Early Morning WTF Open Thread: With Donald Trump, It Can Always Get Weirder

Epic fiction may be the only way to get a proper handle on the dumpster fire behind the fertilizer plant that is Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Gonna be a long day for political reporters, this Wednesday.

As of right now (pre-dawn), my best guess is that Trump’s handlers are using this last-minute visit as an excuse for Trump to put off/cancel his big Phoenix Immigration Pivot(tm) Speech, because he can’t do morning fundraisers in Los Angeles, jet down to Mexico City, meet with Presidente Nieto, and get to Phoenix in time for prime-time news coverage.

Josh Marshall has what seems like the most sensible take — “Can Trump Be This Stupid? Not A Trick Question”:

It’s a general rule of politics not to enter into unpredictable situations or cede control of an event or happening to someone who wants to hurt you. President Nieto definitely does not want Donald Trump to become President. He probably assumes he won’t become president, simply by reading the polls. President Nieto is himself quite unpopular at the moment. But no one is more unpopular than Donald Trump. Trump is reviled. Toadying to Trump would be extremely bad politics; standing up to him, good politics…

Remember that the central force of Trump’s political brand is dominance politics. Trump commands, people obey. Trump strikes, victims suffer. It will be extremely difficult for him to manage anything like this in the Mexican capital. He comes with a weak hand, no leverage and the look of a loser. All Peña Nieto needs to say is no.

Again, when you’re in a campaign under constant scrutiny you do your best to control every situation, reduce the risk of unpredictable, embarrassing or damaging events. You try not to cede control to others. You especially try not to cede near total control to someone who has every interest in the world in harming you. The maximal version of that ‘big thing you’re not supposed to do’ is precisely what it looks like Trump is doing.
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Social Cues Fail Open Thread: Trump (Ain’t) Going to Mexico

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto: “We must do lunch, one of these days.”
Deadbeat Donald Trump: “See ya on Wednesday — you’re buying!”

Donald Trump is considering jetting to Mexico City on Wednesday for a meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, just hours before he delivers a high-stakes speech in Arizona to clarify his views on immigration policy, according to people in the United States and Mexico familiar with the discussions.

The possibility, which was hatched in recent days by Trump and his campaign advisers, comes after Trump has wavered for weeks over whether he would continue to hold his hard-line positions on the central and incendiary issue of his campaign, in particular his call to deport an estimated 11 million immigrants who are living in the United States illegally…
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Breaking News: Abu Muhammed al Adnani is Dead

Abu_Mohammed_al-Adnani

(Abu Muhammed al Adnani*)

Abu Muhammed al Adnani (real name: Taha Subhi Falaha), the number 2 man within the Islamic State and its commander for special operations (terrorist operations outside of the declared caliphate, recruitment, social media, and communications), is dead. It is being reported that al Adnani was killed in Aleppo earlier today and had been targeted by the US military led coalition forces in a precision strike near the town of al Bab. Here is CENTCOM’s release of the coalition strikes in Syria for today, as well as the past several days. Al Bab is not mentioned, but that may just mean it will be in tomorrow’s press release on coalition strikes. Expect the information on this to solidify over the next 24 to 48 hours. We’ll also see what this does to the Islamic State’s operational capabilities, especially those outside of the self declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

* Image found here.








Open Thread: Taking the High Road

But seriously: Good for President Obama…

President Obama on Tuesday commuted the sentences for 111 inmates, the latest in his push to ease harsh penalties given to nonviolent drug offenders.

Obama has been critical of what he has called the “devastating” effects of severe sentences handed down during the country’s war on drugs. He became the first sitting president to visit a federal prison, and spoke there about the importance of “second chances.”

Obama said that he hoped the bipartisan push for criminal justice reform could wind up weighing how to fight crime alongside “the need for proportionality in sentencing and the need to rehabilitate those who commit crimes”…



Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite! Liberte and Egalite Have Won Edition

liberty-leading-the-people

(Eugene Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People)

France’s highest administrative court, The State Council/Council de Etat, overturned the local burkini bans that had popped up in French beach towns over the past several weeks. The panel of three senior judges ruled that the ban:

“has dealt a serious and clearly illegal blow to fundamental liberties such as the freedom of movement, freedom of conscience and personal liberty.”

They found that no evidence produced in favour of the prohibition proved a risk to public order was being caused by “the outfits worn by some people to go swimming”.

 There will, of course, be pushback. The Mayor of Villeneuve-Loubet, who is also a member of France’s parliament, has indicated that he will push legislation in the next session to address the issue. Municipal authorities in Nice, Frejus, and Sisco have already stated that they will keep the ban in place despite the ruling. We will now have to wait and see how the different levels of French government, and the French themselves, reconcile themselves to the Council de Etat’s ruling.


Open Thread: Donald Trump Has A New Good-Luck Charm

UKIP founder Nigel Farage, the original “Mr. Brexit”. Per Politico:

The former head of the United Kingdom Independence Party will not offer an endorsement of Trump, a source close to Farage said, but will instead offer remarks on how to beat the odds and win an election.

“It came about after his visit to the Cleveland convention,” the source said. “He’s not here to endorse Trump but explain the Brexit story which has similar parallels to the current presidential race — he is going to be talking to grassroots activists about Brexit.”

The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

Farage was already in Mississippi Wednesday morning, where he did an in-studio radio interview. The source close to him said he will attend a private reception with Trump and 600 Republican donors Wednesday, where he will also be joined by Aaron Banks, a friend of Farage’s and a multimillionaire who bankrolled the U.K. Independence Party…

“Donald Trump dares to talk about things other people want to brush under the carpet,” Farage said in a CNN interview last June. “I think for the United Kingdom, I think Trump will be better for us than Barack Obama’s been. Of that, there is no doubt.”…

To quote NYMag‘s Jon Chait, “There’s Just One Flaw in Donald Trump’s New Plan to Show He’s Not Racist“:

The main difficulty Trump faces in dispelling the impression that he is a racist is that Trump is, in fact, a gigantic racist. His first appearance in the New York Times came in the context of his being caught refusing to rent apartments to African-Americans. A former Trump employee has detailed a series of private racist statements and acts — saying “laziness is a trait in blacks,” objecting to black people working for him in accounting, his staff shooing black people off the casino floor when he arrived. Trump has replied that the comments were “probably true,” but berated the person who made them as a “loser.” He has questioned the legitimacy of President Obama’s birth certificate, called him a “terrible student,” and implied he only made it into Harvard Law School due to affirmative action…



Lines On the Map: The Human Geography of the US’s Southern Border

ghmap

(Map 1: US Borders Prior to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo*)

With all the discussion, both in the current election cycle and year in and year out, about immigration to the US, as well as how to secure the US’s southern border, what often gets ignored is how the US got its southern border. Specifically the human geography of the southwestern US and their relationship to its border. After the conclusion of the Mexican War, in February 1848, the US and Mexico completed the negotiation of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo did several things, but among them it moved the US’s southern and western borders to roughly where they are now. Basically we moved the line on the map. As was, and still is, the case when borders are drawn the people living on either side of the old and/or new borders do not always pay a lot of attention to that border in their daily lives. This can be seen in kinship maps of various parts of the world where borders were drawn, often by people far from where the borders were or would be, that subdivided or bisected members of kinship groups into separate states regardless of the reality on the ground. You can see this on ethnic maps throughout Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and other parts of the world.

This is also the reality with the US’s southern border. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo officially moved the lines on the map, but the day to day experience – the pattern of human settlement and the human geography of the region did not really change. Sure, more of what we now call non-Hispanic whites moved into New Mexico and west Texas and Arizona and Southern California, but the overall human geography – the people, places, and things that make up that pattern of human settlement didn’t change all that much. If you look at the pattern of settlement, based on 2010 Census data, you’ll see that where Hispanics and Latinos were living in the southern US hasn’t changed a lot. The highest density areas are still in the southwest.

hispanic

(Map 2: Hispanic or Latino Population of the US**)

You’ll notice that on both the map prepared for the negotiations of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Rural Health Information’s map of Hispanic or Latino population of the US based on the 2010 Census that the area that the US would get from Mexico in 1848 is still where the largest percentage of the Hispanic or Latino population of the US live. This doesn’t count south Florida, which has a different historic pattern of Hispanic settlement. What the patterns of settlement shown on the maps show us is that the border was moved on the map, but the pattern of settlement remained largely unchanged.

And off and on for almost a hundred years that border was open. People went back and forth for familial reasons, for economic reasons, for social reasons, and for political reasons (don’t forget the Mormon exodus to Mexico in the late 19th Century and their return to the US in the early 20th Century). At different times throughout the 20th Century there have been attempts to seal the southern border for security reasons, which were sometimes/often conflated with xenophobia and anti-immigration sentiment. There were also attempts by the Mexican government to police their northern border to prevent (accused) criminals from crossing into the US illegally to escape justice. And all of these, over the course of a decade in the 1940s into the 1950s culminated with Operation Wetback – the last, named operation to deal with the issue at that point in time. These efforts to regulate the southern border also included guest worker programs, like the early 1940s Bracero Program. In the 1980s the Reagan Administration pushed the Immigration and Reform Act of 1986 that included a pathway to citizenship. Later, in the 1990s, there was Operation Gatekeeper, the Clinton Administration attempt to secure the southern border. And there was also the disastrous impact of NAFTA and the war on drugs on Mexico’s economy, driving millions north in search of work to support themselves and their relatives at home. And through it all the pattern of settlement in the southwestern US has not changed very much. Until this reality – that the border may have been moved in 1848, but not the demographics of the population – is acknowledged in the debate on what to do with the migration across the US’s southern border, then it will not be possible to formulate feasible, acceptable, and suitable policies for immigration into the US across the southern border and how to best regulate and regularize it.

* Map found here.

** Map found here.