Politics postsFriday February 10, 2017
'Oh No, Not Court'
After the unanimous decision yesterday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to uphold the stay on Pres. Trump's ban on refugees and all immigrants from seven countries, and after Pres. Trump angrily tweeted, using (yes) all caps, “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!,” this was my favorite response:
“oh no, not court” —judges— both are equally bad (@caseyjohnston) February 10, 2017
That said, some part of this still plays into Trump's small hands. I'm still worried about the Reichstag fire. Any attack on U.S. soil now, and Trump can say, “See? But the courts wouldn't listen to me!” A big enough attack and who knows what he'll get.
The discussion is still in the details. He talks “extreme vetting.” The current vetting process takes 18-24 months, and involves eight government agencies, six security databases, etc. etc. I'm sure it can be improved, but how? The blanket ban on both refugees and seven countries that haven't been involved in any recent attack is a shitty answer to that question. Give us a less shitty answer.
I hate how much of the news I have to unpack every morning. It seems I always have to fight through the clutter to get to the story.
- Wait: Mitch McConnell prevented Elizabeth Warren from ... what exactly?
- From reading a 1986 letter Corretta Scott King wrote against Jeff Sessions, who back then was up for a federal judgeship, and who's now up for U.S. Attorney General. King wrote that Sessions “used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens.”
- So why was Warren silenced? Is there a rule against reading letters?
- It's Rule No. 19, which prohibits senators from insulting each other on the Senate floor.
- You're kidding. How long has that been around?
- Since 1902. It was adopted after a fistfight on the Senate floor.
- And how often has it been used?
- I'd say. Besides, Warren isn't exactly attacking a “fellow Senator” here. Sessions may soon be the chief law enforcement officer in the land. He has to be vetted, right? Extremely vetted. What if you have something negative to say? Can't you say it?
- Haven't seen anything on this yet.
Anyway, it's easy to see what happened. It was an obscure rule of procedure, McConnell is hugely knowledgable in obscure rules of procedure that benefit him and his party. He's also a major asshole. So he did what he did. He stifled her. And the right-wing propaganda machine fell in lock-step. It added insult to injury.
Except, beautifully, McConnell's words have been used against him. Here's what he said in justifying his actions:
She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.
Faster than you can say, “Fuck you, Mitch,” #ShePersisted was trending on social media, and memes—with Rosa Parks, Hillary Clinton, Harriet Tubman, et al.—were popping up against the backdrop of McConnell's words. In trying to shut up Warren, he handed her a microphone to the world. He gave the movement a slogan.
Meanwhile, our president tweeted an attack on an American business, Nordstrom, because it dropped his daughter's clothing line. That one I don't need to unpack.
Shoutout to all the Trump fans who are never sure when it's *you're* vs. *your* but who are now suddenly constitutional law scholars.— Dab Aggin (@DabAggin) February 4, 2017
Pres. Trump Holds Meeting Honoring Easter Sunday*
* 'Inspired' by his speech yesterday at a meeting honoring Black History Month.
“I think Jesus is doing an amazing job, an amazing job. I've heard his numbers are very high. Arnold wishes he had numbers like that. A total disaster, am I right? A big, big movie star but he couldn't fill my shoes. My ratings were amazing, really, really amazing, and now Mark misses me. I've heard from hundreds of people about what a disaster Arnold is. I have good friends in the TV business who say that. But CNN won't say that because they're fake news, and so is the failing New York Times. A total embarrassment.
”But Jesus is very important to me, OK? Always has been. The money changers, I wouldn't have done that. I'm not saying I'm better than Jesus, I just support small business. Also, the hippie hair. Wasn't he Jewish? Where's Jared? My son-in-law. Where is he? Over there? He doesn't work Fridays and Saturdays, but like most Jews he's smart, and Jesus was smart, and that's why I'd hire him, because I really, really love these people. And they love me. But the Holocaust thing, the way that was covered, that was just awful to me. I'm the least anti-Semitic person out there. Believe me.“
”This is the day we celebrate the day Jesus rose from the dead. Remember how I rose from the dead? All the pundits, on all the shows, they were saying that Texas might turn blue. Oh, Texas! It's going to be a landslide against Trump. Never happened. Never. Happened. Instead I won by more electoral votes than anyone in history.
“This is a great, great group. This is a group that's been so special to me. Jared, George, my daughter Ivanka, who converted. Either way, a beautiful girl, a beautiful girl. That's another area where I disagree with Jesus. If they're just offering it up, what are you supposed to do? I know it's not politically correct to say it but I've never been politically correct.
”Anyway, this is a very, very special day, the resurrection of the Christ, and no one is a bigger fan than me. Biggest. Fan. Just ask anyone."
Why NPR's 'Morning Edition' Continues to Suck
Yesterday I heard a report on NPR's “Morning Edition” about the Dakota Pipeline and the continuing protest at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. And I was frustrated all over again by NPR.
Let me preface this by saying I don't really have any dogs in this hunt. I have a lot of friends on the left who were wringing their hands and posting on social media about the protest in October, and all I could think was, “Really? If Donald Trump gets elected in November, this will be the least of your worries.” So this isn't a post to convince you one way or another on Standing Rock/Dakota. It's about Journalism 101. Actually it's about common sense.
The NPR piece was hosted by David Greene and reported on by Amy Sisk, who is introduced at the top of the piece as being from “Prairie Public Broadcasting,” and at the bottom of the piece as being from “Inside Energy, that's a public media collaboration focusing on America's energy issues.” No attempt is made to clarify this. But that's not why I was frustrated.
Sisk spends the first third of the report just talking about the protesters still in the camps being resigned but determined, which is human interest and clarifies nothing.
Then she talks about the Sioux tribe's concern of potential oil spills and how this will damage the water supply. She says most oil gets where it's supposed to, but “leaks do happen, and they can be devastating.”
Then David Greene asks her about the other side of the debate:
I mean, you have the oil industry, labor groups. I mean, they have been saying that these two pipelines could be real job creators, so this must be good news for them.
Got that? Job creators.
Sisk agrees, and says she spoke with Ron Ness with the North Dakota Petroleum Council, “and here's what he had to say”:
RON NESS: This pipeline should be moving oil today, and we'd have 2,000 or 3,000 less trucks on the road in western North Dakota. We'd be getting our oil to market at - to a better market more safely and more reliably, and we'd be getting a better price for it.
What's your follow-up? Ness makes an environmental argument—fewer trucks on the road. But in doing so, doesn't he undercut Dakota Pipeline's main argument about being “job creators”? Aren't 2,000 to 3,000 truck drivers going to lose their jobs? Isn't this really about efficiency for the corporation to create greater profit, and in that efficiency, isn't net employment going down?
- “This will create jobs.”
- “We'll have 2,000 or 3,000 less [sic] trucks on the road.”
There's a seeming discrepancy here. I thought NPR would dig into the discrepancy. Didn't.
I mean, wouldn't it be ironic if the corporation actually had the better environmental argument (fewer trucks on the road) and the environmentalists had the better jobs argument (more truck drivers)?
BTW: This BBC report suggests that most of the current oil transportation for this area is via train. It also asks the most relevant question of all: Who does this benefit? The answer? “The pipeline would benefit oil companies, shareholders and local governments. Dakota Access says the project will create between 8,000-12,000 jobs and generate $55m in annual property taxes.” It doesn't mention if those jobs would be temporary or not, and what the net gain/loss for continued employment might be.
BTW2: Can we stop pretending corporations are interested in creating jobs? Corporations are interested in creating profit. That's it. And they often do this by eliminating jobs. Let's start there. The rest is bullshit.