The Deal About Nothing

trump jerryOn Dec. 20, 2018, Kristjen Nielsen, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, testified before the House Judiciary Committee and announced the expansion of “Migrant Protection Protocols” which will allow for more asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their hearings in the United States. Essentially, it opened most of the southern border ports of entry to this program. DHS issued an implementation memo about it in January, 2019.

In March 2019, Sec. Nielsen met in secret with the Mexican Foreign Minister and they hammered out a deal in which Mexico agrees to call up its National Guard to patrol within Mexico (and concentrating on the southern border) to stem the tide of immigrants coming to America.

On April 6, 2019, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned from President Trump’s cabinet.

On June 7, President Trump announced he would punish with tariffs our very good trading partner Mexico, with whom (along with Canada) he’s been trying to formalize a trade agreement for much of his presidency. He declared an emergency and announced unless Mexico did something to stem the tide of immigrants and asylum seekers on our southern border by June 10, he would slap a 5 percent tax on imported goods, increasing the rate incrementally each month up to 25 percent by October. This was met by resistance from  . . . well . . . everyone but Sen. Lindsey Graham.

So, the master negotiator went to work and viola!

Details of the agreement from the State Department were as follows:

Mexico agreed to an “enforcement surge” which consists of deploying the National Guard throughout the country concentrating on the southern border to enforce immigration laws.

The expansion of Migrant Protection Protocols to most of the ports of entry along the southern border.

All hail the conquering hero.

When the folks at the New York Times (see, failing) pointed out that Mexico agreed to these plans months before the president threatened the tariffs, the president declared the Times got it wrong because there was a super-secret part of the plan that was going to be announced later.

 

This is, of course, nonsense. There is no world where the president would sit on a juicy announcement of some new program. He knows the “appropriate time” is whenever he feels like it. Naturally, the Mexican government denies there’s any secret deal.

This whole thing reminds me of an episode of “Seinfeld” where Kramer announces plans to totally redesign his apartment with levels. He wants to build levels all over his apartment. Jerry chuckles and says there’s no way he’s going to do that. Kramer offers a wager and Jerry accepts.

Later, Jerry asks Kramer how his levels plan is coming. Kramer says he’s changed his mind, so the bet is off. Jerry argues that he bet Kramer wouldn’t do it, so he won the bet.

“I decided not to do it,” Kramer said.

“I know,” Jerry replied. “That’s the bet.”

President Trump overplayed his hand and got his leash pulled by Senate Republicans. So he tried to save face by packaging agreements already made as a brand new deal. When that did work, he claimed there was an even brander newer secreter deal. When that didn’t work, he threatened more tariffs on Mexico if they don’t do an immigration deal he said was already done.

I think it is time for everyone to treat these presidential announcements with the attention they deserve: “Yadda, yadda, yadda.”

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The 2020 Democratic Candidates: A Graphic Design Analysis

It is way too early to endorse a candidate for the Democratic nomination. There are a bunch and everyone should take his and her time to ensure the person we all choose will win in November 2020.

But it is never too early to criticize design choices of campaigns. I took the main campaign graphics: bumper stickers, logos, etc… of each candidate and assigned each a grade based on a rubric consisting of first impressions, design analysis, and how each candidate’s name is used in the design.

I present them here in the order in which they declared their candidacies.

Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 3.12.23 PMRichard Ojeda

First impressions: “Angels with Dirty Typefaces.”

First Name/Last Name: Last Name

There are a couple of options here. The traditional horizontal, one-color, rectangle and the bigger logo which is designed to be centered. The warm grey is an interesting choice and I’m always glad to see designers moving away from black. The distressed artwork and logo make the whole thing seem a little dated and the patriotic imagery is pretty but impractical. It interferes with reading “O” in “Ojeda” when it is small and takes up too much focus when it is big.

B-

Julian Castro

First Impressions: Viva Castro!

First Name/Last Name: first and last name

The Castro campaign offers two versions of their graphics and I get the impression that one of them is designed for a more ethnic audience than the other. The more stylized “Julian Castro for President” makes excellent use of typography and line art to create a fun graphic that evokes campaigns in Central and South America. The blue “US” is a really nice touch. The “Julian Castro 2020” version is more traditional and deemphasizes the “Castro” part of his name.

A-

Kamala Harris

First Impressions: “Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt for President”

First Name/Last Name: Both

We have two graphics for the Harris campaign. “KAMALA” is just her first name in all caps with a san serif font. Each pair of letters is a different color — yellow, blue, and red. I am impressed by how many of the candidates veered away from the traditional red, white, and blue. Harris’s pallet evokes her ethnicity and cultural diversity. It is using the oddness of her name as a plus. I like it.

The stacked “Kamala Harris For the People” rectangle is great for the way it stands out in this crowd. It doesn’t look like a presidential campaign graphic. It’s a strong design. 

A

Marianne Williamson

First Impressions: Pink and black is the new red, white, and blue

First Name/Last Name: First Name

Long horizontal names are a designer’s nightmare because you want to try something, anything that isn’t a long horizontal rectangle. But there really isn’t much else to do with it. So, you make it as legible as possible and add something to it make it pop.

The pink, stacked 2020 is adorable. I want to subscribe to the magazine with that masthead. I’m not seeing a presidential campaign graphic.

I did like the stacked “MW20” graphic that I could only find on a cap in her campaign store. This is fun and a better design. But it only works for a candidate with better name recognition than “Marianne Williamson.”

B-

Tulsi Gabbard

First Impressions: “What you vaping?” “I got some Tusli 2020.”

First Name/Last Name: First Name

The full-color version of the logo features a sunset. This evokes her Hawaiian home, which is nice. It doesn’t look like a presidential candidate graphic. That’s okay. The full-color version has a top-heavy balance issue but since it isn’t bound in a box, it isn’t so bothersome as Gravel 2020 (See last entry). I like the typeface. The curves at the bottom of the “T” and “I” were probably added after, which shows a bit of effort and thought toward design.

The single-color version is white copy on a red rectangle. It is an orange/red rather than a more traditional “American” red. I like it. This also looks more traditionally presidential than the other graphic.

B

Andrew Yang

First Impressions: “I want a ‘Yang Gang’ bumper sticker.”

First Name/Last Name: Last Name

The Yang campaign has a lot of graphics choices. I’ve picked three.

In “Yang” we have upper and lowercase, san serif, oblique logotype. The “Y” is stylized with red and white stripes to evoke the flag. The busyness of the “Y” is balanced with the curlicue “g” at the end. It is legible and simple, if not elegant. Nice.

“Yang2020” This horizontal option adds an oblique “2020” after the Yang graphic. The colors on the stripes change so that the thin middle stripe is a contrasting color to the “Y” which prevents that stipe from interfering with legibility.

“YANGGANG” No space between words but the contrasting colors make the meaning clear. Not easy to pull off a design with two Gs in the center. It’s a fun play on words.

A-

Elizabeth Warren

First impressions: Bow before the Warren

First Name/Last Name: Last Name

The Warren campaign offers a classic take: Last name underscored by a horizontal rule. There is no “2020” or mention of the office for which she is running. You get a super serious san serif slab of a graphic: WARREN. Alternately, the campaign offers a Warren graphic with an unofficial tag line: “Warren Has A Plan For That.” This evokes some humor and light-heartedness which the campaign needs to balance the policy wonkishness. The graphics seem to be the bare minimum. It is clean and clear and I love the color of green line. 

B+

Amy Klobuchar

Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 2.50.38 PM

First Impressions: Coming soon to Hulu Plus

First Name/Last Name: First Name

Keeping “Klobuchar” off the signs was probably a good idea. I like the prominent serifed “Amy” which contrasts nicely with the san serif “America.” I just wish the “for” wasn’t a completely different typeface. Two shades of blue and the absence of red make it all kind of fun. I think it works though you might have some legibility issues from a distance.

B

John Delaney

First Impression: Zzzzzzzzzz

First Name/Last Name: Both and last name

In the John Delaney campaign, we have two horizontal full-color options. Both feature a big stylized “D” with red and blue stripes forming a kind of “road to the future.” Using a big graphic like this is fine. It can even be useful in building the brand. But the version where he uses both his first and last name suffers from having a graphic with a curved side. Plus, if you’re not using it as the “D” in “Delaney” then you’ve just got this big D floating out there.

C

Bernie Sanders

Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 2.43.19 PM

First Impressions: Coming soon to CBS: Bernie!

The Sanders campaign is sticking with their logo from last time and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. It is a serifed typeface with a star over the “i” and two curved horizontal rules underneath in a wave pattern. I might have made the top stripe red so the lettering doesn’t wash out too much. But again, this is a style choice. The ligature formed by the “r” and “n” in the center could read “m” if you’re not careful.

B+

Jay Inslee

Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 2.29.54 PM

First impressions: “Ask your doctor if Inslee is right for you.”

First Name/Last Name: Last Name

He’s invoking the earth and his environmental message. The use of all caps works against him here. “Our moment.” isn’t a sentence so the period is misplaced. But it has to be there from a design standpoint because without it, the straight line on the right side of the final “E” in “Inslee” would curve as it met the slanted line of the oblique “T” in “Moment.”

I appreciate his eschewing of the traditional saturated reds and blues.

This doesn’t look like a candidate for president.

B-

John Hickenlooper

First Impressions: How many medals did Hickenlooper win at Nagano?

First Name/Last Name: Last Name

In terms of design, the Hickenlooper camp has given us something to work with. The designer has taken a long horizontal name and managed to give the graphic height and depth. The three mountains made of stripes are fun, the star in the center focuses the eye above the name, allowing you to take it all in. All-caps for the name gives the mountains a sturdy base and the whole thing rests on a horizontal rule split by “2020.” Just a really cool design.

A

Kirsten Gillibrand

Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 3.08.18 PM

First Impressions: Black and pink? Noyce

First Name/Last Name: Last Name

“Kirsten Gillibrand” is not an easy name to impress on the public. You have to decide if you want to use the first, last, or both names and “Gillibrand” is probably the lesser of all the evils. But it means you’re going to be stuck with a very wide design. Very horizontal. Though I’d bet a dollar someone pitched a stacked square that read:

GILLI
BRAND

I bet it looked awful. Honestly, a simple “Gillibrand” in a sophisticated typeface would be very powerful. Instead, the added the “2020” in pink centered above (and slightly behind) the candidate’s name. I am a big fan of stacking type like this. It adds depth to the design. I don’t like the centering.

B-

Wayne Messam

Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 2.58.41 PM

First Impression: WAYNE! Wait, who’s Wayne?

First Name/Last Name: First name

This is a pretty traditional presidential design — big name with a little message below. It isn’t centered. It makes good use of the negative space. It uses two typefaces and the tiny “America” is legible. If only we knew who “Wayne” was. There’s a gradient on the big blue “WAYNE” which is nice. 

B+

Beto O’Rourke

First impressions: Viva O’Rourke

First Name/Last Name: First Name

There are two main campaign graphics. Both are played out in a monochrome rectangle. One makes use of the lucky fact that “Beto” has four characters of the same width as does the number “2020.” It works, though some color would be nice. “Beto for America” has a nicer feel. The letters aren’t as heavy and he avoids the Gravel 2020 problem with the horizontal rule around “for America.”

B+

Tim Ryan

Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 2.37.31 PMFirst Impressions: Check it out, Microsoft Word has a graphics function.

First Name/Last Name: First and last names

Tim Ryan’s campaign graphic is somehow less exciting than Cory Bookers. The saving grace is that the border between the red and blue isn’t centered.

C

Cory Booker

First Impressions: Red, white, black, and blue

First Name/Last Name: First name

Team Booker is taking advantage of the senator’s first name having four letters to give us horizontal and square versions of a very simple design. There isn’t much to say about it other than the choice of black for the “2020” isn’t helping legibility much.

C

Pete Buttigieg

Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 2.45.55 PM.pngFirst Impressions: Which gym do you belong to?

First Name/Last Name: First name (of course)

Mayor Pete gives us a lot to consider in his two-color horizontal “20 Pete 20” graphic. The yellow and black color scheme, as well as the typography, evoke varsity sports. It’s a strong design that probably looks good on t-shirts. It does not look like a presidential campaign. That may be on purpose.

B+

Eric Swalwell

Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 2.47.27 PM

First Impressions: I had a kid in my office throw something together.

First Name/Last Name: First name and last name

Gimme something that says “I’m a guy running for office” — all caps san-serif stacked in red, white, and blue. It is the “Basic” Snapchat filter of graphic design. Red stripes to fill the negative space and block capitals to evoke strength. *sniff* *sniff* Smells like someone is running to increase name recognition. Not putting a “2020” on it means you can reuse it in four years.

C-

Seth Moulton

First Impressions: As squares go, this isn’t bad.

First Name/Last Name: First and last name

The Moulton campaign offers their graphic in a three-color or one-color option. It is a stacked square with a star between 20 and 20. This is a nice touch and it is immediately recognizable without distracting from the meaning of 2020. But it is too big. It is larger and wider than either 20 so the line has to be dropped to accommodate it. this leaves a lot of negative space in the middle of the graphic. It isn’t quite as noticeable in the single-color version but on the color one it stands out like a beacon.

That may be because the blue used in “Moulton” is so light. I’d like to see a version with a red “Moulton” to see if that mitigated the effect. Still, an overall fun design.

B+

Joe Biden

First Impressions: Who’s “Jo Bidn?”

First Name/Last Name: Both

There are two options at the Biden camp — “JOE 2020” is a rectangle in which the “J” in Joe is flying out there in front and the red stripes that form the “E” show movement. Joe is out front! Or at least “Jo” is out front. That E isn’t doing what they think it’s doing. “BIDEN PRESIDENT” is an interesting choice because they use the stripy E again (why bring the weakest element across all the graphics?). But it’s also weird in that there’s no preposition. Biden FOR President. Nope. Just Biden. President. I guarantee you someone pitched this design with the word “president” above Biden’s name.

B+

Honorable Mention: Mike Gravel

Screen Shot 2019-04-27 at 3.10.41 PM

First Impressions: “What’s going on with that a?”

First Name/Last Name: Last Name

What’s going on in that “a” is a tiny waving single-star flag. I’m all for iconography. I’m all for invoking the flag, even a stylized version with one color and one star. This is too tiny to read. Also, brighten your red or increase the size of “2020” so that you haven’t got a top-heavy shape balancing on a tiny red one. The whole thing looks like it’s about to topple over. 

C

 

Lottery Mike is down with a 70 percent marginal tax rate

img_2869Ever since the PowerMonsterMegaBall hit $1.6 billion, “Lottery Mike,” a highly fictionalized version of myself who becomes an overnight billionaire, has been a pre-occupation. What would Lottery Mike do with all that money?

Had Lottery Mike hit that number (and the person who did hasn’t cashed it in yet, btw) the cash-out-worst-case-option would have been a check for about $980 million. That’s more money than I could spend in what’s left of my life. That includes all the money I’d spend to extend my life. Lottery Mike could have very well ended up a sentient head in a jar.

This is a fantasy hardwired in many of us, raised on the promise of an America that I’d like to think still exists but have seen little evidence to this point.

So when I heard about a Democratic proposal to establish a new marginal tax rate of 70 percent, my first thought was, “How will this affect Lottery Mike?”

Lottery Mike does not exist. But my instinct was to view this policy through his eyes. Oh my God, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants to take away 70 percent of Lottery Mike’s winnings. That’s neither true or fair.

I did the math. I did it simply rather than accurately. If I were taxed 70 percent of $1.6 billion (and here’s where the simple/accurate bit comes in: I didn’t account for the first $10 million which would be taxed at a much smaller rate), I’d get a check for $480 million. Again, more money than I could spend in my lifetime.

So I think Lottery Mike would be okay with it. Especially since Lottery Mike doesn’t exist.

But part of what it means to be an American is to believe that Lottery Mike might one day exist.

And it is for that reason that a lot of people who will never, ever be affected by the top marginal rate no matter what percentage it is, are against the idea of a 70 percent tax rate. They got Lottery Mikes too.

You keep Lottery Mike’s hopes and dreams as close to your heart as you keep your own because you don’t want to wake up one day a billionaire and get caught flat footed. So when the real world shows you a scenario in which your wildest daydreams get a 70-percent cut, it feels real. It doesn’t feel hypothetical. But really, you’re just imagining up money. Imagine up a little more.

While you’ve got your imagination caps on, imagine what our society could look like with a fully funded public education system, without young people saddled with a lifetime of student loan debt, with cleaner air and water, with better roads and infrastructure, with funding for arts and humanities. When we had a top marginal rate of more than 80 percent, we went to the moon. We built the interstate highway system.

Pundits and politicians will squeal about it. They’ll complain. They’ll try to make you think you’re going to have to give up 70 percent of your income to the gubmint. They know better. They just can’t sell their greed to the public. That’s why they have to lie to you about it. They want you to pity poor Lottery Mike. They want you to believe you’re just a temporarily embarrassed millionaire who is one Republican vote away from opening up the opportunity that’s going to turn it all around for you.

But in the meantime, you don’t want to change the rules for rich people. — not when you’re so close to being one yourself one day.

Lottery Mike is a fantasy. He’s not a basis for sound economic policy. He’s not a lens through which one can see things as they are. You can’t make policy based on how it will affect Lottery Mike when real-life people are suffering.

So real-life Mike and Lottery Mike both support the idea of a 70 percent top marginal rate for income in excess of $10 million. If that makes you less likely to work hard and earn money then I question your motivations (and your understanding of marginal tax rates). In the meantime, everyone can benefit as we move forward together. We just have to give up worrying about how Lottery Mike is going to get by on $480 million.

The Trump Circle of Trust Closes (The Trump/Nixon Tapes Part 9)

Trump-Nixon 9What follows is a transcript of secret recordings made in the Oval Office by President Trump using the recording devices first placed there by President Richard Nixon. President Trump often uses these recordings to arrange his thoughts and the transcripts are distributed to his underlings so that they have a record of his directives and so that he might review the tapes and remember what he asked his staff to do that they ignored. 

To: The Trump Circle of Trust

CC: no one but my children

TRUMP:

Okay, I assume we’re rolling here. Sheila, when you hear this, I want you to transcribe it, then take that red pill I gave you so that you don’t remember what I said. It is imperative that only the Trump Circle of Trust gets these messages.

Vladimir, I want to start by complimenting you on the amazing head job you did on Rand Paul. I have no idea what you have on that son-of-a-bitch but he has completely turned around and is now 100 percent on the Trump Train. Спасибо Mr. President. Like all right-thinking Americans, he understands that I can’t have a mole in my administration going around writing amonmus . . . uh amon-y-mous . . . amoney-yous editorials in the Failing New York Times.

That reminds me, Sheila? Where’s my copy of the Failing New York Times? You know I need it on my desk every morning before I have my first Diet Coke of the day. I want to read what Liz Smith thinks about Bob Woodward’s book about me.

What? Liz is dead? When did that happen? Last November? What have I been pretending to read for the last ten months? Never mind. Get me the Times.

Stephen-MillerWhat was I saying? Oh yeah. The mole. I am confident we’ll find out who it is. I’ll put Niedermeyer on it. He’s a sneaky little shit. Better yet, let’s get our own mole inside the administration to write an ammonia op-ed for the Failing New York Times. This one will tell the truth about what’s going on here. Sarah? I want you to tell Raj to write an amoeba-mass op-ed about how I won 306 Electrical College votes when everyone said there was no path to 270. I’d tell him myself but I don’t like talking to brown people who aren’t famous. Tell him to mention how I’m doing better than any other president ever has. Don’t forget to mention that I’m more popular than any Republican president in history. Show them the Abe Lincoln polls that Kelly Anne told me absolutely exist. Hold on a sec:

That’s better. Can you believe that? I’m more popular than Honest Abe?

Boy, that was some rally in Montana last night, right? There are only like 14 people who live in Montana and there must have been four million in that crowd. I don’t know. 4 million, maybe 5. We had so many people there we had to have them sit behind me in shifts. Amazing.

There might have been more people in that crowd than were at my Inauguration. I’m pretty sure I hit all the talking points Sarah wanted me to. I don’t remember much of it because I usually go into a fugue state about ten minutes in. I’m pretty sure I remembered to mention that guy who beat up the reporter and then lied to the police about it. Great guy. A real fighter.

Did I mention Hannity? I promised Sean I’d give him a shout out.

Dale Tweet 2

What about Kim Jong Un? I had a note in my pocket reminding me to mention all the great things he says about me but I can’t read it. My handwriting is just too presidential for even me to read.

Dale tweet 1

Hey, Gen. Kelly, How are we coming along on finding out the name of the coward who wrote that Bob Woodward book? It is a shame what happened to Bob. He’s written so many good books going all the way back to Nixon — to be brainwashed by the Deep State just in time to write about me, the greatest president ever — it’s sad, really. Why didn’t anyone tell me someone was writing a fake Bob Woodward book

I haven’t been watching the hearings because they aren’t about me. How is the Kavanaugh thing going? Good, right? I mean who cares, really. Mitch broke the system and now I can appoint anyone I want to the Supreme Court. It wouldn’t matter if he committed perjury, said he wouldn’t recuse himself on the phony Russia thing like that retard Sessions did, had a woman sitting behind him flashing a White Power sign, or I don’t know, tried to stop Hillary Clinton from getting funding for 9/11 victims. He was a shoe-in the minute Jared paid off his credit cards.

That’s what I love about this country. A boy from the mean streets of Bethesda, Maryland can grow up to one day be involved in one of the most corrupt administrations in American history and then get appointed to the Supreme Court by the greatest president ever. Sarah? Tell Raj to put that in his amoral-moose op-ed. That sounds great.

So guys, I’m thinking I should burn something Nike. But it should be big, you know? Maybe I could burn down the Nike Store in Trump Tower? No. Wait. I forgot those sprinklers are hot glued to the ceiling in that building. I think the NBC guys put them up.

Hey, that’s too bad about Burt Reynolds. He was a hell of a guy. Sheila? Get me Loni Anderson’s number. She might need some comforting. Maybe I could take her furniture shopping or something.

[End of Recording]

 

Fredo, you poor dumb bastard (The Trump/Nixon Tapes Part 8)

trump fredo.pngThe following is a transcript of secret recordings made in the Oval Office by President Donald Trump using recording devices installed by President Richard Nixon.

*taptaptap*

PRESIDENT TRUMP:
Is this thing on? Are we rolling? Good. Tricky Dick, I gotta hand it to you. [inaudible]-ing thing is a work of art. The playback is so scratchy and [inaudible] can do whatever you want with it.

Okay, Shiela here’s the memo:

To: Trump Circle of Trust
cc: DNI Dan Coats, Don, Jr., Kim Jong Un

PRESIDENT TRUMP:
Fellas, as you all know there is nothing I like better than my executive time in the morning. I do some of my best tweeting then. I’m telling you, this Twitter is going to save our bacon in the election. If Reagan had an unfiltered channel direct to his base like this that forces your message into tiny little bonbons, he’d have gotten a third term.

Of course, by then ole’ Ronnie really wasn’t in any shape to serve a third term. But I think the point still stands.

What so many don’t understand is that a successful tweet requires message discipline and balance. Look at this beauty:

Boom. I got Fake News, said I was NOT worried about Junior, said the meeting was a dud AND I didn’t know about it. That’s a thing of beauty. I’m serious. It should hang in a museum. No! Wait! It should hang in MY museum.

Sheila? Get a note out to whoever is working on my presidential library: “Gallery of Tweets.”

Where was I?

*Muffled sounds of arguing in the outer office. Raised voices. Bumping against the door.*

DONALD TRUMP JR:
[Inaudible]-ing door, Sheila! I need to speak to my father.

DONALD TRUMP:
What’s going on? What’s all this then? Junior? What are you doing out of bed before 10:30? I figured you and whichever Fox News broad you’re banging would be cuddled together watching “Fox & Friends.”

DONALD TRUMP JR:
You’ve [inaudible]-ed me, Pop! What [inaudible]-king do? Why did you tweet that the meeting was about getting dirt on Hillary?

DONALD TRUMP:
It wasn’t?

DONALD TRUMP JR:
Not if I’m going to stay out of jail for lying to Congress about it. Remember? We all got on the phone and came up with a cover story? You dictated a statement for me to [inaudible]. Russian adoption? Remember?

DONALD TRUMP:
Wait. I remember talking to Putin about Russian adoption at the G-something-or-other.

DONALD TRUMP JR:
You were on your way home from that trip. Hope Hicks assured everyone that the emails from that meeting would never get out.

DONALD TRUMP:
Where is Hope? I haven’t seen her around? Sheila? Give Hope a call and find out when she’s coming off maternity leave or whatever.

DONALD TRUMP JR:
Dad, I need you to focus. You told me on the phone to say the meeting was about Russian adoption. So I did.

DONALD TRUMP:
I told you that?

DONALD TRUMP JR:
Yes, dad. You said the emails were never going to come out so I should just say the meeting was about Russian adoptions and it was a big waste of time.

DONALD TRUMP:
And I didn’t know about it.

DONALD TRUMP JR:
And I didn’t tell you anything about it. By the way, what’s up with Rudy spilling the beans about the planning pre-meeting before the meeting.

DONALD TRUMP:
That I ALSO knew nothing about.

DONALD TRUMP JR:
So I stick with the plan. I [inaudible] before the congressional committees. I was a good [inaudible] and you just fu[inaudible] over.

DONALD TRUMP:
I don’t follow.

DONALD TRUMP JR:
That tweet you just tweeted!

DONALD TRUMP:
Beautiful, right? Such message discipline.

DONALD TRUMP JR:
You said the meeting was about getting dirt on Hillary, not Russian adoptions. I’m on the record as saying it was about adoptions.

DONALD TRUMP:
But you’re also on the record saying I didn’t know anything about it.

DONALD TRUMP JR:
*sigh* Yes.

DONALD TRUMP:
So I’m not seeing the problem.

*Door slams*
*muffled scream of “I hate you!”*

DONALD TRUMP:
*yelling at door*
I WASN’T THE ONE WHO REPLIED “I LOVE IT” TO AN EMAIL MARKED “RUSSIA, CLINTON, PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL.”

DONALD TRUMP:
Now then, where was I? Sheila? Make a note for Jared to send Junior a fruit basket.

Dan Coats, stop getting cute in public. I know you don’t know what went on in my meeting with Vladimir. You know you don’t know what went on in my meeting with Vladimir. No one else needs to know that. Certainly not Andrea Mitchell. So keep your ignorance to yourself. Be more like me.

Wilbur, $120 million? Really? You stole $120 million from your business partners? I know none of that was my money. Right? Right?

Mr. Magoo, Have you sent Mueller packing yet? I gave you a direct order:

I don’t care if you’re recused. Unrecuse. I don’t care what Giuliani told you — the man’s a Muppet.

*buzzing noise*

Wait a minute. My Google News Alert for Junior just went off. Let’s see . . . called the Democrats “Nazis.” Well, that’s not going to make the base happy. I don’t like him hanging out with D’Souza though. That’s the kind of thing that can violate your probation. Maybe we should get him on a friendly outlet to blow off some steam. Sheila? See if Laura Ingraham can squeeze Junior in this week. Just be sure we’ve got someone there to pull the ripcord if Junior gets squirrelly.

Sheila? Can you tell Jared to cancel the fruit basket for Kim Jong Un?

Where is Ivanka? I have a Trump signet ring I wanted to give her. My dad gave it to me when I lost my first Trump-branded business. I want to pass it along to her now that she’s shut down her clothing line.  I wonder if she’s considered that people stopped buying her clothes when they found out she was Jewish? Ugh. Why did you marry Jared? You could have married Tom Brady! I could have watched Tom Brady play catch with my grandson instead of watching him pretend to be “daddy” by soliciting foreign investments in that dog of a building on 5th Ave.

My vacation is almost over. Miller? When I get back, I want you to walk me through your latest idea for ensuring my racist voters will fall in line.

Finally, Betsy. I want to thank you for being the one cabinet member who doesn’t seem to be sticking me with the bill for flying around the country getting yelled at. Now that Pruitt is out, they’ll be coming for Zinke next. But you just keep picking up the tab. Nice. That Amway stuff must really being paying out. Plus, your whites are brighter than any other cabinet secretary. How about shipping me some of that SA8?

 

 

An Immodest Proposal: What If We Treated Gun Rights Like Abortion Rights?

constitution_gunThis is a thought experiment. The mass shooting in Las Vegas two days ago killed and wounded more Americans in 30 minutes than the battle of Fallujah. Attempts to legislate gun regulations to make it harder for criminals to obtain weapons of war have failed because of powerful gun lobbyists with deep pockets and spineless congressional representatives who value campaign contributions more than the safety of their constituents.

I see many parallels between the gun rights arguments and abortion rights arguments. For example, abortion opponents will argue that the right to an abortion isn’t specifically spelled out in the Constitution and any claim to that right is the result of judicial activism. When the Supreme Court determined in Roe v. Wade (1974) in a 7-2 decision that the right to privacy in the 14th Amendment extended to health care, decisions regarding abortion became no one’s business but the woman and her doctor.

And while the 2nd Amendment does offer some specific gun rights, until District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) the right to bear arms was considered a collective right, that is a right given to the states, not individuals. In a 5-4 decision, SCOTUS overturned more than a century of precedent to say the 2nd Amendment applied to individuals. For some reason, conservatives didn’t see that as judicial activism.

So, given that both individual abortion rights and individual gun rights are the result of split decisions by SCOTUS, we can look to how legislatures’ attempts to regulate these rights can inform each other. Perhaps, through creative thinking, we can find some common ground. Or at least lay bare the hypocrisy.

I mean, conservatives bent on curtailing abortion rights are nothing if not creative. They have come up with dozens of “TRAP laws” (Targeted Regulations at Abortion Providers). They have legislated waiting periods, scripts for doctors to read, regulations for clinic facilities, hospital affiliations, invasive ultrasounds, and affirmed the rights of protesters to line the sidewalks outside clinics to offer street-level “counseling.”

What if we applied some of that creativity to the problem of gun violence? Below are some suggestions for how this might work.

All Gun Stores Should Be Required To Build and Maintain A Below-ground Shooting Range

Think about it. It offers gun buyers access to better information about the gun they are considering. If something terrible happens, like a misfire or a stray bullet, the range is surrounded by earth and no outsider would be injured. The range can be limited to one person at a time to ensure no “lone wolf” decides to use their weapon on anyone but themselves. 

“But wait,” you say. “My local gun shop is located in a place where an underground shooting range can’t be built.” That’s unfortunate, but your safety is our main concern. This legislation undoubtedly will lead to closings of sub-standard gun shops around the state. But in the name of safety, and providing potential gun owners with necessary information with respect to their options and their rights, this is a good thing for gun owners.

“But wait,” you say. “My local gun shop can’t afford to take on such expensive renovations.” You’re not alone. Some estimate that these new regulations will close upwards of 90 percent of gun shops in your state. But those remaining 10 percent are going to be reeaaaallly successful and busy. In fact, you may have to start making appointments to purchase weapons because of the demand. 

All Gun Purchases Should Require a three-day waiting period.

Potential customers may use these three days to fire the gun in the underground firing range, read various pamphlets offered by the state, and a law enforcement officer will offer counseling about the dangers and responsibilities of gun ownership.

“But wait,” you say. “I don’t need three days to make my decision. I’ve got to drive a four and a half hours to get to a gun store. Why should I have to wait three days after I get there?” We like to think of this part of the legislation as “reflection enhancement time.” If you make a rash decision, you will regret it for the rest of your life and there are psychological implications to that of which you need to be aware.

All Gun Purchasers Should Be Required to View Images of Gunshot Victims

You may never fire your weapon at another human and we really hope you don’t. But if you decide to take that momentous step, you need to do so with your eyes open to the results of your decision. Studies show that people who use their guns to kill, even in defense of their own lives, often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. It is important that you understand the deadly nature of your decision and how it may affect you for the rest of your life. Firing your gun at someone could result in you being unable to fire your gun at anyone else. Then where will you be?

All Gun Dealers Should Be Required to Properly Dispose of Waste

This includes spent shells, casings, used targets, etc… Reusing these materials creates an environment where ammunition isn’t strictly regulated. An unsuspecting gun owner could inadvertently use substandard ammunition which can cause injury to him or herself or others. Therefore, reloading and reusing ammunition components is prohibited. Proper disposal of spent rounds, casings, targets, and shells will require proper labeling, packaging, and disposal using a commercially licensed handler of hazardous waste material, all of which must be buried or incinerated in the presence of a licensed disposal agent. 

All gun dealers should be required to have an off-duty law enforcement officer on the premises 24 hours a day.

This will facilitate the required counseling as well as create jobs and give law enforcement a better access to information about gun ownership in the state. Also, if an emergency occurs, having law enforcement on hand will better protect the gun owner and gun dealer from danger. 

“But wait,” you say. “However many guns I own or want to own or plan to own isn’t anyone’s business but mine.”  Sure, sure. You’re fine. You’ve got nothing to worry about. It’s the shady, back-alley gun shops that we’re going after. “But I can’t afford to pay an armed guard/counselor to be on site 24 hours a day.” Again, this may cause the closure of some substandard gun shops, but that’s the price you pay for safety and access to good information about your decision to buy and own a gun.

All gun purchases must be done in person with a licensed gun dealer and law enforcement officer present.

If something does go wrong during the purchase, to protect the health and safety of everyone involved, we’d feel better about having some professionals present. This isn’t the sort of decision one should make via computer or through the mail. There may be questions to be answered. Plus, this way, we can ensure that you’re in compliance with the other regulations we’re creating. So, no gun purchases online or over-the-counter. You need to see a licensed professional and have someone present with jail-admitting privileges should an emergency happen.

All Gun Store owners and employees should be screened for lead poisoning every six months.

The health and safety of everyone involved in the totally legal and constitutionally guaranteed right to own a firearm dictate that steps be taken to head off any potential risks to the wellbeing of gun shop owners and employees. So regular inspections of the facilities including sweeps for carcinogens, the presence of lead, and other environmental contaminants will help ensure the safety of all involved.

Gun Purchase Counsellors Shall Remain Outside the Fixed Buffer Zone of the Gun Store and Outside the Floating Buffer Zone of Individual Gun Purchasers.

In the interest of ensuring you have all the information you need to make your gun purchasing decision, some gun stores may attract the attention of street-level counselors who may shout helpful information at you while you walk toward the store. They may also show you giant images of gun-shot wounds or dead people who suffered from gunshot wounds. They may use bullhorns or PA systems to yell their advice at you. They may take your photo or write down your license plate number. This is all for your benefit and depending on the state, they may be required to stay back a few feet from the door and a few feet from you. Your gun store may provide an escort to help you navigate these well-wishers.

All Gun Purchases Will Be Recorded and Filed with the  State Government Health Departments.

We need to study the effects of gun ownership on a variety of public health issues. To do this, we need the best information available. So the Department of Health will keep a file on every person who buys a gun and every gun bought. This way, we can know and others can find out.

Do these regulations sound unreasonable? Do they sound like attempts to stop you from exercising your rights to purchase and own guns? Do they sound like excuses and pretenses? They are. But so are TRAP laws.

Now imagine the government enacting some or all of these regulations, resulting in the closure of all but one or two gun shops in your state. Now, to purchase a gun, you have to take off from work, drive several hours, get a hotel room, navigate a gamut of protesters screaming at you, begin the process (which includes your gun dealer and law enforcement officer reading a state-mandated script about the evils of gun ownership), wait two or three (or five) days (and in some states weekends and holidays don’t count toward this waiting period); and then have an unnecessary and invasive medical procedure (such as a prostate exam) before you’re allowed to make your purchase, which the Constitution and the courts say is legal. Oh, and the government may spend your tax dollars funding stores that look like gun shops but don’t actually sell guns, just advice on why you don’t really want to own a gun anyway. The government might also pass legislation saying your liability insurance doesn’t cover shooting anyone, so you’ll have to get a special mass shooting rider which they will make illegal to sell to you.

Every one of these regulations, which seem silly and unnecessary are based on actual legislation proposed or enacted by states to limit a woman’s right to abortions. All the justifications which seem egregious are based on the justifications for various TRAP laws. If you can recognize it when applied to gun rights, then you should be able to see it with respect to abortion and understand why so many fight against them.

The truth is that we need gun control regulation. Not to prevent law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves. But to prevent someone accumulating an arsenal and murdering 50 people and injuring 500 in a matter of 30 minutes. Currently, Congress wants to make it easier to purchase suppressors for weapons under the guise of “hearing protection” and armor-piercing bullets under the guise of . . . well, I’m not sure why civilians need armor-piercing rounds. But it seems like we’re moving in the wrong direction here.

Contact your members of Congress. Tell them to return the blood money the NRA has given them. Tell them to take action to protect your right to be safe in public. Because the answer to the shooting in Las Vegas isn’t hotel security screenings or limits on outdoor events. It’s regulations on ammunition and weapons. We can do better than what we’re doing.

DACA Policy Is a Mirror Image of Republican Gun Culture

sessions

If you were to ask unreconstructed old racist Attorney General Jeff Sessions, racist Republican Representative Steve King (R-Iowa), or any of the other Republican members of Congress who are proud of their state’s gun “culture” their opinions on a proposal for a national gun registry, you would find unanimous condemnation.

And while the arguments for a gun registry are solid — it can help track weapons used in crimes, prosecute people who provide guns to criminals and terrorists, and recover weapons stolen from legal gun owners — their argument would be that the danger to 2nd Amendment rights far outweighs any good that can come from having a list of guns or gun owners.

You see, a corrupt government will make the decision to take away your rights and use that list as a means of rounding up guns and removing them by force. Such a thing cannot be countenanced under our Constitutional Democracy and so it is best we do not go down that road. We simply cannot trust the government with that information.

Why is it, do you suppose, that these people are so certain that the government will act in bad faith? Why do they suspect that the government is fundamentally corrupt and it will misuse the registry for anything other than its intended purpose?

I believe it’s because they themselves are willing to act in bad faith. The Republicans are in power and they are demonstrating that they are willing to use that power in odious ways that are not just unAmerican, but corrupt in nature.

Yesterday, President Trump shoved Jeff Sessions in front of the cameras to announce that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) would be rescinded. DACA was a program began in 2012 by President Obama to allow people who are American in every aspect but immigration status to be educated, get a job, join the military, and live their lives without the constant fear of deportation.

To be eligible to participate in DACA:

Illegal immigrants must have entered the United States before their 16th birthday and prior to June 2007, be currently in school, a high school graduate or be honorably discharged from the military, be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, and not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor or three other misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security. The program does not provide lawful status or a path to citizenship, nor does it provide eligibility for federal welfare or student aid.

The program is for people who were brought to the United States as children. Under DACA, they were allowed to register with the government, pay a $500 fee, and they were given semi-legal status (legal “presence” rather than legal “status”). DACA participants have to renew their status every two years and must have no criminal record. Today there are about 800,000 DACA recipients (which means the fees alone bring $200 million a year into the treasury). The average age is 26 and most were brought to this country before their 6th birthday. This is the only country they know. Many of them speak no language other than English. So in many ways, these are model immigrants. They have assimilated into our culture because it’s their culture.

But requiring these people to register with the government in good faith created a list of people whose immigration status is on hold, essentially. Now, racists like Jeff Sessions and Steve King want to use that registry to kick these people out of the country. Sound familiar? The same people who are absolutely certain that the government is so corrupt that we can’t have a national gun registry without abusing it to take away the rights of gun owners are now announcing they want to use a different government registry to take away the rights of brown people. They are champing at the bit to deport this low-hanging fruit of self-identified “illegal” immigrants. These are people who pose no threat. They’re not committing crimes. Kicking them out won’t raise anyone’s wages or lower anyone’s taxes. They’re not on welfare. They’re not getting Pell Grants. They’re living and working in the only country they know. But many of them are brown. So bigots like Sessions and King are gleeful at the opportunity to deport them.

“Hold up,” you’re saying. “The right to bear arms is in the Constitution. These people don’t have the right to stay here illegally.” Which is a fair point to bring up in a debate about these issues. But it isn’t the end of the argument. For one thing, DACA participants are innocent of any crime. They were brought here as children. In this country, we don’t hold children accountable for the crimes of their parents. We just don’t. These people are your neighbors, your friends, and your colleagues. They have by definition kept a clean criminal record. They pay taxes. They contribute to our society. To argue that they are illegal is to argue that their existence is illegal. How can it be illegal just to exist? If you throw out the deal we made with them in good faith, then they have a legitimate grievance.

“Hold up,” you’re saying now. “DACA is unconstitutional. President Obama enacted the DACA program illegally.” Again, that’s a point you can bring up (and man does it get brought up a lot in the right-wing media) but that’s an opinion, not fact. The fact is the courts have yet to rule on the Constitutionality of the DACA program. The fact is that the president has prosecutorial discretion with respect to immigration. He can (and did) choose to focus his immigration enforcement efforts elsewhere. In fact, when Arizona passed a law banning DACA participants from receiving state benefits, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction, saying the ban itself was a violation of the law. Both Michigan and North Carolina briefly tried to stop DACA participants from getting drivers licenses but were stopped by the courts.

DACA will work its way through the court system and we’ll eventually get an answer as to the Constitutionality of it. But anyone who makes a claim one way or the other is issuing an opinion, not fact. This includes unreconstructed old racist Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

We do know some facts about DACA participants thanks to studies by various groups using the information in the registry.

So why act now? I mean President Trump campaigned on being tough on illegal immigration, but he campaigned on a lot of things that he hasn’t acted on yet. Why DACA and why now? After all, just last week Trump said he loves these people.

A handful of states attorneys general led by Texas threatened to sue Trump if he didn’t end DACA and start deporting this low-hanging fruit. They gave him an arbitrary deadline of Sept. 5. So Trump trotted out Jeff Sessions who was positively giddy about it.

But the president has been sending enough mixed signals to keep Alan Turing busy for the next decade. For starters, he didn’t actually rescind DACA. He announced he was going to rescind it in six months. Then this:

So Trump wants to end DACA, but he wants Congress to enact DACA?

So if Congress doesn’t manage to get a DACA bill done in six months, the president won’t end DACA? What else can “I will revisit the issue!” mean? He’s already announced an end to the program in six months. Now he’s saying in six months he’ll look at it again. So does he want the program to end or not? How does this mealy mouthed half-measure actually fulfill his campaign pledge to end DACA?

The simple answer is that it doesn’t. This announcement is a cynical attempt by the president to ensure that the backlash for any bad outcome is on Congress and the praise for any good outcome goes to Trump. While in the business world, that might make you canny, in government, it makes you a coward. That’s not leadership.

There is no reason other than racism to end DACA. The act of rescinding this program is itself a corrupt act because the participants acted in good faith with the government of the only country they know. Using their own willingness to play ball against them is a cowardly act. Perhaps that’s why White House staff were secretly afraid that Trump might find out what DACA really was because he might have changed his mind.