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.

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.

Stephen Miller attacks “Fire and Fury” with fire and fury

Stephen Miller defended his boss, President Trump, Sunday morning from claims made in the book Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff. Miller is, as you’d imagine, full of invective against the tell-all.

But Miller may also be smarting from the description Wolff offers of him in the book:

Miller, a fifty-five-year-old trapped in a thirty-two-year-old’s body, was a former Jeff Sessions staffer brought on to the Trump campaign for his political experience. Except, other than being a dedicated far-right conservative, it was unclear what particular abilities accompanied Miller’s political views. He was supposed to be a speechwriter, but if so, he seemed restricted to bullet points and unable to construct sentences. He was supposed to be a policy adviser but knew little about policy. He was supposed to be the house intellectual but was militantly unread. He was supposed to be a communications specialist, but he antagonized almost everyone.

— Wolff, Michael. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House (pp. 64-65). Henry Holt and Co. Kindle Edition.

CNN’s Jake Tapper got fed up with Miller’s refusal to directly answer or even address the questions he was asked in their interview:

“Fire and Fury” hits the White House hard

The publication and incredibly brisk sales of Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury” seem to have really gotten under President Trump’s skin.

Capture

“Fire and Fury” has upended the administration in a way no scandal previously has. Insiders report the White House has turned into a “three-ring circus” and caused a very ugly public split between the president and his former top strategist Steve Bannon.

The book describes Mr. Trump as being terrified of dementia, calling him “a man whose many neuroses included a horror of forgetfulness or senility,” and his tweets in response to the questions being raised about his mental fitness seem to bear that out.

President Trump supports massive infrastructure repair plans… unless they come from the Obama administration

President Trump has been talking a lot about infrastructure repair… but it appears if an infrastructure repair project came from the Obama administration, he wants to kill it.

The Trump administration has shut down an Obama-era deal to have the federal government help fund a $13 billion rail tunnel project between New York and New Jersey, according to Crain’s New York Business.

In a letter obtained by Crain’s, an administration official calls the deal for the federal government to fund half of the project “non-existent.”

“Your letter also references a non-existent ’50/50′ agreement between USDOT, New York, and New Jersey. There is no such agreement,” Federal Transit Administration deputy administrator K. Jane Williams wrote in Friday’s letter, which came after New York and New Jersey requested federal loans to cover their part of the deal to split the cost of the work.

“We consider it unhelpful to reference a non-existent ‘agreement’ rather than directly address the responsibility for funding a local project where nine out of 10 passengers are local transit riders,” Williams continued.

The project in question would have funded much-needed repairs to an Amtrak tunnel between New Jersey and New York City, as well as help fix a damaged dual-tunnel conduit and rebuild New Jersey’s Portal Bridge.