The target this time is Ghostbusters (2016):

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Erm, nothing to see here, please move on.  FAKE NEWS.

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In truth, with certain personality types (Trump very much included), the more over-the-top the threat is, the more likely it is to be bullshit. Still, this is just another example among many that he ought to be removed from office as soon as possible. Throwing fire upon a tense situation like this is beyond the pale of acceptable behavior. And yes, he hasn’t “done” anything, but given the nuclear arsenal he controls, “just cause” firing is hardly an acceptable standard.

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I was searching through some stuff written after the 2008 election to try to find one specific article about how Obama understood change as being about making the system work again, which I haven’t yet found. I’m beginning to think it may have been on a Bloggingheads or something, in which case it’s gone as far as I’m concerned. I’m not going to be scanning through decade-old clips there. But I did find this article by Mark Schmitt, which reminded me of just how insane we all were about the expectations for Obama. I come not to shit on Mark, because like the title says, I believed essentially the same stuff! But for up-and-coming youngsters who want to know what it felt like at the outset, yeah, pretty much that.

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Apparently high-profile centrist Democrat Anne-Marie Slaughter endorsed this Fareed Zakaria article on Twitter, which provocatively calls for Democrats to end their immigration “absolutism.” I read it twice and I’m still not sure what the absolutism we need to abandon actually is, other than a strawman that elites have constructed. Here are the components of the article:

  • Approving mention of Bob Casey Sr. being an anti-choice Democrat, followed by chiding Democrats for not even allowing him to make a symbolic gesture on abortion because they’re awful dogmatists.
  • Democrats are doing just too much identity politics, y’all!
  • This is unlike FDR’s liberalism (which never, ever played in anything resembling identity politics).
  • Hillary Clinton maybe lost voters for not being hard-line on immigration.
  • Immigration provokes backlash, we need less of it, and more of a demand on assimilation. (Zakaria doesn’t actually write this directly, but strategic quotes are deployed to make it for him.)

Needless to say, much of this is top-flight concern trolling, conceding virtually all of the policy case to Republicans and inventing a false dichotomy from whole cloth. Opening by shaming Democrats for not. Even. Letting. Bob Casey enter his doomed motion seems like the wrong way to open an argument theoretically aimed at Democrats. (Do Republicans allow one of their final handful of pro-choice members to do the same?) The subsequent deployment of FDR here is perverse because it’s endorsing Roosevelt for the most shameful side of his presidency–on immigration he barely even challenged the Coolidge-era immigration restrictions and essentially sabotaged the program for Jewish refugees by having an anti-Semite run it. Roosevelt didn’t much challenge white supremacy, which undoubtedly helped him rack up a lot of his big wins, but it’s the worst stuff about him looking back. Admittedly, sometimes he was able to spread some help around to minorities in spite of this. But I suspect Zakaria hasn’t thought through the implications of his argument to try to speak up for those poor, misunderstood Trump voters out there, not the least of which is that if FDR’s attitude had prevailed he wouldn’t be here. If there’s one thing I can agree on with any Trump voter, it’s on the essential awfulness of people like Fareed Zakaria, who only reads convincing in this article in exhorting Democrats to abandon their principles.

In all fairness I can’t really assess whether or not immigration lured some voters to Trump. It could very well be true! Of course, Clinton didn’t have much of a message on the issue and while you can blame Clinton to no small degree for bad messaging on a lot of issues, you can also blame Barack Obama for providing her with a difficult status quo to sell: on the one side, DACA and some sub-DREAM Act stuff, and on the other, those 3 million deportations. It was all a cunning plan to get comprehensive immigration reform that failed badly. (I fully suspect, in fact, that when the books are closed, Obama will wind up with many more deportations actually carried out than Trump, which is not to minimize the horrendous awfulness of ICE under Trump, though I wonder how much horribleness they did under Obama that didn’t get noticed then.) The whole point of comprehensive reform was that it was supposed to be a bipartisan thingy that could bring Republicans and Democrats together–more border patrol agents for naturalization of undocumented aliens, basically–but that seems all but impossible now, so Democrats do have a real problem on their hands on what they should push going forward. It’s not all that dissimilar to gun control, where Democrats put all their eggs in the basket of small, “bipartisan” reforms that didn’t excite people and couldn’t pass, among other areas. For all the talk about pragmatism versus purity in Democratic politics, the assumptions of the pragmatists during the Obama Era weren’t exactly all that tied to reality, and they came at the very real cost of dampening morale and enthusiasm. If you look at it that way, the formation of the Sanders movement and its general orientation isn’t at all a surprise, we have seen this before. It’s a lesser degree of the same problem that Labour faced after Tony Blair left: the party gave up a lot of ground to a pragmatic leader obsessed with “the center” and wound up with a ton of baggage that they didn’t want, opening the door for a more purist leader running, in some sense, on escaping that straitjacket. All that said, Zakaria doesn’t really get into these difficulties, it’s just “both sides do it but Democrats are worse” sanctimony all the way down that Democrats should ignore. It closes thus, and I frankly find it amazing that famous blueblood Zakaria of all people is the one writing it: “Democrats should find a middle path on immigration. They can battle President Trump’s drastic solutions but still speak in the language of national unity and identity. The country’s motto, after all, is ‘out of many, one’ — not the other way around.”

Helpful.

FWIW, I think I agree with Josh Barro’s stance on this, which is to adopt a points-based immigration system but get rid of all caps. Not that they should hand Trump a partial victory on this or anything else…

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One of the marvels (term used neutrally) of our age is that Paul LePage actually won two elections to be governor of a state, let alone a blue state. Admittedly, at this point, he looks like more of a John the Baptist figure than anything else (though Trump lost Maine), and both elections were only possible thanks to a special snowflake independent who agreed with Democrats on 90%+ of issues but refused to just run in a primary, because the Maine Democratic Party is just the worst I guess? (Ineffective seems to be a fair take…) At any rate, the baseline 2016 assumption that a blue state electorate wouldn’t back a horrible, corrupt, authoritarian Republican in a multicandidate field featuring an uninspiring Democratic nominee was, in retrospect, not exactly safe, and LePage’s super-mainstream, “Maine’s Senators were dangerous for not supporting a wildly unpopular, shotgun wedding-style health care bill that would have devastated poor states like, you know, Maine” view shows that he never really had much understanding of politics at all. Meanwhile, Democratic elites are out of ideas again, trying out the greatest hits of 2005 by recruiting military veterans and pro-life candidates because that’s where the weakness was all along I guess.

(FWIW I have no real problem with having a few more veterans in Congress, though those who remember 2005-6 may remember a certain self-conscious strategy on Rahm Emanuel’s part remember that “recruiting military veterans” meant, essentially, nominating as many neoliberal hawks as he could. Some exceptions (Joe Sestak, namely, who nearly actually won a Senate seat in 2010 but couldn’t get nominated again in 2016 because of POLITICAL COLOSSUS KATIE MCGINTY whose massive seven percent in the 2014 gubernatorial primary was just too awesome for Pennsylvania Dems to pass up), but if Democrats aren’t actually willing to take on the incompetence of Trump & Co. at managing foreign policy without finding some random uniforms, then the additional uniforms aren’t really going to fix things for them. The real thing is Democrats finding a foreign policy that appeals to voters and to party members, and I’ll not hold my breath on that.)

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A bill that takes power away from said Trump Administration and implicitly questions its loyalties. Winning!

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I am genuinely curious why people in politics put so much stock in words. Incoming FBI Director Chris Wray did indeed say all the right words that one would hope someone like him would say, but the question of whether to vote for him or not is essentially, would Donald Trump actually pick a FBI Director who would assiduously investigate him? Which means the question is, would he be incompetent enough in picking a crony and instead pick someone by accident with a sense of integrity? I honestly don’t know, but it’s not as though Democrats have been burned by trusting somebody’s words before! Too much of the time, Democrats are having to say, “But he said…” instead of just not getting it right the first time, perhaps in hopes of the great spirit of bipartisanship smiling down upon them or something. (Also, not for nothing, but if Wray is a total crony, he’d basically say the same stuff he said to the Senate.)

Anyway, I’ve been listening a lot to this album recently, and man did the mid 1990s not appreciate what they were gettting:

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