Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!
Ever so often, I get the calling to be a full on eccentric. It usually happens when I’m exposed to the kind’ve white bread ickiness and utter banality that I grew up around. It’s nothing I use to have to face on a daily basis since living here in New Orleans as long as I stayed out of Jefferson Parish and away from the North Shore. The one good thing about obvious white flight areas is that you know what will be there so you just don’t go there. One indicator is the types of churches that locate there. These are those churches that only reach out with the offering plate and never with the offerings.
So, I always get a belly laugh when a herd of chubby, hyper ivory burbies show up in the hood and find out no one can totally sanitize their cheap ass ‘real’ New Orleans vacation experience here. I wish I had a picture of the crowd on the porch next door I saw while walking Temple on Friday. It was a nice chilly day and their icky fish white, sadly plump arms and legs were on display in tanks and shorts. I was told by the BNB dominatrix they were not happy about an early morning fight between my friend and her friend. It woke them out of their safety bubble.
I wonder if they were around for the dozen or so cop cars the evening before capturing a guy in the back yard that had just broken into the house 2 doors down from me and the apartment of the local drug druggie moments before. Or, for that matter if they realize the abandoned Navy Base 5 doors down holds about 100ish prime examples of the opioid “crisis”, the reality of homelessness down here since affordable rentals have been replaced by reality tourist dens, and how this country finds its mentally ill expendable.
However, the culture vultures did get to see us send off Arthur “Mr Okra” Robinson yesterday. His funeral and second line ended at our shared favorite dive bar which has also been appropriated for the fetishists of poverty porn.
Stuff keeps changing down here in the 9th ward but you also get glimmers of our glory. I’ve lived on the wrong side of the tracks for 20 years now and my only hope is that that’s the part that endures. All the Chads and Beckies, all the AirBnB parasites and the tourists they’ve brought like locusts cannot stomp on my memories. Mister Arthur, you brought me fresh food–after Katrina–when MacD didn’t even find enough of us to exploit. Carry on to glory and make a path and a light with your song and we will know where to go when the time comes.
Meanwhile, today, I’m little Edie of Grey Gardens. Watch me twirl!
We’re dependent on one branch of government these days. The others have been completely stocked with toxic white men. SCOTUS won’t hear Trump’s bid to end DACA. Well, it’s one positive thing they’re doing. We’ll need to worry about our right to form unions soon.
The Supreme Court said on Monday that it will stay out of the dispute concerning the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for now, meaning the Trump administration may not be able to end the program March 5 as planned.
The move will also lessen pressure on Congress to act on a permanent solution for DACA and its roughly 700,000 participants — undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children.
Lawmakers had often cited the March 5 deadline as their own deadline for action. But the Senate failed to advance any bill during a debate earlier this month, and no bipartisan measure has emerged since.
Originally, the Trump administration had terminated DACA but allowed a six-month grace period for anyone with status expiring in that window to renew. After that date, March 5, any DACA recipient whose status expired would no longer be able to receive protections.
Monday’s action by the court, submitted without comment from the justices, is not a ruling on the merits of the DACA program or the Trump administration’s effort to end it.
The case reached SCOTUS after several Federal and District courts issued injunctions.
Federal district judges in California and New York have issued nationwide injunctions against ending the program, siding with states and organizations challenging the administration’s rescission. The court orders effectively block the Trump administration from ending the program on March 5, as planned.
No appellate court has reviewed those decisions, and it would have been exceedingly rare for the Supreme Court to take up a case without that interim step. In the past, the court has granted such cases only in matters of grave national importance, such as the controversy over President Richard Nixon’s White House tapes or solving the Iranian hostage crisis.
The litigation now will take its usual course, and the issue probably won’t return to the Supreme Court before the next term. In the meantime, the White House and Congress can continue to seek a political resolution.
Trump, at a meeting with governors at the White House, reacted to the court’s decision by saying: “We’ll see what happens. That’s my attitude.”
In an official statement, the White House did not criticize the justices for declining to take up the case, but said the DACA program “is clearly unlawful.”
“The district judge’s decision unilaterally to reimpose a program that Congress had explicitly and repeatedly rejected is a usurpation of legislative authority,” said Raj Shah, a White House spokesman. “The fact that this occurs at a time when elected representatives in Congress are actively debating this policy only underscores that the district judge has unwisely intervened in the legislative process.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D), among those who challenged the way the Trump administration ended the DACA program, said the Supreme Court was right to deny the government’s “unusual and unnecessary request to bypass the appeals
The Trump administration’s move was unusual to say the least and it’s a good thing SCOTUS didn’t buy into it.
His administration has asked the Supreme Court to take the unusual step of overturning the first injunction, issued by U.S. District Judge William Alsup, now instead of letting it go through the normal appeals process.
Trump declared he would rescind DACA in September, claiming it was unconstitutional. The White House aimed to terminate the program in phases, allowing recipients whose work permits and deportation protections would expire by March 5 to apply for renewal during a four-week window, but barring all new applicants. The plan was that Dreamers whose permits were set to expire after March 5 would be unable to apply for renewal, creating that deadline for Congress to act before an estimated 1,000 people per day began losing protections.
Under the injunctions, however, those who have been approved for DACA are eligible to keep renewing it until the courts decide otherwise.
Public Unions may not be quite so blessed. Of course, all eyes are on the judge put there by KKKremlin Caligula.
The Supreme Court grappled Monday with a reprise of a case that could significantly weaken public employee unions, but Justice Neil Gorsuch added mystery to the proceedings by remaining silent throughout the arguments and offering no hint of how he might vote.
Last year, the high court was widely expected to rule that states could no longer force public employees to pay fees for union representation — a ruling that could have significantly undercut the power of unions in one of the few sectors where they are still relatively common.
However, the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia offered unions a reprieve of sorts, with the court issuing a brief, 4-4, ruling that left in place a 40-year-old precedent allowing such ‘fair share’ fees to cover matters like collective bargaining and grievance processes. The addition of Gorsuch was widely seen as likely to give plaintiffs the fifth vote they need to outlaw the non-member fees.
Aside from Gorsuch’s silence, the most striking aspect of Monday’s argument was Justice Anthony Kennedy’s hostility to the unions’ position. He repeatedly tore into lawyers for the State of California and for a major union as they defended the ‘fair share’ practice.
The Supreme Court is very likely on the verge of dealing a devastating blow to public-sector unions — one of the last remaining strongholds of organized labor, and a critical part of the Democratic Party’s base.
What to watch: The court will hear oral arguments today in a challenge to the fees public-sector unions collect from non-members. But the writing is already on the wall here. It would take a huge surprise for unions to get a reprieve.
The details: Public-sector unions collect dues from their members. They’re also allowed to collect so-called “agency fees” from people who work in unionized workplaces but aren’t members of the union.
- The Supreme Court ruled in 1977, in a case called Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, that non-members couldn’t be forced to pay for unions’ political activity, but that agency fees were OK because they only fund the union’s collective bargaining — which non-union employees still benefit from.
- Conservatives have been taking aim at agency fees, urging the court to overrule Abood. They say agency fees are a form of compelled speech, and violate workers’ rights not to support unions’ message. Because they’re government employees, the challengers argue, even collective bargaining is political.
The impact: Even though the money at stake in this case is separate from the money public-sector unions pump into Democratic campaigns, weakening unions in the workplace would almost certainly weaken their political muscle as well. That’s why conservative activists have taken such a strong interest in this line of cases.
The odds: They’re definitely against the unions.
- This is the third time the high court has taken a crack at this issue. In 2014, the justices issued a narrow ruling, but the conservatives suggested they might be willing to overturn Abood.
- They got their chance in 2016, but Justice Antonin Scalia died shortly after oral arguments. That case ended in a 4-4 deadlock — which gave the unions a reprieve, but indicated that if Scalia had lived, or if he was replaced with a like-minded justice, Abood would be out.
- That time has come. Barring any big surprises today from the four justices who were ready to strike down agency fees in 2016 — or a shocking pro-union bent from Justice Neil Gorsuch — this is likely the end of the road for Abood. And it’s the beginning of a new, weaker era for the unions that represent teachers and other public-sector employees.
A ruling is expected by the end of June.
Hi Sky Dancers!
Well, we made it through the first week of 2018 with just a series of Trumper Tantrums and nothing too life threatening. This month ends with the SOTA. I seriously doubt I’m up to watching it but we’ll see. Trump’s alleged first trek afterwards will be to to gratify himself before example wall parts. His obsession with things of certain shapes is completely Freudian.
President Trump plans to visit the concrete-and-steel prototypes of his beloved border wall in San Diego after his State of the Union address on Jan. 30, sources tell Axios.
Why it matters: Trump insiders say that as they think about 2020, no promise is more vital in Trump Country. He can’t blame Democrats for the fact that there’s not a wall — he has to find a way to deliver one. It was such a central and symbolic promise that there’s no averting your gaze from it.
The wall rhetoric and reality are as removed from each other as sanity and KKKremlin Caligula’s thought processes. To many, deportation is a death sentence as shown by this New Yorker article.
When Donald Trump announced his bid for the Presidency, he made anxieties about whiteness under siege a signature part of his platform. On the campaign trail, he promised to “deport all criminal aliens and save American lives.” After his Inauguration, the Department of Homeland Security created an office for the victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, called voice—Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement. The office is compiling an online database to track “illegal alien perpetrators of crime.” (Data show that immigrants actually commit crimes at lower rates than U.S. citizens.) There is, however, no White House initiative to track a more sprawling set of legal violations involving immigrants—violations for which the U.S. government is largely responsible.
In the past decade, a growing number of immigrants fearing for their safety have come to the U.S., only to be sent back to their home countries—with the help of border agents, immigration judges, politicians, and U.S. voters—to violent deaths. Even as border apprehensions have dropped, the number of migrants coming to the U.S. because their lives are in danger has soared. According to the United Nations, since 2008 there has been a fivefold increase in asylum seekers just from Central America’s Northern Triangle—Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador—where organized gangs are dominant. In 2014, according to the U.N., Honduras had the world’s highest murder rate; El Salvador and Guatemala were close behind.
Politicians often invoke the prospect of death by deportation in debates about the fate of these immigrants and others with precarious status, like the Dreamers. In February, 2016, in a speech criticizing the lack of legal representation for Central American children seeking refuge, Harry Reid, at that time the Senate Minority Leader, warned Congress, “Deportation means death for some of these people.” That summer, Senator Edward J. Markey, of Massachusetts, told the press, “We should not be sending families back to situations where they can be killed.” He added, “That’s just un-American.”
These conversations have been largely theoretical, devoid of names and faces. No U.S. government body monitors the fate of deportees, and immigrant-aid groups typically lack the resources to document what happens to those who have been sent back. Fear of retribution keeps most grieving families from speaking publicly. In early 2016, as the director of the Global Migration Project, at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, I set out, with a dozen graduate students, to create a record of people who had been deported to their deaths or to other harms—a sort of shadow database of the one that the Trump Administration later compiled to track the crimes of “alien offenders.” We contacted more than two hundred local legal-aid organizations, domestic-violence shelters, and immigrants’-rights groups nationwide, as well as migrant shelters, humanitarian operations, law offices, and mortuaries across Central America. We spoke to families of the deceased. And we gathered the stories of immigrants who had endured other harms—including kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault—as a result of deportations under Obama and Trump.
Budget negotiations between Congressional Republicans and Democrats are seriously broken and caught in the middle are America’s Dreamers. This should be a no brainer since even hard line anti immigrant activists support a some path that lets these 800,000 kids and young adults stay.
As Congress and the White House negotiate a deal to legalize nearly 800,000 undocumented DREAMers brought to the U.S. as children, they aren’t facing the usual pressure from hard-line groups lobbying for lower immigration levels.
“Rip off the Band-Aid and give them a green card,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, one of the groups that usually mobilizes against any effort to grant what they call “amnesty” for anyone who entered the country illegally.
Congressional leaders have until Mach 5 to restore deportation protections and work permits for DREAMers after President Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program established by President Barack Obama.
Roy Beck, who has led NumbersUSA for over 20 years and jokes that the organization is known as the “great anti-amnesty organization,” said: “We’re open to it.”
And Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said members of Congress wouldn’t face major backlash from his group’s supporters if they balance a DACA solution with extensive improvements to immigration enforcement.
One such drastic step to remove economic and political refugees from problems due to an earthquake is this action today. “Trump Administration Ends Temporary Immigration Status For 200,000 Salvadorans. The decision to end TPS also will affect their 192,000 US-citizen children.”
Nearly 200,000 Salvadorans who’ve had temporary permission to live in the United States for the past 17 years will have until Sept. 9, 2019, to leave the US or face deportation, the Trump administration announced Monday.
The Salvadorans become the latest group of foreigners to lose what’s known as Temporary Protected Status after spending years in the United States because of natural disasters in their home countries. The Salvadorans were granted TPS after a pair of 2001 earthquakes slammed the country.
“Based on available information the secretary determined that the conditions supporting El Salvador’s TPS designation on the basis of environmental disaster, specifically the devastation cause by major earthquakes in 2001, no longer exist,” a senior Department of Homeland Security official said.
In recent weeks, the Department of Homeland Security also has announced an end to TPS for about 60,000 Haitians and 2,500 Nicaraguans. However, DHS postponed a decision on 57,000 Hondurans.
Salvadorans make up the largest group with TPS and have about 192,700 US-citizen children, many of whom are likely to be forced to leave with their parents to resettle in a country they’ve never lived in.
Last week Salvador Sánchez Cerén, the president of El Salvador, asked Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to once again extend TPS, arguing that even if the US decides to send Salvadorans back it would give the government time to prepare to receive its compatriots.
In making the decision to end TPS Nielsen looked at whether conditions specific to the pair of 2001 earthquakes had improved and whether El Salvador was prepared to take back the nearly 200,000 people, a senior DHS official said.
Gang violence plaguing the country was not a factor in deciding whether to end TPS. Once their protections run out in 2019, the Salvadorans will be eligible for deportation. The US State Department currently has a travel advisory for El Salvador citing “high rates of crime and violence.”
These folks and their children will be uprooted from their lives to a chaotic country. San Salvador–its capital–is also the murder capital of the world. The gang MS-13 is responsible for a lot of deaths both there and here.
Over the past 20 years, MS-13 and its rival, 18th Street, have carved up territory in Central America, said a federal law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“If you grow up in one of these havens, that’s it. You are MS because your father was MS and your grandfather was MS,” he said. “And for you to be able to walk down the street and get a Coca-Cola or what have you, you have to make sure you are part of something so you’re not preyed upon. That’s their safety net.”
In these gang-controlled neighborhoods, satanism persisted.
“What the two gangs do have in common is the belief that life and death are somehow intermingled,” Pablo Trincia wrote in the Independent. “This belief partly explains the bones and devils tattooed on their bodies, as well as their satanic rituals, such as hacking a victim to death and scattering the organs on the ground in a pentagonal shape.”
As MS-13 violence returned to the United States with a vengeance in the mid 2000s — including a spate of high profile murders in the Washington region — so did reports of the gang’s satanism.
“The brutality of the gangs’ crimes is increasingly horrific,” the Los Angeles Times reportedin 2004. “Homicide victims, including many women and teenage girls, often are found so mutilated that Spanish priest Jose Maria Morataya, who runs a San Salvador rehabilitation and job training center for former gang members … suspects that some gang members practice satanic rituals.”
A year later, the Virginia Gang Investigators Association hosted a seminar for law enforcement officials on MS-13 and satanism.
Oprah Winfrey’s acceptance speech for Life Time Achievement at The Golden Globes has many people inkling her name as a presidential candidate. Here’s the introductory part of the speech. The full transcript is at the link.
In 1964, I was a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor of my mother’s house in Milwaukee watching Anne Bancroft present the Oscar for best actor at the 36th Academy Awards. She opened the envelope and said five words that literally made history — “The winner is Sidney Poitier.”
Up to the stage came the most elegant man I ever remembered. His tie was white, his skin was black, very smooth since he uses the derma roller amazon — I’d never seen a black man being celebrated like that. I’ve tried many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats as my mom came through the door bone-tired from cleaning other people’s houses.
But all I can do is quote and say that the explanation [is] in Sidney’s performance in “Lilies of the Field,” ‘Amen, amen. Amen, amen.’ In 1982 Sidney received the Cecil B. Demille Award right here at the Golden Globes, and it is not lost on me that at this moment, there are some little girls watching as I become the first black woman to be given this same award.
Oh, by the way, the Goddess gifs are available here from Nina Paley. There are 24 of them and they’re great! You can see them rock out while playing Dr. John below. They’re kinda trippy like the Night Tripper!
Michael Wolff’s book and narratives continue to dominate the political press. Wikileaks has offered it up free in PDF format. I’m not sure if that’s to take money from Wolff or what. Trump Defender–the truly bizarre Steven Miller–was on CNN this weekend with Jake Tapper. He was thrown off the air and then out of the building.
White House adviser Stephen Miller was escorted off the set of CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday after a contentious interview with host Jake Tapper.
Two sources close to the situation told Business Insider that after the taping was done Miller was asked to leave several times.
He ignored those requests and ultimately security was called and he was escorted out, the sources said.
CNN declined to comment.
Miller’s appearance on the cable network quickly went off the rails when Tapper pressed him on explosive claims about President Donald Trump that appeared in the book “Fire & Fury: Inside The Trump White House” by Michael Wolff.
Miller repeatedly attempted to pivot the conversation toward criticism of CNN, a favorite target of Trump’s. He then referred to Trump as a “political genius” and lamented his treatment during the interview, leading Tapper to reply that there was only “one viewer you care about right now.”
“I think I’ve wasted enough of my viewers’ time. Thank you, Stephen,” Tapper said, bringing the interview to an abrupt end.
Shortly after the interview ended, Trump tweeted, “Jake Tapper of Fake News CNN just got destroyed in his interview with Stephen Miller of the Trump Administration.”
Steve Bannon expressed regret Sunday after he created a furor with comments critical of President Donald Trump’s family in a new book, dragging the controversy into its fifth day as the White House kept up its attacks on both the former chief strategist and “Fire and Fury” author Michael Wolff.
“Donald Trump, Jr. is both a patriot and a good man. He has been relentless in his advocacy for his father and the agenda that has helped turn our country around,” Bannon said in a statement. “I regret that my delay in responding to the inaccurate reporting regarding Don Jr has diverted attention from the president’s historical accomplishments in the first year of his presidency.”
I really don’t know how much more of these people I can take.
Need to ask you to feed the kitty a little this month so we can keep the fancy Designer Font for Sky Dancing. The price has gone up and I’m torn between keeping it and letting it go. Problem is that I really like it! So, if you can donate a little that’s about all it would take.
Anyway, let me know what’s on your reading and blogging list today!!!
Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Shumer had dinner with Trump last night and some kind of “deal” was worked out, but no one can figure out what it was. Trump has been sending conflicting tweets about it and saying confusing things about it in Florida this morning.
The Washington Post: Trump, top A Democrats agree to work on deal to save ‘dreamers’ from deportation.
Democratic leaders announced late Wednesday that they agreed with President Trump to pursue a legislative deal that would protect hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation and enact border security measures that don’t include building a physical wall.
The president discussed options during a dinner at the White House with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that also included talks on tax reform, infrastructure and trade. Trump has showed signs of shifting strategy to cross the aisle and work with Democrats in the wake of the high-profile failures by Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
We’re working on a plan for DACA,” Trump said as he left the White House on Thursday for a trip to survey hurricane damage in Florida.
Trump said that he and Congress are “fairly close” to a deal and that Republican leaders Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) are “very much on board” with a deal that would address DACA. The agreement must include “massive border security,” Trump said in response to shouted questions about whether he had reached a deal on the terms Schumer and Pelosi had described.
“The wall will come later” [link to Axios added] he said, apparently confirming a central element of the Democrats’ account.
There was instant backlash from Trump’s Cro-Magnon supporters, and the White House quickly tried to walk back whatever Trump agreed to when his handlers weren’t around.
Earlier Thursday, amid backlash from conservative supporters, Trump had sought Thursday to reach out to his GOP base with messages claiming his agenda would remain intact on signature issues such as the border wall.
In a series of tweets, Trump wrote that “no deal” was made on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, an Obama-era program that has allowed 690,000 dreamers to work and go to school without fear of deportation. He further wrote that agreements on “massive border security” would have to accompany any new DACA provisions, and insisted that “the WALL will continue to be built.”
I guess we’ll find out what’s going on eventually. It would certainly be a good thing if Congress can get its act together and do something to keep the Dreamers in the U.S.
Manu Raju of CNN had a great scoop last night that makes Devin Nunes look like even more of an idiot than ever before: Exclusive: Rice told House investigators why she unmasked senior Trump officials.
Former national security adviser Susan Rice privately told House investigators that she unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials to understand why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York late last year, multiple sources told CNN.
The New York meeting preceded a separate effort by the UAE to facilitate a back-channel communication between Russia and the incoming Trump White House.
The crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, arrived in New York last December in the transition period before Trump was sworn into office for a meeting with several top Trump officials, including Michael Flynn, the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his top strategist Steve Bannon, sources said.
The Obama administration felt misled by the United Arab Emirates, which had failed to mention that Zayed was coming to the United States even though it’s customary for foreign dignitaries to notify the US government about their travels, according to several sources familiar with the matter. Rice, who served as then-President Obama’s national security adviser in his second term, told the House Intelligence Committee last week that she requested the names of the Americans mentioned in the classified report be revealed internally, a practice officials in both parties say is common.
Rice’s previously undisclosed revelation in a classified setting shines new light on a practice that had come under sharp criticism from the committee chairman, California Rep. Devin Nunes, and President Donald Trump, who previously accused Rice of committing a crime.Ja
Once again, Trump people were caught trying to communicate secretly with Putin, because of course foreign visitors are routinely monitored by the intelligence community.
In other Russia news, Michael Flynn’s son is now a subject in the investigation. NBC News reports:
Michael G. Flynn, the son of President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, is a subject of the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign, according to four current and former government officials.
The inquiry into Flynn is focused at least in part on his work with his father’s lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group, three of the officials said. It’s unclear when the focus on Flynn began.
Barry Coburn, who said he is serving as the younger Flynn’s legal counsel, said he couldn’t comment on the matter.
Flynn’s status as a subject of the Russia investigation widens the publicly known scope of the probe. NBC News has reported that those under investigation have included the elder Flynn and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Others under scrutiny by special counsel Robert Mueller include Carter Page, a Trump campaign ally; Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser; and the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr.
Yesterday White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that James Comey committed a crime when he leaked his personal memos about interactions with Trump to The New York Times, and called on the Justice Department to investigate him. She also called on ESPN to fire a reporter who tweeted that Trump is a white supremacist. In any other White House, Sanders herself would be fired by now. The White House is not supposed to get involved in decisions by the DOJ and the White House calling for the firing of a journalist for dissing POTUS is wildly inappropriate.
From Politico, a response to the recent attacks on Comey by the Trump crowd: The Hapless Smear Campaign Against Jim Comey.
From the moment Steve Bannon stated in his 60 Minutes interview that President Donald Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey was the biggest political mistake in modern presidential history, there simply was no chance that this week would proceed without a fair amount of political insanity. The fact that the president’s former chief strategist would publicly and brazenly disparage that decision was bound to result in a fierce White House pushback. And so it has. But over the past three days, the White House has repeatedly advanced flawed and in some instances preposterous legal arguments that don’t stand up to informed scrutiny.
The hijinks began on Monday, when White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed that information divulged after Comey was fired served as retroactive justification for the president’s decision. She alleged, among other things, that Comey had given “false testimony” and leaked “privileged information to journalists.” On Tuesday, Sanders did not repeat the “false testimony” claim, but she did reiterate the assertion that Comey had “leaked privileged government information” and speculated that his actions “could have been illegal.”
In Wednesday’s news briefing, reading from what appeared to be prepared notes, Sanders explained what she meant by “illegal”:
“The memos that Comey leaked were created on an FBI computer while he was the director,” she said. “He claims they were private property, but they clearly followed the protocol of an official FBI document, leaking FBI memos on a sensitive case regardless of classification violates federal laws including the Privacy Act, standard FBI employment agreement and nondisclosure agreement all personnel must sign.”
These talking points were presumably provided to Sanders by the White House Counsel’s Office, but as a litigator with considerable experience representing government officials and contractors (including whistleblowers) of all ideological persuasions, trust me: They are nonsense.
Click on the link to read the explanation.
Have you heard the latest outrage from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his trophy wife Louise Linton? The Washington Post reports: ‘The moochin’ Mnuchins’: Treasury secretary again is fodder for rich humor.
Just based on a quick Google search, the August exchange between Louise Linton, the wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and a critic of Linton’s fashion-bragging, mean-girl Instagram post seemed to be fading, along with memories of the eclipse, which the couple was lucky enough to have observed at Fort Knox.
But it all came rushing back when ABC News reported Wednesday evening that the Treasury Department had in fact requested a government jet for Mnuchin’s European honeymoon in Scotland, France and Italy. If the request had been granted, the plane would have cost the taxpayers roughly $25,000 per hour to operate.
A Treasury Department spokesman said in a statement that the request was made so that Mnuchin, who is a member of the National Security Council, would have access to secure communications as he traveled abroad.
Remember Linton’s attack on the woman who criticized her Instagram post after the Mnuchins used a government plane to fly to Fort Knox so they could watch the solar eclipse from the rooftop?
As the news rushed across social media, so did the memory of the Instagram episode, with one line in particular standing out among the now-regretted post by Linton:
“Adorable! Do you think the U.S. govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol.”
Now for a change of pace, I thought you might like this archaeology story. The AP via The Toronto Sun: Well-preserved Viking sword found in Norwegian mountains.
COPENHAGEN — A Norwegian archaeologist says a well-preserved, if rusty, iron sword dating to the Viking erahas been found in southern Norway.
Lars Holger Piloe says the nearly one-metre-long sword was found slid down between rocks with the blade sticking out, and may have been left by a person who got lost in a blizzard and died on the mountain from exposure.
Piloe said Thursday the sword, dating from about 850-950 A.D., was found in Lesja, some 275 kilometres north of Oslo.
Piloe said the sword’s preservation was likely due to the quality of the iron, as well as the cold, dry conditions. It was found in late August by two men who were on a reindeer hunt some 1,640 metres above sea level.
What else is happening? What stories are you following today?
“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…”
Sixty years ago today On the Road, Jack Kerouac’s second novel was published. It was boosted by Gilbert Millstein’s rave review in The New York Times.
“On the Road is the second novel by Jack Kerouac, and its publication is a historic occasion in so far as the exposure of an authentic work of art is of any great moment in an age in which the attention is fragmented and the sensibilities are blunted by the superlatives of fashion (multiplied a millionfold by the speed and pound of communications).
This book requires exegesis and a detailing of background. It is possible that it will be condescended to by, or make uneasy, the neo-academicians and the ‘official’ avant-garde critics, and that it will be dealt with superficially elsewhere as merely ‘absorbing’ or ‘intriguing’ or ‘picaresque’ or any of a dozen convenient banalities, not excluding ‘off beat.’ But the fact is that On the Road is the most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago as ‘beat,’ and whose principal avatar he is.
“Just as, more than any other novel of the Twenties, The Sun Also Rises came to be regarded as the testament of the ‘Lost Generation,’ so it seems certain that On the Road will come to be known as that of the ‘Beat Generation.’ There is, otherwise, no similarity between the two: technically and philosophically, Hemingway and Kerouac are, at the very least, a depression and a world war apart….
The ‘Beat Generation’ was born disillusioned; it takes for granted the imminence of war, the barrenness of politics and the hostility of the rest of society. It is not even impressed by (although it never pretends to scorn) material well-being (as distinguished from materialism). It does not know what refuge it is seeking, but it is seeking.
Click on the link to read the rest at the Literary Hub.
I first read On the Road in 1969 when I was anticipating a cross country trip from Boston to San Francisco in a second-hand van. Years later, I went back to college in Kerouac’s birthplace of Lowell, Massachusetts.
I majored in psychology, but I also took several courses in political science. I did a major research project on Kerouac and his roots in the French Canadian community in Lowell and another psychological study of Kerouac’s literary references to his brother Gerard, who died at age 9 when Jack was only 4.
I also spent years working with the Kerouac community in Lowell, helping to plan the yearly Lowell Celebrates Kerouac Festival. I’ve read nearly every published word that Kerouac wrote, including his letters and poetry. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve read his work, but this morning I’ve been enjoying looking back at those joyous years of discovery in Lowell. I think I’m still one of the “mad ones,” and I’m OK with that.
Earlier this summer The Washington Post published a five-part series on the Beat Generation. Read it here if you’re interested. You can also check out this piece at The Independent: ‘On the Road’ at 60: How Jack Kerouac’s drug-infused prose became a classic of 20th-century literature.
After that trip down memory lane I hate the thought of writing about today’s news, but I’ll d.o it anyway.
Hurricane Irma strengthened overnight to a dangerous Category 5 as it barrels toward the Greater Antilles and Southern Florida. It’s likely that Hurricane Irma will affect the U.S. coast — potentially making a direct landfall — this weekend.
Tuesday morning, NOAA Hurricane Hunters found the storm’s maximum wind speeds are 175 mph. It now ranks among the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. Forecasts suggest it will reach southern Florida and the Gulf of Mexico this weekend.
Hurricane warnings have been issued for portions of the Leeward Islands and the Greater Antilles, including Puerto Rico.
The National Hurricane Center called Hurricane Irma an “extremely dangerous” storm on Tuesday morning. “Preparations should be rushed to completion in the hurricane warning area,” the forecasters wrote in their 8 a.m. update. Devastating winds, a major storm surge and flash floods are all likely in the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico in the next 48 hours.
Over the weekend, the forecast track for this potentially devastating hurricane shifted south and west. It seems likely now that the storm will affect or strike the U.S. coast early next week, although meteorologists don’t know exactly where. Florida and the Gulf Coast continue to be at risk. The East Coast, including the Carolinas and the Delmarva Peninsula, are also potential candidates for landfall — or, at the very least, heavy rain, strong winds and coastal flooding.
Trump took the cowardly route to end DACA–Obama’s Dreamers program–sending Jeff Sessions out this morning to make the announcement.
President Donald Trump’s Justice Department announced Tuesday it would wind down DACA, putting in place a phased termination plan that would give Congress a six-month window to pass legislation that could eventually save the Obama-era program that allowed undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children to remain in the country.
Under the plan announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Trump administration will stop considering new applications for legal status dated after Tuesday, but will allow any DACA recipients with a permit set to expire before March 5, 2018, the opportunity to apply for a two-year renewal.
Sessions repeatedly referred to DACA as “unconstitutional” and said “the policy is vulnerable to…legal and constitutional challenges.”
“It is my duty to ensure that the laws of the United States are enforced and that the constitutional order is upheld,” Sessions said in explaining his rationale. “Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional executive overreach of authority by the executive branch.”
The decision could affect as many as 800,000 Dreamers who have signed up for the program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, since its 2012 inception. Immigrant rights advocates have said 200,000 more have sought DACA status since Trump became president.
Here’s what Jennifer Rubin had to say about this at the Washington Post yesterday: Ending DACA would be Trump’s most evil act.
Some in the media take seriously the notion that he is “conflicted” or “wrestling” with the decision [to end DACA], as though Trump were engaged in a great moral debate. That would be a first for Trump, who counts only winners and losers, never bothering with moral principles or democratic norms. The debate, if there is one, is over whether to disappoint his rabid anti-immigrant base or to, as is his inclination, double down on a losing hand.
The instantaneous backlash on social media Sunday night was a preview of the floodgates of anger that Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program would open. Both Democrats and Republicans have urged him not to end the program; about 70 percent of voters in most polls favor keeping the program. Trump, who likes to think of himself as someone with “heart,” may yet decide to reverse course. If he does not, let’s get a few things straight.
First, let’s not think Trump — who invites cops to abuse suspects, who thinks ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio was “doing his job” when denying others their constitutional rights and who issued the Muslim ban — cares about the Constitution (any of the “twelve” articles). Trump says, “We love the dreamers. … We think the dreamers are terrific.” But in fact he loves the applause he derives from his cultist followers more than anything. Otherwise he’d go to the mat to defend the dreamers and secure their legal status.
Anyone who believes Trump is “conflicted” about this is a fool. He loves hurting people–and the more vulnerable those people are the more he enjoys their suffering.
Ben Smith at Buzzfeed: Why Does Trump Always Shoot The Hostages?
President Trump, cornered, weakened, and apparently unable to get his hands on the usual levers of presidential powers, has adopted pretty much the worst possible strategy for someone trying to wield the power of the most powerful job in the world: He’s shooting the hostages.
Trump can’t seem to get the hard stuff associated with the presidency done. He hasn’t been able to mount a legislative agenda or give federal employees (besides ICE agents and the occasional EPA regulator) the foggiest idea of what he wants them to do. Congress is beyond his control and doesn’t fear him: It slapped him in the face on Russia, and when his allies “burned the ships” to pass a health care bill, his confused conquistadors didn’t make it out.
His remaining political leverage has come largely from the policies left to him as hostages by President Barack Obama: the Paris climate accord, the Iran nuclear deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and, most of all, DACA and the nearly 800,000 sympathetic young Americans it allows to live normal, and sometimes extraordinary, lives.
Trump’s decision to simply kill those Obama-era acts, rather than to even attempt to use them as political leverage, helps explain the surprising weakness of his presidency. It’s far from the only way he’s frittered away his power. But if you are playing a weak political hand, hostages can be a source of enormous power. In the extreme case, it’s why we’re worried about Kim Jong Un. When you threaten to destroy something your political opponents desperately want to preserve, even your enemies will do a deal.
Hillary Clinton’s book What Happened? comes out a week from today. I preordered it and I can’t wait to read it. People were quoting parts of it on Twitter yesterday.
Hillary Clinton casts Bernie Sanders as an unrealistic over-promiser in her new book, according to excerpts posted by a group of Clinton supporters.
She said that his attacks against her during the primary caused “lasting damage” and paved the way for “(Donald) Trump’s ‘Crooked Hillary’ campaign.”
Clinton, in a book that will be released September 12 entitled “What Happened,” said Sanders “had to resort to innuendo and impugning my character” because the two Democrats “agreed on so much.”
“She says a lot in this book, and some of it is going to surprise people. People should buy it, read it, and consider what she constructively lays out. It’s a great read,” a Clinton aide said, asking not be named because they were not authorized to discuss the book.
Clinton’s decision to step back into the spotlight with the book will likely be met with wide praise from many in the Democratic Party, including some of the millions of Democrats who backed her over Trump. But it also could tear at wounds that are still open between the wing of the party Sanders animated and those who backed Clinton.
Those are my offerings for today. What stories are you following?
It’s Labor Day!
This usually means a last, long summer weekend at the beach or around the mountains. Today’s pictures are from the inspired lens of photographer Seph Lawless and the many photographers that photographed the big Pocono resorts during the 60s and 70s. I feel as though we are losing our American way of life much the way that these grand Poconos resorts have fallen into decay and destruction after giving so much to so many. Go check the photo gallery and narrative.
A photographer is sharing what he calls a “heartbreaking” look at some of the resorts that made the Poconos the “Honeymoon Capital of the World.”
Photographer Seph Lawless shared his photos of Penn Hills Resort, Buck Hill Inn, Summit Resort and Unity House with Fox 8 in Cleveland.
While the resorts became super popular starting back in the 1960s, Lawless says times have changed and “the honeymoon is over.” He said many of the most popular resorts in the area are now empty and abandoned.
juxtaposes now vs. then postcards and photos too. He’s written a narrative to accompany the gifs he’s created of the postcard views and his journey to capture their eerie “abandoned states”. It’s quite brilliant.
I found the old matchbook lying on a desk.
It was buried under some papers, beside a thick, water-logged book frozen solid in the January chill. I ran my fingers down its spine and read the title: “How to Run A Successful Golf Course.”
The owner of the Penn Hills Resort in the Poconos probably hadn’t followed whatever advice the author had to offer. They boarded the place up years ago, and there’s a gaping hole in the roof of his old office. Muted greens and yellows, shag carpeting peek at me through a sheet of ice.
The matchbook, which looks to be from the 60’s, is about half empty—whoever was sitting here when this place finally went under surely needed a smoke.Its cover is a reminder of better days. Swimmers are frolicking at the resort’s indoor pool, now a scene of trash, mangled deck chairs, a life preserver. I lock eyes with a huge bullfrog who didn’t make it out. He was entombed in the ice.
The matchbook no longer lines up with reality. I look down through the viewfinder of my camera and up again at the matchbook, aligning the two images the best I can. Up (snap) down (snap). It feels like I’m seeing this place in some sort of dystopian View-Master, each image on the wheel darker than the next.
Weeks later, I score a cache of old postcards from the Poconos and Catskills on eBay, the sort that end up in family albums, stuck in some box in the attic. “Our Honeymoon.” In idyllic scenes at Penn Hills, The Homowack Lodge, Grossinger’s, and a fourth resort in the Poconos which we aren’t identifying, vacation-goers and honeymooners frolic in the mountains.
They have a surreal quality. Ephemeral, disposable, they served only one purpose—to let someone know “I’m here. I’m thinking of you.” It feels a bit like social media does sometimes, where you’ll snap a photo of some vista, sometimes to bring those you care about a bit closer to you. And like social media, the postcards manage to be a little impersonal: “I didn’t quite care enough to write a letter.” It’s analog Foursquare, a non-digital check-in.
Trumpian madness and meanness means DACA and dreamers have been ground beneath the heel of racism and of destroying Obama’s legacy.
President Donald Trump has decided to end the Obama-era program that grants work permits to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children, according to two sources familiar with his thinking. Senior White House aides huddled Sunday afternoon to discuss the rollout of a decision likely to ignite a political firestorm — and fulfill one of the president’s core campaign promises.
The administration’s deliberations on the issue have been fluid and fast moving, and the president has faced strong warnings from members of his own party not to scrap the program.
Trump has wrestled for months with whether to do away with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA. But conversations with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who argued that Congress — rather than the executive branch — is responsible for writing immigration law, helped persuade the president to terminate the program and kick the issue to Congress, the two sources said.
In a nod to reservations held by many lawmakers, the White House plans to delay the enforcement of the president’s decision for six months, giving Congress a window to act, according to one White House official. But a senior White House aide said that chief of staff John Kelly, who has been running the West Wing policy process on the issue, “thinks Congress should’ve gotten its act together a lot longer ago.”
White House aides caution that — as with everything in the Trump White House — nothing is set in stone until an official announcement has been made.
Trump is expected to formally make that announcement on Tuesday, and the White House informed House Speaker Paul Ryan of the president’s decision on Sunday morning, according to a source close to the administration. Ryan had said during a radio interview on Friday that he didn’t think the president should terminate DACA, and that Congress should act on the issue.
Kremlin Caligula continues to attack and baffle long time allies of our country. From Wapo “Seoul tries to ignore Trump’s criticism: ‘They worry he’s kind of nuts,’ one observer says.”
After North Korea conducted its nuclear test Sunday, Trump tweeted: “South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!”
Trump did not talk to Moon on the phone Sunday — in stark contrast to the two calls he had with Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan and a leader who has proven much more willing to agree with his American counterpart. This will worsen anxieties in Seoul that Tokyo is seen as “the favorite ally,” analysts said.
Moon, who was elected in May, advocated engagement with North Korea but has also acknowledged the need for pressure to bring the Pyongyang regime back to talks. He has also come around to an agreement between his predecessor and the U.S. military to deploy an antimissile system in South Korea.
Trump’s tweet was widely reported across South Korean media, and Moon’s office responded to the tweet with a measured statement Sunday night.
“South Korea is a country that experienced a fratricidal war. The destruction of war should not be repeated in this land,” it said. “We will not give up and will continue to push for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through peaceful means working together with our allies.”
It says a lot that a country brutally occupied by Japan less than a century ago thinks more of their friendship than of ours. But then check out Moyers & Company’s montage of “What Trump and his Team have wrecked so far” written by Karin Kamp and Kristin Miller.
A few months ago, President Donald Trump devoted his weekly address to the beleaguered American employee. “For too long, American workers were forgotten by their government — and I mean totally forgotten,” he said. “My administration has offered a new vision. The well-being of the American citizen and worker will be placed second to none.”
No doubt he’ll come up with more pro-worker blather for Labor Day. Don’t listen. The only way Trump is helping the average employee is if you consider The Simpsons’ Mr. Burns a working stiff.
The rollback of labor rights and protections since Trump took office is staggering. It puts worker safety at risk and guarantees that many workers will earn less, but that’s not all. Measures to help victims of discrimination receive redress are on the scrap heap. Unions are running scared. “It’s a death by a thousand cuts,” explains Heidi Shierholz, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute.
Last week, as most of us in the United States were riveted by Hurricane Harvey’s descent on Texas, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration removed from its Internet home page a list of workers who died as a result of workplace injuries, burying it deep within the website. At the same time, it changed how the list is compiled; it will now only include instances where the company was cited for safety violations leading to a worker’s death. Details such as the name of the deceased worker are also no longer considered worthy of inclusion. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution worked out that of the at least 32 Georgia workers it determined died as a result of work-related injuries since October 1 of last year, only two even get a mention on the new list.
This is the state of our Union. The “US has regressed to developing nation status, MIT economist warns Peter Temin who “says 80 per cent of the population is burdened with debt and anxious about job security”.
America is regressing to have the economic and political structure of a developing nation, an MIT economist has warned.
Peter Temin says the world’s’ largest economy has roads and bridges that look more like those in Thailand and Venezuela than those in parts of Europe.
In his new boo.k, “The Vanishing Middle Class”, reviewed by the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Mr Temin says the fracture of US society is leading the middle class to disappear.
The economist describes a two-track economy with on the one hand 20 per cent of the population that is educated and enjoys good jobs and supportive social networks.
On the other hand, the remaining 80 per cent, he said, are part of the US’ low-wage sector, where the world of possibility has shrunk and people are burdened with debts and anxious about job security.
Mr Temin used a model, which was created by Nobel Prize winner Arthur Lewis and designed to understand developing nations, to describe how far inequalities have progressed in the US.
When applied to the US, Mr Temin said that “the Lewis model actually works”.
He found that much of the low-wage sector had little influence over public policy, the high-income sector was keeping wages down to provide cheap labour, social control was used to prevent subsistence workers from challenging existing policies and social mobility was low.
It isn’t black and brown people doing this to white America. It’s the Trumps of the country doing it to the rest of us. Jamelle Bouie–writing for Slate says it best. “Trump has never been less popular—and never more clearly the head of a party of racial resentment.”
Seven months into his presidency, Donald Trump is deeply unpopular. In Gallup’s latest poll of presidential job approval, he’s down to 34 percent, a level unseen by most presidents outside of an economic disaster or foreign policy blunder. In FiveThirtyEight’s adjusted average of all approval polling, he stands at 37 percent. And yet, few Republican lawmakers of consequence are willing to buck him or his agenda, in large part because their voters still support the president by huge margins. What we have clearer evidence of now is why. From polling and the behavior of individual politicians, it’s become harder to deny that people support the president not just for being president, but for his core message of white resentment and grievance—the only area where he has been consistent and unyielding.
You see broad Republican allegiance to Trump in the polling. Nearly 70 percent of Republicans say they agree with Trump on the issues. And 78 percent of Republicans say they approve of the president’s overall job performance. Republicans who have bucked or criticized Trump, like Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, have jeopardized their political futures as a result.
You also see the degree to which white racial resentment is a key force among Republican voters. Most Republicans, remember, agreed with President Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he held both sides—white supremacists and counterdemonstrators—responsible for the chaos that claimed the life of one anti-racist protester. In an analysis of recent polling, my colleague William Saletan observes that, across a number of questions gauging racial animus, Republicans generally (and Trump supporters specifically) are most likely to give answers signaling tolerance for racism and racist ideas. Forty-one percent of Republicans, for example, say that whites face more discrimination than blacks and other nonwhite groups (among strong Trump supporters, it’s 45 percent). Ten percent of Republicans and 19 percent of strong Trump supporters have a favorable impression of white nationalists, while 13 percent of the former (and 17 percent of the latter) say it’s “acceptable” to hold white supremacist views.
Trump wants tariffs and trade wars. He insults our friends. He is willing to throw US nurses, soldiers, workers and students out of the only country and home they have known. His dream is that of a country in ruin and a palace of gold for him and his.
Have a good holiday!