Wednesday, January 31, 2018

DONALD TRUMP'S IMMIGRATION PLAN: "A FLOWER IN ONE HAND, AND A SLEDGEHAMMER IN THE OTHER"

J. Keppler cartoon, Puck Magazine, January 11, 1893. Title: "Looking Backward"

I was on KGET 17 News' Sunrise edition this morning with Cathy Abernathy, discussing Donald Trump's State of the Union address.

While I made a couple of points about Trump taking credit for an economy he had nothing to do with (like a rooster taking credit for the sun coming up) and discussed his "extortion-like" immigration plan, I wasn't able to elaborate further because our time had been gobbled up by the station's decision to discuss last night's Full Moon before we appeared.


Below are the points I wanted to discuss, which includes some of the things we need to understand about Donald Trump's immigration plan. In a few words, his proposed immigration plan is a disaster for American ideals.
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As I pointed out on air, what the Trump administration is proposing is akin to having "a flower in one hand, and a sledgehammer in the other." It says, "We'll let in a million-plus Dreamers, but only if you give us a border wall, establish a 'merit' based immigration system (abolishing our current visa program as we know it), and end the chain migration policies that brought millions of migrants to America during the 19th and 20th centuries."

In effect, Trump is dangling 1.8 million "paths to citizenship" to DACA recipients and other "meritorious" groups, but then slamming the door. In exchange, the Trump administration wants a free hand to scapegoat and create a climate of fear so they can pursue scary brown people.

This is not negotiation. It's hostage taking.


Simply stated, the Trump administration is using Dreamers as leverage to extort, from congressional Democrats, a set of fear-drenched immigration policies. These policies will supercharge law enforcement and create a hostile environment for "suspicious looking" immigrants, which has already started happening. Think about what has transpired over the past year.

We have Border Patrol agents climbing on to buses in Florida, asking people about their immigration and citizenship status (they were after a Jamaican grandmother). Motel 6 routinely gave guest names and information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in Arizona. The Michigan story of landscaper Jorge Garcia being deported, after marrying and years of raising a law abiding family, made national news. Then we have the Kern County story - outlined in our documentary, American Migrant Stories - of a female adult who was a legal refugee. She was married to a U.S. citizen, and had a small child. She was arrested during one of her weekly check-ins last year, and subsequently deported.

While all of these stories are important because none of them involved the "bad hombres" Trump said he would be looking for, there's another angle here that overshadows the human interest element. Bluntly speaking, they tell us that America is already on the path towards becoming a police state, where "your papers, please" will become a common refrain if Trump gets his way.



How this happens is rather interesting, and disturbing. And it starts with the 4-point immigration plan Trump presented in last night's State of the Union address.

Trump's plan begins with the "flower" of putting up to 1.8 million undocumented immigrants on a path towards citizenship. Then comes the sledgehammer, that's built around a twisted sense of "merit." There's an education requirement. There's a work requirement. There's a morality clause (it's not new, it's effectively DACA 2.0).

You might be saying, "Well, what's wrong with this? We should have some standards."

The reality is, if we had had these requirements 100 years ago, Donald Trump's grandfather would never have been allowed to stay in the United States, after he was refused repatriation back to his native Germany (people forget that Trump' brothel running grandfather was no moral pillar of society, and was not welcome in Germany). If these guidelines had been in place when the families of Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) came to America, they might not be here either.


How draconian is the plan? Take one of the tests that Republicans proposed last year, and see if you could could get into the country. Seriously, click here and take the test. Then ask yourself if your ancestors could have made it to America under the proposed guidelines.

And for those of you crying about living in a terror-filled world, and how we need to protect ourselves from all the scariness, all I have to say is grow up. You stand a greater chance of being hit by lightening, winning the lottery, or being killed by a deranged (white) gunman in America than you do of being involved in a terror-related attack.

In a few words, Trump's State of the Union address was full of lies and distortions. The worst part of it, if we're reading the tea leaves correctly, is that it included an immigration plan that speaks more to fear mongering and Trump's desire to create a police state than it did to pathways towards citizenship, or America's better angels.


If we're being honest with ourselves, we should acknowledge Trump's immigration plan for what it is. It's a blueprint for an ethno-nationalist American security state, that does little to speak to the noble ideas that helped build America into the nation many now see slipping away.

- Mark

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

WE HAD THE MANSON FAMILY, SAY HELLO TO THE TRUMP FAMILY


This is why we're in the mess we're in now. The kind of moral relativism we see in this clip is self-serving, and has nothing to do with any kind of principles - Christian or otherwise - that I've ever learned about.

There's forgiveness for Trump's liason with a porn star, and his payoff to keep her quiet right before the election, but no forgiveness for Dreamers and the poor who have crossed the border looking for a better life.


Think about it. Trump can break the 1st (greed/gluttony), 7th (adultery) and 10th (covet) Commandments on a regular basis, and he's forgiven. But foreigners looking for a simple law to make them legal ... well we can't do that because they broke the law and can't be forgiven, in spite of what the Bible says about taking in foreigners.

With this kind of mindset governing his base, Donald Trump was correct. He could shoot someone and his base would still support him. Heck, they would probably line up to reload his gun, as long as he was shooting at a Mexican.

What we are witnessing with many of Trump's supporters is the making of a cult, plain and simple.

We had the Manson Family, say hello to the Trump Family.

- Mark

FYI: I posted an incomplete version of this earlier today, which several of you might have seen. I accidentally hit the "publish" button. It happens.

10 THINGS YOU WON'T HEAR IN DONALD TRUMP'S STATE OF THE UNION TONIGHT


It's finally upon us. After one year in office, we're going to hear Donald Trump give his State of the Union address.

To make things a little fun, let's think about some of the things we're not going to hear from Donald Trump. Below is my list of the 10 Things You Won't Hear in Donald Trump's State of the Union Address:
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1. The successes we're seeing on the economic front are the result of Obama's economy. Look, it took Obama 2 years to clean up the 2008 market collapse, and build a thriving economy. It's going to take Trump more than a year to wreck it (and wreck it he will).

2. Murders by white supremacists more than doubled in 2017 under the Trump administration.

3. FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe's announced departure was just one in a long line of firings and departures of life time law enforcement experts - which include FBI director James Comey, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, U.S. Attorney (NY) Preet Harara, et al. - who were just doing their jobs (i.e. looking into the Trump-Russian connection).

4. How Trump has alienated allies, fomented global distrust, and stood by as the number of countries who disapprove of U.S. leadership tripled.

5. How Trump's cluelessness on foreign affairs has ceded U.S. positions in Asia to China (the South China Sea and the Trans-Pacific Partnership), Eastern Europe (it's Russia's for a song), the Middle East (Syria and Iran are closer to Putin than ever), in Mexico (with Trump's pointless wall and endless race-baiting), and in the African "shitholes" that no one in his administration want to visit.

6. Donald Trump caused the government shutdown because, as U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) put it, the president is all over the map and not a "reliable partner."

7. How, in the words of Senator John Kennedy (R-LA), while America was "founded by geniuses" it's now "run by idiots" in the Trump Era.

8. How the border wall won't solve our immigration issue because it's a 14th century solution to a 21st century challenge.

9. How we have had 5 government shut downs since the 1990s, and the GOP has been in charge of Congress every single time ... but 2018 was the only time when Congress and the executive branch belonged to the same party and they STILL had a shutdown.

10. How Donald Trump has wrecked Republicans credibility on the debt (with a $1.5 trillion tax giveaway), states' rights (abortion, sanctuary cities, marijuana, marriage, etc.), and being tough guys on foreign policy (especially when it comes to Russia and his mindless games of nuclear pattycake with the globe's other man-child, Kim Jong Un).

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To be sure, we might hear Donald Trump talk about secret societies and made up conspiracies, primarily because his base needs them. The spooky "deep state" conspiracy stuff keep Trump's political family (cult?) motivated, so he just might complain about all the evil people out to get him (though I have think even he's not that stupid). 
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Oh, one more thing. Don't be surprised if Trump ignores Russia altogether, unless he goes off script and comments on how he wants to be friends with Russia ... as Vladimir Putin continues to outplay Trump (and embarrass America) on the global stage.

- Mark

Monday, January 29, 2018

INSPECTOR, MEET MR. CLOUSEAU ... HOW THE GOP IS SELLING ITS SOUL TO PROTECT DONALD TRUMP


This is almost surreal. Secret societies, secret memos, and made up conspiracies, all paint a picture of nation in dire straits, or a Republican Party that's grasping at straws in order to protect a damaged and deeply flawed president.

First up, we have this hilarious piece of satire from the Washington Post's Dana Milbank, "Inside the secret, sinister and very legal cabal trying to destroy Trump." In the article, Milbank mocks the conspiracy theory approach to governing practiced by congressional Republicans like Trey Gowdy (R-Benghazi). So, what's the conspiracy according to Trey and the GOP? There's a "secret society" inside the FBI, and it has one goal: undermining Donald Trump's presidency.

I know, scary stuff ... if it were true. But it's not. Hence Milbank's mocking piece from last week.

So, the next question is how did the GOP come to latch on this secret conspiracy, which they desperately want to believe in? In a few words - according to Fox News, Breitbart, Rush Limbaugh, and the Daily Caller (yeah, the usual suspects) - they read a text message between FBI agents that unwittingly revealed the dastardly plan.

Here's the real problem. No one in the right wing noise machine bothered to investigate the "secret society" claim because it fit a narrative they wanted to push. And Fox News didn't just scroll or text the information. They began hyping the secret society claim dozens of time, on air, as if it was bombshell news.

Then they suddenly went silent when they learned the story "was a joke." Oops.

Having learned nothing from their secret society embarrassment, we're now being asked to suffer through another lowbrow, almost vaudevillian, drama being played out by the conspiracy seeking GOP. This time they want to release a "secret memo," held by the House Intelligence Committee, which promises to unveil serious misdeeds at the Justice Department and inside the FBI.

Insuring it "seriousness" is that it was written by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who's increasingly looking like the congressional version of Inspector Clouseau.


Recall, this is the same Devin Nunes who said 10 months ago it wasn't a big deal if foreigners (i.e. Russians) hacked computers in the United States, but that it should be a crime if journalists started investigating and writing about foreign hacking.

Huh?

If you're keeping score at home, this is what Nunes was saying: If Russia hacked the vote, it's no big deal. But we should be able to go after you if you investigate Russian hacking, and report on it.

It's this kind of evil genius mentality that has the few responsible Republicans left concerned about what's in the Nunes memo. Because the memo claims evil deeds by the DOJ and the FBI, the FBI is taking this seriously and has asked to take a look so they can address what's being claimed. Since pieces of the memo are supposed to have national security implications, the FBI has been denied access. It's too sensitive, even for the FBI [*cough ** cough*].

Rep. Adam Schiff, a former prosecutor and the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has seen the Nunes memo (written by him and his staff), and said it's "rife with factual inaccuracies" and is really designed to get House Republicans riled up.

From non-existent conspiracies, to non-existent hacking crimes (that should not be investigated, or written about, mind you), to partisan conspiracy memos, it's clear that the Republican Party under Donald Trump has been reduced to servile lackeys. The funny part, if you're inclined to see humor in any of this, is that our one time law and order GOP has become sycophants to our laughingstock president, and he could care less about any of them.

Grab some popcorn. It's embarrassing to our nation, but there's more to come.

- Mark

UPDATE: FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe, has been asked to step down, immediately. Donald Trump had asked FBI director, Christopher Wray, to fire McCabe several times. The White House claims Trump wasn't involved in the decision to remove McCabe (Slate).

Thursday, January 25, 2018

AMERICAN DECLINE ... IT'S REAL, AND ACCELERATING, UNDER DONALD TRUMP'S AMERICA FIRST "LEADERSHIP"



For many Americans, since Donald Trump was inaugurated it seems as if all of our ideas and dreams about the United States, and how we worked things out as "Americans," are beginning to fall apart. As we've struggled to come to terms with our narcissistic man-child in the White House, we're also realizing that with a spineless Congress, we are living a recurring nightmare that's not going to end any time soon.

With Trump's base urging him on, shouting MAGA (the acronym for Make America Great Again) at their "great leader's" rallies, there's a surreal property about our lives today that's more Kafkaesque than blind acceptance of our predicament. For many Americans, there's a sense that we're living an embarrassing political nightmare, and we can't wake up. Mixed metaphors notwithstanding, it's like watching a child walk around with a loaded gun, and we can't do anything about it.

Worse, our nightmare is playing out in real time on the world stage. Global observers, who aren't sucked into the blind ignorance that grips Trump's political family, see what's happening in America and are unabashedly working around the United States. The United States may still be the indispensable partner, but it has also become "the elephant in the room" everyone sees, but no one wants to deal with.


The NY Times has an interesting article in today's paper - "As U.S. Trumpets 'America First,' Rest of the World Is Moving On" - that highlights these dynamics. It makes one thing clear to everyone, except Donald Trump and his supporters: the world is doing its level best to ignore Trump, which means they're running past the U.S. when it can.

In geostrategic terms - something conservatives used to care about - Donald Trump is accelerating the decline of the United States.

The NY Times article begins:

President Trump is arriving at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to explain his “America First” approach at a moment when the world is moving ahead with a trade agenda that no longer revolves around the United States.
The world marked a turning point in global trade on Tuesday, when 11 countries agreed to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, announcing they had finalized the pact and expected to sign a deal on March 8 in Chile. It was a remarkable moment for a beleaguered agreement that was conceived and constructed by the United States, then abandoned by Washington when Mr. Trump took office last year.
As the world’s largest economy and architect of many international organizations and treaties, the United States remains an indispensable partner. But as the global economy gains strength, Europe and countries including Japan and China are forging ahead with deals that do not include the United States ...

You can read the entire article by clicking here.

- Mark

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

KGET 17 NEWS GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN DISCUSSION

You can access my most recent debate (yesterday morning; 1-23-18) with Republican Cathy Abernathy, on KGET 17 News' Sunrise Edition, by clicking here.


The primary points I made were:
* The Democratic Party caved in to Republicans unnecessarily (again).

* We've had 4 government shutdowns since the 1990s, and the GOP has be in charge of Congress every time.

* Donald Trump is a liability to the process. When  he got bipartisan agreements (which included the Democrats caving on his wall and military demands), he still said no and moved the goal posts.

* The vast majority of the undocumented people who are here are here because they over stayed their visas.

* The wall is a 14-15th century solution to a 21st century challenge.

* Saying the Democrats haven't come up with anything, as Cathy suggested, is nonsense. The Democrats have agreed to at least two bipartisan proposals, both of which Trump rejected (and then moved the goal posts).

To make a long story short, the Democrats caved and Trump doesn't know what the hell he's doing. This is a clown show, and the Carnival Barker everyone saw before the elections is in full bloom.

And, yes, we'll be back doing this again in about 3 weeks.

- Mark

THE GERMANS ALSO DIDN'T WANT THE TRUMPS ... OR, "THE STORY OF THE MAN WHO GAVE US TRUMP"

According to the The Guardian, Donald Trump is an American citizen because his grandfather was effectively banned from Bavaria by Prince Regent Luitpold (ruler of Bavaria, 1886 to 1912).

Prinzregent Luitpold.jpg

It appears that in 1905 the prince rejected the plea of Trump's grandfather, Friedrich Trump, to return to Germany because Friedrich failed to carry out his military service. Friedrich Trump would eventually make a small fortune selling goods and running a brothel for Alaska's gold hunters.

For his part, Prince Regent Luitpold played a small role in the creation of Germany - or what was called the German Empire (1871-1918) - when he represented Bavaria's King Ludwig II, and handed over the Kaiserbrief at the ceremony that made the King of Prussia Emperor.

Donald Trump, with his father, Fred, who was born in 1905,
the same year Friedrich Trump's request for repatriation back to Germany was denied.

It should be noted that Prince Regent Luitpold's resistance to Friedrich Trump's request to return to Bavaria was due in part to the fact that while Friedrich Trump ducked military service (apparently a family tradition) the regent had a long and distinguished career in the Bavarian military.

But the point remains; the Germans saw the self serving cowardice, and didn't want the Trump family either.

- Mark

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

ROBERT REICH NAILS IT ... TRUMP HAS DESTROYED REPUBLICAN CREDIBILITY ON THE DEBT, STATES' RIGHTS, AND FOREIGN POLICY

I don't do this often, but I'm posting Robert Reich's article in its entirety below. In a few words, Reich explains how the Republican Party can no longer make any claim to being deficit hawks, defenders of states' rights, or foreign policy tough guys. Simply put, they've become Trump's tool, and are either too spineless or absorbed with the pursuit of power to be a principled institution of American democracy.

Enjoy.
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America has never had a president as deeply unpopular at this stage of his presidency, or one who has sucked up more political oxygen. This isn’t good news for the Republican Party this November or in the future, because the GOP has sold its soul to Trump.
Three principles once gave the GOP its identity and mission: Shrink the deficit, defend states’ rights, and be tough on Russia.
Now, after a year with the raving man-child who now occupies the White House, the Republican Party has taken a giant U-turn. Budget deficits are dandy, state’s rights are obsolete, and Russian aggression is no big deal.
By embracing a man whose only principles are winning and getting even, the Republican Party no longer stands for anything other than Trump. 
Start with fiscal responsibility. 
When George W. Bush took office in 2001, the Congressional Budget Office projected a $5.6 trillion budget surplus over 10 years. Yet even this propitious outlook didn’t stop several Republicans from arguing against the Bush tax cut out of concern it would increase the nation’s debt. 
A few years later, congressional Republicans were apoplectic about Obama’s spending plan, necessitated by the 2008 financial crisis. Almost every Republican in Congress opposed it. They argued it would dangerously increase in the federal debt.
“Yesterday the Senate cast one of the most expensive votes in history,” intoned Senator Mitch McConnell. “Americans are wondering how we’re going to pay for all this.” Paul Ryan warned the nation was “heading for a debt crisis.”
Now, with America’s debt at the highest level since shortly after World War II – 77 percent of GDP – Trump and the GOP have enacted a tax law that by their own estimates will increase the debt by at least $1.5 trillion over the decade.
What happened to fiscal responsibility? McConnell, Ryan, and the rest of the GOP have gone mum about it. Politics came first: They and Trump had to enact the big tax cut in order to reward their wealthy patrons. 
States’ rights used to be the second pillar of Republican thought.
For decades, Republicans argued that the Constitution’s Tenth Amendment protected the states from federal intermeddling.
They used states’ rights to resist desegregation; to oppose federal legislation protecting workers, consumers, and the environment; and to battle federal attempts to guarantee marriage rights for gays and lesbians. 
When, in 2013, the Supreme Court relied on states’ rights to strike down the heart of the Voting Rights Act, then-Senator Jeff Sessions broke out the champagne. “good news!“ said the GOP’s leading advocate of states’ rights. =
But after a year of Trump, Republicans have come around to thinking states have few if any rights. 
As Attorney General, Sessions has green-lighted a federal crackdown on marijuana in states that have legalized it. 
He and Trump are also blocking sanctuary cities from receiving federal grants. (A federal judge recently stayed Trump’s executive order on grounds that it violates the Tenth Amendment, but Trump and Sessions are appealing the decision.) 
Trump is also seeking to gut California’s tough environmental rules. His Interior Department is opening more of California’s federal land and coastline to oil and gas drilling, and Trump’s EPA is moving to repeal new restrictions on a type of heavily-polluting truck California was relying on to meet its climate and air quality goals.
Meanwhile, the Republican House has approved the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would prevent states from enforcing their own laws barring concealed handguns against visitors from other states that permitted them.
For the new GOP, states’ rights be damned. Now it’s all about consolidating power in Washington, under Trump. 
The third former pillar of Republicanism was a hard line on Russian aggression.
When Obama forged the New Start treaty with Moscow in 2010, Republicans in Congress charged that Vladimir Putin couldn’t be trusted to carry out any arms control agreement.
And they complained that Obama wasn’t doing enough to deter Putin in Eastern Ukraine.  “Every time [Obama] goes on national television and threatens Putin or anyone like Putin, everybody’s eyes roll, including mine,” said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. “We have a weak and indecisive president that invites aggression.”
That was then. Now, despite explicit findings by American intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 election – the most direct attack on American democracy ever attempted by a foreign power – Republicans in Congress want to give Russia a pass. 
They don’t even want to take steps to prevent further Russian meddling. They’ve played down a January report by Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee warning that the Kremlin will likely move to influence upcoming U.S. elections, including those this year and in 2020.
The reason, of course, is the GOP doesn’t want to do anything that might hurt Trump or rile his followers.
The GOP under Trump isn’t the first political party to bend its principles to suit political expediency. But it may be the first to jettison its principles entirely, and over so short a time.


If Republicans no longer care about the federal debt, or state’s rights, or Russian aggression – what exactly do they care about? What are the core principles of today’s Republican Party?
Winning and getting even. 
But as a year with Trump as president has shown, this is no formula for governing.
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- Mark

Monday, January 22, 2018

DEMOCRATS CAVE, AND TRUST THE GOP, AGAIN

Democrats in Washington have already caved on funding for the border wall, now they're trusting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will keep his word on immigration and other issues over the next three weeks. Is it any wonder that Trump is president? Sigh ...



- Mark

DONALD TRUMP AFTER ONE YEAR: THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY ISN'T IMPRESSED WITH OUR MAN-CHILD


Donald Trump's administration has one year under its belt now. We can now start making some real assessments about what was promised, and what's actually happening. One thing stands out: If by "Make America Great Again" Donald Trump meant alienating allies, fomenting global distrust, and driving nations around the world to mock veiled praise from the United States, then Donald Trump has been a success. Bigly.

From crashing poll numbers, to shifting their foreign policy focus away from America, to being hung out to dry by Trump's avatar, Mother Russia, the United States has seen its global prestige and international influence slip, on many levels. The world, unlike Donald Trump's domestic supporters, understand that whining and playing nuclear patty cake with North Korea's Kim Jong Un are not a "winning" combination.

Below are just a few articles that chronicle American decline in the eyes of the world under Donald Trump.
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Countries disapproving of U.S. leadership triples in 2017 (Gallup).

In the Trump Era, everyone hates us (Mother Jones).

Germany must stop relying on U.S. for foreign policy: Foreign Minister (Reuters).

Germany says Trump's "withdrawal" means Europe must step up (Bloomberg).

Sigmar Gabriel: To survive, the EU must become more assertive (DW).

'Thanks, but no thanks': Norwegians reject Trump's immigration offer (Reuters).

Trump turning U.S. into world champion of extreme inequality', UN envoy warns (The Guardian).

U.S. tried to get cute on Iran but was promptly rebuffed by Russia, which asked about Black Lives Matter (The Root).

Murders by U.S. white supremacists more than doubled in 2017, new report shows (Huffington Post).
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- Mark

UPDATE (1-23-18): Tourism to U.S. under Trump is down, costing $4.6 b and 40,000 jobs (NBC News).

UPDATE II (1-25-18): Trump is the worst salesman American has ever had: The United States is more unpopular than ever before, and that's no accident (Foreign Policy). 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

A NATION FOUNDED BY GENIUSES BUT "RUN BY IDIOTS" SHUTS DOWN, AGAIN ... A TIMELINE OF CONGRESSIONAL INCOMPETENCE

This past week, with Congress heading for yet another government shutdown, U.S. Senator John Kennedy (R-La) said, "Our country was founded by geniuses, but it's run by idiots." Acting as if they were determined to prove Sen. Kennedy right, last night our Republican controlled Congress - led by a Republican president who touted his negotiating prowess in Art of the Deal - failed to collect enough votes to keep our government running.

U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) was quick to point a finger at the White House, commenting "We don't have a reliable partner at the White House to negotiate with ...".

 
So, here we are; Donald Trump is the first U.S. president to have a government shutdown with his party in control of both the House and the Senate. Worse, it's coming just one year after he took the oath of office.

Impressive.

Because the talk shows and right wing media are going to do their level best to spin this as an immigration-inspired Democrat Party problem, it's necessary to look at the big picture over time. Let's review. 
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* PROTECT OUR SEATS: In 2013 Republicans, led by then Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-Oh), decided not to bring a comprehensive immigration bill (S. 744) to the House floor, even though it had bi-partisan support. Why? because Speaker Boehner didn't want his party to be on record voting for an immigration bill. That would leave Republicans open to being "primaried" by Tea Party extremists, who oppose virtually any kind of immigration bill.

* DACA, THE STOPGAP MEASURE: In response to the GOP's failure to bring an immigration bill to his desk, President Obama created a stopgap measure for undocumented migrant children, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). It allows law abiding migrant kids to stay in the U.S. under a series of guidelines that keeps them working, in school, in the military, or a combination thereof. Though DACA was always designed to be a temporary fix, this becomes the nation's de facto immigration program

* DACA CANCELLED: In an effort to appease his base, in September of 2017 Donald Trump said he would end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) by March 2018 if Congress didn't come up with a plan by then. Trump says many things (and he's still saying a lot of things), but he effectively told Congress to fix DACA, or to send him a comprehensive immigration program. With a GOP-led Congress, Trump says he will sign what they send him.

* DACA, WITH A WALL: Responding to Senator Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) query on Jan. 9, Donald Trump said he would accept a "clean" (no riders, or other deals) DACA deal, only to be corrected by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (of all people), who reminded Trump that border security had to be part of a DACA deal (in my exchange with Kevin McCarthy, I explain to him why this is not the case here). Trump reversed (clarified?) his comments the next day, when he made it clear that there had to be provisions for his border wall if he was going to deal with immigration.



* BI-PARTISAN BILL REJECTED / THE "SHITHOLE" COMMENTS: After saying that he would sign anything that was put in front of him that was supported by Republicans, Donald Trump rejected a budget proposal that was crafted and put in front of him by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC). When senators arrived to present Trump with the plan, he rejected it out of hand. This is when Trump is reported to have asked, why the deal had to let people in from "shithole countries" like Haiti, El Salvador and Africa.

* BI-PARTISAN BILL REJECTED, II: With word getting out that Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was on his way to speak with Donald Trump in the White House, alone, Republicans sprang into action. It didn't matter that Sen. Schumer was willing to put funding for a border wall back on the table. What emerged yesterday was a comical exchange of "he said, she said" nonsense, which forced the government shutdown we're experiencing today.
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The frustrating thing is that it didn't matter to Donald Trump that the Democrats were putting more money on the table for the military. It didn't matter that the Democrats were even offering money Trump's border wall. At the end of the day, Donald Trump was convinced by Republican hard liners not to do anything on the budget if it included a bipartisan plan dealing with DACA and immigration.

So, in a few words, the evil genius of the Republican Party - which begins with them trying to save their congressional seats, and refusing to bring a bipartisan immigration bill to the floor in 2013 - has brought us to the point where the U.S. government is shutting down. Why? Because hardliners in the GOP - which includes Bakersfield's own Kevin McCarthy - don't want to fix an immigration problem that they caused, and should have fixed long ago.

Republican Senator Lindsay Graham's comment that Donald Trump is not a "reliable" partner might be too generous. Donald Trump is not only unreliable, he's a liability. He has no idea what he's doing, and he's surrounded himself with sycophants and toadies like Kevin McCarthy, who are just happy to be in the room, serving candies to the president.

Republican Senator Kennedy was probably closer to the point than Senator Graham on this one. At this moment in time, the U.S. Congress is run by idiots. They are shadow boxing with themselves, and just turned out the lights.

The Republican Party and Donald Trump own this shutdown.

- Mark