Lazy Saturday Reads: Trump’s Cringe-Inducing European Adventure and Other News

Good Afternoon!!

Trump in Scotland

Trump is at his golf resort in Turnberry, Scotland, and protesters are out in force there as they were in England. The Guardian:

Trump and his wife Melania arrived in Scotland on board Air Force One on Friday evening, before travelling by motorcade to his Trump Turnberry resort in Ayrshire.

By lunchtime, about 50 protesters had congregated on Turnberry beach. Just before 2pm, the US president appeared on the golf course and waved at the gathering on the beach, to be met with booing and chants of “no Trump, no racist USA”. Meanwhile, close to 10,000 marchers were streaming through the streets of Edinburgh, ending up in the Meadows park to the south of the city centre, where families sat in the sunshine and enjoyed picnics, music and speeches from local activists….

Towards the back of the crowd, the six-metre Trump baby balloon was straining against its tethers in the wind. Organiser Leo Murray described how a crew of “babysitters” had travelled up from London overnight on the sleeper train to fly the blimp at Saturday’s protest.

Murray had originally hoped to fly the balloon, which depicts Trump as an angry baby wearing a nappy, at his Turnberry course, but Police Scotland denied permission on security grounds.

Nevertheless, a Greenpeace protester managed to breach the no-fly zone on a hang glider with a sign reading ““Trump: well below par #resist” (see photo at the top of this post). Thank you to the people of Scotland for standing in solidarity with the U.S. resistance. I’m proud of my Scottish heritage today.

And while we’re talking about Trump’s Scottish golf course, be sure to check out this piece by Adam Davidson at The New Yorker: Where Did Donald Trump Get Two Hundred Million Dollars to Buy His Money-Losing Scottish Golf Club?

Between meeting the Queen of England and Vladimir Putin, President Trump will spend this weekend at Turnberry, the golf course he bought in 2014 and rechristened Trump Turnberry. This property has not received the attention it deserves. It is, by far, the biggest investment the Trump Organization has made in years. It is so much bigger than his other recent projects that it would not be unreasonable to describe the Trump Organization as, at its core, a manager of a money-losing Scottish golf course that is kept afloat with funds from licensing fees and decades-old real-estate projects.

No doubt, the President will be excited to visit. After buying the property for more than sixty million dollars, he then spent a reported hundred and fifty million pounds—about two hundred million dollars total—remaking the site, adding a new course, rehabbing an old one, and fixing up the lodgings. It is possible, though, that he will have some harsh words for his staff. The Turnberry has been losing an astonishing amount of money, including twenty-three million dollars in 2016. The Trump Organization argued that these losses were the result of being closed for several months for repair. However, revenue for the months it was open were so low—about $1.5 million per month—that it is hard to understand how the property will ever become profitable, let alone so successful that it will pay back nearly three hundred million dollars in investment and losses….

President Trump has proclaimed himself the “king of debt,” a proud master of “doing things with other people’s money.” So it was quite surprising when Jonathan O’ConnellDavid A. Fahrenthold, and Jack Gillum revealed in a Washington Post story in May that Trump had abruptly shifted strategies and begun spending hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to fund projects. In the nine years before he ran for President, the Post reported, the Trump Organization spent more than four hundred million dollars in cash on new properties—including fourteen transactions paid in full. In fifteen years, he bought twelve golf courses (ten in the U.S., one in Ireland, and a smaller one in Scotland), several homes, and a winery and estate in Virginia, and he paid for his forty-million-dollar share of the cost of building the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.—a property leased to Trump by the U.S. government. But his largest cash purchase was the Turnberry, followed by tens of millions of dollars in additional cash outlays for rehabbing the property.

Read the rest at The New Yorker.

Trump meets Queen Elizabeth

Yesterday, just as Rod Rosenstein was preparing to announce indictments of the 12 Russians who were responsible for hacking the DNC, DCCC, and Clinton campaign email servers and disseminating embarrassing information designed to hurt Hillary and help Trump during the 2016 election, Donald Trump was meeting with the Queen of England. And he managed to turn that into a clusterfuck just as he has everything else on his disastrous European trip.

The Washington Post: ‘Did Donald Trump just WALK IN FRONT OF THE QUEEN?’

It’s generally quite difficult to upstage the queen of England, but President Trump might have managed to do so.

Trump and Queen Elizabeth II met Friday as part of his working visit to the United Kingdom….

Trump’s walk with the queen during an inspection of guardsmen quickly became a hot topic.

Described as “cringeworthy” and “uncomfortable” viewing on social media, footage of their walk together came under intense scrutiny. While touring the castle grounds, Trump maintained a relatively brisk walk, which saw the queen, at times, fall behind him as he led the way.

At one point, the queen can be seen gesturing to Trump, although it’s unclear what exactly she may have been referring to. On social media, some speculated that Trump was being instructed on which side of her he should walk.

If that was the case, the president didn’t grasp the message.

The Trumps also arrived late for tea, making the Queen wait, and they did not bow or curtsy when they met her. That’s considered optional, but most people don’t opt to simply shake hands as the Trumps did. At least Trump didn’t do his vise grip and pull handshake with her. Then the Queen gave the Trumps the bum’s rush, ending the meeting after about half an hour.

Trump is a crude, crass, and classless pig. What an embarrassment that he is “president.” The Russians got exactly what they wanted. By contrast, the Obama’s got the full royal treatment.

Two great reads on the Mueller indictment released yesterday

Dan Friedman at Mother Jones: Mueller’s Indictment of 12 Russian Spies is Very Bad for Trump.

Special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday obtained an indictment of 12 members of a Russian military intelligence agency for hacking Democratic party emails during the 2016 election—a rebuke to President Trump, who has refused to fully acknowledge Russia’s election interference, just three days before his planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland.

The indictment, announced Friday by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, will probably not lead to immediate prosecutions—it doesn’t accuse any Americans of crimes, as the White House was quick to point out, and it’s unlikely that Russia will allow extradition of its own officials—but the charges are still a big deal in the Trump-Russia investigation and they offer extensive new details on how the Russian hacking effort actually worked.

Click on the link to read the “key takeaways.”

Emptywheel: The Russian Hack.

Mueller’s team just announced (and announced the transfer, as I predicted) of the Russian hack indictment, naming 12 GRU officers for the hack of the Hillary campaign, the DNC, and the DCCC. This will be a working thread.

Rod Rosenstein, as he did with the Internet Research Agency, made clear there are no Americans named in this indictment (and that those who interacted with Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks did not know they were interacting with Russians). That said, here are some of the interesting nods in it.

Again, click on the link to read the “interesting nods.” and Emptywheel’s timeline.

Trump’s Immigration Mess

Foreign Policy: White House Official Who Advocated for Refugees Sacked and Escorted From Office.

Jennifer Arrangio (center)

A senior White House official, Jennifer Arangio, was fired Thursday and escorted from her office, ending a turbulent tenure that saw her clashing with President Donald Trump’s most hard-line advisors over human rights and refugee issues, according to several current and former U.S. officials.

The officials said Arangio, a senior director for international organizations and alliances at the National Security Council, had fallen out of favor with Trump aide Stephen Miller over the number of refugees who should be allowed to enter the United States.

She had also sparred with Miller over continuing U.S. participation in international negotiations on a global migration compact, insisting that the United States could better shape international policies on migration from inside the tent.

She lost the argument, but Miller remained embittered by the rift, the officials said. When Arangio sought his endorsement for a position in the State Department, he refused to take a meeting with her.

Adding to the tension, Arangio had defended the State Department’s embattled refugee bureau amid campaigns by other top Trump aides to dismantle or defund it — efforts that were ultimately rebuffed by Congress.

“This is a disaster for the bureau,” one State Department official said. “She is really a good ally.”

Have your handkerchiefs ready for this one at The New York Times: Cleaning Toilets, Following Rules: A Migrant Child’s Days in Detention.

Adan Galicia Lopez, 3, was separated from his mother for four months.

Do not misbehave. Do not sit on the floor. Do not share your food. Do not use nicknames. Also, it is best not to cry. Doing so might hurt your case.

Lights out by 9 p.m. and lights on at dawn, after which make your bed according to the step-by-step instructions posted on the wall. Wash and mop the bathroom, scrubbing the sinks and toilets. Then it is time to form a line for the walk to breakfast.

“You had to get in line for everything,” recalled Leticia, a girl from Guatemala.

Small, slight and with long black hair, Leticia was separated from her mother after they illegally crossed the border in late May. She was sent to a shelter in South Texas — one of more than 100 government-contracted detention facilities for migrant children around the country that are a rough blend of boarding school, day care center and medium security lockup. They are reserved for the likes of Leticia, 12, and her brother, Walter, 10.

The facility’s list of no-no’s also included this: Do not touch another child, even if that child is your hermanito or hermanita — your little brother or sister.

Leticia had hoped to give her little brother a reassuring hug. But “they told me I couldn’t touch him,” she recalled.

This is a must read, even though the stories of these children are heartbreaking. Trump and his minions must be held accountable for this outrage.

 

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Monday Reads: With Lost Rights and Chaos for All

Cesare Borgia, The Merciless Prince, Painting by Altobello Melone

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

Today will undoubtedly bring a lot of bad news. The good news is there’s some spirited resistance going on! I’m tired of hearing the most vicious regime since the Borgias complain about the protests greeting them everywhere as compared to folks turning a blind eye to the destruction of democracy. I have a feeling it’s only begun. Like the Borgias, this regime has turned to using church to further their interests which are as venal as they can be.

Yet what distinguishes the Trump era’s turbulence is the sheer number of his deputies — many of them largely anonymous before his inauguration — who have become the focus of planned and sometimes spontaneous public fury.

“Better be better!” a stranger shouted at Stephen Miller, a senior Trump adviser and the archi tect of his zero-tolerance immigration policy, as he walked through Dupont Circle a few months ago. Miller’s visage subsequently appeared on “Wanted” posters someone placed on lampposts ringing his City Center apartment building.

One night, after Miller ordered $80 of takeout sushi from a restaurant near his apartment, a bartender followed him into the street and shouted, “Stephen!” When Miller turned around, the bartender raised both middle fingers and cursed at him, according to an account Miller has shared with White House colleagues.

Outraged, Miller threw the sushi away, he later told his colleagues.

On Saturday, as Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s former strategist, browsed at an antiquarian bookstore in Richmond, a woman in the shop called him a “piece of trash.” The woman left after Nick Cooke, owner of Black Swan Books, told her he would call the police.

Lucrezia Borgia, Daughter of Pope Alexander VI,

We’ve been privy to the whining of a group of extremely maleficent players coming to terms with social stigmatization and fanciful public shaming. There’s a long list of examples in that WAPO link bPaul Schwartzman and Josh Dawsey. What I found most hypocritical was that bit coming out of Newt Gingrich’s mouth. Gingrich is undoubtedly the primary source of the rancor and partisan bitterness that has come to fruit in politics.

Newt Gingrich, the former Republican House speaker and Trump ally, said the way to end the public confrontations is “to call the police.”

“You file charges and you press them,” Gingrich said. “We have no reason to tolerate barbarians trying to impose totalitarian behavior by sheer force, and we have every right to defend ourselves.”

He described the president’s opponents as those who “went through a psychotic episode and are having the political equivalent of PTSD. And when they wake up in the morning to the genius that Trump is, he tweets and they say, ‘Oh my God! He’s still president!’ And they get sicker.”

Referring to Trump’s advisers, Gingrich said, “They should take solace in the fact that we must be winning, since these people are so crazy. They used to be passive because they thought they were the future. Now they know we’re the future, and it’s driving them nuts.”

Possible portrait of Lucrezia as St. Catherine of Alexandria in a fresco by Pinturicchio, in the Sala dei Santi the Borgia apartments in the Vatican c. 1494.

Newt evidently doesn’t care about the destruction of Constitutional Democracy as long as he’s able to profit from it. Paul Waldman–writing for American Prospect–says liberals are angry and there will be a backlash. I mean, who wouldn’t be angry when a group of hypereligious, hypocritical, idiot white thugs join our enemies to take away every hard fought civil right of the last 60 years? These are not conservatives but reactionaries, theocrats, and autocrats.

As the recent argument over “civility” has shown, we tend to treat conservative anger as something to be analyzed, understood, even empathized with, while liberal anger is greeted with stern lectures about proper behavior—and little or no attempt to plumb its depths. But more than ever before, liberal anger is something the political system is going to have to deal with.

On November 8, 2016, liberals lost the country they thought America was in the long process of becoming. But with the Supreme Court about to be placed in the hands of a firm and unwavering conservative majority, the effects of Donald Trump’s election will be felt not just as a worry about what might happen or a shock at what’s happening to other people, but as very specific things being taken away from all of us.

But before we get to that, it’s important to appreciate just how central the politics of backlash have been to conservatives, and why it’s so unusual to see the same thing happening to liberals. As political theorist Corey Robin wrote in his book The Reactionary Mind (originally published in 2011 and recently updated), conservatism is at its heart about “the felt experience of having power, seeing it threatened, and trying to win it back.” Robin argued that from its roots with Edmund Burke in 18th-century England, conservatism has always been a reaction to any attempt by any disenfranchised group to demand or seize some measure of power and the benefits that come with it.

Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) described as “a carnal man and very loving of his flesh and blood” circa 1485

And ReThugs are so respectful, right?

A senior prosecutor in California is under investigation after calling Rep. Maxine Waters a “c–t” on social media and wondering why no one has shot her, according to a report.

San Bernardino County Deputy District Attorney Michael Selyem, 50, also landed in hot water after posting on Facebook and Instagram mocking Mexican immigrants.

Just like the Trump Criminal Syndicate, the Borgias were merchants. They were also well known for killing things while patronizing the arts and using the church. Their game ended badly. Trump’s a lousy businessman and doesn’t understand trade at all. He only excels at fake strength and leaving any one who depended on him for a job in bankruptcy. He lives others to hang on to his baggage. Trump voters are about to learn that lesson the very hard way. according to Greg Sargent.

Numbers provided to me by the Brookings Institution suggest that those consequences will most directly impact the counties that voted for Trump. Indeed, the numbers show that China has taken aggressive steps to sharpen its targeting of Trump counties in the latest round of retaliatory tariffs it just announced.

This morning, Politico reports on the backstory leading up to Trump’s trade war. Trump has been ranting for decades about other countries “ripping off” the United States on trade. Now that hostilities are escalating, Politico notes that Trump has “no clear exit strategy and no explicit plans to negotiate new rules of the road with China, leaving the global trade community and financial markets wracked with uncertainty.” But Trump loyalists say he’s playing a long game and won’t buckle. As Stephen K. Bannon puts it, Trump “has preached a confrontation with China for 30 years,” making this a “huge moment” that pits “Trump against all of Wall Street.”

Despite this phony populist posturing about Trump targeting “Wall Street,” Trump counties are the ones most likely to take a hit. The Brookings Institution, which keeps detailed county-by-county data on employment by industry, looked at all the counties that have jobs in industries that China is targeting, and broke them out by counties that voted for Trump and Hillary Clinton.

French caricature of Pope Alexander VI, 1 January 1431 – 18 August 1583. Caption: ‘Ego sum Papa’ (‘I am the Pope’). Tinted version. January 02, 1754

Trump, however, continues to manufacture his junk in China.

EVEN as a trade war between the United States and China kicks into gear, at least one Chinese businessman is helping to “make America great again”.

Li Jiang, the owner of a flag making factory in China’s eastern Zhejiang province, told NPR’s The Indicator last week that he was making flags for US President Donald Trump’s prospective campaign for re-election in 2020.

“We also make flags for Trump for 2020,” Li told the programme through a translator. “It seems like he has another campaign going on in 2020. Isn’t that right?” referring to the escalating trade tensions with China whereby Trump has pledged to rectify an “unfair” trade relationship.
The two economic giants imposed duties on some $34 billion worth of each other’s imports on Friday, with China accusing the Trump administration of starting the “largest-scale trade war.”

“It’s very pretty with stars and stripes. Fifty stars, isn’t it?” said Li of the American flag. Asked if the Trump 2020 flags said “made in China” on them, Li confirmed: “yes, all of them.”

Meanwhile, we await the deathblow to the Justice system. Via Ezra Klein and Vox: “The Supreme Court vs. democracy. Even those most invested in the Court’s grandeur are finding it hard to defend its reality.”

Which judge Trump chooses is less meaningful than the fact that Trump is choosing a second justice at all. The first seat Trump filled opened under Barack Obama, but Senate Republicans refused to consider any replacements, hoping to win the 2016 election and see the seat filled by a Republican. Mitch McConnell’s bet paid off: Trump did win that election, though he lost the popular vote decisively, and Neil Gorsuch was named to the Court.

Such appointments are becoming the norm. With Kennedy’s replacement, four out of the Supreme Court’s nine justices — all of whom have lifetime tenure — will have been nominated by presidents who won the White House, at least initially, despite losing the popular vote.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. America, for all its proud democratic rhetoric, is not actually a democracy. Until and unless the country chooses to abolish the Electoral College, it will remain not-quite-a-democracy, with all the strange outcomes that entails. Liberals may complain, but the rules are the rules, and both sides know what they are.

But the Supreme Court’s conservative bloc doesn’t just reflect the outcomes of America’s undemocratic electoral rules; it is writing and, in some cases, rewriting them, to favor the Republican Party — making it easier to suppress votes, simpler for corporations and billionaires to buy elections, and legal for incumbents to gerrymander districts to protect and enhance their majorities.

Thought to be Giovanni Sforza, first husband to Lucretia Borgia

The Supreme Court has always been undemocratic. What it’s becoming is something more dangerous: anti-democratic.

And, the UK is having a political meltdown prior to Trump’s tour of country homes to avoid a balloon baby Trump. Speculation over May’s government abounds.

As Michael Gove, a plausible Davis replacement says, it’s not realistic to go for hard Brexit or to get rid of Theresa May.

Boris knows that he’s lagging behind as a leadership contender now, for a start.

There might well be a stalking horse or symbolic challenge, but it wouldn’t work because the votes aren’t there to topple her, probably.

There’d be a lot of Tory bloodletting which would make them look self-indulgent, divided and unfit to govern and thus risking a government meltdown and letting Jeremy Corbyn in, the ultimate catastrophe – a softish Brexit, plus socialism.

Second there is no parliamentary majority for hard Brexit. Simple as that – the May plan is as good as it gets.

Third, a so-called hard Brexit is not practically possible because preparation for life outside the single market and customs union simply hasn’t been done and it is just too late.

If May does suffer more resignations she can go for broke and “do a Corbyn”.

When most of his shadow government resigned he just appointed new people to replace them.

Well, I hope she does a better job of that than the Hair Furor.

So, that’s about all I can take for today. What’s on your reading and blogging list?


Saturday Reads: Surreality Is Our New Normal

Henri Matisse, The three sisters, 1916-17

Good Afternoon!!

First a bunch of Republicans spend the Fourth of July in Russia sucking up to Russian government leaders in order to “smooth the way” for the upcoming July 16 Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki; now Glenn Greenwald is over there defending Trump on RT. A couple of lowlights of the interview:

RT: Glenn, you are now in Russia. Going to Russia is seen in the West as almost treason now, even worse than during the times of the Soviet Union. Why do you think that is?

G.G: There is an obsession in the United States with viewing Russia not just as an adversary, but as an actual enemy. It’s permeated by both political parties. There is actual talk a lot now about how what they regards as the interference in the 2016 election is similar to Pearl Harbor, when the Japanese attacked the United States during World War II, or Al Qaeda and 9/11. And there is the sense that Russia is now an enemy on par with Al Qaeda or the Japanese during WWII.

Of course Glenn doesn’t believe Trump is involved in a conspiracy with Russia.

RT: Have the last two years of inquiries and reports convinced you that Trump colluded with Russia?

G.G: No, if anything, it’s convinced me that it’s more unlikely than ever. There are factions within the intelligence community of the United States, the NSA, the CIA, the FBI that hate Donald Trump and will do anything to destroy him, including leaking classified information against him. I believe that if there were evidence of collusion between Trump and the Russian government, when it comes to the hacking of the DNC or the John Podesta emails, we would have seen in by now. We have not seen it by now.

Monika Seidenbusch

Even people, who hate Donald Trump in the CIA, have tried to warn the Democrats: don’t expect there to be evidence of it; we don’t have evidence of it. But it’s like a religious belief to other people in the United States. And of course as we know religion doesn’t require evidence.

I don’t say it didn’t happen, because it could have happened. All I say is until there is evidence of it I don’t think we should believe it happened. And so far there is no evidence.

Glenn also sees little difference between Obama and Trump. You’d think as a gay man, he might be concerned about Trump’s hateful policies, but then Glenn doesn’t live in the U.S., so he probably doesn’t care what happens to our LGBT community. Read the rest at RT.

Just how much time has Trump spent talking to Putin? According to The Washington Post, he has given out his personal cell phone number to “a handful” of foreign leaders. Is Putin one of them? Are Trump and Putin talking during Trump’s “executive time” or when he snuggled under the covers in his private bedroom?

Some White House officials worry that Putin, who has held several calls with Trump, plays on the president’s inexperience and lack of detailed knowledge about issues while stoking Trump’s grievances.

The Russian president complains to Trump about “fake news” and laments that the U.S. foreign policy establishment — the “deep state,” in Putin’s words — is conspiring against them, the first senior U.S. official said.

“It’s not us,” Putin has told Trump, the official summarized. “It’s the subordinates fighting against our friendship.”

In conversations with Trudeau, May and Merkel, Trump is sometimes assertive, brash and even bullying on issues he feels strongly about, such as trade, according to senior U.S. officials. He drives the conversation and isn’t shy about cutting off the allies mid-sentence to make his point, the officials said.

David Hettinger

With Putin, Trump takes a more conciliatory approach, often treating the Russian leader as a confidant.

“So what do you think I should do about North Korea?” he asked Putin in their November 2017 telephone call, according to U.S. officials. Some of those officials saw the request for advice as naive — a sign that Trump believes the two countries are partners in the effort to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. Other officials described Trump’s query as a savvy effort to flatter and win over the Russian leader, whose country borders North Korea and has long been involved in diplomacy over its nuclear program.

Click on the link above to read the whole scary article.

Secretary of State Mike Pomeo has been over in North Korea trying to clean up the mess Trump made at his summit with Kim Jong Un.

The Washington Post: North Korea calls U.S. attitude toward talks ‘regrettable,’ rejecting Pompeo’s claim meetings were ‘productive.’

Just hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo departed North Korea after two days of nuclear negotiations, North Korea sharply criticized the U.S. team’s attitude as “regrettable,” and accused the U.S. of making unilateral demands of denuclearization.

The remarks from North Korea’s foreign ministry directly contradicted statements made by Pompeo that the visit made “progress on almost all of the central issues” and involved “good-faith negotiations.”

The Foreign Ministry statement, issued by an unnamed spokesman, said the U.S. violated the spirit of the June 12 Singapore summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un.

Daniel Gerhartz

The mixed messages followed a visit in which Pompeo did not meet with the North Korean leader while in the country and did not secure a breakthrough in forging a shared understanding of denuclearization.

Pompeo has come under increasing pressure to produce tangible results from the summit that President Trump quickly touted as a game-changing moment that eliminated North Korea’s nuclear threat.

But analysts said the reality is now sinking in that any final accord between the two nations to eliminate Pyongyang’s sophisticated nuclear and missile arsenal will be a long slog with no guarantee of success.

Gee, no kidding. Who could have predicted that?

The horror stories of immigrant children separated from their parents are coming thick and fast now. Dakinikat posted this PBS link yesterday, but I’m posting it again for anyone who missed it. It consists of

“powerful personal testimonies from parents, children and other family members who were directly impacted by the Trump policy. It also included declarations from the state attorneys general offices, elected representatives, advocates and child and immigration experts who have dealt with families separated at the border.”

Two new stories:

Reveal: Defense contractor detained migrant kids in vacant Phoenix office building.

A major U.S. defense contractor quietly detained dozens of immigrant children inside a vacant Phoenix office building with dark windows, no kitchen and only a few toilets during three weeks of the Trump administration’s family separation effort, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has learned.

Videos shot by an alarmed neighbor show children dressed in sweatsuits being led – one so young she was carried – into the 3,200-square-foot building in early June. The building is not licensed by Arizona to hold children, and the contractor, MVM Inc., has claimed publicly that it does not operate “shelters or any other type of housing” for children.

Defending the administration’s policy to separate families at the border in a May interview with NPR, White House chief of staff John Kelly promised: “The children will be taken care of – put into foster care or whatever.”

Carol Marine

Whether or not these children were taken from their parents, that “whatever” for them was the vacant building tucked away in a midtown Phoenix neighborhood. It is not listed among shelters operating through the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement or on the state child care licensing website.

There are new cameras on the building, extra locks on the doors and a paper shredder bin directly outside the building’s side door. Neighbor Lianna Dunlap’s videos show workers pulling up in white vans and leading dazed children into the building. When she asked questions, she said the workers responded with silence or terse answers.

“There’s been times where I drive by and I just start crying because, you know, it’s right behind my house,” said Dunlap, her voice wavering. “I don’t know and I think that’s the worst part – not knowing what’s actually going on in there and just hoping that they’re OK.”

It’s horrifying, but please read the whole thing.

The Texas Tribune: The Trump administration is not keeping its promises to asylum seekers who come to ports of entry.

In the weeks since President Donald Trump’s now-rescinded family separation policy created chaos and confusion across the country, the messages from his administration and prominent Republican members of Congress have been clear: Seek asylum legally at official ports of entry and you won’t lose your kids. There may be armed Customs and Border Protection agents standing at the halfway points of bridges — but simply wait a few days, declare to them that you are seeking asylum, and you’ll get a fair shake.

A recent Department of Homeland Security news release says it’s a “myth” that the agency “separates families who entered at the ports of entry and who are seeking asylum – even though they have not broken the law.” The release also says the agency “is [not] turning away asylum seekers at ports of entry.”

Reading by the Oven (1961). Oksana Dmitrievna..

But there’s ample evidence to suggest otherwise. Court records and individual cases discovered by The Texas Tribune indicate that a number of asylum seekers who came to international bridges in Texas and California were separated from their children anyway — or were not able to cross the bridge at all after encountering armed Customs and Border Protection agents on the bridge. And experts argue there’s no basis to the government’s claim that there aren’t enough resources to process asylum seekers.

On top of that, experts say a quirk of U.S. immigration law might actually put people who try to seek asylum at the official ports of entry at a disadvantage to those who cross the border in other ways — such as wading across the Rio Grande. That’s because unlike people who cross the border illegally, asylum seekers who come to ports of entry are not eligible to be bonded out of immigration detention by a judge; instead, officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have total discretion over whether they can be released.

Read the rest at the Texas Tribune.

One more from Huffington Post: Friday’s Hearing Gave Us a Glimpse of How Many Kids Might Be Orphaned by Family Separation. The article calls attention to the possibility that a number of separated kids may never be reunited with their parents.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the hearing on Friday was the number of parents who the government has been unable to find after taking their very young children.

The Department of Justice attorney, Sarah Fabian, said the government had identified 101 children younger than 5 who might fall within the judge’s order. Two parents of those children, the government argues, have criminal records that render them unfit to be reunited with their children. Fabian said 19 parents had been released from custody into the United States and 19 had been deported. The government does not know where at least some of these parents are.

The Courthouse News Service reported that there are “86 parents who have been in contact with 83 children under 5 who are in federal custody.” These numbers indicate that roughly 16 children have not had contact with their parents, who may be missing following deportations or release into the United States.

This raises the terrifying possibility that 16 children younger than 5 may never see their parents again because of Trump’s unconstitutional child separation practices. The ACLU has promised to do everything it can to ensure that doesn’t happen, but that outcome will depend greatly on how adept the administration is at undoing some of the damage it has already done.

On that awful note, I need to wind this up. Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.


Friday Reads: Kompromat AmeriKKKan style

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I seriously do not know how much more of this bulldozing our way of life and our Constitutional Democracy that I can take. I watched Rachel Maddow unfurl the parade of Russian Oligarchs that attended the inauguration. I listened to how bad it’s going with North Korea after that summit which basically was a big splash by a fat orange ass cannonballing into a pool too deep for his bad swimming skills.  It was such a big show of nothingness but propaganda coups for the NK state and its worst human rights record on the planet. They didn’t take KKKremlin Caligula seriously at all.   From CNN: “Satellite images show North Korea upgrading nuclear facility”.  Yeah. Stopped him alright with the talk of a Trump Hotel on NK beaches.

I also watched Malcom Nance refer to him as a Spy Master’s wet dream while outlining all the things he could give away and blow up in Helsinki in a Putin tete a tete. Nance think he’s a willing Russian asset because all of his foreign policy statements or twitters or blurts at rallies are basically kremlin worded and sanctified.  I’ve pretty much accepted that Trump probably wants to dump NATO and start a Dictators club to replace it.

And, I now am of full belief that Trump and the Republican Party used Russian campaign donations and as much dirty tricks as the Russians could muster to stage a coup. Nance believes he’s stoking a civil war now.

This man is stoking civil war, he’s stoking violence

The retirement of Justice Kennedy is just too perfect.  Kennedy just wrote some bizarre narrative on the Muslim ban extolling executive power which was as odd and rambling as his statements the last few days.  He was fully staffed up to go in October.  It was weird even by Republican appointees to SCOTUS weird.

Then, I read this on the NYT: “Inside the White House’s Quiet Campaign to Create a Supreme Court Opening”.  Yeah, yeah, some of it is how things usually work. BUT, anything handled by this White House is always way outsides most boundaries of constitutionality, law, protocol, humanity, etc.  So, I got to this part and gulped.

One person who knows both men says there is an affinity between Mr Trump and Mr Kennedy. This is not obvious at first glance. Mr Kennedy is bookish and abstract, whereas Mr Trump is abrasively direct.

But they had a connection – one Mr Trump was quick to note in the moments after his first address to Congress in February 2017. As he made his way out of the chamber, Mr Trump paused to chat with the justice.

“Say hello to your boy,” Mr Trump said. “Special guy.”

Mr Trump was apparently referring to Mr Kennedy’s son, Justin. The younger Mr Kennedy spent more than a decade at Deutsche Bank, eventually rising to become the bank’s global head of real estate capital markets.

During Mr Kennedy’s tenure, Deutsche Bank became Mr Trump’s most important lender, dispensing well over $1bn (£761m) in loans to him for the renovation and construction of skyscrapers in New York and Chicago at a time when other mainstream banks were wary of doing business with him because of his troubled business history.

About a week before the presidential address, Ivanka Trump had paid a visit to the Supreme Court as a guest of the elder Mr Kennedy. The two had met at a lunch after the inauguration, and Ms Trump brought along her daughter, Arabella Kushner.

Deustche Bank was the only real bank outside Russian mobsters that would touch Trump and his toxic business deals associated with his proclivities to take the money and run via bankruptcies.  It’s also awash with the darkest of dark money.  This 2017 investigative report gives you the idea of the kinds of laundering services they offer. It’s a 2017 BuzzFeed article.

The German giant processed hundreds of millions of dollars of suspicious transactions into the US for a Cyprus bank awash with dirty money linked to the Kremlin, Syrian chemical weapons, organised crime, and ISIS.

You cannot find something Trump does without uncovering about a gazillion Kremlin connections at the same time.    A Josh Marshall writes “As many of you will remember, Deutsche Bank isn’t just any bank.”

As I noted in the first post I wrote about Trump’s ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin back on July 23rd, 2016, by the mid-90s, every major US bank had blackballed Donald Trump. as the Times put it in 2016, “Several bankers on Wall Street say they are simply not willing to take on what they almost uniformly referred to as ‘Donald risk.’” None would do business with him. With one big exception: Deutsche Bank.

Deutsche Bank of course is not actually an American bank. But it has a major business in the US. And it was the bank’s effort to gain a bigger foothold in the US that seems to have been behind the special relationship with Trump.

As The Financial Times put it last year, in the middle 1990s, Deutsche was looking for a foothold in the US and “the bank saw a niche in serving rich developers who had hit a few bumps along the way, such as Harry Macklowe and Ian Bruce Eichner, both celebrated owners and losers of New York real estate.” Donald Trump fit the bill to a tee.

Deutsche also had its own problems with money laundering, particularly money laundering tied to Russia. Days after Trump became President, New York State announced a $425 million fine Deutsche Bank had agreed to pay over a $10 billion Russian money laundering scheme, one of many investigations the bank is still embroiled in.

So, it gets more elucidating after the background.

When I first read the Times story I wasn’t sure whether the younger Kennedy, whose title was Managing Director and Global Head of Real Estate Capital Markets, would have been someone to actually make loans to someone like Trump as opposed to overseeing more complex or synthetic efforts like mortgage backed securities and such. But it turns out he definitely was. The FT says Kennedy was “one of Mr Trump’s most trusted associates over a 12-year spell at Deutsche.” A review of Kennedy’s bio suggests those twelve years were 1997 through 2009 – key years for Trump.

Kennedy was one of the few bankers to accurately predict the 2007/08 mortgage backed securities meltdown and made an astonishing amount of money for Deutsche Bank by shorting mortgages starting in 2006. As Crain’s New York put in 2010, “in just the first half of 2007, [Kennedy’s group’s] bet generated as much as $540 million in revenue for Deutsche Bank as subprime mortgages fell apart, according to Bloomberg News, and the wager proved even more lucrative as the rot spread.”

Kennedy left Deutsche Bank at the end of 2009, apparently because post-financial crisis regs on over-risky bets by banks were making it difficult for him to operate. He left to found LNR Property LLC with partner Toby Cobb, which would become a big player in the distressed-commercial-property space.

Alex Shephard writing for TNR believes “Trump’s relationship with Justice Kennedy sounds shady in this new report”.  I’ll say.

Last year, the Financial Times reported that Kennedy’s son was “one of Mr Trump’s most trusted associates over a 12-year spell at Deutsche.”

Oh, really.

Then, there’s this about a Trump-Kennedy “back channel” from Shane Goldmacher at Politico from a few months back.  Where ever Trump is there are Russians, shady, deals and likely Kompromat.  There’s another son.  Now read this knowing we had a spontaneous outburst the other day about a “Space Force” and reanimating NASA.

One back channel is the fact that Kennedy’s son, Justin, knows Donald Trump Jr. through New York real estate circles. Another is through Kennedy’s other son, Gregory, and Trump’s Silicon Valley adviser Peter Thiel. They went to Stanford Law School together and served as president of the Federalist Society in back-to-back years, according to school records. More recently, Kennedy’s firm, Disruptive Technology Advisers, has worked with Thiel’s company Palantir Technologies.

In fact, during the early months of the Trump administration, Gregory Kennedy has worked at NASA as a senior financial adviser as part of the so-called “beachhead” team. Both Kennedy boys were spotted at the White House last month for the administration’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration (Justice Kennedy is Irish Catholic). In February, Ivanka Trump attended oral arguments of the Supreme Court with her daughter. She was a guest of Justice Kennedy.

The White House has also closely monitored retirement chatter by tapping into the network of former Kennedy clerks, a group that includes Gorsuch himself. Some in the legal world viewed Gorsuch’s selection — he would be the first Supreme Court clerk to serve alongside a former boss — as an olive branch to Kennedy that, should he retire next, his seat would be in reliable presidential hands.

Those close to Trump’s judicial-selection process stress that they’re not pressuring Kennedy to hang up his robe, only seeking to put him at ease.

But as they wait for a decision they cannot control, White House officials have already set in motion plans to fill the more than 100 lower court vacancies, including more than 10 percent of the crucial seats on various U.S. Courts of Appeals, in a bid to tug America’s courts in a more conservative direction for decades to come.

Also, there’s my personal observation that Kennedy–during his announcement–didn’t look like he was all that excited. He looked resigned to it more than into the idea of spending time with the wife and fly fishing or what ever. Don’t forget that hearing yesterday when House Republicans appeared ready to tank Mueller and dump Rosenstein.

A battle has raged for weeks between President Donald Trump’s conservative allies in the House of Representatives and the Department of Justice over documents related to the Russia investigation — egged on by tweets from the president himself.

Now, on Thursday, that battle escalated with a vote by the full House of Representatives on a resolution to insist the DOJ comply with the House subpoenas and other document requests by July 6. The resolution passed along party lines, 226 to 183 votes.

Lawmakers put on hold a contentious House Judiciary hearing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray — where GOP lawmakers were grilling them about those subpoenas — to take the vote.

The resolution is nonbinding, but it will effectively put every House member on record on where they stand in this feud — with the Justice Department, or with the president and his congressional allies who have tried to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

It could also set up a showdown over the fate of deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller’s investigation, and who Trump has reportedly considered firing.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the House Freedom Caucus chair leading the charge against the DOJ, said Wednesday that “contempt and impeachment” of Rosenstein “will be in order” if he continues to refuse to hand over documents congressional Republicans want. Republican committee chairs like Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) are also on board, and so far, they’ve been backed by Speaker Paul Ryan too.

The DOJ maintains it is complying with subpoenas, but that it also has an obligation to protectthe ongoing investigation and its confidential sources. That response hasn’t satisfied House leaders — and it plays into the main gist of their allegation, which is that the DOJ and FBI are trying to protect themselves and prevent oversight into potential misconduct.

It was ugly all over.  Democrats have a lot of fronts that have been opened in the war to stop this nasty blend of theocracy and fascism.  HuffPo outlines the current strategy in the Senate to stop Trump’s vile SCOTUS plans.  While the religious nutter base wants to outlaw abortion and stop any more rights headed towards any one but white straight christians, Trump wants a justice that will block any attempts to oust him or jail him. Remember what Roy Cohn taught Trump:  “I don’t want to know what the law is, I want to know who the judge is”.

During a judiciary committee hearing Thursday, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) noted that a challenge to the investigation could very well end up before the Supreme Court at some point ― potentially creating a conflict of interest for a president who has asked nonpartisan officials for their loyalty.

“If we’re not going to thoroughly discuss what it means to have a president with this ongoing investigation happening, who is now going to interview Supreme Court justices, and potentially continue with his tradition of doing litmus tests, loyalty tests, for that person, we could be participating in a process that could undermine that criminal investigation,” Booker said. “I do not believe this committee should or can in good conscience consider a nominee put forward by this president until that investigation is concluded.”

Trump is moving us closer to his ideas and Putin’s goals of a US Tinpot dictatorship including rewriting the mission statement at the Pentagon.  It’s not so much “to deter” as  “to employ lethal force”.  Trump’s limp dick sure needs  some help thinking it’s strong.

Life in Trump’s American continues to be disheartening.  We know no that they actually started grabbing kids at the border earlier but it was not fully ramped up until recently.

The government was separating migrant parents from their kids for months prior to the official introduction of zero tolerance, running what a U.S. official called a “pilot program” for widespread prosecutions in Texas, but apparently did not create a clear system for parents to track or reunite with their kids.

Officials have said that at least 2,342 children were separated from their parents after being apprehended crossing the border unlawfully since May 5, when the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy towards migrants went into effect.

But numbers provided to NBC News by the Department of Homeland Security show that another 1,768 were separated from their parents between October 2016 and February 2018, bringing the total number of separated kids to more than 4,100.

More than 1,000 children were separated between October 2016 and September 2017, and 703 were separated between October 2017 and February 2018, according to DHS.

It’s unclear how many of those 1,768 children were separated after President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. NBC repeatedly asked DHS for comprehensive data, but the agency declined to provide month-by-month figures, did not provide data prior to October 2016 and did not supply any numbers for March and April 2018.

This is truly outrageous!

You can add crimes against humanity to that list too.  The more you crack the eggs open, the more Russians, dark money, and crimes you find.  I want my country out of this now.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Tuesday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

Depressing news . . . the Supreme Court has upheld Trump’s anti-Muslim travel ban. Talking Points Memo:

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Tuesday morning to uphold the most recent iteration of President Donald Trump’s ban on immigrants and refugees from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, Venezuela and Chad, rebuffing challengers’ arguments that the President’s policy was motivated by the racial animus toward Muslims that he repeatedly expressed in campaign speeches and on social media.

Writing for the court’s conservative majority, Chief Justice John Roberts says Trump acted well his authority as president to deny a “class of aliens” the right to travel and immigrate to the United States.

The Constitution’s section on the executive branch’s national security powers, he writes, “exudes deference to the President in every clause. It entrusts to the President the decisions whether and when to suspend entry, whose entry to suspend, for how long, and on what conditions.

The majority decided that Trump’s bigoted attacks on Muslims were irrelevant.

Ginsburg, Kagan, Sotomayor, and Breyer dissented. So it’s looking like Anthony Kennedy will be siding with the right wingers from now on. Sotomayor wrote a powerful dissent, which you can read in full on Twitter. Click to read the rest of the thread.

Another depressing decision reported by NBC News: Supreme Court says California abortion notice law likely unconstitutional.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court on Tuesday declared probably unconstitutional a California law that required religiously affiliated pregnancy centers to inform clients about the availability of state-funded services for terminating a pregnancy.

The decision was a victory for a religious group representing church-run crisis pregnancy centers that claimed the requirement violated the First Amendment’s guarantee of free expression by forcing them to convey a message they strongly oppose.

California’s Reproductive FACT Act required licensed medical centers to post a notice advising women about the availability of state-funded programs that provide family planning services including contraceptives and abortion. Non-medical facilities are required to display notices explaining that they are not licensed and cannot provide medical services.

The religiously affiliated centers — around 300 in the state — support childbirth by encouraging women to opt for parenting or adoption. They provide vitamins, diapers, and baby clothes. Some offer ultrasound images. Forcing them to post the notices, they argued, amounted to government-compelled speech.

Yet, Republicans have passed laws that actually force doctors to lie to their patients about the safety risk and psychological impacts of abortions!

The Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, VA

Also depressing . . . over the past couple of days since Sarah Huckabee Sanders was politely asked to leave a Virginia restaurant, Trumpists–with the wholehearted support of the mainstream media and even some Democrats–have managed to change the immigration narrative from desperate parents being separated from their traumatized children to concern trolling about “civility” in public discourse.

The entire argument is complete bullshit, but the media eagerly goes along with it–Trump and the Republicans may make blatantly racist statements as much as they like, and Democrats must always err on the side of being “polite” and subservient. I’ll just quote the one I liked best.

Hamilton Nolan at Splinter: This Is Just the Beginning.

Do you think that being asked to leave a restaurant, or having your meal interrupted, or being called by the public is bad? My fascism-enabling friends, this is only the beginning.

One thing that people who wield great power often fail to viscerally understand is what it feels like to have power wielded against you. This imbalance is the source of many of the most monstrous decisions that get made by powerful people and institutions. The people who start the wars do not have bombs dropped on their houses. The people who pass the laws that incarcerate others never have to face the full force of the prison system themselves. The people who design the economic system that inflicts poverty on millions are themselves rich. This sort of insulation from the real world consequences of political and economic decisions makes it very easy for powerful people to approve of things happening to the rest of us that they would never, ever tolerate themselves. No health insurance CEO would watch his child die due to their inability to afford quality health care. No chickenhawk Congressman will be commanding a tank battle in Iran. No opportunistic race-baiting politician will be shunned because of their skin color. Zealots condemn gay people—except for their own gay children. The weed-smoking of young immigrants should get them deported—but our own weed-smoking was a youthful indiscretion. Environmentalist celebrities fly on carbon-spouting private jets. Banks make ostentatious charity donations while raking in billions from investments in defense contractors and gun manufacturers and oil companies. This is human nature. It is very, very easy to do things that hurt others as long as those same things benefit, rather than hurt, you. Self-justification is a specialty of mankind….

“With great power comes great responsibility.” That is the basic idea underlying noblesse oblige, and though noblesse oblige itself is not as good as equality, it looks fantastic compared to what we have today. Today, we have an ignorant billionaire narcissist leading our government, a man surrounded by a pack of enablers who by now have clearly demonstrated that no amount of racism or xenophobia or lies or warmongering or outright corruption will dissuade them from helping the boss do what the boss wants to do. Rather than detail a laundry list of all the Trump outrages, I ask you simply to consider all of the very real human costs that those outrages have already inflicted on human beings in America and abroad. Some of those outrages, like ripping families apart at the border, show their costs immediately; others, like eschewing the fight against climate change and neutering the EPA and mainstreaming white nationalist ideas, will be manifesting their costs for many decades to come. But the costs are real. We are the ones who are suffering and will suffer them. By and large, the people responsible for these decisions will be wealthy and famous and powerful enough to insulate themselves from those costs. Unless we decide to see to it that they must face them.

Please go read the rest. It’s powerful. A few more to check out:

Charles Pierce at Esquire: The Civility Debate Has Reached Peak Stupidity.

Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times: We Have a Crisis of Democracy, Not Manners.

Vox: Sarah Sanders and the failure of “civility.”

Brian Beutler at Crooked: Shame the Trumpers.

Some good news on the Sarah Sanders front though–it appears Trump is tiring of her. The New York Times notes that Trump waited a long time before defending Sanders on Twitter and that he is beginning to question her job performance.

Even as her vigorous defenses of the president’s misstatements and her own obfuscations during White House briefings have eroded her public credibility, her stock with Mr. Trump has begun to sink.

In recent days, Mr. Trump has asked people privately what they think of Ms. Sanders — an indication, they say, that the press-obsessed president has begun souring on her. He has also told her, before she heads out to the lectern in the briefing room, that he is “going to grade” her televised performances. (People who have heard Mr. Trump make the threat say it is in jest.)

Ms. Sanders has been under a more watchful eye from her boss since the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on April 27, when she remained in her seat during a scathing roasting from a comedian who called her a liar. Mr. Trump has told people in the West Wing that he thought Ms. Sanders should have walked out, as another White House official, Mercedes Schlapp, chose to do in a showy display.

Read more at the NYT.

Bloomberg has an update on the Russia investigation: Mueller Poised to Zero In on Trump-Russia Collusion Allegations.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is preparing to accelerate his probe into possible collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russians who sought to interfere in the 2016 election, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

Mueller and his team of prosecutors and investigators have an eye toward producing conclusions — and possible indictments — related to collusion by fall, said the person, who asked not to be identified. He’ll be able to turn his full attention to the issue as he resolves other questions, including deciding soon whether to find that Trump sought to obstruct justice.

The rest of the article is just a list of all the Trump associates who have been shown to have Russia ties, but it’s a pretty impressive summary–worth reading.

If you watched Rachel Maddow’s show last night, you know that MNBC now has video from inside a New York City shelter for immigrant children, many of who have been taken away from their parents. The footage was given to Michael Avenatti by a whistleblower, and he says he has more.

Watch the video at MSNBC if you missed it. Also, Reveal (from the Center for Investigative Reporting) has a follow up to their story on immigrant children being given anti-psychotic drugs: Doctor giving migrant kids psychotropic drugs lost certification years ago.

The psychiatrist who has been prescribing powerful psychotropic medications to immigrant children at a federally funded residential treatment center in Texas has practiced without board certification to treat children and adolescents for nearly a decade, records show.

On the Texas Medical Board’s website, though, Dr. Javier Ruíz-Nazario reported he had that specialized certification for treating children and adolescents. However, according to the website, he has not yet updated the board on the status of this board certification as required by its rules.

Ruíz-Nazario’s name appears on various court documents that allege troubling practices at the Shiloh Treatment Center south of Houston, including affidavits in class-action settlement motions in which children claim they were tackled and injected and forced to take pills identified as vitamins that made them dizzy and drowsy.

Many of the records specifically name Ruíz-Nazario as the doctor who prescribed the medication.

So . . . what else is happening? What stories are you following today?


Lazy Saturday Reads: Something Is Very Wrong

Marek Okrassa

Good Afternoon!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Pracht, Girl reading

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

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

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

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

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

Gina Brown (USA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johan Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, 1900

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

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

Read more at USA Today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read much more at the FT link.

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


Monday Reads: Right now, we can choose between keeping our Republic or losing it

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I placed a call to Boomer last night to make sure she had the phone numbers down here for some criminal attorney friends of mine because I was deep into working with folks to start planning protests in New Orleans and an opportunity popped up for this morning. I wasn’t actively planning on getting arrested but it seemed likely that there would be arrests.

I was getting ready to head out when I was stopped by the reminder of a meeting that I had completely forgotten but had to attend. During the meeting helicopters flew low over the house heading downtown. I was really startled. I’ve attended protests and rallies before but I know how important these would be. My spidey sense knew there were going to be arrests and there were. Some guy also tried to run over a protester with a pick up truck.

This sky is still that weird yellow color indicating bad weather approaching as I start looking for local news. The insidious mix of bad policing practices, racism, and an Administration marching us towards Fascism means it is rightly lit. The sky is a sick color.

AG Jeff Sessions–the oldest living confederate widow–and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen–who is sounding more like a character from an Orwell book each passing day–are in New Orleans addressing Monday’s opening session of the National Sheriff’s Association annual conference. Law enforcement and immigration were the topics. Protests were the order of the day. There were 5 arrests.

There was a woman hit and injured by a cursing truck driver who took off unarrested and unfollowed. I rabbled the troops last night so I’m probably back on some list. It’s been since the Nixon years I’ve had that distinction except now I’m on social security and semi-retired. The tits are getting saggy but the ability to know right from wrong has never been stronger. I’m not a university student any more. I am a university professor.

The DHS Secretary is doing what all the women employed in this administration are doing. Lying for the big guy. Gaslighting for the big guy. Signing on to the Direct Express to the lowest hell realm for the big guy.

From HuffPo: “DHS Secretary Says There’s No Family Separation Policy ‘Period’. Last week, DHS announced that nearly 2,000 kids had been separated from their parents during a six-week period ending last month.” It’s mislead the Sheeple Monday. Trump must be assigning them to either Putin or Kim Jong Un for training sessions on Despot Support and Propaganda Techniques.

“This misreporting by members, press and advocacy groups must stop,” Nielsen wrote in a series of tweets Sunday evening. “It is irresponsible and unproductive. As I have said many times before, if you are seeking asylum for your family, there is no reason to break the law and illegally cross between ports of entry.”

We do not have a policy of separating families at the border,” she continued. “Period.”

The Convention Center is about 2 miles down the river road from me. It’s a short bike ride or bus ride there. Louisiana Sheriffs are living up to their image per Raw Story. New Orleans protesters are fierce.

A woman hit by a truck driver while protesting a speech given by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in New Orleans Monday said the man driving was shouting about the demonstrators — and that he wasn’t stopped after colliding with her.

John R. Stanton, a national correspondent for BuzzFeed News, tweeted that Sarah Morrison, the woman struck by the truck, told him the driver “was cursing at protesters before he hit her.” “[New Orleans Police Department] didn’t stop him,” Stanton continued, adding that they took a report from the woman who is shaken by alright after the ordeal.

Here’s some background information from the Raw Story link.

The woman, identified by the New Orleans Times-Picayune as “Sarah Morris,” said she was protesting Sessions’ speech in light of the Trump Justice Department‘s recent policy changes that separate children from their parents when detained by immigration officials.

“This isn’t what our country is about, taking children and caging them and they are doing this in our land,” the woman said. “Where does it go from here? Where does it end?”

The woman also told the Times-Picayune she doesn’t believe she was hit intentionally, and that she suffered a hit on the head and had cuts on her knee that drew blood.

Demonstrators didn’t find out about the attorney general’s speech at the National Sheriffs’ Association or the planned counter-protest until hours before it was slated to begin. He appeared alongside Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA).

Subsequent reports from the protest revealed that police from multiple Louisiana parishes had begun arresting demonstrators.

Raw Story has now included an update.

UPDATE: In a statement to Raw Story, NOPD said it is investigating the driver hitting the protester outside the Sessions speech. Although NOPD interviewed the driver, “no charges have been filed nor have any arrests been made at this time.”

TV station WWLTV is reporting five people have been arrested. It is also reporting on the content of Sessions speech.

Meanwhile, Sessions took the opportunity on stage to show his support for law enforcement, call for longer sentences for criminals and address to controversy at the US-Mexico border where families are being separated by authorities as they illegally enter the country.

“There’s an important conversation in this country about whether we want to be a country of laws or if we want to be a country without borders,” Sessions said. “We cannot and will not encourage people to bring their children – or other children – to the country illegally by giving them immunity in the process.”
Sessions directly addressed the controversy surrounding new video and images of children being detained in cells and cages after their parents are arrested for illegally crossing the border.

“We do not want to separate children from their parents, we do not want parents to bring their children in illegally,” he said. “We can not and will not encourage people to bring their children or other children to the country unlawfully by giving them immunity.”

Sessions continues to gaslight us on the process and existence of asylum.

Over the weekend, I pasted the links and quotes to the Immigration and Custom site where it clearly stated this as the way to seek asylum.

To obtain asylum through the affirmative asylum process you must be physically present in the United States. You may apply for asylum status regardless of how you arrived in the United States or your current immigration status.

You must apply for asylum within one year of the date of their last arrival in the United States, unless you can show:

  • Changed circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances relating to the delay in filing
  • You filed within a reasonable amount of time given those circumstances.

You may apply for affirmative asylum by submitting Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, to USCIS. See Form I 589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal for instructions on how to file for asylum,.

If your case is not approved and you do not have a legal immigration status, we will issue a Form I-862, Notice to Appear, and forward (or refer) your case to an Immigration Judge at the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). The Immigration Judge conducts a ‘de novo’ hearing of the case. This means that the judge conducts a new hearing and issues a decision that is independent of the decision made by USCIS. If we do not have jurisdiction over your case, the Asylum Office will issue an I-863, Notice of Referral to Immigration Judge, for an asylum-only hearing. See ‘Defensive Asylum Processing With EOIR’ below if this situation applies to you.

Affirmative asylum applicants are rarely detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). You may live in the United States while your application is pending before USCIS. If you are found ineligible, you can remain in the United States while your application is pending with the Immigration Judge. Most asylum applicants are not authorized to work.

I felt I needed to capture all this as it seems disappeared at times.

Former First Lady Laura Bush has penned an editorial. She knows what this policy represents. All good people do of faith and of reason alone. This a take from CBS.

Former first lady Laura Bush criticized the Trump administration over the practice of separating undocumented migrant families, taking children from their parents at the border. “I live in a border state,” Bush wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that was posted Sunday evening. “I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.”

She continues, “Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso.” She called the images “eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history.” (While the images may be similar, the Japanese Americans were, in fact, U.S. citizens who already lived in the United States when they were forcibly removed to internment camps)

For Bush, the practice of separating families threatens our national identity as “a moral nation.”

“We pride ourselves on believing that people should be seen for the content of their character, not the color of their skin. We pride ourselves on acceptance,” she writes. “If we are truly that country, then it is our obligation to reunite these detained children with their parents — and to stop separating parents and children in the first place.”

Though everyone agrees that the U.S. immigration system “isn’t working,” she says, “the injustice of zero tolerance is not the answer.”

It is very rare for Bush, the wife of ex-President George W. Bush, to wade into political controversies, but perhaps this exception is less surprising because it is in keeping with her longtime advocacy for children. In her op-ed, she writes that while the material needs of the migrant children are being met with “beds, toys, crayons, a playground and diaper changes,” at shelters run by by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, “the people working at the shelter had been instructed not to pick up or touch the children to comfort them. Imagine not being able to pick up a child who is not yet out of diapers.”

It reminded her of her late mother-in-law, Barbara Bush, who picked up and comforted a young child dying of HIV/AIDS. “She, who after the death of her 3-year-old daughter knew what it was to lose a child, believed that every child is deserving of human kindness, compassion and love,” wrote Laura Bush. “In 2018, can we not as a nation find a kinder, more compassionate and more moral answer to this

You may read her words at WAPO.

It’s clear to nearly ever one that this is a deeply immoral and indefensible position. Yet, every administration official and Trump cult follower are doing everything they can to avoid directly discussing the situation. I’ve never seen such Orwellian pretzel twists of logic and words in my life. If any of this stands, we’re clearly on the road to an autocratic, fascist, dictatorship what ever laws our on our books. The new meme is “come to the table” which buys into the lie that this is a law passed by democrats. What it asks for is a negotiation with a kidnapper, asking for ransom, and demanding an apology for making him do the deed.

Each Republican elected official–including the ones that preface their surrender with some form of objection–is leading us down the path to ruin and evil. What causes this illness? This acceptance of pure unadulterated evil?

Nearly every day, voters have been confronted with heart wrenching stories about immigrant children being separated from their parents upon crossing the border into the United States.

The president incorrectly blames his administration’s policy on Democrats, but regardless of his attempt to pass the responsibility, self-identified Republicans have his back, according to a new Ipsos poll done exclusively for The Daily Beast.

The poll of roughly 1,000 adults aged 18 and over, and conducted June 14-15, asked respondents if they agreed with the following statement: “It is appropriate to separate undocumented immigrant parents from their children when they cross the border in order to discourage others from crossing the border illegally.”

Of those surveyed, 27 percent of the overall respondents agreed with it, while 56% disagreed with the statement. Yet, Republicans leaned slightly more in favor, with 46% agreeing with the statement and 32 percent disagreeing. Meanwhile, 14 percent of Democrats surveyed supported it and only 29% of Independents were in favor.

The sample, according to Ipsos, included 339 Democrats, 335 Republicans and 204 Independents.

On Saturday, President Trump continued to falsely assert that Democrats were to blame for the horrific stories of families being torn apart.

From WAPO: “Trump team cannot get its story straight on separating migrant families” Go look at this Orwellian Laundry list of quotes.

You may watch the speeches from Sessions, Nielsen, and the shame of Louisiana, Congressman Steve KKK Scalise here.

You may read about the even more shameful Trump words here.

Trump continued to cast blame on Democrats Monday, as he detoured from planned remarks on U.S. space policy to defend his administration’s policies. “I say it’s very strongly the Democrats’ fault,” he said at the White House.

“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” he added. “Not on my watch.”

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The one Republican taking action is the Republican Governor of Massachusetts. From WGBH: “Baker Cancels National Guard Deployment To Border, Citing ‘Inhumane’ Treatment Of Children And Families.”

Governor Charlie Baker is canceling the deployment of Massachusetts National Guard troops to the border in light of recent reports about the Trump Administration’s practice of separating immigrant children from families.

“Governor Baker directed the National Guard not to send any assets or personnel to the Southwest border today because the federal government’s current actions are resulting in the inhumane treatment of children,” said Baker communications director Lizzy Guyton in a statement sent to WGBH News.

State officials announced early in June that Massachusetts National Guard troops would be deployed to the border to support in security operations. One helicopter, aircrew, and military analysts from Massachusetts were set to head to the border at the end of June.

The crew was to “provide aviation reconnaissance to offer an additional tool for observation and tracking of unlawful activity in the region,” according to the Mass National Guard.

The cancellation comes amid increased scrutiny over the Trump Administration’s practice of separating children from families at the border, in some cases detaining children in makeshift facilities and, in one facility in Texas, cages. The practice has been condemned by the United Nations, a coalition of Catholic bishops, and numerous public officials, including former First Lady Laura Bush.

Previously, when asked about the Trump Administration’s practice of separation of children and families on Boston Public Radio in May, Baker said he had “ a huge problem with that.”

The deployment was a response to a proclamation signed by President Trump in April calling on National Guard troops to assist in securing the border. The request was made by invoking a statute of U.S. law known as “Title 32,” which allows governors to review requests for National Guard troops and deploy at their own determination, and troops remain under state control. (A “Title 10,” request, on the other hand, is involuntary and troops operate under federal control.)

It’s raining now but that odd yellow color remains. Maybe the wisdom beings are pissing on the Convention Center roof. It would be an irony given it would likely enthrall the wanna be despot planted by Russia and angry WiPiPo. Golden showers on his police state.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?