Tuesday Reads: Bad News and Bad Hair

Bad News, by Ethan Jack Harrington

Good Morning!!

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

The Guardian: Boris Johnson elected new Tory leader.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click on the link to read the rest.

The Trump administration is proposing a frightening new immigration policy.

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

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

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

Trump HItler by Pegasus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now his family fears he may be deported.

Bully Culprit, by Robbie Conal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at the link.

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

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

James Ostrer, Emotion Download

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

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

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

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

Abner says the children were fed only twice a day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday Reads: Trump is a Complete Idiot, Plus Brexit Chaos

Grace Kelly with kitten

Grace Kelly with kitten

Good Afternoon!!

Where I live it already feels like the long weekend has begun. Even yesterday, there was very little traffic in my town. I welcome the peace and quiet. I had a very lazy day yesterday, and today is feeling pretty lazy too. I started another mystery and I’m thinking about doing some TV binge watching over the weekend. I hope there won’t be a whole lot of horrible news for the next four-and-a-half days.

Today, I’m seeing tons of negative stories about Donald Trump. I can’t figure out if the man is just plain stupid or cognitively impaired. It’s obvious he’s a malignant narcissist, as Dakinikat has repeatedly pointed out. But we’ve also discussed the possibility that Trump could be suffering from some kind of dementia–after all, his father had Alzheimer’s disease. Anyway here are a few interesting links on Trump’s latest fiascos.

MSNBC: After Saying He Forgave Loans to Campaign, Trump Won’t Release Proof.

When Donald Trump said last Thursday he was forgiving over $45 million in personal loans he made to his campaign, the announcement drew plenty of coverage. Many even reported Trump’s statement as if the deal was done.

But it’s not.

A week later, NBC News has learned the FEC has posted no record of Trump converting his loans to donations. The Trump Campaign has also declined requests to share the legal paperwork required to execute the transaction, though they suggest it has been submitted.

Last week, campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks said Trump was submitting formal paperwork forgiving the loan on Thursday, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Reached by NBC this week, she said the paperwork “will be filed with the next regularly scheduled FEC report,” and declined to provide any documentation.

The delay could matter, because until Trump formally forgives the loans, he maintains the legal option to use new donations to reimburse himself. (He can do so until August, under federal law.)

Henri Matisse working in bed, with cat

Henri Matisse working in bed, with cat

Trump is either a real cheapskate or he can’t spare that money. This is reminiscent of the time he lied about having given $1 million to veterans groups and only coughed up the money when the Washington Post called him out.

From Buzzfeed: Sources: Donald Trump Listened In On Phone Lines At Mar-A-Lago.

At Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach resort he runs as a club for paying guests and celebrities, Donald Trump had a telephone console installed in his bedroom that acted like a switchboard, connecting to every phone extension on the estate, according to six former workers. Several of them said he used that console to eavesdrop on calls involving staff.

Trump’s spokeswoman Hope Hicks responded to written questions with one sentence: “This is totally and completely untrue.”

The managing director of Mar-a-Lago, Bernd Lembcke, did not respond to emails. Reached by phone, he said he referred the email query to Trump’s headquarters and said, “I have no knowledge of what you wrote.” ….

BuzzFeed News spoke with six former employees familiar with the phone system at the estate.

Four of them — speaking on condition of anonymity because they signed nondisclosure agreements — said that Trump listened in on phone calls at the club during the mid-2000s. They did not know if he eavesdropped more recently.

They said he listened in on calls between club employees or, in some cases, between staff and guests. None of them knew of Trump eavesdropping on guests or members talking on private calls with people who were not employees of Mar-a-Lago. They also said that Trump could eavesdrop only on calls made on the club’s landlines and not on calls made from guests’ cell phones.

Each of these four sources said they personally saw the telephone console, which some referred to as a switchboard, in Trump’s bedroom.

More at the link. Maybe Trump could have spent his time more fruitfully by reading a book or two.

Steve Martin with cat

Steve Martin with cat

Chris Cillizza has done a public service by reprinting an interview with Donald Trump on the Bill O’Reilly Show: Donald Trump’s Bill O’Reilly interview is an instant classic. I hope you’ll read the whole thing, because it clearly demonstrates that Trump is a complete idiot. This is my favorite part (emphasis added):

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESUMPTIVE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I am determined to say look, you may not vote for me, Trump supporters, I get that because you really are upset about immigration or you are upset about trade or you are upset about, you know, the feeling that the jobs that you had that gave you a good living are gone. So, I’m very sympathetic to that. I am not sympathetic to the xenophobia, the misogyny, the homophobia, the Islamophobia and all of the other.

(APPLAUSE)

Sort of dog whistles that Trump uses to create that fervor among a lot of his supporters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O’REILLY: Okay. That was about 45 seconds to be fair. We will give Mr. Trump the same amount of time to reply. Go.

TRUMP: All of the phobias that nobody even knows what she is talking about to be honest with you. Why doesn’t she say it like it is? I mean, it’s just ridiculous. And frankly, you know, she knows exactly what’s happening. She sees what’s happening. People are tired. They are losing their jobs. Their jobs are being taken away. Companies are moving to Mexico. I mean, just moving. They just pick up and move. You look at what went on with carrier. You look at Ford. You look at so many different. They are a mile long and we are losing our jobs.

We are losing everything in this country. We are losing our spirit. I was in Ohio. I was in Pennsylvania. Yesterday I was in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. And I want to tell you, the lines of people that we have, they are so sick and tired of hearing things like what she is just saying. Nobody even knows what she is talking about. And you tell me, that’s presidential? She is presidential? Sitting there. I don’t think so.

Poor Donald. He just doesn’t understand all those multi-syllable words, and he assumes no one else does either.

David Bowie with cat

 Billy Idol with cat

The New York Times commissioned a short story about the Trumps by novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche: The Arrangements: A Work of Fiction. Here are the first few paragraphs:

Melania decided she would order the flowers herself. Donald was too busy now anyway to call Alessandra’s as usual and ask for “something amazing.” Once, in the early years, before she fully understood him, she had asked what his favorite flowers were.

“I use the best florists in the city, they’re terrific,” he replied, and she realized that taste, for him, was something to be determined by somebody else, and then flaunted.

At first, she wished he would not keep asking their guests, “How do you like these great flowers?” and that he would not be so nakedly in need of their praise, but now she felt a small tug of annoyance if a guest did not gush as Donald expected. The florists were indeed good, their peonies delicate as tissue, even if a little boring, and the interior decorators Donald had brought in — all the top guys used them, he said — were good, too, even if all that gold yellowness bordered on staleness, and so she did not disagree because Donald disliked dissent, and he only wanted the best for them, and she had what she really needed, this luxurious peace. But today, she would order herself. It was her dinner party to celebrate her parents’ anniversary. Unusual orchids, maybe. Her mother loved uncommon things.

Her Pilates instructor, Janelle, would arrive in half an hour. She had just enough time to order the flowers and complete her morning skin routine. She would use a different florist, she decided, where Donald did not have an account, and pay by herself. Donald might like that; he always liked the small efforts she made. Do the little things, don’t ask for big things and he will give them to you, her mother advised her, after she first met Donald. She gently patted three different serums on her face and then, with her fingertips, applied an eye cream and ­sunscreen.

Truman Capote with cat

Truman Capote with cat

What a bright morning. Summer sunlight raised her spirits. And Tiffany was leaving today. It felt good. The girl had been staying for the past week, and came and went, mostly staying out of her way. Still, it felt good. Yesterday she had taken Tiffany to lunch, so that she could tell Donald that she had taken Tiffany to lunch.

“She adores all my kids, it’s amazing,” Donald once told a reporter — he was happily blind to the strangeness in the air whenever she was with his children.

Read the rest at the link. The Times plans to publish another short story about the 2016 campaign by a different author. I supposed that one will be a very vicious piece about the Clinton family. Maybe they can get Maureen Dowd to write it.

At The Atlantic, TA Frank asks if anyone will be willing to be Trump’s running mate: Assessing the Trump V.P. Career-Suicide Pact: There are very few real contenders, the risks are considerable, and the rewards potentially terrifying. So who will be the lucky, er, winner?

Frank discusses the pros and cons for the following possible choices: Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, Bob Corker, Mary Fallon, John Kasich.

Chaos continues in Great Britain

From Reuters: Ex-London mayor halts bid to be UK prime minister, upends race

Former London mayor Boris Johnson, favorite to become Britain’s prime minister, abruptly pulled out of the race on Thursday, upending the contest less than a week after leading the campaign to take the country out of the EU.

Johnson’s announcement, to audible gasps from a roomful of journalists and supporters, was the biggest political surprise since Prime Minister David Cameron quit on Friday, the morning after losing the referendum on British membership in the bloc.

Drew Barrymore with cat

Drew Barrymore with cat

It makes Theresa May, the interior minister who backed remaining in the European Union, the new favorite to succeed Cameron.

May, a party stalwart seen as a steady hand, announced her own candidacy earlier on Thursday, promising to deliver the withdrawal from the EU voters had demanded, despite having campaigned for the other side.

“Brexit means Brexit,” she told a news conference.

“The campaign was fought, the vote was held, turnout was high and the public gave their verdict. There must be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it through the back door and no second referendum.”

The decision to quit the EU has cost Britain its top credit rating, pushed the pound to its lowest level since the mid-1980s and wiped a record $3 trillion off global shares. EU leaders are scrambling to prevent further unraveling of a bloc that helped guarantee peace in post-war Europe.

More on the Tory situation:

BBC News: Michael Gove and Theresa May head five-way Conservative race.

The Washington Post: Meet Michael Gove, the man who just turned British politics into an episode of ‘House of Cards.’

The Independent: Boris Johnson has left the Tory leadership race – but he’ll become Prime Minister anyway.