Thursday Reads

Gustave Courbet, Le Desperere,1845

Good Morning!!

I admit it. I’m obsessed with the Trump/Russia investigation, and I think my posts have become boring because of my obsession; so today, I’m going to try avoiding the subject and hope I’ll get more readers. This post is illustrated with “selfies” from  before we had cell phones, just because. I hope you enjoy them.

Have you been getting a lot of annoying calls lately? I have. I usually don’t answer calls that come in from people I don’t know or area codes where I don’t know anyone; but once in awhile, I’ll pick up a call and it’s usually a recorded message. It turns out you can find out which numbers are robocalling your area.

From the Arlington Patch: Here’s Who Keeps Robocalling Your Area Code.

If you think you’re receiving robocalls now more than ever, you’re not wrong. According to the robocall blocker YouMail, pre-recorded phone messages are at an all-time high.

There were 3.36 billion robocalls last month in the U.S., 6.5 percent higher than the previous record and a whopping 34 percent higher than April 2017….

Mary Cassatt, Self portrait

Here are the states that received the most robocalls, as well as how many they received:

  1. California, 384.4 million
  2. Texas, 363.3 million
  3. Florida, 261.1 million
  4. Georgia, 213.6 million
  5. New York, 207.8 million
  6. Illinois, 134.6 million
  7. Ohio, 115.8 million
  8. Pennsylvania, 115.4 million
  9. North Carolina, 111 million
  10. Louisiana, 97.6 million
  11. Michigan, 89.7 million
  12. Tennessee, 88.3 million
  13. New Jersey, 84.3 million
  14. Virginia, 83 million
  15. Maryland, 79 million
  16. Alabama, 77.9 million
  17. South Carolina, 64.4 million
  18. Arizona, 60 million
  19. Missouri, 51.7 million
  20. Indiana, 51 million

Atlanta received the dubious honor of most robocalled city in America for the 29th straight month. People in that city received nearly 148 million robocalls last month and three Atlanta area codes cracked the top 20 most robocalled area code list.

Here are the top 10 most robocalled cities:

  1. Atlanta, GA
  2. Dallas, TX
  3. New York, NY
  4. Los Angeles, CA
  5. Chicago, IL
  6. Houston, TX
  7. Baltimore, MD
  8. Philadelphia, PA
  9. San Francisco Bay Area, CA
  10. Newark, NJ

M.C. Escher, Hand With Reflecting Sphere, 1935

The company says 47 of the 50 most robocalled cities in the country saw a higher robocalling volume in April. The increase comes even as lawmakers, consumer groups, telecommunications carriers and device makers pay closer attention to illegal calls.

“Despite the best efforts of regulators, industry groups, service providers, and app developers, we are warning consumers to remain vigilant by not picking up any calls from unfamiliar numbers, using robocall blocking apps, and researching numbers before calling them back,” YouMail CEO Alex Quilici said in a release.

Click here and enter an area code to see the full results.

I’m glad to know it’s not just me getting all these annoyance calls. Unfortunately, I’ve found that even when I block the numbers, they just call back from slightly different ones.

The media is currently obsessed with lecturing Democrats about how we need to be kinder and more understanding of Trump voters. Here’s a response to that from Osita Nwanevu at Slate: Liberals, It’s Not About Being Nice.

Over the weekend, the New York Times published an op-ed titled “Liberals, You’re Not As Smart As You Think.” In it, University of Virginia political science professor Gerard Alexander accuses American liberals of arrogance and warns them against making broad negative generalizations about large swaths of the population. “Liberals often don’t realize how provocative or inflammatory they can be,” he writes. “In exercising their power, they regularly not only persuade and attract but also annoy and repel.” Alexander cites a few particular examples of recent annoying and repulsive liberal behavior, including comedian Michelle Wolf’s performance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, but the heart of the piece is a broad indictment of identity politics as practiced by liberals and the left. “Racist is pretty much the most damning label that can be slapped on anyone in America today, which means it should be applied firmly and carefully,” Alexander writes. “Yet some people have cavalierly leveled the charge against huge numbers of Americans—specifically, the more than 60 million people who voted for Mr. Trump. In their ranks are people who sincerely consider themselves not bigoted, who might be open to reconsidering ways they have done things for years, but who are likely to be put off if they feel smeared before that conversation even takes place.”

Jean Cooke, self portrait, 1972

The piece was the latest in an unending stream of commentary attributing Democrats’ electoral misfortunes to conservative cultural backlash—a variation on a theme in punditry that was old hat long before Hillary Clinton made the supposed mistake of calling Trump supporters “deplorables.” Alleged gaffes like that, the story goes, form part of an imperious posture Democrats take on questions of identity politics that alienates simple folk who haven’t caught up with the progressive consensus on social questions.

This argument has very little to do with the actual state of American public opinion on those questions. Survey data suggests that identity politics as practiced by Democrats and the left has been quite successful and persuasive. Take racial issues, for instance. According to Pew, the percentage of white people in America who believe that the country “needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights with whites” has grown by 18 points since the beginning of the decade. Most of this can be attributed to white Democrats moving left on the question, but the numbers show change on the right as well: The number of Republicans and Republican leaners who believe this has grown by six points to 36 percent over the same period. The percentage of Republicans and Republican leaners who say that “racial discrimination is the main reason why many black people can’t get ahead these days” has also jumped about five points to 14 percent. These are, of course, still small minorities on the right, but given talk about how liberal arrogance and piety have alienated those who disagree with Democrats on racial identity politics into a backlash, one would expect the numbers to show … well, a backlash. Instead, they suggest that post–Trayvon Martin, Ferguson, and Black Lives Matter, rhetoric and activism may be working quite well on a broad cross section of Americans.

It’s a lengthy, thoughtful piece. Read the rest at Slate.

What’s the “nice” response to a “president” who says things like this?

USA Today: Trump ramps up rhetoric on undocumented immigrants: ‘These aren’t people. These are animals.’

President Trump used extraordinarily harsh rhetoric to renew his call for stronger immigration laws Wednesday, calling undocumented immigrants “animals” and venting frustration at Mexican officials who he said “do nothing” to help the United States.

Pablo Picasso, Self Portrait, Facing Death, 1972

“We have people coming into the country or trying to come in, we’re stopping a lot of them, but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are,” Trump said.

“These aren’t people. These are animals.”

Trump’s comments came in a freewheeling, hour-long White House meeting with local California leaders opposed to so-called “sanctuary city” policies. “California’s law provides safe harbor to some of the most vicious and violent offenders on Earth, like MS-13 gang members putting innocent men, women, and children at the mercy of these sadistic criminals,” he said.

I can’t think of anything nice to say about that or about people who support the man who said it.

Will John Bolton destroy Trump’s dreams of a deal with North Korea?  Politico: Trump’s North Korea Nobel buzz could die with John Bolton.

Donald Trump wants a deal with North Korea. His national security adviser thinks the North Koreans can’t be dealt with. And North Korea thinks he’s “human scum.”

North Korea’s latest diatribe against the United States — and specifically a “repugnant” national security adviser, John Bolton — spotlights a core tension within the Trump administration as the president seeks a nuclear deal with North Korea that he hopes might earn him a Nobel Peace Prize.

Lee Krasner self portrait, 1930

Bolton is famously contemptuous of what he considers naïve U.S. diplomacy with foreign adversaries who can only be trusted to cRheat and lie. Prominent on his list is North Korea itself, which he has written “will never give up nuclear weapons voluntarily,” calling past U.S. diplomatic forays with the country “embarrassments.”

Trump, too, believes America has struck “terrible deals” for decades. And he shared Bolton’s intense animus for the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump torpedoed last week. But in the case of North Korea, even some Trump supporters worry the president is too eager for a deal that could dazzle the world and reap him huge political rewards.

The question now is whether Trump and Bolton can strike a constructive balance — or whether they might wind up at cross-purposes on one of the most important diplomatic experiments in U.S. history.

Read the rest at Politico.

May it would be a good thing if North Korea backs out of the summit, because Trump thinks he doesn’t need to spend a lot of time getting ready for the meeting. Time: President Trump ‘Doesn’t Think He Needs’ to Prepare Much for His Meeting With North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

With just one month until a scheduled sit-down with North Korea’s leader, President Donald Trump hasn’t set aside much time to prepare for meeting with Kim Jong Un, a stark contrast to the approach of past presidents.

“He doesn’t think he needs to,” said a senior administration official familiar with the President’s preparation. Aides plan to squeeze in time for Trump to learn more about Kim’s psychology and strategize on ways to respond to offers Kim may make in person, but so far a detailed plan hasn’t been laid out for getting Trump ready for the summit.

Even with North Korea threatening to scrap the meeting over long-planned U.S.-Korean military exercises, Trump’s aides in the White House and State Department are continuing to prepare briefing material in advance of the June 12 summit in Singapore. When asked Wednesday if he thinks Kim is bluffing, Trump responded, “We’ll see what happens.” He told reporters he still plans to insist on North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons.

So briefing materials are being prepared, but Trump isn’t going to bother to read them. Big surprise.

Paul Gaugin self portrait with halo and snake 1889

I’m going to end with just one article related to the Russia investigation. Eric Wemple at The Washington Post: New York Times acknowledges it buried the lead in pre-election Russia-Trump story.

The upside of the New York Times’ aggressive coverage of the FBI investigation into Russian election meddling is that the American public is learning more and more about recent history. The downside is that the newspaper keeps bumping into its archives.

In a massive article Wednesday on the FBI’s 2016 snooping into the possible nexus between Russians and the Trump presidential campaign, reporters Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman and Nicholas Fandos include these two paragraphs:

In late October, in response to questions from The Times, law enforcement officials acknowledged the investigation but urged restraint. They said they had scrutinized some of Mr. Trump’s advisers but had found no proof of any involvement with Russian hacking. The resulting article, on Oct. 31, reflected that caution and said that agents had uncovered no “conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government.”

The key fact of the article — that the F.B.I. had opened a broad investigation into possible links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign — was published in the 10th paragraph.

That’s one heck of a concession: We buried the lead! In their book “Russian Roulette,” authors Michael Isikoff and David Corn report that editors at the New York Times “cast the absence of a conclusion as the article’s central theme rather than the fact of the investigation itself,” contrary to the wishes of the reporters.

The article in question was published on Oct. 31, 2016, and it has received a great deal of hindsight-aided scrutiny for the role it may have played in easing voters’ concerns about ties between Donald Trump and Russia. Under the bylines of Eric Lichtblau and Steven Lee Myers, the story, headlined “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia,” hit the public sphere just as other outlets — Slate and Mother Jones — published reports that began poking at the outlines of possible collusion.

But will the Times apologize to Hillary Clinton and the American people?

Those are my offerings for today; what stories are you following?

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Lazy Saturday Reads: This Is Our Reality Now

What might have been.

Good Morning!!

The news is ugly today. The “president” calls other countries “shitholes” as he works to turn the United States into a “shithole” full of ignorant white people who live in fear of anyone who doesn’t look and think exactly as they do. On top of the “president’s” classless vulgarity and racism, it looks like next we’re going to be subjected to examinations of the “president’s” degrading sexual history.

This nightmare reality we are living in might have been prevented if only the media weren’t populated by numerous misogynist men who prey on naive young women and at the same time enjoy mocking strong, competent women like Hillary Clinton when they dare to pursue their ambitious dreams.

In the wake of the *shitstorm* over the “president’s” vile and ignorant comments in a meeting about immigration, it looks as if one of the worst media misogynist could finally get his comeuppance.

The Cut: Exclusive: Watch Chris Matthews Joke About His ‘Bill Cosby Pill’ Before Interviewing Hillary Clinton.

On January 5, 2016, MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews interviewed Hillary Clinton in an Iowa fire station during the Democratic primary season. Network footage obtained by the Cut shows Matthews, during the interview setup, making a couple of “jokes” about Clinton. He asks, “Can I have some of the queen’s waters? Precious waters?” And then, as he waits for the water, he adds, “Where’s that Bill Cosby pill I brought with me?” Matthews then laughs, delighted with the line, for an extended moment, as the staffers around him react with disbelief, clearly uncomfortable. (Cosby has been accused of sexual impropriety by dozens of women, some of whom allege that they were drugged and raped by the comedian, some of them got addicted to drugs so they went to a rehab center from firststepbh.com.)

“This was a terrible comment I made in poor taste during the height of the Bill Cosby headlines,” Matthews said to the Cut. “I realize that’s no excuse. I deeply regret it and I’m sorry.”

Really? Fuck you Tweety. It’s time for you to retire.

Back to The Cut:

Matthews has a long history of talking disparagingly about Hillary Clinton, whom he once called “witchy,”and often seems to channel what a hypothetical sexist Republican might say about a woman candidate: “she-devil,” “Madame Defarge.” In 2005, he wondered whether the troops would “take the orders” from a (female) President Clinton. “Is she hemmed in by the fact that she’s a woman and can’t admit a mistake,” he asked in 2006, “or else the Republicans will say, ‘Oh, that’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind,’ or ‘another fickle woman’? Is her gender a problem in her ability to change her mind?” He once pinched her cheekfollowing an interview, and, though he later apologized, on another occasion suggested that she only got as far as she did on the political stage because her husband had “messed around.”

We’re all familiar with Tweety’s garbage talk. To paraphrase Trump: “Take him out!”

Also worth reading, tweets by Matthew Gertz of Media Matters. A couple of examples:

That’s part of a long thread about Matthews ugly sexist remarks about Clinton you can read on Twitter.

And now let’s check out some of the latest stories about the “president” Chris Matthews and his kind helped put in the White House.

Trump’s racism

The New York Times Editorial Board on the “president’s” “shithole” shitstorm: Donald Trump Flushes Away America’s Reputation.

Where to begin? How about with a simple observation: The president of the United States is a racist. And another: The United States has a long and ugly history of excluding immigrants based on race or national origin. Mr. Trump seems determined to undo efforts taken by presidents of both parties in recent decades to overcome that history.

Mr. Trump denied making the remarks on Friday, but Senator Richard Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who attended the meeting, said the president did in fact say these “hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly.”

Of course he did. Remember, Mr. Trump is not just racist, ignorant, incompetent and undignified. He’s also a liar.

Even the president’s most sycophantic defenders didn’t bother denying the reports. Instead they justified them. Places like Haiti really are terrible, they reminded us. Never mind that many native-born Americans are descended from immigrants who fled countries (including Norway in the second half of the 19th century) that were considered hellholes at the time.

Read the rest at the NYT link. How appropriate that the headline contains the word “flushes.”

Adam Serwer at The Atlantic: Trump Puts the Purpose of His Presidency Into Words.

Francis Amasa Walker had fought to preserve the Union in the Grand Army of the Republic, but by 1896 he saw its doom in the huddled masses coming from Eastern Europe. The “immigrants from southern Italy, Hungary, Austria, and Russia,” Walker lamented in The Atlantic, were “beaten men from beaten races; representing the worst failures in the struggle for existence,” people who had “none of the ideas and aptitudes which fit men to take up readily and easily the problem of self-care and self-government, such as belong to those who are descended from the tribes that met under the oak-trees of old Germany to make laws and choose chieftains.”

More than a century later President Donald Trump would put it differently, as he considered immigration from Africa, wondering, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” instead suggesting that America take in more immigrants from places like Norway.

These remarks reflect scorn not only for those who wish to come here, but those who already have. It is a president of the United States expressing his contempt for the tens of millions of descendants of Africans, most of whose forefathers had no choice in crossing the Atlantic, American citizens whom any president is bound to serve. And it is a public admission of sorts that he is incapable of being a president for all Americans, the logic of his argument elevating not just white immigrants over brown ones, but white citizens over the people of color they share this country with.

Please go read the whole thing.

Philip Kennicott at The Washington Post: What did the men with Donald Trump do when he spoke of ‘shithole countries’?

Over the past year, as our political culture has grown more coarse and corrupt, I’ve felt different things: sometimes, anger; often, bitter resignation; and occasionally, a bemused sense of pure absurdity. But the past two nights I have actually wept. Why now? Why in response to these particular prompts? A confused and ailing woman in a thin medical gown was tossed to the roadside in freezing weather by security guards from the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus in Baltimore. Who orders such a thing, and why would anyone carry out that order? Then, the president of the United States calls Haiti, El Salvador and African nations “shithole” countries. Who says that kind of thing? Who thinks it? Who listens to it without reflexive outrage?

Back to the Post article:

According to a few of the president’s defenders, this is what we all really think. “This is how the forgotten men and women of America talk at the bar,” said a Fox News host, imputing to ordinary Americans sentiments they wouldn’t suffer to be said at their own dinner tables. There was the usual talk about “tough” language instead of talking about this course which helps improve language, as if using racist language was merely candor or an admirable impatience with euphemism.

His defenders seemed to say that if the president says things that we would be ashamed even to think, he is somehow speaking a kind of truth. But while there may be countries that are poor and suffer from civil discord, there are no “shithole” countries, not one, anywhere on Earth. The very idea of “shithole” countries is designed to short-circuit our capacity for empathy on a global scale.

These two incidents, in Baltimore and in the Oval Office, seem related — inhumane indifference from a hospital and blatant bigotry from the president — which is even more troubling. They are about who is on what side of the door, or the wall, or any other barrier that defines the primal “us and them” that governs so much of the worst of our human-made world. When Trump called disfavored countries “shitholes,” he was indulging the most lethal and persistent tribalism of all: pure, unabashed racism. After a candidacy and now a presidency marked by implications of racism, the president has grown more comfortable with speaking in overtly racist terms, condemning whole countries and their people for not being more like “Norway,” one of the whitest countries on Earth….

Remarks like these from the president are still shocking but hardly surprising, given the frequency with which they occur. What I want to know is how the men in the room with him reacted. This is the dinner table test: When you are sitting and socializing with a bigot, what do you do when he reveals his bigotry? I’ve seen it happen, once, when I was a young man, and I learned an invaluable lesson. An older guest at a formal dinner said something blatantly anti-Semitic. I was shocked and laughed nervously. Another friend stared at his plate silently. Another excused himself and fled to the bathroom. And then there was the professor, an accomplished and erudite man, who paused for a moment, then slammed his fist on the table and said, “I will never listen to that kind of language, so either you will leave, or I will leave.” The offender looked around the table, found no allies and left the gathering. I don’t know if he felt any shame upon expulsion.

Again, please go read the rest.

On the Trump scandal front:

Raw Story: Haitian government claims ousted dictator ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier laundered stolen money through Trump Tower.

Trump and Baby Doc

More than a fifth of Trump’s condominiums in the U.S. have been purchased since the 1980s in secretive cash transactions that fit a Treasury Department definition of suspicious transactions, reported Buzzfeed News.

Records show more than 1,300 Trump condos were purchased through shell companies, which allow buyers to shield their finances and identities, and without a mortgage, which protects buyers from lender inquiries.

Those two characteristics raise alarms about possible money laundering, according to statements issued in recent months by the Department of Treasury, which has investigated transactions just like those all over the country….

According to the Buzzfeed News report, the Haitian government complained in the 1980s that former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier laundered money stolen from the Caribbean nation’s treasury by purchasing an apartment in Trump Tower.

Duvalier, nicknamed “Baby Doc,” was overthrown in 1986, but three years earlier used a Panamanian shell company called Lasa Trade and Finance to buy apartment 54-K in Trump’s Manhattan tower for $446,875 cash.

Trump, the future U.S. president, signed the deed of sale.

I tried to read the Buzzfeed story yesterday, but it got to be too much to deal with. Now I plan to go read it carefully.

CNN: James O’Keefe says Trump asked him to go on birther-linked mission.

James O’Keefe

Donald Trump in 2013 asked James O’Keefe, the controversial conservative filmmaker, if he could “get inside” Columbia University and obtain President Obama’s sealed college records, according to a passage in O’Keefe’s forthcoming book, a copy of which was reviewed by CNN.

O’Keefe, a guerrilla filmmaker whom critics have decried for his tactics and who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for entering federal property in 2010 under false pretenses, writes in “American Pravda: My Fight for Truth in the Era of Fake News” that during a meeting in New York City Trump complimented his ACORN sting videos (“That pimp and hooker thing you did, wow!”). But, O’Keefe writes, Trump “was a man with a plan” and “did not agree to this meeting to sing my praises.” [….]

According to O’Keefe, Trump “suspected Obama had presented himself as a foreign student on application materials to ease his way into New York’s Columbia University, maybe even Harvard too, and perhaps picked up a few scholarships along the way.”

O’Keefe wrote that during the 2013 meeting Trump suggested O’Keefe infiltrate Columbia and obtain the sealed records: “‘Nobody else can get this information,'” O’Keefe quoted Trump as saying. “‘Do you think you could get inside Columbia?'”

Read more at CNN.

The Washington Post: After drubbing by media, Trump’s ambassador to the Netherlands apologizes for anti-Muslim remarks.

Pete Hoekstra and Trump

The embattled U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Hoekstra apologized Friday for making unsubstantiated anti-Muslim claims at a conference in 2015, after his first week in the post was clouded by questions about the incendiary statements.

Hoekstra, a former Republican congressman from Michigan and recent political appointee, made the apology during an interview Friday with De Telegraaf, one of the largest Dutch newspapers, at the end of a particularly rough introduction for the new ambassador.

“Looking back, I am shocked I said that,” he told the newspaper. “It was a wrong statement. It was wrong.”

Hoekstra made the remarks in question during a conference on terrorism hosted by the right-wing David Horowitz Freedom Center. He talked about the supposed “chaos” brought to Europe by immigrants from Islamic countries and repeated a baseless theory about so-called “no-go zones” that is popular in right-wing media.

“Chaos in the Netherlands. There are cars being burned. There are politicians that are being burned,” Hoekstra said at the time. “With the influx of the Islamic community — and yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands. All right? There are no-go zones in France.”

Considering the quality of people Trump is appointing to diplomatic posts, I’m sure we can expect more embarrassing episodes like this.

So . . . I could go on and on. I deliberately left out the story of Trump and the two porn stars. It’s still difficult for me to believe this horrible man is POTUS. He has to go before he completely wrecks this country and destroys any hope of our regaining respect around the world.

What stories are you following?


Mos’ Scocious Monday Reads

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.”

Then, Bannon made a complete ass and ass kisser 0f himself trying to get back into the good graces of money and power.  He mea culpea’d to everyone that would listen.

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!!!


Lazy Saturday Reads

Resurrection, by Alma Thomas

Resurrection, by Alma Thomas

Good Afternoon!!

It’s day 29 of the illegimate presidency of Donald tRump and the chaos continues unabated. There are hundreds of stories I could share with you today, and it’s difficult to figure out which is most worthy of attention. I believe that Russian influence on our government has to be number one, but there are many other urgent issues as well. We can’t ignore the truly frightening story of what tRump is trying to do to undocumented immigrants. Of course there really are many more serious concerns, such as tRump’s refusal to accept advice from experts and his war on the free press. So here are a few stories to check out and I hope you’ll add more in the comments.

First, here’s a follow-up to what Dakinikat wrote yesterday about the increasingly public concerns about tRump’s mental health from Dr. Steven Beutler at The New Republic: A Medical Theory for Donald Trump’s Bizarre Behavior. In response to the many questions asked by political leaders, psychologists, and psychiatrists, he writes:

Physicians like me have also taken notice of Trump’s bizarre, volatile behavior. Given our experience, we can’t help but wonder if there’s a medical diagnosis to be made. After all, many medical conditions exhibit their first symptoms in the form of psychiatric issues and personality changes. One condition in particular is notable for doing so: Neurosyphilis.

Syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection, is sometimes referred to as “The Great Imposter” because of its ability to mimic many other conditions. It is commonly broken down into three stages. Primary syphilis is the most widely recognized form of the disease. It is characterized by the development of an ulcer, usually genital, a few weeks to a few months after sexual contact with an infected person. If the ulcer is not noticed, or not treated, it heals on its own, and the disease enters a dormant phase. But during this time, the bacteria—a spirochete called Treponema pallidum—spreads throughout the body without causing any symptoms.

Untitled, by Perle Fine

Untitled, by Perle Fine

A secondary stage of the disease is seen in some patients weeks or months later. These patients may develop a variety of systemic symptoms, such as rash, fever, and swollen glands. If not treated, the infection enters a prolonged latent phase, which can last decades. During this time, it is asymptomatic and it is not contagious. In some cases, this is followed by a tertiary stage, which is the most serious and may involve any organ in the body. It is seen 10 to 30 years after the initial infection, and is best known for causing neurologic and neuropsychiatric disease: Neurosyphilis.

The symptoms of neurosyphilis are protean, varying widely from one individual to another. Commonly recognized symptoms include irritability, loss of ability to concentrate, delusional thinking, and grandiosity. Memory, insight, and judgment can become impaired. Insomnia may occur. Visual problems may develop, including the inability of pupils to react to the light. This, along other ocular pathology, can result in photophobia, dimming of vision, and squinting. All of these things have been observed in Trump. Dementia, headaches, gait disturbances. and patchy hair loss can also be seen in later stages of syphilis.

Beutler of course admits that he cannot make a diagnosis without more information and access to tRump, but he argues that Neurosyphilis needs to be considered as a possibility along with psychological disorders because of tRump’s own public admissions about his sexual history.

Night Creatures, Lee Krasner

Night Creatures, Lee Krasner

Supposedly tRump is going to be interviewing candidates for the National Security Adviser position vacated by Michael Flynn. He has already been turned down by his top two candidates, Adm. Robert Harward and Gen. David Petraeus.

Last night Chris Hayes broke some news about the Harward turndown on his MSNBC show. Business Insider reports: Top national security adviser pick reportedly bailed after seeing Trump’s press conference.

MSNBC host Chris Hayes on Friday cited a former national security official familiar with Harward’s decision who said Harward asked that several demands be met as a condition of accepting the offer:

“Harward wanted to undo the fairly large changes the president had made to the NSC that had inserted Bannon into the process,” Hayes reported.

Citing his source, Hayes said “The White House did not offer Harward sufficient assurances that he would have such autonomy.” Harward wrote a letter declining the offer.

The White House reportedly sought to negotiate with Harward on the matter, which Harward was initially open to, Hayes said, but that changed a short time later.

Lucy, by Mary Abbott

Lucy, by Mary Abbott

On Petraeus, CBS News reports:

Sources close to retired Gen. David Petraeus say the White House eliminated the former CIA director from consideration for the open national security adviser post after he weighed in on the job during a conference in Germany this week.

“Whoever it is that would agree to take that position certainly should do so with some very, very significant assurances that he or she would have authorities over the personnel of the organization — that there would be a commitment to a disciplined process and procedures,” Petraeus said at the Munich Security Conference.

That pronouncement angered the White House as it deepened the sense the next national security adviser must assert authority over staff and the inter-agency process — highlighting the reason Vice Adm. Robert Harward refused to take the job earlier this week. Two sources confirmed to CBS News that Harward had demanded his own team, and the White House resisted.

Sources close to the situation said the White House is content for the time being with acting National Security Adviser Keith Kellogg and does not have a coherent replacement plan in place. Kellogg, a former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, had been serving as chief of staff and executive secretary of the National Security Council when he took over as the national security adviser.

Apparently, tRump is determined to control the makeup of the NSC, including keeping Steve Bannon on the principals committee. It’s hard to imagine any experienced candidate who would accept that.

Politico: Help wanted: National security adviser who can handle the chaos.

As President Donald Trump prepares to interview more candidates this weekend, accepting the influential policy-making post that oversees a policy staff of hundreds is now widely considered a high-risk gambit, according to current and former government officials and longtime veterans of the National Security Council.

Trump will be forced to “sweeten the deal,” predicted one former Republican NSC official, in order to enlist a high-caliber replacement following the resignation of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn….

Red Ikon, by Sonia Gechtoff

Red Ikon, by Sonia Gechtoff

“I would want to know that I had direct, unimpeded access to the president whenever I felt it was necessary,” said Nicholas Rostow, who served as the top legal adviser to both Colin Powell and Brent Scowcroft when they held the post under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, respectively.

“Historically that job has been one step removed from domestic politics, and the national security adviser and his or her staff have always prided themselves on looking at things through the prism of the national interest — and therefore slightly less political than other positions,” added Rostow, who now teaches political science at Colgate University.

A former high-ranking national security official in the George W. Bush administration, citing the perils of navigating Trump’s dueling power centers, was far more blunt about the challenges awaiting Trump’s would-be national security adviser: “No serious person would take that job. It’s a recipe for disaster.”

If you’re interested in the Russia connection, I hope you had a chance to watch Joy Reid’s show this morning. She had a great segment on Russia’s reaction to the firing their obvious ally Michael Flynn. Here’s a piece Reid wrote about the situation at The Daily Beast: It’s Not Too Early to Ask: Are Even the Russians Turning on Trump?

Trump’s utility to the Russians has never been in his wackiness. It’s been in the potential for him to deliver, as President, a different U.S. foreign policy; one that deemphasizes the traditional Western alliances and frees Russia to operate in the European theater as it pleases, with lifted sanctions and a few lucrative bilateral oil deals to boot.

But Trump as President hasn’t shown any inkling of the kind of competence or political skill—or the political capital—to do any of that. Even his Secretary of State, Exxon’s Rex Tillerson, has sounded a dubious note about the extent to which the United States will allow Moscow to flex its muscle around the world, which had to be a great disappointment to his good friend, “V. Putin,” as Trump labels him in tweets, using the common Russian nomenclature….

Russian leaders seemed palpably freaked out when Gen. Michael Flynn, clearly seen as Moscow’s main man in Washington, was forced out of the Trump administration amid revelations that he conducted secret foreign policy on the phone with the Russian ambassador over Christmas, then lied to the vice president about it. It’s pretty difficult to imagine that Flynn acted without the direction, or at least the approval, of his boss, the then-incoming president.

But more alarming than the phone calls was the fact that Flynn was considered potentially compromised by a foreign power, by the Director of National Intelligence, the acting attorney general of the United States, Sally Yates, and others, and that the White House was told as much and still waited to act. Now, the Kremlin has reportedly ordered Russian media outlets to dial back their glowing Trump coverage, amid uncertainty about what comes next.

Read the whole thing at the link.

Origin,1956 by Jay Defeo. Access. #1980.24 Berkeley Art Museum and Film Archive, Berkeley, CA., USA

Origin,1956 by Jay Defeo. Access. #1980.24
Berkeley Art Museum and Film Archive, Berkeley, CA., USA

More links to explore:

The New York Times: Trump Calls the News Media the ‘Enemy of the American People.’

The Atlantic: Donald Trump’s Plan to Outsource Immigration Enforcement to Local Cops.

The New York Times: Sun, Sand and Influence: For Mar-a-Lago Members, Proximity Is Power.

The New Yorker: Michael Flynn: General Chaos.

Politico: Leaked Trump tape: ‘You are the special people.’ Exclusive audio shows how Trump lets loose at his clubs — inviting guests to join him on staff interviews.

Buzzfeed: Source Says Dr. Ben Carson “Baffled” At Firing Of HUD Staffer. One of Carson’s closest aides was fired from the agency after writings critical of Trump from October resurfaced.

NPR: Trump’s Sons Heading To Dubai As Business Interests Continue To Expand Overseas.

The New York Times: The Downfall of Kellyanne Conway.

CBS News: Trump yells at CIA director over reports intel officials are keeping info from him.

CBS News: “Chill” in flow of intelligence to Trump White House, sources say.

Politico: Trump ignores ‘the grown-ups’ in his Cabinet. Foreign policy chiefs struggle to influence a wobbly White House.

Media Matters: Anti-Semites Praise Trump For Berating Jewish Reporter And Refusing To Condemn Anti-Semitism In Press Conference.

The Washington Post: John McCain just systematically dismantled Donald Trump’s entire worldview.

Note: The images in this post are by women abstract expressionist painters.

Have a great weekend, Sky Dancers!!


Lazy Saturday Reads

John Hurt as Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

John Hurt as Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Good Morning!!

We’ve lost another great actor. Famed British character actor John Hurt died yesterday at age 77. He had pancreatic cancer.

NBC News: Acting Legend John Hurt of ‘Midnight Express’ and ‘Elephant Man’ Dead at 77.

John Hurt, who appeared in “Midnight Express,” “The Elephant Man” and “Nineteen Eighty-Four” among many other films, has died at the age of 77, his publicist said….

With a career that stretches back more than 60 years, Hurt has long been a familiar face to moviegoers. In recent years, audiences recognized him as wandmaker Garrick Ollivander in the Harry Potter films, as the British dictator in “V for Vendetta” and as the disturbed Harold “Ox” Oxley in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

But Hurt is perhaps best known for his role that came some years ago. His role in “Midnight Express” earned him an Oscar nomination and his work as David Lynch’s “The Elephant Man” in 1980 and as the main character in “Nineteen Eighty-Four” provided him global name recognition.

In total Hurt was nominated for two Oscars and won four BAFTA Awards and a Golden Globe Award. In 2015, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II….

Hurt had a unique voice that provided him a rich voice acting career. From the animated films “Watership Down” and “The Lord of the Rings,” both made in 1978, to the popular BBC series “Merlin,” Hurt’s voice built entire worlds for audiences.

Hurt also held the dubious honor for the most onscreen deaths of any actor, according to a 2014 article by the Nerdist.

Orwell’s famous novel has been is selling like hotcakes on Amazon in the first week of the Trump presidency; perhaps the movie will do the same now.

John Hurt as Kane dies in "Alien."

John Hurt as Kane dies in “Alien.”

More on John Hurt from The New York Times:

Mr. Hurt was a rising stage actor in England in the 1960s but spent most of the remainder of his career compiling a long résumé in movies and on television. A chameleon of a performer, physically unimposing but with a rich, melodic voice, he played a number of leading roles, though he could never be described as a leading man. Critics often seemed challenged to explain the appeal of his presence.

In “The Naked Civil Servant” (1975), seen first on television in England, he was Quentin Crisp, a flame-haired raconteur and social butterfly whose forthright flamboyance as a gay man helped push the acceptance of homosexuality in Britain.

In a 1979 BBC mini-series, he was Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov, the brooding, conscience-stricken killer in “Crime and Punishment.” And in Michael Radford’s 1984 adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian classic “1984,” he was Winston Smith, the protagonist. Mr. Hurt’s pallor, fearful expression and prominent ears made him an especially feral and unromantic rebel.

“His countenance is fishy and bizarre,” Cintra Wilson wrote in Salon in 2004. “He has dark, verminous little eyes, a smirky little mouth full of nicotine-varnished teeth, and that British complexion that evokes a poached worm. Even in his early films, he has eye bags and looks like he put on a face that was at the very bottom of his laundry basket. His body, when it isn’t a little overindulged around the abdomen, is scrawny. He has never, in any role, looked particularly masculine. The characters he plays are generally weak, immoral, murderous, slimy or insane. Yet to gaze upon John Hurt, in almost any role, is to feel a drooly adoration; he is irresistible.”

I signed the petition demanding Donald Trump release his tax returns. If you haven’t signed it yet, I hope you will.

160514204454-clinton-ad-trump-tax-returns-none-business-cabrera-dnt-nr-00000510-exlarge-169

Huffington Post: Petition Demanding Donald Trump Release His Tax Returns Breaks White House Record.

A petition on the White House website asking President Donald Trump to release information about his tax returns has now received more signatures than any other petition in the system’s five-year history.

The petition demands that the federal government explain what it is doing to “immediately release Donald Trump’s full tax returns, with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance.” It garnered over 100,000 signatures within 24 hours of the president’s inauguration and has become the subject of a New York Times editorial.,

“The unprecedented economic conflicts of this administration need to be visible to the American people, including any pertinent documentation which can reveal the foreign influences and financial interests which may put Donald Trump in conflict with the emoluments clause of the Constitution,” states a brief description of the petition.

As of Thursday afternoon, the petition had over 368,000 signatures, surpassing the previous record of 367,180. The previous record-holder called for the United States government to “legally recognize the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.”

There are now more than 400,000 signatures.

The Daily Telegraph has an update on the Russian spy who was arrested and charged with treason in December: Mystery death of ex-KGB chief linked to MI6 spy’s dossier on Donald Trump.

An ex-KGB chief suspected of helping the former MI6 spy Christopher Steele to compile his dossier on Donald Trump may have been murdered by the Kremlin and his death covered up. it has been claimed.

Oleg Erovinkin, a former general in the KGB and its successor the FSB, was found dead in the back of his car in Moscow on Boxing Day in mysterious circumstances.

leg

Oleg Erovinkin

Oleg Erovinkin

Erovinkin was a key aide to Igor Sechin, a former deputy prime minister and now head of Rosneft, the state-owned oil company, who is repeatedly named in the dossier.

Erovinkin has been described as a key liaison between Sechin and Russian president Vladimir Putin. Mr Steele writes in an intelligence report dated July 19, 2016, he has a source close to Sechin, who had disclosed alleged links between Mr Trump’s supporters and Moscow.

The death of Erovinkin has prompted speculation it is linked to Mr Steele’s explosive dossier, which was made public earlier this month….

The Russian state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Erovinkin’s body was “found in a black Lexus… [and] a large-scale investigation has been commenced in the area. Erovinkin’s body was sent to the FSB morgue”.

Read more at the link.

Yesterday, tRump signed a cruel executive order to prevent refugees from several majority Muslim countries from coming to the U.S. Countries like Saudia Arabia where tRump has business interests weren’t on the list, but Syria and Iraq were. Voice of America reports:

The executive order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” calls for suspension of visas and other immigration benefits to citizens of “countries of particular concern.”

Two United Nations agencies issued a joint statement Saturday just hours after Trump’s order, saying “The needs of refugees and migrants worldwide have never been greater, and the U.S. resettlement program is one of the most important in the world.”

The U.N. Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration said they hope the “U.S. will continue its strong leadership role and long tradition of protecting those who are fleeing conflict and persecution.” The agencies said they “strongly believe that refugees should receive equal treatment for protection and assistance, and opportunities for resettlement, regardless of their religion, nationality or race.” ….

As a reason for the order, the document cites the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, which were carried out by 19 foreigners who obtained visas to enter the United States without difficulty. It refers to other terrorism-related crimes committed over the past 15 years by foreign nationals who entered the United States using either short-term visas — as visitors, students or temporary workers — or as refugees seeking resettlement in the U.S.

Of course everyone knows the majority of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. The order means that we will turn away Iraqis who helped us and are in danger in their own country.

refugees-demonstrating-in-migrant-camp-in-france

The New York Times: Fears That Trump’s Visa Ban Betrays Friends and Bolsters Enemies.

CAIRO — Across the Muslim world, the refrain was resounding: President Trump’s freeze on refugee arrivals and visa requests from seven predominantly Muslim countries will have major diplomatic repercussions, worsen perceptions of Americans and offer a propaganda boost to the terrorist groups Mr. Trump says he is targeting.

Mr. Trump’s stance has been evident since the early days of his campaign, when he advocated a “complete and total shutdown” of all Muslims entering the United States.

President Trump has since softened his language, casting his order on Friday as a way to keep terrorists, not Muslims, out of the United States.

“We don’t want them here,” Mr. Trump said as he signed the order at the Pentagon. “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas.”

But in interviews with dozens of officials, analysts and ordinary citizens across Muslim-majority countries, there was overwhelming agreement that the order issued Friday signaled a provocation: a sign that the American president sees Islam itself as the problem.

“I think this is going to alienate the whole Muslim world,” said Mouwafak al-Rubaie, a lawmaker and former Iraqi national security adviser in Iraq.

This heartless order by tRump will be challenged in the courts.

An Iraqi refugee family

An Iraqi refugee family

The New York Times: Refugees Detained at U.S. Airports, Prompting Legal Challenges to Trump’s Immigration Order.

President Trump’s executive order closing the nation’s borders to refugees was put into immediate effect Friday night. Refugees who were in the air on the way to the United States when the order was signed were stopped and detained at airports.

The detentions prompted legal challenges as lawyers representing two Iraqi refugees held at Kennedy Airport filed a writ of habeas corpus early Saturday in the Eastern District of New York seeking to have their clients released. At the same time, they filed a motion for class certification, in an effort to represent all refugees and immigrants who they said were being unlawfully detained at ports of entry.

Mr. Trump’s order, which suspends entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, created a legal limbo for individuals on the way to the United States and panic for families who were awaiting their arrival.

Mr. Trump’s order also stops the admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely, and it bars entry into the United States for 90 days from seven predominantly Muslim countries linked to concerns about terrorism. Those countries are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

It was unclear how many refugees and immigrants were being held nationwide in the aftermath of the executive order. The complaints were filed by a prominent group including the American Civil Liberties Union, the International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center, the National Immigration Law Center, Yale Law School’s Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization and the firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton.

Just reading the words “President Trump” makes me physically ill.

On bright spot is that the tRump people have walked back a number of the ridiculous plans they’ve proposed. Rachel Maddow did a good report on this last night. If you didn’t see it, I hope you’ll go watch it. And while you’re there, please check out Lawrence O’Donnell’s open monologue about the abject humiliations tRump has suffered over the past two days. I know everyone is demoralized, and I am too. But we have to keep hope alive.

Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and do your best do enjoy the weekend.


Thursday Reads: We Have Entered The Twilight Zone.

twilight_zone

Good Morning!!

Yesterday JJ posted a link to this brief post by Melissa McEwan:

I was managing to keep a lid on the bitterness about Hillary Clinton not being our president until I saw Donald Trump start to govern.

It’s going precisely the way I thought it would, so it’s not like I’m surprised.

It’s just that seeing it actually begin to unfold is triggering a deep well of resentment, and a profound grief, that I was only able to keep at bay until he was sworn in.

And now I cannot contain it. I am angry and resentful and grief-stricken in a way I have never felt before.

That’s exactly how I feel. The time from the election to the inauguration was bad enough, but now everything feels unreal and frightening. Last night on Rachel Maddow’s show, Dan Rather called it a “Twilight Zone feeling.” I think it’s likely that a majority of Americans feel this way. A man with the temperament and personality of a 6-year-old–sometimes a 3-year-old–is sitting in the White House watching Fox News and plotting the destruction of our country. And even more horrifying, he has the power to blow up the entire world if he so chooses.

I recall feeling desperate and enraged after the Supreme Court handed the presidency to George W. Bush, but this is so much worse. I feel anxious and on-edge all the time. I’m afraid to get too far from my news sources for fear that he will do something drastic; and even if I try to escape into a book or TV show or video game I just can’t shake this feeling of everything being out-of-kilter. The only difference I can see between tRump and a dictator like Kim Jong Un is that we have a few checks and balances in place–for now–to keep our child-leader from killing or jailing his critics.

Did the photographer put that shadow "mustache" in deliberately?

Did the photographer put that shadow “mustache” in deliberately?

Apparently the DC police feel empowered to arrest and charge journalists now. The New York Times reports: Felony Charges for Journalists Arrested at Inauguration Protests Raise Fears for Press Freedom.

At least six journalists were charged with felony rioting after they were arrested while covering the violent protests that took place just blocks from President Trump’s inauguration parade in Washington on Friday, according to police reports and court documents.

The journalists were among 230 people detained in the anti-Trump demonstrations, during which protesters smashed the glass of commercial buildings and lit a limousine on fire.

The charges against the jouMexirnalists — Evan Engel, Alexander Rubinstein, Jack Keller, Matthew Hopard, Shay Horse and Aaron Cantu — have been denounced by organizations dedicated to press freedom. All of those arrested have denied participating in the violence.

“These felony charges are bizarre and essentially unheard of when it comes to journalists here in America who were simply doing their job,” said Suzanne Nossel, the executive director of Pen America. “They weren’t even in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were in the right place.”

Carlos Lauria, a spokesman and senior program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, called the charges “completely inappropriate and excessive,” and the organization has asked that they be dropped immediately.

“Our concern is that these arrests could send a chilling message to journalists that cover future protests,” Mr. Lauria added.

Witnesses reported that sweeping arrests during the parade targeted rioters, protesters and journalists indiscriminately. A lawyer representing dozens of people arrested, Mark Goldstone, told The Associated Press that the police had “basically identified a location that had problems and arrested everyone in that location.”

WTF?!

Yesterday, tRump began pressing forward with his promised Muslim ban, his fantasy border wall, and his threat to “defund” sanctuary cities by issuing a series of executive orders. He also threatened to reopen CIA “black sites” and reinstate Bush-era torture techniques. On Twitter, he even threatened to send Federal troops into Chicago to crack down on crime!

This isn’t creeping fascism; it’s galloping fascism.

The good news is that the White House and government agencies are leaking like crazy. Vox obtained leaked copies of draft executive orders: Read leaked drafts of 4 White House executive orders on Muslim ban, end to DREAMer program, and more. Yesterday the White House released two of the orders that were exactly like the drafts; therefore Vox decided to report on the others.

The two orders released today by the Trump administration, and delivered yesterday by our source, start the process of building President Trump’s famous “wall,” and make it easier for immigration agents to arrest, detain, and deport unauthorized immigrants at the border and in the US. Those policies are explained in detail here.

The four remaining draft orders obtained by Vox focus on immigration, terrorism, and refugee policy. They wouldn’t ban all Muslim immigration to the US, breaking a Trump promise from early in his campaign, but they would temporarily ban entries from seven majority-Muslim countries and bar all refugees from coming to the US for several months. They would make it harder for immigrants to come to the US to work, make it easier to deport them if they use public services, and put an end to the Obama administration program that protected young “DREAMer” immigrants from deportation.

 In all, the combined documents would represent one of the harshest crackdowns on immigrants — both those here and those who want to come here — in memory.

Read the rest at Vox.

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Last night, ABC News ran an interview with tRump conducted by David Muir. I haven’t watched the whole thing yet, but the clips I’ve seen are terrifying. The interview confirmed what we already know–that tRump is a childish, ignorant buffoon who is clearly incompetent to hold any public office, much less be POTUS.

The Washington Post has published the entire interview with annotations by Aaron Blake. I can’t bring myself to post excerpts, but please read the whole thing at the Post. You watch the video there too if you can stand it.

tRump is running around saying dangerous things, apparently without even consulting the Cabinet members who would be charged with carrying out his orders.

Politico: Mattis, Pompeo stunned by CIA ‘black sites’ report.

Two of the officials who will be in charge of carrying out President Donald Trump’s terrorism detainee policies, Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, were “blindsided” by reports of a draft executive order that would require the CIA to reconsider using interrogation techniques that some consider torture, according to sources with knowledge of their thinking.

Lawmakers in both parties denounced the draft order on Wednesday even as White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he had “no idea where it came from” and that it is “not a White House document.”

It’s unclear who wrote the draft order or whether Trump will sign it, though members of Congress in both parties were taking that prospect seriously on Wednesday.

Some members of Congress said the document raised the specter of Trump following through on campaign vows to bring back waterboarding and other George W. Bush-era torture practices, which many lawmakers consider a shameful chapter of U.S. history.

The document, obtained and published by The New York Times and Washington Post, calls for the director of national intelligence to review whether to bring back the CIA’s infamous black-site prisons. Those were secret overseas facilities where the CIA carried out brutal interrogations of terrorism suspects from 2001 to 2006, as documented in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 2014 investigation into the issue.

The draft order says terrorism suspects in U.S. custody will not be subject to “torture” or “degrading treatment.” But it characterizes a 2016 law barring torture as “a significant statutory barrier” and would revoke an executive order signed by President Barack Obama stating that suspects must be treated in compliance with international law.

Unbelievable.

Ku Klux Klan on a Ferris Wheel--a metaphor for tRump World?

Ku Klux Klan on a Ferris Wheel–a metaphor for tRump World?

I’m going to give you the rest of the news in a link dump, because I’m just too traumatized to do more.

Vox: The best theory for why Trump tells such obvious lies.Tru

WaPo: People were taking Trump seriously. Now they’re starting to take him literally.

WaPo: Maybe Trump isn’t ‘lying’. Jennifer Rubin suggests that Trump may not be able to tell truth from fantasy.

WaPo: In his first major TV interview as president, Trump is endlessly obsessed with his popularity.

NYT: Clinics for World’s Vulnerable Brace for Trump’s Anti-Abortion Cuts.

New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman asks “Is Donald Trump’s War With CNN Personal?”

Nina Burleigh at Newsweek: Trump White House Senior Staff Have Private RNC Email Accounts.

NYT: As Trump Orders Wall, Mexico’s President Considers Canceling U.S. Trip.

CNN: Trump to Mexican president: Better to cancel our meeting.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and try to stay calm just for today. I love you all.


Thursday Reads

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Good Morning!!

Did you watch Donald Trump’s speech last night? If you didn’t, I suggest you do so today. This man is a danger to our country and to the world, and our clueless media is largely playing down the horrific nature of what was broadcast live from Phoenix, Arizona last night.

What we saw was essentially a Klan rally dressed up as a “major policy speech.” Are the “journalists” in this country so young and historically ignorant that they can’t see the parallels between what is happening here and in Europe right now and events in Europe in the 1930s?

I watched the speech in shock and horror, and I was even more shocked by the calm reactions I saw on the cable shows afterward. Lawrence O’Donnell claimed that Trump was continuing to back off his threat to deport the 11 million undocumented people and their families and that his renamed “deportation task force” was different from the “deportation force” he had previously described. Steve Kornaki’s show at 11PM struck a similar tone. In addition they invited guests like Bill Kristol and Hugh Hewitt on their shows to push the narrative that yesterday was a great day for Trump and his campaign.It was if watching a madman scream at the top of his lungs about “illegal aliens” destroying our country and how he would crack down was no big deal to these people.

Many reporters seemed deeply impressed by Trump’s charade in Mexico City yesterday, calling him “presidential” and “statesmanlike.” When the speech finally came last night, they were apparently primed to continue seeing Trump in that way. I’ve never seen anything like it. What on earth is wrong with these people?

Of course I wasn’t alone in my reaction to Trump’s speech, as you can see from some of the tweets above. But many in the media still seem anxious to normalize Trump as they work to tear down Hillary Clinton with attacks on her emails the Clinton Foundation. More twitter reactions:

Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton has been essentially erased from the campaign coverage. She gave a speech to the American Legion yesterday that turned out to be nothing but a blip in the midst of the wall-to-wall coverage of Trump’s quick trip to Mexico and his insane speech last night. He was on TV again with his own speech to the American Legion. Where is Hillary? She and her campaign are going to have to step up soon or all could be lost.

Hillary has been focusing on raising money and attracting Republicans and independents to support her. It’s way past time for her to focus on talking about her own liberal agenda. When is the last time she talked about guns and gun violence, for example? And she is going to have to deal directly with the attacks on the Clinton Foundation and the lies about her emails and server. I don’t know what strategy would work, but what she is doing right now is not helping.

So what did Trump say last night?

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Nolan D. McCaskill at Politico: Trump promises wall and massive deportation program.

Donald Trump on Wednesday squashed any speculation that he might soften his immigration position to reach new voters in the final stretch of the 2016 campaign, delivering a hawkish, hardline, and true-to-his-roots border platform and vowing that on Day One of his administration, the United States would launch a mammoth deportation program and begin construction of a wall.

Emerging from a hastily organized meeting with Mexico’s president, the Republican nominee flew to Arizona and not only renewed his pledge that America’s southern neighbor would fund an impenetrable, beautiful border wall but said it would be built in “record time” and at a “reasonable price.”

“We will build a great wall along the southern border — and Mexico will pay for the wall,” Trump said. “100 percent. They don’t know it yet, but they’re gonna pay for the wall.”

Trump hailed the “great people and great leaders” of Mexico following his visit to Mexico City but insisted, “they’re going to pay for the wall.”

“On Day One, we will begin working on an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall,” Trump said during a major speech on immigration in Phoenix after weeks of waffling on the issue that has been core to his campaign. “We will use the best technology, including above- and below-ground sensors. That’s the tunnels. Remember that. Above and below. Above- and below- ground sensors, towers, aerial surveillance and manpower to supplement the wall, find and dislocate tunnels and keep out criminal cartels and Mexico, you know that, will work with us. I really believe it. Mexico will work with us. I absolutely believe it.”

It seems pretty clear to what Trump is saying. He even made it clear that any undocumented person who is arrested will be shipped out, without trial. So he’s not just talking about drug dealers or murderers. He’s still telling tales to his followers about a wall that will never be built and that he will somehow make Mexico pay for it. Will that involve a war?

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James Hohmann at The Washington Post provides a succinct summary of the policy proposals in Trump’s immigration speech:

In case you missed it, here’s a recap of what Trump said:

  • He declared that he will build a “Great Wall.” (“On day one, we will begin working on an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall.”)
  • He insisted “Mexico will pay” for it: “One-hundred percent. They don’t know it yet, but they’re going to pay for the wall.”
  • He suggested that he’d like to deport his opponent. “Maybe they’ll be able to deport her.”
  • He said Dwight Eisenhower’s “Operation Wetback” did not go far enough. (He name-checked Ike but did not say what the strategy was called.)
  • He reiterated that he will indeed create “a deportation task force” and promised to deport two million “criminal aliens” starting on “day one.”
  • He said undocumented immigrants seeking legal status would first have to leave the country and try to return lawfully. “There will be no amnesty,” he said. “You cannot obtain legal status or become a citizen of the United States by illegally entering our country. Can’t do it. … Anyone who has entered the United States illegally is subject to deportation.” He did not use the term “self-deportation,” but that’s exactly what he called for: “You can call it ‘deport’ if you want. The press doesn’t like that term. You can call it whatever the hell you want.”
  • He claimed “countless Americans” are “victims of violence” by illegal immigrants who are “dangerous, dangerous, dangerous criminals”: “We will issue detainers for illegal immigrants arrested for any crime whatsoever.”
  • He said government has “no idea” how many undocumented immigrants are on U.S. soil: “It could be 30 million.”
  • “We’re like the big bully that keeps getting beat up,” Trump explained. “We also have to be honest about the fact that not everyone who seeks to join our country will be able to successfully assimilate. Sometimes it’s just not going to work out. It’s our right, as a sovereign nation to choose immigrants that we think are the likeliest to thrive and flourish and love us.”

Read the full transcript here, and watch the whole thing for yourself here.

More stories to check out:

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Think Progress: America’s ‘Most Prolific Conspiracy Theorist’ Reveals He’s Now Advising Donald Trump. Yes, they are talking about Alex Jones.

Charles Blow: The Duplicity of Donald Trump.

Joseph Cannon: Let’s predict the day Trump pulls ahead. {{shudder}}

Benjy Sarlin at NBC News: Trump Meets With Mexican President but Dispute Emerges Over Wall.

Jorge Ramos at the WaPo: Jorge Ramos: Peña Nieto was meek with Trump. Latino voters in the U.S. won’t be.

Politico: Several Hispanic Trump surrogates reconsider support.

Nate Silver: Election Update: As The Race Tightens, Don’t Assume The Electoral College Will Save Clinton.

Wall Street Journal: Donald Trump Dealt With a Series of People Who Had Mob Ties.

ABC News: FBI Warns Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Staffers to Beware of Foreign Spies in US.

Josh Marshall: Blood and Race and Trump.

Politico: Vicente Fox on Trump: ‘Please wake up, America.’

Crooks and Liars: Former Mexican President on Trump’s Visit: He Is Lying!

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.