Imaginary wall

Oh, this Chait take on Trump and the wall is fun:

Now President Trump is revealing his fallback plan: pretend he succeeded.

The U.S.-Mexico border runs for nearly 2,000 miles. Early in his campaign, Trump conceded that natural barriers cover half that length. He inherited 654 miles of border fencing, and promised a wall covering a full 654 miles. This would mean upgrading most or all the additional fencing to “wall” status — making it taller, stronger, or wallier — and adding another 350 miles or so of new wall.

He has so far added zero to that total. Yet the wall was never a material infrastructure project, but instead a symbol of defiance and order. Trump is clearly signaling a new stage in which he is abandoning its physical manifestations and conjuring it into reality…

In a speech to police officers Wednesday, Trump elaborated on this imaginary wall. “The wall is very very on its way,” he promised. It is extremely tall — “You’re gonna have to be in extremely good shape to get over this one,” he informed his audience.

As time goes on,  just as a child’s imaginary friend becomes more elaborate and fully developed over time, the wall will surely acquire more specific attributes. It will be strong and powerful, beautiful yet forbidding, possibly even festooned with solar panels. In truth, nearly everybody who wanted to believe in the wall in the first place will believe it exists.

After all, Trump told us that without a wall, waves of violent criminals from Latin America would roam the countryside stealing, raping, and murdering honest Americans. Trump’s fans will look around and see no such violence in their midst. It must mean Trump has built the wall.

Photo of the day

From a recent Atlantic photos of the week gallery:

A drone photo shows a flock of lambs and sheep in Urfa, Turkey, on February 4, 2019. 

Halil Fidan / Anadolu Agency / Getty

Eyes openened

I’ll admit, I’m kind of a sucker for the confessionals from the #neverTrump Republicans who finally admit that, yes, a huge part of Republican appeal in recent decades has been based on racial animus.  Of course, they are at least honest and empirical enough to finally recognize this truth.  Many others are either a) still lying to themselves, or, even more disturbingly, b) are okay with winning votes on racialized appeals as long as they get their tax cuts.

Anyway, enjoyed Peter Wehner in the Atlantic:

Instead of rejecting him, however, the Republican Party eventually nominatedDonald Trump. His defenders say, with some justification, that he has delivered on the agenda that they wanted. But that is hardly the whole story. Trump has shown himself to be a pathological liar engaged in an all-out assault on objective facts—on reality and truth—concepts on which self-government depends. The president is also cruel, and dehumanizes his opponents. He’s volatile and emotionally unstable. He relishes dividing Americans along racial and ethnic lines. He crashes through norms like a drunk driver crashes through guardrails. And he’s corrupt from stem to stern. The difference between Trump supporters and right-leaning Trump critics is how we balance the scales of his conservative achievements (like with the courts) against the harm he’s caused and the ways he’s changed the Republican Party and the country, as we weigh what will be most definitional to his presidency.

Some Republicans quiescently accept Trump’s transgressions, unwilling to take him on, fearful of incurring his wrath. Others convince themselves that the Trump agenda is worth the price of lavishing praise on him and turning a blind eye to his offenses. Still other Republicans protect and defend him at every turn, serving as his attack dogs. As an institution, the party rallied behind him. The few Republicans who have challenged Trump from time to time—Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, and Mark Sanford come to mind—feel the anger of the party’s base. It cost all three their seats in Congress. The Republican Party is both shrinking and getting more Trumpified…

At the time the ads ran, and for years after, I thought that they were fair criticisms of Michael Dukakis for his furlough policy. Liberals took them as self-evidently racist; I thought that charge was toxic and partisan.

Willie Horton was a real person who committed awful crimes; to say that this couldn’t be pointed out in an ad because of his race struck me as wrong. In addition, it was Al Gore who first raised the furlough program (if not Horton directly) in the 1988 Democratic primary. Further, I didn’t know any Republicans whom I considered remotely racist; the idea that this ad was a Republican “dog whistle” was one I considered misguided. I didn’t for a moment think that appealing to overt or subliminal racist sentiments would garner anything other than a few votes on the malicious fringe of American politics—and believed that any such gains would come at the expense of the majority of Republicans, who would be repelled by that kind of appeal. If Horton had been white and committed the same crime because of the same furlough program, I believed, an ad with a white Horton would have been made. The point was the criminal who committed the crime, not the race of the criminal who committed the crime.

Similarly, I assumed that the claim that the Republican Party’s effort to win the South’s support in the late 1960s was part of a “southern strategy” relying on a coded racial appeal was unjust. Enforcing law and order is certainly a legitimate issue for politicians to run on, and a basic function of government.

Today I see the Republican Party through the clarifying prism of Donald Trump, who consistently appealed to the ugliest instincts and attitudes of the GOP base—in 2011, when he entered the political stage by promoting a racist conspiracy theory, and in 2016, when he won the GOP nomination. He’s done the same time and time again during his presidency—his attacks on the intelligence of black politicians, black journalists, and black athletes; his response to the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia; and his closing argument during the midterm elections, when he retweeted a racist ad that even Fox News would not run…

It would be deeply unfair to claim that most Republicans are bigots. But it is fair to say that most Republicans today are willing to tolerate without dissent, and in many cases enthusiastically support, a man whose appeal is based in large part on stoking racial and ethnic resentments, on attacking “the other.” [bold is mine] That has to be taken into account. At a minimum, their moral reflexes have been badly dulled.

Raleigh ==> Tallahassee

Wow, this map is so cool and so disturbing at the same time.  Based on the latest climate change research it estimates the nearest U.S. city climate match for 2080 under worst case and more moderate climate change scenarios.  More about it here.  For example, in the high emissions estimate, Raleigh’s 2080 climate will basically be like present-day Tallahassee, Florida.  The reduced emissions forecast puts us at Natchitoches, LA, which somehow sounds worse.  Anyway, pretty fascinating stuff– check it out!

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