Sunday Reads: Please @UNHumanRights investigate US for the inhumane treatment of children…missing, abused and imprisoned at the border…

I used the word US, for both the Country… the “U.S.” and the “us”…as in we people…this thing we call ourselves. Americans.

What a disgrace!

Thank you Kamala. For giving a voice to these lost and abused and imprisoned children. Because the silence around you is deafening.

From this Mashable link: We’ve become normalized to Trump’s tweets. Not this one.

Nowadays, it takes a lot for Americans to become incensed about Trump’s tweets. We need at least one World War threat or nuclear weapon tangent to wake up and realize we’re seconds away from doomsday.

The President still has that magical ability to completely eviscerate our joy. Take Saturday’s tweet, where Trump — in one of his worst lies yet — had the audacity to complain that Democrats were responsible for separating parents from their children at the border.

This is the tweet of which they speak:

That is an outright lie.

The Mashable article also points to this tweet by Amee Vanderpool:

This is a letter written to the Human Rights Branch of the UN, by the CEO of RINJ…an organization that:

…RINJ Women as a Civil Society Organization seek sustainable human development from a position of perceived feminine helplessness rudely imposed on women by a patriarch to which women traditionally acquiesced.So yes, we rise up above the misconception of weakness to love & support women and children, especially the most vulnerable. While we strive for all our rights we encourage others to joinus.

I am glad that this non-profit group is bringing this latest tRump administration atrocity to the attention of the UN. I just wish that there was some of those with more, and I am going to say it, power to move the UN to investigate the human rights crisis going on at our southern border. Where are the outcries and official demands for an investigation into human rights abuses from say, important Democrat congress people? Foreign policy wonks? Other nations? (As I write this, there has not been any commentary…btw, aside from Kamala Harris.)

Nothing.

(Well, I am calling for an investigation myself…)

Twitter has been busy, from the Mashable link up top:

Now, social media is asking: #WhereAreTheChildren? The hashtag was a constant presence on Twitter all day on Saturday as people demanded answers on the missing children.

https://twitter.com/Goss30Goss/status/1000482458381553671

That tweet there cites something of interest.

Take a look at this: How the Court works –International Criminal Court

Emphasis mine…

The crimes

The Court’s founding treaty, called the Rome Statute, grants the ICC jurisdiction over four main crimes.

First, the crime of genocide is characterised by the specific intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial or religious group by killing its members or by other means: causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; or forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

There is also this:

Second, the ICC can prosecute crimes against humanity, which are serious violations committed as part of a large-scale attack against any civilian population. The 15 forms of crimes against humanity listed in the Rome Statute include offences such as murder, rape, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, enslavement – particularly of women and children, sexual slavery, torture, apartheid and deportation.

The two other crimes the court can prosecute, war crimes and crimes of aggression can be found at the link above. I am mostly concerned with the first two. Genocide and crimes against humanity:

Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group-

Imprisonment, enforced disappearances, enslavement – particularly of women and children, sexual slavery…deportation-

Almost 1,500 Migrant Children Placed in Homes by the U.S. Government Went Missing Last Year

Federal officials lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children last year after a government agency placed the minors in the homes of adult sponsors in communities across the country, according to testimony before a Senate subcommittee Thursday.

The Health and Human Services Department has a limited budget to track the welfare of vulnerable unaccompanied minors, and realized that 1,475 children could not be found after making follow-up calls to check on their safety, an agency official said.

Federal officials came under fire two years ago after rolling back child protection policies meant for minors fleeing violence in Central America. In a follow-up hearing on Thursday, senators said that the agencies had failed to take full responsibility for their care and had delayed crucial reforms needed to keep them from falling into the hands of human traffickers.

A few more examples to prove that tRump and his Administration, as well as anyone who does not officially speak out against this is complicit in crimes against humanity:

Border Patrol Kicked, Punched Migrant Children, Threatened Some with Sexual Abuse, ACLU Alleges

Migrant children under the care of United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) were allegedly beaten, threatened with sexual violence and repeatedly assaulted while in custody between 2009 and 2014, according to a report released Wednesday from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School.

Based on 30,000 pages of documents obtained through a records request, the report includes gruesome, detailed accusations of physical and mental abuse at the hands of officers. The claims were filed by unaccompanied minors, most of whom hailed from El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras. CBP officials have contested large swaths of the report, telling Newsweek that many of the allegations have been investigated and are “false.”

Border authorities were accused of kicking a child in the ribs and forcing a 16-year-old girl to “spread her legs” for an aggressive body search. Other children accused officers of punching a child in the head three times, running over a 17-year-old boy and denying medical care to a pregnant teen, who later had a stillbirth.

Mitra Ebadolahi, ACLU Border Litigation Project staff attorney, said the allegations describe a law enforcement system “marked by brutality and lawlessness.” The organization also accused Border Protection officials of failing to “meaningfully investigate” the allegations detailed in the public records.

I know this is a repeat…but follow this thread:

And don’t forget that ICE has requested to destroy the complaints of sexual abuse since last year:

ICE Plans to Start Destroying Records of Immigrant Abuse, Including Sexual Assault and Deaths in Custody | American Civil Liberties Union

Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently asked the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA), which instructs federal agencies on how to maintain records, to approve its timetable for retaining or destroying records related to its detention operations. This may seem like a run-of-the-mill government request for record-keeping efficiency. It isn’t. An entire paper trail for a system rife with human rights and constitutional abuses is at stake.

1,224 Complaints Reveal a Staggering Pattern of Sexual Abuse in Immigration Detention. Half of Those Accused Worked for ICE.

test alt

The reports obtained by The Intercept include 1,224 complaints filed between 2010 and September 2017, primarily about incidents that took place in ICE custody. But in earlier responses, officials with the DHS Office of Inspector General indicated that the office received some 33,000 complaints between 2010 and 2016 alleging a wide range of abuses in immigration detention. The OIG provided records documenting investigations for just 2 percent of the complaints it shared with The Intercept.

But the sheer number of complaints — despite serious obstacles in the path of those filing them, as well as the patterns they reveal about mistreatment in facilities nationwide — suggest that sexual assault and harassment in immigration detention are not only widespread but systemic, and enabled by an agency that regularly fails to hold itself accountable. While the reports obtained by The Intercept are only a fraction of those filed, they shed light on a system that operates largely in secrecy, and they help hint at the magnitude of the abuse, and the incompetence and complicity of the agency tasked with the safety of the 40,000 women, men, and children it detains each day in more than 200 jails, prisons, and detention centers across the country.

Not sure if they are actually destroying the complaints….The New ICE Age: An Agency Unleashed | by Tina Vasquez | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books

More stories of ICE’s growing powers and abuses continue to emerge. This includes ICE’s push to become an intelligence agency, which would grant the agency unprecedented access to vastly more information, and it request to destroy records of in-custody deaths and sexual assaults—both of which measures have received support from the Trump administration. There are growing signs that the agency is not just flexing its new muscles, but has gone rogue. In Philadelphia alone, according to reporting by ProPublica, there have been numerous allegations of ICE agents’ engaging in racial profiling, conducting warrantless searches, detaining people without probable cause, fabricating evidence, and, in one instance, soliciting a bribe.

The former senior DHS official I spoke with said his “overarching fear” is that, with Trump’s help, ICE is laying the groundwork for institutionalizing its independence, making it immune from Washington oversight: in essence, each ICE field office would operate as its own district with its own rules. If ICE acquires that sort of autonomy and power, it will be incredibly difficult to restore oversight, control, and accountability to the elected federal government in Washington, D.C.

“The American public needs to begin wrapping its head around the disproportionate political power that ICE wields,” said the former DHS official. “The most extreme environment isn’t extreme enough for them. Under Trump, ICE can do more damage than we’ve ever seen.”

The best thing would be for you to read that entire New York Book Review article…by Tina Vasquez. There is a lot of information there, from the immigrants point of view. Please take a look and read it.

I think that covers many of the crimes the ICC can prosecute…I would like to see some investigations into the Trump Administration…for crimes against humanity…and human rights abuses. It is too disgusting to go on with the post, the rest of today’s thread is cartoons.

That disgusting uh…disrespectful treatment of the US Flag are a men’s bathing suit found at my local Walmart.

Bruce Plante Cartoon: Harvey Weinstein gets arrested: 05/26/2018 Cartoon by Bruce Plante

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Bruce Plante Cartoon: Harvey Weinstein gets arrested

05/26/2018 Cartoon by David Cohen

Cartoon by David Cohen -

05/26/2018 Cartoon by Joel Pett

Cartoon by Joel Pett -

Fear and loathing : 05/25/2018 Cartoon by Ed Hall

Cartoon by Ed Hall - Fear and loathing

05/25/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

Finally, I want to end with this,

‘I’m not reading any more of these — they’re lies’: MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace refuses to read Trump tweets on air

MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace, said President Donald Trump’s lies are getting out of control and they are more like “fairy tales and fantasy” at this point.

On Friday afternoon, Wallace began catching up with Trump’s latest early morning tweet storm, reading them to her panel and viewers at home.

“It started with Donald Trump making up about the FBI spies implanted in his campaign,” Wallace said. “It exploded to the point where the Justice Department had to brief lawmakers about what actually happened. And finally today, after those classified meetings where the only public statements we’ve heard have shot down the original allegation, the conspiracy theory seems to have been largely debunked for everyone but Donald Trump and his allies.”

Wallace then read off President Trump’s tweets about Russia.

You can go to the link to read the lying sack of shit’s tweets.

However, before she could finish reading the tweets, Wallace paused and said: “I’m not reading anymore of this, these are bold face lies.”

I wish more media people would do exactly what she did.

This is an open thread.

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Lazy Saturday Reads: Where Are The Children? And Where is Melania?

About two dozen people, mostly Guatemalan parents and their children, waiting to seek asylum in the U.S., in Nogales. Arizona

Good Afternoon!!

Trying to survive the Trump administration is so exhausting and overwhelming. I know I’m far from alone in these feelings. But how much longer can we go on like this? Trump is a master of gaslighting, and he never hesitates to escalate his lies and his efforts to pull all of us down the rabbit hole with him.

Yesterday was a terrible day, as Americans woke up to the horror that Trump is perpetrating on people seeking asylum in our country–ripping parents from their children and then either losing track of the children or even handing them over to human traffickers. PBS Frontline:

Steven Wagner, the acting assistant secretary of the agency’s Administration for Children and Families, faced a barrage of questions from senators on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations over why HHS does not track unaccompanied minors who fail to appear at their immigration court hearings. The agency has faced increased scrutiny following a scathing 2016 report from the committee that found it failed to protect unaccompanied minors from traffickers and other abuses.

Claudia Gómez González, a young woman from Guatemala, was shot in the head by a border patrol agent near Laredo, TX, yesterday.

“It’s just a system that has so many gaps, so many opportunities for these children to fall between the cracks, that we just don’t know what’s going on — how much trafficking or abuse or simply immigration law violations are occurring,” said the committee’s Republican chairman, Sen. Rob Portman.

In 2014, at least 10 trafficking victims, including eight minors, were discovered during a raid by federal and local law enforcement in Portman’s home state of Ohio. As FRONTLINE examined in the recent documentary Trafficked in America, HHS had released several minors to the traffickers. The committee said the case was due to policies and procedures that were “inadequate to protect the children in the agency’s care.”

After unaccompanied minors arrive in the United States, often to reunite with family members or to flee violence or poverty in their home countries, they are typically transferred from border patrol or customs officers to the custody of HHS, which often reunites the minors with a relative or another sponsor. The department is supposed to place check-in phone calls 30 days after a minor’s placement, but during the hearing, Wagner acknowledged gaps in that system.

Between October 2016 and December 2017, he said, the agency was unable to locate almost 1,500 out of the 7,635 minors that it attempted to reach — or about 19 percent. Over two dozen had run away, according to Wagner, who said the agency did not have the capacity to track them down.

This morning, Trump was gaslighting again, blaming Democrats for what his ICE agents are doing.

Two responses:

I’m going with Susan Simpson. Trump is have one of his patented public tantrums, threatening to hurt children and their families until he gets his way. This man is evil.

In case you missed it, here is a video report from Chris Hayes’s show last night.

Without a doubt, this is the most important story for Americans to know about. This is being done in our name, and we must stop it. This is what Hitler did, as he gradually dehumanized Jews, referring to them as “vermin.” Trump is doing that too–calling refugees and immigrants “animals.” Some in the media have tried to excuse Trump by claiming he was only referring to gang members; but it’s clear he means all immigrants. From the Washington Post:

Immigrant advocates have long said that the children, primarily from Central America, are fleeing violence in their home countries and seeking safe harbor in the United States. But the Trump administration has used their plight to justify cracking down on policies that allow these migrants to be released and obtain hearings before immigration judges, rather than being deported immediately.

“We have the worst immigration laws of any country, anywhere in the world,” Trump said at the roundtable held at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center. “They exploited the loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors.”

Trump added: “They look so innocent. They’re not innocent.”

Jews were forced to wear yellow stars. Trump is forcing parents who have just had their children torn from them to wear yellow bracelets. Tucson.com:

Alma Jacinto covered her eyes with her hands as tears streamed down her cheeks.

The 36-year-old from Guatemala was led out of the federal courtroom without an answer to the question that brought her to tears: When would she see her boys again?

Jacinto wore a yellow bracelet on her left wrist, which defense lawyers said identifies parents who are arrested with their children and prosecuted in Operation Streamline, a fast-track program for illegal border crossers.

Moments earlier, her public defender asked the magistrate judge when Jacinto would be reunited with her sons, ages 8 and 11. There was no clear answer for Jacinto, who was sentenced to time served on an illegal-entry charge after crossing the border with her sons near Lukeville on May 14.

We should be protesting in the streets until someone in Trump’s orbit convinces him the policy is hurting him. We know he has no shame, and we know John Kelly has no shame; but surely there is someone around Trump who isn’t a raging psychopath.

Nickolas Kristof wrote on April 25: Why Does Trump Treat Immigrant Kids Cruelly? Because He Can.

A lifetime ago, Anne Frank’s family applied for visas to the United States to escape Hitler, but we rejected the Franks and other desperate Jewish refugees. We thought: This is Europe’s problem, not ours, and we don’t want to be overrun by “those people.”

Today President Trump is again slamming the door on desperate refugees. Indeed, the Trump administration is going a step further by wrenching children from the arms of asylum-seekers, apparently as a way of inflicting gratuitous cruelty to discourage new arrivals.

José Demar Fuentes, a 30-year-old college graduate, arrived in November with his 1-year-old son, Mateo, from El Salvador, where Fuentes was on a gang’s execution list, according to his lawyer, Noreen Barcena. Father and son entered the United States legally, presenting themselves to an immigration officer, providing birth certificates and other documentation, and requesting asylum to save their lives.

Several days later, immigration officers came and took Mateo.

“They basically pried my client’s son from his arms and told him that he had to give up his son,” Barcena told me. “They were both crying.”

Esteban Pastor, 29, hoped Border Patrol agents would free him and his 18-month-old son while they fought their deportation case. Instead the father was imprisoned for crossing the border illegally and his toddler was placed in federal foster care. For months, Pastor said he didn’t know what had happened to his son and he was deported to Guatemala without him last October (Houston Chronicle).

This cannot stand. I hope Robert Mueller is getting ready for more indictments, and that he has carefully planned ahead for the day when Trump finds a way to get rid of him. People who have worked with him say he likely has reports prepared to release and other prosecutors who can carry on the fight.

The latest stories on the Trump/Russia front, in case you haven’t already read them:

Michael Isakoff at Yahoo News: ‘Trump’s son should be concerned’: FBI obtained wiretaps of Putin ally who met with Trump Jr.

Wired: Former Trump Campaign Aide: My Russia Ties Are Not Nefarious!

Politico: Manafort’s ex-son-in-law’s attorneys quit over unpaid bills and ‘lack of candor.’

CNN: Russian oligarch met with Michael Cohen at Trump Tower during transition.

Mother Jones: Roger Stone to Associate: “Prepare to Die.”

Jack Shaeffer at Politico: Week 53: Trump Goes Spy Hunting and Gets Skunked.

 

Has anyone seen Melania Trump? Where is she? “She hasn’t been seen in public for two weeks.” The Washington Post:

First lady Melania Trump, who spent five nights in the hospital following a kidney procedure, has been out of public view for 15 days running — an unusually long absence even for a first lady who relishes life outside the spotlight.

The first lady was last seen on May 10 standing alongside her husband at Joint Base Andrews as the couple greeted three Americans who had been released from prison in North Korea. On May 14, the White House announced that she had undergone a successful embolization procedure at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to treat a benign kidney condition.

Although medical experts have said the kind of procedure the first lady had typically requires only a night’s hospitalization, White House and East Wing aides have said nothing more about her condition and instead asked for privacy.

Someone on Twitter said she had gone from the hospital to her parents’ home in Maryland. I don’t know if that’s true, but Trump claims she’s in the White House now.

Friday morning, a reporter shouted a question to the president about a his wife’s whereabouts as he prepared to board Marine One to attend the Naval Academy commencement.

According to a pool report, President Trump responded by pointing to a window in the White House residence, and said: “She’s doing great. She’s looking at us right there.”

Reporters turned to look at the spot he indicated, but there was no sign of the first lady.

What’s going on? From The Palmer Report (yes, I know it’s sort of a gossip site): Melania Trump has gone missing.

Melania Trump is missing. There’s no other way to put it. She disappeared into the hospital under suspicious circumstances, the White House ended up refusing to explain what was going on, Donald Trump then claimed she had returned home, and no one has seen her since. Now a particularly bizarre stunt today by Donald Trump raises even more questions about where Melania is, and why….

Something serious is going on, and if it were the kind of health issue they could talk about, they’d just tell us. Instead the White House claimed Melania was going to be in the hospital for multiple days for a “kidney procedure” that shouldn’t have taken that long. Then, when she was still missing in action after the initially stated timeframe had come and gone, the White House refused to answer the media’s questions about whether she was even still in the hospital. Now it’s gotten even weirder, thanks to her husband….

it’s fair to assume he’s lying about Melania being in the White House at all. Where the heck is she? Why is she hiding? Whatever has happened to her, it’s the kind of thing that the White House clearly can’t talk about.

If the Washington Post is asking questions and publishing stories about this, other outlets will soon be doing the same, and the White House is going to have to explain her absence from public view. I hope Barron is OK.

So . . . what do you think? What stories have you been following?


Friday Reads: What Kind of Country do We Really want to Be?

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

What kind of country are we? What kind of moron parent leaves guns around so a 13 year old can grab them to shoot his teacher and a girl in his class? Both are in critical condition and the shooter is in custody. Let’s make bets on this girl and teacher trying to stop him from toxic male behavior which is now being mislabeled ‘bullying’ because some dads teach their sons to be predators?

Two people are in critical condition and a shooter is in custody after a shooting inside of Noblesville West Middle School.

The Noblesville Police Department said the call first came in at 9:06 a.m. Two people were shot, a 13-year-old girl and a teacher. They are in critical condition.

A male student was detained and taken into custody.

The teacher that was shot while taking down the shooter and was taken to IU Health Methodist Hospital. The teen was taken to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. Families have been notified.

Additionally, another student is being treated at Riverview Health with a fractured ankle.

“There a male student at Noblesville West Middle School who has been detained,” said Kevin Jowitt, Noblesville Chief of Police. “We believe he is the involved suspect. We have no reason to believe that there is any kind of a threat connected to this anywhere else.”

After the shooting, a SWAT team swept the building.

News 8 spoke with one parent, Chad, who had just learned that his daughter was safe.

“Well, my ex-wife called me and she was hysterical and couldn’t even talk,” he said. “And I had to calm her down and what’s going on. All she said there was shooting at my kid’s school. My daughter called her while it was happening from underneath the desk and it sounded like it was coming from another hallway.”

One victim is a 13-year-old girl. One victim is a teacher that was shot while taking down the shooter. The adult was taken to IU Health Methodist Hospital. The teen was taken to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. Families have been notified.

It’s impossible to wonder how far the depths of Republican Party immorality can go.  ” The teacher was shot while taking down the shooter.”  Is that the new central job duty for teachers now?  Police classrooms for kids of parents who are ammosexuals?

The teachers of Indiana have released a statement that says they want no thoughts and prayers.  They want action!

The Indiana State Teachers Association released a statement following the shooting:

“Our hearts go out to the students, educators, families and community members of Noblesville who this morning faced a senseless act of gun violence at Noblesville West Middle School. We understand at least one student and an adult may be injured, and we are praying for the best.

This national crisis has landed in our backyard. We all have a responsibility to keep our kids safe from violence, and it’s unconscionable that they live in fear that one day their school may be next. When is enough, enough?

Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough to keep our students and educators safe. We need to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people. We now know that it is up to communities, families, activists, educators and the students themselves to stand up and demand that those who are trusted with protecting them do their jobs.”

Exactly, enough should be enough. But, hey, the party of “family values” values indentured servitude too.  Tax dollars are being used to turn aides into virtual servants.

Freshman Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.) and his wife turned the congressman’s staff into personal servants, multiple former aides told POLITICO — assigning them tasks from grocery shopping to fetching the congressman’s clothes to caring for their pet dog, all during work hours.

POLITICO has spoken with four former staffers who detailed a deeply dysfunctional office, where the congressman and his wife, Flanna, often demanded that staff run personal errands outside their typical congressional duties. The couple called on staff to pick up groceries, chauffeur Garrett’s daughters to and from his Virginia district, and fetch clothes that the congressman forgot at his Washington apartment. They were even expected to watch and clean up after Sophie, their Jack Russell-Pomeranian mix, the aides said.

The staffers said feared that if they refused Garrett or his wife’s orders — both were known for explosive tempers — they would struggle to advance in their careers. It wasn’t just full-time staff: many of the allegedly inappropriate requests were made of interns, the former aides said.

“I didn’t know who I was working for: was I working for him? Was I working for her?” said one of those staffers who, like others interviewed for this story, asked not to be named for fear of retribution. “We became their gofers.”

It all comes from the top of the rotting head of the fish. This WAPO Op-Ed is from former Republican Jennifer Ruben.  The hypocrisy, greed, and love of power sends a stench smelled round the world.

Speaking at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on Thursday morning, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) pronounced that “there is a deeply serious problem we see right now within our society.” What might that be? “We see moral relativism becoming more and more pervasive in our culture,” he declared. “Identity politics and tribalism have grown on top of this. All of it has been made more prevalent by 21st-century technology. And there is plenty of money to be made on making it worse.”

One doesn’t know whether to laugh, cry or scream. Ryan’s lecturing about truth and tribalism comes the day after the president’s lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, literally said “truth is relative“; during an episode in which the president has made up a fake scandal about the FBI “spying on his campaign”; and in an administration in which the president has lied more than 3,000 timessince taking office. Ryan denounces tribalism but supports the efforts of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) to smear the FBI and interfere with a legitimate investigation of the president and his cronies. Ryan denounces money in politics as we learn the president’s lawyer Michael Cohen had a lucrative business hitting up corporations and foreign governments for money. Ryan grouses about moral relativism but did not support a resolution condemning the president’s comparison of neo-Nazis to anti-Nazi protesters, because doing so would have just devolved into partisanship or something.

Speaking of money in politics, has Ryan called for a single hearing on the president’s foreign emoluments? On the Trump family’s conflicts of interest? On Jared Kushner’s receipt of two jumbo loans shortly after he met with principals of the lenders?

What would you expect from a man who considers ‘The Virtue of Selfishness” to be his personal moral guide?  There is, of course, no doubt our President and all around him are corrupt as hell.

Eleven days before the presidential inauguration last year, a billionaire Russian businessman with ties to the Kremlin visited Trump Tower in Manhattan to meet with Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, according to video footage and another person who attended the meeting.

In Mr. Cohen’s office on the 26th floor, he and the oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, discussed a mutual desire to strengthen Russia’s relations with the United States under President Trump, according to Andrew Intrater, an American businessman who attended the meeting and invests money for Mr. Vekselberg. The men also arranged to see one another at the inauguration, the second of their three meetings, Mr. Intrater said.

Days after the inauguration, Mr. Intrater’s private equity firm, Columbus Nova, awarded Mr. Cohen a $1 million consulting contract, a deal that has drawn the attention of federal authorities investigating Mr. Cohen, according to people briefed on the inquiry

Why would any one vote for a candidate that requires a ‘fixer’ and who has so many mob ties? How can any one defend this let alone any one sworn to uphold the US Constitution?  How can any person who has to work for a living support this kind of policy?

Or any parent support this kind of policy?

And why are these children still missing?

The Trump administration recently announced a new, get-tough policy that will separate parents from their children if the family is caught crossing the border illegally.

It was a big news story. So big it overshadowed the fact that the federal government has lost — yes, lost — 1,475 migrant children in its custody.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told Congress that within 48 hours of being taken into custody the children are transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services, which finds places for them to stay.

“They will be separated from their parent,” said Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.

“Just like we do in the United States every day,” Nielsen replie

Except that the states, unlike the federal government, have systems in place to better screen the people who become guardians of the children and much better ways to keep track of those children.

And not lose them.

That is what happened to 1,475 minors swept up at the border and taken into custody by the federal government.

Is this how a great nation treats its chidren?  Is this the kind of life we want children to have in this country?

We have a law enforcement crisis.  But, it’s not related to the FBI is investigating the Treason curious President.  It’s how law enforcement treats racial and ethnic minorities in this country.

Republicans, touting themselves as the party of law and order, have long aligned themselves with the law-enforcement and intelligence communities. Just before the presidential election, Trump’s newest lawyer and spokesman Rudy Giuliani defended the FBI against criticism about the agency’s handling of an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. FBI agents “don’t look at it politically,” he said at the time. He frequently touted his ties to the bureau, and claimed to have insider knowledge. In an interview with CNN, in August 2016, Giuliani said FBI agents “talk to me all the time.” In another interview with Fox, days before the election, Giuliani said the FBI agents were “outraged” with Comey’s handling of the Clinton probe. In a radio interview unearthed by The Daily Beast, Giuliani described “a kind of revolution going on inside the FBI” among agents who he claimed disagreed with the decision to clear Clinton of criminal charges. The intelligence community frequently tries to position itself as apolitical, but public opinion of intelligence agencies has in recent decades been clearly divided on partisan lines. Those views have clearly shifted.

Gallup polling late last year found that about half of Republicans said the FBI does an excellent or good job, down 13 percentage points since 2014. At the same time, the polling for Democrats who said the FBI does a good or excellent job was up nine points to 69 percent, compared with 60 percent in 2014. “The partisan shift in views suggests Trump’s and other Republicans’ efforts to cast doubt on the FBI’s professionalism and portray it as a partisan agency have been somewhat successful among their supporters,” Gallup’s RJ Reinhart wrote.

In the 22 months since the FBI launched its counterintelligence investigation into potential coordination between members of Trump’s campaign and Russia, Trump has attacked his own intelligence and law-enforcement communities far more often than he has condemned Moscow for its election interference. The president has chided the FBI, former FBI Director James Comey, Mueller, the Russia “witch hunt,” and the “deep state” in more than four dozen tweets since April alone. He used Twitter to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first and only time on April 8. On March 21, Trump tweeted: “Getting along with Russia (and others) is a good thing, not a bad thing.” On April 2, he called the FBI and Justice Department’s desire to withhold sensitive information related to the ongoing investigation “an embarrassment to our country

This is what runs for office in Trump and Ryan’s party of “family values”:   ‘GOP House candidate in Illinois is a 9/11 truther, said Beyonce had ties to the Illuminati.’  They are the country’s unhinged and the country’s most extreme religionists.

The Republican nominee for a US House seat in Illinois has said the September 11 terrorist attacks were an inside job and that singer Beyonce Knowles has ties to the Illuminati.

Bill Fawell is running against incumbent Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos in Illinois’ 17th District, where she won by 20 points in 2016 even though the district also voted narrowly for Donald Trump. Fawell won his uncontested primary in March. He has not reported any fundraising to the Federal Election Commission, per publicly available records.

A KFile review reveals Fawell, a real estate broker, pushed conspiracy theories in blogs and his 2012 book, “New American Revolution.”

In his book, Fawell pushed a conspiracy theory that 7 World Trade Center collapsed as part of a controlled demolition and the attacks were a plot to destroy documents.

“Go to YouTube and punch in ‘Building #7’ It’s the third building that went down with the twin towers on 9/11,” Fawell wrote. “Nothing hit this building, not a thing, and it fell entirely upon its own. If it looks like a standard commercial implosion demolition, it’s because that is exactly what it is.”

“It’s interesting to note that the clandestine branch of the CIA was housed on the top floor,” he added. “No personnel were lost, but any and all documents were destroyed, just like a giant shredder. The Pentagon was hit in a wing being remodeled (but few people), that held a mountain of paperwork regarding 1 trillion dollars which the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, was having trouble accounting for. That mountain of paperwork became a pile of ash.”

In a February 2013 post on the blog of a political action committee he established in 2012 called Elect a New Congress, Fawell said that Beyonce’s husband, rapper Jay-Z, “has a long history of serving up the godless Illuminati” and shared a YouTube video that speculated that Beyonce’s upcoming halftime performance at the Super Bowl would have Illuminati symbolism.

The Illuminati is a secret society that serves as the basis for a popular conspiracy theory that alleges that many of the world’s leaders and celebrities are masterminding world events.

In the same blog post, Fawell said that the previous Super Bowl’s halftime show, performed by Madonna, was satanic and influenced by the Illuminati. He also called Madonna a “narcissist skank with the crooked teeth.”

In an interview with CNN, Fawell stood by his blog posts and the theories he espoused on them. He said that Jay-Z and Beyonce expressed their support for the Illuminati in their videos, and that singer Taylor Swift had as well.

But, such is the life of any one that only listens to Trump and Fox News. “Fox’s favorite new pro-gun pundit is a birther who hates gay people” and just happens to be a black man.  This is from Oliver Willis at share blue.

Fox News and the NRA are promoting a pro-gun birther pundit who says gay people are “devil-worshipping child molesters,” black Democrats are “slaves,” the student survivors of the Parkland shooting are “silly little immature media prosti-tots,” and Michelle Obama is a man.

Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt is so impressed by him, she suggested he run for office.

Video of Mark Keith Robinson’s angry rant to his city council in North Carolina has gone viral over the last few days, assisted by the right-wing media, the NRA, and even a Republican member of Congress.

But Robinson has a slew of social media posts that quickly reveal him to be an extremist with bizarre theories and a burning hatred for the survivors of the Parkland school shooting.

A quick visit to Robinson’s Facebook account, where he shows off his NRA hat and touts his membership in the organization, would have exposed his strange rantings. They were not hard to find.

He believes a “big push to Marxist Socialism” is underway in America, and that “hammering of the NRA” and how stories about mass shooters are reported are evidence of this conspiracy.

Robinson wrote that “since the end of World War Two this nation has been slowly poisoned” with “the poison of the Marxist” in “school, in the news, in the movies and television, in music, and even in church.”

He described the teenage activists who organized the March for Our Lives after the Parkland shooting as “silly little immature media prosti-tots” who “need to grab a passy (sic), have seat in time out, and shut up.” The students are “simply making irritating noise” when they call for reforms to reduce gun violence, he claimed.

How have we gotten to the point where on group of people actually do nothing all day but listen to a  “news” channel that pushes nothing but conspiracy theories?  What happens to a country when the press has to daily cover a president who lies and creates his own conspiracy theories like the current “the deep state and Obama planted spies in my campaign?”

This is how conservative media transformed a small news item into a full-blown conspiracy theory that the president (apparently) believes to be true.
The plot goes like this: During the summer of 2016, on the clandestine orders of then-president Barack Obama, the FBI and CIA hatched an ambitious plan to topple the Trump campaign from the inside. In a scandal of unprecedented scope, Democratic politicians commandeered American counterintelligence resources to spy on their primary political opponent and boost Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the election. The Russia investigation that has dominated headlines for nearly two years is, in fact, a desperate smokescreen conjured up by terrified Deep State actors to conceal evidence of their own wrongdoing, and to frame the president for heinous crimes he didn’t commit.
On May 8, The Washington Post reported on the White House’s decision to back the Justice Department’s withholding of information from House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, on the grounds that disclosure would expose the identity of “a U.S. citizen who has provided information to the FBI and CIA.” The authors added, though, that the individual had been a source of information used by the special counsel’s office—and that it was unclear whether Trump knew this “key fact” when his administration chose to side with law enforcement.
It didn’t take long for him to find out. Almost immediately, the right-wing-media ecosystem began laundering and repackaging this news item, weaving its constituent elements together with Trumpian talking points until a full-blown conspiracy theory worthy of the president’s tweets emerged on the other side. This metamorphosis is what would happen if a word cloud sourced from a Trump rally were used in a giant game of telephone—but one in which the gibberish end result were then broadcast as news to hundreds of millions of recipients.
How did this happen?

Go read the article at GQ.  It’s a tick tock of how Fox and the Russian Potted Plant blew up the story into a full blow pack of lies. At Vox, we have this: “Spygate,” the false allegation that the FBI had a spy in the Trump campaign, explained Stefan Halper, a professor and FBI informant, didn’t “spy” on Trump. Here’s what actually happened.”  Read it and arrive at this scary conclusion:

On this, Trump has a point: A ginned-up controversy is about as politically useful to him as a real scandal would be.

Turning public schools into armed authoritarian institutions that enforce things like saying pledges, praying, and memorizing false history is exactly what DeVos is planning to do. If she can’t, then she’ll take the money from schools that won’t and send it to private schools that do.

Today, we face more challenges than ever before. To me, the essential question is still is this what I want the youngest, most vulnerable among us to face as they grow up?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: Stupidity, Insane Conspiracy Theories . . . And Baby Animals

Baby penguins

Good Afternoon!!

It’s hard to believe things could get any crazier, but I think maybe Trump is going to find ways to make it happen. It’s so exhausting, that I spent some time this morning looking at photos of baby animals. As always, it calmed me down somewhat. I hope these pictures will do the same for you.

The big news last night was the latest Devin Nunes insanity, but this morning that has been eclipsed by threats exchanged between Pence and North Korea. So for now, the planned summit between Trump and Kim John Un is cancelled. Politico reports:

President Donald Trump on Thursday canceled his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that was scheduled for next month, saying Kim’s “tremendous anger and open hostility” made the historic meeting untenable.

“Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump wrote to Kim in a letter released by the White House.

Baby Camel

In the letter, the U.S. leader thanked Kim for the “wonderful dialogue” that had developed in recent weeks between the two nations while leaving the door open to a rescheduled summit in the future.

“If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write,” the president said. “The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth.”

I still do a double take every time I see the words “President Donald Trump.” This can’t be happening, but it is. You can read the letter at the Politico link.

North Korea had threatened to cancel the meeting because of remarks made by Mike Pence on Fox News. CNN:

US Vice President Mike Pence warned North Korea that it could end up like Libya if it fails to make a nuclear deal with Washington.

“There was some talk about the Libyan model last week, and you know, as the President made clear, this will only end like the Libyan model ended if Kim Jong Un doesn’t make a deal,” Pence said Monday.

Baby DonkeyWhen it was noted that the comparison could be interpreted as a threat, Pence told Fox News: “Well, I think it’s more of a fact.”

Previous comments, by President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton, that the administration was looking at Libya as a potential example for North Korea to follow, provoked alarm in Pyongyang.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi agreed to abandon his nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief in the early 2000s. Within years, Gadhafi was overthrown and killed by rebels backed by Washington.

A North Korean official responded by calling Pence “stupid” and a “political dummy.”

A North Korean official has lashed out at US Vice President Mike Pence and said Pyongyang is ready for a nuclear showdown if dialogue with the United States fails.

Choe Son Hui, a vice-minister in the North Korean Foreign Ministry, said if the US continued on its current path, she would suggest to North Korea‘s leadership that they reconsider the planned summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Baby Skunk

“Whether the US will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States,” Choe said in comments carried by North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency Thursday.Choe was responding to comments by Pence made Monday during a Fox News interview that she deemed “unbridled and impudent.

So, as Trump says repeatedly, “we’ll see what happens.”

Some Twitter reactions:

The art of deal folks! Trump just gave a little speech about the cancellation with Pence looking on adoringly.

So we’re still not sure what’s going on with Devin Nunes’ phony meeting to supposedly get classified information about an FBI informant who was asked to look into concerning contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign. First it was going to be a meeting with just Intel officials, Nunes, and Trey Gowdy, no Democrats allowed. Then after Democrats and some Republicans objected, the White House agreed to have two meetings–the Nunes/Gowdy meeting followed by a briefing the Gang of Eight. Now apparently Adam Schiff will be included in the first meeting.

MSNBC is reporting that Schiff was seen going into the DOJ for the 12PM meeting. Vox is reporting that Paul Ryan will also be in the noon meeting, but I haven’t seen reports of him entering the DOJ.

We don’t yet know if John Kelly was included in the meeting, which would be completely inappropriate. Still Kelly doesn’t need to be there, because Nunes will report everything to Trump anyway. I haven’t heard anything about who will be in 2PM meeting yet. Paul Ryan has said he won’t be there.

Baby Flamingo

If you didn’t see Rachel Maddow’s show on Tuesday, I’m sure you’ve heard about her interview with James Clapper, in which the former Intel chief said that Russian interference in the 2016 election clearly swung the result to Trump. PBS News Hour also interview Clapper: Here’s their report: Russia ‘turned’ election for Trump, Clapper believes.

Russians not only affected the outcome of the 2016 presidential election — they decided it, says James Clapper, who served as the director of national intelligence in the Obama administration, and during the 2016 vote.

“To me, it just exceeds logic and credulity that they didn’t affect the election, and it’s my belief they actually turned it,” he told the PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff on Wednesday.

Clapper, who chronicles his life and career in his new book, “Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From a Life in Intelligence,” said Russians are “are bent on undermining our fundamental system here. And when a foreign nation, particularly an adversary nation, gets involved as much as they did in our political process, that’s a real danger to this country.”

Clapper also responded to Trump’s idiotic conspiracy theory about “spies” in his campaign.

Clapper called those accusations “distorted.” He said there is a “a big gulf between a spy in the traditional sense — employing spycraft or tradecraft — and an informant who is open about … who he was and what the questions he was asking.”

Baby Porcupine

“The important thing was not to spy on the campaign but rather to determine what the Russians were up to. Were they trying to penetrate to campaign, gain access, gain leverage, gain influence, and that was the concern that the FBI had? … I think they were just doing their job and trying to protect our political system.”

Even Carter Page says he didn’t have any problems with the FBI source who spoke with him. CNN: Carter Page: I ‘never found anything unusual’ in conversations with FBI source.

Former Trump campaign aide Carter Page on Tuesday discussed his encounters with an FBI confidential source during the 2016 campaign, saying he “never found anything unusual.”

Page said on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” that he first met the individual while attending an academic conference at Cambridge University in July 2016, a week after his visit to Russia.

“I never found anything unusual, whatsoever,” Page told Cooper about their conversations. Page said he and the source stayed in contact for more than a year, including meeting up back in the United States.

Baby Llama

“We would talk about various things that are happening. And, you know, he’s someone who is, you know, long term, someone who had been in, part of the establishment in Republican politics. So typically around the convention time and halfway through a presidential year you keep bringing on more people in terms of potential supporters from the party, etc., and it just seemed like something like that,” he said.

In other news, the NFL released a new rule to prevent players from exercising their their free speech rights. The Daily Beast: The NFL’s New Anthem Policy Is Madness—But the Players Can Stop It.

In its own, typically blinkered and inimitable fashion, the NFL decided to dig in its heels on Wednesday, wrapping itself in the flag, and requiring players who are on the field to stand during the national anthem or face a series of penalties.

It’s a course of action that will fail, and spectacularly so. Ever since Colin Kaepernick—who has since been banished and is currently suing the NFL for collusion—began taking a knee, the league has wrung its hands, hemming and hawing as they tried to devise a means to stanch the tide of largely bad-faith criticism. In the end, they chose to silence its labor force….

Here’s the NFL’s newest solution to the grave and pressing matter of NFL players speaking out against systemic racism and the state-sanctioned violence perpetrated by law enforcement: Previously, all personnel were required to be on the field while someone belted out “The Star-Spangled Banner,” with no further specifications regarding their behavior. That is, if someone wanted to take a knee, the NFL couldn’t do squat.

Baby Gray Parrots

Now the game operations manual has been adjusted, after two days of meetings between NFL owners and the league in Atlanta. Anyone who prefers not to place a hand on his heart during the anthem can remain in the locker room, but if they step on the field, they are required to “stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.”

Read the rest at the link.

Trump was thrilled with the NFL’s stupid decision, and yesterday he suggested that any players who didn’t want to stand and salute the flag should be kicked out of the country. The Washington Post: Trump: NFL players unwilling to stand for anthem maybe ‘shouldn’t be in the country’

NFL players unwilling to stand for the national anthem should be barred from playing and maybe “shouldn’t be in the country,” President Trump said in a television interview that aired Thursday.

The president was reacting to the adoption Wednesday of a new NFL policy that could bring disciplinary action for players who kneel or make other protests during the national anthem.

Trump said he objected to a provision in the new policy that will allow players to stay in the locker room while the song is played, but added: “Still, I think it’s good.”

“You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there, maybe they shouldn’t be in the country,” Trump said in an interview that aired Thursday morning on “Fox & Friends” on Fox News.

I can’t wait until this fascist numbskull is impeached, forced to resign, or preferably sent to prison.

What stories are you following today?


Wednesday Reads: Made in tRump ‘Mercia

 

Harley-Davidson made in Thailand?

Tax cuts aren’t saving jobs at Harley-Davidson – Vox

In September 2017, House Speaker Paul Ryan traveled to a Harley-Davidson plant in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, to tout the Republican tax bill, which President Trump would sign later that year. “Tax reform can put American manufacturers and American companies like Harley-Davidson on a much better footing to compete in the global economy and keep jobs here in America,” Ryan told workers and company leaders.

Four months later and 500 miles away in Kansas City, Missouri, 800 workers at a Harley-Davidson factory were told they would lose their jobs when the plant closed its doors and shifted operations to a facility in York, Pennsylvania — a net loss of 350 jobs. Workers and union representatives say they didn’t see it coming.

Just days later, the company announced a dividend increase and a stock buyback plan to repurchase 15 million of its shares, valued at about $696 million.

It’s a pattern that’s played out over and over since the tax cuts passed — companies profit, shareholders reap the benefits, and workers get left out. Corporate stock buybacks hit a record $178 billion in the first three months of 2018; average hourly earnings for American workers are up 67 cents over the past year. Harley-Davidson is an American symbol, and President Trump has trotted it out as an example of business success. But as it’s getting its tax cut, it’s outsourcing jobs and paying shareholders.

What will those tough tRump bikers drive now?

Harley Davidson is shutting down a US factory and moving jobs to Bangkok after cashing in on Trump’s tax cut

Adding insult to injury, the company announced plans to open a production facility in Thailand later in 2018, explaining it has nothing to do with jobs, but to get around tariffs President Trump has called for on steel from overseas and avoid a possible $30 million increase in costs.

Workers in Kansas City aren’t buying it.

“Part of my job is being moved to York, but the other part is going to Bangkok,” claimed Richard Pence, a Harley machinist working at the Kansas City plant, in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, adding the company is already packing up the plant and that he suspects some of the machinery is heading overseas.

“These companies are taking tax breaks with one hand and handing out pink slips with the other,” said International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers President Bob Martinez Jr in a statement. “I’m going to call it like I see it … this is a corporate ambush on working people.”

“I think there’s going to be a big layoff in August and an even bigger one in October. After that, we will basically have a few hundred people left to finish out the Sportster line through the next model-year next spring. Then, that will be it for us,” Pence — an employee of Harley Davidson for over 21 years — added, before stating, “It’s sort of like the horse is out of the barn now.”

That’s it…horses…those tRump bikers can ride horses!

Because this horse’s ass:

tRump just does’t give a shit about the employees of Harley-Davidson…

 

Stacy Abrams won the Democratic Primary for Governor of Georgia last night…by a whopping 74%!

No American State Has Ever Had a Black Female Governor — But Stacey Abrams Is Now in Position to Be the First | Alternet

Stacey Abrams won the Democratic primary for the governor’s race in Georgia Tuesday night, putting her in position to be the first black woman to become governor in the history of the United States. No major party has ever nominated a black woman to be governor before, and only a handful of black men have ever been elected as state governors.

The former state legislator won with overwhelming support in the primary. She defeated Stacey Evans, also a former state legislator, and early indications suggest that her Republican opponent will have to be decided after the primary election goes to a runoff.

Abrams won support and praise from many corners. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow called her “one of the most charismatic politicians of her generation.”

Stacey Abrams Wins Georgia Democratic Primary for Governor, Making History – The New York Times

Georgia Democrats selected the first black woman to be a major party nominee for governor in the United States on Tuesday, choosing Stacey Abrams, a liberal former State House leader, who will test just how much the state’s traditionally conservative politics are shifting.

By defeating Stacey Evans, also a former state legislator, Ms. Abrams also became Georgia’s first black nominee for governor, a prize that has eluded earlier generations of African-American candidates in the state. The general election is sure to draw intense national attention as Georgia voters determine whether a black woman can win in the Deep South, a region that has not had an African-American governor since Reconstruction.

She will face either Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the top Republican vote getter Tuesday, or Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Mr. Cagle and Mr. Kemp will vie for their party’s nomination in a July runoff.

Listen to her speech from last night…you will see how powerful she is, I am so happy she has won. Yeah, I voted for her too.

Watch Stacey Abrams’ victory speech – CNN Video

Video at that link.

Here is a review of the election results:

Republicans played it safe, Democrats picked fresh faces – Axios

One more thing…

Now some cartoons:

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 05/22/2018 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

 

My cousin Santana graduated on Monday…I told her the same thing.

Graduation: 05/20/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Graduation

05/23/2018 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson -

05/23/2018 Cartoon by Kevin Siers

Cartoon by Kevin Siers -

turned tables: 05/23/2018 Cartoon by Peter Dunlap-Shohl

Cartoon by Peter Dunlap-Shohl - turned tables

Ballcap semiotics: 05/23/2018 Cartoon by Jen Sorensen

Cartoon by Jen Sorensen - Ballcap semiotics

05/23 Mike Luckovich: That’s gotta hurt. | Mike Luckovich

 

N. Korea Summit: 05/23/2018 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Cartoon by Paul Fell - N. Korea Summit

Mo “Box of Rocks” Brooks: 05/20/2018 Cartoon by J.D. Crowe

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - Mo

05/22/2018 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

Justice Department Tampering: 05/22/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Justice Department Tampering

Nick Anderson cartoon: 05/22/2018 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson - Nick Anderson cartoon

School Shooting Survivor: 05/22/2018 Cartoon by J.D. Crowe

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - School Shooting Survivor

The King’s speech: 05/22/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - The King's speech

 

This next couple of cartoons are from 2016:

And on that note, I’ll end it there. This is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads: The Constitutional Crisis Has Arrived And No One Is Protesting

Good Morning!!

It was almost more than I could bear to turn on my computer this morning. We’re experiencing a slow-motion Saturday night massacre, and there are no protests. Is this how democracy ends–“not with a bang but a whimper?”

Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post: The constitutional crisis is here.

Stop waiting for the constitutional crisis that President Trump is sure to provoke. It’s here.

On Sunday, via Twitter, Trump demanded that the Justice Department concoct a transparently political investigation, with the aim of smearing veteran professionals at Justice and the FBI and also throwing mud at the previous administration. Trump’s only rational goal is casting doubt on the probe by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, which appears to be closing in.

Trump’s power play is a gross misuse of his presidential authority and a dangerous departure from long-standing norms. Strongmen such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin use their justice systems to punish enemies and deflect attention from their own crimes.

When Trump demanded an investigation into the investigators, the DOJ caved to his demands rather than stand up to him.

Justice tried to mollify the president by at least appearing to give him what he wants. The Republican leadership in Congress has been silent as a mouse. This is how uncrossable lines are crossed….

The Justice Department answered Trump’s tweeted demand by announcing that an existing investigation by its inspector general will now “include determining whether there was any impropriety or political motivation” by the FBI. Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein may hope that is enough to avoid a showdown. I fear he is wrong.

I had the same fear last night, and now this morning Trump far-right allies are demanding a second special counsel to look into the investigation into his very real crimes. Fox News: House Republicans to call for second special counsel to investigate alleged FISA abuse, Hillary Clinton probe.

A group of congressional Republicans plans to introduce a resolution Tuesday calling for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate alleged misconduct at the FBI and Justice Department.

The resolution is backed by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus as well as two of the group’s co-founders — Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla.

Fox News has learned the 12-page resolution will ask a second special counsel to probe matters related to three topics: The ending of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s personal email server, the progress of the Trump-Russia investigation from its origins through the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel, and abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the warrant application process.

The resolution is expected to say that a second special counsel would have greater autonomy to investigate those issues than the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General.

Trump biographer Timothy O’Brien at Bloomberg explains that Trump is simply following the playbook he used in his shady real estate business:

Back in 2011, Donald Trump published “Midas Touch,” one of his many how-to books offering secrets for financial success. This is where Trump, a lifelong performance artist, revealed that one of his favorite business personas is the “Outlaw.”

“The Outlaw archetype loves to break the rules,” the book noted. “The motto of the Outlaw is: ‘Rules are meant to be broken.’”

The president, who turns 72 next month, has prided himself on being a rule-breaker in business and politics for the past 50 years. Back in the 1970s, he and his father flouted federal housing regulations by discriminating against prospective renters of color at their apartment buildings in Brooklyn and Queens. During his own career as a New York developer, Trump routinely tried to strong-arm regulators and politicians who asked him to comply with local zoning and housing laws.

After flirting with personal bankruptcy in the early 1990s, Trump used his media platform to slag bankers tasked with keeping him on an allowance while they juggled more than $3 billion in loans he couldn’t repay. His biggest Atlantic City, N.J., casino, the Taj Mahal (which eventually filed for bankruptcy protection), violated anti-money-laundering regulations 106 times during its first 18 months in business, prompting the Treasury Department to fine the company about $500,000 in 1998. In 2002, the Securities and Exchange Commission forced Trump’s casino company to sign a cease and desist agreement after an investigation showed it had used “fraudulent” reporting tactics and doctored accounting in its public earnings statements.

Since his earliest days in Atlantic City, Trump also did business with organized crime figures, a practice he continued more recently in New York City when he helped develop the Trump SoHo Hotel. In yet another set of dustups, beginning in 2010, Trump University students and the New York State attorney general separately sued Trump’s company for fraud. Trump repeatedly denigrated a judge in one of the cases, then settled some of the claims for $25 million in 2016.

Please go read the rest. Anyone who belieChaves Trump is going to follow rules and respect norms now is delusional. He will keep pushing the limits until we stop him.

Charlie Savage at The New York Times: By Demanding an Investigation, Trump Challenged a Constraint on His Power.

When President Trump publicly demanded that the Justice Department open an investigation into the F.B.I.’s scrutiny of his campaign contacts with Russia, he inched further toward breaching an established constraint on executive power: The White House does not make decisions about individual law enforcement investigations.

“It’s an incredible historical moment,” said Rebecca Roiphe, a professor at New York Law School who helped write a coming scholarly article on the limits of presidential control over the Justice Department. Mr. Trump’s move, she said, “is the culmination of a lot of moments in which he has chipped away at prosecutorial independence, but this is a direct assault.”

Almost since he took office, Mr. Trump has battered the Justice Department’s independence indirectly — lamenting its failure to reopen a criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton that found no wrongdoing, and openly complaining that Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia inquiry. But he had also acknowledged that as president, “I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department,” as he told a radio interviewer with frustration last fall.

As part of that pattern, he has also denied the account by James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director he abruptly fired, that the president privately urged him to drop an investigation into Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser.

But Mr. Trump has also been flirting with going further, as he hinted late last year when he claimed in a New York Times interview that “I have an absolute right to do what I want to with the Justice Department.” And now, by unabashedly ordering the department to open a particular investigation, Mr. Trump has ratcheted up his willingness to impose direct political control over the work of law enforcement officials.

Read the rest at the NYT.

One more before I retreat into some escapist fiction for awhile. Greg Sargent at The Washington Post: Believe the autocrat.

This morning, new details are emerging about the depth of President Trump’s efforts to subvert the workings of justice in order to undermine an ongoing investigation into himself and his cronies. We still don’t know how far Trump will go in this regard.

But here’s one thing we do know: He is seriously considering pushing this interference as far as he thinks he’ll be able to get away with, meaning that external constraints — or a belief that doing this will backfire on him politically — may be the only things capable of stopping him.

We know this because Trump has told us so himself, in his own words, repeatedly. Perhaps we should believe him.

The Post and the New York Times report that at yesterday’s meeting between congressional Republicans allied with Trump and officials from the White House and the Justice Department, the White House brokered a deal to allow those Republicans to view highly classified documents relating to the FBI informant that Trump and his allies have railed about. It is still unclear precisely what Justice officials agreed to; we’ll learn more in coming days.

This may buy some time. But it represents yet another step in the president’s continuing encroachment on the independence of this investigation. It may serve as a setup for another lurch in this direction: Republicans will be given access to these documents and will profess themselves unsatisfied, arguing that they are now more convinced than ever that the informant improperly “spied” on the Trump campaign. (The best reporting indicates that the informant tried to gather information from Trump advisers after the FBI obtained evidence that those advisers had questionable contacts involving Russia — that is, as part of a legitimate counterintelligence investigation.) Perhaps those Republicans will selectively leak info to further the more nefarious interpretation.

Then Trump could potentially order a full Justice Department investigation into the genesis of the probe, or fire Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and replace him with a loyalist to limit the probe, or even try to remove special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. But whatever is to be on that front, what we now see happening is that Trump is directly pressuring Justice to conduct this investigation into his campaign in a certain way, and at least to some extent, it is complying.

When will we see protests? When will the Democrats wake up and start fighting back?


Monday Reads: The Escalating threat to the Constitution and Rule of Law

This from my buddy John Buss @repeat1968 who is the official cartoonist of the MadDog PAC! @maddogpac

Good Afternoon!

Trump is acting like a despot gone wild!  We’re getting decrees via twitter now!

We’re finding out how far KKKremlin Caligula will go to enrich his crime syndicate family and protect his fat orange ass from justice.  My guess is we will never reach the out of bounds boundary unless we vote for accountability in November. Benjamin Wittes–writing for The Atlantic–examines why “The president’s alarming Sunday tweet could genuinely produce a crisis between the White House, on the one hand, and the Justice Department and the FBI, on the other.”

Sunday afternoon, President Trump tweeted an extraordinary threat—extraordinary even by the standards of Donald Trump’s norm-busting use of Twitter and abusive conduct toward the Justice Department and federal investigations: “I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes—and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”

I normally try to ignore presidential tweets. This one, however, those concerned about the integrity of law enforcement can’t ignore. It requires attention, because it could genuinely produce a crisis between the White House, on the one hand, and the Justice Department and the FBI, on the other.

I don’t want to overstate the matter. It’s possible that it won’t produce this crisis, both because Trump might (as he has done numerous times before) wimp out, and also because—as I’ll explain—he might issue the order in a fashion vague enough to be susceptible to relatively benign interpretation by the Justice Department and the FBI.

That said, the tweet on its own terms is alarming. It’s a statement of intent to issue a specific investigative demand of the Justice Department for entirely self-interested and overtly political reasons. And Trump published it in the absence of a shred of evidence that might support the demanded action. If we take his tweet at face value, the president is announcing that he will on Monday “officially” “demand” the Justice Department launch a specific investigation of activity that would be criminal were it true—about whether the DOJ and FBI spied on the Trump campaign for an improper purpose and whether the Obama administration demanded such action of them.

This is a nakedly corrupt attempt on the part of the president to discredit and derail an investigation of himself at the expense of a human intelligence source to whose protection the FBI and DOJ are committed. My colleague at Lawfare, Quinta Jurecic, and I fleshed out the history of this saga and warned, “Don’t underestimate this episode. It will have a long tail and big consequences—all of them terrible.”

Trump keeps raising the stakes in his attack on his on Justice Department and the Special Counsel assigned to investigate Russia’s role in the 2016 election debacle.  His paranoia about the Obama administration is reaching Nixonian levels.

In September, the Justice Department said it had no evidence to support another of Trump’s unsubstantiated assertions: that Obama had ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign.

It was unclear what kind of response Trump was seeking from the Justice Department this time, since investigations are kept secret and designed to be insulated from political influence and White House meddling.

A spokeswoman said the Justice Department had asked the Inspector General to expand a review of the process for requesting surveillance warrants to include determining whether there was impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its investigation.

Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, called Trump’s suspicion of an embedded spy “nonsense.” “His ‘demand’ DOJ investigate something they know to be untrue is an abuse of power, and an effort to distract from his growing legal problems,” Schiff said on Twitter.

In his earlier tweets on Sunday, Trump reprised his attacks on Hillary Clinton, his Democratic challenger in 2016, and maintained that Democrats were not submitted to the same FBI scrutiny.

Trump also implied that the special counsel investigation of whether foreign governments tried to influence the presidential campaign was designed to hurt Republicans in the November congressional elections.

“Now that the Witch Hunt has given up on Russia and is looking at the rest of the World, they should easily be able to take it into the Mid-Term Elections where they can put some hurt on the Republican Party,” he wrote.

Trump, who has long complained the Russia probe has overstepped its bounds, referred to reports that his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., met in August 2016 with an envoy representing the crown princes of United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

One can only assume that there is such much evidence of illegal activity by Donnie Jerko Junior that the Feds have a cell ready for his skinny ass and jawless face.  The RNC is already picking up the lawyer tab for Hope Hicks and others.

The Republican National Committee paid nearly half a million dollars to a law firm that represents former White House communications director Hope Hicks and others in the Russia investigations, according to a new federal filing.

The RNC’s $451,780 payment to Trout Cacheris & Janis adds to the mounting legal fees associated with the investigations by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and several congressional committees of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Hicks hired Robert Trout, founder of the law firm, as her personal attorney in September, according to news reports. The report of the payments for legal and compliance services, contained in the Federal Election Commission report filed Sunday, is the first public disclosure of RNC payments to the law firm since Hicks hired Trout.

Three lawyers at the firm represent people in addition to Hicks in the investigations by Mueller and the House and Senate intelligence committees, according to the firm’s website. Hicks, who was one of President Trump’s most trusted and loyal aides, was interviewed by Mueller and the House and Senate intelligence panels in early 2018.

Among the six-figure donors to the Senate Majority PAC, which supports Senate Democrats, were actor and producer Seth MacFarlane, who gave $2 million; Cynthia Simon-Skjodt, a philanthropist and daughter of the Simon Property Group founder, who gave $1 million; and Bay Area real estate developer George Marcus, who gave $1 million.

Rod Rosenstein has responded in a low key manner in an obvious attempt to appease the President to not do anything more stupid than royal decree by twitter.  AAron Blake–writing for WAPO–wonders if this approach is too weak?

“If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action,” Rosenstein said in a statement.

The announcement was rather remarkable. Some saw it as deft maneuvering from Rosenstein. It’s certainly a compromise, and it doesn’t give Trump exactly what he wanted. It could effectively run out the clock by burying the matter in a lengthy inspector general’s probe. And it could also avert a potential constitutional crisis that could arise out of Trump ordering DOJ to do something and DOJ declining.

But the concession does risk further politicization of Justice Department business and also unavoidably lends credence to Trump’s allegations. Trump can now credibly say the Justice Department is looking into political bias in the Russia investigation, which risks furthering his goal of undermining the entire investigation. And Rosenstein basically handed him that PR win without much actual evidence.

Many blame the rainy weekend, lack of golf, and boredom for Sunday’s Tweet storm of insanity.  Let’s just say that both Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama live in Trumps empty mind rent free. But perhaps these headlines set him off!

Via CNN: “Roger Stone says he is ‘prepared’ for possibility of special counsel indictment”.

From Bloomberg: “Trump Jr. Draws New Mueller Scrutiny Over Foreign Campaign Links”.

Futerfas said George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, was at the meeting with Trump Jr. The Times reported that Nader told Trump Jr. “that the crown princes who led Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were eager to help his father win election as president.”

The other attendees were Joel Zamel, an Israeli and social media specialist, who presented “a multi-million dollar proposal,” for an effort to help Trump, and GOP donor Erik Prince –a former Navy SEAL, brother of current Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and founder of the controversial private security firm Blackwater — who arranged the meeting, according to the Times.

Mueller is looking into the interactions and questioning people about that Trump Tower meeting, the newspaper said.

Then, there’s ongoing discussion of how foreign policy seems to align itself with new cash flowing into to Trump and Kushner Private Deals.  Trump’s new China deals appeared after a China investment near a Trump property.  The deals look like complete cave in.

On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the administration put its trade war with China “on hold” after two days of talks in Washington that he said had produced an agreement on increased Chinese purchases of American products and measures to make it easier for U.S. companies to operate in China.

Even though the agreement lacked the specific $200 billion reduction in the U.S. trade deficit with China that was Trump’s signature demand on trade, the president halted tariffs he had threatened to impose on $150 billion in Chinese products.

In an earlier sign of softening,Trump directed administration officials to consider easing harsh penalties on a prominent Chinese telecom company that had violated U.S. sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

“It’s a huge disappointment given the expectations,” said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a partnership between steelworkers and their employers. “It plays right into Beijing’s hands . . . and is more of the same old failed policies we saw under the Bush and Obama administrations.”

Administration officials on Sunday scrambled to cast the Chinese talks as a victory, while some staunch Trump supporters questioned whether Trump had blinked in the first major confrontation with China.

“Not good enough. Time to take the gloves off,” Dan DiMicco, former chief executive of steelmaker Nucor, tweeted Saturday.

Meanwhile, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., warned in a tweet Sunday that by continuing to talk while putting the tariffs on hold “#China has outnegotiated the U.S. again.”

Settling for Chinese promises of increased purchases of American goods and improvements in intellectual property laws marked a shift for the administration, which disparaged earlier U.S. diplomatic dialogues with China as fruitless.

He really can’t make deal but he’s the King of the Grift.  Pay to play!  Quid pro Quo! Abuse of Power! Emollients Clause violations!  Campaign Law Violations!  Obstruction of Justice!  Get you Mueller Bingo card set up now!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?