Back from CES today. Actually, as I noted, I left yesterday but as I have done for many years now, I leave on the last day and drive about a half hour to Primm on the Nevada side of the state line so that the drive the next day is a bit shorter. There is also a pretty nice outlet mall there -- which is literally connected to the hotel, the Primm Valley Resort. You walk through the casino into a long hallway which leads to an escalator that takes you down to the outlet mall. (It's reachable from the outside, too, for the general public.)
Though there are still some very high-end companies there -- Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Banana Republic, Tommy Bahama, Williams-Sonoma and a lot more -- it was clear it's hit hard times. Maybe a third of the stores are shuttered. I don't know if this means it will hurt traffic and more will close by next year, or if they'll fill in the empty places by then. My guess is on the former, since -- though there isn't competition, and the three-hotel town does get business -- it's still in the middle of nowhere.
Driving back, I was able to listen to MSNBC, and thought it was some of the funniest conversation I've heard. Did Trump actually say what he's accused of saying. Of course he did! And I suspect that not only do most people know that he did, but that includes his base -- because they more than anyone want to believe that he said it!
Besides, he's been saying it for the past two years doing his campaign. Smearing Mexicans, Muslims, Nigerians in the huts, Haitians all having AIDS, ignoring Puerto Ricans, retweeting from white supremacist sites, saying that some white supremacists are "very fine people" -- and indeed all his public life: getting sued by the federal government for racial discrimination in his rents, taking out a full-page newspaper ad in the New York Times calling for the execution of the Central Park Five who were later exonerated, building his entire political base on the racism of claiming Barack Obama wasn't an American or smart enough to get into Harvard, and more, on and on and on. So, why on earth would anyone believe that he suddenly stopped???? AND FURTHER --
The White House didn't deny he said it. Even the two Republican senators there didn't deny he said it, but only carefully phrased their statement that they "didn't recall" what he said in his specific comments -- which likely means they didn't remember if he used the world "all" or not. And Lindsay Graham didn't deny it, but only said that he made his response to the president, which not only means the president said something that deserved a response...and isn't a denial. So, NO ONE has denied it. If he "didn't say" it -- and "it" is calling these countries "shitholes" -- then that's a really easy thing to deny. And NO ONE has. That is, until Trump himself finally did so a full day later. And...well....his record on honesty isn't really strong. And given all the things above -- his entire public life of racism and the complete lack of denials from anyone at the meeting, including the White House -- I think we can add one more lie to the Trump List. (And by the way, even Trump doesn't deny calling the countries "shitholes." He just insisted that "This was not the language used." It's a "denial" that merely explains his sentence was phrased differently, not that he didn't say "shithole."
Of course, he said it. Of course. And as Dick Durbin added, he said it several times.
But here's the thing. It almost doesn't matter if he said it. (Almost.) Because even if you take out the word in question "shithole"...the statement is STILL RACIST and awful. Even without the word, then what Trump would have been saying is -- "Why are we having all these people from countries come here? We should bring in more people from countries like Norway. Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out."
Even that "clean" version is terrible. And clearly racist. In fact, the reporting shows that someone in the room even answered Trump's question and told him -- "Because if you do, it will be obvious why.” So, even if you bend FAR over backwards to try and claim Trump didn't say "shithole countries," even someone in the room told him to his face that if we did want you wanted...it would be obviously racist.
Of course he said it. And meant it. And it was racist. Because that's who Trump is and has been for the past 30 years of public life, and probably all his life. And no one else in the room, nor the White House has denied he said it.
However, the best comment has come from, of course, "Fox News" which has tried to dismiss the comment -- obviously even they know it's true -- but saying that this is just how people talk. Well, yeah, if you're racist people. And trying to make a racist point. Which, as I said, this is...even if you take out the word in question.
One last thing. Lest anyone try to divert this conversation into "only" being about the one word and people being snowflakes over bad language (forgetting for the moment that, again, it was a racist statement), this isn't merely about language. It's about weakening America. Because the the country that gives the most financial aid to the African nations that Trump egregiously insulted is China. And when these African nations -- many of whom have already expressed their outrage at Trump's statement -- start looking for further assistance, it opens the door to China gaining a stronger foothold with them. And so, when we try to get these African countries as partners in any of our endeavors that are to our own benefit, including fighting terrorism, that effort has now been made exceedingly more difficult.
This was not the action of a very stable genius...
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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