Monday Reads: Pick your Trumpian Poison Pill for Democracy in the USA

Jakelin Caal Maquin and Felipe Gómez Alonzo died in federal custody after they fled to the US from Guatemala. (CNN)  Felipe Gómez Alonzo was excited to come to the U.S. He thought he might get his own bicycle. His mom and dad let him make the trip after he got upset that his dad might leave without him. He died on Christmas Eve in our government’s custody. He was 8.  Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin liked to climb trees. She jumped when her dad told her she could come with him to the U.S. She thought she might get her first toy; she’d just got her first pair of shoes. She died on December 8 in our government’s custody. She was 7.

Well, it’s Monday Sky Dancers!

It’s getting extremely rough to watch the headlines these days in this country and above all, about this country.  I do not care what people that voted for Trump think. I only hope they are all extremely ashamed of what they’ve done to our country.  They probably won’t be, however, since most of them are so wrapped up in their state of  white muffin rage being focused on nothing but their self-created wretchedness and looking for others to blame.

I’m not sure what horrid news to headline first but our real President tweeted out our most pressing issue this morning. We have to stop killing and torturing children in the name of Trumpism which this day also means OUR names.

Trump defended his actions with immense and cruel lies on Sunday to “journalist” Chuck Todd.  Here’s the headline from USA Today. “Trump defends conditions for detained migrant kids, blames Obama for family separations; fact checkers call foul.”

When questioned by interviewers about migrant children detained at the southern border, President Donald Trump has tried to steer the blame toward the previous administration, saying former President Barack Obama initiated the policy of separating those children from their caregivers, even though fact checkers have consistently found that claim to be false

During an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” which aired Sunday, Trump told host Chuck Todd that he “inherited separation from President Obama” and that “I was the one that ended it.”

“When I became president, President Obama had a separation policy. I didn’t have it. He had it. I brought the families together. I’m the one that put them together,” he told Telemundo’s José Díaz Balart in an interview that aired Thursday.

And on Thursday he told Time magazine that “I inherited separation” and “I’m the one that put the families back together.”

But, according to FactCheck.org, “previous administrations did not have a blanket policy to prosecute parents and separate them from their children.” It was after the Trump administration announced its “zero-tolerance” immigration policy in April 2018, in which everyone who illegally entered the U.S. was referred for criminal prosecution, that thousands of migrant children were separated from their parents.

 

Charles Blow of the NYT writes today: “Trump’s ‘Concentration Camps’. The cruelty of immigrant family separations must not be tolerated.”

I have often wondered why good people of good conscience don’t respond to things like slavery or the Holocaust or human rights abuse.

Maybe they simply became numb to the horrific way we now rarely think about or discuss the men still being held at Guantánamo Bay without charge or trial, and who may as well die there.

Maybe people grow weary of wrestling with their anger and helplessness, and shunt the thought to the back of their minds and try to simply go on with life, dealing with spouses and children, making dinner and making beds.

Maybe there is simply this giant, silent, cold thing drifting through the culture like an iceberg that barely pierces the surface.

I believe that we will one day reflect on this period in American history where migrant children are being separated from their parents, some having been kept in cages, and think to ourselves: How did this happen?

Why were we not in the streets every day demanding an end to this atrocity? How did we just go on with our lives, disgusted but not distracted?

Thousands of migrant children have now been separated from their parents.

As NBC News reported in May:

“At least seven children are known to have died in immigration custody since last year, after almost a decade in which no child reportedly died while in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”

Homeland Security’s own inspector general has described egregious conditions at detention facilities.

And, last week, an attorney for the Trump administration argued before an incredulous panel of judges on the Ninth Circuit that toothbrushes, soap and appropriate sleeping arrangements were not necessary for the government to meet its requirement to keep migrant children in “safe and sanitary” conditions.

As one of the judges asked the attorney:

“Are you arguing seriously that you do not read the agreement as requiring you do something other than what I described: Cold all night long. Lights on all night long. Sleep on the concrete floor and you get an aluminum blanket?”

Carlos Gregorio Hernández Vásquez loved playing the piano and the bass. His family called him Goyito. He had 8 brothers and sisters. One of them, Edgar, had special needs. Carlos came to the U.S. to help support Edgar.
He died on May 20 in our government’s custody. He was 16.

Here’s a report from ABC News: “Doctor compares conditions for unaccompanied children at immigrant holding centers to ‘torture facilities'”.

From sleeping on concrete floors with the lights on 24 hours a day to no access to soap or basic hygiene, migrant children in at least two U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities face conditions one doctor described as comparable to “torture facilities.”

The disturbing, first-hand account of the conditions were observed by lawyers and a board-certified physician in visits last week to border patrol holding facilities in Clint, Texas, and McAllen, a city in the southern part of the state.

The descriptions paint a bleak image of horrific conditions for children, the youngest of whom is 2 1/2 months old.

“The conditions within which they are held could be compared to torture facilities,” the physician, Dolly Lucio Sevier, wrote in a medical declaration obtained exclusively by ABC News.

Lucio Sevier, who works in private practice in the area, was granted access to the Ursula facility in McAllen, which is the largest CBP detention center in the country, after lawyers found out about a flu outbreak there that sent five infants to the neonatal intensive care unit.

This is unacceptable and each one of us should be on the phone to our Senators and Representative to end this now.

Darlyn Cristabel Cordova-Valle hadn’t seen her mom in 9 years. She came here to see her mom. She was hospitalized soon after she got here. Her mom asked for Darlyn to be released to her. The government refused.
She died on September 29 in our government’s custody. She was 10.

The NYT’s had this report a few days ago: ” ‘There Is a Stench’: No Soap and Overcrowding in Detention Centers for Migrant Children.”

A chaotic scene of sickness and filth is unfolding in an overcrowded border station in Clint, Tex., where hundreds of young people who have recently crossed the border are being held, according to lawyers who visited the facility this week. Some of the children have been there for nearly a month.

Children as young as 7 and 8, many of them wearing clothes caked with snot and tears, are caring for infants they’ve just met, the lawyers said. Toddlers without diapers are relieving themselves in their pants. Teenage mothers are wearing clothes stained with breast milk.

Most of the young detainees have not been able to shower or wash their clothes since they arrived at the facility, those who visited said. They have no access to toothbrushes, toothpaste or soap.

“There is a stench,” said Elora Mukherjee, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School, one of the lawyers who visited the facility. “The overwhelming majority of children have not bathed since they crossed the border.”

I’ve actually reached the point where I think it’s necessary for all the living Presidents, their families, and as many other senior level officials that they can gather need to go to the border and put a name to it.  We’re operating Torture Centers for Children and I can’t think of a better group to shame this government.  Yes, that’s a radical thought because usually retired Presidents don’t get involved with the business in Washington and another administration unless asked. But, this is a radically different time with a radically different group in charge. Only true leadership can trump Trumpism.

There is another news today including massive leaks of Team Trump’s inability to get legitimate security clearances and a huge number of red flags that should have disqualified the lot of them.  Exclusive from Axios: “Exclusive: Leaked Trump vetting docs”.

Nearly 100 internal Trump transition vetting documents leaked to “Axios on HBO” identify a host of “red flags” about officials who went on to get some of the most powerful jobs in the U.S. government.

Why it matters: The massive trove, and the story behind it, sheds light on the slap-dash way President Trump filled his cabinet and administration, and foreshadowed future scandals that beset his government.

Some highlights:

  • Scott Pruitt, who ultimately lost his job as EPA Administrator because of serial ethical abuses and clubbiness with lobbyists, had a section in his vetting form titled “allegations of coziness with big energy companies.”

  • Tom Price, who ultimately resigned as Health and Human Services Secretary after Trump lost confidence in him in part for stories about his use of chartered flights, had sections in his dossier flagging “criticisms of management ability” and “Dysfunction And Division Has Haunted Price’s Leadership Of The House Budget Committee.”

  • Mick Mulvaney, who became Trump’s Budget Director and is now his acting chief of staff, has a striking assortment of “red flags,” including his assessment that Trump “is not a very good person.”

  • The Trump transition team was so worried about Rudy Giuliani, in line for Secretary of State, that they created a separate 25-page document titled “Rudy Giuliani Business Ties Research Dossier” with copious accounting of his “foreign entanglements.”

  • One red flag for Gen. David Petraeus, who was under consideration for Secretary of State and National Security Adviser: “Petraeus Is Opposed to Torture.”

Wilmer Josué Ramírez Vásquez’s mother brought him to the U.S. to get him medical care for a condition that left him unable to walk.
He died on May 14 in our government’s custody. He was 2.

Yes, well, that explains why we have children in Torture Camps.

Here’s some more tidbits. I suggest you go read the entire summary of the mess.

The RNC researchers identified some striking “Red Flags.”

  • The first red flag for Rex Tillerson, who became Trump’s first Secretary of State, was about Russia. “Tillerson’s Russia ties go deep,” it read.
  • One red flag for Fox News host Laura Ingraham, considered for White House press secretary: “Ingraham said people should wear diapers instead of sharing bathrooms with transgender people.”
  • One heading in the document about Kris Kobach, in the running for Homeland Security Secretary, listed “white supremacy” as a vulnerability. It cited accusations from past political opponents that he had ties to white supremacist groups.
  • Vetters had unique concerns about Gary Cohn. “Some Say Cohn Has An Abrasive, Curt, And Intimidating Style,” they wrote, citing a Bloomberg piece. “He Would Sometimes Hike Up One Leg And Plant His Foot On A Trader’s Desk, His Thigh Close To The Employee’s Face, And Ask How Markets Were Doing.”

Some of the contenders were strikingly swampy — even by the RNC vetters’ standards.

  • Seema Verma, who Trump appointed as the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, had this paragraph near the top of her vetting form: “Verma was simultaneously advising Indiana ($3.5 million in contracts) on issues impacting how it would spend Medicaid funds while she was also being paid by a client that received Medicaid funds. Ethics experts have called the arrangement a conflict of interest that potentially put Indiana taxpayers at risk.”
  • Sonny Perdue, Trump’s pick for Agriculture Secretary, had a vetting form with sections labeled “Business conflicts of interest” and “Family conflicts of interest.” It noted that “Perdue is the owner of Houston Fertilizer and Grain, a company that has received contracts from the Department of Agriculture.”

The documents point to Trump’s willingness to meet with — and sometimes hire — people who had harshly criticized him. The vetting team often put these denigrations at the top of the documents. A source with direct knowledge told me many of these documents were handed to Trump; he knew about the insults, and picked the insulters anyway.

  • Nikki Haley, who became Trump’s U.N. ambassador, had a note that she’d said Trump is everything “we teach our kids not to do in kindergarten.”

  • Ryan Zinke, who became Interior Secretary, had described Trump as “un-defendable.”

  • Rick Perry, Energy Secretary, had voluminous vetting concerns: “Perry described Trumpism as a ‘toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness, and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition,'” the vetters noted.

Juan de León Gutierréz was shy, a good student. When he missed class to help his dad harvest coffee, he’d run to catch his teacher after school to explain his absence.
He died on April 30 in our government’s custody. He was 16.

We know that Trump is a disaster. Here is a Bloomberg headline from Timothy O’Brien: “Trump Suffers a Triple Fail on Iran, Mexico and Immigration. The president’s solo initiatives on Iran, Mexico and immigrants were all abandoned before taking effect. Twitter bravado is a terrible way to govern.”

In a word, President Trump was never going to become “presidential.” It was inevitable instead that he would find himself most interested in frequenting the corridors of power that allowed him to operate independently. That’s not an uncommon phenomenon for presidents, but in Trump’s case it’s uniquely perilous because no president in the modern era has been as ill-informed, unhinged and undisciplined as the current one. None has been as needy, nor as willing to playact without remorse while making the most consequential of decisions.

To help demonstrate the point, Trump has given the world a trifecta of sorts in recent weeks involving trade with Mexico, a military strike in Iran, and government raids on the homes of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. Trump launched all three episodes with public threats and bravado showcased on Twitter, embroidered them with promises of imminent and decisive action, and tethered them to the notion that complex challenges can be solved with blunt force wielded by a single man. He then abruptly abandoned all three provocations just before they were to take effect.

In early June, Trump threatened, via Twitter, to impose onerous tariffs on Mexico if it failed to help solve the immigration and humanitarian crisis spilling over from Central America and into the U.S. His own political party and the business community brought him to heel within a week and he abandoned the tariff threat on the eve of imposing it. Mexico didn’t agree to substantially change any new policing activities along the border. But in the few days that his threat stood, Trump managed to destabilize financial markets and nearly upended a global trade and supply chain that supported legions of businesses and millions of people on both sides of the border.

Last Thursday, Trump noted on Twitter that “Iran made a very big mistake!” when it shot down a U.S. drone that Iran claimed had crossed into its airspace. Later that same day the president authorized a military strike against the country, only to call it off when, reportedly, he became aware that as many as 150 might be killed. While Trump is now embracing tougher economic sanctions against Iran, he has exposed deep divisions among his national security and military advisers. He’s also proven himself to be dangerously unpredictable to allies whose help he still needs if he wants to see substantial long-term changes gain traction in Iran and the rest of the Middle East.

To top it off, Trump barely gave observers time to digest his abandoned military strikes before he engaged in a bit of Orwellian doublespeak. “I never called the strike against Iran ‘BACK,’ as people are incorrectly reporting,” he said on Twitter on Saturday. “I just stopped it from going forward at this time!”

The same day – on Twitter, of course – Trump said he also had decided to postpone raids on the homes of about 2,000 undocumented immigrant families living in the U.S. who had already received deportation orders. This came on the heels of Trump’s threats earlier in the week – made just before he traveled to Florida to kick off his 2020 presidential campaign – to deport “millions” of immigrants (a figure that vastly overstated what his immigration officials were considering, but might have been reassuring for Trump’s political base to hear).

Trump said he postponed the raids because Democrats had asked him to wait so they could discuss other policy options with him. But the postponement was also reportedly due, in part, to concerns that Trump’s telegraphing of specifics about the raids had jeopardized the safety of immigration officers and the welfare of children potentially caught up in the sweeps.

In any event, the brinksmanship and escalation that marked Trump’s public blustering on tariffs and Iran had a decidedly more obscene quality when deployed against a population of migrants left vulnerable and rootless by the drug wars and economic uncertainty that have engulfed much of Central America. The president’s vacillating, set against a backdrop of an administration already under fire for separating migrant families at the southern border and jailing children and teenagers in squalid detention centers, may harden both sides in the border debate and prevent Congress from overhauling immigration laws in tandem with the White House.

Expect Trump’s cartwheeling to continue. It’s who he is.

Here’s the source of these portraits of children who came to our country with hope and died in negligence from our Trumpian horror.

I really didn’t want to put up all these today to overwhelm you as much as I am overwhelmed. I just remember that a year ago I was protesting this shit. These children have died since that protest. That’s not working. It’s time to do more. Write or call your representatives in Washington DC and demand something be done. Scream! Cry! Tell them you’ll work against them when they come up for re-election. Let everyone know we need to end all this now.

If that’s now you, maybe you can write a check to help.

Remember, Trump is promising massive round ups in most major cities. Find out if there’s any way you can help in your city.  He’s supposedly put this off but the date he’s given is our Independence Day Weekend.  That should horrify any of us.

In immigration news, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Friday it would start a mass roundup of immigrants starting Sunday under the name “family op,” targeting 10 cities. On Saturday, amid national outcry, President Trump backtracked on that plan, saying he would delay the deportations by two weeks and put the onus on Democrats to make changes to immigration policy if they wanted to avoid the plan from going ahead. But some media reports claim that the delay was prompted by a leak by acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan or his staff, which could have compromised the plan.

Democratic lawmakers accused the Trump administration of using the threat of mass deportations as a bargaining chip to push its immigration agenda. Texas Congressmember Joaquin Castro said, “The threat to knock and drag people away from their families and out of their communities shouldn’t be a negotiation tactic for an American president.”

New Orleans and many other cities are refusing to aid ICE in this action.  See if your city is on that list.

 

Look at the type of people we’re up against!

From Motherly: “10 powerful ways we can help immigrant children separated from their parents.”

This has a good list of places to write checks to and support.  Remember, thoughts and prayers do nothing!! This is a good person to have the last word today.

 

What’s on your reading and blogging list today!

 


Fresh Hell Friday Reads: “He will Kill us All’

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Well, the Iran Situation is turning into the usual Trumpian Clusterfuck. And, this is what some Dems on Facebook. etc want in his place:

“Grampa Simpson runs for president”

The concern, as articulated by his Democratic rivals and a wave of harsh online commentary, is that Biden sees contemporary America through a distorting haze of nostalgia.

I watched the Battle for Winterfield again last night. I can’t seem to get enough of the haunting “Night King” composition by Ramin Djawadi. I also keep looking for Arya to creep up behind what passes for our President these days with something that vaporizes him. Plus, there’s Joe imploding as he usually does to a chorus of but he’s our only hope. Voters of American, if Joe Biden is your answer you are asking the wrong damned question! The Grampa Simpson take is from politico and the keyboard of John F. Harris.

As thunderbolts crash around him, Joe Biden is facing an urgent question: What exactly is the rationale for his presidential candidacy?

The answers given by Biden sympathizers usually are rooted in character and personal history. Here is a decent man who has lived long and seen a lot, through setbacks and tragedy, and knows enough to understand and defend the timeless virtues that are so absent but also so needed in modern Washington. Late in life, the man and moment are in harmony at last for a heroic final chapter.

I’m sorry but Biden’s record in Congress and his habit of serially plagiarizing others, his treatment of Dr. Hill, and his damn inability to apologize for being totally insensitive to the feelings of others is disqualifying. A decent man does none of those things. A decent man realizes when what he says and does hurts others intentionally or not and he freaking APOLOGIZES and he makes amends and he works to never EVER do it again!

The hope is that voters will embrace Biden as a kind of American Churchill.

The past 24 hours raise, not for the first time, a more painful possibility: Grampa Simpson is running for president.

“There’s not a racist bone in my body,” Biden bristled indignantly on Wednesday evening. But that wasn’t the primary concern about a 76-year-old’s paean to his youthful past, in which conscientious senators like himself supposedly could work productively and with “civility” even with segregationists like James Eastland and Herman Talmadge.

The concern, as articulated by his Democratic rivals and a wave of harsh online commentary, is that Biden sees contemporary America through a distorting haze of nostalgia, that his values and assumptions were shaped by the last generation or even the one before that, that after many years in public life he still lacks the self-awareness or self-discipline to wonder whether modern voters will find his vagrant ruminations about the past as interesting or relevant as he does.

I’m not voting for fucking Joe Biden and I’m not going to be bullied into it or pleaded into it or kumbayah’d into it. Not going to do it. Wouldn’t be prudent at this juncture.

Biden, during 48 years on the national scene, has never had an especially strong ideological profile: He’s been a reasonably centrist Democrat for all of them. When he has deviated it was usually in right-leaning directions, as with his opposition to forced busing for integration in the 1970s or his support for expanding crimes covered by the death penalty in the 1990s.

Or his treatment of women and his real views on Abortion rights.

This history means that the most likely answer to the “why Biden” challenge will rest on character. The evidence of the past couple days—redundant to evidence amassed over several decades—is that if voters are going to embrace Biden’s character they must also embrace or overlook his penchant for the cringe-worthy remark. And realize that often the most cringey remarks will flirt with racial themes.

And misogynist and handsy. And yeah, totally ignoring any one at any time when it’s inconvenient for him.

Now, about the problem of Trump and his inability to have a cogent thought, any kind of strategy, and finding good people that can do that for him. This is the headline I woke up to from the NYT: “Trump Approves Strikes on Iran, but Then Abruptly Pulls Back.” Sort’ve sounds like a headline made for an impotent, senile old man doesn’t it? Only this one is not just playing with himself. He is the Commander and Chief and that should make all of us very afraid. Did some bad men shoot down your unmanned toy?

Yes he charged forward and then pulled out. Brave Brave Sir Donald! Dumb Dumb Sir Donald! This piece is written by the usual suspects: Michael D. Shear, Eric Schmitt, Michael Crowley and Maggie Haberman.

President Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing an American surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night after a day of escalating tensions.

As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations.

Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries.

The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said.

There’s no adult in charge of the Pentagon right now. WTF? Why even think about this unless John Bolton is sitting on your shoulder whispering sweet war diatribes in your ear?

Jacqueline Alemany writes this for WAPO :Power Up: Impeachment, Iran, Immigration: Trump’s “I” word trifecta”

AND THEN THERE WERE THREE: Reps. Sean Casten (Ill.), Katie Porter (Calif.) and Tom Malinowski (N.J.) are three Democrats who knocked off Republicans to win their seat in 2018 and take back the House majority. As of this week, they’re also now all in favor of initiating impeachment proceedings against President Trump, despite the potential electoral consequences.

  • “I didn’t run for Congress to impeach the president” is becoming a common disclaimer for those members who are hesitant to launch formal impeachment proceedings against the president.
  • Trickle effect: The momentum for impeachment keeps growing as slowly, more Democrats come out in favor of an official inquiry because they are defending their oversight function under the Constitution. That despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) firm opposition to formal impeachment proceedings.
  • The tally: Seventy-three lawmakers are now in favor of beginning impeachment proceedings, per a running list being kept by my colleagues J.M. Rieger, Amber Phillips and Kevin Schaul.

These are a lot for a person with a sound mind to deal with but I can’t even begin–and wouldn’t want to be there–to wander through the mind of Dotard Donald. You order your military on a mission and THEN you worry about fucking casualties? If this doesn’t move the impeachment meter, we’ve got no hope for the republic.

President Trump ordered an attack on Iran on Thursday in retaliation for the downing of a surveillance drone in the Strait of Hormuz but called the operation off just before it was due to occur because it would have caused extensive casualties, he said Friday.

In a series of morning tweets, Trump said he called off strikes on three Iranian sites minutes before they were to be launched because he was informed of the likely loss of life among Iranians.

“We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die,” Trump tweeted. “150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it.”

Such a death toll was “not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone,” Trump wrote, adding: “I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!”

Trump’s Friday morning tweets appeared to gloss over the fact that he was the one, as commander in chief, who had ordered the retaliation against Iran in the first place.

Iran said Friday the United States had “no justification” for a retaliatory strike and vowed to respond “firmly” to any U.S. military action.

Look. Old white men have been making bad decisions and failing upwards for way too long. They’ve been using the rest of us and ignorning what it does to us on the way.. Today just really reminds me of why it’s necessary to look for a leader that knows what it takes to face a complete uphill battle and still get there. It’s time for a different brand of leadership. I’m tired of being scared to death by ego and sheer incompetence.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Listen to this haunting background to the peak of the Battle for Winterfall and enjoy the work of this very talented musician and composer.


Impeachment Monday Reads

2_weyantGood Morning Sky Dancers!

I guess now’s as good as any time to discuss the roadmap to impeachment.  I don’t know about you but I’m more than ready to start the roadtrip.  Let’s start with moving forward by looking back with The New Republic’s Matt Ford and his interview with an assistant to the Judge that decided that sitting presidents can’t be indicted while said Judge was writing the memo.

It’s a weird story that Rachel Maddow has covered because it links directly to Spiro Agnew.  Her podcast, Bag Man, took on the legacy of Agnew and how his criminality impacted the approach to Nixon‘s removal. So, why can’t sitting presidents be indicted?  Why can’t we just lock him up instead of letting him rot out here with unidicted co-conspirator status?  Should we revisit the Dixon memo?

Robert Mueller made a surprising assertion last month about the limits of his power. In his report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and President Trump’s potential obstruction of the investigation, the special counsel explained that Justice Department policy effectively prevented him from charging Trump with a crime while in office. But in his surprise press conference in May, he went even further. “[The report] explains that under long-standing department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office,” he said. “That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view—that too is prohibited.”

This remains an open legal question, despite Mueller’s unequivocal assertion. The Constitution itself is silent on the matter, and no court has ever ruled otherwise because no sitting president has ever been indicted. Mueller’s nod to “long-standing department policy” likely was a reference to the so-called Dixon memo, a 1973 Office of Legal Counsel opinion in which Assistant Attorney General Robert Dixon concluded that there were multiple practical and constitutional hurdles that made it effectively impossible. “The spectacle of an indicted president still trying to serve as chief president boggles the imagination,” Dixon wrote.

That memo’s primary purpose, however, was not to conclusively decide whether a president could be indicted while in office. While it’s commonly assumed that the memo came about during the Watergate scandal, it instead sprang from the Justice Department’s efforts to prosecute Vice President Spiro Agnew in a tax-evasion case. Agnew argued that he was only subject to impeachment by Congress, and Attorney General Elliot Richardson asked Dixon to write an opinion on the question.

To understand the Dixon memo’s unusual origins and its continuing impact, I spoke with J. T. Smith, an attorney who worked as Richardson’s executive assistant during the Watergate scandal. Smith was present at the creation, so to speak, of the Justice Department’s policy on indicting a sitting president. He told me that if Richardson “had the benefit or detriment we have of the behavior of this particular White House, he almost certainly would say it’s high time this whole matter get revisited.”

1_summers_0The Dixon memo was FOIA’d last year. Here’s a link to the memo itself along with the letter acknowledging the FOIA request.    So here’s the Judge’s assistant’s direct response to if the Dixon Memo should be revisited.

Did you happen to see Mueller’s press conference the other day, where he said outright that it would be unconstitutional to indict a sitting president?

I saw that, and I’m not clear why he said it. It’s one thing to say that it is Justice Department policy, long standing, that a sitting president should not be subject to criminal process, but he sort of surprised me when he characterized it as being unconstitutional. Because the Dixon memo of 1973, I think, ends up on grounds that are policy-based more than Constitution-based, and indeed, the Dixon memo says that the Constitution doesn’t squarely address the topic.

DcccvljW4AA3RYlThis bit of wiggle has allowed Trump and his current AG to say, basically, nothing to see here when there is plenty to read there if any one would take the time to read the Mueller Report or listen to the folks that have.

Nancy Pelosi “is putting up guardrails” if you believe the analysis at WAPO by Amber Phillips.

As leader of the House of Representatives, she has quite a bit of sway. She is the top elected Democrat in Washington. And she decides what bills her chamber votes on. The lawmakers in the House and Senate actually running for president — 11 in all — just get to vote.

So it’s notable that under her leadership, the House hasn’t voted on any big-government policy package championed by the Bernie Sanderses and Elizabeth Warrens of the world.

In May, the House voted on seven health-care bills designed to bandage Obamacare now that the Trump administration is trying to kill it by a thousand cuts. Not a single one of those bills would establish universal health care, even though Medicare-for-all is a defining policy debate of the 2020 presidential primary. Five of the seven senators running for president support a Medicare-for-all bill.

She also hasn’t allowed a vote on the Green New Deal, a plan to tackle climate change with Roosevelt-era-style government-funded jobs, despite the fact that many 2020 candidates support some aspect of the plan. And she’s held off her party from taking the first steps to impeach President Trump even though 67 House Democrats — and a number of presidential candidates — want to.

Pelosi’s logic is simple. She’s not thinking about the Democratic primary.

She believes the battle for her House and the White House next November will be waged in communities that voted for President Trump in 2016 such as in Rep. Elise Slotkin’s Lansing, Mich., district or in Georgia where Rep. Lucy McBath got narrowly elected last year or in Iowa, where Rep. Abby Finkenauer is campaigning to stay elected after knocking off a Republican member of Congress. All three represent districts that voted for Trump in 2016 in states Trump won. None of them support impeachment of Trump.

20190423edbbc-a_1You can tell all of this talk of impeachment is getting to Trump.  His tweets over the weekend were some of his most unhinged screeds to date.  He also spoke to the many reporters questioning him on the topic.

The ABC interview with Stephanopolous was shown in Full on Sunday and Trump’s state of mind was on full display.  His usual “no collusion, witchhunt” rant seemed particularly hollow this weekend.  He’s fired a group of his pollsters and is undoubtedly flipping out about the latest poll showing the public’s move Impeachment Inquiry Curious.  This is from The Hill.

The report cited more than 100 contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia but said there was insufficient evidence to conclude there was a conspiracy. Investigators also did not make a determination on whether Trump obstructed justice, with Mueller saying it was because a sitting president cannot be prosecuted.

In the same interview, Trump waved off a letter in which more than 1,000 federal prosecutors said he would have been indicted for obstruction were he not a sitting president, saying the signatories were “politicians” and “Trump haters.”

His interview was broadcast as a poll from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal found that support for impeachment hearings had increased 10 points since May, to 27 percent. The increase was largely driven by Democrats, 48 percent of whom now favor impeachment, up 18 points from last month.

The new poll found that the number of Americans who believe Congress should continue to investigate whether there is sufficient evidence to hold impeachment hearings fell 8 points to 24 percent.

A Fox News poll released Sunday, meanwhile, found that that 50 percent of respondents said they believe the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia, up 6 points from March. Forty-four percent of respondents said they don’t believe there was collusion.

Half of that poll’s respondents favored impeachment, with 43 percent supporting impeaching and removing Trump — a 1-point increase from March — and 7 percent endorsing impeachment but not removal, compared to 48 percent who opposed impeachment. The same survey found that 56 percent of respondents said it was “not at all” likely that Trump will eventually be impeached.

The surveys come amid increasing chagrin from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party over Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) hard line against impeachment proceedings.

1_194Heather Cox Richardson–writing for The Guardian–makes “The historical argument for impeaching Trump.” It’s a run down of all the times Republic Presidents pushed the envelope on the imperial presidency.

The question of impeaching Donald Trump is about replacing the toxic partisanship of today’s Republican party with America’s traditional rule of law. It has become a constitutional imperative.

Since Richard Nixon, Republican presidents have pushed the envelope of acceptable behavior under the guise of patriotism, and Democrats have permitted their encroaching lawlessness on the grounds of civility, constantly convincing themselves that Republicans have reached a limit beyond which they won’t go. Each time they’ve been proven wrong.

Nixon resigned in 1974 because his attempts to cover up his involvement in the Watergate burglary made his obstruction of justice clear. Republican leaders warned Nixon that if the House of Representatives impeached him, the Senate would convict. Republican congressmen of the time believed in the rule of law.

Gerald Ford’s subsequent pardon of Nixon was perhaps given in that spirit: when the law rules, it permits mercy. But the absence of a humiliating public exposure of Nixon’s participation in Watergate, and the lack of a permanent bipartisan condemnation, gave Nixon loyalists cover to argue that he wasn’t guilty of crimes. Instead they claimed Nixon had been hounded out of office by outlandish liberals determined to undermine him and the country.

Ever since, Republican extremists have employed this rhetoric whenever they break the law or erode constitutional norms.

When Ronald Reagan’s administration was exposed for having illegally sold arms to Iran to raise money covertly for the Contra rebels fighting the Nicaraguan government, Reagan acknowledged that the evidence was damning – yet defended the principle behind the scheme. Reagan’s successor, George HW Bush, pardoned the six leading figures of the Iran-Contra affair because, he said, “whether their actions were right or wrong”, they were motivated by “patriotism”. The investigation into their actions was “a criminalization of party differences”.

2_174Quite a rundown, isn’t it?  Well, put that in light of the Trumpian window.

The same Republicans who had threatened to impeach Hillary Clinton remained silent when, immediately after his surprise victory, Trump refused to abide by laws about emoluments or nepotism, openly profiting from the presidency and filling the White House with personal relatives. They continued to remain silent when Trump fired the FBI director, James Comey, who was investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, then pointedly pardoned Scooter Libby, saying he was “treated unfairly”. They did not protest in February 2019 when the Trump administration openly defied the law by refusing to give Congress a required report on Saudi involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

By May of this year the White House was refusing to honor any congressional subpoenas on the grounds that “it’s very partisan – obviously very partisan”, as Trump told the Washington Post.

When the House committee on ways and means demanded Trump’s tax returns under a law that leaves no wiggle room, Steven Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, nonetheless refused to deliver them, saying he saw no “legitimate legislative purpose” for such a request. An attempt by the executive branch to dictate to the legislative branch, the only branch of the American government that has the unilateral power to make law, is shocking, but Republicans stayed quiet. They also stayed quiet when Trump used declarations of national emergency to override laws passed by Congress, and on Monday the Trump White House asserted in court that Congress had no authority to determine whether the president has committed crimes.

Yet only one congressional Republican – Michigan’s Justin Amash – has called for impeachment.

Special counsel Robert Mueller, investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, provided ample evidence that the president should be investigated for obstruction of justice in his attempt to quell the Russia investigation by firing Comey and urging aides to lie. At the same time, Mueller reminded Americans that the constitution charges Congress with presidential oversight. Indeed, under current Department of Justice policy, a sitting president cannot be indicted; congressional oversight is the only way to rein in a lawless president.

It’s a long, thoughtful essay.  You should read it all.  Yes, one Republican has called for impeachment still and yes, there’s that pesky Dixon Memo again.

But back home in Michigan, many people who know Amash say they’re not surprised at all by his willingness to go against his own party — even if that decision costs him his seat in Congress.

“Five-year-old Justin Amash was a lot like 39-year-old Justin Amash is like,” says Jordan Bush, who first met Amash when they were in kindergarten.

Bush says Amash is diligent and intentional. Someone who doesn’t bend his principles.

Other longtime friends echo similar sentiments. In high school, Amash became known for always finishing his homework, even if it meant his friends had to wait to hang out. Amash eventually went on to become valedictorian.

Amash’s parents are both immigrants. His mother is originally from Syria. His father, Attallah, came to the United States in 1956 as a Christian refugee from Palestine.

“Justin just always had a keen sense of what was at stake in terms of what governments do or don’t do, how much they interfere, how much they limit themselves,” says Jessica Bratt Carle, who got to know Amash in high school.

By the time Bratt Carle and Bush got to know the Amash family, they had built a successful family business, which they still own.

“I think a lot of that work ethic,” Bush says, “largely comes from his father.”

When Justin Amash got elected to Congress, Bush served in his district office. He says he saw the same person there that he did in kindergarten.

“Justin is the least surprising representative in Congress once you have an understanding of how he views his role,” Bush says.

That role, according to Bush, is to uphold the Constitution and protect individual liberty.

Amash is known as one of the more libertarian members of Congress. Some have speculated Amash could even dump the Republican Party to run as the presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party. Amash has not ruled out that move.

But for now, he remains in the Republican Party, despite his many disagreements with party leadership.

When the 448-page report by former special counsel Robert Mueller was released to the public in April, Amash initially gave no comment. He posted on Twitter that he would read the report “carefully and completely” before saying anything.

And for nearly a month, Amash said nothing.

Then, in a string of tweets posted on May 18, Amash gave his conclusions from the report.

He said the report showed President Trump engaged in impeachable conduct and that Attorney General William Barr intentionally misled people about what’s in the report.

So, if you’d like cunning political commentary and a laugh to cheer you up then you should watch John Oliver whose commentary includes that impeachment talk is “effective hospice care” when a family with a father who died peacefully once they told him he Trump was impeached.  But, there’s more than that … watch the clever comedian talk about Nancy Pelosi too.

With a national conversation underway about the possibility of impeachment, John Oliver discusses whether the benefits outweigh the potential risks.

And believe me, we all could use a good laugh at Trump’s expense in these times.

Impeachment in no way Guarantees the removal of a President.

With that, I’ll leave you to think on it and discuss. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: Bang The Drum Slowly but Loudly!

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Do you remember the lead up to the needless invasion of Iraq? Having flashbacks yet? According to The UK Independent, “Trump administration providing ‘false’ information about Gulf of Oman attack, says Japanese tanker owner.”

The owner of the Japanese tanker attacked on Thursday said US reports have provided “false” information about what happened in the Gulf of Oman

The ship operator said “flying objects” that may have been bullets were the cause of damage to the vessel, rather than mines used by Iranian forces, as the US has suggested. 

Yutaka Katada, chief executive of the Japanese company operating the ship called Kokuka Courageous, one of two vessels attacked near the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, said the damage could not have been caused by mines or torpedos that are shot underwater, since the damage was reportedly above the ship’s waterline. 

“It seems that something flew towards them. That created the hole, is the report I’ve received,” Mr Katada said at a press conference in Tokyo on Friday, the Financial Times reported. 

Donald Trump’s administration has meanwhile insisted the attacks were carried out by Iran, which has denied having any involvement in either of the two incidents. 

The US insists that they have video of Iran taking a mine off of one of the ships.  This story line makes no sense to me.  What does Iran have to gain from attacking Japanese tankers and goods at a time when the regime is speaking to the leader of Japan for the first time since its revolution?  Also, there is continuing evidence that Iran has been living up to its agreements with the rest of the World.  Is this a false flag operation or some other weirdish situation Trump has set up to look like the role he loves to play most which is the aggrieved victim fighting back against some evil force?

Iran accused Washington of waging an “Iranophobic campaign” against it, while Trump countered that the country was “a nation of terror.”

“Iran did do it,” he said of the attack, in remarks Friday morning to “Fox & Friends.”

The black-and-white U.S. video of the Iranians alongside the Japanese-owned tanker Kokuka Courageous came after its crew abandoned ship after seeing the undetonated explosive on its hull, said Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for the U.S. military’s Central Command. It separately shared photos of the vessel, which showed what appeared to be a conical limpet mine against its side.

In the video, the boat from Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard pulls alongside Kokuka Courageous at 4:10 p.m. Thursday. The Iranians reach up and grab along where the limpet mine could be seen in the photo. They then sail away.

Limpet mines, which are magnetic and attach to a ship’s hull, are designed to disable a vessel without sinking it.

Analysts say Iran, if involved, wouldn’t want investigators to find an unexploded mine because they could check its serial numbers and other attributes to trace it.

Banging drums and making empty noises have always been a thing for religious nuts.  Adam Serwer discusses the role of culture wars by the religious right in Trumpistan at The Atlantic.   I don’t understand why these folks don’t get we don’t want to live within the parameters of their mythology.  Wanting them and their awful ways out of secular life and government is not an act of discrimination or oppression.

By the tail end of the Obama administration, the culture war seemed lost. The religious right sued for détente, having been swept up in one of the most rapid cultural shifts in generations. Gone were the decades of being able to count on attacking its traditional targets for political advantage. In 2013, Chuck Cooper, the attorney defending California’s ban on same-sex marriage, begged the justices to allow same-sex-marriage opponents to lose at the ballot box rather than in court. Conservatives such as George Will and Rod Drehergriped that LGBTQ activists were “sore winners,” intent on imposing their beliefs on prostrate Christians, who, after all, had already been defeated.

The rapidity of that cultural shift, though, should not obscure the contours of the society that the religious right still aspires to preserve: a world where women have no control over whether to carry a pregnancy to term, same-sex marriage is illegal, and gays and lesbians can be arrested and incarcerated for having sex in their own homes and be barred from raising children. The religious right showed no mercy and no charity toward these groups when it had the power to impose its will, but when it lost that power, it turned to invoking the importance of religious tolerance and pluralism in a democratic society.

That was then. The tide of illiberalism sweeping over Western countries and the election of Donald Trump have since renewed hope among some on the religious right that it might revive its cultural control through the power of the state. Inspired by Viktor Orbán in Hungary and Vladimir Putin in Russia, a faction of the religious right now looks to sectarian ethno-nationalism to restore its beliefs to their rightful primacy, and to rescue a degraded and degenerate culture. All that stands in their way is democracy, and the fact that most Americans reject what they have to offer.

The past few weeks have witnessed a nasty internecine fight among religious conservatives about whether liberal democracy’s time has passed. Sohrab Ahmari, writing at First Thingsattacked National Review’s David French for adhering to a traditional commitment to liberal democracy while “the overall balance of forces has tilted inexorably away from us.” Would the left have stood by liberal democracy in the face of such circumstances? In fact, the balance of forces tilted away from the left’s cultural priorities for most of my lifetime, and the left’s response was to win arguments—slowly, painfully, and at incalculable personal cost.

Many religious conservatives see antidiscrimination laws that compel owners of public accommodations to serve all customers, laws that might compel priests to break the seal of confession if they are told of child abuse, and the growing acceptance of trans people as a kind of impending apocalypse. It is no surprise that among their co-partisans, Ahmari seems to have the upper hand here; in such circles, “Crush your enemies” almost always plays better than “The other side has rights too.”

What follows is a diatribe that you’ll really suffer through but must read. 

We may be rid of Sarah Huckabee shortly but “The Queen of Gaslighting” is being encouraged to run for Arkansas Governor.  

When Sarah Sanders said Thursday that she hopes to be remembered for her transparency and honesty, the first impulse was to laugh.

But lying to citizens while being paid by them really isn’t all that funny.

Sanders took on an impossible job when she became Trump’s spokeswoman, a job that’s about to reach a welcome conclusion.

She would claim to represent the truth on behalf of a president who lies.

She did it disrespectfully, and apparently without shame or an understanding of what the role of White House press secretary should be.

She misled reporters or tried to, and through them, misled the American people. And all with her distinctive curled-lip disdain.

Thus, she delivered on what New York University professor Jay Rosen has called the “brand promise” of the Trump administration’s treatment of the press: “Watch, we will put these people down for you.”

 

Watching the Hatch Act go do in flames has another distressing bit of today’s news.  Conway’s violations have been punished with fines but sneering and asking about the court dates and handcuffs is just over the top  It is also a place where the Russian Potted Plant in the White House shows complete ignorance of the US Constitution and law.

Kellyanne Conway’s potential Hatch Act violations are anything but surprising.  Even less of a shock is President Donald Trump’s blatant apathy that a senior staffer openly and routinely flouts federal law.  Realistically, none of us expected Trump to fire Conway simply because it’s the recommended course of action. Still, though, it’s always jarring when the president proves that he doesn’t actually understand how the law works.

Trump’s official comment about Conway’s Hatch Act violations was that he’d submit himself to a “very strong briefing,” but that, “It looks to me they’re trying to take away her right from free speech, which is not fair.”

Trump might be interested to learn that a great many statutes abridge free speech.  Defamatory, inciteful, or obscene speech is properly prohibited by law. So is speech that violates a person’s medical privacy, that which violates court orders, and many, many other categories of communications.  Equating “free speech” with “absolutely unrestricted speech” is an error usually relegated to grade-schoolers who are still learning the words to the Star-Spangled Banner.

The purpose of the First Amendment was never to create a country in which any person could say anything at any time without consequences – it was to create one in which political discourse was unstifled by government. In fact, the Hatch Act is an example of a statute that abridges free speech for the purpose of keeping the government from inserting itself too much into politics.

Meanwhile, grifters continue to grift. The Trump Family Crime Syndicate also doesn’t believe the emollients clause of the US Constitution applies to Trump’s holdings. From Bloomberg:  “Ivanka Trump Made $4 Million From President’s Washington Hotel”.

Ivanka Trump made $4 million from her investment in her father’s Washington hotel last year, according to a disclosure released by the White House on Friday.

She also made at least $1 million from her line of branded apparel, jewelry and other merchandise, down from at least $5 million in the previous year. Trump, 37, announced in July that she was closing her fashion businesses amid controversies over her role in the White House and after some big-name department stores dropped the brand.

Together, Trump and husband Jared Kushner earned between $28.8 million and $135.1 million in outside income while working as unpaid senior advisers to her father, President Donald Trump, their disclosures, which covers 2018, show.

The reports, which list the assets and sources of income for Ivanka Trump, her husband and dependent children, have yet to be approved by the White House counsel’s office. They will also be reviewed by the Office of Government Ethics.

Well, here’s something from US New Today.  What do we do with “Trump Era Anxiety” ?’  The wisdom beings know I have no clues.  I meditate. I try to grade and limit my exposure to newspapers and TV but I’ve never been one to be attracted to reading anything or watching anything much but nonfiction.  I’m actually stumped but I can tell you that I’ve said the Mani Mantra so much over the last few years it should have liberated something.  We’ve gone from near war with North Korea to bromance and now near war with Iran.  We keep losing voting and civil rights. WTF can calm us?

More than two years after Donald Trump took the oath of office, many Americans find themselves not just taking sides – sometimes vehemently – but growing mentally anxious and exhausted, experts say.

“We know the polarization has been growing for decades but I think it’s spiking now because there’s so much division around and about this president,” said Bill Doherty, a long-time family therapist who has been watching the anger up close. “I think it’s worse now because there’s a central figure. A lot of reds did not like Obama at all, but their loathing of Obama wasn’t even close to the loathing blues have for Trump.”

“Reds” are Republicans and “Blues” are Democrats according to a group called Better Angels, which Doherty helped start in 2017 when it became clear half the country was having trouble getting over the election result and the other half resented them for not being able to accept it gracefully.

Doherty, a family social science professor who also runs the Couples on the Brink Project at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, has tried to resolve a number of family splits over political differences.

There was the adult son living abroad, who upon finding out his mother and father voted for Trump, told them “you’re no longer my parents.” In another case, a wife told her husband that she would divorce him if he voted for Trump.

To her, “it was like voting for Chancellor (Adolf) Hitler,” Doherty recalled. “We don’t share values.”

A study last year by political science researchers from four different universities found that many Americans are “dehumanizing” the political opposition. More than three-quarters of respondents rated their political opponents as less evolved than members of their own party, the study concluded.

One of its authors, Alexander Theodoridis of the University of California-Merced, calls efforts such as Better Angels an “encouraging” step to lower the temperature of political discourse. But he’s not optimistic.

“There is little reason to expect dinners and meet-ups to overcome the divides in our body politic,” he wrote in an email to USA TODAY. “For many Americans, they are a clash between people like ‘us’ and people like ‘them.’  It becomes increasingly easy to attribute pernicious motives to our opponents, and increasingly difficult to stomach compromise with them.”

In January, 87% of Republicans approved of Trump’s performance during 2018 versus only 8% of Democrats who did, according to a Gallup poll. That 79-percentage-point difference is the largest Gallup has measured in any presidential year to date.

Yes, Yes it’s a problem but wtf can we do?  Evidently, there’s a few groups trying to bridge the gap.  You can read more about them.  Meanwhile, I’m going to throw myself into work and find some fantasy fiction.  I can’t handle this world right now.

So, that’s it for me today.  What’s on you reading and blogging list?

 

 


Monday Fresh Hell Reads

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

This weekend celebrated Pride!  Please enjoy these pictures from the New Orleans celebration!

 

If you ever had any serious doubt about the entire Republican Party having topped its performance during the Tea Pot Dome scandal or Watergate, look no further than today’s headlines.  I’m not sure how we’re going to stop this when there’s basically half of each of the three branches actively working against the country’s interests and solely for their own.

From John Swaine writing for The Guardian: Company part-owned by Jared Kushner got $90m from unknown offshore investors since 2017.  Overseas investment flowed to Cadre while Trump’s son-in-law works as US envoy, raising conflict of interest questions.”  So, first we’ll start with the Trump Family Crime Syndicate then move to Mitch McConnell.

A real estate company part-owned by Jared Kushner has received $90m in foreign funding from an opaque offshore vehicle since he entered the White House as a senior adviser to his father-in-law Donald Trump.

Investment has flowed from overseas to the company, Cadre, while Kushner works as an international envoy for the US, according to corporate filings and interviews. The money came through a vehicle run by Goldman Sachs in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven that guarantees corporate secrecy.

Kushner, who is married to Trump’s elder daughter Ivanka, kept a stake in Cadre after joining the administration, while selling other assets. His holding is now valued at up to $50m, according to his financial disclosure documents.

Cadre’s foreign funding could create hidden conflicts of interest for Kushner as he performs his work for the US government, according to some ethics experts, who raised concerns over the lack of transparency around the investments.

“It will cause people to wonder whether he is being improperly influenced,” said Jessica Tillipman, a lecturer at George Washington University law school, who teaches government ethics and anti-corruption laws.

Kushner resigned from Cadre’s board and reduced his ownership stake to less than 25% after he joined the White House, according to his attorneys. He failed to list Cadre on his first ethics disclosure, later adding the company and saying the omission was inadvertent. Cadre says he is not actively involved in the company’s operations.

The names of the foreigners investing in Cadre via Goldman Sachs are not disclosed by the companies, which are not required to make the information public. Two sources familiar with the firm said much of the money came to the Cayman Islands vehicle from a second offshore tax haven, while some came from Saudi Arabia.

French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana

Jared Kushner appears destined for jail like his father.  From WAPO: “New revelations show the Trump administration is making the swamp even swampier.”  This is an op ed by Paul Waldman about Elaine Cho, Secretary of Transportation who is the beard wife of Mitch McConnell the Demon Majority Senate Head of K Street.

But the corruption of the Trump administration is so comprehensive and wide-ranging that it contains important — and depressing — lessons about how corruption works and why it is so difficult to eradicate.

Some facets of Trump corruption are new and unique. For instance, for two centuries nobody thought much about how the emoluments clause of the Constitution should be understood, because the idea that any president would use his office for personal financial gain was absurd. But then there are Trump administration scandals that sound extremely familiar:

The Transportation Department under Secretary Elaine Chao designated a special liaison to help with grant applications and other priorities from her husband Mitch McConnell’s state of Kentucky, paving the way for grants totaling at least $78 million for favored projects as McConnell prepared to campaign for reelection.

Chao’s aide Todd Inman, who stated in an email to McConnell’s Senate office that Chao had personally asked him to serve as an intermediary, helped advise the senator and local Kentucky officials on grants with special significance for McConnell — including a highway-improvement project in a McConnell political stronghold that had been twice rejected for previous grant applications.

This comes on the heels of news that Chao tried to include members of her family, which owns a large shipping firm that does extensive business in China, in official meetings with the Chinese government. If there’s anything unusual about these stories it’s that Chao was one of the few people in Trump’s cabinet who actually knew their way around government; among other things she was secretary of labor under George W. Bush. As someone who had been a member of the Washington elite before Trump arrived and will remain so after he departs, she might have been a less likely suspect for corruption.

According to Politico, Chao has been earning her keep.  “Chao created special path for McConnell’s favored projects.  A top Transportation official helped coordinate grant applications by McConnell’s political allies.”

The circumstances surrounding the Owensboro grant and another, more lucrative grant to Boone County, highlight the ethical conflicts in having a powerful Cabinet secretary married to the Senate’s leader and in a position to help him politically. McConnell has long touted his ability to bring federal resources to his state, which his wife is now in a position to assist.

Chao’s designation of Inman as a special intermediary for Kentucky — a privilege other states did not enjoy — gave a special advantage to projects favored by her husband, which could in turn benefit his political interests. In such situations, ethicists say, each member of a couple benefits personally from the success of the other.

“Where a Cabinet secretary is doing things that are going to help her husband get reelected, that starts to rise to the level of feeling more like corruption to the average American. … I do think there are people who will see that as sort of ‘swamp behavior,’” said John Hudak, a Brookings Institution scholar who has studied political influence in federal grant-making.

In fact, days after launching his 2020 reelection campaign McConnell asked Owensboro’s mayor to set up a luncheon with business and political leaders at which the senator claimed credit for delivering the grant.

“How about that $11 million BUILD grant?” McConnell asked the crowd rhetorically, according to the Owensboro Times. He then recalled his role in securing earlier grants to the city, adding, “It’s done a lot to transform Owensboro, and I was really happy to have played a role in that.”

McConnell’s role — along with Chao’s and Inman’s — was also celebrated by local officials when the $11.5 million grant was approved — to much local fanfare in December 2018.

Meanwhile, Trump is making pronouncements about things that only appear to exist in his fever dreams.  Here’s just a few of them.  From the NYT: No Secret Immigration Deal Exists With U.S., Mexico’s Foreign Minister Says”.

The Mexican foreign minister said Monday that no secret immigration deal existed between his country and the United States, directly contradicting President Trump’s claim on Twitter that a “fully signed and documented” agreement would be revealed soon.

Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s top diplomat, said at a news conference in Mexico City that there was an understanding that both sides would evaluate the flow of migrants in the coming months. And if the number of migrants crossing the United States border was not significantly reduced, he said, both sides had agreed to renew discussions about more aggressive changes to regional asylum rules that could make a bigger impact.

“Let’s have a deadline to see if what we have works and if not, then we will sit down and look at the measures you propose and those that we propose,” Mr. Ebrard said, describing the understanding reached by negotiators last week.

Mr. Trump has insisted for several days that the agreement reached with Mexico Friday evening is a strong one, rejecting criticism that it largely called upon the Mexicans to take actions to reduce the flow of immigration that they had already agreed to months earlier.

Meanwhile, here is the new face of the US Immigration under Trumpism and White Christian Nationalists.  From NYT “Migrants in Custody at Hospitals Are Treated Like Felons, Doctors Say.”

Rom Rahimian, a medical student working at Banner-University Medical Center Tucson, was trying to help a 20-year-old Guatemalan woman who had been found late last year in the desert — dehydrated, pregnant and already in labor months before her due date. But the Border Patrol agents lingering in the room were making him uncomfortable.

The agents remained in the obstetrics ward night and day as physicians worked to halt her labor. They were present during her medical examinations, listened in on conversations with doctors and watched her ultrasounds, Mr. Rahimian said. They kept the television on loud, interfering with her sleep. When agents began pressing the medical staff to discharge the woman to an immigration detention facility, the doctors took action.

“It was a race against the clock to see if we can get her into any other situation,” Mr. Rahimian said. He called a lawyer and asked, “What can we do? What are her rights?”

As apprehensions of migrants climb at the southwest border, and dozens a day are taken to community hospitals, medical providers are challenging practices — by both government agencies and their own hospitals — that they say are endangering patients and undermining recent pledges to improve health care for migrants.

There’s that “pro-life” attitude at it again!

Yes! Nadler is still on the attack!!!

Chairman Nadler made the following statement:

“I am pleased to announce that the Department of Justice has agreed to begin complying with our committee’s subpoena by opening Robert Mueller’s most important files to us, providing us with key evidence that the Special Counsel used to assess whether the President and others obstructed justice or were engaged in other misconduct. The Department will share the first of these documents with us later today. All members of the Judiciary Committee — Democrats and Republicans alike — will be able to view them. These documents will allow us to perform our constitutional duties and decide how to respond to the allegations laid out against the President by the Special Counsel.

“Given our conversations with the Department, I will hold the criminal contempt process in abeyance for now. We have agreed to allow the Department time to demonstrate compliance with this agreement. If the Department proceeds in good faith and we are able to obtain everything that we need, then there will be no need to take further steps. If important information is held back, then we will have no choice but to enforce our subpoena in court and consider other remedies. It is critical that Congress is able to obtain the information we need to do our jobs, ensuring no one is above the law and bringing the American public the transparency they deserve.”

Brian Beutler suggests he go “rogue” writing this at Crooked Media.

Nadler doesn’t have an unruly temperament, but he is in many ways ideally suited to make a power play like this. He has served in the House for nearly 30 years, and is an accomplished, scholarly, respected legislator. The only political risk he faces as an elected representative is hypothetical: a surprise, AOC-like primary challenge from the left. And he has compelling interests in forging ahead over Pelosi’s objections.

Many of the House Democrats who have publicly called for an impeachment inquiry serve on his committee. Pelosi’s opposition to impeachment has placed Nadler in the difficult position of denying his committee members the inquiry he and they believe is necessary. But more importantly, it has damaged the committee as an institution. By forming House strategy based on the conclusion that impeachment shouldn’t happen, Democratic leaders have abandoned their chairmen to let Trump run roughshod over them. They have been inhibited from defending their prerogatives aggressively because confrontation with an increasingly lawless Trump might leave them no choice but to impeach him, and they have already foreclosed that option. Nadler has thus secured testimony from zero of the special counsel office’s witnesses, and zero of its prosecutors. He has been reduced to hosting a hearing with Richard Nixon’s former White House Counsel John Dean, and former federal prosecutors who had nothing to do with the Russia investigation. He surely does not want to wind down his career as the chairman who proved that the House Judiciary Committee could be contemptuously defied without consequences. But to vindicate his committee and the rule of law, he’d have to be willing to wield power aggressively.

The good news for him is he wouldn’t have to go rogue alone. Nadler could flip this switch today, all by himself, if he wanted to, but he could also make use of the fact that dozens of Democrats—more than enough to grind House business to a halt—would have his back. The mere threat of coordinated action would likely be enough to force House leaders to stop whipping against impeachment and start whipping for it. With their support, the House could pass a resolution in support of his inquiry, and neutralize Trump’s last defensive weapon against the impeachment inquiry he plainly fears.

I still am on the side of Nancy’s tactical approach but fast losing hope and faith that we’ll get rid of this dangerous POTUS and his krewe of grifters and religious nutters.

I could spend all day finding more examples popping up all over the place. All I really think is that whatever happens with Trump, the Dems must retake the Senate.

From The Hill: “Democrats hope some presidential candidates drop out — and run for Senate”.

Democrats facing a steep uphill climb to win back the Senate want Beto O’Rourke to reconsider his long-shot bid for president and take another look at running for the Senate in Texas, especially if his White House bid fails to pick up momentum.

They feel the same way about two other White House hopefuls who are polling at around 1 percent or lower: former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

Political experts give O’Rourke, Bullock and Hickenlooper little chance of winning the White House but say they could give GOP incumbents in their states a run for the money.

If they don’t run, Democrats will have a slimmer chance of winning in the states and taking back the Senate majority in either 2020 or 2022. And that would hamper a Democratic president — if the party can defeat President Trump.

Democratic senators won’t call out the low-polling presidential candidates by name in public, but they’re not shy about making the argument that some would do more for their party in Senate races than in the crowded presidential fight.

“The clock is running out for people who have not demonstrated any ability to mount a serious presidential bid to help make a real difference in their country by helping to turn the Senate,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), articulating a sentiment that other Senate Democrats expressed privately.

“It would be a shame if we elected a new president who faced the same enmity and obstruction in the Senate that Obama had to live through, all because a lot of candidates who had no shot wouldn’t run for winnable Senate seats,” he added.

So, that’s enough from me this afternoon!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

 


Friday Reads

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Well, another week has gone and I’m not going to say it was a good one for those of us that care about our country and the rule of law. Trump’s visit to Normandy Beach just seemed at odds with reality.  He read a speech basically praising the results of the ultimate sacrifice of Allied forces while actively trying to end everything that resulted from that sacrifice.  I am unable to process why some one so unconcerned with the past or the future of humanity is given a platform.  I can’t even think about what his competitive Independence Day spectacle will bring to the Lincoln Monument.

Here’s a few WTF headlines that I just can’t stomach.

From the AP: “US opens new mass facility in Texas for migrant children” written b

The federal government is opening a new mass facility to hold migrant children in Texas and considering detaining hundreds more youths on three military bases around the country, adding up to 3,000 new beds to the already overtaxed system.

The new emergency facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, will hold as many as 1,600 teens in a complex that once housed oil field workers on government-leased land near the border, said Mark Weber, a spokesman for Office of Refugee Resettlement.

The agency is also weighing using Army and Air Force bases in Georgia, Montana and Oklahoma to house an additional 1,400 kids in the coming weeks, amid the influx of children traveling to the U.S. alone. Most of the children crossed the border without their parents, escaping violence and corruption in Central America, and are held in government custody while authorities determine if they can be released to relatives or family friends.

And, of course, these camps are basically for profit prisons. 

Prison abolition movements and the movement to Abolish ICE are intimately linked not only through activist ideology, but also through their communities’ shared history. Mass incarceration and the broken immigration system are both connected to U.S. policies of drug criminalization and border enforcement beginning with the War on Drugs in the 1980s and ramped up with the subsequent War on Terror. The term “immigration industrial complex,” which sociologist Tanya Golash-Boza coined in 2009, draws parallels between mass deportation and mass incarceration, specifically the confluence in both of private and powerful interests, fear mongering, and “other-ization” of targeted communities.

The leading corporations running the private immigrant detention system, CoreCivic and GEO group, are the same corporations that have profited for decades off the mass incarceration of Black and Brown communities. As these corporations rake in exorbitant profits from the detention of undocumented migrants with massiveICE contracts, detention itself serves as a central mechanism of the ICE’s state-sanctioned repression and abuse. In FY 2018, CoreCivic’s contracts alone amounted to $7.4 billion. This profit motive is a central component of activists’ calls for ICE’s abolition. Human rights groups repeatedly have exposed inhumane conditions in ICE detention, as well as brutal treatment, sexual abuse, and extreme medical neglect. Rates of miscarriage in ICE detention have doubled in recent years, and 164 migrants died in ICE custody between 2003 and 2017, according to ICE data. Leading causes of death in the report include asphyxia, heart failure, and suicide. Twenty-two migrants have died in ICE custody since the body published its report on detainee deaths in 2017.

Meanwhile, the Trump family crime syndicate used taxpayer dollars to send its members and minions on holiday.  From WAPO:  “‘These boys were on a holiday’: Trump family members promote themselves, and businesses, on European trip.”

The question of who is paying for the family members’ participation — and whether American taxpayers will be on the hook — has emerged as an unresolved subplot, with newspapers in Scotland and London scouring State Department databases and reporting on the fancy hotels and expensive limousines contracted by the U.S. government.

During the trip, the Trump children have documented their exploits in Instagram posts — touring Buckingham Palace! observing the aerial flyover in Normandy! pouring pints behind the bar in Doonbeg! — in a modern-day slide show of “wish-you-were-here!” family vacation moments for the public back home. At times, the images appeared discordant with the aims of a U.S. government delegation representing the nation’s geostrategic interests.

“Questions surrounding the family on this trip come from Trump’s decision not to divest from his business and hiring Ivanka and Jared,” said John Wonderlich, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, an open-government advocacy group that has sought to document potential conflicts of interest for the Trump family.

“It’s not utterly inappropriate for family members to be involved in a state dinner, but are they trying to show they are united and that the business and family interests are the same?” Wonderlich said. “We’re always left in doubt about what their intentions are. You can’t say it’s just a family.”

Trump aides scoffed at such questions and privately pointed out that past presidents have traveled with family members, including children. Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush brought their children on some foreign trips, and former aides said there was nothing inherently untoward about such arrangements.

Susan Glasser-writing for the New Yorker–reminds us how incensed Republicans would be if any Democrat had done any of this in her piece “Republicans Have Become the Except-When-Trump-Does-It Party”.

Even while he was in Europe this week, gushing about the “fantastic” Royal Family and the “tremendous crowds of well-wishers,” Trump was pushing his fellow-Republicans to agree to a course that virtually none of them supports as a matter of policy or principle. Trump is threatening to impose a series of punitive tariffs on Mexico unless it does the impossible and somehow halts the escalating flow of drugs and migrants across the border. Trump announced his tariff threat in a tweet a few days before heading to Europe, leaving Vice-President Mike Pence and various advisers behind in Washington to deal with the fallout. High-level Mexican officials rushed to the U.S. capital to try to negotiate a way out before Trump’s self-imposed Monday deadline, while a larger-than-usual group of Republican senators tried, sounding almost desperate at times, to signal their opposition to the tariffs without enraging the President. Words like “revolt” and “rebellion” were thrown around in the coverage.

But Trump, thousands of miles away, didn’t mind. In fact, he seemed delighted by the fuss his tariff plan had kicked up. “Tariffs are a beautiful thing,” he told Ingraham in that same Fox News interview, at the American cemetery in Normandy. “It’s a beautiful word if you know how to use them properly.” And no, he said, he wasn’t really worried about his party either. “Republicans should love what I’m doing,” he told her, while admitting that even he wasn’t sure where this is all going to lead.

Once again, we see this headline: “Trump plans to declare new national emergency to impose tariffs”.

President Trump is planning to declare a new national emergency in order to implement sweeping tariffs on Mexico over the flow of Central American migrants to the U.S., according to a draft document of the declaration reviewed by The Hill.

According to the document, the new emergency is necessary due to “the failure of the Government of Mexico to take effective action to reduce the mass migration of aliens illegally crossing into the United States through Mexico.”

The new emergency declaration would follow a February emergency declaration, which Trump used to justify sending National Guard troops to support Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the southern border.

The draft document signals that the White House believes that imposing the tariffs under the February emergency declaration might not pass legal muster. But it remains unclear if a final decision has been made to invoke another emergency. The White House did not answer questions about the document.

Officials from the White House counsel’s office and the Justice Department floated the idea of a new declaration this week during a closed-door meeting with Republican senators.

The White House has said it plans to impose the tariffs under the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which allows the president to take unilateral action to counter an “unusual and extraordinary threat” in times of national emergency.

The Equity Markets and the economy are showing signs of just how bad these Tariffs have hit US businesses and consumers.  Meanwhile, the survivors of real emergency continue to wait for help from the Federal Government.  My daughter just got back from Puerto Rico where she spent the week while her husband was working with one of the manufacturing plants there. She said there were basically more wild horses running around the countryside than people living there.  We continue to hear stories of flooding and the Florida hurricane survivors not to mention those impacted by Wild Fires.  Our priorities these days are as twisted as Trump’s mind and amorality.  From CNBC: “Jobs creation slows dramatically with payrolls up just 75,000 in May, much worse than expected”.

Job creation decelerated strongly in May, with nonfarm payrolls up by just 75,000 even as the unemployment rate remained at a 50-year low, the Labor Department reported Friday.

The decline was the second in four months that payrolls increased by less than 100,000 as the labor market continues to show signs of weakening. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for a gain of 180,000.

In addition to the weak total for May, the previous two months’ reports saw substantial downward revisions. March’s count fell from 189,000 to 153,000 and the April total was taken down to 224,000 from 263,000, for a total reduction of 75,000 jobs.

Stock futures fell and bond yields dropped in reaction to the report. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures turned negative before reversing course and turning positive. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to its lowest level since September 2017.

I’m personally still have a problem with all this.  It’s especially true because here’s the other side:

Joe Biden reverses course on Hyde abortion amendment  —  ATLANTA (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is reversing course and declaring that he no longer supports a long-standing congressional ban on using federal health care money to pay for abortions.
House Backs Off Holding Barr in Contempt in New Resolution  —  WASHINGTON — After weeks of pledging to hold Attorney General William P. Barr and the former White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II in contempt for defying subpoenas, House Democrats appear poised to pursue an alternative path to try to force them into sharing information.

The 59 House Democrats (and one Republican) who support impeachment

Debates are being held on the best approach to get rid of Trump.  I’d like to offer up that replacing him with Joe Biden is a very bad idea and that I would like to see him rot in jail.  But, doesn’t our constitution demand an impeachment inquiry at the very least?

(CNN)At a frank meeting this week, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler again lobbied to win Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s support for an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Nadler, who appealed to the speaker that the House’s court cases against the Trump administration would be bolstered by launching an impeachment inquiry, also offered two new arguments in the hopes of convincing Pelosi from moving off her steadfast opposition, according to a source with knowledge of the meeting.

First, Nadler argued opening an impeachment probe would centralize the House’s sprawling investigations now spread across various panels into just one: The House Judiciary Committee. He argued that the other committees looking into various Trump controversies and scandals could instead focus on moving the party’s legislative agenda, while his panel — with its unique expertise — would investigate the alleged crimes of Trump before deciding whether to formally vote on articles of impeachment. 

Secondly, Nadler made a technical argument that it would be easier for lawmakers to discuss the President’s alleged offenses on the House floor and in committees during a formal impeachment inquiry because House rules forbid members from disparaging individuals.

But Nadler met powerful resistance. 

First was from Pelosi, who said she would rather see Trump “in prison” than impeached, according to Politico. He was also rebuffed by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, who himself is also playing a major role investigating Trump and his conduct while in office, according to another source familiar with the matter.

The previously unreported details on Nadler’s pitch to Pelosi offer new insight into the under-the-radar effort by the House Judiciary chairman to try to sway the speaker to reconsider her opposition to launching an impeachment probe. It comes amid a fierce debate among congressional Democrats and presidential hopefuls about whether to impeach the President heading into the 2020 campaign.

All I know is something needs to be done.  There is not enough dye in the world to stop the amount of gray hair that’s popping up all over me and I’m long pass trying.  This is not only not normal.  It’s not consititutional.  Please, some one!  Stop this Crazy Madman!  Make a D-Day  plan to storm Trump Towers!

CBS Reports (1964): “D-Day Plus 20 Years – Eisenhower Returns to Normandy” shows another President returning to the Beaches.

The Allied invasion of Nazi-controlled France on June 6, 1944 was the largest military invasion in history, involving nearly 160,000 service members arriving by ship and air at Normandy. Its success turned the tide of World War II. Two decades after D-Day, former Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was Supreme Commander in charge of the operation, returned to Normandy. Eisenhower talked with CBS News’ Walter Cronkite about his experiences in June 1944, the tactical decisions behind Operation Overlord, and how British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was talked out of joining the invading forces. Eisenhower and Cronkite visited the Allies’ war room on England’s southern coast; the coast of France, including Pointe du Hoc and Omaha Beach; and the American military cemetery at St. Laurent-on-the-Sea. This special broadcast of “CBS Reports,” featuring newsreel footage of the invasion, originally aired in 19 countries around the world on June 5, 1964.


Monday Reads: If You give a Brute a Book

Good Morning

Sky Dancers!

Well, the tacky family has returned to the UK to prove that at least 40% of Americans are,in fact, vapid wankers that voted for a family of vapid wankers.

Questions this inquiring mind wants to know today.  First, is Melania up for a role in “Call the Midwife” because she certainly is dressed for it.

Second, why are Mnuchin and the Mrs taking selfies on the balconies of the Buckingham and why are the Kushners in the balcony one over?  Doesn’t the Palace Guard have orders to shoot intruders on sight?

Third, what happens when you give a book to a brute that was written by a real statesman and leader?

Then, a sense of irony is never left when one follows Her Majesty.  M’am gave the infamously unread KKKremlin Caligula a book.  That’s right a book.  And not just any book but one of those huge voluminous Churchill books that even the most bookish go through slowly because, well it’s Churchill and it’s extremely challenging reading. “Queen Elizabeth gives Trump a first edition of Churchill’s ‘The Second World War’ “.  Hopefully, it will go to the Library of Congress where some one will adore it.

Queen Elizabeth II gave President Trump an abridged first edition of Winston Churchill’s “The Second World War” after the president arrived for his first state visit in the United Kingdom on Monday.

CNN reported that the book was presented in a crimson and gold-tooled cover, and featured hand-sewn headbands in the colors of the United States and United Kingdom flags.

Churchill wrote the books following World War II based on his own notes and diaries. His accounting spans multiple volumes, though the abridged version presented to Trump is a single volume.

While Trump has expressed admiration for Churchill, he has in the past indicated that he does not read much because he does not have time.

CNN reported that the queen also gave Trump a three-piece pen set in a presentation box. First lady Melania Trump received a silver box that featured rose, thistle and shamrock images similar to the ceiling pattern in Buckingham Palace’s music room.

Have we established he’s probably never even read a book?  I can’t tell you how long it took me to get through my Grandfather’s edition of “The Gathering Storm” and that was before the internet and cable.

The homeland of my family is not disappointing me at all.  “Trump faces giant penis mowed into field near airport where he lands for UK state visit, in climate change protest”.

A teenager has mowed an anti-Trump message, complete with a giant penis, into the grass of his family home ahead of the US president’s UK state visit.

Ollie Nancarrow spent his weekend mowing the words “Oi Trump” into his lawn, near Hatfield Heath, in Essex.

The 18-year-old also used the mower to etch a giant polar bear, penis and the words “climate change is real” into the grass, according to the Bishop’s Stortford Independent.

This all is quite funny and I hope it makes him squirm  more than the sight of John McCain’s name on a ship.  Oh, and removing it was not an “unreasonable” request according to KKKremlin Caligula’s Hand of the Dick.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said it was “not unreasonable” for a White House staffer to ask the U.S. Navy to move the USS John S. McCain warship so President Donald Trump wouldn’t have to see it during his visit to a naval base in Japan.

Mulvaney told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that he “absolutely” believes someone from the White House’s advance team made the ask knowing Trump had a contentious relationship with the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a decorated Navy veteran.

“An advance team is hundreds of people,” Mulvaney told host Chuck Todd. “The fact that some 23- or 24-year-old person on the advance team went to that site and said, ‘Oh my goodness, there’s the John McCain. We all know how the president feels about the former senator. Maybe that’s not the best backdrop. Could somebody look into moving it?’ That’s not an unreasonable thing to ask.”

“Seriously?” Todd asked.

Mulvaney doubled down: “It’s not. It’s certainly not.”

The Pentagon is not amused.

The Pentagon has told the White House to stop politicizing the military amid a furor over a Trump administration order to obscure the Navy ship named for the late Sen. John McCain from view during President Donald Trump’s recent visit to Japan.

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan told his chief of staff on Friday to speak with the White House military office “and reaffirm his mandate that the Department of Defense will not be politicized,” Shanahan’s spokesman, Army Lt. Col. Joseph Buccino, said. “The chief of staff reported that he did reinforce this message.”

Shanahan confirmed details about a Navy email that said the White House military office wanted the USS John McCain kept “out of sight” when Trump was in Japan about a week ago. The internal Navy email came to light last week, triggering a storm of outrage.

Oh, well, back to the important stuff, like the unwelcome party in the UK for First Family of Grift and Treason.  This is from The Independent and   Anna Vickerstaff

Tomorrow, as Donald Trump proceeds with his state visit, I’ll be part of a team of people babysitting our Trump Baby blimp as he soars through the skies of London.

Last year Trump Baby joined 250,000 people on the streets of London with a further 150,000 people around the UK to protest his visit. Upon seeing the balloon, Trump said “I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London”. That’s exactly the point.

We know Trump isn’t a joke – he is responsible for rampant xenophobia, sexism and transphobia and the creeping rise of far right politics. His climate denial and persistent facilitation of the fossil fuel industry is a death sentence for communities in the global south. But if flying a balloon caricature is what gets under his skin – then that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

Trump has repeatedly shown that he doesn’t respond to reason, to facts or to science. What he does respond to is humiliation. Our balloon is part of a proud history of political satire in the UK that sends a clear, orange, message to Trump and his politics of hate that they are not welcome here.

Some people have asked whether a personal attack on Trump is fair. The same question that was posed after Tommy Robinson and Nigel Farage were doused in milkshakes during their recent European election campaigns.

The answer is yes. Trump is responsible for thousands of personal attacks and the power and politics of the far right is a dangerous threat to the lives of thousands here and around the world. Every policy signed that removes reproductive rights from women, every detention or deportation that separates a child from a parent, every climate denial shouted into the smoke of a February wildfire is an attack on millions of individuals.

The Stop Trump protests in the UK are about more than a balloon. It’s a gathering of those who want to stand up to Trump’s vile dialogue and politics, standing in solidarity with those most affected by them in the UK. For the thousands of us in the streets, there are thousands more organising and campaigning every day to create a future free from Trump’s hate.

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We could use a future and a now free from Trump’s hate.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?