Contrary to what Trump has been saying at rallies, there is no “open borders bill.”

Image: President Trump Holds Make America Great Again Rally In Pennsylvania

The President of the United States said this recently at a rally:

“Every single Democrat in the U.S. Senate has signed up for the open borders – and it’s a bill. And it’s called The Open Borders Bill. What’s going on? And it’s written by – guess who – Dianne Feinstein.”

Here’s the problem: There is no such bill. Everything about that accusation is completely made up.

This is a lie so blatant that no excuse can be found in the realm of “maybe he’s just confused or mistaken.” It is so totally untrue that he must know he’s lying, and he’s lying on purpose.

The art of political campaigning used to be the art of spin, and the art of spin was to make your charge true enough that you could score a valid point. But now we’re in the era of make anything up, do it out of whole cloth, it doesn’t have to have any relationship at all with reality.

As Steve Benen writes:

When the lines between fact and fiction blur for the president, it’s unsettling.

But more broadly, Trump has also apparently convinced himself, not only that an imaginary bill is real, but also that he’s accurately describing the Democratic position on immigration policy.

To put it mildly, he isn’t.

I realize that the president isn’t a fan of nuance or substantive policy debates. He enjoys the convenience of binary framing: to agree with the far-right agenda on immigration is to be “tough”; to oppose it is to support “open borders.”

But no one of any influence in Democratic politics endorses Trump’s bizarre description of the party’s agenda. On the contrary, the Obama administration strengthened border security measures well beyond what we saw under his Republican predecessor.

Sexual assault happens to men, too. But there’s a difference between how it’s received if you’re a woman. I know.

I, too, am the victim of sexual assault.

I have shared this privately with very few people, but never publicly.

Because of shame. And in many ways, shame is the follow-up assault. It’s the lifelong coup-de-grace that re-assaults you over and over again at the start of each new day.

It happened to me when I was a little boy. I only knew him as “Uncle Tim,” a friend of the family.

I vividly remember the minute details, where I was, the fact that it was cold, what he did, what he said… but I couldn’t tell you the year or “Tim’s” last name. My best guess is that it had to be in the very early 70’s because that was the time period I lived in that house. That’s the only way I know.

So I completely understand when someone can remember some details but not others after the passage of time. It is not a mystery.

My guess is, “Tim” victimized other children, some in the house with me at the time.

It’s not a “recovered memory.” I never forgot about it and then suddenly remembered it later. I didn’t invent it or make it up. I’m not confused about who did it. I haven’t conflated him with someone else.

I did tell my mother a few years after it happened, and she wept that she had put me in such a position as to allow such a person into the home, but it wasn’t her fault, just like it wasn’t my fault. She wasn’t in a good place, either, and I learned many years later there was abuse she had endured that I never knew about.

Over the years the people I confided in never upbraided me for it, never accused me of “asking for it,” or said it was my fault because I was wearing something inappropriate.

But if I were a woman that’s the reaction I’d probably get. I’m sure my mom got that reaction. I bet she got that reaction from people who were supposed to love her.

What a horrorshow this planet can sometimes be.

I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to have the anger and doubt thrown at you on top of all the shame, the questioning that you didn’t fight hard enough, that maybe, deep down inside, it was your fault.

But it’s not. If it happened to you, it’s not your fault. No matter how many years it takes you to find the strength to tell someone about it.

An anonymous op-ed from the flight deck

Hi there. I’m an anonymous senior flight official who works for the airline.

Your pilot is deliberately trying to crash this plane. He’s a little crazy and unhinged. In the early days, there were whispers of having him committed and never letting him get on a plane, but we didn’t want to cause a fuss with corporate.

But don’t worry. There are several of us here who, while we believe in the principles the pilot has espoused, are nevertheless doing everything we can to curb the pilot’s more murderous intentions.

We’ll keep working to keep all of you passengers safe while the pilot continues trying to crash the plane. We’ll keep doing this until he stops being the pilot… one way or the other.

So just relax. You’re in our hands. Go about your business and don’t mind the sudden changes in altitude.

What happens to the military in a government shutdown?

President Trump tweeted this morning that if the government shuts down, it would be “devastating to our military.”

So, what happens to the military in a government shutdown?

US officials say the armed forces are considered essential and would still report for duty, unlike rank and file government employees.

And military personnel still get paid, unless a shutdown lasts until February 1. That’s because funding runs through midnight Friday and the last paychecks went out last Monday. Personnel must report to work and still would be paid at the first pay period after the shutdown ends.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake compares Trump to Stalin

Republican Senator Jeff Flake forcefully condemned Trump on the floor of the Senate today, comparing the president’s attacks on the news media with Joseph Stalin’s.

“No longer can we compound attacks on truth with our silent acquiescence. No longer can we turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to these assaults on our institutions,” Flake said in his speech. “An American president who cannot take criticism — who must constantly deflect and distort and distract — who must find someone else to blame — is charting a very dangerous path. And a Congress that fails to act as a check on the President adds to the danger.”

He criticized the President for calling the news media the “enemy of the people,” calling it “an assault as unprecedented as it is unwarranted.”

“It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own President uses words infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies,” he said. “It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase ‘enemy of the people,’ that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of ‘annihilating such individuals’ who disagreed with the supreme leader.”

It’s easy for Flake to denounce the president in such direct language in a Senate speech because he is not seeking another term. However, depending on how this plays, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Flake is considering a primary challenge to Trump in 2020.

Oprah for president? Hang on just a minute.

I don’t rule out the possibility of Oprah Winfrey running for and winning the presidency. And yes, it would be a smart move for Democrats to recruit her, if only because it would represent an excellent chance for a win. Nor do I even rule out the possibility that Oprah could unite disparate political factions in our country and provide inspiration to dispirited people. Those aren’t bad things.

The poison pill, however, is that it would represent a disturbing trend in America: Someone with a lot of knowledge and experience for the job is dismissed for those very reasons, and we require only that our leader be a “celebrity,” which we now view as a more important qualification than experience.

Apply that thinking to other things and let’s see how it would work out. Your child is very sick and needs help. But you think doctors are condescending because of all the learning they’ve acquired, so you instead take her to an actor who plays a doctor on a favorite TV show for treatment. Or maybe a famous comedian who’s told lots of doctor jokes. Think that will work out?

This idea in America that learning, knowledge, experience, and intelligence are things to be frowned upon, and that celebrity, comic timing, or loudmouth “populist” pronouncements are much more important than actually knowing how to do something, is a very troubling sign for our country.

But perhaps it’s inevitable, given our penchant for portraying intelligence and education as “boring” and the spunky outsider with no experience as the real hero of every situation. How many TV shows or movies turn that plot around? Just about none.

Don’t blame NBC News for the Oprah tweet.

This morning I heard a radio talk show host griping about “NBC News” tweeting an “endorsement” of Oprah Winfrey for president.

That is incorrect. It was NOT NBC News that tweeted it, it was NBC, the network.

The third-party live tweeter working for NBC during the telecast was wrong to not include context referencing Seth Meyer’s joke. And the network was right to delete and apologize for the misunderstanding. But it was NOT NBC News‘ tweet.

That’s how fake news really works: slipping in that it was the news division, and then going on a hellfire and brimstone crusade against “the news media” over it.

I realize we’re living in a fact-free world now, but it still matters.