March 17, 2019

Sunday School 3/17/19

Let's dive right in to this morning's lectures, starting with CNN's State of the Union, where Jake Tapper had as his guest today US Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown.

Brown noted that he hadn't spoken directly with the president since the terrorist attack, but was aware of contacts between the two countries on multiple levels, and we know of course already about president Trump's conversation with Prime Minister Ardern. Tapper noted that Trump so far hasn't offered "sympathy and love" to Muslims. He asked (twice) if Brown would like to see him do that; here's part of his response:
...there's been no time in my political or diplomatic life that I have ever questioned our government, whether it's this government or any other prior government's commitment to end racism, to stop bigotry, to really deal with the Islamophobic attitudes... What's happening around the world really seems a little bit irrelevant, to be honest with you, because we're dealing with taking care of those Muslim brothers and sisters and family members and community members and friends that are hurting right now. 
When pressed on a possible rise in white nationalist activity in the US or around the world,  Brown said he wasn't focused on that, but said he hadn't seen anything in New Zealand to indicate that. And he said he doesn't give "any credibility" to the terrorist's manifesto that specifically mentioned Trump.

Let's see what the other folks were talking about.

Margaret Brennan was one of two who hosted acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney this morning; he joined her on Face the Nation. She asked him  about the number of white supremacist groups having "surged" by 50% in the past year, and asked if the president knew this was a rising threat. Mulvaney suggested without evidence that there is also information that backs up the president's contention, and then deflected.
The issue is how do you stop these crazy people, whether or not there's one of them or four of them, doesn't make a difference if they're willing to go on live TV and stream the murder of people... I think that's where the time is better spent. 
Brennan wondered why president Trump wouldn't address it directly, as other world leaders did.
That's not how the system works. The president communicates in his way. Different presidents have communicated in their way. I don't think anybody can - can claim that Donald Trump hasn't done exactly what we would want him to do in this circumstance. We've immediately reached out to our allies. We've expressed the absolute disgust at the tragic - at the tragic events. We're doing what presidents are supposed to do.
Well, not really, and I'm happy to claim that "they" have not done what would be expected of "them" and I know I'm not alone, but hey? I'm just an American citizen, like Mulvaney, who added that
it frustrates me just as a citizen that every time something goes wrong around the world no, not just in our country, somehow the president of the United States must be responsible, And that's just - that's absurd and it doesn't help contribute to the dialogue that's necessary to fix these problems.
Brennan had the last word on this subject - and good for her.
Well, the president's tweeting now about a TV host who was suspended for anti-Muslim rhetoric. So I think it's a fair question to ask you about this.
Mulvaney also talked with with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, facing similar questions on the white supremacists issue and anti-Muslim rhetoric. They also talked about the national emergency, the president's veto, and the 12 Republicans who voted against the president. Mulvaney was not kind to his former colleagues.
I had a bunch of phone calls from my former colleagues saying, "oh, this is a big constitutional issue. Oh, I'm worried about where the money is going." By the way, there was a lot more senators concerned about where the money was going to be coming from, where they're going to be losing from their states, in their districts, than the constitutional issue. 
Wallace wondered if Mulvaney's Office of Management and Budget has the information everyone's looking for. Mulvaney said Wallace was wrong, there's no list.
There is no identified list of projects that will not be funded. There's an identified list of projects that will not be touched in fiscal 2019. That may be what you're hearing about. But we're still going through the process of prioritizing what projects are on the Pentagon's books for 2020 and beyond that are already funded that are not as high-priority as the border fence. 
Interesting - Trump shut down the government for 35 days, with a lasting $3 billion negative impact to the economy, and then the House refused to give him the funding he wanted so he declared a national emergency. 

And yet, it seems we're not all that interested in moving money around to pay for it? 

Hmm...  See you around campus.


  1. Tragic about New Zealand. Read the manifesto- very disturbing. Regarding immigration here however "I don't think anyone is saying we need an outright ban on immigration- we just want to control who gets in the country." Seems like a barrier might help.

  2. In the context of what happened in New Zealand, how we control who gets into our country is not the conversation I need to hear as an American. Trump has failed miserably in every conversation he's had about Muslims and other "others", be they Mexicans or people from the shithole countries. He's lied, repeatedly, about what happens at the border, and he has his minions doing the same thing. He refuses to answer the question about anti-Muslim hatred and in fact has promoted it himself as a candidate and with his frequent dog whistles on that subject. He has had multiple chances to address this, before NZ and after and can't - or won't - and neither will his people, as illustrated by the conversations today and over the past couple of days. It's sad, embarrassing, and "frustrating, as a citizen" to quote Mulvaney. I want the president to have that conversation, before I want to hear another conversation about the border. If we don't even know yet how we're going steal money from appropriated projects, with all the lead time they've had, that emergency can wait a few days.