Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 1/12/2018: Sigh. It Never Ends. (Part I)

Good Morning.

Blecchh.

I can’t begin to describe how much I would rather discuss something else. But I don’t control the universe, why, I don’t know.

1 Is this Plan K? Oh, probably. Sigh.

With the rapid demise of Plan E, this time around, anyway—that’s the “let’s remove President Trump because he’s mentally disabled” plot, which was quickly reactivated once Plan J (“Let’s force the President to resign like Al Franken because of unverified sexual misconduct accusers that voters knew about when they elected him”), the over-heated reporting of alleged vulgar and arguably racist comments the President may have made in a non-public meeting would suggest that “the resistance” and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself) will be fulminating and demanding dire consequences for the foreseeable future.Plan K will be “Vulgarity and undiplomatic statements about immigrants pretty much exactly like how Trump began his Presiential campaign is grounds for impeachment” or something similar. Please send me the link to the first appearance of this argument, will you?

This obviously will never end, and I despair. Democrats will never accept their obligations as citizens and regard the elected leader of the Unites States as legitimate and entitled to do his job until he is either defeated or prevails in the next election. They would prefer to dangerously divide the nation and undermine its institutions, perhaps doing permanent damage.

Yesterday, Times op-ed writer Nicholas Kristoff wrote another Trump/hate/fear-mongering piece indistinguishable from dozens—hundreds?— that have been written and published since January of last year. “Trump’s Threat To Democracy,” it was called—ironic, since the only current threat to democracy is not the President, but Kristof and his fellow travelers seeking to overthrow an elected government “by any means possible,” via Plans A-J and whatever’s next. His screed is an appeal to the authority of two Harvard profs, because as we have seen in the sad cases of Larry Lessig and Lawrence Tribe, you can find previously distinguished Harvard professors who will say almost anything to polish their progressive creds in the age of Trump Derangement.

Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have a book coming out–no, I won’t plug it—that argues that Trump displays what they call “the four four warning signs” that a political leader is a dangerous authoritarian:

1.The leader shows only a weak commitment to democratic rules.

2. He or she denies the legitimacy of opponents.

3. He or she tolerates violence.

4. He or she shows some willingness to curb civil liberties or the media.

“A politician who meets even one of these criteria is cause for concern,” they say. Of course, as the professors show  in their examples and  Kristoff proves in his column,  what constitutes evidence of those “warning signs” is a subjective judgment that can be manipulated and built on biased political calculations. He writes,

“President Trump followed the electoral authoritarian script during his first year,” Levitsky and Ziblatt conclude. “He made efforts to capture the referees, sideline the key players who might halt him, and tilt the playing field. But the president has talked more than he has acted, and his most notorious threats have not been realized. … Little actual backsliding occurred in 2017.”

That seems right to me: The system worked.

And yet.

For all my confidence that our institutions will trump Trump, the chipping away at the integrity of our institutions and norms does worry me. Levitsky and Ziblatt warn of the unraveling of democratic norms — norms such as treating the other side as rivals rather than as enemies, condemning violence and bigotry, and so on. This unraveling was underway long before Trump (Newt Gingrich nudged it along in the 1990s), but Trump accelerated it.

It matters when Trump denounces the “deep state Justice Department,” calls Hillary Clinton a “criminal” and urges “jail” for Huma Abedin, denounces journalists as the “enemy of the American people” and promises to pay the legal fees of supporters who “beat the crap” out of protesters. With such bombast, Trump is beating the crap out of American norms.

Nah, claiming that firing an incompetent and untrustworthy FBI director is ‘sidelining key players–“players?”–who might halt him’ is nothing but a fair and objective assessment without any partisan bias at all! And “capture the referees”—you mean like trying to hijack the Electoral College? Did Trump do that? How did President Trump “capture the referees”?

Treating the other side as enemies? This was a trademark of the 8-year-long Obama administration—his critics were racists, you know, and a rogue IRS agent in Cincinnati is why conservative groups were hobbled during the 2012 campaign—as well as Dick Cheney’s tone on behalf of President Bush, and the Clinton stance (via Hillary) during Monica Madness and before. Oddly, Levitsky, Ziblatt and Nick didn’t sound any alarms when the Democratic Presidents were doing using “enemy” rhetoric.  No, it’s TRUMP who is violating “norms.”

Trump has condemned violence and bigotry, he just angered the left by not agreeing that the Left’s violence and bigotry wasn’t more benign than the Right’s. There is a deep state Justice Department: when was the last time you saw a Justice Department official refuse to enforce a legal executive order, a la Sally Yates? When was the last time an FBI director leaked classified information to undermine his boss? How often have FBI agents plotted in secret about needing “an insurance policy” to ensure a Republican President wasn’t elected? Maybe this has always gone on in various forms, but it should not, and a President who rightly condemns it is within the power of his office and being consistent with his oath of office to do so.

I’ll give Kristoff a pass on Trump still urging prosecutions for Hillary and Huma, but this, as I  explained in this post, is a bad response to a serious problem created by that “deep state” Justice Department under Obama.

But the mainstream media has become the enemy of the American people, because it decided to slant the news rather than report it, making informed citizenship impossible and our democracy dysfunctional. Since the news media won’t tell us what it is trying to do, the President is the only one with a megaphone loud enough to counter their disinformation.

And the President of the United States has never promised to pay the legal fees of supporters who “beat the crap” out of protesters. What a perfect example of how journalists manipulate facts to undermine democratic institutions.

Oh, right: the President’s alleged “shocking” remarks… I’ll get to those (finally) in Part 2.

 

132 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

132 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 1/12/2018: Sigh. It Never Ends. (Part I)

  1. charlesgreen

    “the mainstream media has become the enemy of the American people, ”

    Sorry, I have to put that right up there with your claim that Obama was the worst racist the modern presidency has seen.

    I don’t know whether it’s even possible to debate such broad generalizations, but I wanted to register my strongest disagreement.

    Completely the opposite is the case – IMHO.

    • They actively modify their tone and language to soften negative coverage of the Left, exacerbate negative coverage of the Right, while simultaneously soften or ignore positive coverage of the Right, while exaggerating positive coverage of the Left.

      They have openly and actively pushed FALSE stories to push their political agenda.

      All of this to *intentionally* deceive the American People.

      I’m not sure how you classify that conduct as anything other than inimical.

    • You’ll have to find me the quote when I said that. Woodrow Wilson was the worst racist the the modern Presidency has seen, followed by FDR. probably. I have correctly said that Obama was racially divisive, but I don’t believe I have ever said that he is a racist.

      I honestly don’t know how anyone can dispute the news media statement. When a critical institution in our democracy deliberately perverts its ethics and refuses to perform the role it exists to perform, that is an attack on the nation and the people. It amazes me, after the 2016 campaign 2017, that you can still be in denial about this.

      • Charlie; You can search the blog for phrases, like “most racist” or “Obama is racist” or “Obama is a racist.” (To save you time, I searched for all of these. Nothing. as I expected.)

        I almost certainly have said that Obama was the #1 race-baiter of all time, especially considering his surrogates. But that’s very different.

        • charlesgreen

          Point taken and correction noted; thanks for fact-checking me.

          I still am massively cognitively disconnected that you rate Obama as the #1 race-baiter of all time, in the face of our current President.

          • Steve-O-in-NJ

            Seriously? After all the Black Lives Matter and anti-police nonsense of the last two years of Obama you can say that with a straight face?

            • charlesgreen

              “… you can say that with a straight face?”

              Absolutely. Just LOOK at the guy we have as president. Saying that the man is a flat out bigot and racist is in no way disparaging the office of the presidency. It is saying that the country made a horrible mistake in electing a bigot and racist.

              • Steve-O-in-NJ

                Because the guy said that nations that have been corrupt and poorly run for decades are a mess in a blunt manner he’s a racist? Because he said we need more people to come here who might actually bring something to the table rather than drain our resources further he’s a bigot? Because he pointed out that most terrorists come from a certain area of the world he’s both?

                With respect, Charles, there’s a big difference between being an unrefined lout who expresses inconvenient truths in a blunt and uncouth manner and being someone who considers whole sections of the human race bad based solely on their color.

                • charlesgreen

                  “there’s a big difference between being an unrefined lout who expresses inconvenient truths in a blunt and uncouth manner and being someone who considers whole sections of the human race bad based solely on their color.”

                  I find this a curious attempt at a distinction.

                  IMHO neither one fits former President Obama.

                  IMHO they BOTH fit our current President.

                  • Steve-O-in-NJ

                    Let’s try this a different way. I think we both agree that Trump has said a lot of things in a loutish manner. What I call inconvenient truths you might call racist. That said, what has he said that was full on racist?

                    • charlesgreen

                      I think you can almost always parse a single given utterance as arguably being non-racist. You have to take a person in aggregate, over time, multiple statements..

                      In that light, to me, the combination of “Mexican rapists,” “Donald Trump is calling for a Muslim ban,” “shithole country, ” “some good people on both sides,” and opposition to the Central Park Five after DNA disproof, would be more than enough to call him full on racist.

                    • Steve-O-in-NJ

                      No Charles, no one appointed you, or anyone else, as a judge as to who is a racist and who isn’t. No one established standards for judging someone a racist, and no one established that if you slip even once you’re a racist. You talk dog-whistling by Trump, but what you are doing here is trying to smear him with innuendo, disputed facts, and the dredging up of stuff from the 70s.

                    • charlesgreen

                      Did you not ask me “That said, what has he said that was full on racist?”

                      Did I not give you what I felt met that definition, for me, in my opinion?

                      So from whence cometh the umbrage that I answered your question? You asked me for my opinion, I gave it. If anyone “appointed me” to define racism, you did!

                    • “If anyone “appointed me” to define racism, you did!”

                      I mean… He did… But you really dropped the ball… You listed in order:

                      “Mexicans”, “Muslims”, “Haiti/Nigeria”, “Statue Removal Protesters”, and “Failure to accept DNA evidence”

                      To which I would say: Not a race, not a race, not a race, not necessarily a race, although there were actual Nazis there (and stupid as hell to boot), and DEFINITELY not a race (although DEFINITELY stupid as hell).

                      You want to say that the aggregate of things Trump has said or done lead you to believe that things that he says and does are racist, but they all require leaps. And the first time you made that leap, you didn’t have the aggregate “history” of all the future leaps that he would make as “proof”.

                      There was a point where you decided he was a racist, and then you’ve spent the time since then attempting to cobble together a case for it, but even with all the effort you’ve spent on it, your assertion just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Great claims require great proof, and you’ve brought subjective conjecture and lies

                      I wish Trump were less of an idiot, I wish he were better spoken, I wish he weren’t so insecure and raw-nerve sensitive about everything from the size of his hands to the damned fur bearing animal he killed and shellacked to his head. I think that he’s untrustworthy in that he’ll say damn near anything dependent on what he thinks his audience wants to hear, so I have no idea what he really stands for, I think that he needs to surround himself with better people, I think he needs to read more, I think a lot of things… But this narrative of everyone who doesn’t agree with you is a racist is tired and stupid and beneath the reckoning of intelligent people. Trump is no more or less racist than the vast swathes of people who voted for him, and they are by and large regular, middle of the road people more interested in putting food on the table and less concerned with the melanin content of the skin of the people surrounding them.

              • Look, Trump rarely ever actually mentions race. The idea that Trump is preoccupied with race is a progressive construct, at worst he is overly apathetic to racial overtones, and ridiculously reactionary when someone impugns him using a racial narrative. People take what he says, and twists them just a little in ways that feed the narrative that he’s a racist… Look at this latest debacle: Trump called Haiti a shithole, apparently.

                Granted, The American President should not talk like that, generally, even in situations with a small group of people that he should in theory have some expectation of privacy in.

                But… Let’s be crude… Haiti is a shithole. You want to go live there? Want to visit a Haitian hospital? Eat the local, non-tourist fare? I’ll buy you a ticket. People want to go from Haiti to America for a chance at a better life, not the other way around, because their leadership wholly unstable, a natural disaster occurs every other Thursday, and a majority of Haitians will at least know someone who has actually sacrificed a goat. I make no bones that there are reasons that Haiti is a shithole that has nothing to do with Haiti and everything to do with foreign relations, first and foremost American ones, but let’s call a spade a spade. I don’t want to live there. THEY don’t want to live there. That’s not racist. None of that has anything to do with the race of Haiti’s people any more than calling North Korea a “starving failed state” is a denigration of all Korean people calling Saudi Arabia a “barbarous nation that executes homosexuals for buggery” is a condemnation of all Arabs. This is a mirror of the Mexican wall and travel ban situations, where progressives conveniently forget that “Mexican” and “Muslim” are not races, They’re cultures, and cultures can be judged on their merits and found wanting. They’ll feel the moisture of their liqified brain on their shoulder, having trickled out their ears at the mention of Trump, and assert, slatheringly: “He just called a place bad, and the people that live there are all what we in America consider minority, so this statement is obviously racially motivated.”

                It’s a dog whistle. It’s cheap and lazy and untrue. I’d say it was below them, but the argument is put forward so often that I’m forced to treat it like that IS their level.

                • Rick M

                  Spade a spade? My, HT, you will now be a confirmed racist. Nice post.

                • Still Spartan

                  Well, all immigrants come to the US because they want a better life. So?

                  • Steve-O-in-NJ

                    So apparently the US and its native born citizens aren’t allowed to say this nation offers a better life than places like Haiti or sub-Saharan Africa, nor are we allowed to say that this better life isn’t free for the taking to anyone who comes here, by means legal or illegal.

                  • Willfully obtuse looks ugly on you.

                    Look, some Americans come to Canada for a better life, some Canadians go to America for a better life. Maybe there’s a skills mismatch at home, maybe there’s an opportunity too good to turn down, but that’s between two countries where the standard of living is basically equal. The standard of living isn’t the same in Haiti as it is in America.

                    • “The standard of living isn’t the same in Haiti as it is in America.”

                      THAT must be the greatest understatement of the week.

                    • ”THAT must be the greatest understatement of the week.”

                      Without reservation, Haitians couldn’t be happier with the manner in which the Clinton Foundation selflessly delivered during a time of great need.

                      http://www.nationalreview.com/article/437883/hillarys-america-secret-history-democratic-party-dinesh-dsouza-clinton-foundation

                    • Chris

                      Dinesh D’Souza? Seriously?

                    • Still Spartan

                      I’m not being willfully obtuse at all. I just think the conversation got sidetracked. Who cares what the standard of living is in Haiti? If America is the land of opportunity, it doesn’t matter if one started out in a mud hut in Haiti or in a rowhouse in Norway. What matters is what you do with the opportunity once you get here, right? I grew up pretty poor, but I was still able to get a job at an AMLaw firm in DC. My firm cared about the credentials that I had earned, not that I was born and raised on a farm in the middle of nowhere.

                      Look, I’ve referred to certain countries as the “Third World” all the time. It might be intellectually lazy of me to do that, as it’s shorthand for “every place I don’t want to live because they don’t have a/c and/or rights for women,” but such a comment isn’t racially insensitive. That’s an important distinction. And I certainly think that is irrelevant in a discussion about immigration. India is still a “third-world” country, but my company hires many of our software engineers from there because they are still churning out a highly skilled workforce.

                      I don’t know if Trump is a racist or not (I suspect he is), but at a minimum he’s been playing to the demographic that is racially insensitive in this country. These recent statements do nothing to hurt him among his supporters — only people who already hate Trump are up in arms about it.

                      For the record, I’m in the “much ado” camp about his latest statements, because they are nothing new. Indeed, I secretly think that there is a 50/50 chance that Trump is a genius and that these comments, Twitter feed, leaked accounts, etc. are all deliberately designed to keep his crappy demographic happy, as he has few friends left in the mainstream parties.

                    • ”Dinesh D’Souza? Seriously?”

                      Yup!

                      Inconvenient Truth: the leading cause of Lefty sharpshooting.

                    • Chris

                      Is it an inconvenient truth to point out that D’Souza is a lying racist felon?

                    • “Felon” is a cheap-shot, and ad hominem.

                    • “Is it an inconvenient truth to point out that D’Souza is a lying racist felon?”

                      I don’t recall, those…um…attributes (and more!) didn’t prevent Reverend Al Sharpton from becoming a WH regular AND the self-anointed 4th Greatest President EVAH’s “go-to” guy for race relations, did they?

                    • Chris

                      In this case, D’Souza’s felony is relevant, since it shows the dishonest lengths he will go to further his political agenda.

                      Paul’s response about Sharpton doesn’t do anything to make his citation of D’Souza any better. I wouldn’t cite Sharpton. I also don’t think it’s accurate that Sharpton was Obama’s “go to” guy on anything, but even if it was, it would still not say anything about D’Souza or those stupid enough to cite him.

                    • “In this case, D’Souza’s felony is relevant, since it shows the dishonest lengths he will go to further his political agenda.”

                      Honestly Chris, D’Souza’s felony (to which he pleaded guilty) is a freakin’ overdue book fine compared to the criminal enterprise overseen by your heroes, the Clintons.

                      And did it occur to you to address the Clintonista Slush Fund fucking the Haitians rather than shooting the messenger?

                      Didn’t think so.

                      Perhaps this my failing, for not citing an acceptable source.

                      (bolds mine throughout)
                      Haiti Liberte editor Kim Ives: “A lot of Haitians are not big fans of the Clintons, that’s for sure […] The fact the Clintons kind of took over things after the earthquake and did a pretty poor job of it translates to why the Haitians have a pretty dim view of them,”

                      “A US Government Accountability Office report discovered no hint of wrongdoing, but concluded the IHRC’s (International Haiti Recovery Commission) decisions were ‘not necessarily aligned with Haitian priorities.’

                      ”Mr Clinton’s own office at the UN found 9% of the foreign aid cash went to the Haitian government and 0.6% to local organisations.

                      ”The bulk of it went to UN agencies, international aid groups, private contractors and donor countries’ own civilian and military agencies.”

                      http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37826098

                      That strike you as having been expeditiously handled?

                      “(T)he Pentagon billed the State Department hundreds of millions of dollars for sending US troops to hand out bottled water and keep order on the streets of Haiti’s ravaged capital, Port-au-Prince.”

                      The State Department and the Clintonista Slush Fund chumming the same waters? Say it ain’t so.

                      Tony Rodham’s curious foray into EVIL mining. Fuggeddaboudit!

                      https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/role-of-hillary-clintons-brother-in-haiti-gold-mine-raises-eyebrows/2015/03/20/c8b6e3bc-cc05-11e4-a2a7-9517a3a70506_story.html?utm_term=.dccb7c1f2184

                      EVERYONE else is lying, the Clintons are as pure as the driven snow.

                • charlesgreen

                  You might wish to claim that Trump was merely describing an objective condition – but he wasn’t.

                  If he merely wanted to say that the country of Haiti is a god-forsaken, downtrodden helluva place to be from, he could have said:

                  “You gotta hand it to those Haitians. Despite coming from a shithole of a country, really terrible place, they manage to persevere and demonstrate great human spirit. Those that come here disproportionately accomplish things, start businesses, stay out of trouble, believe me. We should open our hands to people like that who have the energy and gumption to get out of a shithole country like that – we welcome them!”

                  But of course that’s not what he said, and clearly not what he meant.

                  He wasn’t describing the country, he was describing the people. Remember, his reported words were, “Why do we have to LET IN THESE PEOPLE from these shithole countries?” And in case anyone didn’t get the point, he clarified by contrasting them with Norwegians.

                  That’s not dog-whistle – that’s full-on megaphone.

                  • This discussion is more about the purpose of immigration than it is the race of the immigrants. See, your position only makes sense if you want some kind of lottery system or pure open borders, and it falls apart utterly in the face of a merit based immigration policy, which Trump has said he’s in favor of before.

                    Haiti is a “god-forsaken, downtrodden helluva place” and “god-forsaken, downtrodden hella places” don’t tend to produce high quality immigrants. From the perspective of someone who believes that immigration should be merit based, it is fully acceptable to ask “Why do we have to let in these people from these shithole countries?”

                    The disconnect between our arguments becomes all the more clear when you think that the comparison Trump made between Norse immigrants and Haitian immigrants was based on race. Can you really, conceivably think of no other reason why someone who is a proponent of merit based immigration might compare the caliber of immigrants from a first and third world country than race? If your answer is “Yes”, then why assume it’s about race, if “No” then res ipsa loquitur.

                    • charlesgreen

                      Someone who believes in merit-based immigration criteria would not do a first and final sort on the average characteristics of an aggregate population: they would look at individual merit. Trump has no interest in that that I can see, he’d rather deal in profiling. Which looks pretty racist to me.

                    • That’s because you’re a knee-jerk progressive. There’s nothing preventing Haitians from applying to immigrate to America. The entire reason this conversation is happening is because America is under pressure to take in immigrants based on the immigrant’s need as opposed to the Nation’s benefit. That conversation can be had, but coaching it in the language of racism is a great way to polarize the issue in such a way that 50% of voters immediately write you off.

                    • I think that’s a fair framing.

                      But its unfair to call Charles knee-jerk.

                      He is damn stubborn about some things, though!

                    • “But Jeff” The person with a decent counter argument might say, “Didn’t you just say that calling someone’s country a shithole wasn’t a condemnation of everyone in the country, and then went on to generalize them as being unskilled and uneducated?”

                      Why yes, Watson, I did. And that’s because America takes in about one fifth of Earth’s immigrants. Wikipedia says that 19.1% of Everyone who was born in one country, and immigrated to another, chose to immigrate to America. This despite America having slightly less than 5% of Earth’s population. America takes in immigrants. Those immigrants aren’t all white. They’re not even mostly white. But what they are is, generally, skilled. America routinely takes the cream of the crop, the people most likely to add economically and culturally in positive ways. If we weren’t talking about unskilled, uneducated immigrants, Trump wouldn’t be lamenting pressure from open borders advocates to take them in, they’d already be in.

                    • Chris

                      Charles’ point about Trump’s conflation of countries’ immigrants with those countries is a good one. 43% of immigrants from African countries have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 33% of the general population. They’re *already* sending their best and brightest, because outside of refugee crises, that’s how immigrants from faraway countries get here: by being the best and brightest.

                      Does Trump know this? Of course not. Is automatically assuming that poor and uneducated countries are sending poor and uneducated immigrants racist? Perhaps not, but it’s certainly stupid and uninformed, and he is abdicating his duty to know certain things that a president is required to know in order to do his job effectively. It’s possible that his inaccurate belief is motivated at least in part by racism. He’s also just genuinely ignorant of a lot of things, so there’s that to consider as well.

                    • Don’t compare apples to oranges. America doesn’t choose its naturally born citizens, it chooses its immigrants. 43% of African immigrants have bachelors degrees? Sure. What’s the percentage of Philipino degree holders?

                    • Still Spartan

                      Careful Humble. It doesn’t matter if you are unskilled or skilled. America is the great equalizer, remember? Bootstraps, sweat, nose to the grindstone, etc. Conservatives need to be consistent about this or you’ll leave your left flank open for attack.

                    • Only if you’re determined to be obtuse about it. And that’s a word I’m going to use a lot, I think, over the next few posts. It’s true that America is a great equalizer and anyone inside America can succeed. It’s also true that America should bring in only the best of immigrants. Those aren’t mutually exclusive… While everyone CAN succeed in America, not everyone DOES, and it makes the most sense to bring in the people most likely to succeed

                      Even though educational attainment is being ever hollowed out, the primary determinant of success is still education. Bringing people in from mud huts will never be as effective as bringing in post secondary graduates. Period.

                    • Chris

                      Don’t compare apples to oranges. America doesn’t choose its naturally born citizens, it chooses its immigrants. 43% of African immigrants have bachelors degrees? Sure. What’s the percentage of Philipino degree holders?

                      Come on. If more African immigrants have bachelor’s degrees than people born in the U.S., then the idea that African immigrants make our country worse is absurd.

                    • First off, the immigration deal that they were discussing was a step away from a refugee program, the Democrats in the room were trying to pull in people who would not normally pass muster, pretending that they were college graduates is absurd.

                      Second off, I never said “worse”. It’s possible, given the prospective caliber of the people we were talking about, and the change to the normal process, the immigrants in question could be a drain on American resources, but if immigrants made the country genuinely worse, we wouldn’t have immigration… No, no one in this discussion thinks that normal merit based immigration is anything but a positive for America.

                    • This applies to Spartan’s comment too: the purpose of immigration is to benefit the United States. It is not some kind of an entitlement program for the unfortunate of the world. This is more distortion thanks to Emma Lazerus’s nice but misleading poetry.It doesn’t mean, nor should it mean, “Give us your dregs.” Immigration is a strengthe only if immigrants have the capacity to add to the nation’s human capital. We have every right to maximize the chances of that.

                    • Chris

                      Even though educational attainment is being ever hollowed out, the primary determinant of success is still education. Bringing people in from mud huts will never be as effective as bringing in post secondary graduates. Period.

                      Given that we’ve already established that immigrants from the so-called “shithole” countries are more highly educated than the average American, how exactly does this serve as a defense of Trump’s comments about those immigrants?

                    • You haven’t established that though… You asserted it and I waved it away because it’s irrelevant.

                      And if these prospective immigrants could immigrate with the normal immigration process, the process that brings in hundreds of thousands of minority immigrants every single year, from almost every country on Earth, then they would be. The Democrats were pushing less qualified immigrants from distressed nations (read: shitholes). Again… Don’t pretend these were college graduates. No one in that room thought these applicants would clear the normal process.

                • Matthew B

                  The touted “Muslim ban” isn’t even a Muslim ban. There are 300 million Muslims in India and 250 million Muslims in Indonesia. Neither country is on the ban list. If the ban were based on limiting Muslims being able to come here, don’t you think it would include the two countries with the most Muslims, the two countries that are home to over 1/3 of the Muslim population fo the world?

                  • Chris

                    We know that Trump’s goal was to limit Muslims being able to come here because he said so during the campaign. The travel ban was just a way to do it with a veneer of legality. Given that the ban had to be neutered to irrelevance in order to be found constitutional, even that didn’t work.

              • Charles writes: “Absolutely. Just LOOK at the guy we have as president. Saying that the man is a flat out bigot and racist is in no way disparaging the office of the presidency. It is saying that the country made a horrible mistake in electing a bigot and racist.”

                What we have as president is a strangely distorted man, this is easy to see. I see him as ‘distorted manipulated America’. He is, in this sense, an imago of what has been done to America. In this sense he is white America. He is the ‘original American’. And millions and millions of other Americans, most of them white of course, voted for him, and will likely vote again for him if it came to that.

                Yes, ‘we’ elected a strange figure. And yet it really had to happen that way. Maybe there was no other person who could fulfill the role, who could get the ball rolling. And it is getting rolling! It really is.

                The white America that you refer to as a bigot and a racist is becoming aware of its power and also what is at stake. Either they work to reclaim the country, or they lose it in the demographic swell.

                It is really that simple. We have got to reverse what *you* allowed to come about! You did this over 50 years time, it will take as long to repair the damage.

          • Chris

            I don’t think conservatives and liberals use the term “race-baiting” in the same way, Charles.

            Conservatives typically use the term “race-baiting” to refer to instances of liberals trying to rile their base up by unfairly suggesting someone or something is racist. So people who don’t see any racial motive in the Trayvon Martin shooting might say that Obama’s “If I had a son” remark was race-baiting. By that standard, Obama was certainly a race-baiter if you accept their premise. And I can agree that sometimes liberals do race-bait, like the phony controversy over O’Reilly mocking Maxine Waters’ hair. That was race-baiting, IMO.

            Liberals sometimes use “race-baiting” to refer to Trump’s statements, though we more frequently use the term “racist.” I wonder if using the former might be much more effective, in addition to possibly being more accurate. think the conservatives here do have a point when they say that statements like “Mexico is sending their rapists,” yesterday s “shithole” remarks and his various comments about Muslims aren’t per se racist, even if I agree with you that taken together, they paint a portrait of a racist. But I think it’s much harder to argue that they aren’t race-baiting. They invoke racial stereotypes. They generalize whole groups of people. They appeal directly to racists, for racist reasons. The people that these remarks play best with are explicitly racist. They like these statements because they validate their racism. Trump doesn’t know a lot, but I think he knows that.

            • Race-baiting doesn’t mean “racist.” It just doesn’t. It means “the unfair use of statements about race to try to influence the actions or attitudes of a particular group of people.” Race is used as a bait to capture the loyalties or support of a group, or to turn public opinion against a group. That’s what it means. There is no “it means one thing to conservatives.” The key word is unfair. Obama personalizing Martin’s death using his race was unfair, distorted the facts, and was meant to activate his base, sacrificing due process and Zimmerman for an agenda. Pointing out the BLM still deliberately represents Mike Brown’s shooting as murder as an anti-white, anti-police tactic is not unfair, though it, quite reasonably, angers and alienates whites.

            • Chris writes: “Conservatives typically use the term “race-baiting” to refer to instances of liberals trying to rile their base up by unfairly suggesting someone or something is racist. So people who don’t see any racial motive in the Trayvon Martin shooting might say that Obama’s “If I had a son” remark was race-baiting. By that standard, Obama was certainly a race-baiter if you accept their premise. And I can agree that sometimes liberals do race-bait, like the phony controversy over O’Reilly mocking Maxine Waters’ hair. That was race-baiting, IMO.

              “Liberals sometimes use “race-baiting” to refer to Trump’s statements, though we more frequently use the term “racist.” I wonder if using the former might be much more effective, in addition to possibly being more accurate. think the conservatives here do have a point when they say that statements like “Mexico is sending their rapists,” yesterday s “shithole” remarks and his various comments about Muslims aren’t per se racist, even if I agree with you that taken together, they paint a portrait of a racist. But I think it’s much harder to argue that they aren’t race-baiting. They invoke racial stereotypes. They generalize whole groups of people. They appeal directly to racists, for racist reasons. The people that these remarks play best with are explicitly racist. They like these statements because they validate their racism. Trump doesn’t know a lot, but I think he knows that.”

              The ‘conservatives’ you speak of stand just a few feet to the right of your fine self. They are pretty much locked into the ideological structure that you are. It seems to ‘upset’ them when the colored ones, and their liberal herders, resort to exploiting the ‘race card’ to help them in their assent in America. They imagine that everyone is equal (before the law) and that the race-problem has been solved. The System buckled under, the Great Society was created, and business and the intellectual class (sic) sat down to toast the New World Mercantile System.

              The ‘conservative’ desires, with his full heart, that the status quo ante return. Or rather that all these social and cultural machinations, these uprisings, these disturbances, would melt into the background. The ‘conservative’ serves business as usual. The conservative at one time might have been said to ‘serve ideas’ but the conservative hardly does so now. The conservative mediates a position between the Liberal Left (the soft left) which dominates government and business and media, and he also is a bulwark against any sort of unruly radicalism among the ‘true conservatives’, that is, people who actually work with ideas that are not mere ‘bromides’ to quote Ann Rand. The conservative has been nearly totally coopted by the Liberal Soft Left.

              Now, proceeding further, no such anodyne conservative can speak in any sort of realistic terms about race and race-difference. Zoltar is a fine example of this. A pseudo-conservative, a pot containing noting but emotionalized air. No ideas, no substance, just a dam of sorts against the Liberal swelling Left. But functionally operating within all the same categories and all the same assumptions and predicates.

              Obama is and was a race-activist. He had one face he presented to the public very very skillfully. And he had another structure of intentions which he operated in a somewhat clandestine manner (this is my impression and my terms might not be exact). That is, he put in motion another octave of the ‘civil rights movement’ which is, in truth, a continuing dimension of the War Between the States. It has been extended now from a war against ‘the Souther Corn-Cracker’ (a real term) to the white population in general. It is now a general, open, racial and demographic war carried on through sophisticated, but entirely emotional, rhetorics.

              That is it is a war against ‘whiteness’. This is a logical continuation of the Northern and Republican radicalism of the 1860s. Nothing arises out of a vacuum. Everything has clear causal lines. One can easily trace every present event back through time to its origin.

              Now, the word ‘racist’. This word, in your lexicon, means anyone and everyone who does not buckle under to your emotional and sentimental manipulations on one hand, and on the other anyone who does not ideologically support and participate in your coercive rhetorical project which is resulting in the physical annihilation of the white demographic as a ruling, determining authority. This is part of a long-range plan put into motion in the Sixties. Deliberate, defined, planned, chosen.

              That is, of creating an American Brasil. This is what you want. This is what you serve. You will surrender yourself to the idea and the ideal as well as your genetic self. And you have built a fort for yourself that is well fortified. And you have fantastic rhetorical arms that literally cause white people to lose their bowels. And you know this. You know exactly how this psychological manipulation works. (Blame & Shame, et cetera, the moralizing beat-up).

              This is what you are connected to Chris. This defines you. This explains you.

              To think clearly in the present and about the present requires a mental clean-up job! It requires a redefinition of values and ideals, a rediscovery of self. And as I tirelessly repeat this must happen within the white population as a block. And this is where I come in. This is where we come in. I am telling you what is going to happen and that you will need to prepare yourself. What you are attempting, we will not allow to succeed (I am deliberately using the *we* as a rhetorical device!) But I mean it. A world-movement in ideas is forming that will turn you out on your ear, son!

              Smash Cultural Marxism!

      • Chris

        I honestly don’t know how anyone can dispute the news media statement. When a critical institution in our democracy deliberately perverts its ethics and refuses to perform the role it exists to perform, that is an attack on the nation and the people. It amazes me, after the 2016 campaign 2017, that you can still be in denial about this

        By that standard, Trump is the enemy of the people.

        But you’d rightly call anyone who called Trump that hysterical and unserious.

        Calling the media that is also hysterical and unserious.

        • You keep making the same error. The news media’s job is to fairly and objectively inform the public without allying itself with a party, ideology, or power. It isn’t doing that: it is doing the opposite, thus intentionally harming the public. The President’s job is to lead the nation as he believes is in the nation’s best interests. That your subjective assessemnt of what that interest is doesn’t hange the fact that he’s doing his job in good faith. The news media isn’t.

          • Chris

            You’re stacking the deck so that the president could never be described as failing in his duties to the extent the media can, which means you will always make the error of holding him to a lesser standard. Every president “leads the nation as he believes is in the nation’s best interests.” The media is also doing what they believe is in the nation’s best interests. The error is yours.

            • Why is this so hard for you? That are two different duties, and two different jobs. In many substantive ways, the nation is improved since Trump took office, by some perspectives. That’s becaues the President is doing his job. Not the way you might like, or I but still: he’s doing his jobs as defined in the Constitution. The news media is neither doing its job, nor its duties as defined by their own profession’s standards. It is doing something else entirely, one that leaves a void where an essential component of a functioning democracy should be. Worse than a void, in fact. The opposite of what is supposed to be there….manipulated news. Buried news. Fake news. All to tilt power to those whom journalists favor, and lying about their intentions all along. The President, in contrast, is trying to do his job, and often doing it successfully. The nation can function fine with a less than adept or perfect President.It cannot function with the public being ignorant and misinformed. We can fix a failed president by electing a new one. We have to trust journalists to police themselves, and they won’t.

              • Chris

                They are obviously policing themselves, moreso than the White House. It would obviously better if they stopped making egregious errors in the first place, but they do correct their errors, and we usually know when a media outlet makes an egregious error because another media outlet points it out. That’s self-policing.

                But you are still stacking the deck so that the president could never be called the “enemy of the people.” Which is fine: he shouldn’t be called that. Neither should the media. It’s purposefully inflammatory, and should be reserved for terrorists, enemy combatants, etc., not reporters whom you see as failing to be unbiased.

                • “failing to be unbiased”

                  What an excessively generous way to say “intentionally deceiving the people”.

                  You see, you’ll never get this, because you don’t want to, because, I suspect, you are on board the goal that the dishonest media is pushing for.

                  • Here is the acid test: if the media treated progressives the way they treat conservatives, would progressives mind?

                    Would conservatives?

                    The first answer is ‘yes.’ Progressives would (rightly) be up in arms at the spin, bias, and lies in the MSM if that were the case.

                    The answer to the second used to be ‘yes’ as well, but too many have become alt-right leaning so I suspect that they would now be perfectly okay with that situation, and even might go to great lengths to defend that behavior.

                    Exactly how Chris has. He knows that the media is biased, but it is biased in his favor. The ends justify the means to progressives.

                • Where would “sausage making” or having “both a public and a private position” come in?

          • Jack wrote: “You keep making the same error. The news media’s job is to fairly and objectively inform the public without allying itself with a party, ideology, or power.”

            This is a false idea, IMO (I omit the H for truth and integrity purposes). I think it indicates a lack of full comprehension of ‘the role of the intellectual’. Journalists are active members of the intellectual class and as such they have ideological positions. They will serve and they do serve the ideological current of the time’s demand. In truth that is also an aspect of their role and this cannot be denied.

            That the NY Intellectual Establishment seems to have come out of its fortress and onto the field in full regalia, is a bit odd, and yet they must do this because it is what their internalized ideology serves.

            In times of ‘relative peace’ they can devote themselves to wine and paté and a little deconstructionism if the mood strikes.

            But this is ideological war. A love-war for the good and the true.

            • You’re blathering. You can read all of the Founders’ extolling of the vital role of the press, and intellectuals have nothing to do with it. Freedom of speech covers the intellectuals; freedom of the press was designed to protect the flow of information. Reporters don’t need intellect; they need integrity.

              • Here, in one simple paragraph, is the role of the intellectual explained:

                Role of the Philosophers in the French Revolution

                France in the 18th century had many revolutionary thinkers. Among them were Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu and Diderot. Their revolutionary ideas encouraged people to fight for their rights. They exposed the inefficiency of the monarch and his government and aroused the people to challenge authority.

                Voltaire attacked the Catholic Church. He believed man’s destiny was in his own hands and not in heaven. His ideas encouraged people to fight against the privileges, and dominance of the Church without guilt.

                John Locke propounded the ideas refuting divinity and absolute rights of monarchs.

                Montesquieu’s philosophy outlined constitutional monarchy and division of powers. He believed all powers should not be concentrated in one person’s hand.

                Rousseau asserted the doctrine of democracy and popular sovereignty. He believed that government should be based on the consent of the governed. In his book Social Contract, he talks of a contract between the ruler and the ruled. Implied in his writings was the belief that men had the right to change their government, if they were not satisfied.

                Thus the ideas of the philosophers were a direct attack on privileges and feudal rights which protected the upper classes. They helped rouse the people from inactivity and instilled in them a desire to root out social inequalities and set up a government responsive to their need. They played a vital role in focusing the discontent and bringing about the Revolution.

                Like it or not, these ideas are still in motion, and certainly in motion among the intellectual class. In one way or another.

        • There’s a difference between an elected official communicating essentially what the people elected him or her to say, and therefore vicariously stamping approval on the message AND a media whose own profession claims to find and communicate fact.

          The former affects policy, which can change and therefore there is no “truth” in that realm, and as an elected voice, whatever agenda is pushed is also vicariously approved of by the people…and therefore not inimical to the Republic. Only when said elected official’s conduct violates without censure or check any constitutionally established limits do we get to start considering them an enemy of the Republic.

          The latter are not elected, not chosen by the people, but by the demands of the profession they claim to be, do seek to communicate “truth”…or at least it’s clinical kissing-cousin: Fact. It does so to keep the people informed that they may pursue Truth to which their now informed convictions can lead them. When the media lies (which ours does), it deceptively pushes the people away from Truth and corrupts their ability to hold the informed convictions that will lead them and the nation. This is inimical behavior.

          • Chris

            Stacking. The. Deck.

            The point stands that “enemy of the people” is intentionally inflammatory language and should be reserved for terrorists.

            • But only those who fit Chris’ definitions for terrorist. Progressive live for these word games.

              The media has MADE themselves the enemy of the people. THEY are inflammatory, all of the time these days, at least where Trump is involved.

              The shoe fits.

              • charlesgreen

                “only those who fit Chris’ definitions for terrorist. Progressive live for these word games.
                The media has MADE themselves the enemy of the people. THEY are inflammatory, all of the time these days, at least where Trump is involved.
                The shoe fits.”

                This comment is completely lacking in any substance, citations or logic. It consists solely of aspersions. It doesn’t contribute to any form of constructive dialogue, unlike most of the discussion here.

                Being heated and passionate is one thing. Zero-content bloviation and insults is quite another.

                • Name an insult in my post, charles. I did nothing but make an observation on a well known progressive tactic, that is not under dispute in this thread: progressives change the meanings of words to fit their agenda. That is substance, charles. The MSM is inflammatory with regard to Trump. That is a logical point to make given the evidence over the past year. Citations are not necessary: they play out in the news every day.

                  Funny how you rally to any media that supports your political views, and cast aspersions on any other outlets, just as you did with my post.

                  You simply attempted to discredit of truth with which you do not agree, in a snide and condescending way. You are better than this.

                  Still love you like a brother, my friend. We can agree to disagree, as rare as that is these days of political opponents.

                  • charlesgreen

                    “Name an insult in my post, charles.”

                    OK, just to pick one: “The media has MADE themselves the enemy of the people.”

                    It’s a well-known Stalinist line, shamelessly repurposed recently by our Dear Leader, and now being touted by you (as well as a bunch of tinhorn dictators around the world).

                    It is completely insulting, not to mention harmful, not to mention untrue. It is also neither provable nor falsifiable, a common characteristic of insults.

                    As one counter-point, read the congressional statement made today by the conservative senator from Arizona today.

                    And if you want to counter with “he’s not a true conservative,” note he generally supports all Trump’s policies; if he’s not a conservative, just note how far that definition has been morphed to the far right.

                    • The news media should be attacked until it starts practicing nonpartisan, honest, competent journalism and stops trying to mislead the public. After the way the press handled both the shithole story and the President’s checkup, I don’t see how you can write this comment without laughing.

                    • charlesgreen

                      Jack, I refer you to Jeff Flakes’s speech. What he said.

                    • Chris

                      Jack, certainly you can find other ways to attack the news media other than calling them by the needlessly inflammatory and—as Charles pointed out—Stalinesque designation of “enemy of the people.”

                      I know Trump can’t. But you can.

                    • I have. The fact that the phrasing was used by someone sinister doesn’t bar the phrase or its meaning in other contexts, Surely you know Stalin didn’t originate the phrase. It was, for example, a rather famous play by Ibsen in 1882. Nothing wrong with quoting Ibsen, is there?

                    • Chris

                      I know you have, and I know you will continue to do so in eloquent and persuasive terms.

                      But applying the phrase “enemy of the people,” to a law-abiding group of citizens you disagree with, is unserious, hysterical, and as Popehat would say, “freakish.” Don’t debase yourself with it.

                    • It’s not a “group of people.” It’s a profession that is defying its ethical standards and harming society and the public.

                      If judges started sentencing based on political views, would I call them the enemy of the people?

                      Yes.

                      If doctors defied “first do no harm” and began letting the poor, criminal and stupid die to benefit the nation in their warped view, would I call them the enemy of the people?

                      Yes.

                      If accountants decided that their fealty was to the companies that paid their salaries and not the public, so they were willing to lie on audits, would I call them the enemy of the people?

                      Yes.

                      If lawyer routinely betrayed client confidences, and criminal lawyers made half-efforts to defend clients they thought were guilty, would I call them the enemy of the people?

                      Yes.

                      If church leaders sent child raping priests back into parishes because they wanted to protect their denomination’s reputation, would I call them the enemy of the people?

                      Yes. In fact, I will.

                      Thus I am consistent—and correct—in calling a profession dedicated to independent, objective, competent communication of the facts to the public that instead engages in deception, incompetence and partisan manipulation to the detriment of the political process, civic literacy and societal comity the enemy of the people.

                    • I struggle with this Jack.

                      Chris is outright wrong. He’s been shown to be wrong on this. He shouldn’t have needed to be shown he’s wrong on this, because the principle is self-evident for those who are objective.

                      But, I struggle with this…I feel the need to confront error, but I also recognize the futility of confronting those are blind because they obtusely REFUSE to see.

                      What’s the solution?

                    • He didn’t miss “law-abiding”. It’s immaterial. One doesn’t have to break the law to be described as behaving inimically towards the Republic.

                      I would certainly consider chronic law-breakers to be inimical to the Republic.

                      But an Enemy doesn’t necessarily HAVE to have that quality.

                    • You know what else is Stalinist?

                      An entire media apparatus with near monopolistic reach pushing a single party line ideology….

                    • Chris

                      Jack,

                      You missed where I said “law-abiding.” All of the analogies you just brought up involve illegal activity.

                      Tex,

                      You could always try making better, more persuasive arguments, instead of constantly defaulting to ego, arrogance, and blatant self-fluffing.

                    • “You could always try making better, more persuasive arguments”

                      You probably missed the part where I addressed that you’d already been shown to be in error.

                      Time and again.

                      Also, you of all people should avoid lecturing others about ego, arrogance, and self-fluffing.

                    • But, I struggle with this…I feel the need to confront error, but I also recognize the futility of confronting those are blind because they obtusely REFUSE to see.

                      What’s the solution?

                      Chris lives in California, and likely has no idea that his environment is not mimicked across the nation. He believes that HIS culture should judge all others, as they are the self evident pinnacle of human development. He is also young, with all of the hubris and certainty we all had at his age. This is one reason he can be defeated and come back with the same disproven assertion the next day.

                      I am more concerned with charles. He is well traveled, well educated, and well read. I generally find him reasonable, in a “we can agree to disagree” sort of way. That he is blind to the MSM crisis scares me on a very fundamental level: this sort of dual realities are what civil wars are made of.

                    • Chris

                      You probably missed the part where I addressed that you’d already been shown to be in error.

                      I didn’t miss it, I disagree with it. Horror of horrors.

                      But let’s look at your argument: you’re not just saying it’s fair to call the media “the enemy of the people,” you’re saying I am objectively wrong to not consider the media “the enemy of the people,” a phrase that is clearly a statement of opinion rather than a matter of objective fact.

                      This is a reasonable stance to you?

                  • charlesgreen

                    “Still love you like a brother, my friend. We can agree to disagree, as rare as that is these days of political opponents.”

                    Let’s go with that, Slick Willly. Backatcha, and thanks.

    • Glenn Logan

      I don’t know whether it’s even possible to debate such broad generalizations, but I wanted to register my strongest disagreement.

      I think this is a fair statement. The “mainstream media” is a notoriously nebulous term, but if we confine it to the major broadcast and cable news outlets (CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox), and the vast majority of the 15 major newspapers, I think we can fairly say:

      There has been a tremendous amount of bias against Trump, Republicans, and conservatives;
      There has been a slightly lesser bias in favor of opposition to Trump, Democrats, and liberals;
      Internet and print media have gone out of their way to make every headline spectacular, generally beyond the level justified by the actual facts in the story;
      There are a lot of conclusions drawn by the majority of media outlets from thinly-sourced information, most of it unidentified;
      Traditional deference to the administration has been replaced by outright hostility. It can fairly be said that the reverse is also true of the administration, but it is incumbent upon the media, as self-appointed arbiters of truth, to hold itself to a higher standard. The American people will hold Trump accountable, as it should be.

      Even if we assume the best of intentions of all the worthies involved, the net result has been an attack on the president and office of the presidency, and the amplification of every negative to near-hysterical levels. That amplification has resulted in a continuous stream of commentary from nominally respectable people demanding the extra-constitutional removal of the president, and/or impeachment on grounds that, construed in their most favorable possible light, are weak indeed. All of this acts to diminish public confidence in all U.S. political institutions. Opposition groups and leaders are constantly quoted at their most hyperbolic, and given the most gravamen possible, as if that hyperbole must be taken with complete seriousness.

      Concomitant with this are illegal actions by liberal states defying federal law at every available opportunity, frivolous litigation against the president and his policies, and unconstitutional judicial rulings based on hereforto unheard-of reasoning from leftist jurists, all of which act to diminish public confidence in the judicial system. State governors and attorneys general are flouting federal law and conducting themselves as though they were leading civil disobedience, and engaging in the most divisive possible rhetoric. Even if it could fairly be said that Trump is just as guilty of that, it still doesn’t excuse them.

      Finally, I think it can be fairly stated that the media lurches from crisis to crisis in their reporting at almost every utterance out of the president or his administration. Everything with this president is unprecedented, unheard-of, and unimaginable. Context for all this is deliberately omitted in order to make the situation look ever more dire. Describing the president as a racist and/or mental defective has become commonplace, not just in opinion pieces but also in general reportage. Previous norms of conduct by the press in deference to the office of the presidency have been cast aside and replaced with unremitting attacks on the administration during news conferences.

      And this isn’t all, but it’s all I have time to write down.

      Jack’s position is defensible, if too broad for me. While I generally agree that the “mainstream media” has done great violence to the office of the presidency and our republic in general during the Trump administration so far, I am loath to say that they have become the “enemy of the American people.” They have become, fairly, the enemy of our republic, which is not quite the same thing. That may not last past Trump, but for the nonce, I think it’s true.

      • “They have become, fairly, the enemy of our republic, which is not quite the same thing. That may not last past Trump, but for the nonce, I think it’s true.”

        That’s cutting distinctions a bit too thin for me, but I respect the argument. To me, it’s like saying that the Us bombed Hiroshima but not its inhabitants. If you harm the Republic, you harm the people, and if your intentional acts harm the people, then you’re their enemy.

        • Glenn Logan

          I was talking more about the structure of the republic than the generality of it. Probably should’ve been more clear.

      • charlesgreen

        “The “mainstream media” is a notoriously nebulous term, but if we confine it to the major broadcast and cable news outlets (CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox), and the vast majority of the 15 major newspapers”

        To be fair, you should add, with a few typical quotes:

        –Britain’s The Economist, “a deeply flawed man without the judgment or temperament to lead a great country. America is being damaged by his presidency.”
        –The Financial Times, “a president in possession of serious misconceptions always retains the potential to cause havoc.”
        –The BBC; Donald Trump and the Politics of Paranoia
        –The Observer: “May Must Defend Britain against Trump’s Dangerous Despotism”
        –France’s Le Monde: “A billionaire of dubious character…who lies through his teeth and flirts openly with racism, xenophobia and sexism”
        –Germany’s Suddeutsche Zeitung: “The United States in Shambles”
        –The Japan Times: “the president’s impulsiveness and inability to ignore criticism, which keeps contentious issues alive and even raises their visibility…is disturbing — no individual with the president’s power and stature should be so easily goaded or manipulable — but this is not a revelation.”
        –Singapore Straits-Times: “Compared with the erratic, beleaguered Mr Trump, with his uncertain grasp of specifics and dubious role in steering the US, Mr Macron and Dr Merkel are paragons of skill, confidence and responsibility.”

        I haven’t tried to check the national press from, say, Mexico, Italy, China, Norway, etc., but I think we have a pretty good idea what they think too.

        The point is: from your point of view, “the mainstream press” is biased against Trump.

        But from a global, world-wide point of view, the US mainstream press is very much in the mainstream. The few strident outlets in the US – mainly Fox – are decidedly in the global minority.

        Are there valid criticisms of the press in the US? Sure there are, and as Jack tirelessly points out, they should all be scrutinized, continuously.

        But give the rest of the world credit: they’re not watching MSNBC to form their opinions. They have all had first-hand chances to form their own opinions, and their own opinions are very much their own. And the vast majority of the world as a whole finds our MSM pretty much reasonable.

        The outlier here is not the US MSM: it is the US President. When the house is on fire, don’t demonize those who are calling for the fire engines – who are in fact in the global majority.

        • Chris

          The outlier here is not the US MSM: it is the US President.

          THIS.

        • Why should we care what the rest of the world thinks? That you cannot see bias in the press conference yesterday, or in the top ten fake news list from Trump, in an indictment of your judgement, not a referendum on Trump.

          The rest of the world wants the USA to send them gobs of money, police their messes, and shut up about it. Whatever else he may do, Trump will never shut up about anything (oh God, will he never shut up…)

          Trump cut off money Obama promised, which would not have touched the stated purpose (Paris Accords) but would have funded a lot of those tinhorn dictators you seem to be worried about. This would be strike two for your sources.

          I suspect Trump will police those messes in the US interest, and tell the rest to go solve their own problems. What happened in the last year to ISIS? Is North Korea at the negotiating table suddenly? Hmmmm…
          Strike three for the globalists. Of course they hate Trump!

          Trump is about making decision that benefit America first. What is wrong with that?

          • ”Why should we care what the rest of the world thinks? That you cannot see bias in the press conference yesterday, or in the top ten fake news list from Trump, in an indictment of your judgement, not a referendum on Trump.”

            Bingo.

          • Chris

            Trump is about making decision that benefit America first. What is wrong with that?

            It’s statements like this that baffle me. Trump does what’s best for Trump first. Refusing to acknowledge Russia’s cyber-attacks on our country doesn’t benefit America first. Throwing the intelligence community under the bus doesn’t benefit America first. Discrediting American news agencies doesn’t benefit America first. The travel ban didn’t benefit America first, it benefited ISIS first. Leaving our State Department woefully understaffed doesn’t benefit America first. Ruining our reputation with his constant tweets and ridiculous policy proposals like a wall that will never happen doesn’t benefit America first.

            I’m sure Trump thinks all of this benefits the country, but I’m sure every president thought their policies and actions were for the benefit of the country, even when they clearly weren’t.

            I don’t understand this rejection of the idea that America’s international reputation matters. This wasn’t always controversial, was it? The contempt I see for the outside world here really disturbs me.

            • Other nations do NOT have the interests of America as their first priority. And they should not. They have a first responsibility to their own citizens, Europe’s recent invasion notwithstanding.

              The USA seems to be the only country that is not allowed to entertain the idea of self interest. EVERY other country on Earth enforces their borders and laws regarding immigration. If WE do, we are terrible, according to the world. This is but one example.

              Each of the examples you made are debatable in their impact for America depending on your politics.

              The Russians have been proven to have done nothing… and over a year of intensive partisan investigation still has found nothing. We cannot even prove they hacked the DNC; we just have some opinions from government bureaucrats… who never provided anything to back that up.

              Like our media, the intelligence agencies made their own beds here: the Trump dossier was manufactured by the DNC and then used to weaponize our national security practices for political purposes: the investigation and wiretapping of a political candidate. Comey committed a felony by leaking classified material, has admitted that fact, and remains a free man. The list goes on, as a partisan intelligence apparatus (made much more so under Obama) used their influence to attempt to sway a presidential election, and to hinder a duly elected president.

              Our media has made a mockery of themselves, even before Trump was elected… and bear some responsibility for building him up in the primaries so they could knock him down later. That little plan backfired, and I suspect their conscious plan to elect Hillary (at the expense of the deplorables’ franchise) is one reason they have jumped the shark this past year. Guilt.

              The progressive globalist State department has quit in a juvenile snit fit. Trump has not gone in and fired progressives wholesale: they have self selected and left. That you think this is a bad thing just shows your bias, thinking that an ever bigger government is good, without regard to results. That does not make it bad for America. (I accept that this is your opinion, and am not denigrating you just for having it)

              Please provide proof that the travel ‘ban’ (it was not a ban) benefited ISIS (who, under Trump, is all but destroyed.) How was it fundamentally different from the same action taken by Obama? Was it ‘bad for America’ when Obama did it?

              Trump tweets… yeah, we kinda agree there. But he does have a way to get his message out without the MSM filter other GOP presidents had to contend with. He just uses it… unwisely. (sigh)

              I’m sure Trump thinks all of this benefits the country, but I’m sure every president thought their policies and actions were for the benefit of the country, even when they clearly weren’t.

              A fair comment. We are in violent agreement here.

              I posit that America is better off than we were during the Obama era, after only one year under Trump. The stock market thinks so. Major businesses think so: look at the factories and jobs coming back. Farmers think so, as the EPA gets back to fighting pollution and not taking over the water in every ditch in America. Starting next month, my paycheck thinks so as well.

              By the way, don’t bet against the wall… or the smart wall concept where we control our borders. We are only one major terrorist act away from a stampede to do this, should we be able to prove they came in from Mexico.

              • Chris

                Other nations do NOT have the interests of America as their first priority. And they should not. They have a first responsibility to their own citizens, Europe’s recent invasion notwithstanding.

                The USA seems to be the only country that is not allowed to entertain the idea of self interest. EVERY other country on Earth enforces their borders and laws regarding immigration. If WE do, we are terrible, according to the world. This is but one example.

                Have you considered that you don’t hear a lot of criticism of other countries’ border policies because you live in this one? I am certain that there are activists in almost any country you can name that advocate for their nation to have less restrictive immigration policies. Of course, most of those nations don’t value immigration as highly as the United States does.

                And most immigration activists in the US believe that allowing in more immigrants is beneficial to the US.

                Each of the examples you made are debatable in their impact for America depending on your politics.

                Very true! Which is why statements like “Trump just puts America’s interests first” aren’t very helpful. We don’t all agree on what is in America’s best interests.

                The Russians have been proven to have done nothing… and over a year of intensive partisan investigation still has found nothing. We cannot even prove they hacked the DNC; we just have some opinions from government bureaucrats… who never provided anything to back that up.

                This simply isn’t true.

                Like our media, the intelligence agencies made their own beds here: the Trump dossier was manufactured by the DNC and then used to weaponize our national security practices for political purposes: the investigation and wiretapping of a political candidate. Comey committed a felony by leaking classified material, has admitted that fact, and remains a free man.

                None of this is true either, and you’re behind on the news.

                1) Steele began compiling the dossier while working for the conservative Washington Free Beacon.
                2) It was revealed either last week or the week before that the investigation into Trump’s campaign wasn’t even started as a result of the dossier, but as a result of Papadopolous running his drunk mouth. The call was coming from inside the house. The dossier merely comported with the leaks the intelligence community already knew about.
                3) The “political candidate” wasn’t wiretapped. Someone on his campaign was, for reasons that extended beyond the campaign. All of this was legal.
                4) Nothing Comey leaked was classified.

                Really, where did you get all this fake news from?

                Please provide proof that the travel ‘ban’ (it was not a ban) benefited ISIS (who, under Trump, is all but destroyed.) How was it fundamentally different from the same action taken by Obama? Was it ‘bad for America’ when Obama did it?

                More fake news. Obama never took a similar action. He put a six-month slowdown on refugees from Iraq, as a result of a specific planned attack. This did not ban visa holders, as Trump’s action did, and thus did not violate the Immigration and Nationalization Act, as Trump’s action did. There was not even a single month during that time that no Iraqi refugees were allowed in.

                https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/01/29/trumps-facile-claim-that-his-refugee-policy-is-similar-to-obama-in-2011/?utm_term=.a1f7ecd86422

                http://www.businessinsider.com/big-differences-between-trumps-immigration-ban-obamas-2011-policy-2017-2

                https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/01/30/president-trump-refugee-executive-order-barack-obama/97249540/

                http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/01/30/sorry-mr-president-the-obama-administration-did-nothing-similar-to-your-immigration-ban/

                I posit that America is better off than we were during the Obama era, after only one year under Trump. The stock market thinks so. Major businesses think so: look at the factories and jobs coming back.

                All trends that were rising before Trump took office.

                By the way, don’t bet against the wall… or the smart wall concept where we control our borders. We are only one major terrorist act away from a stampede to do this, should we be able to prove they came in from Mexico.

                It’s not going to happen.

                • This—“All trends that were rising before Trump took office”… is lame and desperate. Despite those “trends”, Krugman said the stock market would dive and never recover. If Trump was the disaster that his critics claim, those “trends” ended, or was Obama so brilliant that his policies would keep providing bounty and prosperity even after they were reversed?

                  It’s also bad form to cite commentary on the first travel halt while using the latest desperate rationalization to oppose the most recent version. Nobody was citing the Immigration and Nationalization Act first time around.

                  • Chris

                    Obviously some of the more bombastic and apocalyptic predictions about Trump’s presidency have not come true. For that I will give him credit. I predicted he wouldn’t make it a year. I was wrong. Good for him.

                    But the comparison slickwilly made was between Obama and Trump. That means it is entirely relevant to mention that these are pre-existing trends that started under Obama.

                    Nobody was citing the Immigration and Nationalization Act first time around.

                    I was. So was the New York Times. I’m sure I can find more examples as well. This article is from a year ago, around the time the ban was first announced:

                    https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/opinion/trumps-immigration-ban-is-illegal.html?referer=https://www.google.com/

              • Chris

                Forgot this:

                Please provide proof that the travel ‘ban’ (it was not a ban) benefited ISIS (who, under Trump, is all but destroyed.)

                Here are a few articles explaining how ISIS used the ban as a recruiting tool. Remember, the main goal of ISIS is to convince Muslims that there is no place for them in the West. The ban couldn’t help contribute to that. (And of course, the ban was never fully implemented, so the results could have been a lot worse.)

                http://www.newsweek.com/trumps-travel-ban-helps-isis-stage-attacks-us-democrats-say-715512

                http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/jihadists-hope-trump-travel-ban-radicalizes-muslims-article-1.2959364

                https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/02/08/isis-is-reportedly-calling-trumps-travel-ban-the-blessed-ban/21709973/

                (Also, since the guy who created the ban calls it a ban and responds to people who say it’s not a ban by saying “Yes, it’s totally a ban,” then it’s fair to call it a ban. I have stated before I find arguments to the contrary to be pedantic and no one has changed my stance on that.)

          • charlesgreen

            “Why should we care what the rest of the world thinks?”

            How low have we fallen from a previous position of world leadership that such a question can be asked?

            First of all, here is one-day old data stating that it’s a fact – the rest of the world’s opinion of us really has dropped. This from Gallup:

            “One year into Donald Trump’s presidency, the image of U.S. leadership is weaker worldwide than it was under his two predecessors. Median approval of U.S. leadership across 134 countries and areas stands at a new low of 30%, according to a new Gallup report.”
            http://news.gallup.com/poll/225761/world-approval-leadership-drops-new-low.aspx

            Why should we care?
            –Well, some of our trading partners and allies are more likely to fall in with the Chinese, for example.
            –For another thing, if we find ourselves in some kind of world conflict that would benefit from having other countries line up behind us (cf George Bush’s alliance for the first Iraq war) they are not likely to do so if they don’t respect us.
            –The US dollar will decline to the extent other countries don’t respect us (and in fact, since January, it’s down about 10%).
            –Other countries may become emboldened (e.g. China in the South China Sea) if they don’t respect our leadership.
            –Soft power: respect for US companies, educational leadership, and culture in general falls if other countries don’t respect us.
            –The world is entering a period of instability because of our apparent intent to withdraw and not give a damn. That is not good for anybody, including us.

            This notion of screw everyone else, who cares, strikes me as not only petulant, but short-sighted. We benefit by being world leaders; to walk away from it with a “who cares” attitude is just self-foot-shooting.

            • Of course we should care. We should care, but we should not abandon core American values and beliefs to avoid the disapproval of those who don’t live in or comprehend our culture. The government should care about the often dunder-headed attitudes reflected in polls of American citizens. I don’t care that the rest of the world doesn’t get the First Amendment. I don’t care that they don’t get the second Amendment. I don’t care that they don’t get capital punishment, or that sexual harassment is wrong, or that Israel has a right to exist, or that there is genuine cultural danger in allowing a culture to try to assimilate large numbers of a group, Muslims, that have proven largely immune to assimilation…and so on. The list is long. The US is right, they are wrong, just as the US was right about its unique form of government when the rest of the world was proclaiming the primacy of kings. Yup, it’s nice to be loved, and ethical to try to get along. But we teach our kids not to let the mob, peer groups and fear of being unpopular to lead them astray, and the same applies internationally.

              Leaders lead by showing those who don’t understand and who disagree why their way is better, and by that way working.

              • charlesgreen

                I don’t disagree about standing up for things where we believe we’re right, and others are wrong – I share your viewpoint on many of those particular items.

                But this isn’t just about “nice to be loved, and ethical to try to get along.”

                It’s also about power in the global economy, about exporting our values, and stabilizing a batshit world. Hard stuff. Geopolitics. Defense budgets. Global security.

                The world benefits from a strong America – look at the last half century. We squander that by getting peevish and insulting others.

                It’s not just about being nice – it’s about maintaining and projecting American power too.

                • NOT a muslim ban, the word being left out of the discussion. India and Malaysia have most of the world’s Muslims and they are free to come and go. This is a failed nation state ‘ban,’ but you knew that. Pedantic of you too.

                  ISIS recruiting is irrelevant, if you even trust those sources, which I do not. Trump’s strong stance and willingness to back it up with military action has destroyed that organization. We have terrorists coming from these failed countries that have committed murder here. Stopping them makes sense.

                  Translation: Good for America.

                  • Somehow this response to Chris got under charles.

                  • Chris

                    I didn’t say it was a Muslim ban. My point was that it targeted countries that ISIS also targets for recruitment, and that it actually makes recruitment easier by alienating the large numbers of Muslims who live there and convincing them the West doesn’t want them.

                    I hope you’re right about ISIS, though I think you’re describing another trend that may have began under Obama–ISIS’ power peaked in 2014 and they’ve been losing territory since. But I need to read more on that topic before I give or deny credit to either president.

                    We have terrorists coming from these failed countries that have committed murder here.

                    I don’t believe that’s true.

                    In fact, since 1975 there hasn’t been a terror attack that cost US lives on US soil by someone from one of the original travel ban countries, according to a study by the libertarian Cato Institute.

                    http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/17/politics/isis-arrests-travel-ban-countries-numbers/index.html

                    Neither CNN or Cato is always right, but if they’re wrong on this, it should be easy to find an example of a terrorist attack by someone from one of the travel ban countries to disprove this statement and prove yours.

              • Chris

                Of course we should care. We should care, but we should not abandon core American values and beliefs to avoid the disapproval of those who don’t live in or comprehend our culture…

                Certainly we shouldn’t abandon core American values and beliefs for anything…and acceptance of immigrants is a core American value that Trump rejects. This is probably hurting our international reputation more than anything else, and it’s about other nations expecting us to live up to our values, not to abandon them.

                or that there is genuine cultural danger in allowing a culture to try to assimilate large numbers of a group, Muslims, that have proven largely immune to assimilation…and so on..

                There is zero evidence that Muslim immigrants to the U.S. are immune to assimilation. In European countries, where they are relegated to Muslim ghettos, sure…but we don’t do that here.

                • “acceptance of immigrants is a core American value that Trump rejects”

                  Dishonest talking point and smear, Chris. Not accepting illegal immigrants is not the same thing, nor is not accepting unvetted migrants from terrorist countries, not is exercising discretion regarding which immigrants to allow..

                  • Chris

                    Dishonest talking point and smear, Chris. Not accepting illegal immigrants is not the same thing, nor is not accepting unvetted migrants from terrorist countries, not is exercising discretion regarding which immigrants to allow.

                    You are softpedaling Trump’s immigration stances and policies, which were the most radical among the entire field of 2016 candidates. I’m not sure why you do this. It is absolutely fair to say that acceptance of immigrants is a value Trump rejects. Look at his recent statements on “chain migration.” Look at the silly and impractical wall. Look at the fact that his entire campaign was built on fearmongering, which included falsely claiming that immigrants had committed certain attacks. He set up a hotline to report attacks by illegal immigrants that served no legal purpose and was meant to fearmonger. He is anti-immigrant. This is not a controversial statement. It isn’t even a debatable one.

                • Name another country where an illegal immigrant is not treated to the full force of the law, Chris. Try being one in Mexico, or Russia, or even France, and see how that goes.

                  We have always welcomed legal immigrants and you damn well know it!

            • Why should we care?
              –Well, some of our trading partners and allies are more likely to fall in with the Chinese, for example.

              The Chinese depend upon our markets.

              –For another thing, if we find ourselves in some kind of world conflict that would benefit from having other countries line up behind us (cf George Bush’s alliance for the first Iraq war) they are not likely to do so if they don’t respect us.

              –Other countries may become emboldened (e.g. China in the South China Sea) if they don’t respect our leadership.

              Wait… I thought progressives thought leading other countries to war and such is bad? /snark

              Okay, here is the dirty little truth, charles: the world respects power. In fact, it is about the only thing everyone respects. A strong leader projects power, and our track record backs that up. Obama was not a strong leader, and bad actors (Russia, China, Iran) were emboldened. Trump IS a strong leader (regardless if you think he is wrong) and they respect that. Just like Reagan. The USSR believed he would nuke them, and acted accordingly. Other countries will follow a strong country into such a situation, regardless of how our leader acts.

              –The US dollar will decline to the extent other countries don’t respect us (and in fact, since January, it’s down about 10%).

              The dollar was inflated, and that was not a good thing for our economy. Being the de facto currency standard makes the dollar unique. I think you are attributing this trend to how people feel about us, and that ain’t so.

              –Soft power: respect for US companies, educational leadership, and culture in general falls if other countries don’t respect us.

              -Countries respect strong companies, which need strong economies in their home nation.

              -What educational leadership? Progressive ideals have destroyed our educational system (common core, the state of colleges today) so don’t lay that on Trump

              -I couldn’t care less if respect for our culture falls. Progressives are always telling us that our culture is the worst in the world anyway. I agree, if you leave out every other culture on the planet from the discussion!

              –The world is entering a period of instability because of our apparent intent to withdraw and not give a damn. That is not good for anybody, including us.

              How is the world worse off than a year ago? This is quite astounding, given the tangible gains of the Trump Administration. Weak administrations (Obama, Carter) cause world instability, not strong ones. America has not ‘withdrawn’ it has simply told the world we are done being their patsy, caring what they think about us when we look to our own interests first. This assertion on your part defies logic.

              This notion of screw everyone else, who cares, strikes me as not only petulant, but short-sighted. We benefit by being world leaders; to walk away from it with a “who cares” attitude is just self-foot-shooting.

              We cannot just ‘walk away: the world depends on our innovations, our food generation ability, and our consumer economy to thrive. China is not going to nuke us: they would fall apart as we keep their economy floating despite inefficient communism. Decadent Europe needs us too much as world leaders: they certainly cannot fill that job since socialism sucks the life from their economies. Russia? hahahaha like anyone trusts Russia to lead.

              The world needs us, and they know it. They may resent it, but they understand just fine. We have done nothing any country could do, if they leave the failed political systems and endorse capitalism and become a true law abiding republic.

  2. I sincerely hope your…um…number 2 includes a working definition of “shithole.”

    • It’s a vulgar version of “hellhole.”

      Sneak Preview: both Haiti and Nigeria are, in fact, hellholes by any objective standard. It’s just politically incorrect to say so out loud.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        Both are also majority black. The minute you mention primates or excrement in conjunction with any place that’s majority black, you are automatically declared a racist, and it doesn’t matter what whether you said was true (if tactless and blunt) or not.

      • John Billingsley

        Just read Ann’s take on this. Eagerly awaiting yours. Biggest shithole I ever went to was Mogadishu.

      • charlesgreen

        This is not about an objective description of conditions in a hellish country. This was about the PEOPLE who come from said countries, as he made very clear by asking, “Why do we have to let in THESE PEOPLE from shithole countries?”

        • Chris marschner

          And he continued… why don’t we take in more Asians that will benefit us.

        • That’s not clear to me at all. He didn’t say, “why do we let in these shitty people?” He could have. He’s questioning culture and preparation for being successful in a competitive, capitalist country. If he asked why we were accepting immigrants from a nation riddled with disease, he’s not impugning the people as human beings.

  3. “1.The leader shows only a weak commitment to democratic rules.

    2. He or she denies the legitimacy of opponents.

    3. He or she tolerates violence.

    4. He or she shows some willingness to curb civil liberties or the media.”

    So…

    Like…

    Literally the Democrat Party?

  4. Rick M

    Trump understated with his s!!t hole comment. Been there and seen that so add me to the racist, nativist, fear mongers, etc.

  5. Chris marschner

    I’ll beat you to part 2.
    Was Trump unethical to call some nations as shitholes in a closed door meeting. No. Impolitic yes but only because the remarks were made public to discredit him. Should he use such language in the presence of the opposition? No, it’s dumb. He should know that every candid remark will be used against him.

    With that said, if he expected that such candid speech would get out then yes it was unethical to say something that would cause offense.

    What bothers me is that a comment or statement that is made in the throes of a contentious private meeting then repeated by opposition knowing that the offense will be realized by the people of those nations is treated as some ethical act.

    Any one of those in the meeting should have rebutted him immediately allowing him time to temper or modify his statements. Everyone belongs to a coequal branch of government. Dick Durbin or any other Senator could have said to him that his statement would be offensive to many instead of runming out to spread the remark. We have closed door meetings for a reason – to allow open and frank discussions.

    It seems to me that we have elected a bunch of grade schoolers who want to gain favor with the group by telling what so and so said instead confronting the person directly. It is pure cowardice.

    Conflating the idea that some countries are shitholes therefore so are the people can misrepresent the overall thought.

    The majority of the world is comprised of what are now termed People of Color how does one differentiate potential immigrants that add value and those who won’t? How exactly does a diversity lottery enhance diversity when it is based on nationality rather than some other cultural/ideological perspective. If Hispanics and sub Saharan peoples are treated as a cultural bloc then what difference does it make which country they come from.

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      “It seems to me that we have elected a bunch of grade schoolers who want to gain favor with the group by telling what so and so said instead confronting the person directly. It is pure cowardice.”

      Bullseye. It’s also short-sighted. How likely is the other side to get a requested closed door meeting now that the president knows they are going to run like tattletales to the press with every word he says?

    • Well, you beat me to PART of Part 2, but I’m going to be redundant anyway.

  6. Isaac

    A friend told me about the Trump comments last night. My immediate gut reaction: “That’s very unkind…but he’s not wrong.”

    I don’t know the full text of his actual comments or the context, though.

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