Beyond the Pale of any Acceptable Human Conduct

Everyone knows that the Trump administration’s child separation policy is the kind of catastrophically immoral practice that even Josef Goebbels would officially disavow and call fake news. But that doesn’t mean that the people in charge of implementing it are going to stop.

Acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Thomas Homan knows the policy is indefensible, but he hasn’t tendered his resignation.

In a short but revealing interview, head of ICE Thomas Homan on Tuesday appeared to express discomfort with President Donald Trump’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents.

When CNN’s Wolf Blitzer repeatedly pressed him on whether the policy is “humane,” Homan responded with a long pause and broke eye contact with the host. Even then, he refused to answer the question — which is really all the answer any viewer should need.

Mr. Homan’s boss, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, knows why she was chased out of a Washington, D.C. Mexican restaurant (of all places) by protesting members of Democratic Socialists of America. She must know that that was only the beginning of the well-deserved harassment she’ll receive if this continues on. But she has not resigned.

Vice-President Mike Pence traveled to Philly last night and he knows why it did not go well.

Outside the event, hundreds of protesters descended on Center City during the Stop Separating Families rally to oppose President Donald Trump’s immigration policy. Several laid out children’s shoes in solidarity with the families being torn apart at the border.

The crowd chanted “City of brotherly love says no,” and “Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here” during the protest. One woman also walked through the crowd for at least an hour with a speaker playing the sounds of a baby crying.

The only person who announced his resignation yesterday was Deputy White House chief of staff Joe Hagin, and he has several preexisting and completely distinct reasons for making for the bolt hole, including that he’s been repeatedly targeted with scathing accusations of disloyalty by people in the West Wing who will never trust a Bushie.

Yet, even if the burden of ripping kids from their parents isn’t causing an exodus, the list of people preparing to leave the White House is long and growing:

Mr. Hagin may be on the leading edge of a fresh wave of departures from a White House that has had record turnover. Among others who have been said to be considering leaving this year are [chief of staff] Mr. [John] Kelly; Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel; Marc Short, the legislative affairs director; Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the press secretary; Raj Shah, the top deputy press secretary; and Dan Scavino Jr., the social media director.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders was rumored to be done with the shitshow before White House press correspondents starting yelling at her about throwing children in cages. After that fiasco, she corralled Secretary Nielsen to stand at the podium and answer the damn questions only to be forced to watch helplessly as reporter Olivia Nuzzi played them a recording of screaming children being held parentless inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility. Sanders may be famously and implacably immune to ordinary pangs of conscience, but even she can sense that something has gone rancid. She’ll be happy to exit, and her deputies aren’t lining up to take her job.

Even in the vindictive dreamworld of the Trump White House, it can’t have escaped notice that the president is no longer even loosely tethered.  To quote General Corman, we’re in Apocalypse Now territory and there’s no denying it:

“Well, you see Willard, in this war, things get confused out there: power, ideals, the old morality, practical military necessity. But out there with these natives, it must be a temptation to be god, because there’s a conflict in every human heart, between the rational and the irrational, between good and evil, and good does not always triumph. Sometimes, the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature. Every man has got a breaking point. You and I have one. Walter Kurtz has reached his, and very obviously, he has gone insane…He’s out there operating without any decent restraint, totally beyond the pale of any acceptable human conduct. And he is still in the field commanding troops.”

Nowhere was this clearer than in President Trump’s appearance yesterday before the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Here’s one of the least offensive things he said in that speech, although it’s representative of the truthfulness and accuracy of the entirety of his remarks.

And, by the way, Canada — they like to talk. (Laughter.) They’re our great neighbor. They fought World War II with us. We appreciate it. They fought World War I with us. And we appreciate it, but we’re protecting each other.

There was a story two days ago, in a major newspaper, talking about people living in Canada, coming into the United States, and smuggling things back into Canada because the tariffs are so massive. The tariffs to get common items back into Canada are so high that they have to smuggle them in. They buy shoes, then they wear them. They scuff them up. They make them sound old or look old.

No, we’re treated horribly.

There are no Canadian tariffs on American footwear nor American tariffs on Canadian footwear, and you can thank NAFTA for that.

“The president seems misinformed about footwear trade,” Matt Priest, the president and chief executive of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, said in a statement. “Canadians have no real reason to ‘smuggle’ their shoes because their government is already helping lower their costs through proper trade deals.”

Back in May, CNN estimated that the president had told over three thousand lies during his first 466 days in office, but as Ashley Parker of the Washington Post noted yesterday the pace has recently picked up.

Since Saturday, Trump has tweeted false or misleading information at least seven times on the topic of immigration and at least six times on a Justice Department inspector general report into the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. That’s more than a dozen obfuscations on just two central topics — a figure that does not include falsehoods on other issues, whether in tweets or public remarks.

This cannot continue. And it won’t. Donald Trump, very obviously, has gone insane. He’s out there operating without any decent restraint, totally beyond the pale of any acceptable human conduct. And he is still in the field commanding troops. His dealings with North Korea and Russia are no more sane or less damaging that his dealings with asylum seekers and border crossers and their children.

People are already fleeing the White House, half his campaign is indicted, cooperating, in jail or waiting to be indicted. If Congress is the last to know how this will end, so be it. They will know soon enough.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.