Trump’s Chicken Game

Trump is using children as a neogiating tool:

President Trump has calculated that he will gain political leverage in congressional negotiations by continuing to enforce a policy he claims to hate — separating immigrant parents from their young children at the southern border, according to White House officials.

On Friday, Trump suggested he would not change the policy unless Democrats agreed to his other immigration demands, which include funding a border wall, tightening the rules for border enforcement and curbing legal entry. He also is intent on pushing members of his party to vote for a compromise measure that would achieve those long-standing priorities.

Trump’s public acknowledgment that he was willing to let the policy continue as he pursued his political goals came as the president once again blamed Democrats for a policy enacted and touted by his own administration.

“The Democrats are forcing the breakup of families at the Border with their horrible and cruel legislative agenda,” he tweeted. After listing his demands in any immigration bill, he added, “Go for it! WIN!”

Exactly what game is Trump playing here? Does he think that Democrats will be so appalled at his policy that they will give him whatever he wants to stop it? Or does he think he actually can persuade the public to think the policy is the Democrats’ fault, so that he can use public opinion as leverage? Don’t ask which is more likely; ask yourself how Trump might see this. I’m honestly not sure.  And I haven’t seen any polling on this topic yet.

Democrats have latched onto the issue and vowed to fight in the court of public opinion, with leaders planning trips to the border to highlight the stories of separated families, already the focus of news media attention. Democratic candidates running for vulnerable Republican seats also have begun to make the harsh treatment of children a centerpiece of their campaigns.

The policy has cracked Trump’s usually united conservative base, with a wide array of religious leaders and groups denouncing it. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Southern Baptist Convention issued statements critical of the practice.

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, who delivered a prayer at Trump’s inauguration, signed a letter calling the practice “horrible.” Pastor Franklin Graham of Samaritan’s Purse, a vocal supporter of the president’s who has brushed aside past Trump controversies, called it “terrible” and “disgraceful.”

So maybe this is the bridge too far; Trump finally is doing something so horrible that even Franklin Graham can’t make excuses for it. But it strikes me that Trump is using the suffering of children to play chicken. Who is going to swerve first?

Things got really bizarre when both Jeff Sessions and Sarah Sanders cited the Bible as an excuse for the policy. WTF? Sessions said on Thursday,

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” Sessions said during a speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Ind. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent and fair application of the law is in itself a good and moral thing, and that protects the weak and protects the lawful.”

Next time a bunch of Fetus People zombies picket an abortion clinic, I want to see counter-protesters carrying signs saying “ROMANS 13.”

And then later when reporters asked Sarah Sanders about it, she said,

Pushing back, Sanders said: “I’m not aware of the attorney general’s comments or what he would be referencing, [but] I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is repeated throughout the Bible.”

A whole lot of people have pointed out that this cherry-picking of Paul’s words is a distortion of what he probably meant, and there are all kinds of examples of righteous civil disobedience in the Bible. And don’t get me started on why the Bible is irrelevant to government policies. See also This isn’t religion. It’s perversion.

Paul Waldman thinks that the administration is trying to blame Democrats to deflect criticism.

The ghastly prospect of children being torn from their parents’ arms wasn’t an unintended consequence of this policy, it was central to its intention. The cruelty of the policy would provide a deterrent to those contemplating coming to the U.S. border. That was the point. As Kelly said on May 11, family separation is “a tough deterrent.”

But as more and more journalists went to the border to see this “new initiative” in action, the administration’s rhetoric shifted. Now it began saying it wasn’t a new initiative at all, just an enforcement of existing law — and since Democrats (who, you might remember, control nothing in Washington) haven’t changed that law, it’s their fault.

But my Facebook friend Jeffrey Feldman expressed the view that the Bible reference was also part of a deliberate strategy.

Please read the whole post. What Jeffrey says here is that the child snatching policy is just one part of a plan to keep us all under the thumb of authoritiarianism, and it’s going to take more than winning a few elections to stop it.

Trump’s comments yesterday make me think that creating this horrible policy and then blaming Democrats for it is all of a piece.  Trump is trying to play chicken. He thinks the Democrats will swerve first and give him what he wants, including funding the stupid wall. He also probably thinks that being cruel to Latino families will play well with his base. And he’s probably right about that.

Update: The White House has released a document titled “Results of Congressional Democrats’ Dangerous Immigration Policies” that actually begins,

CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS’ FAMILY SEPARATION POLICY: Too many American families have been permanently separated from loved ones lost to illegal alien crime.

More Orwellian than Orwell.

15 thoughts on “Trump’s Chicken Game

  1. I love the chicken picture.  It looks just like trump.


    Off-topic:  Why do we have to fill in the name/mail blocks for every post?

  2. Ninety percent of Republican voters support Trump. Republicans make up 26% of registered voters. Democrats 29%. Independents 43%. Democrats overwhelmingly oppose Trump policies. So where does the balance of power lie? Duh, it's the Independent voter who is probably conservative leaning, but a) not a party loyalist and b) IMO, not married to Trumpian fascism.

    The border policies are the break point in Trump's power play. Racism plays well with the 90% but with Independents, not so well. The original "plan' when Trump cancelled DACA was to make hostages of the DREAMers to force Democrats to pass his draconian immigration policy. The courts blocked that mass deportation. He seized on a new and unprotected group of hostages – children. 

    DREAMers are young, most in their 20s, I think. That group might have been OK with Independent voters for deportation because a 20-something person can fend for themselves, even if deported to a strange country. The dynamics of toddlers being separated from parents, infants taken from their mothers, is not OK with most Independent voters. 

    This will turn out to be the biggest political blunder since Hitler decided to attack Russia. Trump loyalists WILL attach themselves to the policy as being justified. They have to. There is no conservative center for anyone in the GOP to pivot to after the primaries. 

    Trump may have "bet the farm" on getting funding for the border wall and ending "chain" migration so Trump can make America whiter. Trump may have realized that when Democrats control the House, there will be no funding for his wall, no compromise on immigration policy. At least, no compromise to the racist vision of Trump and the current GOP.

    I think if Trump loses on immigration, his political back is broken. He becomes a lame-duck president for the final two year. He'll do as much damage as he can, but the signature issue of his candidacy was racism against people from South of the Border. 

    I don't see the zero-tolerance policy as the issue of the day. It's the issue of Trump's presidency and his downfall.

  3. Doug is correct as to the disaster our child emperor is creating for any Republican candidate.  Neither the inept use of scripture or the diversion of the crimes of undocumented will suffice for moral justification for anyone but what Bob Corker called the party of "personality cult".  Extortion, using a problem you personally created, is not an acceptable or moral negotiation tactic.  Although some closed minded ones (cultists?) will echo these justifications, we must trust they will not prevail.  They do not reflect the soul of America, who's citizens understand the meaning of a child's tears of terror.

  4. "Why do we have to fill in the name/mail blocks for every post? "

    That's how the software knows whether or not to put you in the twit filter, Bonnie if you like I'll trade you handles!

  5. AJ your right Miller is behind almost all the evil shit tRump is doing. He's an evil little dude, tRump's " Joseph Goebbels " (he even looks like him) way smarter than tRump. tRump at this point is just the bumbling fool they use as the mouthpiece. SAD!

  6. In 2012,  Tea Party people in Congress shut down the government over Obamacare. They tried the same tactic of blaming Democrats for the shutdown because the Dems would not repeal the ACA. 

    Two weeks later they caved and re-funded government because the polling showed that voters weren't buying the blame game. Obama played his hand well, making sure all voters, including conservatives immediately felt the pain.

    I don't think Trump will back down. He hates the media sources that are assembling the pictures and it's pictures, not words that are carrying the day. "Keeping America Safe from Toddlers" isn't working.

    Trump is running out of time. He has until November to force ten democrats in the Senate to vote to fund his wall and accept the policies which give the administration to limit immigration along racial lines. The kidnapping at the border was the last arrow in Trump's quiver. 

    The world is uniting against us in a trade war. That will cause immediate pain in Trump swing states. Every week that people who were laid off  see Trump at Mir-A-GoGo golfing, will hit his numbers.'

    If the numbers go down far enough, the GOP Congress will move away.

  7. Does he think that Democrats will be so appalled at his policy that they will give him whatever he wants to stop it? 

    Of course he does. Anybody who has even a basic understanding of abusive relationships and the dynamics of how a psychopath operates to secure dominance of and submission from any entity that they enter into a relationship with would know exactly what Trump's motives are. Doug pointed it out in a prior comment about people who threaten to kill a defenseless animal as a means to impose their will and get what they want. That's Trump in a nutshell! The bottom line is that Trump is emotionally detached to humanity.  He's a bully, he's a bag of shit, and he's devoid of decency.


  8. I'm reading that Cohen is publicly signaling that he's willing to sell dirt on Trump to avoid prosecution. It's way early in the game for Cohen to do this – he hasn't been charged yet. He's months from trial and potentially could delay going to jail until 2020.

    IMO, Cohen is signaling back to Trump. I say back because Trump, throu Rudy signaled that he might pardon everyone if he (Trump) survives impeachment. Cohen is telling Trump that offer is not good enough – he wants a pardon now or he's gonna take Trump down. It's funny that the communication is as obvious as semaphore but the art of talking ship-to-ship by flags is a lost art. The news media likewise is unable to decipher the code. You can bet Trump got the message.

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