The 2014 Colorado Senate race between incumbent Democrat Mark Udall and Republican challenger Cory Gardner presented a rare challenge for a Denver Post editorial board that has long made an art form of timid, anchorless, empty-headed centrism. Neither candidate offered the board an easy opportunity to do all of the things it does by default: curry favor with incumbents and frontrunners, fetishize bipartisanship for its own sake and issue tongue-clucking admonishments to the extremes on Both Sides, and attempt to buttress their fair-and-balanced bona fides among movement conservatives who couldn’t be less appeased. Confronted with a tight race between two unremarkable avatars of their respective parties’ mainstreams, for once the Post had a real choice to make.

When it chose Gardner, the board faced a second, far greater challenge: how to string some words together into a passably coherent argument for a vote that would help return control of the Senate to the Republican Party and a conservative agenda to which the paper was nominally largely opposed.

The resulting endorsement was roundly, deservedly ridiculed at the time—“baffling,” “asinine,” “genuinely bizarre,” “the most singularly box-of-rocks dumb rationale I ever read in my life”—but it’s only in light of this year’s healthcare saga that its awe-inspiring daftness can be fully appreciated. As the Senate under a unified Republican federal government hurries to pass—without a single hearing or committee vote, by what will likely be a razor-thin majority—legislation that will impoverish, immiserate, bankrupt, sicken and/or kill tens of millions of Americans, it’s worth revisiting, piece by piece, an artifact of the media’s credulous worship of process and propriety and consensus politics that helped get us here in the first place.

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All throughout 2017, as part of what he describes as a “personal challenge…to have visited and met people in every state in the US by the end of the year,” Mark Zuckerberg has taken to the half-trillion-dollar social-media platform he controls to share his awkwardly staged and cartoonishly one-dimensional attempts to interact with non-billionaires across the country. Here he is at a rodeo in Texas. Here he is on a shrimp boat in Louisiana. Here he is in Ohio, dropping in for dinner with a family he’d found by “ask[ing] his staff to find Democrats who voted for Donald Trump.” His excursion to Iowa over the weekend produced another pitch-perfect medley of sanitized clichés: cornfieldsfried food, a truck stop, a small-town ice cream parlor.

These canned photo ops and issue-specific listening tours are easily recognized as part of the grammar of political stagecraft, and in the wake of Donald Trump’s norm-shattering election to the presidency, they’ve unsurprisingly prompted widespread suspicion that Zuckerberg, the world’s fifth-richest man, is planning his own presidential run. There’s other evidence; last year he successfully pushed for a change in Facebook’s corporate structure allowing him to retain control if he were to take a “leave of absence…in connection with his serving in a government position or office,” and maybe most conspicuously of all, he made sure to announce in a Christmas Day Facebook post that he is no longer an atheist.

The implied, half-joking vision of a post-Trump world in which the presidency is contested among a small club of addled billionaires is in some ways appropriately bleak and cynical. But we’re still letting ourselves off the hook too easily. Zuckerberg probably has no interest in running for president; he and his corporate handlers have got something much worse in mind.

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Airports around the U.S. have been in chaos since last Friday, when the Trump administration without warning implemented a 90-day travel ban denying entry to nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries. Tens of thousands of people demonstrated on Saturday and Sunday in cities as far-flung as Boise and Birmingham, and the eruption of outrage and grassroots energy has upended the political situation in Washington. Online, in print, and on television, the news has been dominated by coverage of the protests and political fallout for the past four days.

But there’s a dimension to the travel ban story that only becomes clear if you’re someone unfortunate enough to spend a lot of time on Twitter or otherwise inundated by news coverage, and that’s the full scope of the alarming actions taken by the Customs and Border Protection agency following the implementation of the order:

  • In the acts that have gotten the most attention thanks to their proximity to the D.C. press, CBP agents at Dulles have repeatedly defied U.S. congressmen and lawyers who were trying to enforce a court order allowing detainees access to legal counsel. One of the congressmen, Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), called the situation “a constitutional crisis.”
  • Two U.S. congresswomen requested a meeting with CBP management at LAX regarding a student who was being deported to Iran in contravention of the stay granted Saturday night. CBP refused, and “[w]hen asked who they’re reporting to they said ‘Donald J. Trump.’”
  • Lawyers at JFK and elsewhere have reported that CBP agents are pressuring legal permanent residents, a.k.a. green-card holders, to sign away their legal status through threats and intimidation.
  • “Green card holders were handcuffed, their social media was reviewed, and they were asked their views on Trump.” The American Immigration Lawyers Association confirmed these reports to The Independent.
  • A Somali woman with her two children, both of whom are U.S. citizens, were detained for 20 hours without food. She was handcuffed “even when she went to the bathroom” and pressured to sign papers relinquishing her permanent resident status.
  • A 19-year old American citizen of Lebanese descent was detained for more than three hours at O’Hare, where CBP agents asked him, “Do you love your country?
  • An American citizen was interrogated in Houston, asked questions about his social media profiles and whether or not he was a Christian, and ultimately had his passport confiscated.
  • A 16-year-old Texas resident has been detained for more than three days despite the fact that he holds a valid visa and is a native of Jordan, which isn’t one of the countries included in the travel ban. His lawyer told the Houston Chronicle that after “speaking with colleagues across the country, he’s convinced immigration officials are not just barring or delaying citizens from the seven countries listed on Trump’s executive order.”
  • Today there were reports that U.S. Marshals were “refusing to enforce…court orders against CBP” at LAX.

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In an act of equal parts malevolence and incompetence, the Trump administration threw international travel into chaos on Friday with a hideous executive order that banned nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries—even those already granted legal permanent resident status, better known as green cards—from entering the United States. As reports of people being detained and deported began to proliferate, crowds gathered at airports around the country in protest.

A small number of Republican congressmen have joined Democrats in opposing the order, and both the Washington Post and Vox would have you believe that Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO)—last seen sneaking out the back door of a library where constituents were waiting to express concerns about the impending repeal of the Affordable Care Act—is one of them.

This is bullshit. Coffman hasn’t said anything specifically regarding Trump’s order, much less anything in opposition to it. Here’s the one-sentence statement he released last night on Twitter:

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It wasn’t a surprise to see former state senator Mike Johnston become the first major candidate to enter the 2018 Colorado governor’s race on Tuesday. His ambitions have been plain for a while now, he’s backed by a well-connected network of insiders and consultants, and he has everything to gain by getting a head start on what are expected to be crowded primary fields in both parties.

What was a bit of a surprise, though, was the central piece of spin his campaign clearly wants to advance in the early going, and the media’s willingness to run with it. Remarking on Johnston’s “Frontier Fairness” slogan, 9News anchor Kyle Clark tweeted that he “sounds like Bernie with a belt buckle.” And if Clark nibbled at the line the campaign had fed him, Denver Post reporter John Frank swallowed it whole: “Mike Johnston announces 2018 bid for governor with the flair of Bernie Sanders,” read the headline in today’s paper.

“Johnston emphasized that his campaign will attract Sanders supporters — specifically his focus on college affordability, protecting immigrants living in the country illegally and his record against accepting campaign contributions from political action committees.

‘I think the Bernie folks will find a lot of the values that they share will be evidenced in our campaign,’ Johnston said in an interview.”

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Donald Trump is a monster—a confessed sexual predator, a toxic bigot, an unstable narcissist, a pathological liar, a con artist who built a business empire on plunder and fraud, a coward who thinks he’s a shark, a moron who thinks he’s a genius. For a person of such low character to occupy the presidency, wielding both its enumerated powers and its subtler, more symbolic ones, will be tremendously damaging to the country and to the world. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that the greater part of the damage done by the incoming administration will have little or nothing to do with Trump himself.

Back in July, the New York Times famously reported that his campaign’s pitch to potential VP nominees was to offer them the chance to become “the most powerful vice president in history” who would be put “in charge of foreign and domestic policy” while Trump remained a celebrity figurehead. Much of what has been reported in the last few days has been consistent with this. Trump “was shocked when he won the election,” says the Times, may not live in the White House full-time, and is intent on “continuing to hold…large rallies” because of “the instant gratification and adulation that the cheering crowds provide.” Politico adds that Trump has barely had any contact with his own transition staff and that “sources in and around the Trump transition team said there was no evidence that the president-elect had even reviewed any of the binders of policy and personnel proposals produced by the team.”

Meanwhile, that transition team is aggressively putting the lie to a foundational promise of Trump’s campaign—that he was an insurgent outsider who would “drain the swamp” and rid the federal government of corruption and special interests. As the Times, Politico, the Washington Post, the AP, and others have reported, the fledgling Trump administration is dominated by the lobbyists, donors, influence peddlers, insiders and career politicians that Trump spent his whole campaign railing against. More than 4,000 political appointments will be made by a transition staff that consists almost entirely of representatives of corporate interests matched with the relevant departments and agencies—a food industry lobbyist staffing the Department of Agriculture, a mining industry lobbyist the Department of the Interior, a notorious oil and gas industry shill the EPA, and so on.

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“Independent. Loves military. Carries pocket constitution everywhere,” says Ben Domenech of Khizr Khan, the father of a fallen U.S. soldier who gave a stirring anti-Trump speech at last week’s Democratic convention. “Great job GOP.”

It’s rich, this sarcastic congratulations, coming as it does from a guy whose odious think-tank-welfare publication, The Federalist, published an article titled “Donald Trump Was Not Wrong About Muslim Immigration” not three weeks before Khan’s speech; tweets about “killer Muslims”; has backed Ted Cruz’s call for draconian surveillance of “Muslim neighborhoods”; alleged that the “goal” of advocacy group CAIR is to “create American Molenbeeks,” referring to the Brussels district where several of the Paris attackers lived; and has generally expended far more energy stigmatizing Muslims and encouraging Islamophobia than opposing the same. On issues of Islam, terrorism, and immigration, as on literally every other issue, The Federalist is a right-wing red-meat factory like any other, just with crass provocation (mostly) swapped out for pseudo-intellectual hand-waving—Breitbart for people who could, on their third guess, tell you who Edmund Burke was.

Not long after Domenech sent his tweet, Republican operative Patrick Ruffini sent one of his own: “We look forward to welcoming Khizr Khan at the 2020 Republican convention.” Ruffini’s tweet reflects a confidence among conservative elites that, following what will probably be a resounding electoral defeat for the overt racism of Donald Trump in November, the Republican party will simply be able to revert to the polite racism of Domenech’s Federalist without much trouble. Managing this reversion will be the principal project of conservatism’s myriad hacks and agitators and fabulists in 2017, in the same way that providing ideological cover for the intransigence and backlash of the early Obama era was their project in 2009.

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Yesterday Kevin Durant announced his decision to join the Golden State Warriors and occasioned yet another installment of a time-honored internet tradition: sportswriters coming together to ridicule the passion and emotional investment of the fans whose passion and emotional investment underwrite the entire business of professional sports and therefore, in the long term, those sportswriters’ jobs.

Freddie deBoer pushed back on this and this morning got into it with HardballTalk’s Craig Calcaterra, and while I’m not here to score a Twitter fight or litigate the specifics of the Durant situation, I’ll say this: few writers perform this routine as eagerly and consistently as Calcaterra does. He’s by all appearances a decent guy and writes intelligently about a lot of things, but man oh man do the ambit and incentives of his job at HBT give him a blind spot with respect to how tired the internet’s look-at-these-stupid-fans act has become:

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Tonight the U.S. Men’s National Team plays a crucial Copa America group stage match against Costa Rica. Probably they will win; probably they will also win against Paraguay on Saturday; probably they will lose to Brazil in the knockout round after that. If this proves to be the case, there’ll be an effort to spin the tournament as a positive, a sign that the team is moving in the right direction again after 2015’s disastrous Gold Cup collapse and dispiriting loss to Mexico in the Confederations Cup playoff. This is some bullshit.

The pick for this roll was set back in February, when Soccer Twitter melted down upon seeing the USMNT drawn into Group A with Costa Rica, Paraguay, and Colombia, to whom they suffered a 2-0 defeat in the tournament opener. It’s true that this draw represented something close to a worst-case scenario for the U.S., but only with respect to their plum status as a seeded team alongside Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico; any combination of teams from Pots 2, 3 and 4 was still going to present a pretty easy path out of the group, and a tougher-than-expected draw didn’t change that. Neither Colombia nor Costa Rica are as good as their runs in the 2014 World Cup made them look; Paraguay may not quite be a minnow in the way that Haiti and Venezuela are, but they’re a young team ranked by Elo as the eighth-best of the ten CONMEBOL sides and shouldn’t be a real threat to a veteran American squad.

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