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

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

Well, it’s Monday Sky Dancers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As NBC News reported in May:

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

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

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

As one of the judges asked the attorney:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some highlights:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The RNC researchers identified some striking “Red Flags.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

What’s on your reading and blogging list today!