Thursday, March 02, 2017

So that's what "acting Presidential" is meant to sound like?

Trump raises all sort of questions about just how dumb and credulous voters and pundits can be, but fortunately there is enough liberal pushback against some of the ridiculously over-enthusiastic reception given to Trump's teleprompted* speech to re-assure us the nation isn't completely nuts.

David Frum has a very well argued, moderate take in The Atlantic, and I liked this line in particular:
The purpose of these joint-session speeches is not, actually, to reassure the president’s base that the leader of the country is mentally well.
But he doesn't deal with the most outrageous inconsistency (and most queasily quasi fascist element) of the speech:   Trump's starting with a (belated) condemnation of a hate crime against foreigners for daring to be in America (the Kansas shooting), and then spending much of the speech again telling Americans that the nation is under siege from dangerous foreigners who'll kill you or sell your kids drugs if given half the chance.

The idea of creating an agency specifically for highlighting crimes committed by (undocumented?) immigrants has not, as far as I can see, been condemned as widely as it should.  Here's the Washington Post:
… I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American Victims. The office is called VOICE — Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement. We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests.
This proposal, introduced in a memo from Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, has received a lot of negative feedback. (When Trump mentioned it, Democrats groaned.) One issue is that there are negative historical echoes to isolating criminal behavior by one group of people. As the Atlantic notes, the Ministry of Justice in 1930s Germany collected and publicized reports of Jewish criminal activity.
I reckon all the immigrant and "terrorism within our borders" talk has the grubby fingerprints of Bannon all over it.   And ss EJ Dionne Jnr writes in the Washington Post,  in his piece entitled "Trump Still Wants You to be Very, Very Afraid":
And his call to create an office in the Department of Homeland Security called VOICE (“Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement”) was a demagogic propaganda effort to suggest that immigrants are especially prone to committing acts of violence when, in fact, they are not.
No Trump speech is complete without a reference to Chicago’s murder rate, which he mentions constantly because the national crime statistics don’t bear out his implication that the nation is more unsafe than ever.
And Trump wants Americans to be very, very afraid of the threat of terrorism by way of rationalizing his unjustifiable policies barring refugees from a selected group of majority-Muslim countries. “We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside of America,” he declared. For good measure, he added: “We cannot allow our nation to become a sanctuary for extremists.” I bet his speechwriters were proud of those scary phrases, “a beachhead of terrorism” and “a sanctuary for extremists.” That’s the way to get people really alarmed.
Update:  Krugman is scathing of the pundit response, as usual:
The big news from last night’s speech is that our pundits is not learning. After all the debacles of 2016, they swooned over the fact that Trump — while still lying time after time and proposing truly vile initiatives — was able to read from a teleprompter without breaking into an insane rant. If American democracy falls, supposed political analysts who are actually just bad theater critics will share part of the blame.
The subsequent point he explains, about how coal jobs left decades ago, and are simply not going to come back, is well made.

Update 2:  William Saletan, at Slate, once again makes the comparison between George W Bush and Trump, and the contrast between the first speeches both gave to Congress is incredibly stark:
“America has never been united by blood or birth or soil,” Bush declared in his 2001 inaugural address. “We are bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests and teach us what it means to be citizens. Every child must be taught these principles. Every citizen must uphold them. And every immigrant, by embracing these ideals, makes our country more, not less, American.” In his first speech to Congress—delivered almost exactly 16 years ago on Feb. 27, 2001—Bush told Americans: “We all came here for a reason. … Juntos podemos. Together, we can.” He called on Congress to make America not just wealthy, but “generous and just.”
As president, Bush failed to fulfill those aspirations. But Trump doesn’t even acknowledge them: In his remarks Tuesday night, Trump spoke not of generosity, justice, or ideals but of blood, birth, background, and soil. “We are one people, with one destiny,” he proclaimed. “We all bleed the same blood. We all salute the same great American flag.” A fascist leader could have uttered the same words. In place of Bush’s plea to welcome immigrants, Trump said refugees should “return home.”

*  Apparently, Presidents using teleprompts is OK now in Wingnut land.


Not Trampis said...

Trump is into Darkland Which is why he has a looney like Bannon on bnoard.

Last afternoon he tried to be Reagan alah good mornning in america.

It is like we have smeagol and gollum.

Trump is very much a dark land guy. e thinks contrary to evidence crime is rising starkly.

We stil are in the dark ( pun intended) on the econonmy.

markets are very optimistic. Overbought to hell

Jason Soon said...

to paraphrase one twitter pundit, Dubya just got people killed in pointless wars, he didn't actually engage in symbolic slights.

so obviously he was better ...

Jason Soon said...

still smoking the good weed homer?

not trampis said...

well you must Soony. you like living in delusional land with made up facts

not trampis said...

can you tell us all about the link between immigrants and crime, or about the rising crime rate in the USA , how about all those refugees who came to the USA as terrorists.
Maybe even how they are going to build that wall on private land?

I do love the Swedish terrorist incident. a President should never get intelligence from his national security team but from FOX news.

Steve said...

With all of Trump's blather about America needing to "win wars" again, and re-arming the military, and the need to destroy ISIS, you reckon Trump facing 9-11 as President wouldn't have gone running into Iraq as fast as he could, Jason?? Pull the other one.

What's more, he'd probably be rounding up all Muslims in America into detention camps, given his campaign of building up fear of them after a couple of Muslim inspired attacks that only killed scores, not thousands.

You seem to be able to forgive Trump's fear mongering as something not to taken seriously - I find it disgraceful and divisive.

Jason Soon said...

what has he done other than stuff up an executive order that is actually based on a list compiled by Obama re countries with which the US has problematic relations?

not trampis said...

an executive order based on NO evidence.
Poor old Soony going down the Katesy road.

Can't even answer simple questions because he knows the abswers

not trampis said...

even answers

Jason Soon said...

based on what evidence did Obama compile the original list of countries, 'Skanky' HOmer?

not trampis said...

avoids question yet again.

pretty lame Soony. you should get back with the other fruit loops at Catallaxy.
you could confirm it was a hot sunny day when Trump made his inaugural speech and he had a larger crowd than Obama.

If you did not like my definition of skanky ho you could have shown it was not one of the 5 or 6 at the time on urban Dictionary but you could not. Probably because you did not understand the technology.

you are digging deeper. dig some more

Steve said...

What's he done?

He's only been in the job 40 days.

I'm making judgements based on his fearmongering and immigrant and foreigner scapegoating that has been a key part of his campaign, both because it's not fair to diss George W Bush v Trump if you aren't prepared to consider how Trump is likely to have acted in the same circumstances, and because he hasn't had time to make too many decisions yet.

(I should have also mentioned, in the context of Iraq, Trump's musing about how the US should have taken their oil. Yeah, he's sounding like a real isolationist, Jason.)

Anonymous said...


You can barely articulate using your native tongue and now assert one of the finest presidential speeches to Congress is 25 years is sub par.

You skanky ho, Paxton. You idiot.

You deserve a hiding.

Stepford, he's ruining your blog.

not trampis said...

JC can you put that into english please

Anonymous said...


It wasn't a speech displaying oratory skills. It was a powerful speech outlaying the direction in which he wants to take the country.

There are some issues I have in regards to immigration, but not much else. His economic plan is a B plus vs an E minus for the Kenyan. I rate it B plus because the corporate tax rate ought to be zero..

Anonymous said...

Paxton. You don't understand English.

Steve said...

"It was a powerful speech outlaying the direction in which he wants to take the country."

Actually, as David Frum argued, in the first link in my post, it didn't even do that (beyond platitudes.)

I see you've also signed up to the massive hypocrisy of a Republican administration spending up massively on defence (when, if Trump was truly more of an isolationist, it shouldn't have to), and infrastructure (years after it was needed to help the country out of a slump) and (in all likelihood) driving up government debt by doing so in combination with "yuge" tax cuts.

not trampis said...

JC you cannot write english.

It is ironic that Obama reduced the structural deficit far too much and thus had tepid growth mostly, Trump is like both Reagan and Bush going to vastly increase it but just how we still do not know

John said...

What amazes me about politics, Left or Right, is the way people fawn over their leaders. Sure up to 30 years of age we might be that gullible but at some point shouldn't we all stop thinking these leaders are beyond criticism, that we must even defend their stupidities. I'm not addressing anyone here specifically just more a general observation about what has happened in the last 20 years, or is that just age catching up with me and I'm so now deeply cynical about politics generally that I think you have to bark raving mad to spend too much time pondering upon a process that doesn't seem subject to anyone's control rather it rolls along with its own dynamic and we are swept along with it.