On Monday, Jan. 22, 2018, the government shutdown came to an end. It lasted 3 whole days, 2 of which were weekend days.
The title for today’s blogpost is a reference, in part, to something Susan Collins (R-ME) showed off to newspeople – a “talking stick”. She said it was a stick a friend gave her (and that it was originally from Africa), and that she used it to “control the conversation” she and 17 other politicians had as part of their discussion regarding how to end the government shutdown.
Presumably, one would hold the stick when one wanted to speak. Here she is, holding it:
During the discussion, Lamar Alexander (R-TN) threw the stick to/at (depending on your p.o.v.) Mark Warner (D-VA) – because he interrupted Alexander – and the stick hit a glass elephant of Collins’, chipping it (“Area Adults Forced to Use Talking Stick”, Charles P. Pierce, Esquire website, 1/23/18).
Aside #1: This incident was made fun of by people on Twitter, and deservedly so. Mostly regarding how it was a metaphor. You get the idea, I’m sure.
This group apparently made the recommendation to end the shutdown by an agreement between Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
At the end of it all, it was Schumer who announced the Democrats had made a deal with McConnell to fund the government until February 8, with McConnell stating he “intended” to begin debating an immigration bill (“Shutdown Ends After Democrats Agree to Trust That McConnell Will Allow “Dreamer” Vote”, Sean Sullivan/Ed O’Keefe/Elise Vieback, Washington Post website, 1/22/18).
Odd. McConnell promised Jeff Flake (R-AZ) the same thing, in December (“Flake: Senate Will Vote on DACA Bill to Protect Young Immigrants in January”, Daniel Gonzalez, The Republic, AZ Central website, 12/20/17).
Needless to say, this didn’t happen at all in January.
As far as I’m concerned, that – and a myriad of other reasons – causes me to believe that McConnell won’t honor his promise to Schumer and the Democrats.
Even if there is a debate or a vote on immigration, who knows what that will mean? McConnell has stated he is tying immigration to the border wall and “U.S. security”, which is vague and also suggests that Republicans will back 45’s stupid, unnecessary, and expensive wall demand.
Aside #2: McConnell stated “Let me be clear: This immigration debate will have a level playing field at the outset and an amendment process that’s fair to all sides.” (“Trump Signs Funding Bill to End Shutdown; Immigration Debate Continues”, Mary Bruce/Miriam Khan/Adam Kelsey/Trish Turner, ABC News website, 1/23/18).
Maybe the vote will be to end DACA (“Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”) once and for all, which expires in March because 45 signed one of his zillions of executive orders to phase out the program.
Maybe it will be ignored, and the Democrats will again attempt to shut down the government on February 8.
Maybe there will be a proposal by a bipatisan committee to rework immigration law, including DACA, but 45 will reject it because he’s a racist who doesn’t want to do anything but deport every undocumented person in this country, even if this country is the only home they’ve ever known.
I’m betting on that last scenario.
Why? Because 45 already did that, which resulted in the shutdown we just recently had (“Trump Might Finally Get His Shutdown”, Russell Berman, The Atlantic website, 1/16/18).
Republicans reframed this as “Democrats shut down the government because they didn’t get their way on illegal immigration”. From the thumbs of their master, via Twitter:
“Democrats are holding our Military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration. Can’t let that happen!” (“Trump: Democrats Want Unchecked ‘Illegal Immigration’ “, Mallory Shelbourne, The Hill website, 1/20/18).
Aside #3: You see where the “box of rocks” part of the title fits, right?
Why did 45 reject a deal that he had previously said he would sign? He did, you know, and it’s even on videotape (“Trump Says He’ll Sign DACA Deal, Pursue Comprehensive Immigration Reform”, Christina Wilkie, CNBC website, 1/9/18).
After 45 met with the bipartisan group and promised to agree with whatever they came up with, a few hours later Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) came up with an agreement and presented it to 45.
He rejected it.
Graham later commented that he thought Stephen Miller had talked 45 out of it (“Graham: Stephen Miller Makes Immigration Deal Impossible”, Jordain Carney, The Hill website, 1/21/18).
Stephen Miller is very far to the right (“How Stephen Miller Rode White Rage From Duke’s Campus to Trump’s West Wing”, William D. Cohan, Vanity Fair website, summer of 2017). He especially doesn’t like Latinos (“How White House Advisor Stephen Miller Went From Pestering Hispanic Students to Designing Trump’s Immigration Policy”, Fernando Peinado, Univision website, 2/8/17).
I can’t really be too mad at Schumer for making this deal, because the Republicans were also framing the shutdown as Democrats not caring about the CHIP program, which provides medical care to low-income children (“The Best Reason For Democrats Ending the Shutdown Now: CHIP Funding”, Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker website, 1/22/18).
Schumer, pressured by the optics and also by the reality that 9 million kids would be out of healthcare, did the only thing he could do – he gave in.
Aside #4: Republicans let time run out on CHIP in September of 2017, and actually that makes them responsible for the CHIP debacle, but when did facts ever matter to them, especially when it’s their fault?
But I am a little angry because I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to take a stand and then back down soon after. When dealing with bullies like the current administration/GOP, this is seen as a sign of weakness and it encourages them to continue their dishonest, bullying ways.
And, predictably, the Bully-in-Chief tweeted:
“Cryin’ Chuck Schumer fully understands, especially after his humiliating defeat, that if there is no Wall, there is no DACA. We must have safety and security, together with a strong Military, for our great people!” (“Trump to Schumer: If There is No Wall, There is No DACA’ “, Louis Nelson, Politico website, 1/24/18)
Aside #5: What’s with this random capitalization of words, anyway? So ignorant.
There you have it. Democrats fell for the taunting and spin, and also projected their principled ideals (like honoring one’s word) on Republicans – who have no such ideals and have proven that over and over again.
It’s impossible to trust – or it should be impossible to trust – a party that uses every dirty trick, and Russian help, to win elections. A party that has consistently broken its word (see link on Flake and McConnell, above). Yet it seems that the Democratic leadership hasn’t learned this.
Do they really expect someone who has referred to African countries, El Salvador, and Haiti as “shithole countries”, and prefers immigrants come from white places like Norway, to support any bill that allows a pathway to citizenship for a predominantly Latino population? (“A New Low: The World is Furious at Trump for His Remark About ‘Shithole Countries’ “, Laignee Barron, Time website, 1/12/18)
A party and leader who run 45’s re-election campaign (!!!) ads that state that Democrats are complicit in murder because they support immigration reform and DACA? (“White House Defends Anti-Immigration Trump Campaign Ad, Calling Democrats ‘Complicit’ in Killings”, Associated Press, PBS News Hour website, 1/22/18)
I think it is the height of naiveté to expect any realistic or humane attitude on immigration from 45 or the GOP. I think Schumer will find that out very soon, and I hope he has a better plan for it than the last time.
Weirdness of the week: “An Alabama Town Held a Candlelight Vigil for a Taco Bell After it Went Up In Flames”, Ryan Thaxton, Mashable website, 1/23/18.
(They weren’t serious.)
Recommendations? An app called MyPlate. You use it to count calories – it’s easy, trust me – and to track any exercise you can think of (it even tells you how many calories you burn walking around a store pushing a shopping cart!). It records dietary information on a ton of food, and if it doesn’t have what you eat you can easily add it. Available at your app store. Also available online, if you don’t want to put it on your phone.
Be good. Be kind. “Fool me once…” etc.