Trump, even on better behavior, seems hostile to “outsiders”; Nunes Memo release apparently approved

Trump’s SOTU speech and all the shenanigans and legal minefields about the Nunes Memo, which I can’t keep up with hourly on a blog like this (although I’m very concerned about its implications for the integrity of federal law enforcement), bring us back to some essential realities about his presidency.  He believes in authority and chain of command, and that some groups of people (his supposed “base”) are innately superior to others and can reclaim what used to be theirs, even by (almost Commie-imitating) expropriation if necessary. Call it nativism if you like.  It’s not fascism yet but can quickly convert, especially if the US homeland is ever attacked big time.

Let’s go back to the narrowest issue of the day, asylum seekers.  USCIS has changed the rules for setting up interviews.  As attorney Jason Dzubow writes “Bye, bye scheduling … hello chaos”.  (He’s not referring to ‘Nsync’s song.) Now it’s last in, first to be scheduled.  It’s perpetual butting in line. Or perpetual yielding right of way. That’s supposed to discourage asylum fraud (May 10, 2017).

Furthermore, pending House legislation would raise the standard of what constitutes “credible fear” to “more likely than not”, which might disproportionately affect LGBT asylum cases.

I’ve had a few conversations during the past week on this.  As I’ve noted, having sold the trust house I had “inherited”, downsized (like the movie) into a condo, I’m no longer considering hosting. But I still think that those who would consider being hosts or assist asylum seekers in any way need full legal briefing on what their own responsibilities are. (For helping refugees, remember, social service agencies are very well set up to give legal supervision to volunteers;  for asylum seekers, for which by definition there is no money in most cases, they are not.)  One tricky issue could be assisting someone when they are coming into the country and have not yet applied for asylum.  That could get a “good Samaritan” into legal trouble, I suspect.  My understanding is that you cannot get a visa with the intention of asking for asylum;  if you do, it’s right to detention when you arrive.

So then we come to Trump’s attempts at reconciliation. Michael Gerson writes in the Washington Post “Even on his finest behavior. Trump can’t be gracious to immigrants”.  Indeed, he does treat people from “the outside” as not our “chosen people”, which doesn’t make much sense to the more noble idea of an American melting pot (with all colors, religions, sexual orientations and identities).  Trump’s idea play to the idea, if you would house an immigrant, why wouldn’t you house a domestic homeless person instead?  Well, not many people do that, and our own social services structures don’t support that.  Our volunteer world will support structured activities (Habitat for Humanity, installing smoke alarms, meals) which, if you think about it, maintains a certain personal distance from those in need in a lot of cases.  “The Natural Family” (like the 2007 book by Carlson/Mero) is supposed to take care of its own vulnerable, but we all know it often doesn’t.

There’s also the problem of the way anti-immigrant forces distort or cherry pick statistics to support their positions.  Yes, chain migration could be bad;  but in most cases it takes a long time for distant family members to get through the system anyway; so it has little practical effect.  In most cases, immigrants take the jobs Americans don’t want (watch Morgan Spurlock picking oranges for piecework), and some industries (like hotels) are very dependent on legal immigration. I guess everyone is a “Dreamer”.  I guess all lives matter (if we are willing to behave as if that were true.)   There is also the way we trot out the outrageous crime of the week (like on Milo Yiannopoulos’s “Dangerous”), and a few of them are committed by illegal aliens, but most are committed by Americans.  Reason has a couple of major pieces, one by Alex Nowrasteh on the use of crime statistics, and another about the “weaponizing” of Census. I worked for Census (in 2010 on the diennial and in 2011 on surveys) and Census data can never be shared outside the agency, even with law enforcement.  Nowrasteh also has a valuable video on CSPAN on deportations.

I’ve noted the cultural collectivism both on the alt-right (nativism) and the frank Marxism on the far Left, as discussed on here on Intellectual Takeout (wrong “consciousness”).

I’ll also reiterate that Trump seems to be trapped by his position on North Korea (previous post), and Georgetown’s professor Cha tried to help him find a way out of it.  I wish he would listen. A lot of civilians, even on the homeland, could pay themselves with their lives.

Also: Breaking as I finish this post: Trump has just authorized declassifying the Nunes Memo and it will become public (apparently without redactions); see also the DOJ letter.  It now belongs to the House Judiciary Committee (who has the football right now, not in the Super Bowl).

As of 1 PM: Here is the actual memo, unclassified.

The AP story includes the Counsel’s letter, too, embedded as a PDF.

Is the Nunes Memo a dud “On the Beach” (like Nevil Shute)? Vox article

Here’s the original Russian dossier (Oct 2016) from Buzzfeed.

And here we go again, the “one” controversial sentence on p. 3 of the memo, explained on AOL

And this was supposed to be a post in immigration when I started out!

(Posted: Friday, February 2, 2018, at 11:45 AM EST)

Trump’s SOTU leaves us thinking war with North Korea could be almost inevitable, and soon

During the day Tuesday January 30, the media was buzzing with the prediction that President Donald Trump would unleash an “eye opener” about North Korea that would dominate the headlines January 31, as part of his State of the Union Speech. .

So, here we are, post SOTU (which ran 80 minutes) on “February 0” with tensions escalating again, but back to where they were.

I had hoped Trump would talk specifically about missile defense (my Jan. 11 posting) and infrastructure security, maybe even with a frank warning to individual Americans about resuming attention to Civil Defense preparedness. After all, I’ve tweeted him a few times about this.  No such luck.

He is right in saying that the military needs to be fully funded (not just month-to-month, to get around shutdown threats) and that the U.S. needs to “rebuild” its nuclear deterrence.  But that’s not the bombshell for the media.  That’s a given. I give him credit for saying “hopefully never having to use it.”

(Go to 1.18.46)

He did say, “North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland. We are waging a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from happening.”

What if pressure is not enough?

Trump trotted out the physical horrors undergone by Otto Warmbier (his parents were there) and then defector Ji Seong-Ho, who was in the audience.  Trump minced no words in graphic descriptions of their injuries and invasions of bodily sanctity.  I guess this was the “eye opener”, a little bit of verbal violence porn. Likewise, he had earlier given graphic descriptions of combat wounds and rescues in liberating Mosul from ISIS.

But, as some observers like Ezra Klein and Zach Beauchamp on Vox pointed out  (essay and tweet), Trump talked about Kim Jong Un as someone who must be removed, very much the way George W. Bush had talked about Saddam Hussein. The problem is that this time Kim Jong Un’s WMD’s could affect the American homeland, as well as South Korea and Japan.  The president seemed oblivious to this big distinction.

Then there is the entire flap over the well vetted intended appointment to ambassador to South Korea, Victor D. Cha, Georgetown University professor, over his objection to an administration “bloody nose” first strike on North Korea, as outlined in the Washington Post.  Cha responded by explaining his views in an op-ed in the Washington Post yesterday, just before the speech.  Cha did not explore the possibility that such an attack could be largely a microwave E1-level EMP attack designed “only” to take out computers and command and control in the country (which probably could not penetrate into its hidden mountain bases anyway).

CNN picked up on the story early January 31, as Will Ripley (the “no chest hair” comment to boys on a North Korean beach) reported that North Korea plans a huge military parade February 8 just as the Winter Olympics starts.  Dozens of Hwasong-15’s would be displayed, although we suspect many or most of them could be fake.  This would “scare the hell” out of ordinary Americans concerned about saving their own skins.

President Trump apparently believes (if I connect the dots) that he has a few short months or weeks to launch a preventive first strike war now, before North Korea has the credible ability to hit the continental US (especially New York, Washington, and Mar a Lago).  That is what sounds so scary. But, of course, Trump is bargaining away the lives of people in South Korea and Japan (including Americans), even if DPRK claims its missiles are pointed only at the U.S., out of spite. Furthermore, we have to keep in mind claims by Woolsey and others that Kim Jong Un could launch at least an E1-level EMP strike over parts of the US now.  While Trump correctly talked about the horrible conditions for most civilians in North Korea (eating dirt), he seems insensitive to the idea that most civilian Americans have a lot to lose personally (me) to war, pretty much like Miss Scarlet.  (See my Jan. 4 posting).

Furthermore, some DIA assessments late last summer indicated that North Korea had probably succeeding in miniaturizing the smaller fission weapons on its missiles, even if doing this on ah H-15 with a hydrogen bomb is much harder.

Of course, I’ve noted that some of these predictions attract conservative news outlets more than mainstream, leaving one open to fake news concerns (Dec. 22), and I can add that Oak Ridge and National Academy of Sciences have been publishing peer-reviewed technical papers on this problem since maybe 2009, with the media “too sinful to notice”.  And we can’t forget that North Korea, despite the sanctions, seems to have plenty of underground connections to other rogue and terror groups (who employ their workers so that workers can send hard currency back home). That raises the ante on conventional terrorism, especially nuclear-related (like dirty bomb threats), as well as possibly biological vectors (ABC had done a Nightline special on anthrax as a terror weapon back in 1999, two years before 9/11).  Taylor Wilson’s page on nuclear security at borders sounds relevant.

The period right after the Winter Olympics could become critical very quickly.  Will Ripley expects another missile test, perhaps right after the Olympics.  The game changer would be if North Korea really detonates anything at re-entry (or in orbit).  A detonation could endanger undersea cables.  Trump should constructively consider shooting down any missile that gets more than a certain distance from North Korea.  Several shoot-downs could destabilize the regime.

(Posted: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at 10 AM)