Gabrielle Canon here, taking you through the remainder of Friday from the west coast! But before I do, here’s an update from my colleague Martin Pengelly:
Remember the great debate over derp? Ben Jacobs, once of this parish, does and he’s written a fine Medium piece about it, in light of the more than slightly ridiculous fuss this week over Joe Biden’s comment about Republicans and “neanderthal thinking” about mask mandates in the age of Covid.
Here’s the video of Joe saying it’s so:
And here’s some coverage of Republicans saying Joe should have said it ain’t so.
And here’s the start of Ben’s dissection of the whole sorry mess:
Out of the foggy mists of time, Neanderthals emerged this week. With them came the dim outlines of a world far distant from the present: the world of 2012.
Suddenly, it is the era of derp again. Derp was the defining complaint about politics in the early teens of the 21st century. With a relatively prosperous country and both parties nominating well-disciplined candidates who were clearly qualified for the Oval Office, the 24-hour cable news cycle needed to cover something. So we got “derp,” a word coined by the creators of South Park that became used to describe the unbearable stupidity of political fights happening for their own sake.
As Ben says, a prime example of derp circa 2012 sprung up over a joke Barack Obama made about Rutherford B Hayes. There are not many jokes about Rutherford B Hayes. There are not many jokes, about Rutherford B Hayes or otherwise, in this long Guardian report from 1877 about how he came to be president. But as I am nothing if not a history dad, I’m going to demand that you read it:
This is a slightly more sprightly telling, from last summer and by me, interviewing the great historian Eric Foner. When Donald Trump started trying to overturn the election, a lot of it came to ring rather true…
Today so far
Senate vote-a-rama stalls over unemployment benefits
Donald Trump was out earlier with another statement, issued from his Florida bolthole and about one of his favourite subjects: immigration.
“Our border is now totally out of control thanks to the disastrous leadership of Joe Biden,” began a former president well versed in struggles to deal with conditions at the southern border and, one might argue, disastrous leadership.
The rest of the statement was a rant about not treating Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents nicely, a muddled restatement of hardline Trump administration policy positions, and claims that Biden had both caused a “spiralling tsunami” and unleashed a “border nightmare”.
Among actions since taking office, Biden has lifted the Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico policy for those seeking asylum in the US – see below – and sought to reunite children with their parents after they were separated at the southern border under one of Trump’s most controversial initiatives.
Some actions by federal authorities under Biden remain controversial, however. Here’s Moustafa Bayoumi, writing for Guardian US last month:
This week, the Biden administration did the unthinkable. It reopened a Trump-era detention site for migrant children. The detention center, a reconverted camp for oil field workers in Carrizo Springs, Texas, is expected to hold 700 children between the ages of 13 and 17, and dozens of kids have already arrived there.
This is an awful development, reminding me of some of the worst abuses of the Trump years.
At the White House today, press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about Trump’s statement. She said: “We don’t take our advice or counsel from former President Trump on immigration policy … We’re gonna chart our own path forward, and that includes treating children with humanity.”
Eric Swalwell sues Trump over Capitol attack
Donald Trump’s post-presidency legal jeopardy is a favourite subject among liberals traumatised by his four years in power, and today Eric Swalwell, a California congressman who briefly ran for his party’s presidential nomination but more memorably served as a House manager in both impeachment trials, has sought to add to the pile.
In a lawsuit filed in Washington DC, the Democrat accused Trump, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Mo Brooks, an Alabama congressman, of making “a clear call to action” before the Capitol riot on 6 January, to which Trump supporters responded by storming the halls of Congress.
Here’s some of what the suit says:
Trump directly incited the violence at the Capitol that followed and then watched approvingly as the building was overrun. As Trump was instructing them to go to the Capitol, insurgents were already forcing their way through barricades, attempting to breach the building, while blasting Trump’s speech on a bullhorn.
Trump aide Jason Miller responded, telling ABC News: “After failing miserably with two impeachment hoaxes, [Swalwell is] attacking our greatest president with yet another witch hunt. It’s a disgrace that a compromised member of Congress like Swalwell still sits on the House intelligence committee.”
Trump has already been sued over the riot by a Democrat in Congress, Bennie Thompson, who was joined in the action by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The former president was served in that case this week.
Other cases to worry Trump include investigations into his financial affairs in New York and his attempts to overturn his election defeat in Georgia.
On the subject of Trump and the Capitol riot, meanwhile, here’s some further reading from Kari Paul:
Today so far