Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

Another federal judge has slapped down Trump’s efforts to play dictator. The Guardian: ‘He may not rewrite immigration laws’: Trump’s asylum ban blocked by federal judge.

The president issued a proclamation on 9 November declaring that anyone who crossed the southern border between official ports of entry would be ineligible for asylum. As the first of several caravans of migrants arrived at the US-Mexico border, Donald Trump said a ban was necessary to stop a national security threat.

But in his ruling on Monday, the US district judge Jon Tigar said legislation was clear that any foreigner arriving in the US, whether or not at a designated port of arrival, could apply for asylum. He also said the administration misused its authority to issue emergency regulations and waive a 30-day waiting period to consider comments on the policy change.

“Whatever the scope of the president’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” said Tigar, a nominee of the previous president, Barack Obama.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not immediately comment on the ruling, which will remain in effect for one month barring an appeal. In issuing the ban, Trump used the same powers he used last year to impose a travel ban that was ultimately upheld by the supreme court.

I suppose the administration will appeal and ask SCOTUS to hand Trump more dictatorial powers over immigration.

Bruce Plante Cartoon: Trump and California Fires.

In the latest Trump administration attempt to blame California for wildfires, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is now claiming “radical environmentalists” are responsible for the devastation. The Los Angeles Times:

In an interview with Breitbart News, Zinke said he agrees with Trump’s comments about the fires being a result of poor forest management, and repeatedly said radical environmentalists were responsible for the destruction caused by the fires.

“It’s not time for finger-pointing,” Zinke said. “We know the problem. It’s been years of neglect, and in many cases it’s been these radical environmentalists that want nature to take its course.…You know what? This is on them.”

The problem with this argument is that the recent fires did not take place in forest areas.

Experts agree that overgrown forests in California pose a heightened wildfire threat in some parts of the Sierra Nevada. But although Paradise is near forestland, the wind-whipped Camp fire tore across areas that burned in lightning fires in 2008 and were later logged. It was not fueled by heavy timber.

“It started out as a vegetation fire. When it reached the incorporated area, which is definitely a lot more urban and developed of an area,” Jonathan Pangburn, a fire behavior analyst for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said in an interview last week, “it turned into a building-to-building fire … no longer carrying through most of the vegetation, especially in the upper canopies in the trees. It was not a crown fire through the Paradise area.”

The Woolsey fire, which burned suburban areas from Oak Park to Malibu, was not near any forests. It destroyed 1,500 structures and left three people dead.

Of course the facts don’t matter in Trump world.

Trump and his buddies continue to protect the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman even though the CIA says Salman personally ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Kashoggi in October. Now The Middle East Eye reveals that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hand delivered “a plan to shield MBS from fallout.”

Saudi Arabia’s king and crown prince are shielding themselves from the Jamal Khashoggi murder scandal by using a roadmap drawn up by the US secretary of state, a senior Saudi source has told Middle East Eye.

Mike Pompeo delivered the plan in person during a meeting with Saudi King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, last month in Riyadh, said the source, who is familiar with Pompeo’s talks with the Saudi leaders.

The plan includes an option to pin the Saudi journalist’s murder on an innocent member of the ruling al-Saud family in order to insulate those at the very top, the source told MEE.

That person has not yet been chosen, the source said, and Saudi leaders are reserving the use of that plan in case the pressure on bin Salman, also known as MBS, becomes too much.

“We would not be surprised if that happens,” the source told MEE.

Read the rest at MEE.

Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton got some “pushback” from his constituents on his efforts to unseat Nancy Pelosi from her leadership of House Democrats. Politico reports:

AMESBURY, Mass. — The push by Rep. Seth Moulton against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s bid to become speaker took center stage on Monday night at a town hall in his district, where constituents shouted and interrupted Moulton and one another in a lively debate over the future of the chamber.

Seth Mouton

Moulton (D-Mass.) and some of his constituents say the midterm elections show that it’s time for new leadership in the House, while his critics on Monday night called his opposition to Pelosi a product of sexism and ageism….

Dozens among the 150 people crowded into the Amesbury Town Hall pushed back against Moulton’s comments. Several shouted “no” when he said, “The majority of Democrats want this change.” Some protesters held signs that were green on one side and red on the other. When Moulton or another attendee said something they didn’t like, the protesters held up the red signs to signal disagreement.

The hourlong question-and-answer session rarely strayed from the speakership question. Constituents pressed Moulton on his plan for who should replace Pelosi as party chief in the House, while a few thanked him for calling for change.

The congressman, who has floated Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) for the post, said a confirmed candidate hadn’t emerged because it is smartest to wait to announce a bid for speaker after it is proved that Pelosi doesn’t have the votes.

What an asshole.

Also from Politico, Chuck Schumer just sent a letter to the DOJ asking for and investigation of communications between fake acting AG Matt Whitaker and Trump.

In his letter, Schumer cited news reports of Whitaker’s close relationship with President Donald Trump during his previous role as chief of staff to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“I am particularly concerned about whether Mr. Whitaker may have shared with the White House, or could share in his new role, confidential grand jury or investigative information from the Special Counsel investigation or any criminal investigation,” Schumer wrote in a letter to Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

Schumer added that disclosure of such information could “implicate criminal contempt of court, obstruction of justice” or violate the Justice Department’s policy on contact with the White House on criminal investigations.

Read the full letter here.

In the past few days, we’ve seen multiple examples of Trump’s profound disrespect for the U.S. military. CNN: Trump says he loves the military, but he keeps insulting its members.

He has feuded with war heroes and the relatives of fallen soldiers, sparked controversy by ducking remembrance observances and been accused of using the troops to advance his political goals. He’s said he knows more about ISIS than the generals do.

The President’s latest spat with an admired military figure is with retired Adm. William McRaven, the architect of the daring special forces raid into Pakistan that killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in 2011, acting on CIA intelligence.

When asked on Fox News Sunday about McRaven’s warnings that Trump’s claim that the media is the enemy of the people endangered democracy, the President lashed out, accusing McRaven of being a Clinton backer and in the camp of former President Barack Obama.

“Of course, we should have captured Osama bin Laden long before we did,” Trump said, dumping on the military planners behind one of the most dangerous and audacious special forces operations in recent military history.

His response was characteristic for several reasons.

First, it reflected his obsession with his predecessor and apparent belief that anyone who worked in a past administration — even as a nonpartisan military officer — is somehow suspect.
Second, it underlined how the President sees almost every issue through a prism of how it affects his image and prestige. Trump’s first instinct when criticized is not to move on or shrug it off, even in deference to a great soldier’s sacrifice, but to see the critique as a motivated by political animosity.

Because it’s always all about him and his pathetic need for positive reinforcement.

Along the same lines, Gordon Adams, Lawrence B. Wilkerson and Isaiah Wilson III have published an op-ed at The New York Times criticizing Trump’s use of troops as a political ploy: Trump’s Border Stunt Is a Profound Betrayal of Our Military.

A week before the midterm elections, the president of the United States announced he would deploy up to 15,000 active duty military troops to the United States-Mexico border to confront a menacing caravan of refugees and asylum seekers. The soldiers would use force, if necessary, to prevent such an “invasion” of the United States.

Mr. Trump’s announcement and the deployment that followed (of roughly 5,900) were probably perfectly legal. But we are a bipartisan threesome with decades of experience in and with the Pentagon, and to us, this act creates a dangerous precedent. We fear this was lost in the public hand-wringing over the decision, so let us be clear: The president used America’s military forces not against any real threat but as toy soldiers, with the intent of manipulating a domestic midterm election outcome, an unprecedented use of the military by a sitting president….

Oh, some might say, presidents use troops politically all the time. And so they do, generally in the context of foreign policy decisions that have political implications. Think Lyndon Johnson sending more troops to Vietnam, fearing he would be attacked for “cutting and running” from that conflict. Or George W. Bush crowing about “mission accomplished” when Saddam Hussein was toppled. Those are not the same thing as using troops at home for electoral advantage.

Electoral gain, not security, is this president’s goal. Two of us served in the military for many years; while all troops must obey the legal and ethical orders of civilian leaders, they need to have faith that those civilian leaders are using them for legitimate national security purposes. But the border deployment put the military right in the middle of the midterm elections, creating a nonexistent crisis to stimulate votes for one party.

When partisan actions like this occur, they violate civil-military traditions and erode that faith, with potentially long-term damage to the morale of the force and our democratic practice — all for electoral gain.

The deployment is a stunt, a dangerous one, and in our view, a misuse of the military that should have led Mr. Mattis to consider resigning, instead of acceding to this blatant politicization of America’s military.

Read the whole thing at the NYT.

That’s all I have for you today. What stories have you been following?


44 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      Dozens of people, including four sitting judges, prominent Cleveland attorneys and a congresswoman now considering a bid to become speaker of the House of Representatives, wrote gushing letters of support for former Cuyahoga County Judge Lance Mason after he brutalized his wife in front of their children so badly that her face required reconstructive surgery.

      The disciplinary arm of the Ohio State Bar Association, however, made clear in court filings last year that Mason did little to assure them he no longer posed a threat to his ex-wife, Aisha Fraser Mason, as he fought to keep his law license.

      Mason couldn’t explain what made him snap the day he repeatedly beat his wife. When asked at his disciplinary hearing to reassure the board that nothing like the brutal attack would happen again, Mason only mustered “how can I speculate or anyone speculate what they would do in a circumstance they never thought they would be in,” the record says.

    • NW Luna says:

      Appalling. And his excuses sound straight out of the male abuser playbook.

  2. NW Luna says:

    Trump, Zinke and Pompeo are at a new level of horribleness. Shielding MBS is especially abhorrent.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      • bostonboomer says:

        • bostonboomer says:

          • Sweet Sue says:

            Of course, because that’s a “right” that Trump wants for himself. Jim Acosta better hire a food taster.

          • quixote says:

            ‘So if you are a U.S. person who is kidnapped, tortured, and killed for exercising your rights by a country in which the President happens to have a personal and financial interest, he’ll stand with that country, not with you — and he considers that putting “America first.”’

            Makes perfect sense. In what passes for a mind with him, being Prez* means the USA is his personal ATM machine and applause track. Fits in with a long, dishonorable line. “L’état, c’est moi” (“I am the state.), “When the President does it, it’s not illegal.”

            WHEN ARE WE GOING TO BE RID OF THIS STEAMING PILE?

        • dakinikat says:

          Well at least some one has American values …

      • dakinikat says:

        This is completely unacceptable. It does not represent who we are.

        • Enheduanna says:

          The problem is, the press is hated here in the U.S.. From the left for different reasons, but the Trumpanzees could care less what happened to Kashoggi and won’t care if Gulen is extradited either.

          I totally agree – this is appalling. Has anyone ever ranked Dump’s atrocities? This would be at or near the top.

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    Is there no “bottom” to this corrupt administration?

    Apparently not.

    Despicable!

  5. dakinikat says:

    Trumps and Jervanka must own a shit load of money to the Saudis …

    • Enheduanna says:

      Along with the Russians the Saudis have bought a lot of Dump real estate.

      We are just witnessing a global criminal cabal of which our presdient* is a willing and enthusiastic partner.

    • bostonboomer says:

      That article is the third one in my post.

  6. OG says:

    I did some reading on Finland. They have their forests decided into components with wide fire breaks in between. They also have wide clear breaks between the forests and residential areas. Their record compared to adjacent Sweden and Russia on dealing with forest fires is highly successful.
    Considering the devistation and deaths we have been having in the last few years we should consider changing our practices. That means looking to countries like Findland and consider adoption some of their practices. More fire breaks and better protection of residential areas may help and should be looked at.

    • Enheduanna says:

      I have no idea about fire breaks, but I know in some cases even just roads can have an effect on wildlife habitat and not in a good way.

      I also read Finland has to deal with not so much forest fires (wet.cold country) but bog fires.

      https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/finnish-biologist-corrects-trump-on-rakes

      Agree climate change will force us to change our ways.

    • quixote says:

      Um, OG, from personal knowledge the CA fire rules are way ahead of you. They have heard of firebreaks. They do use them. Brush clearing within dozens of feet of structures (number varies depending on local conditions) is already the rule. That last isn’t just a suggestion. You get fined and billed for the company sent in to clear the fire danger.

      The CA situation is wood as dry as a bone and fairly regular hot strong winds (50-60mph) blowing in off deserts. Finland has neither of those. In CA, the least spark (lightning, campfire in the wrong place, discarded cigarette, sparking power lines) lands on wood that might as well be a match and then the blowing embers spread the fire at the speed of the wind.

      You can’t escape that even in a car unless you got a head start. That’s why so many fatalities. Stop to pick up the dog, or your insulin, and you don’t make it out.

      • OG says:

        There are some places where people should not live. With climate change we may be seeing more and more disasters plus more and more hunger and food shortages.
        California may need more and wider breaks and more protection for residential areas as the climate gets worse.

        • NW Luna says:

          Large numbers of people moving into rural areas means more people affected by wildfires, so this gets more publicity than burns in more remote areas. At least in the Pacific Northwest, # of days of fires and acres burned average less recently than back in the early 1900s. Climate change has so far been a minor part of the etiology for wildfires.

          • quixote says:

            Luna, you keep saying that about wildfires and not due to climate chnage. Maybe that’s true in WA. Not so much in CA. The droughts, heat, and much-increased days of Santa Ana winds *are* climate change-related according to pretty much all the work I’ve seen.

          • NW Luna says:

            Not a major factor, even in California, though certainly a factor. Last week (?) I posted a link and excerpt on Cliff Mass’s writing on the subject, with references. Urban interface, wind and lightning patterns, and human carelessness plus poor weather forecasting and reportage are the main drivers. Also people tend to misremember past historical records. I’d go hunt for that again but am trying to get a presentation finished for tomorrow.

          • quixote says:

            Luna, Maas is a bit of an outlier on this.

  7. dakinikat says:

  8. dakinikat says:

  9. bostonboomer says:

  10. dakinikat says:

    I don’t think there’s going to be peace at Thanksgiving

    • OG says:

      I plan to have all the news outlets turned off. Peasce where I will be, for a few hours at any rate.
      I have news blackouts for a few days from time to time. Feels great. Make sure things bearable, or more bearable.

  11. dakinikat says: