Lazy Saturday Reads: Something Is Very Wrong

Marek Okrassa

Good Afternoon!!

The Trump administration is torturing children. Please read this article; it’s not long. It’s an anecdote from an “emergency physician in South Texas,” Alicia Hart.

The New Yorker: A Physician in South Texas on an Unnerving Encounter with an Eight-Year-Old Boy in Immigration Detention.

Last week, on a day when Hart was on duty, the charge nurse called her over to examine a child who needed clearance for psychiatric treatment. He was eight years old, and he sat hunched in a recliner chair next to the nurses’ station. Four men, who had brought him from an unidentified holding facility for migrant children, hovered around him….

“The guardians didn’t step more than two feet away from the kid. One of the four was an armed police officer. I thought, Does it take an army of adult men to take care of one elementary schooler? I walked over to the boy, crouched down, and asked him, in Spanish, ‘How do you feel?’ ‘Sad,’ he said.

Carl Theodor von Blaas, Austrian, (1886-1960) Woman Reading

“The boy had been in custody for over a month. One of his guardians told me that he had been ‘acting out’ and threatening to harm himself, by jumping from his bed. This man told me, ‘I’m his clinician,’ but he was definitely not a doctor. I don’t know if he’s a social worker, a medical assistant, a housekeeper. I have no clue. But he obviously had been granted some sort of authority in regard to assessing children and determining what their needs are. He wouldn’t provide basic background. I couldn’t find out any information because he would say, ‘I’m not at liberty to tell you that’ and ‘You don’t need to know that,’ even though a lot of my questions were relevant to taking care of the child. I was asking things like ‘Where are his parents?’ [….]

“I asked the clinician, ‘When is this child going to be reunited with his parents?’ He was evasive. First it was ‘Oh, well, we don’t know.’ And then it was ‘Well, he won’t be reunited with his parents unless he behaves.’ The lack of compassion was scary, and it didn’t seem like there was really a plan.

“This boy seemed devastated—quiet and withdrawn. He barely spoke. I asked if he needed a hug. I kneeled down in front of the recliner, and this kid just threw himself into my arms and didn’t let go. He cried and I cried. And to think he’s been in a facility for a month without a hug, away from his parents, and scared, and not knowing when he’ll see them again or if he’ll see them again. While I held him, I heard the men standing behind me muttering that I was ‘rewarding his bad behavior.’ Thankfully, it was in English, so I don’t think the boy understood what they were saying, but it just revealed their attitudes toward these kids.

Hart recommended the boy for inpatient psychiatric treatment in order to get him away from his “caretakers.” She worried that he might be given antipsychotic drugs, but she felt she could send him back to the place where he had obviously been mistreated.

Michael Pracht, Girl reading

Can anyone doubt that something similar is happening to thousands of refugee children? This is an outrage. We truly do need UN intervention. I’ve heard that UN and Red Cross inspectors have been turned away from Trump’s child concentration camps. This cannot go on.

This morning Putin biographer Masha Gessen appeared on MSNBC’s AM Joy. Joy Reid asked her, “Is it too much to call this fascism? Gessen replied, I don’t think it’s too much. I don’t think we have fascist rule in this country, but what we have is a fascist leader. We have a nativist, nationalist leader…”

Gessen writes at The New Yorker: By Separating Families at the Border, the Trump Administration Enforces the “Rule by Nobody.”

Donald Trump said that the Democrats made him do it. Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, said it was the Bible. Kirstjen Nielsen, the Secretary of Homeland Security, said it was the law. They all said it wasn’t them. In their unified defense of the policy of separating children from their families at the border, Administration officials have adopted a technique of deflection that renders victims and critics powerless: they have depersonalized the violence.

This is how violence works in the world’s most cruel and terrifying societies. The victims of genocide, ethnic cleansing, mass deportations, mass incarceration, man-made famines, and other disasters that humans intentionally visit on the “other” are always anonymous….But in the Administration’s telling, it’s not only the victims who are anonymous—it is also the perpetrators. When Trump blames the cruelty at the border on the Democrats; when Sessions says that God made him enforce the law indiscriminately; or when Nielsen claims, in effect, to be just following orders, the nation’s top officials are not merely lying; they are de-personifying the perpetrators. They are not merely refusing to be held accountable but are saying that no one will account for the violence.

Gina Brown (USA)

The Trump Administration didn’t invent this tactic. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has perfected it over the years….But, of course, Putin didn’t invent this deflection technique, either.

Writing about the relationship between violence and bureaucracy, Hannah Arendt said, “In a fully developed bureaucracy there is nobody left with whom one could argue, to whom one could present grievances, on whom the pressures of power could be exerted.” She called bureaucracy the “rule by Nobody.”

Thank goodness Americans rose up and expressed their outrage at Trump’s cruelty and racism. But we have to make sure that every single one of the children who have been effectively kidnapped by this administration is reunited with his or her family.

At Vanity Fair, Peter Hamby writes that Trump lost this round because of pictures: “The Images Are Out Of His Control: How Trump Lost His Grip On The Child-Detention Narrative.

Rarely has Donald Trump been on his heels as he has over the past week. Even during the hottest-burning controversies and scandals of his administration, Trump is usually the stick-and-move president: provoke, evade, pivot to the next thing. The media has a hard time keeping up, and congressional Democrats are too busy holding limp-dick press conferences like it’s still 2006. They’re about as effective as those digital finger-waggers who tweet “Sir!” at the president every time he burps. As I wrote previously for the Hive, Trump is absolutely curb-stomping his opponents in the battle for attention.

But the wrenching story of migrant children being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border has unfolded differently. Trump has been forced to play defense. It’s not just because the policy is cruel, inhumane, and an ugly stain on our country’s moral integrity. It is all of those things. But Trump has done plenty of ugly things. What’s different this time, and the handful of times Trump has found himself losing, is that there are pictures.

Marius Borgeaud, Swiss (1861-1924), Woman Reading at the Window

Think of the handful of moments when Trump has been subjected to a sustained drubbing that’s lasted more than just a day or two: the Access Hollywood tape. Sean Spicer’s lie about the size of the inauguration crowd. The massive airport protests around the travel ban. Trump’s “very fine people” comment about neo-Nazi marchers in Charlottesville. The Rob Porter domestic-abuse allegations fiasco. (Porter has denied the allegations.) And now the gross panorama of migrant children being separated from their desperate parents. All of these stories were accompanied by images—pictures or video—that either tilted public opinion against the president or blatantly contradicted the dubious claims of Trump and his allies.

We don’t yet have photos of the missing girls and babies; Trump is hiding them because he know those images could be even more shocking than the ones we’ve seen up till now.

And so far Trump and Sessions have not ended their “zero tolerance” policy. USA Today reports that as a result of that policy, the feds are not dealing with serious drug smuggling cases.

Federal prosecutors warned they were diverting resources from drug-smuggling cases in southern California to handle the flood of immigration charges brought on by the Trump administration’s border crackdown, records obtained by USA TODAY show.

Days after Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructed prosecutors to bring charges against anyone who enters the United States illegally, a Justice Department supervisor in San Diego sent an email to border authorities warning that immigration cases “will occupy substantially more of our resources.” He wrote that the U.S. Attorney’s Office there was “diverting staff, both support and attorneys, accordingly.”

The email, sent by the lawyer who runs the office’s major crimes unit, said prosecutors needed to streamline their work on smuggling cases. He said that would mean tight deadlines – sometimes just a few hours to produce reports and recordings – for those that would land in federal court. Going forward, the lawyer, Fred Sheppard, warned, if agents can’t meet that high bar, “the case will be declined.” [….]

Johan Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, 1900

Still, there are signs that border authorities are seeking to prosecute drug smugglers in state courts instead, even though the possible sentences typically are harsher in the federal system.

The District Attorney’s office in San Diego said Friday that the number of cases submitted to them by border authorities had more than doubled since the administration started its border crackdown.

Read more at USA Today.

One more recommended read, and it’s a long one. The Financial Times: Donald Trump and the 1930s playbook: liberal democracy comes unstuck.

“I really don’t care. Do u?” said graffiti on the back of Melania Trump’s coat as she boarded the plane for Texas to visit encaged child migrants. No one, except Donald Trump, who tweeted that her garb was meant as a criticism of the “fake news” media, could be sure whom the First Lady was targeting. Some thought she was channelling her husband’s views. Others believed she was telling the world what she thought of her marriage. Either way, it captured the nihilism of a week in which the west’s liberal democratic glue appeared to be coming unstuck. It was hard to miss the echoes of the 1930s.

“Make no mistake, there is a concerted attack on the constitutional liberal order,” says Constanze Stelzenmüller, a German scholar at the Brookings Institution. “And it is being spearheaded by the president of the United States.”

Mr Trump started the week by trying to undermine a key American ally. He attacked Angela Merkel’s “tenuous” coalition government in Germany for “allowing in millions of people who have so strongly and violently changed their culture”. It followed a summit between the premiers of Austria and Bavaria in which they called for an “axis of the willing from Berlin to Vienna to Rome” to stop migration. Italy’s deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, called for a “census” of Roma citizens evoking Italy’s fascist-era registry of Jews. “Unfortunately, we have to keep” those with valid resident permits, he said.

Back in Washington, public outrage forced Mr Trump to pause his policy of corralling “tender age” migrants into separate child detention centres. He nevertheless ordered the Pentagon to prepare camps to house up to 20,000 children. Last weekend Mr Trump called Hungary’s proudly “illiberal” Viktor Orban to issue a joint call for “strong national borders”.

The differences with the 1930s are obvious. No one expects war to break out today. There is no Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany nor fascist Italy egging each other on to plunder the old order. Nor is the US standing aloof. But the parallels are too troubling to ignore. In Europe, the forces of disintegration are on the march. The status quo is struggling to come up with a defence.

Read much more at the FT link.

What else is happening? What stories are you following today?

43 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads: Something Is Very Wrong”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Have a nice weekend, Sky Dancers!

  2. bostonboomer says:

    • Enheduanna says:

      Sanctimonious liar and child abuse enabler thinks she deserves respect? Thinks businesses should be allowed to refuse service to LGBTQ but should have to make dinner for her lying ass and throw in respect as well??? WTF?

      Nielsen, Miller and now Sanders – shunned in public as they should be. I hope it keeps up.

      • quixote says:

        She needs to look up respect in the dictionary. It’s more than polite greetings (as in to pay respects). It’s main meaning is to hold someone in high regard, to treat with consideration.

        On second thought, forget it. She’d have to look all those words up and they still wouldn’t mean anything to her. At the rate she’s burning truth and facts to ashes, she’ll be able to do a lot more than smoky eyeshadow soon. Prepare for the full Goth look.

        • bostonboomer says:

          It’s not just her lies. She’s incredibly rude and demeaning to WH reporters.

    • NW Luna says:

      Says a lot about the restaurant owner that she won’t serve fascists and their enablers.

      Hey, that’s right in line with not baking a wedding cake for gays! Don’t complain, Press Secretary. And if it wasn’t such a big deal to you why are you tweeting about it?

      • teele says:

        And why is she using her official twitter account to unleash the Nazi Hellhounds on a small business owner? She has the right to say anything she wants to say about her personal life, on her personal twitter account. I guess she got the impression this is okay from her direct supervisor.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Great article about a woman who digs up ancestry info on anti-immigration folks.

    Trump aide Stephen Miller, meet your great-grandfather, who flunked his naturalization test

    A photo of Nison (aka Max) Miller stares out from the screen, sullen and stern, in faded black and white. “Order of Court Denying Petition” is the title of the government form dated “14th November 1932,” to which it is attached, the one in which Miller is applying for naturalization as an American citizen.

    And beneath the photo, the reason given for his denial: Ignorance.

    Nison Miller is the great-grandfather of White House adviser Stephen Miller, who has taken credit for being one of the chief architects of the administration’s family separation policy. And this 85-year-old document is just one bit of ammunition in a campaign being waged by the unofficial band that goes by the hashtag #Resistance Genealogy.

  4. quixote says:

    While they’re not really stopping separations, and not reuniting families, the Congressional Repubs have quietly cut the food stamp program (SNAP).

    As Pierce says, these really are the mole people.

  5. dakinikat says:

    I’ve been keeping track of the coming economic crash … it looks like I live in ground zero. We haven’t recovered from Jindal’s terrible policies yet. But here are a few of them,

    China is slamming $34 billion worth of US goods with tariffs. Here are the states that will be hurt the most.

    “The states that exported more than $1 billion worth of tariff-eligible goods to China in 2017 were Texas, Louisiana, Washington, California, Alabama, South Carolina, Illinois, and Kentucky.”

    Southeast Missouri nail company gets hammered by Trump’s tariffs

    “President Trump’s tariff on steel imports that took effect June 1 has caused a southeast Missouri nail manufacturer to lose about 50% of its business in two weeks. Mid Continent Nail Corporation in Poplar Bluff – the remaining major nail producer in the country – has had to take drastic measures to make ends meet. The company employing 500 people earlier this month has laid off 60 temporary workers. It could slash 200 more jobs by the end of July and be out of business around Labor Day.”

    Arkansas Farm Bureau president “concerned” with soybean prices because of Chinese tariffs

    “Since China proposed tariffs on soybeans following president trump’s announced tariffs on Chinese goods, the price of soybean bushels have dropped 20 percent.

    For farmers in Arkansas, that’s something that could mean the end of their business.

    Arkansas Farm Bureau President Randy Veach says it’s something he’s keeping an eye on.

    “We’re concerned, of course,” Veach said.

    Being a soybean farmer himself, when he saw China was placing a tariff on United States soybeans, the market dropped the value of that crop to around nine dollars a bushel, putting Arkansas farmers in a difficult spot.

    “They actually buy 60 percent of all the soybeans that’s traded around the globe,” Veach said. “We can’t make a profit at that low of a price.”

    Double whammy: U.S. pork, fruit producers brace for second wave of Chinese tariffs

    U.S. producers of pork, already saddled with duties enacted in an earlier round of the escalating trade dispute with China, are bracing for further pain after Beijing hit the products with additional tariffs due to come into effect next month.

    China implemented a 25 percent duty on most U.S. pork items on April 2, and a 15 percent tariff on a range of fruits and nuts, in response to U.S. tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum products.

    Last week it included both categories in a second round of tariffs to be imposed on July 6. No other products have been listed twice.

    Pork now faces cumulative import duties of 71 percent, not including value added tax, according to a formula published on the website of China’s finance ministry last week. Cumulative duties on fruit amount to 50 percent.

    “The additional tariff will put us out of business,” said Zhong Zheng, founder of China-based Heartland Brothers, which sells U.S.-produced Berkshire pork to Chinese supermarkets and restaurants”

    I recommending your hoard some cash frankly. Prices are going to be sky high on some things. Possibly will have shortages. Then, the market will be flooded with pork products before those companies and farmers start going under. This is not going to be pretty.

    • dakinikat says:

      I’ll probably see it shortly in decreased barge and river traffic since most of the food belt’s product come down the river on the barges and get loaded on the big ships blocks from my home. I have two international exporters of fruits and veggies and coffee really close and Purdue chicken gets sent to Cuba via Russians up the street.

      I knew we were bombing Iraq about 3 months before because all the national guard tanks and Humvee were unloaded to merchant marine ships at the Poland Ave wharf which is like 3 blocks straight down from me.

    • dakinikat says:

  6. Sweet Sue says:

    A minor point but I resent “limp dick press conferences.” What can the Democrats do? They-we-are the minority of all three branches of Government. I notice that Hamby didn’t have any concrete suggestions. I did see many Democratic Congresspeople in Texas, today, describing the awful conditions they had demanded to see. Nothing will change until the Democrats take over in November or the Republicans find their souls and I’m not holding my breath for the latter.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I think more Democrats need to be getting on TV denouncing Trump’s policies, although I don’t know how difficult that is. The Sunday News shows mostly have Republicans and Bernie Sanders, who is useless.

      • dakinikat says:

        We’ve been discussing where we are on this list ….


        • NW Luna says:

          Depending on the issue, we’re in all stages. “Deny the existence of any crime” has been going on since the 2016 campaign. But no death lists yet — that we know of.

      • Sweet Sue says:

        You’re right, BB, and they can want to go on Sunday shows but who’s to say that the shows will book them. We remember the amount of coverage given to Trump and the coverage given to HRC (mostly negative) but the Media will never acknowledge their complicity in placing the monster in the White House.

      • joanelle says:

        The Repugs are clearly the bad guys, but we need to demand that non-democrat, carpetbaggers, like Sandburg, not be allowed to run as democrats; he pulled a lot of votes, Hillz won by 3,000,000 votes; if Bernie had’t run on the demo ticket we’d have been in much better shape. More strong democrats need to point out the LIES for what they are not, merely repeat what others are saying. STAND UP and don’t back down.

  7. dakinikat says:

    “Stop whatever you’re doing and read the White House plan for complete reorganization of the entire federal government. I have tweeted some highlights, but honestly can’t begin to capture the horror.

    “Under the Plan, the government sells off the US Postal Service, FAA, eliminates more than a 1/3rd of the US Public Health Corps, restructures all foreign aid and development programs, and places every single domestic program for poor families & children under a single welfare authority.

    “The Plan also offers a real estate bonanza for developers, selling off federal properties en masse. And it cuts or restructures all the federal programs that are meant to educate people about their financial rights & protect them from bank & mortgage fraud.

    “The plan cuts R&D @NASA, and all forms of alternative energy development are consolidated under a single DOE agency. A Dept of Welfare is created, and all forms of support for health of America’s poor leave HHS & go to new Welfare authority.

    “The Plan facilitates ‘streamlined’ privatization of federal assets via a Customer Experience (CX) Improvement Capability. It transfers all background/ conflicts checks on federal appointees and employees AWAY from FBI and into the Dept of Defense.

    “Net impact of the Trump government reorganization scheme is taking everything across government that is for poor & needy people and consolidate it under single budgetary authority, cut science all over the place, eliminate the Census Bureau, reduce regulation and… MAGA.

    “… What Donald Trump and White House are really up to is total demolition of the US government, summarized in this 132 page document. It’s a privatization/deregulation scheme on a staggering scale.”

    Laurie Garrett @Laurie_Garrett on Twitter

    Click to access Government-Reform-and-Reorg-Plan.pdf

  8. dakinikat says:

  9. dakinikat says:

    Who’s Really Crossing the U.S. Border, and Why They’re Coming

    Despite what the president says, the situation at the border is much more nuanced. There’s not a flood of people racing across the border. The majority of migrants aren’t dangerous criminals. Many are women and families—and many are fleeing gang violence rather than seeking to spread that violence farther north.

    For the past two years, I’ve worked to document these issues at the Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin, and also in the Beyond the Border column for Lawfare—based in part on my fieldwork from across Mexico. There are few straightforward and easy answers to what often feel like basic questions for Central American migration. So it’s worth taking a step back and asking: who are the people arriving at the border? Why are they coming? And how does the current situation compare to migration in the past?

    First off, while the current administration has tried to tie Central American migrants to MS-13, government data reveals that gang members crossing irregularly are the rare exceptions. Since the Trump administration took office, the Border Patrol has detected fewer gang members crossing irregularly than during the Obama administration. In FY2017, these detections amounted to 0.075 percent of the total number of migrants (228 MS-13 members out of 303,916 total migrants). When combined with MS-13’s rival, the Barrio 18 gang, the number rises only slightly to 0.095 percent. This is far from the “infestation” of violent gang members described by the president.

    The current crisis hasn’t been caused by a sudden influx of migration, either. The peak in apprehensions of irregular migrants actually took place some 17 years ago, in FY2000. At that point, U.S. Border Patrol agents caught 1,643,679 migrants attempting to enter the United States without the appropriate papers, compared to 303,916 apprehensions in this past fiscal year. But this decreasing number of apprehensions should not be confused with a gentler, kinder approach to border security—in fact, just the opposite. Since 2001, the number of Border Patrol agents along the southwest border has nearly doubled from 9,147 agents to 16,605. Border fencing also increased: to date, there are 705 miles of fencing along the 2,000-mile long U.S.-Mexico border.

    The face of migration has also changed. Back in 2000, Mexican nationals made up 98 percent of the total migrants and Central Americans (referring to Honduran, Guatemalan, and Salvadoran migrants) only one percent. Today, Central Americans make up closer to 50 percent.

  10. dakinikat says:

  11. dakinikat says:

    Just finished the FT article BB. Putin is certainly getting his rubles worth out of KKKremlin Caligula. What a mess!!!

    • dakinikat says:

      Inspired by Trump, the world could be heading back to the 1930s

      Jonathan Freedland

      The parents ripped from those 2,300 children on the Mexican border were not led off to be murdered. But there are grounds to believe they may never again see their sons or daughters, some of whom were sent thousands of miles away. There is no system in place to reunite them. The children were not properly registered. How can a two-year-old who speaks no English explain who she is? Eighty years from now, perhaps, old men and women will sob as they recall the mother taken from them by uniformed agents of the US government, never to be seen again.

  12. bostonboomer says:

  13. bostonboomer says:

    Newborn babies have been taken away from their mothers!!

    • dakinikat says:

      newborns? Seriously? Newborns? okay, that’s seriously evil

      • bostonboomer says:

        Mother have been told their children will be put up for adoption.

        • quixote says:


          These aren’t even the mole people. They’re a decomposing unidentifiable pile of rot.

        • Enheduanna says:

          That cannot possibly be legal. That’s child trafficking.

          • bostonboomer says:

            Unfortunately state and federal laws require ending parental rights after a certain amount of time. That’s how they steal the children. It was reported on MSNBC this morning by a legal correspondent. Read this article from 2012.

          • bostonboomer says:

            Also, the feds are reporting relatives to ICE if they try to get the children out of custody.

          • Enheduanna says:

            Wow – the couple who adopted the boy should be ashamed of themselves. Courts wouldn’t even provide a translator for the mother? That’s still trafficking in my opinion.

            The whole situation is just unbelievable. Our government can raid businesses – arrest undocumented workers – and steal their kids. Geez – I want to move to Belize or somewhere. Anywhere but here.

        • dakinikat says:

          That’s awful! It’s those fucking christian baby mills!!!

  14. dakinikat says:

  15. dakinikat says:

    Mike Godwin of “Godwin’s Law” Fame speaks

    By all means cite GL if you think some Nazi comparison is baseless, needlessly inflammatory or hyperbolic. But Godwin’s Law was never meant to block us from challenging the institutionalization of cruelty or the callousness of officials who claim to be just following the law. It definitely wasn’t meant to shield our leaders from being slammed for the current fashion of pitching falsehoods as fact. These behaviors, distressing as they are, may not yet add up to a new Reich, but please forgive me for worrying that they’re the “embryonic form” of a horror we hoped we had put behind us.

  16. dakinikat says:

    A Jury May Have Sentenced a Man to Death Because He’s Gay. And the Justices Don’t Care.

    During deliberations, the jury had often discussed the fact that Mr. Rhines was gay and there was “a lot of disgust” about it, one juror recalled in an interview, according to the court petition. Another said that jurors knew he was gay and “thought that he shouldn’t be able to spend his life with men in prison.” A third recounted hearing that if the jury did not sentence Mr. Rhines to death, “if he’s gay, we’d be sending him where he wants to go.”