Three Things You Need to Know - January 10, 2018

Trump Reaching All the Way Across the Aisle on Immigration

Remember the days when talks of amnesty torpedoed Marco Rubio? What about when “low-energy Jeb” was destroyed by, then, candidate Trump for referring to illegal immigration as an “act of love”? Those days were so five minutes ago. Yesterday, in a rare glimpse into a meeting between the President and lawmakers, Trump said DACA should be a quote “bill of love.” Eat your heart out Jeb Bush.

Getting a fly on the wall view into one of these meetings isn’t normal - so you gotta wonder - why did the cameras keep rolling yesterday? Was it a mistake or was there something else going on here? The news of the day was dominated by Michael Wolff’s book and questions over Trump’s mental stability. Does anyone see a mentally unstable President in that meeting? To the contrary, he looks - uncharacteristically - reserved, attentive and engaging.

Some have criticized the President’s willingness and ability to reach across the aisle and compromise. That definitely wasn’t the case yesterday. Actually, it was hard to determine whether Trump favored the Democrats at the table or the Republicans. When Feinstein posed the question about the President’s willingness to do a “clean DACA bill now”, Trump went into full-on agreeable mode. It took House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to butt in and remind Trump that Feinstein didn’t mention the wall or border security.

Trump eventually made his intentions a little more clear, but it all kinda seemed like an afterthought for him. He even seemed to want to hurry it all along by saying that - whether he liked or agreed with it - he’d sign anything they put in front of him. There’s not much leadership there, but this meeting had an ulterior purpose.

For those that are pissed off on Twitter that Trump is considering DACA, you might as well get used to it. Trump knows it as does everyone in both the House and the Senate. Without DACA, Trump and the Republicans have ZERO leverage to do anything with border security and immigration reform. Because of that, DACA ain't going nowhere. In fact, I bet all this was already agreed upon before the cameras even turned on.

So why did they keep rolling? The real work on immigration had already happened and was going to be finalized during the closed-door session, but Trump, the Democrats AND the Republicans wanted their constituents to know something. Feinstein wanted to project the appearance that DACA was their primary motivation. McCarthy wanted Republicans to know that border security and immigration reform was the higher priority than any kind of amnesty. And Trump? He wanted to show everyone that he was mentally stable, and - as I’m sure Kushner and Ivanka coached him - willing to reach across the aisle and cooperate.

They should rename Pennsylvania Avenue to Broadway because the theater is just as good.

Bannon Out at Breitbart

Jay Gatsby didn’t like who he was, so he created a new identity for himself.

He didn’t go about his transformation in the most upstanding and moral ways, but he succeeded in becoming a self-made millionaire.

As I reflect on the news of Steve Bannon’s firing from Breitbart yesterday, I can’t help but see a Gatsby-like figure constantly reinventing himself.

Bannon was born to an Irish, working-class family in Virginia. They had nothing. He spent his childhood working for pennies at a junkyard.

But Bannon always wanted more for his life.

He became an officer in the Navy and later worked at the Pentagon.

In the 1980’s he entered investment banking after attending Harvard Business School. He became a Goldman Sachs banker.

After banking, he decided he wanted to get into the movies. He became a screenwriter and a producer.

His film credentials ultimately led to a relationship with Andrew Breitbart.

When Andrew died, Bannon saw an opportunity to create a new chapter in his own book. He saw Breitbart News as a tool to wedge himself into a White House position. In order to court the Trump Administration, he turned the news site into an embarrassing propaganda outlet.

His plan worked. He was named Trump’s chief strategist.

But it wasn’t long before he fell out of the White House’s good graces. He started bragging that he was the brains behind the President.

Bannon and his inflated sense of influence were soon kicked to the curb and he was back at Breitbart.

His return ushered in more of the same dangerous alt-right commentary and yellow journalism as before. And after leading a disastrous campaign for Roy Moore, the Breitbart News board fired him for good yesterday.

Today is a glistening new beginning for Breitbart.

With Bannon gone, they have a chance to restore their dignity and return to reputable reporting.

Let’s hope they take it in that direction.

As for Steve Bannon, he will beat on, his boat against the current. But I have no doubt he will create a new life for himself once again.

Only time will tell where we will see him next.

The Irony of the Popularity Spike of the Lazy River on College Campuses

Water parks are a growing trend on public university campuses. Especially lazy rivers on campus. Just let the irony of a lazy river on a college campus sink in for a moment. This is what higher education has come to.

From a student perspective, this is awesome. Who wouldn’t want a lazy river at their school? Of course, it’s going to be a selling point for the male high school senior trying to decide where to spend all his parents’ money. Colleges don’t have to put anything else in the brochure but pictures of the water park.

For adults who actually care about the future of our great nation, the question is why? Who was the genius that said, “You know what would really motivate our students, set them apart from students around the world, really inspire them to aim high and become productive citizens? A lazy river on campus!”

Now we’re even removing our students’ need for creative problem-solving when it comes to recreation and procrastination. “Don’t waste brain cells on that kids – here’s a water park!”

Many of these water park colleges are public universities originally built on the premise that educated citizens are vital to a democratic society. But now college administrations and trustees are way more concerned with building their university brand than maintaining any kind of public trust. So, they’re turning colleges into all-inclusive resorts.

Auburn University’s water park has a giant paw-print-shaped hot tub that can accommodate 45 students. The lazy river at Louisiana State University spells out “LSU.” Texas Tech’s water park has Wi-Fi, because, I mean, you gotta stay connected. The indoor water park at the University of Missouri features a grotto modeled after the one at the Playboy Mansion.

Booker T. Washington is rolling over in his grave.

Most of these projects are paid for by raising student activity fees, on top of regular tuition. Tuition and fees at public four-year colleges have grown over 60% in the past ten years. Which begs the question of Bernie Sanders and Democrats – how on earth are you supposed to make college free when you have to pay for lazy rivers?

MORE 3 THINGS

It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


https://shop.tomsteyer.com/collections/frontpage/products/tom-2020-pattern-tee


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…

https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/bumper-stickers/products/yanggang-decal


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/apparel/products/math-hat


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


https://store.johndelaney.com/products/dogs-for-delaney-collar


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


https://store.michaelbennet.com/michael-bennet-for-america-natural-canvas-tote/


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


https://store.jayinslee.com/elvis-the-elves-the-mystery-of-the-melting-snow-by-jay-inslee/


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


https://shop.stevebullock.com/collections/apparel/products/emoji-t-shirt


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


https://store.peteforamerica.com/collections/apparel/products/boot-edge-edge-t-shirt


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


https://store.julianforthefuture.com/julian-castro-loteria-card-white-tee/


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


https://store.marianne2020.com/collections/signs/products/love-rally-sign


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…


https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/apparel/products/impolite-arrogant-women-make-history-unisex-t-shirt

-AND-

https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/drinkware/products/strong-american-unions-mug


Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


https://store.kamalaharris.org/poster-for-the-people/


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/artists-for-bernie-coaches-jacket


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/feel-the-bern-fanny-pack


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


https://store.joebiden.com/collections/apparel/products/biden-polo-womens-fit


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.