Friday Freak Out Reads: Orange Shit Gibbon democratizes “Toxic Stress”

Image result for relax poster vintageGood Morning Sky Dancers!

I remember the days of being part of the Katrina Diaspora. I spent most of it on the sofa of a friend in Omaha watching endless live coverage on CNN wondering if they would ever figure out the difference between the lower and the upper ninth ward and if all this carnage meant my little kathouse was gone. Finally, satellite photos were released and I happily saw the roof of my house and no water any where.

But, six weeks in a place you vowed you would never return to while not knowing when they’d let you go home is not a pleasant experience. At some point, my late great friend Jane introduced me to binging Law and Order episodes plus the various spins offs like Major Crimes, Criminal Intent, and SVU instead of stressing myself with Anderson Cooper daily. Some how it was quite comforting to watch a program where there were good cops and they always caught the really really bad guys no matter what their position in society. I especially love SVU. It was one way I could relax. I later turned to disaster movies and survival series when I got home, but that’s another story.

Lady with the Dog, Relaxing on the Lawn Konstantin Somov

I am back binging SVU and Criminal Intent. This is probably why: “How Trump is democratising toxic stress. The US president will probably leave America considerably less mentally healthy” via the UK Financial Times and Edward Lucas. We all just need to admit that having a person with multiple personality disorders, a godfather mentality and swagger, and a bigoted, hateful agenda has us all feeling like a big huge battered family.

A few days ago a psychologist friend told me something that was at once startling and unsurprising; she is seeing far more patients than before Donald Trump was elected — and they tend to be suffering from deeper anxiety. Some people call this the Trump Anxiety Syndrome (TAD), or Post Trump Stress Syndrome (PTSD). People of a more Trumpian flavour might dismiss it as Liberal Snowflake Disorder (LSD), or old-fashioned anecdotal exaggeration. I concede that there is no definitive data to back it up. Other than rising anti-anxiety Xanax prescriptions and surveys such as this from the American Psychiatric Association, it is hard to find incontrovertible statistics. Moreover, some of the deteriorating social indicators, such as rising suicide rates (which in 2017 hit a post-second world war high), and falling life expectancy, precede Trump’s election, even if they have got worse since he took office.

Blaming everything on Trump is facile. Yet omitting him from the equation would be just as mistaken. My own view is that Trump will leave America considerably less mentally healthy than how he found it. His election was the product of an increasingly anxious society. But we find ourselves collectively far more anxious as a result. Trump is a rocket-booster to our toxic stress. He is a cure worse than the disease.

Medical professionals will tell you that acute stress tends to be self-perpetuating. The more we worry, the less we sleep. The shorter our fuses, the worse our decisions. And so on. That is as true of the body politic as it is at the personal level. Individuals can at least ask their doctor for medication. Unfortunately there is no such thing as Xanax for society as a whole. Liberal democracy cannot consult a doctor. The nearest thing America used to have to help them deal with collective stress was a unifying presidential figure. Whether it was FDR after Pearl Harbor, Reagan after the Challenger shuttle exploded, Clinton after the Oklahoma bombing, or even George W Bush after 9/11, most US presidents at least tried play the role of healers-in-chief. Trump does not even make the pretence. He seeks to profit from divisions by exacerbating them. Where others see fear, Trump smells opportunity. That is his re-election strategy. He is good at it. But it comes at a deep social cost. His strategy depends on keeping people at each other’s throats. It makes all of us, including his critics, less thoughtful and more contemptuous.

Two dancers relaxing (pastel) – Edgar Degas

This is true for every one I know and I hear this all the time. Here’s another take via WAPO and Daniel W. Drenzer; “Donald Trump is stressing out America. Why the economy doesn’t help the president as much as he thinks.”

If the economy is doing well but average Americans aren’t feeling it, that is bad news for Trump. And looking beyond the economy, there is an awful lot of evidence suggesting that Americans are not feeling too well. The polling data is one obvious metric. According to Gallup, in 2018, more Americans were stressed, worried and angry than at any point in the last 12 years. That is extraordinary when you consider that the past dozen years includes the 2008 financial crisis and multiple terrorist attacks. Furthermore, American stress levels are among the highest in the world. Seriously, Americans were as stressed as Iranians and more stressed than citizens of Rwanda, Turkey, and Venezuela. That’s nuts.

Does Trump have anything to do with this? It is difficult to determine causality, but the data is pretty suggestive. Trump inspires a whole host of negative reactions in most Americans. Pew polled Americans in the spring and asked them to describe how Trump’s comments and statements made them feel. The top seven responses, in order: concerned (76 percent), confused (70 percent), embarrassed (69 percent), exhausted (67 percent), angry (65 percent), insulted (62 percent) and frightened (56 percent). I am not a psychologist, but I would reckon that there might be something going on here. If these are the dominant emotions that Trump elicits, and if Trump is everywhere, then hey, it’s going to stress a lot of Americans out!

Even more concrete evidence has come to light in the past week. As my Post colleagues William Wan and Lindsey Bever reported recently, “Researchers have begun to identify correlations between Trump’s election and worsening cardiovascular health, sleep problems, anxiety and stress, especially among Latinos in the United States.” One disturbing JAMA study looked at premature births, an easily quantifiable metric of stress during pregnancy. After analyzing approximately 33 million births between 2009 and 2017 researchers found 3 percent more preterm births than expected among Latina women in the nine months after the election.

It’s not just Latina women who are feeling the stress of America under Trump. The Boston Globe’s Zoe Greenberg reports that psychologists are having to treat a number of anxiety-related maladies among minority clients, including insomnia and hypervigilance. When they dig deeper, the underlying cause becomes apparent:

As Trump doubles down on attacks against the four women of color in Congress known as “The Squad,” which includes Omar and Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, some people of color in the Boston area describe a psychological toll that the episodes, and Trump’s frequent overt hostility, have had on their daily lives — not just this month, but in the many months since the 2016 presidential campaign began.

Some have tried to guard themselves against the everyday tumult coming from the White House; others have become more vocal in politics. Some have found a grim silver lining, because the scourge of racism that some white people recently claimed had disappeared is now impossible to ignore or explain away. Many said it reminds them of other dark moments of personal and national history, when racial hostility and tension reared up….

“We have now 20 years of research that connects racism with just about every mental health issue that has been studied,” said Monnica Williams, a professor and the director of the laboratory for Culture and Mental Health Disparities at the University of Connecticut. The effect of “vicarious racism” — seeing, for example, videos of police shootings of unarmed black men, or hearing chants of “Send her back!” — has not been studied as much, according to Jessica Graham-LoPresti, an assistant professor of psychology at Suffolk University, but social media indicates the experience is certainly on the rise.

“People are being now not only exposed to their own experiences of racism, but they’re being vicariously exposed to everyone’s experience of racism,” she said, adding that patients often exhibit symptoms very similar to those from post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as depression and social anxiety.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby “Predeccessors” detail.

Well, there’s the evidence that it’s true, it’s true. He’s driving us all crazy and making us nervous wrecks to the detriment of our mental, emotional and physical health.. The crazy thing is he can brag all he wants about the economy but it’s not doing as well as he promised or as it appears to people not familiar with the underlying economics.

Trump promised these huge growth rates and he’s failed to deliver. The coverage of downward revision in economic performance for 2018 is from Bloomberg and Rich Miller And, of course he’ll lie about it and scream that some one is cheating, because, well that’s what he does in his daily Gas Light the Nation tweets. These growth rates are pretty average during the peak of a boom. Remember. this boom did not start recently but somewhere during the last recovery and the Obama years.

President Donald Trump failed to achieve his much-ballyhooed 3% target for economic growth in 2018 after all.

Updated government figures show that gross domestic product expanded 2.5% on a fourth-quarter-over-fourth-quarter basis last year. That compares with a previous estimate of 3% and an upwardly revised 2.8% in 2017, the first year of Trump’s presidency.

Behind the 2018 markdown: Slower growth of business investment and exports, along with a greater output in the fourth quarter of 2017 that made the comparison less favorable.

“Relax on the beach ” Edward Henry Pottast

Meanwhile, it appears that Republicans under Trump and McConnell will not be taking any interest in stopping Russian interference in elections. Why should they? It works so well for them.

Today’s NYT outlines Russian interference in the 2016 election in all 50 states. Can we just keep saying the election was stolen from Hillary quite loudly until Trump dies of a massive coronary or something?

The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded Thursday that election systems in all 50 states were targeted by Russia in 2016, an effort more far-reaching than previously acknowledged and one largely undetected by the states and federal officials at the time.

But while the bipartisan report’s warning that the United States remains vulnerable in the next election is clear, its findings were so heavily redacted at the insistence of American intelligence agencies that even some key recommendations for 2020 were blacked out.

The report — the first volume of several to be released from the committee’s investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference — came 24 hours after the former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III warned that Russia was moving again to interfere “as we sit here.”

While details of many of the hackings directed by Russian intelligence, particularly in Illinois and Arizona, are well known, the committee described “an unprecedented level of activity against state election infrastructure” intended largely to search for vulnerabilities in the security of the election systems.

Noon – Rest from Work (after Millet) Vincent Van Gogh

McConnell has stopped bipartisan legislation to do something more about this (via The Hill). He announced that the Orange Shit Gibbon had done enough already and nothing to see here. I’m not a fan of Joe Scarborough but I do agree with his characterization of “Moscow” MItch. All of this keeps me wondering what exactly did the Russians get when they hacked the RNC?

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Friday lashed out at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling him “Moscow Mitch” over his inaction on legislation to address Russian election interference.

Scarborough made the comments about the Kentucky Republican during a segment on “Morning Joe” after McConnell blocked two election security measures. The hashtag #MoscowMitch quickly began trending on Twitter following his comments.

Scarborough, a former GOP lawmaker, called McConnell’s actions “un-American.”

“How can Moscow Mitch so willingly turn a blind eye not only this year to what his Republican chairman of the Intel Committee is saying, to what Robert Mueller is saying, to what the FBI director is saying, to what the DNI [director of national intelligence] is saying, to what the CIA is saying, to what the United States military intel community is saying,” Scarborough asked.

“How can Moscow Mitch keep denying that [Russian President] Vladimir Putin continues to try to subvert American democracy?”

Scarborough accused McConnell of “aiding and abetting Vladimir Putin’s ongoing attempts to subvert American democracy” and said it was “un-American” for McConnell to block the Senate from taking up election security legislation.

#MoscowMitch is trending on Twitter right now.

This is from the Raw Story article cited in the above Twitter.

Reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked two bills aimed at helping to secure America’s election process from Russian interference infuriated Twitter commenters with his action — or inaction — coming right after ex-special counsel Robert Mueller testified that the Kremlin will seek to interfere just as they did in 2016.

The Senate majority leader blocked two election security bills twice this week and commenters were quick to note that the Republican leader also prevented the Obama administration from warning Americans about Russian meddling in 2016.

With the 2020 election right around the corner, McConnell’s decision to look the other way had one Twitter user calling him “Putin’s other puppet” — a reference to a nickname aimed at Donald Trump who was helped in his 2016 presidential run by Vladimir Putin.

Buddha Relaxing Buddha by Artist Renu Thomas

Oh dear, now have to start doing my mantras again while popping Valerian Root. Tomorrow is Saturday and an entire day of SUV. Until then … om mani padme hum … om mani padme hum … now where is one of my comfort furbabies? Temple? Keely? Dinah? om mani padme hum!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: Media Works Tirelessly to Help Trump Destroy U.S. Democracy

Good Afternoon!!

If Trump succeeds in destroying our democracy and becoming Hitler 2.0, the responsibility will be equally shared between the GOP and the U.S. political media. Yesterday Robert Mueller confirmed that Trump has committed high crimes and implied that Congress should impeach him. The media responded by reviewing the style and “optics” of his presentation, paying little attention to its content.

The ever-shallow Chuck Todd led the charge on Twitter. I won’t subject you to the video.

So-called leftist Michael Moore agreed with Todd.

The Columbia Journalism Review critiqued Chuck Todd’s remarks as well as those of other MSNBC hosts: MSNBC public editor: The Chuck Todd show.

Todd’s focus on the “entertainment” aspect of politics coverage is often in evidence—for example, in his own recent performance as moderator in the Democratic presidential debate. He managed to talk more than all but three of the candidates, even as he demanded that they keep their own answers brief….

For Chuck Todd all the political world’s a stage, and he’s the star….

And it’s not just Todd. Other MSNBC anchors reacted to the Mueller hearings similarly, finding fault with the Democrats’, and Mueller’s, lack of pizazz as performers. Brian Williams referred to “the caffeine gap” in the Judiciary Committee’s questioning. I can’t help pointing out that excessive concern with caffeinated pizzazz can warp a journalist’s judgement pretty severely, and is best avoided.

At a moment of particular gravity for the country, with the sitting president credibly accused of obstructing justice, and many of his campaign staff and associates under investigation and indictment, may I suggest that if you, a journalist, are bored with the politics of this—if you are demanding somehow to be entertained, right now—you’re not doing your job.

Politics isn’t entertainment, it is not a performance to be critiqued. Reporting on national politics is a public trust of solemn importance that affects hundreds of millions of people.

A sample of headlines from the “savvy” Washington press:

Peter Baker at The New York Times: The Blockbuster That Wasn’t: Mueller Disappoints the Democrats. [I skimmed the story, and could find no quotes from Democrats holding elected office. Several prominent experts were quoted arguing Mueller’s testimony was valuable.]

Sharon LaFraniere, Michael S. Schmidt, Noah Weiland and Adam Goldman at The New York Times: Mueller’s Labored Performance Was a Departure From His Once-Fabled Stamina.

Susan Glasser at The New Yorker: “Accountability”? The Mueller Hearing Is How Trump Escapes. [FYI: Susan Glasser is married to Peter Baker of the NYT.]

Some serious reactions to Mueller’s testimony:

Former Republican Jennifer Rubin: Mueller didn’t fail. The country did.

Being thousands of miles away from home in Portugal, a country that 45 years ago was in the grasp of a brutal dictatorship, gives me an interesting perspective on former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Wednesday testimony and on the now nearly forgotten — was it only a week ago? — racist call for four nonwhite congresswomen to “go back” to where they came from.

Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon

I worry that we — the media, voters, Congress — are dangerously unserious when it comes to preservation of our democracy. To spend hours of airtime and write hundreds of print and online reports pontificating about the “optics” of Mueller’s performance — when he confirmed that President Trump accepted help from a hostile foreign power and lied about it, that he lied when he claimed exoneration, that he was not completely truthful in written answers, that he could be prosecuted after leaving office and that he misled Americans by calling the investigation a hoax — tells me that we have become untrustworthy guardians of democracy.

The “failure” is not of a prosecutor who found the facts but might be ill equipped to make the political case, but instead, of a country that won’t read his report and a media obsessed with scoring contests rather than focusing on the damning facts at issue.

David Corn at Mother Jones: Mueller Reminds the Public: Trump Betrayed the United States.

There’s an old saying in newsrooms: News is stuff that people have forgotten. Robert Mueller’s dramatic appearance before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning was a striking reminder of this adage. The former special counsel did not drop any new revelations about the Trump-Russia affair. Yet in a simple but important manner, he reiterated the basics of this scandal—perhaps the most consequential political scandal in American history. These are the fundamentals that have often been subsumed by all the never-ending partisan squabbling and by the ongoing crusade mounted by Donald Trump and his defenders to distract from his perfidy. These are the facts that Trump has refused to acknowledge, and they are the facts that taint his presidency and undermine its legitimacy.

In his opening statement, Mueller emphasized the key finding from his report: “The Russian government interfered in our election in sweeping and systematic fashion.” And during the questioning, Mueller repeated the conclusion previously reached by the US intelligence community that Russia conducted this covert operation to help Trump get elected. “Did your investigation find that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from one of the candidates winning?” Mueller was asked by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). He replied with one word: “Yes.” Lofgren followed up: “And which candidate would that be?” Mueller responded, “Well, it would be Trump.”

So Russia attacked an American election to help Trump. And what did Trump do? “The Trump campaign wasn’t exactly reluctant to take Russian help,” Lofgren remarked to Mueller. “You wrote it expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, isn’t that correct.”

Mueller answered with another brief sentence: “That’s correct.” That is, Trump sought to exploit a foreign adversary’s clandestine assault. And as Mueller noted in his report, during the campaign Trump dismissed the notion that Russia was intervening in the election, and after he was elected he continued to deny “that Russia aided his election.”

Click the link to read the rest.

David Graham at The Atlantic: The Most Revealing Exchange of the Mueller Hearing.

There’s a logical disconnect in volume 2 of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report that is unmissable to any careful reader.

As Mueller explains in the report, a charge of obstruction of justice requires three elements: an obstructive act, a nexus with an official proceeding, and corrupt intent. And in the report, Mueller’s team laid out several cases where President Donald Trump committed an obstructive act, in connection with an official proceeding, with what Mueller’s team concluded could be a corrupt intent.

But because Mueller had decided at the outset of his report that he could not and would not charge the president with crimes, thanks to Justice Department guidance and in the interest of fairness, Mueller did not make the otherwise obvious jump from laying out the ways that Trump’s behavior met the three-prong test to actually stating that Trump obstructed justice.

During today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, Democratic Representative Hakeem Jeffries sought to demonstrate the disconnect by walking Mueller through the three-prong test.

“Let me refer you to page 87 and 88 of volume 2 where you conclude the attempt to remove the special counsel would qualify as an obstructive act if it would naturally obstruct the investigation and any grand-jury proceedings that might flow from the inquiry. Correct?” Jeffries asked.

“Yes,” Mueller said, confirming the obstructive act.

“Yes,” Mueller said, confirming the obstructive act.

“Your report found on page 89, volume 2, that substantial evidence indicates that by June 17, the president knew his conduct was under investigation by a federal prosecutor who would present any evidence of federal crimes to a grand jury. True?” Jeffries asked.

“True,” Mueller said, confirming the nexus to an official proceeding.

Jeffries then moved on to the third element, corrupt intent, and Mueller once again effectively affirmed the point:

Jeffries: Is it fair to say the president viewed the special counsel’s investigation as adverse to his own interest?

Mueller: I think that generally is true.

Jeffries: The investigation found evidence, quote, “that the president knew that he should not have directed Don McGahn to fire the special counsel.” Correct?

Mueller: Where do you have that quote?

Jeffries: Page 90, volume 2. “There’s evidence that the president knew he should not have made those calls to McGahn,” closed quote.

Mueller: I see that. Yes, that’s accurate.

Mueller, seeing the trick, tried to cut it off. “Let me just say, if I might, I don’t subscribe necessarily to your—the way you analyzed that. I’m not saying it’s out of the ballpark, but I’m not supportive of that analytical charge,” he said.

Graham writes that Mueller tried to backtrack, but the cat was out of the bag. Ted Lieu did something similar; head over the The Atlantic to read more.

This piece by Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg is worth a read: Worst Part of the Mueller Hearings? Republican Conspiracy Theories.

Instead of reading carefully into the evidence and finding contradictions or loose ends, House Republicans largely busied themselves with conspiracy theories. It wasn’t Donald Trump and his campaign who welcomed and benefited from Russian interference in the 2016 election; it was Hillary Clinton! Never mind what U.S. intelligence agencies and Senate investigators have concluded. Never mind that this reality-denying line of inquiry left lawmakers defending Wikileaks and even, seemingly, the Russian agents indicted by Mueller.

For these Republicans, it’s still supposedly inexplicable that the FBI started investigating in the first place. In their stated conception of things, only partisanship and hatred of the president could explain such an otherwise odd decision to look into the rich web of shady contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians. And yet those partisan and hateful investigators didn’t leak anything about the probe when it would’ve put Trump’s election in jeopardy; didn’t indict or recommend impeachment of the president; and didn’t rush to testify to Congress about any of it.

Meanwhile, with the notable exception of Texas Representative Will Hurd, Republicans showed no interest at all in the national-security implications of Russia’s interference. And remember, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is still blocking bipartisan legislation to strengthen U.S. defenses against future attacks.

These are the same Republicans, after all, who spent years looking into conspiracy theories about the deaths of Americans in Benghazi in 2012 without ever attending to the real security vulnerabilities that contributed to them. It was far more important to feed the Republican marketplace with loony ideas about how President Barack Obama (or Hillary Clinton) actively welcomed the disaster than to figure out what had actually gone wrong or what to do about it.

I’ll end with this tweet from the woman who should be president, written after Trump’s latest Nazi/KKK rally.


Wednesday Reads: Hell Fire

Click the picture of Boris to read the op/ed by BoF editor Tim Banks.

It is Mueller’s day in the sun…think he’ll fire off any new shocking testimony today? Looks like the orange turd is concerned:

Trump lashes out in hours before Mueller testimony

Y’all can read the shithead’s tweets at the link.

This is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads: Bad News and Bad Hair

Bad News, by Ethan Jack Harrington

Good Morning!!

Sorry for the possibly disturbing image–there was just something I liked about it. Anyway, it’s Tuesday, and two formerly great nations–the USA and Great Britain–are now led by doltish leaders with embarrassingly bad hair. Welcome to the 21st Century.

The Guardian: Boris Johnson elected new Tory leader.

Boris Johnson will become Britain’s next prime minister after winning a convincing victory over Jeremy Hunt in the Conservative party leadership race.

The former mayor of London, who has long cherished an ambition to lead his country, won 66% of the votes – 92,153, to Hunt’s 46,656. Turnout was 87.4% among 159,320 party members.

In a characteristically lighthearted acceptance speech, Johnson conceded that even some of his own supporters may “wonder quite what they have done”….

He reminded his audience of ministers and party staff of his campaign mantra: “Deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn.”

Saying “some wag” had pointed out that this spelled “dud”, he joked that the final e – “E for energise” – had been left out. “I say to all the doubters: dude, we are going to energise the country!”

And Johnson said he would “get Brexit done by 31 October” with a “new spirit of can-do”.

“We are once again going to believe in ourselves and what we can achieve, and like some slumbering giant we are going to rise and ping off the guy-ropes of self-doubt and negativity.”

Remember Cesar Sayoc? He’s the rabid Trump fan who sent mail bombs to people Trump attacked publicly on Twitter or elsewhere. Sayoc is on trial right now.

Ryan J. Reilly at HuffPost: Lawyers For Trump ‘Super Fan’ Cesar Sayoc Say Trump’s Rhetoric Inspired Terrorist Plot On Democrats.

Cesar Sayoc, the fanatical Donald Trump fan who mailed package bombs to the president’s political opponents, is a cognitively limited sexual abuse survivor who thought of the now-president as a “surrogate father” and came to believe in an “alternative reality” fueled in part by Trump’s attacks on his political opponents, his attorneys told a federal court on Monday.

Sayoc has admitted to mailing pipe bombs to Democratic politicians, media figures and celebrities he perceived as Trump’s enemies last fall, and pleaded guilty to several federal crimes in March. He could face life in prison when he’s sentenced on August 5, but his federal public defenders said Monday he should serve 10 years in prison followed by community supervision (as well as mental health counseling and drug treatment).

Cesar Sayoc’s van plastered with anti-Hillary and pro-Trump images

Sayoc, his attorneys wrote in a sentencing memo filed in federal court in New York on Monday, was a Trump “super fan” and “began to consider Democrats as not just dangerous in theory, but imminently and seriously dangerous to his personal safety.”

“President Trump did nothing to dissuade this message,” they write. Their filing cites Trump’s Twitter attacks on the figures Sayoc targeted.

Sayoc was a Trump fan before the reality television host ran for president, and viewed him as “everything he wanted to be: self-made, successful, and a ‘playboy,’” his attorneys wrote.

But Sayoc “began watching Fox News religiously,” started following political news on Facebook and and “threw himself into” Trump’s campaign once he announced his candidacy because he “came to view Trump as a personal champion—someone who had helped him through the most difficult periods of his life and who could do the same for other people across the country.”

Click on the link to read the rest.

The Trump administration is proposing a frightening new immigration policy.

The Washington Post: Trump administration to expand its power to deport undocumented immigrants.

The Trump administration on Tuesday will significantly expand its power to quickly deport undocumented immigrants who have illegally entered the United States within the past two years, using a fast-track deportation process that bypasses immigration judges.

Officials are calling the new strategy, which will take effect immediately, a “necessary response” to the influx of Central Americans and others at the southern border. It will allow immigration authorities to quickly remove immigrants from anywhere they encounter them across the United States, and they expect the approach will help alleviate the nation’s immigration-court backlog and free up space in Immigration and Customs Enforcement jails.

Trump HItler by Pegasus

The stated targets of the change are people who sneaked into the United States and do not have an asylum case or immigration-court date pending. Previously, the administration’s policy for “expedited removal” had been limited to migrants caught within 100 miles of the U.S. border who had been in the country for less than two weeks. The new rule would apply to immigrants anywhere in the United States who have been in the country for less than two years — adhering to a time limit included in the 1996 federal law that authorized the expedited process.

Immigrants apprehended in Iowa, Nebraska or other inland states would have to prove to immigration officials that they have been in the United States continuously for the past two years, or they could end up in an immigration jail facing quick deportation. And it could be relatively low-level immigration officers — not officers of a court — making the decisions.

What this means in reality is that anyone in the U.S. could be ordered by ICE/CBP to “show your papers.” From the article:

Immigrants’ advocates warned that the policy could ensnare longtime legal residents or even U.S. citizens who have been deported in error before. Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said she fears the rule will lead to increased racial profiling and turn ICE into a “show-me-your-papers militia.”

“This new directive flows directly from the racist rhetoric that the president has been using for the last week and indeed months, but this new rule is going to terrorize communities of color,” said Gupta, who was head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division under President Barack Obama.

U.S. citizens could be rapidly deported on the word of an ICE agent, without a court hearing. Read this story in The Dallas Morning News: A Dallas-born citizen picked up by the Border Patrol has been detained for three weeks.

An 18-year-old Dallas-born U.S. citizen has been in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement for more than three weeks, his attorney says.

Now his family fears he may be deported.

Bully Culprit, by Robbie Conal

Francisco Erwin Galicia was detained at a CBP checkpoint in Falfurrias on June 27, said Claudia Galan, his attorney.

Galicia was traveling with his 17-year-old brother Marlon Galicia and a group of friends from Edinburg where they live to Ranger College in North Texas for a soccer scouting event when they came upon a CBP checkpoint, said Sanjuana Galicia, his mother.

It was about 8 p.m. Marlon, who was born in Mexico and lacked legal status, had only been through a border checkpoint on school trips and had never been pressed to provide travel documents.

But this time was different, Marlon said. He had only a school ID. His brother was carrying only his Texas ID, which can only be obtained with a Social Security number.

“We were confident that we’d be able to pass. We were going to do something good for our futures,” he said. “I didn’t imagine this could happen and now I’m so sad that I’m not with my family,” Marlon said by phone from Reynosa, Mexico, where he is staying with his grandmother.

After two days in detention, Marlon signed a voluntary deportation form.

“I signed because I wanted to talk with my mom. Now, we just have to wait and see and hope that they release my brother,” Marlon said.

Francisco Galicia told his mother, who lives in Edinburg, that he was detained because he didn’t have his U.S. passport. But she said he did present CBP with his Texas ID.

Read more at the link.

And of course Trump’s brown shirts are already torturing children in his concentration camps. NBC News reports: Abner, 17, describes 11 days of hunger and thirst at Yuma’s border station.

Abner, a 17-year-old Guatemalan boy, vividly recalls the first 48 hours he spent inside the U.S. Border Patrol station in Yuma, Arizona. He was awake for all of them because there was no space to lie down.

James Ostrer, Emotion Download

Packed into a cell with other migrant boys, Abner said the older children would give the 8, 9, and 10-year-olds space to lie down on the floor while they would try to sleep sitting or standing up. With nothing to cover him, Abner would tremble.

“I had to stay almost two days like this, standing. I didn’t sleep. And they didn’t treat me well because I would ask for at least food or water or something to cover myself with and they would deny it,” Abner told NBC News in Spanish.

Eventually, he learned to sleep on a pile of trash in the corner of the cell, said Abner, who does not want his full name or his face used out of fear he will be targeted for deportation….

In total Abner spent 11 days from late May to early June in the Yuma border station. He describes them as filled with hunger and thirst, extreme temperatures and fear of the guards manning the facility. They refused to give him food when he asked, mocked him if he asked what time it was, and, on one occasion, punched another boy in the stomach, Abner said.

Abner says the children were fed only twice a day.

The older boys in Abner’s cell learned to protect the younger children, whose cries would anger the guards.

“Sometimes, we would give one [hamburger] to the little ones. Because the little ones were the ones that wanted to eat more than others. At least, [the older kids could] stand the hunger a little more,” Abner said.

This is being done in our name, and the whole world is watching.

I haven’t yet said anything about Robert Mueller’s Congressional testimony tomorrow. I’m sure you’ve heard that what used to be called the Department of Justice but is now Donald Trump’s personal law firm is trying to put limits on what Mueller can say. Politico reports:

Justice Department officials have communicated to Robert Mueller that the department expects him to limit his congressional testimony this week to the public findings of his 448-page report, according to one current and one former U.S. official familiar with the preparations.

In extensive discussions since the former special counsel was subpoenaed on June 25 to testify, department officials have emphasized that they consider any evidence he gathered throughout the course of his investigation to be “presumptively privileged” and shielded from public disclosure.

Of course this is complete bullshit. Mueller is a private citizen now and doesn’t have to take orders from Bill Barr or Trump. Also from Politico: Nadler calls DOJ ‘incredibly arrogant’ for trying to limit Mueller’s testimony.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler on Tuesday blasted President Donald Trump’s Justice Department as “incredibly arrogant” for instructing Robert Mueller to limit the scope of his upcoming congressional testimony.

But the New York Democrat predicted that the Justice Department’s Monday directive would not affect Wednesday’s highly anticipated pair of hearings with the former special counsel.

“I don’t think it’s much of an impediment, simply because Bob Mueller had indicated repeatedly that he was going to do exactly that,” Nadler said on CNN. “I think it’s incredibly arrogant of the department to try to instruct him as to what to say. It’s a part of the ongoing cover-up by the administration to keep information away from the American people, but I think that it’s not going to have a real impact.”

Here are some articles on Muller’s long-anticipated testimony:

Greg Sargent at The Washington Post: Here’s how Mueller’s testimony could damage Trump.

Carol Lee at NBC News: Among the questions for Mueller: Why wasn’t Donald Trump Jr. interviewed?

Neil Kaytal at The New York Times: With Three Simple Answers, Mueller Can Speak Volumes.

In June, Mimi Rocha wrote at NBC News Think: What Barr’s ongoing smear campaign against Robert Mueller is really about.

The Daily Beast: Can Mueller Cut Through Barr’s ‘Fog of Propaganda’?

What else is happening? What stories have you been following?


It’s Just Another Manic Monday Reads!!!

Senators Harris and Warren talk as U.S. President Trump delivers his second State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in WashingtonGood Afternoon Sky Dancers!

There’s a lot going on!  We’re gearing up for the Mueller Testimony right in the middle of the usual wear and tear on the country caused by having Temper Tantrum Trumpie occupy the White House for another week.  If you get a chance, you might want to gear up for the Wednesday Testimony by watching this one hour documentary on the primary findings of the Mueller Report that aired last night.   “Understanding the Mueller Report With Ari Melber Sunday July 21, 2019”

Meanwhile, there’s some other interesting news and suggestions we should look at.   I was really glad that I attended Essence Fest 2019 and was enrapt by the speeches and presence of both Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.  It’s exciting to see so many women running for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President given we watched Hillary Clinton become the first in 2016.  Now there’s a few things we can dream about including this proffered by Harper’s Bazaar and Jennifer Wright.. “Why We Need a Two Woman Presidential Ticket! Two women? On a ticket together? Radical!  How many old white men would hyperventilate over this?

It simply can’t be done! Two women?On a ticket together? It’s too radical!

To which I’m going to respectfully say: To hell with that thinking. Put two women on the Democratic Party ticket. Specifically, Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren..

Bothered by it? No one has been troubled by the fact that presidential political party tickets have been composed of two men since the beginning of time.

If you want the best people, then some variation on Warren/Harris should at least be considered. According to a Change.org poll in California, the two are leading the pack of candidates in that state’s primary with Harris at 23 percent and Warren at 22 percent.

News outlets seem in agreement that the June debates belonged to Warren and Harris.

It’s entirely possible that one of these women will win the race for Democratic presidential candidate, and when she does, it’s already assumed that she will select one of the male candidates as her running mate.

But what if she doesn’t take this conventional route? What if we see an all-female ticket? It could be great.

Image result for photos democratic women running for POTUSBoth candidates have strong ground games and even stronger policy chops!  Today, Team Warren put out an article that has the talking heads talking.  It’s about what I’ve been saying for about a year now.  The next crash is right there on the horizon.  “The Coming Economic Crash — And How to Stop It.”

When I look at the economy today, I see a lot to worry about again. I see a manufacturing sector in recession. I see a precarious economy that is built on debt — both household debt and corporate debt — and that is vulnerable to shocks. And I see a number of serious shocks on the horizon that could cause our economy’s shaky foundation to crumble.

The administration may breach the debt ceiling in September, leading to economic turmoil that top economists say would be “more catastrophic” than the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Trump’s trade war with China threatens American manufacturing and has already hurt American companies that investors think of as “industry bellwethers,” while feedingan all-time economic slowdown in China that could have dramatic ripple effects on the American economy. And Trump is goading the U.K. toward a no-deal Brexit, which even his own administration acknowledges would have “immediate and significant spillover effects” to our economy.

The financial markets agree that there is a serious risk of downturn in the near future. The U.S. Treasury yield curve — a barometer for market confidence — normally slopes upwards because investors demand higher yields for bonds with longer maturities. But this March, it inverted for the first time since 2007, signaling that investors are so worried that things are going to get worse that they’d rather lock in lower rates for the future today than risk long-term rates going even lower. The curve has inverted before each and every recession in the past half century — with only one false signal.

And experts agree. In a recent survey of nearly 300 business economists, three-quarters expect a recession by the end of 2021 — with more than halfthinking it’ll come by the end of 2020.

Other women are running for POTUS this year.  One of the reasons that Kristen Gillibrand might not be finding high ground could be the subject of this investigation by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker: “The Case of Al Franken.A close look at the accusations against the former senator.”

At his house, Franken said he understood that, in such an atmosphere, the public might not be eager to hear his grievances. Holding his head in his hands, he said, “I don’t think people who have been sexually assaulted, and those kinds of things, want to hear from people who have been #MeToo’d that they’re victims.” Yet, he added, being on the losing side of the #MeToo movement, which he fervently supports, has led him to spend time thinking about such matters as due process, proportionality of punishment, and the consequences of Internet-fuelled outrage. He told me that his therapist had likened his experience to “what happens when primates are shunned and humiliated by the rest of the other primates.” Their reaction, Franken said, with a mirthless laugh, “is ‘I’m going to die alone in the jungle.’ ”

Now sixty-eight, Franken is short and sturdily built, with bristly gray hair, tortoiseshell glasses, and a wide, froglike mouth from which he tends to talk out of one corner. Despite his current isolation, Franken is recognized nearly everywhere he goes, and he often gets stopped on the street. “I can’t go anywhere without people reminding me of this, usually with some version of ‘You shouldn’t have resigned,’ ” Franken said. He appreciates the support, but such comments torment him about his departure from the Senate. He tends to respond curtly, “Yup.”

When I asked him if he truly regretted his decision to resign, he said, “Oh, yeah. Absolutely.” He wishes that he had appeared before a Senate Ethics Committee hearing, as he had requested, allowing him to marshal facts that countered the narrative aired in the press. It is extremely rare for a senator to resign under pressure. No senator has been expelled since the Civil War, and in modern times only three have resigned under the threat of expulsion: Harrison Williams, in 1982, Bob Packwood, in 1995, and John Ensign, in 2011. Williams resigned after he was convicted of bribery and conspiracy; Packwood faced numerous sexual-assault accusations; Ensign was accused of making illegal payoffs to hide an affair.

What follows is a detailed investigation of the complaints most of which still smell a bit fishy to me.  Especially, this woman who appears to be have sent up to the deed by the usual cast of “conservative” henchmen.

Tweeden may well have felt harassed, and even violated, by Franken, but he insisted to me that her version of events is “just not true.” He confirmed that he had rehearsed the skit with her, noting, “You always rehearse.” The script, he recalled, called for a man to “surprise” a woman with a kiss, in a “sort of sudden” way, and though Tweeden had read the script, it’s possible that in the moment he startled her. Tweeden wasn’t an actress—before going into broadcasting, she had been a Frederick’s of Hollywood model—so she may have been unfamiliar with rehearsals. But Franken said, of Tweeden, “I don’t remember her being taken aback.” He adamantly denied having stuck his tongue in her mouth.

Franken’s longtime fund-raiser, A. J. Goodman, a former criminal-defense lawyer, told me that it was “easy to see how it could have grossed Tweeden out” to be kissed by Franken. At the time, Franken was fifty-five, and his clothes tended toward mom jeans and garish windbreakers. “He was like your uncle Morty,” Goodman recalled. “He wasn’t Cary Grant. But tongue down the throat? No. I’ve done hundreds of events with this guy. I’ve been on the road and on his book tours with him.” She said that Franken was “five hundred per cent devoted” to Bryson, his wife, whom he met during his freshman year at Harvard. “He can be a jerk, but he’s all about his family,” Goodman said. (Franken and Bryson have a daughter, a son, and four grandchildren.)

In Hollywood, Franken’s reputation had been far from wild. According to Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad’s book, “Saturday Night,” when Franken worked on “S.N.L.” he was seen as a stickler and a “self-appointed hallway monitor” figure. James Downey, who spent decades writing for the show, told me, of Franken, “He’s lots of things, some delightful, some annoying. He can be very aggressive interpersonally. He can say mean things, or use other people as props. He can seem more confident that the audience will find him adorable than he ought to. His estimate of his charm can be overconfident. But I’ve known him for forty-seven years and he’s the very last person who would be a sexual harasser.”

It’s a long read but worth revisiting the evidence.

Down here in New Orleans there’s an East Bank and a West Bank of the Mississippi even the the actually directions of the locations are north of the river and south of the river.  The West Bank has always been the forgotten of the two banks because it’s original purpose was that of the Slave Trade Markets which New Orleans wanted kept out of their faces even though it was a part of the city’s history as well as the region. Gretna is one of the places that sprung up when immigrants from countries like Italy showed up and it still has an ethnic feel to it including a Spanish revival Catholic Orphanage called Hope Haven built in 1925,  The place has been in the headlines recently in a less than favorable light: New lawsuit filed against Catholic Church in N.O. details alleged sexual abuse at orphanage.”

A little more recently Gretna achieved infamy with this awful headline directly after Katrina hit the area via NPR: “Evacuees Were Turned Away at Gretna, La.”

Three days after Hurricane Katrina struck, authorities blocked the road that connects the city of Gretna to New Orleans. Thousands of evacuees say they were prevented from escaping the flooding and chaos, and that shots were fired over their heads.

Believe me, there’s not much wealth over there  to protect in Gretna during a good time so there were much sinister forces stopping people from the East going to the West bank where they likely could’ve been reached by buses. Color all of us unsurprised when the local news came up with a headline that has now gone quite viral and national via WAPO: “Officer suggests Ocasio-Cortez should be shot, after he read fake news on Facebook”.  Yes, said officer is from Gretna, LA land of shooting at survivors of the worst disaster in the country to stop them from coming near the burbs.

It was not clear from his Facebook post whether police officer Charlie Rispoli knew he was responding to fake news when he suggested Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) should be shot.

“This vile idiot needs a round……..and I don’t mean the kind she used to serve,” Rispoli, a 14-year veteran of the Gretna Police Department in Louisiana, said Thursday, referring to a gunshot and the lawmaker’s earlier career as a bartender, the Times-Picayune/the New Orleans Advocate reported.

The post, which appears to have been deleted along with Rispoli’s Facebook account, comes amid a reckoning with racist and violent social media posts by police and federal law enforcement officers. As posts have been made public, firings and investigations have followed across multiple departments.

Image result for warren, harris, klobuchar, gillibrandWe’re all assuming what happens in Gretna gets covered up and buried in Gretna.  Just like everything else, nothing will happen.

Texan Wendy Davis is running for US Congress. Let’s hope she can win it.  I still have my pink Wendy Shoes.   This is via the Texas Tribune: “Wendy Davis announces bid for Congress, will challenge U.S. Rep. Chip Roy.  The former state senator is running for office for the first time since her unsuccessful campaign for Texas governor.”

 

 Former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis is running for Congress.

Early Monday morning, Davis announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination in Central Texas’ 21st District. She is challenging U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, a freshman Republican from Austin.

She made her intentions known in a biographical video, narrated in part with archival footage from her late father, Jerry Russell.

“I’m running for Congress because people’s voices are still being silenced,” she said. “I’m running for our children and grandchildren, so they can live and love and fight for change themselves.”

So the voices of women with much needed diversity will hopefully block out the trauma of yet another Trumpf Hate Fest in Cincinnati this week undoubtedly timed to draw attention away from the Mueller Testimony.  That Hatefest is scheduled for August 1st.  The second set of Democratic debates are set for July 30 and 31.  

The Mueller Testimony is on Wednesday.  Are you up for all of that?

Robert Mueller’s Capitol Hill testimony

  • Date: Wednesday, July 24, 2019
  • Times: 8:30 a.m. – House Judiciary Committee hearing, 12:00 p.m. – House Intelligence Committee hearing
  • Location: Washington, D.C.

How to watch Mueller’s testimony

  • Free online stream:  Watch CBSN for live coverage of Mueller’s testimony on Capitol Hill. CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell hosts a CBS News network special report starting at 8:30 a.m.

Schedule of Mueller’s testimony

  • It will be split across two committee appearances with three hours allotted for the Judiciary Committee and two hours for the Intelligence Committee.
  • There will be a 30-minute break in between the two hearings, and the former special counsel will have the opportunity to ask for breaks during each appearance.
  • Neither committee is expecting Mueller to give lengthy or extensive answers to lawmakers’ questions. Democratic staff members of the committees say they anticipate “yes” or “no” answers from the former special counsel or very short sentences. But in the end, they believe that the two hearings will help Americans better understand the Mueller report.

Well, that should keep us busy for a few days!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?