After a contentious session during which Speaker Pelosi was found out of order, the US House of Representatives voted 240-187 to condemn "President Trump's racist comments directed at Members of Congress." Only four Republicans joined House Democrats in supporting the measure.
We know the Republican Party has descended into white nationalism and outright racism. Individual Republicans can't criticize the president because they depend on his supporters to keep them in office. Meanwhile, all this nonsense detracts from the work of actually governing the country.
But remember: the Republican Party doesn't want to govern; they want to rule. And they will if we keep getting distracted from that simple premise.
Yesterday David Frum wrote that every time the President sends out another outrageous Tweet, he's doing it to distract and divide his opposition. Josh Marshall extends the thought:
There’s a pattern: Outrage. Some still remaining levels of shock. Demands for apologies. Demands for denunciations from Republicans and for Democrats to do something. Each of these steps in the process makes sense and is inevitable and right. But taken together there is a Groundhog Day quality to it. It generates a unique form of literal and moral exhaustion. Haven’t we been through this storyline – the “Mexican” judge, “very fine” nazis? We know this. Right? We know this person. This is no different from a feral animal on its 10th attack.
Demanding denunciations, asking for Republicans officeholders to say it’s wrong, somehow gives them all too much credit. Better to say this is who you support. We knew this was him yesterday just as much as today and whether you express “deep concern” or even a more fulsome criticism hardly matters because you supported him and followed him yesterday and you’ll be doing exactly the same thing tomorrow. And because of that support, to voters, to everyone who isn’t a diehard in Trump’s camp the message should really always be the same: You have one chance to end this in 18 months and you have one chance to send a real message to every elected official who supports it. Everything else is just preening or deflection or playing again a record we’ve heard before.
Exactly. Our priorities as a party for the next 16 months are, in order: winning the White House; holding the House; keeping the Michigan, Minnesota, Alabama, and Virginia Senate seats; and picking up Senate seats in Colorado, Arizona, Maine, North Carolina, and Georgia.
We can win the table, if we hammer the Republicans on their deeply disturbed and dangerous party leader, as well as their ongoing efforts to enrich billionaires and keep everyone else in debt and close to poverty.
As one of my friends says, this isn't rocket surgery. We can do this. Let's stop getting distracted and start grinding the Republicans down.
President Trump's racist tweeting yesterday and continuing to bait the freshman progressives in the House of Representatives is an obvious attempt to split the Democratic Party going into an election year. David Frum worries that it's working:
Barred from expressing their rage against Trump through impeachment, progressive Democrats are turning their rage instead upon Pelosi. They blame her for stopping impeachment. They are now attacking her in increasingly racialized terms.
After Trump’s own Twitter eruption this weekend, the job of corralling the progressive Democratic caucus becomes that much more difficult. Trump and [Rep. Ilhan] Omar (D-MN) do not agree on much, but they do agree on this: Omar should be the face of the modern Democratic Party. Unlike Omar, Trump can force it to happen.
Trump is not playing 3-D chess here. He was probably just watching Tucker Carlson on DVR, and being plunged on tape delay into the same rage that Carlson had stoked in real time in the angry old men who watch him live.
Plan or no plan, though, Trump hit the Democratic Party at its point of vulnerability. He is driving it toward ever more radical outcomes...
Pelosi has been right at every move of this game. She is working to replace Trump at the ballot box, and she is working as best she can from the House to avoid mistakes that will help him and hurt the eventual Democratic presidential nominee.
Most of Pelosi’s party may well know and agree that she is right. But knowing and doing are two very different things. Trump is determined to make it impossible for Democrats to act on Pelosi’s knowledge—to break the discipline Pelosi has imposed on her party and to empower the Democrats who want to win Twitter today, rather than win the White House in 2020.
Let's not forget that Trump's outburst also had the result of turning attention away from his earlier palling around with child molesters.
WBEZ's Curious City blog re-posted an bit from 2016 identifying the geographic center of Chicago:
Calculating a center point is straightforward for geographers now, according to Todd Schuble, manager of GIS Research for the University of Chicago’s Division of Social Sciences.
Modern mapping software can find the center of any boundary automatically, even one as oddly shaped as Chicago. The process involves looking for any spot that a boundary bends, noting the coordinates, and then averaging them.
So where does Schuble put Chicago’s exact geographic center?
“It’s approximately 31st and Western,” Schuble says. “The [Sanitary and Ship] canal runs right there. The geographic center point itself runs through the canal.”
Chicago does have a monument that marks the center of the city, it’s just that it’s not at the actual center point (which, again, sits in the canal, south of 31st and Western). This is where the politics come in.
In 1979 outgoing Chicago Mayor Michael Bilandic presided over a ceremony declaring the intersection of W. 37th and S. Honore streets in the McKinley Park neighborhood the city’s geographic center point. There was even a white sign with black letters reading “Welcome to W 37th and S Honore Streets, The Geographic Center of Chicago, Greatest City in America.”
Mayor Bilandic was not the intellectual giant among our historical mayors. He lost the 1979 election by declaring, in the worst winter in recorded history, "snow melts." And so, apparently, he also got the geography of the city wrong, forgetting that we'd annexed the land that is now O'Hare in 1959.
The monument is still there; just check Google Street View.
Woe to the, O Land, when thy King is a child.
Fully understanding that the President's job is to distract from the actual work of the Republican Party in consolidating wealth and power, sometimes he does something that I really have to acknowledge.
Yesterday morning, President Trump Tweeted something that looked a lot like he was telling four members of the House of Representatives—citizens all, three of them born in the US—to "go back where they came from:"
“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, “now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run.”
Mr. Trump added: “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done.”
Delivered on the day he had promised widespread immigration raids, Mr. Trump’s comments signaled a new low in how far he will go to affect public discourse surrounding the issue. And if his string of tweets was meant to further widen Democratic divisions in an intraparty fight, the strategy appeared quickly to backfire: House Democrats, including Ms. Pelosi, rallied around the women, declaring in blunt terms that Mr. Trump’s words echoed other xenophobic comments he has made about nonwhite immigrants.
I mean, just wow.
Then, this morning, after withering criticism in the media and from Democrats in Congress calling him a racist, he responded (essentially), "I know you are but what am I?" That's right: the President of the United States is six years old.
So far, not one Republican federal official has said anything about this. But plenty of other people have: Charles Blow, Greg Sargent, Theresa May, and other politicians around the world.
This is what we have for the next 556 days. What will it take to start really holding this putz to account?
I had the opportunity yesterday to get some ribs from my favorite vendor at this year's Ribfest. Base Hit BBQ opened their restaurant in March after five years of catering and festival cooking. (They framed their Chicago Defender review.)
Their thermostat showed 33°C inside the small two-table eating area, but that isn't why I was sweating. Their hot sauce lives up to its name, and they use a tasty spicy rub on their bones. Excellent quality meat, good smoke flavor, and all chopped up for easy eating when served.
At Ribfest they had more caramelized sauce than in their brick-and-mortar location, but that's because they leave the sauce off while smoking and grilling the meat. (Ribfest has certain constraints.) They were still so tasty that I managed to eat a full slab and one of the bread slices they added.
My only complaint: they don't have a bathroom and they don't provide wet-wipes. So after stuffing all those ribs into my belly, it took some MacGuyvering with paper napkins and hand sanitizer to get to a point where I felt I could touch any surface of my car.
I'll go back. But I think the next slab I have will be from my second-favorite vendor from this year, Fireside Grill.
In other news, one of Chicago's oldest pizzerias is closing today. Father & Son Pizza in Logan Square will cease operations after 72 years.
The New Republic puts President Trump's planned terror campaign this weekend in historical perspective:
The Trump administration forecasts its deportation raids not to make them more successful, but to instill fear in disfavored communities and to signal to his supporters that he’s doing just that. Trump constantly strives to slake his base’s unquenchable thirst for harsher policies toward immigrants. I’ve written before on how the border itself, and all the social ills that Trump ascribes to it, acts as a white whale of sorts for his presidency. The Cops-like show drama of the upcoming raids is red meat for Fox News viewers and Breitbart readers alike.
Immigrants in America have been targeted for political sensationalism before. Perhaps the best-known example is the Palmer raids, which took place in the fall of 1919 and the spring of 1920. ... Under Palmer’s leadership, the Justice Department launched a massive simultaneous raid on suspected communists in November 1919, sweeping up thousands of alleged members in more than a dozen states. Belief in the communist cause, not participation in any suspected crime, justified the arrests. Though the Justice Department trumpeted the detainees’ political ideology first, their status as immigrants also defined the raids.
Trump isn’t actually trying to solve an immigration problem. The president lacks the ability to remove all or most undocumented people in the country, and he lacks the desire to normalize their legal status in any meaningful way. His legislative proposals are too extreme even for members of his own party, while his negotiating tactics are ultimatums at best, hostage-taking at worst. This is all about raw political survival: terrorizing those whom his supporters hate, so that he remains the one they love.
Chicago is among the cities bracing for the raids.
Jennifer Rubin lays out how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has dealt with, and delegated some of the dealing-with, freshman representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY):
If you did not catch it, Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, tweeted that the moderate Democrats were “New Southern Democrats. . . hell bent to do to black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did in the 40s.” That’s simply outrageous by any measure, especially considering that a healthy number of moderate members are nonwhite. Ocasio-Cortez’s staffer deleted that tweet, but his boss refused to take back her nearly equally obnoxious insinuation that Pelosi was singling her and her three colleagues out because they were not white.
The moderate members want Chakrabarti gone, a not unreasonable request, given that he is threatening to launch primary challenges to some incumbents. If they want Ocasio-Cortez to completely capitulate, they could instruct their chiefs of staff not to deal with Chakrabarti, but it’s not clear they want to push it that far.
Pelosi is right in one regard: that Democrats’ “diversity is their strength.” Hardcore progressives can win in deep-blue districts and motivate their followers; moderates can win in swing areas. But the thing about a caucus or a coalition is that no one can promote themselves at the expense of and detriment to others. Now that this message has been delivered loud and clear, perhaps Democrats can return to their agenda and to their battle against Trump. For the good of the country, let’s hope so.
Also today, Andrew Sullivan slams the Democratic caucus for not being more aggressive fighting executive overreach (and corruption) while at the same time worrying that Jeremy Corbyn might become Prime Minister of the UK someday.
Unlike the Woody Donald Trump thrust into the Court of St James's, the UK's ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darroch, has been a model of Britain's diplomatic civil service. Even his leaked cables (ask: who benefited from the leaks?) show a certain level of restraint that, as a professional diplomat, he didn't need to show.
Contrast that with the behavior of our diplomats overseas, let alone the guy who appointed them:
In Berlin, one U.S. ambassador openly undermines the government; another in Amsterdam became a laughingstock for refusing to answer journalists’ questions, and yet another in Jerusalem openly shows bias in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. From Kenya to New Zealand, the ambassadors appointed by Trump have offended their hosts.
Ultimately, the rot comes from the top.
It took mere hours for Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, to offend his hosts in May with a tweet that appeared to give an order: “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.” A month later, Grenell gave an interview with the conservative news site Breitbart in which he said he wanted to “empower” hard-right conservatives in Europe.
Meanwhile, David M. Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel and Trump’s former lawyer, often appears much too cozy with his host government — and only interested in talking to one set of people in the Israeli and Palestinian territories. ... Along with Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, the closure of its consulate in East Jerusalem and much more, it was yet another sign that the United States had picked a side.
The UK knows a thing or two about squandering good will in the world. And they still haven't completely recovered, despite (or perhaps because of) how much Russian money has flowed into London. So here we are, bankrupting ourselves diplomatically nearly everywhere we go. It's not so far from where we are today to two vast and trunkless legs of stone standing in the desert.
But I will take the time as soon as I get it:
Now, I need more tea, and more coding.