Nel's New Day

July 19, 2018

The News for July 19, 2018

Today is the 170th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention, when about 300 people–mostly women–gathered to address “the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of woman.” They persisted, and one of those who attended managed to vote for the first time when women gained the right to vote 72 years later. On this day 170 years later, the current administration is attempting to rapidly reverse the accomplishments of the 21st century.  Following is an overview of a few political highlights for today, July 19, 2018:

Once again, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has been forced to back down, this time from his anti-U.S. intention to turn U.S. government employees over to Vladimir Putin. As the Senate prepared to vote on a resolution opposing DDT’s honoring Putin’s request, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated that DDT “disagrees” with the “proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin.” He had suggested swapping the 12 Russians indicted last week for 11 current former U.S. officials. The resolution stopping many government officials from being turned over to Russia for questioning passed the Senate by 98-0. Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) were absent for the vote. Republicans did reject efforts to support the intelligence community’s assessment, Mueller’s probe, and implementation of congressional sanctions. None of these resolutions would have been binding on DDT.

Republicans plan to keep Russian meddling: the House refused to increase election security spending. The GOP prefers voter ID to stop non-existent voter fraud and repress non-GOP voting. The commission administering the election security grant program is missing half its four members. Without a quorum, it cannot approve testing of voting systems for required standards, and the patchwork of voting systems has differing degrees of reliability. It’s a policy to “Keep American Republican.”

Two years ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stopped President Obama from making public the information about Russia’s hacking and election interference with accusations that it was a partisan move. No more. Despite the indifference of Republicans in Congress, DOJ’s Rod Rosenstein has a new policy to tell the U.S. companies, organizations, and others who are being attacked by foreign hacking and disinformation campaigns. He said, “The American people have a right to know if foreign governments are targeting them with propaganda.” A Microsoft executive told the audience at the Aspen Security Forum today that Russia has target at least three candidates this year.

In another interview at the Aspen Security Forum, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen explained that removal of thousands of children from their parents is “to protect children.” She added that the courts—that actually require her to reunite children—are preventing families from staying together. In another noble move on her part, “we give a pregnancy test at DHS to every girl over 10.” It is her agency that imprisons pregnant girls to keep them from having any abortions unless courts manage to allow them to see doctors. Her claim that DHS gives aid to members of radical extremist groups who want to be non-violent is negated by her administration rolling back funds for this rehabilitation. The outstanding part of her responses was the support for “both sides” being to blame for the Charlottesville violence: “It’s not that one side is right, one side is wrong.” The official DDT administration position is that white supremacists are not wrong.

DDT has found another way to get rid of people he considers undesirable. Applicants for asylum visas no longer have 30 days to take care of missing or inaccurate information on their applications. The new policy is to immediately deport them with no advance warning—just a final statutory denial. They will be treated like criminals, who are also deported on a fast-tracked basis. [If only we could automatically reject DDT’s nominees who provide forms with missing or incomplete information!] The new policy politely states that it is “not intended to penalize filers for innocent mistakes.” AG Jeff Sessions also disallows domestic and gang violence claims as bases for asylum; those seeking asylum must provide evidence that they fear persecution based on race, religion, nationality, social group, or political opinion. Fear of death doesn’t count.

On Fox’s Tucker Carlson show, DDT accused Montenegro of being responsible for starting World War III if it joins NATO because its people are “very aggressive.” Montenegro’s Prime Minister Dusko Markovic came into the limelight a year ago when DDT aggressively pushed him out of his path at the 2017 NATO meeting. [Full video here.] The country of 630,000 alienated Russia because it planned to join NATO: the Kremlin may have meddled in its elections, and pro-Russian militants planned a failed 2016 coup. NATO has an agreement that the other 28 members will support any one member attacked from outside. In its 69-year history, that agreement has been invoked only once—when 28 members went to the aid of the United States after the 9/11 attack. NATO members are still in Afghanistan after 17 years of the U.S. war there.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convinced DDT to drop out of the Iran deal, according to a video of Netanyahu’s speech to his Likud party.

Poverty is no longer a problem in the United States. At least, that’s what DDT’s administration claims. A few facts they missed:

  • About 40.6 million people—12.7 percent of the population—lived below the official poverty line in 2016.
  • The Supplemental Poverty Measure shows that 14.5 percent of people in the U.S. are impoverished.
  • Over 20 percent of children in the U.S. live in poverty.
  • The United States was second only to Israel of the richest countries with the percentage of people in poverty in 2014.

DDT maintains that income data doesn’t reflect poverty because poorer people underreport their income, and interviews about consumption make poverty in the U.S. disappear. In that way, DDT can declare “mission accomplished” on the War on Poverty and do away with the entire safety net. Refuting this claim is a study tracking economic adversity, including reports of difficulty in paying for food, utility bills, rent, or medical care that comes out about the same as official poverty rates. DDT’s method shows a decline in poverty as more households struggle with costs of food and shelter. The chart below shows the how DDT’s system skews the facts:

Reasons for the inaccuracy of DDT’s report:

  • Poor people finance their spending with debt—payday loans, second mortgages they can’t afford, etc.
  • The cost of living for DDT’s report is adjusted more slowly than the official Consumer Price Index, making household spending appear to be growing faster.

EPA Scott Pruitt and his corruption may be gone, but the United States still has Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. After several reports of his illegally using taxpayer money, his own department’s IG is investigating the man responsible for protecting public lands about his real estate deal with Halliburton Chair Davi Lesar. The foundation run by Zinke and his wife granted Lesar’s real-estate development the permission to put a parking lot on land donated to the foundation for a Veteran’s Peace Park in Whitefish (MT). Zinke is also under investigation for a violation of the Hatch Act after tweeting himself wearing socks with DDT’s face and “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan. Halliburton is one of the world’s largest fracking and offshore drilling companies; Zinke repeatedly opened up federal lands and coastal waters for fossil fuel drilling.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), known for his frequently obnoxious grilling of Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, Peter Strzok, and others regarding their possible connections with foreign countries, has been revealed as a beneficiary of foreign monies for his election from his superpacs, including Great America PAC, that may also fund Russia’s attack on the U.S. election. The PACs’ major donors have direct ties with Cambridge Analytic, now defunct, that helped elect DDT through data collection, hacking, and social media manipulation. As chair of the Oversight Committee, Gowdy refused members 52 times to request subpoenas for interviews in the Russia probe. He will not be running for re-election.

ALEC, the powerful organization that writes conservative legislation for lawmakers, has lost ExxonMobil after Ford, Google, Microsoft, Coca-Cola and many others left the group. The biggest oil and gas company in the world followed BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips in abandoning the Koch Brothers’ group after a disagreement about an ALEC resolution that would ask the feds to reconsider its findings that greenhouse gasses are harmful to human health. A major contributor to the secretive organization since 1981, Exxon has given millions to promote the conservative corporate agenda. Its departure comes in the midst of state investigations into its connection with hiding evidence about its climate impact from its shareholders as well as the public.

The classic for today comes during an interview at the Aspen Security Forum when NBC journalist Andrea Mitchell tells Director of National Intelligence Director Dan Coats the breaking news that Vladimir Putin is coming to Washington this fall. The video is not to be missed. The best part may also be that McConnell said that Put will not be coming to Congress. I’m sure that DDT wants to be alone with Putin anyway. The question is how long Coats will keep his job.

And that’s just one day for DDT’s administration.

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DDT Sinks to Terrifying Low

For almost two years, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has claimed that he knows nothing about Russia meddling in the presidential election and the search into the issue is a “witch hunt.” The New York Times has now reported that DDT received highly classified intelligence including texts and emails from Russian military officers showing Vladimir Putin personally ordered cyberattacks to move the election toward DDT. CIA Director John O. Brennan, National Intelligence Director James R. Clapper Jr., and National Security Agency Adm. Michael S. Rogers briefed DDT at Trump Tower on January 6, 2017. At that time, Rogers was also commander of the U.S. Cyber Command. Almost a dozen people, including FBI Director James Comey, either attended the meeting or were later briefed on it. After the briefing, Comey privately told DDT about the “Steele dossier,” that contained sensational stories about DDT’s visit to Moscow.

One source to the evidence was so sensitive that Brennan kept the reference to the person from the Presidential Daily Brief and instead sent reports from the source separately to President Obama and a few top national security aides.

Despite this information, DDT finished his meeting with Putin last Monday by standing next to him at a press conference and again saying that he believes Putin’s denial of Russian interference in the U.S. election. Public outcry caused him to revise his statement, but he continued to support the Russian leader.

Also in January 2017, DDT was briefed about how the same Russians who meddled in the election, including the hacking and release of DNC emails, had been involved in cyberattacks on the State Department and White House unclassified email systems in 2014 and 2015 as well as an attack on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After the briefings, DDT issued a statement blaming “Russia, China and other countries, outside groups and countries” for cyberattacks against the U.S. government, businesses, and political organizations. He added, “There was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.”

Brennan and Clapper left the government on the day that DDT was inaugurated. He portrayed them as political hacks who had twisted intelligence as an excuse for Hillary Clinton’s election loss. According to evidence, however, Russia is still aggressive meddling despite his acceptance of Putin’s denial of interference. DDT has spent his 545 days in office shifting the topic of Russian meddling to Clinton’s computer server, promoting the false belief that she has broken the law. He claims that Russia is so good at cyberattacks that hackers could never be caught and denigrated the intelligence about the interference.

When cornered, DDT repeats,  “I have been much tougher on Russia than Obama, just look at the facts.”

The facts:

  • DDT constantly refuses to address Russia’s cyberattacks and election meddling, praises Vladimir Putin for his strong leadership, indicates warmth and trust toward Russia and Putin, and says that he is helpless because Putin denies any interference.
  • DDT continues to say that his intelligence agencies are wrong until cornered.
  • DDT only signed a congressional bill calling for new sanctions against Russia because it was veto-proof.
  • DDT failed to follow through on the sanctions.
  • DDT’s agencies and Congress forced DDT to fund for the European Reassurance Initiative, release a missile attack against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, approve arms sales to Ukraine, and put new sanctions on five Russians and Chechens because of their human rights abuses.

President Obama expelled Russian diplomats in December 2016, closed Russian compounds, and criticized Russia and Putin.

The GOP reflects DDT’s corruption. When David Klion wrote about the recent indictment of 12 Russians, he highlighted the allegation that on August 15, 2016, they “received a request for stolen documents from a candidate for the U.S. Congress” and that they “sent the candidate stolen documents related to the candidate’s opponent.” No names were available from the indictment, but Klion connected it to a Washington Post transcript of a June 2016 conversation among the House GOP leadership. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) stated that “the Russians hacked the DNC and got the opp research that they had on Trump” and speculated “there’s two people, I think, that Putin pays: [Representative Dana] Rohrabacher and Trump.” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) insisted that the discussion stay in the room and added, “What’s said in the family stays in the family.” When the comments were made public, Ryan claimed they were joking.

Klion pointed out that Rohrabacher wasn’t the only feasibility in the indictment but that the GOP leadership knew about the possibility, thought it was humorous, and failed to do anything about their knowledge. They appreciated Russia’s support for electing Republicans. In September 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) threatened to claim a public announcement of Russian interference as partisan politics. His blocking the publicity led to massive tax cuts for the rich—including himself—and a far-right Supreme Court majority. The GOP corruption has given Republicans the total control of the federal government.

This week, Russian national Maria Butina was indicted, arrested, and jailed without bail for operating as a foreign agent to gain influence in GOP political circles. Butina’s ties with the National Rifle Association and conservative religious organizations allows her to be the financial backbones of the congressional GOP. She is able to do with the elimination of campaign-finance laws, begun in Citizens United and furthered by DDT’s new guidelines for political donations. He eliminated the IRS rule requiring some nonprofit organizations to identify big donors—including the NRA and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity. The dark money in politics has gone completely black.

Former Republican George Will infuriated Fox far-righters such as Laura Ingraham when he wrote about DDT’s collusion with Russia. In DDT’s convoluted excuse for agreeing with Putin with a tortured explanation of saying “would” instead of “wouldn’t”—which may have caused the White House lights to cut out—he omitted the part of his script that he had “full faith and support for America’s intelligence agencies.” Crossed out on DDT’s script was the statement that “anyone involved” in the attack would be brought “to justice.” In saying that he believed his intelligence evidence that Russia interfered, he added, “it could be other people also.” Scribbled across the script in broad felt pen was “There was no colusion [sic].”

About DDT’s performance in Helsinki, Will wrote:

“Collusion with Russia is hiding in plain sight. We shall learn from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation whether in 2016 there was collusion with Russia by members of the Trump campaign. The world, however, saw in Helsinki something more grave—ongoing collusion between Trump, now in power, and Russia. The collusion is in what Trump says (refusing to back the United States’ intelligence agencies) and in what evidently went unsaid (such as: You ought to stop disrupting Ukraine, downing civilian airliners, attempting to assassinate people abroad using poisons, and so on, and on).”

Today, a reporter directly asked, “Is Russia still targeting the U.S.?” DDT said “No” and moved on to the next question. Later Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied, as shown in a video, when she claimed that he was saying “no” to more questions. Then the White House claimed that DDT was responding to a different question. DDT’s next excuse was that he blamed Putin personally, but indirectly, “because he’s in charge of the country.”

DDT is also continuing his practice of doctoring official White House transcripts, official records. In this case, he deleted the part of the Helsinki press conference in which Putin said that he wanted DDT to defeat Clinton and possibly said that he had sent people to make that happen. Reuters reporter Jeff Mason’s asked:

“President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?”

Putin’s translated broadcast answer:

“Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.”

Although this exchange is available on video, it’s missing in the White House version.

In DDT’s attempt to “Make Russia First,” two serious problems have emerged. No announcements were made in the United States about agreements in the meeting that has no record, but Russian officials declared “important verbal agreements,” including preservation of New Start and INF agreements, major bilateral arms control treaties, and a new arrangement or proposal about Syria. Senior military officials know nothing about DDT’s “agreements.” Spokeswoman Marina Zakharova at the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the unknown summit agreements implementation has begun:

 “Relevant instructions are being carried out, and diplomats are beginning to work on the outcomes.”

A horrifying result of the meeting is DDT’s suggestion that he might accept Putin’s offer to turn over U.S. citizens, including former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, for questioning in “illegal activities.” Today, Huckabee Sanders reported that DDT “said it was an interesting idea … He wants to work with his team and determine if there is any validity that would be helpful to the process.” Russia has released a list of 11 U.S. government members to be questioned.

In a terrifying authoritarian move, DDT is actually considering getting rid of people who criticize him by turning them over to Russia although there is no indication of wrongdoing.

July 16, 2018

Helsinki: A Day That Will Live in Infamy

“Trump traveled to Finland, defended an American adversary, took cheap shots at Americans, and rejected the judgment of American intelligence professionals.”

That was a summary of today’s brief meeting between Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, the man who may have given the presidency to DDT. 

[Five of DDT’s team from Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, on the left to DDT’s Chief of Staff John Kelly second from right all look as upset as many people watching the press conference.]

Three days before DDT journeys to Helsinki to present the United States as a gift to Vladimir Putin, 12 Russian intelligence officers were indicted with hacking the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign before release the stolen emails to “interfere in the 2016” election. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said he briefed DDT on the indictments earlier this week. Yet DDT continued to present the Russian scandal as a “witch hunt” and said that the Putin meeting would be “easier” than his participation in the NATO summit and visits in the UK. He also said that the DNC was to blame for the hacking because it didn’t have enough protection.

Hacking 76 emails occurred the same day—July 27, 2016—that DDT asked Russia to help his candidacy by finding the “missing emails. Russians also “hacked the website of a state board of elections and stole information related to approximately 500,000 voters, including names, addresses, partial social security numbers, dates of birth, and driver’s license numbers,” according to the indictment, as well as hacking “into the computers of a U.S. vendor supplying software that verified voter registration information for the 2016 U.S. elections.”

The Putin/DDT meeting followed DDT’s claim that the European Union is a “major global foe” to the U.S. About Putin, DDT had said:

“He’s a competitor. He’s been very nice to me the times I’ve met him. I’ve been nice to him. He’s a competitor. Somebody was saying, is he an enemy? He’s not my enemy. Is he a friend? No, I don’t know him well enough. But the couple of times I’ve gotten to meet him, we get along very well.”

DDT also referred to U.S. journalists as “the enemy of the people” while the reporters were on foreign soil. In commenting that both his parents were born in E.U. countries, DDT skipped over the fact that his grandfather was deported from Bavaria with his family because of DDT’s grandfather’s draft dodging. Nor did DDT tell the public that he told Theresa May to “sue the E.U. — not go into negotiations.”

An “ex-Republican” wrote:

“If Putin could have his wishes he’d wish for a  dysfunctional US – EU alliance, a breakup of NATO, a US trade war with Canada, Mexico, Europe and China, unenforced Russia sanctions, a widening US gap between rich and poor, more US investments in oil and coal, increased US debt and refusal to acknowledge Russian election hacking.”

What actually happened in Helsinki? Putin showed up late—just as DDT did for his dinner with UK PM Theresa May and tea with Queen Elizabeth II. Before the meeting, DDT blamed the U.S. for any problems with Russia. Putin said he didn’t have anything to do with the U.S. elections, and Trump agreed with him.  Asked if he wanted DDT to win the election, Putin said, “Yes, I did.” Putin also indicated that he told his people to help DDT win.

At the press conference, DDT sided with Russia over the U.S. law enforcement, saying that didn’t see “any reason” why Russia would interfere in the 2016 election. He also leaped into a question to Putin about Russian election meddling by rambling about Hillary Clinton’s email server and his electoral college votes:

 “My people came to me…they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be, but I really do want to see the server, but I have confidence in both parties…what happened to the server?”

Going into the one-on-one meeting, the participants differed in their hopes of achievement:

Putin: lift sanctions by the U.S. and its (former?) allies, pull back NATO forces near Russia’s borders, accept Syrian army deployment on the Israeli border, reinstate business as usual with Moscow, get the U.S. to acknowledge Russia’s influence over its former Soviet neighbors, and recognize Russia as a global player.

DDT: “start a discussion.”

A prime goal for the U.S. could be to address Russian meddling in U.S. elections, which continues, as well as Russian explorations in vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure and attempts to infiltrate energy, water, nuclear, and manufacturing sectors. Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, said that cyberattacks on the United States put the nation into as much danger as it was before 9/11. Yet DDT not only failed to criticize Russia for this meddling but also embrace the idea that Russia and U.S. work together in an investigation into these breaches—giving Russia more information to help them further meddle. [Coats issued a statement late today correcting DDT by stating that Russia definitely interfered with the U.S. election and continues its “efforts to undermine our democracy.”]

In the Helsinki meeting, DDT has continued his slogan of “Russia First.” He has abandoned U.S. international influence by leaving the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Iran nuclear deal, Paris Climate Agreement, and UN Human Rights Council while threatening to leave the World Trade Organization and NATO.  He has further weakened U.S. global power and expanded that of Russia by cutting the State Department budget and foreign aid. His bullying has increased Russia in Central America where Russia is providing aid, reopening military bases, and building a satellite-tracking station to spy on the U.S. His rejection of Cuba allows Cubans to turn back to Russia. And he has alienated all U.S. allies with trade tariffs and insults.

Before and during the Helsinki meeting, DDT showed nothing but weakness. His words showed helplessness in trying to get Putin to stop meddling—if, indeed, DDT might not believes Putin’s denials. DDT said, “What can I do” if Putin denies meddling. “I don’t see any reason why” Russia would interfere in the election, DDT also said. Russians made DDT wealthy; he cannot cross them.

DDT is winning Republicans over to Russia. Forty percent of them now see Russia as “an ally or friendly” to the U.S., almost twice as many as four years ago. Those Republicans include seven senators and one representative who traveled to Russia on the Fourth of July to agree with officials that Russian election meddling—if any—wasn’t any problem. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Homeland Security Committee chair, summarized their attitude by saying that Russian interference in U.S. elections is “not the greatest threat to our democracy,” and “we’ve blown it way out of proportion.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), copying DDT in calling the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt” and blaming Russian aggression on NATO, has also decided to go to Russia in search for “common ground.”

The conservative media disagrees with these legislators. DDT’s go-to people on Fox were dismayed with his “performance.”

  • Guest Mark Weinberg on Varney’s program: “Putin won. Trump missed the opportunity.”
  • Ashley Webster: “He outmaneuvered our president. I was very surprised. I thought Trump was going to
  • Neil Cavuto: “[The performance was] “disgusting.”
  • John Roberts: “There is a growing consensus across the land tonight … that the president threw the United States under the bus.”
  • Brian Kilmeade about DDT’s tweet about U.S. horrible relationship with Russia: “That’s by far the most ridiculous tweet of late.”
  • Brit Hume: “Trump is unable to see past himself.”

Ultra-right Drudge Report’s lead headline, “Putin Dominates in Hel,” was accompanied by DDT’s awkwardness.

Jay Nordlinger wrote for the conservative National Review:

“Putin’s Russia is a dictatorship that kills critics, violates borders, interferes in democratic elections, etc. — and that’s why relations between it and the United States, a great liberal democracy, are bad. Also, the Mueller team has just indicted twelve GRU agents. Does our president think that’s the fruit of a ‘Rigged Witch Hunt’?”

Other responses from conservatives:

  • Meghan McCain, John McCain’s daughter: “I’m horrified!”
  • Abby Huntsman, a conservative commentator and daughter of US ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman: “No negotiation is worth throwing your own people and country under the bus”.
  • Newt Gingrich: DDT’s statements on intelligence agencies are “the most serious mistake of his presidency.”

And GOP members of Congress:

  • Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE): “This is bizarre and flat-out wrong.”
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): ” I’d check the soccer ball [that Putin gave Trump] for listening devices and never allow it in the White House.”
  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): “Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin.”
  • Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC): “Vladimir Putin is not our friend and never has been.”
  • House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI): “There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world.
  • Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX): “I’ve seen Russian intelligence manipulate many people over my professional career and I never would have thought that the US President would become one of the ones getting played by old KGB hands.”
  • Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), daughter of former VP Dick Cheney: “I am deeply troubled by President Trump’s defense of Putin against the intelligence agencies of the U.S. & his suggestion of moral equivalence between the U.S. and Russia.”

U.S. handoffs to North Korea with nothing in return set up the scene for DDT’s meeting with Putin. Just the meeting, like DDT’s meeting with Kim Jong-Un, makes Putin the winner in what DDT erroneously calls a “summit.” Having a diplomatic meeting and not giving away U.S. activities for nothing may not be a problem; DDT’s meeting with Putin displayed neither of these. DDT’s creation of chaos by attacking Europe and starting a trade war with closest allies of the U.S. has already made Putin the victor. Now that DDT has trashed the U.S. with his pandering to Kim Jong-Un of North Korea and Vladimir Putin of Russia, he plans to talk to the Taliban. What can go wrong?

June 22, 2018

Immigration Executive Order No Panacea

Almost two years ago, Republicans cheered after they took over the executive branch, the Congress, and most of the Supreme Court in the 2016 election. Yet they keep failing. Yesterday, a bill proposed by hard-line conservatives failed by 231-193 votes; a second bill negotiated by conservatives and moderates didn’t get to the floor. The GOP refused to involve any Democrats. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) said that he’d sign either bill but later discouraging some GOP voters with a defeatist tweet that the Senate could reject any House bill. Last year, Democrats made a deal with DDT that included funding for a wall, but he backed off of the agreement. (The House did pass a farm bill by 213-211 with restrictive work requirements for most adult food-stamp recipients although the provisions won’t survive the Senate.)

Clinging to his job as House Speaker until the end of the year, Paul Ryan (R-WI) tried to paint a positive picture of his failures as “the seeds … for an ultimate solution.” If so, the plant is growing very slowly: Congress has failed to pass immigration reform since the unsuccessful Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

Today, DDT sent a series of angry tweets telling congressional Republicans to quit on the immigration issue until the fall elections when he predicted a “Red Wave” that will pass his wall funding. Yet DHS secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, claims that the government may start separating children again if Congress doesn’t pass a bill that DDT wants—aka build the wall.

Asked what he thinks of people comparing ICE to Nazis, acting director Thomas Homan said that the comparison is unfair because ICE is “simply enforcing laws enacted by Congress,” a lie or misconception. Simply following directions was also the Nuremberg defense used by German’s Nazis for their crimes. Then asked if his ICE protocol was “humane,” Homan froze, stumbled, thought, and then said, “I think—I think it is the law.” Homan plans to retire.

The U.S. Border Patrol may have changed its policy to criminally charge parents with children who illegally cross the border. Border agents at McAllen (TX) has suspended prosecution of adults suspended until ICE has places for their incarceration, which leaves families together. Many migrant parents and children may even be released from custody while awaiting court hearings.

The Pentagon is sending 21 military prosecutors to the Mexico border for 179 days to “work full time, assisting in prosecuting reactive border immigration cases, with a focus on misdemeanor improper entry and felony illegal reentry cases.” These lawyers may not be prepared for what they will face. In an essay about ICE court proceedings, Erik Hanshew, Assistant Federal Public Defender in El Paso (TX), reported the dismaying ignorance demonstrated by the court testimony from a border agent regarding clients separated from their children. She said she didn’t know that the accused had been accompanied by a four-year-old taken from him at the border and knew nothing about where the child might be or how the family could be reunited. The judge slammed his hand on the desk and demanded:

“If someone at the jail takes your wallet, they give you a receipt. They take your kids, and you get nothing? Not even a slip of paper?”

If you read Hanshew’s essay, you might need a box of tissues.

DDT and his administration changed their story (lies?) 14 times in one week. DDT said that “you can’t [end the separation] through an executive order,” that it required congressional action, until he signed an order claiming to end the separation. He could easily have told the DOJ not to criminally prosecute every person who crossed the border and instead release them for a later hearing, but he said that this would make the U.S. seem “weak.” Signing the executive order contradicts DDT’s accusation that President Obama abused his executive authority by issuing an executive order protecting the young immigrant Dreamers. DDT promised that he would rarely use executive orders but signed 77 of them in his first 516 days—twice as many as those signed by President Obama and George W. Bush.

The order does not specify where the families will be detained and whether children will still be separated while facilities for families are built. It also does not return children to their parents, probably impossible because the federal government doesn’t know how to put families back together. Even if a few families can be reunited, migrants have been stripped of all their belongs and left with only the clothing that they wear. A janitor reported that he found not only canned food in the garbage but also such personal items as Bibles and rosaries and wedding rings—even children’s toys that could have been comforting to them.

DDT is so afraid of information coming from his Trumpvilles, he has forbidden everyone—including members of Congress—to tour a facility without permission two weeks earlier and to talk with the children. He has good reason because children might talk about their beatings, isolation cells, and lack of clothing and blankets in cold cells for months and years of incarceration. Children who could be released within six months after through vetting and FBI background check cannot leave these prisons until DDT’s director of the Office of Refugee Resettlements, Scott Lloyd, who is allowed to not sign off on releases after DDT’s new policy. These children may be left in the prisons for years with hopes that they will age out at 18 and then be deported. Lloyd became better known after he became known as anti-contraception and fought giving immigrant teenage girls their rights to have an abortion after being raped. Although all unaccompanied immigrant children, the term used for migrant children separated from their parents, are transferred to ORR custody after detention at the border, Lloyd plans stricter standards for acceptance into ORR custody.

The presidents of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued a statement to stop separating migrant children from parents, citing research about physical and mental damage to all parties. These people have also suffered great trauma by giving up any stability in their lives and then journey up to 2,000 miles by walking, catching rides in the backs of trucks, and riding freight trains. They suffer sleep deprivation, weather extremes, and possibly violence and kidnapping. When they seek asylum, they face disorientation in huge cold windowless warehouses with cages and lights that stay on day and night. Children’s development regresses, and they become clingy or aggressive. The hormone dysfunctions cause brain changes such as serious learning, developmental, and health programs. The longer the stress and trauma, the longer the outcome. Parents go into depression and suicidal ideation.

American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, and National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners all oppose the separation of these children. Conservatives who don’t care about the damage to children from the separation might be concerned about the financial costs of these separations. Just one year of child maltreatment costs $124 billion per child over one person’s lifetime. This study that produced this conclusion was based on physical, sexual, and verbal abuse that is a percentage of how border agents are terrorizing migrant children. Keeping children in the new tent cities costs $775 per night compared to the expenditure of $298 per night if they stay with their parents in a detention center. That’s an extra $174,000 a year–per child.

Young children, toddlers, and infants who cannot be touched by their so-called caregivers are now being drugged by the private contractors hired for their care. Powerful drugs cause them to be unable to walk, afraid of people, and falling after being drugged because they have been forcibly separated from parents by men with guns. One child was thrown against a door by a shelter worker after the child tried to open a window before she was choked until she fainted. Children at Shiloh Treatment Center, run by private contractors, are told that they won’t be released or see their parents unless they took psychotropic drugs that the caregivers called vitamins. Lawyers report that they have seen this use of psychotropic drugs in all facilities with unaccompanied migrant children. Medications have severe side effect—falling, serious weight gain, etc.

Melania Trump visited children in a Lutheran shelter, not a private contractor prison. Getting on and off the plane, she wore a jacket that read, “I really don’t care, do U?” Told that the average stay at the facility was 42-45 days, she said, “That’s great.” To the children, she said, “Be kind and nice to others, OK?” and then “Good luck” to children who may never see their parents again.

DDT thought that the destruction of thousands of families would be a victory like the cultural war surrounding NFL players kneeling for the national anthem. Furious about way that his latest debacle overshadowed what he saw as his success in North Korea, he gathered families of people killed by undocumented immigrants and delivered his lies about the dangers of immigration. If DDT plans to stop separating children from parents, why did he order the Pentagon to build facilities for 20,000 children in isolated military bases—after he signed the order? The stock market rose today after falling for the rest of the week as shares in private prison operators CoreCivic Inc and Geo Group went up from the hope of additional detention for immigrants.

Immigration is good: that’s what 75 percent of people in the U.S. believe. Even 65 percent of Republicans agree with this statement. Only 29 percent believe that immigration should be decreased. And DDT’s poll numbers are going back down.

June 19, 2018

Separation of Children and Parents Worsens

“I Alone Can Fix It.” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) ran for president on that slogan, but he blames the Democrats for the separation of the children and their families when they come to the border seeking safety from being killed by gangs in Central America. Even people who try to legally enter the country for asylum are blocked from crossing the border at the ports of entry designated for this purpose.

Debbie Nathan wrote about immigrant families, including children, who camp out near the bridges on the border in heat and rain. When they walk to the middle of bridges and ask for asylum, they are almost always turned back and told to come back later in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Immigration officials are required to immediately process immigrants afraid to return to their countries, but instead these officials block people who appear to be candidates for asylum. Ruben Garcia, director of a migrant shelter in El Paso, said that the government’s claims of “no room” since DDT was inaugurated is false:

“The numbers are down at our shelters. And if they’re down at our shelters, they’ve got to be down at the government’s facilities.”

If asylum seekers are a few inches on U.S. soil, border agents try to force them back. By blocking people from legally entering the U.S., border patrol agents force them to cross illegally so that they can take their children away from adults.

DDT has constantly ranted against immigrants in speeches and tweets this week. Yesterday he railed against immigrants and blamed Democrats for separating children from parents during his speech to the National Space Council. This morning he described immigrants as vermin in a tweet when he accused Democrats of wanting people to “infest our country.”

Later he continued to lie in a speech to the National Federation of Independent Businesses about Democrats wanting open borders because they think that MS-13 gang members will be future Democrat voters. His unhinged speech continued with equating all immigrants to the few members of the MS-13 gang and lied about the increase of crime in Germany, which is at a 25-year low, coming from the country’s acceptance of immigrants. In another part of the speech, he falsely claimed that migrants hire lawyers who get them out of court so that they can disappear and called the lawyers “bad people.” DDT said that the Senate GOP idea to hire new immigration judges to speed up the processing of families is “crazy” because new immigration judges would be corrupt. Most asylum-seekers, including small children separated from their parents, have no legal defense. DDT finished the speech by hugging the U.S. flag.

During a presentation to GOP representatives today about immigration bills, DDT said, “You have to take the children away.” He also asked if Mark Sanford (R-SC) was present. Assured that Sanford was not there—he was delayed in a flight from South Carolina—DDT called  him “nasty.” Sanford had lost his primary to a DDT-supporter who DDT endorsed. DDT was booed for his comment.

More DDT and GOP lies about separating immigrant children and parents.

Breaking news tonight about shelters for babies and toddlers caused Rachel Maddow to break down and cry in the last few minutes of today’s MSNBC program.

Garance Burke and Martha Mendoza wrote:

“Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border to at least three “tender age” shelters in South Texas, The Associated Press has learned.

“Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the Rio Grande Valley shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis. The government also plans to open a fourth shelter to house hundreds of young migrant children in Houston, where city leaders denounced the move Tuesday….

“Decades after the nation’s child welfare system ended the use of orphanages over concerns about the lasting trauma to children, the administration is standing up new institutions to hold Central American toddlers that the government separated from their parents….

“Doctors and lawyers who have visited the shelters said the facilities were fine, clean and safe, but the kids—who have no idea where their parents are—were hysterical, crying and acting out….

“‘Children are biologically programmed to grow best in the care of a parent figure. When that bond is broken through long and unexpected separations with no set timeline for reunion, children respond at the deepest physiological and emotional levels,’ [Alicia Lieberman, operator of the Early Trauma Treatment Network at University of California, San Francisco] said. ‘Their fear triggers a flood of stress hormones that disrupt neural circuits in the brain, create high levels of anxiety, make them more susceptible to physical and emotional illness, and damage their capacity to manage their emotions, trust people, and focus their attention on age-appropriate activities.’

“… Customs and Border Protection field chiefs over all nine southwest border districts can use their discretion over how young is too young, officials said. And while Health and Human Services defines ‘tender age’ typically as 12 and under, Customs and Border Protection has at times defined it as 5 and under.”

Children in these shelters will not be held because shelter workers cannot touch any of the tiny children, even the toddlers. They are left to cry.

DDT thinks that tearing children from parents will win him another election, but GOP members of Congress, still afraid of opposing him, are becoming afraid of the gigantic backlash. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-TX) wants a narrow bill stopping the separation while House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) supports moving forward with two different immigration bills that might include a provision to keep families together. In the meantime, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pointed out that DDT could immediately solve the horror that he made through signing an executive order:

“Anyone who believes this Republican Congress is capable of addressing this issue is kidding themselves. The president can end this crisis with the flick of his pen, and he needs to do so now.”

Mr. “I Alone Can Fix it” blames others and refuses to take any action.

Separated children not of “tender age” are housed in a growing tent city, aka Trumpville, located at Tornilla (TX). The district of Rep. Beta Rourke, U.S. Senate candidate, takes in Tornilla. That may be the reason that his opponent, incumbent Ted Cruz, has a bill that would not only double the number of federal immigration judges with an additional 375 but also build temporary shelters for families who would stay together by limiting the processing of asylum cases to no more than 14 days. A provision in a House bill would extend the time that minors can be held from 20 days to indefinitely with their parents.

With no set protocol for reuniting families, separated children and families are at the mercy of finding advocates and deportation officers but without any guarantee. Immigration attorney Linda Rivas said:

“[Reunification] depends on who the individual deportation officer is and how willing he or she is to coordinate with a case worker at ORR.”

Without enough judges, people seeking asylum face mass trials like this one in Pecos (TX) and asked to answer questions in unison. The person taking this photo faces prosecution because DDT’s administration tries to keep images of the its horrible actions hidden from the public. Only the most sanitized pictures are allowed into the media, and even those show horrible conditions.

Over 600 United Methodist clergy and church members plan to bring charges against fellow United Methodist Jeff Sessions on charges of child abuse, immorality, racial discrimination, and “dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrines” of the church.

 

June 18, 2018

Courts Feature DDT’s Problems

Today’s post is about recent legal decisions and lawsuit filings, but I’ll begin with the separation of children from their families at the Mexico border.

  • A letter to the editor complained about Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) for not doing his job because he tried to visit to incarceration facilities for these children. This is part of his job.
  • NPR, which now gets large donations from far-right contributors such as the Koch brothers, allowed statements that children are better off being separated from their parents with no one explaining the physical and emotional damage of the separations.
  • Yesterday DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tweeted, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.” Today she backed down at a White House briefing but supported the lies of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) by blaming Democrats and adding other lies of her own.

People watching nothing but conservative media such as Fox are spared horrific tapes of the cries of abducted children separated from their parents. A six-year-old girl kept repeating her aunt’s telephone number and pleading for someone to call her. When the call was finally made, the aunt in El Salvador could do nothing because she and her daughter cannot get asylum in the U.S. because the DOJ no longer accepts people fleeing from gangs and domestic violence. The six-year-old’s mother will probably be deported without her daughter.

As bad as things are for DDT, the courts are pursuing him. New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed a lawsuit against DDT, his three oldest children, and the Donald J. Trump foundation because DDT’s charity allegedly engaged in “illegal conduct” by raising over $2.8 million to influence the presidential election in DDT’s campaign. The suit calls for dissolving the foundation, repaying the $2.8 million along with other penalties, a 10-year ban on DDT serving as director of a New York nonprofit, and a one-year ban on his serving on a nonprofit board for each of his children. Prison could also be a possibility. Underwood also sent referral letters to the IRS and FEC, listing potential law violations for more investigation and legal action.

Summer Zervos’ defamation civil suit for DDT accusation that his sexual assault victims are liars can continue, according to New York’s Supreme Court. Zervos’ lawyer said that they look forward to the “discovery process,” which could reveal information that DDT is hiding.

Rudy Giuliani tried to defame Stormy Daniels because of her profession as an adult film star, saying that she cannot be trusted. In return, Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti tweeted his 500,000+ followers in a search for Giuliani’s porn-watching habits.

An Emoluments Clause lawsuit against DDT for taking gifts from state and foreign governments, a case with no direct precedent, should be decided by the end of July. DDT’s legal team claims that DDT cannot be sued, that his proceeds are not emoluments, and that he has donated his profits to the Treasury. DDT has no evidence for his statement that he made only $151,470. In another emoluments case, 200 congressional Democrats state that DDT has to ask Congress for the right to receive emoluments. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington failed its first round in an emoluments claim for having no standing, but the group is appealing. Any case that manages a requirement of discovery is victorious because DDT has thus far hidden his financial records.

A federal judge in Seattle refused to stay an earlier injunction halting DDT’s transgender military ban while the government is appealing because the government has no new arguments. The judge is one of four issuing preliminary injunctions against Trump’s transgender military ban.

The day after the official end of net neutrality in the United States, an action allowing more profit-making to internet servers, a George W. Bush-appointed judge approved the $85.4 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner with no conditions. The owners of DirecTV, U-verse, AT&T mobile and broadband, Cricket wireless, etc. will now possess HBO, TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network, Warner Brothers Studios, a stake in Hulu, etc. The judge ruled that the merger did not violate antitrust laws because of the consumer welfare standard that examines only consumer costs. Monopolies are now legal; for example, ultra-conservative Sinclair Publishing can move into almost all the local markets across the nation. Comcast entered a bidding war with Disney for Fox TV and movie assets. T-Mobile, which partners with Netflix, has a deal to buy Sprint. Leon’s ruling also leaves Aetna open to join with CVS, and other health corporations can merge.

In another permit for a huge merger earlier this year, the German pharmaceutical and chemical company Bayer can buy agricultural giant Monsanto, creating the world’s biggest pesticides and seeds monopoly.  After the $66 billion purchase, just three megacorporations–Bayer-Monsanto, Dow-DuPont, and Syngenta-ChemChina–will control 61 percent of global seeds and pesticides production, worrying farmers about prices with no competition. Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds have trapped farmers into dependence and reliance on chemicals.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will not decide on two gerrymandering cases from Wisconsin and Maryland. The non-decision gave Wisconsin to the Republicans and Maryland to Democrats. For Wisconsin, the high court’s opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, ruled that challenges must come from each district by voters with standing because the court’s role is only for “individual rights.” The case was sent back to a lower court to determine whether plaintiffs existed in all districts. Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch wanted to end the Wisconsin case. An unsigned opinion stated that the Maryland case is at a preliminary stage but that the lower court was not wrong in refusing to order the congressional maps redrawn. The next Supreme Court decision about gerrymandering could come from North Carolina where the GOP controls 10 of 13 congressional districts.

Last Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly struck down Minnesota’s ban on political apparel in polling places with the 7-2 ruling that the law was too broad. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that a state may prohibit some apparel, but it must have a “reasonable” line. An example is the California law that defines political information.

Last week, a 4-4 split on the Supreme Court after Justice Anthony Kennedy recused himself left in place a lower court decision supporting the salmon rights of 21 Northwest Native American tribes who sued Washington state for the replacement of almost 1,000 culverts. The decision, that the state cannot impede the salmon that tribes have a right to fish, could affect development, construction, and farming practices in the Northwest by engaging tribes in decision-making.  Tribes may also look at other treaty rights outside fishing and hunting, such as the preservation of national parks and opposition to pipelines.

Healthcare specialist Mark Horton’s lawsuit against St. Louis-based Midwest Geriatric Management, now pending in the 8th Circuit Court, comes from the company’s pulling his job offer after it discovered he is gay. Major companies such as Microsoft and Airbnb joined EEOC to support Horton’s case; conservative states oppose it. The 2nd Circuit Court ruled that the Civil Right Act protects LGBTQ workers.

A federal judge in Missouri this week upheld a state law restricting access to medication to induce abortions as the case awaits trial.

A California appeals court reinstated the state’s right-to-die law until a lawsuit goes to court. A lower court had blocked the law on the grounds that the legislature could not pass the law during a special session limited to other issues. Oregon was the first to pass a death-with-dignity law in 1997 before it was joined by Washington, Vermont, Colorado, Hawaii, and Washington D.C.

Kentucky is suing Walgreens for allegedly aggravating the opioid crisis as both distributor and dispenser in filling huge quantities of prescription narcotic pain medication. This is the sixth opioid-related lawsuit filed by Kentucky. Other states are doing the same—Florida, Delaware, and the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. Massachusetts is also suing Purdue Pharma and 16 of the OxyContin maker’s executives for misleading doctors and patients about the risks of opioids. Alabama filed a suit against the company four months ago.

A federal judge blocked Indiana from immediately purging registered voters with personal records elsewhere on the faulty Crosschecks computer program.

A question about citizenship abruptly added to the 2020 census with no vetting has brought lawsuits from over two dozen states and cities in opposition. The subsequent release of 1,320 internal memos, emails, and other documents sheds light on this decision. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that the cost of the last-minute addition would be insignificant, but John Abowd, the Census Bureau’s chief scientist, conservatively estimates the expense at $27.5 million. The question came from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, known for his work to disenfranchise progressive voter. He objected to undocumented immigrants being used to determine the number of congressional seats, despite the fact that this constitutional practice has been used since the first census in 1790.

Earlier this year, Kobach was fined $1,000 for misleading the court about documents in a folder he took to a meeting with DDT soon after the presidential election. Kobach said he paid the fee “out of his own pocket,” but he used a state credit card issued to Craig McCullah, deputy assistant secretary of state under Kobach, for the payment. McCullah, in Ukraine deployed with the Oklahoma Army National Guard when the payment was made, was not told about it. Kobach was also found to have disobeyed orders to notify thousands of Kansans that they were legally registered to vote in 2016. He is running for governor of Kansas.

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry was suspended from the bench for 32 counts of lying and using his public office for personal gain. Those seem to be actions reserved for the president of the United States.

June 17, 2018

Father’s Day ‘Celebration,’ Separating Children from Parents

An undocumented Honduran women was handcuffed after she protested against federal agents tearing her baby away while she was breastfeeding. That baby was one of 2,000 children removed from people crossing the border since AG Jeff Sessions declared his “zero tolerance” policy, even if immigrants legally entered asking for asylum. Conservatives continually claim that families should be expected to be separated because they are “breaking the law.” Crossing  the border for the first time is a misdemeanor—as are traffic violations, disturbing the peace, petty thefts, and other legal violations that do not lead to prison.

Today is Father’s Day, celebrating fatherhood and the influence of fathers in society. AG Jeff Sessions, a father of three and self-identified Christian, uses a biblical verse to defend his policy of tearing all children from their parents at the border, even if families seek asylum. He quotes Romans 13, “that God has ordained the government for his purposes.” John Fea, professor of American history at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, said:

“There are two dominant places in American history when Romans 13 is invoked. One is during the American Revolution [when] it was invoked by loyalists, those who opposed the American Revolution. [The other] is in the 1840s and 1850s, when Romans 13 is invoked by defenders of the South or defenders of slavery to ward off abolitionists who believed that slavery is wrong.”

Sessions appealed to “church friends” to support him. They aren’t. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, said:

“Overwhelmingly, Scripture causes families to be kept together. Overwhelmingly Scripture causes us to defend families. As Evangelicals, we have a doctrine to be a pro-family-values people, you know. The Bible calls us to be pro-family, and I personally find it deeply lamentable that we are separating children from their parents at the border or anywhere.”

The Vatican tweeted a quote from Deuteronomy 10:18-19:

“The Bible teaches that God ‘loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.’”

The leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops strongly condemned DDT’s immigration policies as immoral. One bishop suggested that Catholics who help carry out the Justice Department’s policies should be denied Communions because they violate their faith.

Even white evangelicals, who defended Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) for his other transgressions including pride in grabbing p**sy, are appalled at his immigration policy. Far-right Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, called the policy “disgraceful” and said that he doesn’t “support that one bit.” (He did try to exonerate DDT by blaming politicians during the past three decades “that have allowed this to escalate.” The conservative evangelical Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution maintaining “the priority of family unity,” securing the border “and providing a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants living in the country.” The resolution also stated “that any form of nativism, mistreatment, or exploitation is inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

VP Mike Pence, who spoke at the Southern Baptist Convention, was not universally welcomed because of his support for separating families. North Carolina Pastor J.D. Greear called for an “identity is in the gospel” in the first controversy since conservative evangelicals’ objections to Richard Nixon.

Over two dozen of the largest religious groups in the U.S. ask DDT to eliminate its policy separating all children from parents at the border.

Facts about the current separation of children and parents:

  • Border Patrol agents lie to families about reasons for and length of separation. Parents are told that children are taken briefly for questioning or baths. Then women are told that they will “never see their children again.”
  • First-time border crossers probably won’t do prison time and are released after a few weeks in jail awaiting trial. At the trial, parents are told that pleading guilty gives them the best chance of seeing their children.
  • Children separated from their parents are classified “unaccompanied alien children,” a designation for those under 18 years old with no adult relative arriving with them. This classification puts them in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement and kept for days or weeks while ORR looks for a relative in the U.S. or releases them to labor traffickers. The DOJ does not attempt to reunite families and has no system to bring families together.
  • With 11,000 children being held, ORR facilities were 95 percent full by June 7. The government is adding tent cities in 100+ degrees for more unaccompanied children.
  • DOJ claims that the zero-tolerance, child-removal policy is working, but it has no evidence to support the statement.

MVM, one of the private contractors making tens of millions off the illegal housing of children separated from their parents has a record of abusing minorities and possessing unauthorized weapons and explosives. Another contractor, General Dynamics, makes billions of dollars off taxpayers despite its $280.3 million in penalties for 23 misconduct cases since 1995.

Federal courts have ruled that using family separation for “deterrence” is illegal, but the DOJ ignores these rulings. The ACLU sued to force the government to reunited families after parents have been sentenced. The judge refused to throw out the government’s request to not hear the case, stating that allegations, if true, are unconstitutional by violating family integrity, part of the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of “liberty” without due process of law.

According to medical research, the separation of children from their parents causes “toxic stress” that disrupts brain development and results in developmental delays in motor function and speech, worse in younger children. The separated children are more likely to have life-long health problems, depression, and multiple behavioral changes. The fear of families in the U.S. being separated leads to refusal to get health care or help for legal issues. Friends of children in immigrant families are beginning to suffer from similar syndromes. About 4,600 mental-health professionals and 90 organizations have asked DDT to halt the separation policy.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren explained the reason for a Senate bill called Keep Families Together:

“Kids locked up like animals in cages made of fencing and wire. Others huddled together on cold metal benches and cement floor. Meanwhile, their parents are held in detention centers hundreds of miles away in a different state – with little to no way of communicating.”

Sessions went beyond tearing children from their parents when he overturned a DOJ Board of Immigration Appeals decision accepting victims of gangs and domestic abuse for asylum who fear persecution in their homelands. The Board is the highest authority, but the AG can assign himself cases and set precedents that end up in federal appeals courts. He says his goal is to reduce the backlog of 700,000 court cases. More families will be shredded because he refuses to help women and children victims of domestic violence.

DDT, father of five children by three different women, claims to “hate” the policy that he and his attorney general generated. Aware of the policy’s unpopularity, he now tries to blame Democrats (false) for a law (false). The separation, however, has been part of his plan since he was inaugurated. White House senior policy advisor and white supremacy supporter Stephen Miller convinced DDT that the policy would be successful in its “deterrence.” Chief of staff John Kelly, mentor to DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, is a full-throated supporter of separating children from their parents. With a few exceptions, the GOP has joined DDT in holding the children hostage to get tens of billions of dollars to build DDT’s “wall” and to drastically reduce the number of legal immigrants to the United States. (More lies here.)  House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) tweeted how happy he is to be a father with a video wishing everyone a “happy” Father’s Day. Over 90 percent of the responses addressed the GOP separation of children and families.

DDT spent Father’s Day playing golf on one of his courses. He tweeted nothing about celebrating Father’s Day or his children.

Stephen Colbert made an impassioned plea on The Late Show, asking viewers to call their congressional representatives for Father’s Day and ask them to stop the deliberate cruelty of Sessions and DDT. He said:

“I sincerely believe that it doesn’t matter who you voted for—if we let this happen in our name, we are a feckless country.”

Protest marches are spreading across the nation against the separation of children from parents. In Suffolk County (NY), DDT’s poster children for the brutality of gang murders to justify crackdowns, people are wearing yellow bracelets to support migrant families. In red Augusta County (VA) a rally drew protesters and supporting honks from drivers going by. Los Angeles demonstrators blocked traffic.

On Father’s Day, ICE planned to deport Nelson Omar Rosales Santos, in end stage renal failure and waiting for a kidney transplant, but a petition gave him a six-months stay. With a family friend donor, medical insurance, and a surgeon, Santos has three U.S. citizen children and a U.S. citizen wife who successfully petitioned for him to stay in the U.S. He has lived in Stamford (CT) for 30 years. A new petition asks that he be guaranteed a least one-year recuperation in the U.S. after surgery so that it will be permitted.

June 16, 2018

Court, Staff Problems for DDT

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) turned 72 this past week, trying to get out of lawsuits and scandals through a series of lies. Yet the information about his corrupt associates continues. More documents from DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen have been uncovered, including 731 pages of messages that he sent on such apps as WhatsApp and Signal that allow the content of the texts to remain encrypted. While getting data from a second phone, the FBI took 315 megabytes of data from one of his Blackberry phones. In addition, investigators reconstructed 16 pages of Cohen’s shredded documents. Yesterday was the deadline for Cohen to review hundreds of thousands of documents seized in the April raid of his office and home, and his lawyers disappeared yesterday, making him more likely to cooperate with the Russian investigation. The reason for the loss may be a fee dispute; Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said that Cohen’s bills could be as much as $500,000 per week. DDT’s campaign fund paid about $228,000 by the end of April, but it may have stopped because experts considered this to be potentially illegal.

Cohen is expecting to be arrested, and DDT is separating himself from his former friend. An opening gambit is DDT’s comment that anyone will lie to stay out of prison, insinuating that Cohen will take that tack. Leaks about Cohen’s legal problems may come from him in a signal to DDT that he will need a pardon. The pardon, however, would take away from using Fifth Amendment if he is called on to testify against someone else—like DDT. Meanwhile, however, Cohen fails in his search for a buyer for his expensive Trump building apartment and lawyers.

Cohen also failed in court to get a gag order on Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti to prevent him from speaking publicly about the lawsuit. Although Cohen had proclaimed “irreparable injury” to get the order, the judge regarded his request to be frivolous, “a complete joke and baseless” because Cohen “can’t deal with the truth, the facts, and the law.”

After several pundits said that Paul Manafort, former DDT campaign manager, should take a toothbrush with him to court, a judge ordered him to jail for tampering with witnesses while out on bail and waiting for trial on charges of federal conspiracy and money laundering. DDT again tried to minimize any relationship with Manafort and refused to talk about pardoning him. Rick Gates, Manafort’s deputy, pled guilty to lying to Mueller’s investigators and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

A judge did rule has that Robert Mueller’s office must reveal names of alleged foreign agents who worked with former DDT campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

DDT’s charitable foundation is in legal trouble for its “political coordination” with his presidential campaign, among other issues, but a major problem could be “a $150,000 donation that the Ukrainian billionaire, Victor Pinchuk, made in September 2015 to the Donald J. Trump Foundation in exchange for a 20-minute appearance” from DDT via video in Kiev. Two weeks after DDT’s election, his foundation stated in a tax form that it may have been illegally benefited by the donation.

George Conway, husband of DDT’s counselor Kellyanne Conway, has come out with strong support of Robert Mueller’s legal authority in the Russia investigation in his essay “The Terrible Arguments against the Constitutionality of the Mueller Investigation.” A graduate of Harvard and Yale and a Republican, George Conway is an attorney who served as a clerk in the 2nd Circuit Court.

The DOJ has found several meetings between the NRA and elite Russians during the presidential campaign in its investigation about whether lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin illegally channeled money through the organization. Influential Russians hosted NRA representatives in Moscow while the Kremlin hacked Democrat emails and put viral fake news on U.S. social media accounts to smear Hillary Clinton. Donating or using foreign money in U.S. election campaigns is a crime. The NRA, DDT’s biggest financial supporter, spent over $30 million, perhaps as much as $70 million, on his candidacy and has attempted to hide its expenditures and donors.

Russia also influenced the Brexit vote for the UK to leave the EU, and at least two of the British actors in this collusion also provided support for DDT’s campaign. Emails show that British businessman Arron Banks, the largest donor in UK history during the campaign for UK’s departure from the EU who denied Russian involvement, had several meetings with Russians during Brexit. Banks also admitted that he gave phone numbers for these Russians to people on DDT’s transition team. The defense of “witch hunt” is now becoming popular with Brexit supporter Banks.

DDT’s staff are still causing him trouble. DDT bragged about how “everybody wants to work in the White House,” but so few people want to work for him that officials are begging for employee candidates at a conservative job fair.

Marc Short, White House director of legislative affairs, plans to leave this summer. His leadership of DDT’s legislative agenda has not always been successful, and DDT has frequently criticized him while he goes out on his own to make his own unsuccessful deals. An example this past week is DDT’s claim that he wouldn’t sign the more moderate immigration bill to go before the House this coming week before declaring that he would sign either one of the bills that was passed. Two other communications staffers left the White House this week—Steven Cheung, director of strategic response, and Cliff Simms, now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s senior adviser. At least 18 of DDT’s 31 assistants—including six replacements—left their posts.

Another imminent high profile departure may be Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Asked about the possibility, DDT said that “at a certain point everyone sort of leaves, you have to leave.” Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah may also resign by the end of the year.

Three DOJ lawyers refused to support AG Jeff Sessions’ decision to not support the Affordable Care Act, but senior career Justice Department official Joel McElvain flat-out resigned. GOP Congress failed to repeal the law so Sessions will try to kill the ACA by not defending the law of the United States.

At the beginning of June, Rudy Guiliani yelled at his son for making out with his wife at the theater. Now 32-year-old Andrew Giuliani lost access to the White House without an escort despite his $77,000 a year job in the Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs. Chief of staff John Kelly and others also won’t promote Andrew because he “subverts the chain of command” and has other workplace issues. Rudy Giuliani disappeared from media for over a week after his denigrating comments about Stormy Daniels appearance. Maybe because his current wife, Judith Nathan, went to the media about his affairs, one of them with married New Hampshire hospital administrator Maria Rosa Ryan.

Some jobs in the White House are vital, for example taping together documents that DDT regularly tears up in his ignorance of the law. Former records management analyst Solomon Lartey and Reginald Young Jr., each making over $60,000 a year, have been fired for no reasons from their positions to repair notes and memos that DDT tears up for preservation according to the Presidential Records Act. Other workers are still taping papers back together again.

Another important government job responsibility is to keep track of DDT’s loyalists—and a black list of those who seem less than loyal. Mari Stull, former food lobbyist and wine blogger and currently senior adviser at the State Department, maintains a list of government officials and employees of international organizations and agencies, examining social media for political disagreement and past support of any of President Obama’s policies. Included are people who work for such agencies as the World Health Organization and the United Nations. People on the black list are kept out of meetings, and her actions are causing three assistant secretaries of state—Molly Phee, Erin Barclay, and Nerissa Cook—to quit or change agencies.

DDT may manage one nomination this coming week, Kathy Kraninger as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Interim director Mick Mulvaney has already eliminated the “protection” part of the agency, so Kraninger’s lack of experience in finance, banking, and consumer issues is irrelevant. She will, however, follow Mulvaney’s leadership of no government and regulations while promoting business interests.

Little climate news hits the mainstream media these days, but WashPo has reported that the melting Antarctica’s ice sheet is annually dumping 200 billion tons of ice into the ocean which raises sea levels one-half millimeter a year, tripling in the last decade. There goes Miami—and a lot more East Coast homes.

June 14, 2018

Clinton Report Smashes ‘Deep State’ Conspiracy

Eleven days before the 2016 presidential election, then FBI Director James Comey publicized another investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, this time found on the laptop of Anthony Wiener, then married to Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin. Clinton’s polling sank before Comey provided information two days before the election that there was no illegal action—the same finding he made in all other investigations into her emails since she had been Secretary of State. But the damage was done. In combination with gerrymandering, voter suppression, and Russian “fake news” on social news, Comey’s actions gave the election to Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Never did Comey announce before the election that the FBI had started looking into Russian involvement with DDT’s campaign four months before the election.

In frequent attempts to divert attention from the Robert Mueller’s investigation into DDT and Russia, DDT has demanded that the DOJ release the report regarding Comey’s participation in the election. Today, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz released the report that DDT lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other conservatives are touting as justification for stopping the Mueller investigation.

Horowitz’s office reviewed over 1.2 million document and interviewed over 100 people. These are some of the results to the 500+-page document.

Comey used personal email to conduct official business, “inconsistent with the FBI Policy Statement.” (Comey had accused Clinton of having classified information on her private email server, but these emails were not originally declared as classified.)

Horowitz, did not disagree with the FBI conclusion that Clinton should not be prosecuted and found no evidence that the FBI rigged the conclusion. Horowitz said, “We did not identify evidence of bias or improper considerations [about the conclusion].”

Comey was “insubordinate” in his probe and damaged the appearance of impartiality in the FBI and DOJ although he wasn’t motivated by politics. He hid his intentions from his superiors to keep them from stopping his making his statements and told subordinates to do the same.

Comey violated DOJ policies and usurped the authority of then Attorney General Loretta Lynch by holding the July 2016 news conference to announce a lack of insufficient evidence to charge Clinton with a federal crime for using a private email server.

The FBI was wrong in its one-month delay between the discovery of new Clinton emails on September 28, 2016 and the search warrant in late October to search for new evidence.

Comey made a “serious error of judgment” in sending a letter to Congress on Oct. 28, 2016, announcing he was reopening the investigation of Clinton’s use of the server while secretary of state.

Five FBI officials expressed hostility toward DDT before his election; they have been referred for possible disciplinary action. (The FBI employs approximately 35,000 people.)

The report did not find the work of any FBI officials, even those expressing antagonism toward DDT, to be flawed. To remove their right to express their opinions on their own time removes their right to Freedom of Speech in the First Amendment.

Excerpts from a column by Jennifer Rubin, a Republican:

“The Justice Department’s inspector general’s report released Thursday makes clear that former FBI director James B. Comey blew it in his handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails. He treated her unfairly, intruding into the election in ways that worked to Donald Trump’s benefit. Inspector general Michael Horowitz found that the FBI didn’t erroneously let Clinton go free. To the contrary, his report makes clear that Comey acted outside department norms in ways harmful to her….

“Comey’s conduct violated Justice Department norms and very possibly cost Clinton the election. Trump, already concerned about the legitimacy of his election, will have to wrestle with the fact that but for Comey’s grandstanding, he would not be president….”

After insistently demanding the Clinton report, DDT has nothing thus far to say about it. Soon, however, he will be slamming Comey for his inappropriate action and the behavior of his agents who gave DDT the highest office in the nation.

 

June 12, 2018

A Tale of Two Summits

Filed under: Foreign policy — trp2011 @ 10:06 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

It was the best of summits. It was the worst of summits. At least in the behavior exhibited by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Just four days ago, DDT went to meet with five European leaders and the Japanese prime minister at the G-7 summit. He was determined to insult them and succeeded. He arrived late on Friday, refused to wear casual clothing, disrupted speeches at the breakfast on Saturday by arriving half way through them, and left five hours early for his meeting in Singapore so that he could arrive over 30 hours early.

The leaders tolerated DDT’s threats that they would suffer severe penalties if they didn’t reduce their trade deficits. He told each country what it “owed” the U.S. on trade and defense. DDT spent one meeting rambling about Germany cheating the U.S. with its car sales and then moved to his grandfather being German and DDT loved Europe. At a long press conference, he said that the U.S., which owes $6.29 trillion to other nations is no longer “the piggy bank that everybody is robbing.” His only vaguely positive comment to the leaders was that earlier U.S. leaders were to blame for the trade imbalance.

Once DDT escaped the meeting, he used Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a scapegoat when he turned on the G-7 and changed his mind about signing the joint communique. He refused to sign an agreement that agreed on the need for “free, fair, and mutually beneficial trade” and the importance of fighting protectionism and called “Trudeau “dishonest” and “weak.” For the first time in 45 years, the group failed to have a unanonymous agreement on a statement of broad goals and principles.

DDT’s White House staff went out on Sunday shows to brutally attack Trudeau. The day after economic adviser Larry Kudlow had to deliver DDT’s message that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “stabbed us in the back,” Kudlow was hospitalized with a heart attack. DDT wanted media attention for his rants to prove his strength to North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, but much of the response from the world was negative.

This photo, posted on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s team as “a spontaneous meeting between two working sessions,” shows an expression that he has never used on Vladimir Putin. European Parliament member Guy Verhofstadt imagined Merkel was saying, “Just tell us what Vladimir has on you. Maybe we can help.” In embarrassment, DDT lied and said that he released the photo. Trudeau also gave DDT a photo of his grandfather’s “hotel” in Canada, a gold rush brothel “known for good food, booze and ready women.” DDT’s grandfather moved to Canada after he was expelled froBavaria for avoiding the draft.

DDT’s demand that Russia be put back with the group for the earlier G-8 was largely ignored. He claimed, “We didn’t do votes or anything, but it has been discussed.” DDT blamed President Obama for Russia annexing Crimea but said nothing about Russia meddling in U.S. elections or an investigation regarding Russia. According to French news, the six leaders agreed without DDT that Russia wasn’t welcome without the nation’s making changes and that Europeans were united in defending trade rules and the Paris climate change agreement. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Europe must defend its interests and strengthen alliances with countries such as Japan and Canada.

A Reuters photographer shot a photograph of French President Emmanuel Macron’s thumbprint on DDT’s hand after a handshake.

DDT directed much of his anger toward Canada’s 270 percent tariff on dairy, egg, and poultry products. Canada’s regulation on dairy production in the nation keeps prices high enough for farmers. U.S.  over-production brings the prices down and drives farmers into debt and bankruptcy so DDT wants to dump the surplus in Canada which would drive down their prices. Yet the U.S. controls prices on such items as tobacco and sugar.

To break the dairy tariff from Canada, DDT put tariffs on aluminum and steel, hurting U.S. consumers. Tariffs have two purposes: restrict imports and make money for the government. In his “Make America First” speeches, DDT has told other countries that they protect themselves. When Trudeau follows DDT’s advice, he is subjected to vicious insults from DDT’s “diplomats.” DDT’s tax cuts for huget companies and the rich created so much economic damage to the U.S. budget that he is desperate to cover these losses.

A photo-op of the G-7 v. G-1 leaders shows the tension. To DDT, loyalty toward him is all. To the rest of the world, loyalty from allies has meant nothing. DDT’s ghost writer for The Art of the Deal, Tony Schwartz, states that DDT’s behavior toward allies will only grow worse, based on his past experiences with the man in charge of U.S. foreign affairs.

Before DDT went to the meeting with Kim Jong-Un, he explained when he knew he could trust Kim. “Within the first minute, I’ll know. Just my touch, my feel—that’s what I do,” DDT’s response to a question about when he will recognize whether Kim can be trusted. The Trump and Kim Celebrity Show took off in the U.S. during prime time on Monday, planned like everything else for its spectacle. The spectacle didn’t disappoint: DDT looked and sounded like a middle school students with his first crush on another boy. [The photo by Kevin Lim looks like time out at camp.] Kim, the person who DDT “honored,” has run a ruthless regime by executing at least 300 officials and family members in three purges, brutally imprisoning people accused of “disloyalty,” miring North Korea in economic ruin and poverty, and consistently threatening the U.S. and the world with nuclear disaster. Justin Trudeau, who deserves a “special place in hell” according to DDT’s minion, politely leads a nation that has always supported U.S. national security.

DDT and Kim have strong similarities: both have nuclear weapons and alternate between flattery and hateful comments for the other. Both are thin-skinned alpha males with the philosophy that “I alone can fix it.” Both are pathological liars with explosive tempers who are determined to appear dominant, especially with a focus on the military. Intelligence agencies’ profile of Kim sounds much like that of DDT—”Gluttonous, prone to fits of anger and swaggering around his classmates … an in-attendant student [who] demanded slavish loyalty.” Also “prone to violence,” “didn’t do well in school,” “distracted a lot,” and makes vague and grand declarations. Kim and DDT have three major differences: age, ethnicity, and smarts. DDT may understand Kim better than he does Trudeau because he is so much like Kim. As DDT said after their meeting, he and Kim will have a “terrific relationship.”

Abby Huntsman recognized the similarities when she called the summit a “meeting between two dictators”—“this is history”—but then apologized for what pundits are calling a “gaffe.” One tweet called her statement “probably the most honest thing ever said in the program’s history.”

What did DDT get from the U.S./North Korea agreement? Kim will talk to DDT, shutter a missile engine testing site that is probably of no use, and return of the remains of U.S. service members lost in North Korea over 60 years ago. DDT said he discussed “real estate and beachside hotel opportunities,” and his approval ratings will probably go up.

What did North Korea get? North Korea declared the meeting a win for them, stating that DDT will lift sanctions against North Korea as well as stopping war exercises. Kim may keep his nuclear arms and ballistic missiles while DDT damages U.S. relations with South Korea by stopping war exercises and pulling 32,000 military members from the country without consulting his own military leaders or telling South Korea officials. DDT shows no concern about the huge violations of human right in North Korea and said, “Kim loves his people.” Kim can continue develop of these weapons. Most important for Kim, he is now recognized in the world as an equal of the president of the United States. This fact-checker points out the fallacies of DDT’s statements after the summit and North Korea’s betrayals after deals in 1994 and 2005.

Two necessary pieces of this denuclearization process was timelines and veritication DDT’s definition: timetable – “period of time”; verify: “ develop a certain trust.” Asked if he doesn’t get what North Korea promised, DDT said, “I’ll find some kind of excuse.”

The empty language in the document, affirming the April 27 Panmunjom Declaration signed by North Korea and South Korea in April, lacked goals and process. It was intended to play for time. Now DDT needs to do nothing before the 2018 midterm elections and very little before 2020. He has already said that denuclearization with North Korea takes a long time, but there are no discussions of inspections to show that weapons not be produced as in the Iran deal. DDT complained about the bad Iran deal, but President Obama didn’t shake Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s hand, calling it a great honor and then saying they had a “terrific relationship” with no results except giving away leverage and getting nothing in return.

At one time, the United States felt like a democracy that moved toward granting human rights. Voter suppression, Russian meddling, white nationalism influence, and exchange of friendship with democratic allies to autocratic regimes has moved the United States toward an oligarchy where the president uses the nation as his personal financial piggy bank. It is a new look at U.S. foreign policy.

 

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