism

Last week the Squad, this week Elijah Cummings and Baltimore. Maybe Trump’s purpose is to cut off discussion of Bob Mueller, but if this is just his 2020 strategy — to turn the racism up to 11 — I think he’s starting too early. This is going to get really old by the time we vote.

Most of the time, the media treats Trump’s constant attacks on communities of color as bad in some abstract moral sense. But occasionally someone takes it personally.

Victor Blackwell’s response demonstrates why it’s important for the media to include a wide range of voices. White commentators from professional-class suburbs can tut-tut as much as they like about insults like this, but their words don’t have the power of someone who feels the sting personally.

Blackwell makes a point that you should note, even if you don’t feel like watching the full 2:42: Infested is a dehumanizing term that Trump reserves for communities of color. Whenever Trump refers to a place as being “infested” with something (drugs, rats, crime, etc.), invariably that place has a non-white majority. West Virginia might be poor, and it might be ground-zero of the opioid problem, but Trump would never call it “drug-infested”, because white people live there.

[CORRECTION. Jon Greenberg at Politifact emailed a link I had forgotten: In a 2017 phone call with the president of Mexico, Trump referred to New Hampshire as “a drug-infested den“. In some ways it doesn’t really refute Blackwell’s point, because the remark wasn’t intended for the public. (The call’s transcript was leaked to the Washington Post.) So I should probably revise the statement above to say that “whenever Trump refers in public“.]


Seth Mandel makes a similar point about Trump’s clash with ex-Republican Rep. Justin Amash.

See Trump didn’t go after Amash’s district in their dustup, which is like 80% white. That’s a bit of a tell.

This tweet also raises the notion that it’s weird for a President to “go after” any part of America. I’m sure there are meth-head-infested hell-holes in rural Alabama, but Obama never demonized them, or argued that their representatives shouldn’t criticize him until they fixed their districts.


A number of white Baltimorians also responded to Trump’s attack on their city. Director John Waters pointed to the cowardice of insulting people via Twitter. “Come on over to that neighborhood and see if you have the nerve to say it in person!” (That’s humorous, because Trump is a Twitter warrior. Can you imagine him having the courage to insult Colin Kaepernick or LeBron James face-to-face?)

And David Simon, creator of HBO’s Baltimore-centered “The Wire”, called Trump “a simplistic, racist moron”.


There’s an argument about how to respond to Trump’s appeals to racism.

Tim Wise describes what he learned from David Duke’s campaigns for governor and senator in Louisiana.

if a racist’s political opponent avoids the subject of race and tries instead to appeal to voters with proposals on health coverage and tax reform, that normalizes the racist, whether it’s Duke, Trump or someone else, by treating them like any other candidate, and treating the election at hand as if it’s merely a debate between two legitimate, contrasting public policy visions.

To win an election where the issue of race is front-and-center, anti-racists must make it clear to voters that when they cast their ballots, they are making a moral choice about the kind of people they want to be and the kind of nation in which they want to live.

But Frank Bruni disagrees:

We used all those words in 2016 — racist, demagogue, fascist — and he won. Voters saw indelible examples of this same behavior, and he won. The [North Carolina] rally wasn’t a new Trump, just a bloated one. And the coming election isn’t a referendum on his character, which voters have or haven’t made their peace with. Pointing at him and shouting the direst words from the darkest thesaurus will do limited if any good.

Stop talking so much about the America that he’s destroying and save that oxygen for the America that Democrats want to create.

I wonder if the answer isn’t to borrow an idea from the Serbian resistance to Milosevic: very simple slogans that became nationwide graffiti, like “It’s time” and “He’s finished”. Maybe the right anti-Trump message doesn’t have to detail anything about his racism, sexism, bullying, trolling, authoritarianism, or general boorishness. Just: “Enough!”. Everyone who sees it can decide for themselves what they’ve had enough of. Feel free to steal my version or make a better one of your own.

and you also might be interested in …

Another mass shooting yesterday, this time at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. If even these sorts of fun civic events aren’t safe any more, it says something terrible about our country.


The next round of Democratic presidential debates are tomorrow and Wednesday on CNN. Again, there are 10 candidates each night. The first night is headlined by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on stage the second night.

The first night, I’ll be watching what Warren and Sanders do. On the one hand, they agree on a lot, so they could support each other’s points. On the other hand, there’s probably only room for one of them to make a serious run, so they could try to knock each other out.

On the second night, Joe Biden is the interesting one. The first debate showed that he can’t just coast; he has to put forward ideas and jostle with the other candidates. How does he plan to do that?


Friday, the Commerce Department released its GDP estimates for the second quarter. GDP growth was down to 2.1%, and the growth rate for 2018 as a whole was revised down from 3% to 2.5%. This is far from terrible, but it means that the economy is doing roughly the same under Trump as it did under Obama.

Unemployment rates are lower now because it’s later in the economic cycle; the economy has had more time to create jobs since the Great Recession. If you look at the graph of the unemployment rate since the recession, you can’t pick out any difference between Trump and Obama.

Matt Yglesias elaborates:

Growth under Trump has continued, but there’s no discernible Trump acceleration. What’s more, the data indicates that the growth we have been enjoying has come largely from traditional fiscal stimulus — under Trump, Republicans have stopped caring about budget deficits and spending has gone up while taxes have gone down — rather than from any supply-side magic or boost in investment.

In other words: The Trump tax cut may have stimulated the economy by raising the deficit, but the other stuff it was supposed to accomplish still hasn’t happened. (Business investment, for example, was actually down in the second quarter.) Exports, meanwhile, are a drag on the economy, as Trump’s trade war takes its toll.

Again, this isn’t awful performance any more than Obama’s was. It just points out that we’re getting nothing in exchange for having Trump as president. Nothing in exchange for what we’re giving up in terms of democracy, the environment, race relations, and our national dignity.


The Supreme Court has stayed the injunction of a lower court, and will allow Trump to expropriate $2.5 billion from the Defense budget to start building his wall. This is not a final ruling on the merits of the case, which is proceeding along with other cases.


The Boeing 737 Max is what happens when manufacturers are allowed to perform their own safety assessments.

Boeing needed the approval process on the Max to go swiftly. Months behind its rival Airbus, the company was racing to finish the plane, a more fuel-efficient version of its best-selling 737.

The regulator’s hands-off approach was pivotal. At crucial moments in the Max’s development, the agency operated in the background, mainly monitoring Boeing’s progress and checking paperwork. The nation’s largest aerospace manufacturer, Boeing was treated as a client, with F.A.A. officials making decisions based on the company’s deadlines and budget.

The two crashes that caused the planes to be grounded were caused by a software system [MCAS] that the FAA never examined closely. When MCAS was changed late in the process, making it activate more frequently and make bigger adjustments,

the company never submitted an updated safety assessment of those changes to the agency. … Under the impression the system was insignificant, officials didn’t require Boeing to tell pilots about MCAS. When the company asked to remove mention of MCAS from the pilot’s manual, the agency agreed.

A common libertarian argument says that a corporation’s reputation for safety is so valuable in the market that government oversight isn’t necessary. If that principle held anywhere, it would hold in a corporation like Boeing. But the argument assumes that the full import of decisions comes into play at all times. In actual corporations, though, individual decision-makers often are under pressure to cut corners and hope.


One thing Trump ran on in 2016 was that he would protect and even revive America’s coal industry. (“They want to be miners, but their jobs have been taken away and we’re going to bring them back, folks.”) Obama, he claimed, had been fighting a “war on coal”, regulating the industry out of business. Trump would put a stop to that war.

Well, the Trump administration has definitely rolled back regulations, valuing the dirtiest form of fossil fuel above the environment, and especially above combating climate change. But it turns out that over-regulation wasn’t really the problem: Coal companies are continuing to go bankrupt, with six bankruptcies since October.

Adam Ozimek explains how Trump-think works in these situations:

West Virginia coal miners, big news: we’re cracking down on immigrants. No longer will you live under the crushing burden of the 1.6% of your population that is foreign born.


The NYT wonders why Rep. Seth Moulton keeps running for president despite polling at asterisk levels. Those of us who live in his district wonder the same thing.


It was 109 degrees in Paris on Thursday, but I’m sure it doesn’t mean anything. Just keep on doing whatever you’ve been doing.

Last month, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said Europe’s five hottest summers since 1500 had all occurred in the 21st century – in 2002, 2003, 2010, 2016 and 2018.

Monthly records were now falling five times as often as they would in a stable climate, the institute said, adding that this was “a consequence of global warming caused by the increasing greenhouse gases from burning coal, oil and gas”.


The Washington Post let a former student editor at Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Liberty University describe the oppressive atmosphere he had to live under.


A video of Rep. Ilhan Omar that has been edited to make her sound anti-white went viral inside the conservative bubble. It was shared by Senator Marco Rubio, who apparently doesn’t feel any obligation to verify the stuff he tweets. Here’s the original 10-minute Omar interview, which includes the quote at the top of the page.

In case you’re wondering what was left out in the edited version, it’s the hypothetical nature of her comment that police should be profiling and monitoring white men. They edited out the “if fear was the driving force behind policies to keep Americans safe”. She wasn’t trying to threaten white men (as the edited version implies); her point was that policies like Trump’s Muslim ban have more to do with bigotry than with fear of terrorism. And this much is true: More terrorist attacks in the US are carried out by white supremacists than by jihadists.

and let’s close with somebody else’s problem

Now that Boris Johnson is giving Trump competition in the wild-haired loose cannon division of the head-of-state Olympics, and the possibility of a no-deal Brexit looms, this Tracey Uhlman piece advertising “Paddy Passports” — EU-member Irish passports for British folk who still want to travel in Europe — is relevant again.

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Comments

  • Anonymous  On August 1, 2019 at 9:21 pm

    Re: “Somebody Else’s Problem”

    Here is a TED talk about the role of online ads and “fake news” in Brexit. This is part of our problem, too.

    Facebook’s role in Brexit — and the threat to democracy | Carole Cadwalladr TED Talk

Trackbacks

  • By Suggested Solutions | The Weekly Sift on August 12, 2019 at 11:58 am

    […] Two weeks ago, I suggested “Enough!” as the Democrats’ best anti-Trump slogan, and at least one Sift reader ordered some “Enough.” bumperstickers from Cafe Press. Looking at it, I think the period works better than the exclamation point I suggested. […]

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