Late on Saturday night the government released a trove of FISA warrant documents pertaining to the surveillance of suspected Russian informant/asset and former Trump adviser Carter Page. This release was highly unusual. In fact it was unprecedented. These were unclassified by accident when the president unilaterally declassified the notorious "Nunes Memo" leaving the door open for the Freedom of Information Act request that led to this release of the highly redacted underlying documents to which it referred.
For those following the rightwing "deep state" conspiracy, this was a big moment. Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA) and his henchmen had charged that the FBI used the controversial Steele Dossier as the evidence to get permission to surveil Page during the presidential campaign. Their conspiracy theory is that the dossier is a partisan hit job which the FBI failed to reveal to the FISA judges and, therefore, the entire investigation into campaign interference in the 2016 election is discredited.
These documents do not prove their case. It's hard to judge specifically what evidence was presented because of the heavy redactions but one can still discern that the request was not solely based on the dossier and neither did the FBI hide the fact that it had been paid for by an opposing party. Steele had been an informant in the past and had proven to be reliable but there was plenty of evidence from other sources. Indeed, Page had been on the FBI's radar for several years as a possible Russian asset and when he started buzzing around a presidential campaign it naturally attracted their notice. In the documents, they describe him as possibly “collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government.”
The FBI did not apply for permission to start surveillance until Page had left the campaign. And four successive (Republican appointed) FISA judges signed off on the warrant. There are plenty of reasons for civil libertarians to be suspicious of the FISA process but this really does not seem to be a case which merits it. A man who was long suspected of having been recruited by a foreign government was suddenly named as an adviser to a presidential campaign. The FBI would have been derelict in their duty if they hadn't looked into it.
In a sane political world Congressman Devin Nunes would be facing a world of hurt following the release of these documents and the president would be facing serious political fallout for endorsing Nunes' crude defense. But we do not live in sane world. This is what the president tweeted when the documents were released:
Congratulations to @JudicialWatch and @TomFitton on being successful in getting the Carter Page FISA documents. As usual they are ridiculously heavily redacted but confirm with little doubt that the Department of “Justice” and FBI misled the courts. Witch Hunt Rigged, a Scam!
Looking more & more like the Trump Campaign for President was illegally being spied upon (surveillance) for the political gain of Crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC. Ask her how that worked out - she did better with Crazy Bernie. Republicans must get tough now. An illegal Scam!
.@PeteHegseth on @FoxNews “Source #1 was the (Fake) Dossier. Yes, the Dirty Dossier, paid for by Democrats as a hit piece against Trump, and looking for information that could discredit Candidate #1 Trump. Carter Page was just the foot to surveil the Trump campaign...” ILLEGAL!
So President Obama knew about Russia before the Election. Why didn’t he do something about it? Why didn’t he tell our campaign? Because it is all a big hoax, that’s why, and he thought Crooked Hillary was going to win!!!
Yes, after having to choke out last week that the Russians did indeed interfere in the election he wound up his twitter tirade by once again saying that is all a big hoax --- and we're right back where we started.
Mr. Trump’s portrayal, which came as the administration is trying to repair the damage from his widely criticized meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, revived the claims put forward in February by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee. But in respect after respect, the newly disclosed documents instead corroborated rebuttals by Democrats on the panel who had seen the top-secret materials and accused Republicans of mischaracterizing them to protect the president.
It doesn't seem to matter. Page himself appeared on CNN on Sunday with a crazed smile on his face claiming that the whole thing is "spin" and that none of it was justified. After being repeatedly pressed by Jake Tapper, he admitted that he had once served as an "informal" adviser to the Russia government but that it was unreasonable to say that he was wittingly or unwittingly working for them during the campaign.
It may be that he's innocent of the charges. But after reading the warrant application there is little doubt that the government had ample reason to be suspicious. And after Trump's performance in Helsinki last week, all the suspicions about Russian involvement in the election have risen to new levels, so Page's protestations ring even more hollow.
Republicans in congress demonstrated their spinelessness once again. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) played dumb saying on Face the Nation, “if the dossier is the reason you issued the warrant, it was a bunch of garbage. The dossier has proven to be a bunch of garbage.” Obviously he hadn't read the documents or he would have known that the dossier wasn't the reason they issued the warrant. Clever of him to put it that way though.
Marco Rubio was more rational telling Jake Tapper on CNN, “I don’t think they did anything wrong. I think they went to the court. They got the judges to approve it. They laid out all the information ― and there was a lot of reasons... for why they wanted to look at Carter Page." He hemmed and hawed about the implications but at least he acknowledged reality.
Other Republicans are diving deeper into the rabbit hole. National Review's Andrew McCarthy is all the way in, calling for the investigation of the Republican judges who signed the warrants:
Andrew McCarthy - “I said this could never happen. This is so bad that they should be looking at the judges who signed off on this stuff, not just the people who gave it. It is so bad it screams out at you.” On the whole FISA scam which led to the rigged Mueller Witch Hunt!
After years of practice, Republicans have developed a knack for inventing scandals and getting the press to buy into them. Normally such scandals only involve Democrats, but Trump's Russia collusion scandal requires a bit of fancy political jiu-jitsu. It remains to be seen whether they can pull it off. The formerly patriotic staunch defenders of law and order have had to turn on a dime and convince their voters and the media that the American justice system has engaged in a corrupt conspiracy against Donald Trump and created this Russia conspiracy theory out of whole cloth.
In this case, right-wingers latched on to an old leftist trope about the "deep state," meaning the intelligence apparatus and other aspects of permanent government, and are running with it as if they were the second coming of Noam Chomsky. They feed the press cherry-picked bits of paranoid nonsense, which are then floated into the ether, supposedly providing a basis for an "investigation." Regardless of the actual outcome, millions of people will be convinced that there is merit to the charge because "if there's so much smoke, there must be fire." Millions more will listen to Trump's lies and believe them.
If these Republicans were acting from a set of constitutional principles, these concerns about the civil liberties of Trump campaign officials might wake them up to the offenses commonly committed against Muslim suspects and the ill-treatment of immigrants as well as other outrages of the American "carceral state " Unfortunately, this is a one-time deal. It seems that wealthy Republicans are the real victims and the only true citizens whom the Bill of Rights was intended to protect.
"Independents prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress by more than 20 points"
Remember when the only people in the world who mattered were the vaunted "independents?" Suddenly, nobody cares. But they should:
The good news for President Trump in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll — half of which was conducted before and the day of the Helsinki presser with Putin, half of which was conducted afterward — is that his standing with the GOP base is stronger than ever.
Eighty-eight percent of Republican voters in the poll approve of Trump’s job — the highest of his presidency — and 29 percent of all voters strongly approve of his performance, which is another high for him. “The more Trump gets criticized by the media, the more his base seems to rally behind him,” says Democratic pollster Fred Yang, who co-conducted the NBC/WSJ poll with the Republican team from Public Opinion Strategies.
Trump’s approval rating in the poll is 45 percent among all registered voters (up 1 point from June), while 52 percent disapprove, including 44 percent who do so strongly.
The bad news for the president is that his standing — plus the GOP’s — is now worse with independents than it was a month ago. Just 36 percent of independents approve of Trump’s job (down 7 points from June). What’s more, independents prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress by more than 20 points, 48 percent to 26 percent. In June, the Dem lead among indies was just 7 points, 39 percent to 32 percent.
Runferyerlives! used to be reserved for the woman in the colorful headscarf down the block.
Now a couple of weekend article warn predictably that "the ascending coalition on the left" threatens to pull the Democratic Party too far out of the mainstream, hurting chances for moderate party players to hold and expand their influence. Again.
The New York Times cautioned a new generation of activists promises "to grow as a disruptive force in national elections as younger voters reject the traditional boundary lines of Democratic politics." Furthermore, Justice Democrats, the Working Families Party, the Progressive Change Campaign, and Our Revolution "have helped propel challenges to Democratic incumbents."
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Ben Jealous. "Revolution on the left." "A leftist political revolt." The horror.
NBC News jumped in. The "angry left" may turn off centrist voters, you know, just ruining everything. Luckily, Democratic pragmatists and billionaires feeling unloved have mounted a moderate "counterrevolution":
The invitation-only gathering brought together about 250 Democratic insiders from key swing states. Third Way unveiled the results of focus groups and polling that it says shows Americans are more receptive to an economic message built on "opportunity" rather than the left's message about inequality.
"Once again, the time has come to mend, but not end, capitalism for a new era," said Third Way President Jon Cowan.
For the left, Third Way represents the Wall Street-wing of the party and everything wrong with the donor-driven wet blanketism they've been trying exorcise since 2016. Thom Hartmann, a liberal talk radio host and Sanders friend, once called the group's warning about Sanders "probably the most stupid thing I've ever heard," before ticking through all the investment bankers on Third Way's board.
Completely ignoring the fact that the Democrats' invitation-only wing is one reason new activists are angry, elected officials in conservative districts caution that progressives with their big-city ways could mean disaster for Democrats elsewhere.
"We will be a permanent minority party in this country," said Iowa state Sen. Jeff Danielson, a firefighter who represents an area that saw one of the biggest swings from Barack Obama to Trump during the 2016 election.
Rep. Cheri Bustos, a Third Way Democrat from an Illinois district Donald Trump won, argued on behalf of a Nixonian silent majority who just want normalcy. "There's a lot of people that just don't really like protests and don't like yelling and screaming," she added.
Which is why thousands showed up to scream "Lock her up" at Trump rallies in Dubuque and Davenport, Iowa across the Mississippi River from her district.
Ah, too be young(er) and foolish and to frighten insiders again. In 2005, that was us. "Those progressives" were going to ruin everything, they whispered. You know, they're plotting a takeover? In fact, by 2007 we were in charge. In 2008, with the help of some guy from Illinois whose name would sound out of place in rural Moline, we swept the races here, winning 36 of 36, including reelecting a couple of the veterans who found us most threatening. This last Saturday, our local headquarters was a hive of activity and scheduling space is already becoming a problem. That's how badly we wrecked the place by working harder.
I'm speaking of Trump being forced into a typical "negotiation" with North Korea. After his antics in Singapore and the absurd pretense that his empty agreement with Kim Jong Un meant that the nuclear threat had been removed, it's tempting to say "I told you so." But the truth is that any day we aren't in a nuclear crisis with North Korea is a good day, so stretching out the negotiations is better than hostility. (Needless to say, there was never much of a chance Kim would unilaterally disarm due to Trump's non-existent negotiating talent.)
Anyway, he's slowly accepting that his little pageant may not have settled the issue:
When he emerged from his summit with Kim Jong Un last month, President Trump triumphantly declared that North Korea no longer posed a nuclear threat and that one of the world’s most intractable geopolitical crises had been “largely solved.”
But in the days and weeks since then, U.S. negotiators have faced stiff resistance from a North Korean team practiced in the art of delay and obfuscation.
Diplomats say the North Koreans have canceled follow-up meetings, demanded more money and failed to maintain basic communications, even as the once-isolated regime’s engagements with China and South Korea flourish.
Huh. How much money are they demanding? I thought Trump was against that sort of thing ...
Meanwhile, a missile-engine testing facility that Trump said would be destroyed remains intact, and U.S. intelligence officials say Pyongyang is working to conceal key aspects of its nuclear program.
The lack of immediate progress, though predicted by many analysts, has frustrated the president, who has fumed at his aides in private even as he publicly hails the success of the negotiations.
“Discussions are ongoing and they’re going very well,” Trump told reporters Tuesday.
The accounts of internal administration dynamics come from conversations with a half-dozen White House aides, State Department officials and diplomats, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive negotiations.
Officials say Trump has been captivated by the nuclear talks, asking staffers for daily updates on the status of the negotiations. His frustration with the lack of progress has been coupled with irritation about the media coverage of the joint statement he signed on June 12 in Singapore, a document that contains no timeline or specifics on denuclearization but has reduced tensions between the two countries.
“Trump has been hit with a strong dose of reality of North Korea’s negotiating style, which is always hard for Americans to understand,” said Duyeon Kim, a Korea expert at the Center for a New American Security.
Trump’s interest in the issue has put a particularly bright spotlight on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has tried to wring concessions from his counterpart, Kim Yong Chol, a former spy chief viewed by the Trump administration as uncompromising and unable to negotiate outside the most explicit directives from Kim Jong Un.
A low point from the perspective of U.S. officials came during Pompeo’s third visit to Pyongyang on July 6 when he pressed North Korean officials for details on their plans to return the remains of U.S. soldiers killed during the Korean War, as they had agreed to do in Singapore. The issue had been discussed in several meetings and was viewed by the United States as an easy way for North Korea to demonstrate its sincerity.
But when Pompeo arrived in Pyongyang, the North Koreans insisted they were still not ready to commit to specific plans, according to diplomats familiar with the discussions.
The delay angered U.S. officials, who were under pressure to deliver given Trump’s premature announcement on June 20 that North Korea had already “sent back” the remains of 200 soldiers.
The sentiment worsened when Kim Jong Un chose not to meet with Pompeo during his stay as had been expected. Pompeo later denied that a meeting was planned, a claim contradicted by diplomats who said the secretary initially intended to see the North Korean leader.
Unable to secure an agreement on remains during his trip, Pompeo scheduled a meeting between the North Koreans and their Pentagon counterparts to discuss the issue at the demilitarized zone on July 12. The North, however, kept U.S. defense officials waiting for three hours before calling to cancel, the diplomats said. The North Koreans then asked for a future meeting with a higher-ranking military official.
“Leaving another U.S. official standing at the altar, waiting forlornly for the North Korean representative to show up adds insult to injury,” said Bruce Klingner, a North Korea scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “Pyongyang has reverted to its heavy-handed negotiating tactics.”
The Trump administration has maintained a strong public show of support for the negotiations, even as North Korea denounced the United States’ “unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization” after Pompeo’s last visit and described the discussions as “cancerous.”
On Wednesday, Trump said he secured a commitment from Russia to “help” with the North Korea issue. “The process is moving along,” he tweeted. “Big benefits and exciting future for North Korea at end of process!”
But late last week in meetings with his aides, Trump bristled about the lack of positive developments in the negotiations. And on Friday at the United Nations, his ambassador, Nikki Haley, accused Russia of blocking efforts to discipline North Korea’s illegal smuggling.
They are running them around like a gaggle of baby ducks.
You have to love this:
Trump and his senior team “haven’t given up entirely” on the goal of full denuclearization, but they are worried, said one person familiar with the discussions.
Climbing down from earlier soaring rhetoric, Trump told CBS this week that “I’m in no real rush. I mean whatever it takes, it takes,” he said.
That more patient approach stands in contrast to earlier Trump administration demands for North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program within a year.
“Trump is too vested to walk away right now,” said Victor Cha, a North Korea expert who the Trump administration nearly selected to be the next U.S. ambassador to Seoul. “At least until after the midterms.”
U.S. officials lay some of the blame on Kim Yong Chol, who despite being North Korea’s chief negotiator has consistently stonewalled discussions by saying he is not empowered to talk about an array of pertinent issues.
That dynamic drew the ire of U.S. officials in an early July meeting in Panmunjom when he refused to discuss the opening of a reliable communications channel or even specific goals of Pompeo’s then-upcoming trip to Pyongyang, diplomats briefed on the meetings said.
The U.S. officials in the meeting, led by State Department official Sung Kim and the CIA officer Andy Kim, wanted to discuss Pompeo’s visit and make progress on returning the fallen soldiers’ remains. But Kim Yong Chol said he was authorized only to receive a letter Trump had written to Kim Jong Un.
When U.S. officials tried to raise substantive issues, Kim Yong Chol resisted and kept asking for the letter. Unable to make headway, the Americans eventually handed over the letter and ended the meeting after only an hour.
“[Kim] has a reputation for being extremely rude and aggressive,” said Sung-Yoon Lee, a North Korea scholar at Tufts University.
In the absence of progress on denuclearization, the Trump administration is likely to focus on the war remains.
At a meeting in the demilitarized zone on Sunday, the two sides agreed to recommence field operations to search for the remains of some 5,300 Americans still missing from the conflict in North Korea. Pompeo said this week that he believes the first sets would arrive in the United States “in the next couple weeks.”
U.S. officials familiar with the discussions said the North pledged to return 55 sets of remains on July 27, the 65th anniversary of the signing of an armistice that ended the war. But Pentagon officials, who sent transit cases to the demilitarized zone weeks ago, are wary of North Korea’s pledges given its previous cancellations.
“I worry that Trump might lose patience with the length and complexities of negotiations that are common when dealing with North Korea, and walk away and revert back to serious considerations of the military option,” said Duyeon Kim, the Korea scholar. “Getting to a nuclear agreement takes a long time, and implementing it will be even harder.”
Too bad about that Iran deal, eh?
God what a mess.
The biggest danger in all this is John Bolton who said ahead of time that it would be good to hold the summit in order to show they tried and then go for regime change when it doesn't work. We had better pray that Bolton being exposed to the lunacy of Trump has tempered his attitude about this stuff.
I can't believe I just wrote that. But honestly, I think it's our best hope.
The Russian hackers, in other words, are the modern equivalents of the Watergate burglars in 1972. The only difference is the technology. The Watergate burglars broke into the Democratic campaign offices to tap phones and steal documents; the Russian hackers used malware and “cloud-based accounts” to achieve the same goal.
Did they share this information with the Trump campaign? If so, the timing is interesting. In October, a few weeks after the hackers broke into the DNC servers, New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman observed a major shift in the way the Trump campaign was spending its advertising budget. Access to Democratic Party data would, of course, have been useful in redirecting that spending. At about the same time, Trump also began using a curious set of conspiratorial slogans and messages, all lifted directly from Russian state television and websites. From Barack Obama “founded ISIS” to Hillary Clinton will start “World War III,” Trump repeated them at his rallies and on his Twitter feed. It was as if he had some reason to believe they would work.
It’s important to stop and acknowledge that the evidence we have does not establish this kind of connection between Russian hackers and the Trump campaign; the Mueller probe needs to continue unimpeded to help determine what happened and what did not. But shared data could explain why Russian state media, the Russian Internet Research Agency and the Trump campaign were all doing the same kinds of things at the same time. Shared data could also explain why Trump appeared to feel so indebted to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, why he wanted to speak to him with no aides present, why he is so reluctant to acknowledge Russian interference. It could even explain why he talks so obsessively and inaccurately about the size of his great electoral victory: because he himself believes that the Russians helped him win. He fears that this would make his presidency illegitimate. Which it would.
It was illegitimate on a number of levels. But people would accept that, barring impeachment, there is nothing to be done about it except challenge him in the next election. George W.Bush faced the same issue in 2000 and if 9/11 hadn't happened he might not have gotten a second term. (As it was in 2004 Ohio barely saved him in the electoral college and he won the popular vote by about the same margin that Hillary Clinton did in 2016.) I guess my point is that if he's worried about his election being seen as illegitimate, well ... yeah. So what? What could we do? It's pure ego that has him acting out about it, if that's what's going on.
But if he did get help from the Russians there's every reason he would want them to help him out again, right? Whether or not Trump colluded before the election, we know for a fact that he's colluding now since he has refused to acknowledge that it happened and won't devote any resources to stopping it from happening again.
That thing where reporters aggregated puppet jokes on Twitter after the Clinton-Trump puppet debate dust-up instead of taking her words seriously as a former SoS talking about geopolitics https://t.co/zq5ZrOV5p6
Here was how that exchange was portrayed in the press:
The question as to who is the real “puppet” was unexpectedly raised in the third and final presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, giving some onlookers eyes as wide as Muppets.
While Wednesday’s debate was full of interruptions and tense exchanges between the two candidates, few elicited the kind of cynical reaction among viewers as the puppet talk.
Here’s how it went down. On the topic of immigration, Clinton accused Trump of admiring Russian president Vladimir Putin, considered an aggressor by the U.S. government.
On the stage, Trump said “I don’t know Putin, he said some nice thing about me. If we got along well, that would be good. If Russia and the United States got along well and went after ISIS, that would be good. He has no respect for her, he has no respect for our president.”
Clinton responded, “That’s because he’d rather have a puppet as president of the United States.”
Trump shot back, “No puppet — you’re the puppet.”
Suddenly, puppets were dragged into a presidential election that has included all sorts of accusations and insults — from Clinton calling Trump supporters “deplorables” to Trump referring to Clinton as “crooked.”
But … puppets, really? Yep
(Sidenote: comparing Clinton's ONE mild insult to Trump's ongoing degrading insults against everyone from POWs to disabled reporters was one reason why we ended up with this monster in the White House.It was ludicrous at the time but there was no stopping them.)
At one point the candidates literally devolved into a playground game of "I know you are but what am I?" Clinton called Trump a puppet of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump responded with, "I'm no puppet, you're the puppet." The internet responded in turn with muppets, puppets and more muppets.
One company and one family loom large over this city, intertwined for decades. Cummins Inc. is the biggest employer in Columbus, built into a $20 billion heavy equipment manufacturer with the help of Mike Pence, who as governor passed pro-business tax cuts and made trade visits to China on its behalf.
Pence’s older brother Edward joined Cummins after graduating from college and worked there for four decades, running one of its most lucrative engine plants before retiring last December. A second brother, Greg, is running for the 6th congressional district seat and visited Cummins during a recent campaign stop.
But the alliance of the past is being threatened by the administration Mike Pence now serves, as President Trump’s trade war with multiple nations clobbers Cummins and other local companies.
According to the Brookings Institution, the Columbus area is the most export-reliant region in the country, with just over half of its economic output linked to foreign purchases.
“I’m very worried,” said Tom Linebarger, the chief executive of Cummins, who met with President Trump over dinner at the White House in January in a bid to dissuade him from introducing steel and aluminum tariffs or tearing up free trade agreements.
Linebarger, 55, warns of job losses ahead because thousands of jobs at Cummins and elsewhere in the area depend on trade.
“We will do everything we can to mitigate . . . the impact to jobs,” he said. “It’s very clear, though, that we’re not going to be able to mitigate everything.”
Pence’s hometown oozes internationalism: 40 foreign companies have a presence, more than half of them Japanese engines and auto-parts plants, employing almost 10,000 people. The area’s schools collectively speak 51 languages. The city ranks second in the nation in the per capita percentage of H-1B visas for foreign workers.
Cummins plants produced the drill that powered the famous rescue of Chilean miners in 2010 and the emergency generator at the Statue of Liberty.
Now the aggressive pursuit of foreign trade that made this city a recession-busting economic miracle has made it decidedly vulnerable, with businesses already canceling projects and mulling the depth of job losses.
Those are human beings, many of whom voted for Trump. I guess they don't mind being human sacrifices for an unfit demagogue. I wonder how long that will last.
Meanwhile, here's the very stable genius on that subject:
President Donald Trump said the stock market rally since his election victory gives him the opportunity to be more aggressive in his trade war with China and other countries.
“This is the time. You know the expression we’re playing with the bank’s money,” he told CNBC's Joe Kernen in a “Squawk Box” interview aired Friday.
I hope all those Trump voting Indianans know that Trump considers them "the bank." And that he's playing with their money...
There's a new ABC/Washington Post poll out this morning about the Helsinki summit. It's very interesting to see how the two news organizations frame it. ABC sees Trump weakening because moderates and Independents are appalled. The Washington Post sees no change because his cult is staying with him:
Fifty-six percent disapprove of Trump, in a post-summit news conference with Putin, expressing doubt about U.S. intelligence conclusions that Russia tried to influence the U.S. election; just 29 percent approve. Indeed, 41 percent disapprove “strongly,” vs. just 14 percent strongly approving.
Just 51 percent of Republicans and 44 percent of conservatives approve of Trump questioning U.S. intelligence on the matter, tepid levels of support in his base. In the political center, 59 percent of independents disapprove, as do 68 percent of moderates. Indeed, disapproval of Trump on this issue is as high among moderates as it is among liberals.
In terms of intensity of sentiment, the survey, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that 70 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of liberals strongly disapprove of Trump questioning U.S. intelligence on the matter, while just 28 percent of Republicans and 24 percent of conservatives strongly approve.
Trump walked back his comments after returning to Washington, saying he misspoke when he questioned U.S. intelligence conclusions that Russia in fact tried to influence the election. But he also seemed to equivocate, saying, “Could be other people also. A lot of people out there.”
Trump’s challenges on this issue are made clear by the more typical partisan and ideological divisions on the broader question of whether he’s strengthened or weakened U.S. leadership in the world. Overall, 47 percent of Americans say America’s leadership has weakened under Trump, 30 percent say it’s grown stronger and 20 percent see no change. While 80 percent of Democrats see a weakened United States, 74 percent of Republicans say it’s stronger.
Again, though, Trump loses the middle, with independents seeing weaker rather than stronger U.S. leadership by 47-22 percent (as do moderates, by 54-17 percent). Moreover, while 72 percent of liberals say the United States has grown weaker in terms of world leadership, fewer conservatives say the opposite, 55 percent.
Better for Trump is that views on U.S. leadership under his presidency haven’t worsened despite the uproar over the Putin meeting. Last November, 53 percent said U.S. leadership had grown weaker; it’s in fact slightly lower now.
In terms of the Trump-Putin summit overall, 50 percent disapprove of how Trump handled it, while, as noted, 33 percent approve. (The rest, 18 percent, have no opinion.) Again Trump has comparative difficulty in his base; 66 percent of Republicans approve while 83 percent of Democrats disapprove, and 58 percent of conservatives approve while 73 percent of liberals disapprove.
In the middle, independents divide by 33-46 percent, disapproving by a 13-point margin. Among moderates this swells to a 45-point margin, 19-64 percent, approve-disapprove.
By wide margins, Americans give President Trump negative marks for his conduct during a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week and for his casting doubt on U.S. intelligence conclusions that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds.
But public reaction nationally appears more muted than in Washington where Trump faced withering bipartisan criticism for appearing to side with Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies at a Monday news conference in Helsinki. Most Americans do not feel Trump went “too far” in supporting Putin, and while more Americans say U.S. leadership has gotten weaker than stronger under Trump, his ratings on this question are slightly improved from last fall.
The findings indicate that while Trump was judged critically for his summit performance, the event has not at this time proved to be a significant turning point in his presidency, despite the sharp criticism he received in the hours and days after the meeting and the multiple efforts by White House officials and the president to clarify his remarks in Helsinki. The poll results suggest that overall attitudes toward the president have hardened on both sides and that major events like Helsinki produce only modest changes in his overall standing, if any.
I guess you see what you want to see but if this coming election is a referendum on Trump, then I think the ABC interpretation is more salient. His cult may stay with him, but Republicans in the congress need moderates and Independents. Since they are all acting like cowards and sycophants that's going to be a problem for them.
Donald Trump will devour the Republican Party from within, warned David Frum. In an excerpt from "Trumpocracy" published in The Atlantic in January, the former George W. Bush speechwriter cautioned (emphasis mine):
Maybe you do not much care about the future of the Republican Party. You should. Conservatives will always be with us. If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy. The stability of American society depends on conservatives’ ability to find a way forward from the Trump dead end, toward a conservatism that cannot only win elections but also govern responsibly, a conservatism that is culturally modern, economically inclusive, and environmentally responsible, that upholds markets at home and U.S. leadership internationally.
In short, Frum hopes Republicans will outgrow Trumpism and into everything Trump and his followers are working to smash with a mallet. Will reject democracy?
The Frum quote resurfaced a few days ago, in a week one a radio pundit called the longest month in memory. For those who spent it on a beach somewhere, the sitting president of the United States met Monday in Helsinki behind closed doors with Russian president Vladimir Putin, the former KGB officer. No record of their conversation exists (except perhaps at the headquarters of Russian intelligence). Their press conference two hours later left jaws hitting chests across the planet. Donald J. Trump all but made public obeisance before Putin, siding with him in the conclusion that Russia had not hacked U.S. computers and run influence operations during the U.S. 2016 presidential campaign. The rest of the week, including Trump's follow-up non-walk-back of his slap at the U.S. intelligence community, went about as well.
One cannot help but think Frum is late to his own party. Democracy is like the red, white, and blue bunting it hangs at campaign events and conventions — a political decoration but not a declaration of deeply held principle.
McCay Coppins, also from The Atlantic, conducted a thought experiment on Twitter. He asked if there would be blowback if Trump supporters approved Russia helping Trump defeat Hillary Clinton:
The question was rhetorical. The answers that began trickling in were not.
“No,” said Cassandra Fairbanks, a writer at the right-wing news and conspiracy website Gateway Pundit (and a former Sputnik employee). “I mean, I would be cool with it. Im already there. If russia was involved we should thank them.”
“No,” responded another self-identified Trump voter. “Hillary is a greater threat to our Republic.”
There were more, of course. Frum's party is deeply committed to law and order so long as it is used to keep the lessers in their place. Otherwise, law and order and democracy are as disposable as "cold shoulder" tops will be next summer.
During a 2012 recount hearing here, the votes of students at a local college determined the outcome of a county commission race. T-party members argued at a hearing that votes of students legally registered at the school should not count. Symm v. United States did not matter. North Carolina statute did not matter. (The Board of Elections chair quoted it to them.) The T-party alleged voter fraud (naturally) and argued, essentially, that the law should be what what they wanted it to be. During the hearing, one GOP supporter turned around to flash a hand-written sign at a student spokesperson standing near me, “You are a law breaker.”
As we have seen modeled by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, by GOP-led legislatures across the country, and by Trump himself, Frum's party has long rejected the norms and practices of democracy except as pageant. They don't want to govern. They want to rule. Laws exist to be enforced "strongly" ... against others.
Jeff Sharlet (The Family) commented on the arrest this week of Marina Butina, the 29-year-old Russian operative, who had become a minor celebrity with the National Rifle Association. We had known the Russians had been using the NRA as a backdoor into U.S. politics, but Butina also involved herself in the National Prayer Breakfast.
Organized by "a private and deeply secretive Christian organization called the Fellowship," the breakfast is the only public display of a group with a historic affinity to strongmen, writes Sharlet. The group believes in bringing key men to power as a means of shaping society for Jesus:
It’s not just the means that are antidemocratic. God, the Fellowship believes, can be understood through a study of strongmen. “You know Jesus said, ‘You got to put Him before mother-father-brother-sister’?” the late Doug Coe was fond of preaching. “Hitler, Lenin, Mao, that’s what they taught the kids.”
Putin would be a prize of another order. American fundamentalists admire his anti-LGBTQ crusades, his revival of the Russian Orthodox Church, his “family values” lip service, his bare-chested manliness. The GOP, observed Butina in The National Interest, a conservative foreign-policy publication, “derives much of its support from social conservatives … and those that support an aggressive approach to the war against Islamic terrorism. These are values espoused by [Putin’s] United Russia.”
Right Wing Media Hits Back at Sleeping Giants Founder
Four days ago the The Daily Caller, a site co-founded by Tucker Carlson, revealed the identity of one of the founders of Sleeping Giants. Today the New York Times did a follow up piece on the founder.
Just after the 2016 election, an anonymously run Twitter account emerged with a plan to choke off advertising dollars to Breitbart News, the hard-edge, nationalist website closely tied to President Trump’s administration.
The account, named Sleeping Giants, urged people to collect screenshots of ads on Breitbart and then question brands about their support of the site. Sleeping Giants correctly guessed that many companies did not know where their digital ads were running, and advertisers were caught off guard as the account circulated images of blue-chip brands in proximity to headlines like “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy.”
As hundreds of brands blocked their ads from appearing on Breitbart, and the account expanded to put pressure on certain Fox News shows, the people behind Sleeping Giants maintained their anonymity — until this week.
When I read the Daily Caller story I saw threats of violence in the comments section (although many of the worst from 4 days ago have since been deleted), as well as personal information about the founder and his wife (a violation to the Daily Caller's Terms of Service.) They listed his place of employment and clients he had worked for suggesting they be boycotted and used the phrase "Turnabout is fair play."
Based on my personal experience and a over a decade of observations, for a large section of people on the right, their idea of "turnabout" is not fair play. Their response to a legal protest action is escalated retaliation.
Death Threats Are Not Fair Play
From the article:
He added that he had received a barrage of threats and harassment in the wake of the Daily Caller article, which also named his wife and friends.
Sending the founder threats of violence--because he wrote polite alerts to advertisers suggesting that they might want to reconsider where they are advertising--is not fair play.
Look at how polite and civil this action is!
How to be a Giant:
1) look on Breitbart & take a screenshot of an ad
2) tweet it to the advertiser with a polite note
3) tag @slpng_giants
The retaliation against people politely alerting advertisers doesn't just come from unnamed trolls. Sometimes it comes from highly-paid operatives of the right. The New York Times quoted Brian Glicklich as a spokesman for Breitbart. I recognized that name. He was hired by Rush Limbaugh in 2015 for "reputation management" after 1000's of advertisers left the show after being alerted by people about the sexist comments made by Limbaugh.
What was Glicklich's method to help Rush's reputation? Did he suggest Rush stop saying disgusting sexist things? He might have, but based on the public evidence I've seen, he went after the people who contacted the advertisers--then threatened and extorted them. These tactics led to his Twitter account being suspended twice. Twitter Suspends Rush Limbaugh’s $900/Hour Fixer For Extortion, Harassment (UPDATE) Not very civil.
When someone on the left runs a successful action that has an impact on the right, one of the tactics used by the right wing media is to identify the leaders of the action so that followers on the right can act. They don't always say what the followers should do, just vague, "Who shall rid me of this troublesome priest?" suggestions. But other times, as we have seen from the bully-in-chief, he comes comes right out and encourages violence at his rallies. Not very civil.
I don't have the statistics about number or severity of threats from the right vs the left. I do know that when it comes to threats of violence, the right pretends to be the victim while they actually are the bully. For example, since they couldn't find a prominent person on the left saying what Trump does, they lied about what Maxine Waters said when she encouraged people to tell Trump cabinet members they weren't welcome in public spaces. At no time did she call for violence against or harm to come to anyone.
I'm currently looking into the SWATTING of Parkland students David Hogg on June 5th, Cameron Kasky on June 6th and Sarah Chadwick on June 11th. I've contacted the police and sheriffs in Broward County, Palm Beach and the City of Coral Spring. It's been over a month and there has been no arrests, but the case is still active and the cities are coordinating their efforts.
I've spoken to Florida legislators who are very concerned about these threats and want to ensure the people making the threats are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The good news is that Florida recently changed the state code to make threats a class 2 felony.
When the people who make threats of violence are caught, tried and convicted of felonies it will send a message that there are real consequences for those who make threats of violence.
Is it really mid-July already? For those of us who have a tendency to obsess over the inexorable decline of Western civilization, it’s easy to lose track of the “little things” sometimes like, you know, the time-space continuum. Take a breather, fergawdsake. Grab a little beach time, or a loll in the grass. Barbeque something, enjoy a cold drink. And don’t forget the tunes. Here are my picks for the 25 best summer songs. You’ve heard some of them a bazillion times; others, I’m guessing, not so much. Crank it on up!
First Class – “Beach Baby” – UK studio band First Class was the brainchild of singer-songwriter Tony Burrows, who also sang lead on other one-hit wonders, including “Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes” (The Edison Lighthouse), “My Baby Loves Lovin’” (White Plains), and “United We Stand” (The Brotherhood of Man). This pop confection was a Top 10 song in the U.S. in 1974.
Don Henley– “The Boys of Summer” – Don Henley’s most durable post-Eagles hit also features his finest lyrics. I really like this stripped-down live rendition.
Jade Warrior– “Bride of Summer” – Here’s a summer tune you’ve never heard on the radio. This hard-to-categorize band has been around since the early 70s; progressive jazz-folk-rock-world beat is the best I can do. Sadly, original guitarist Tony Duhig passed away in 1990. His multi-tracked lead on this song is sublime.
Bananarama– “Cruel Summer” – A more melancholy take on the season from the Ronettes of New Wave. I seem to recall a rather heavy rotation of this video on MTV in the summer of ’84. The video is a great time capsule of 1980s NYC.
Pink Floyd– “Granchester Meadows” – This is from one of Pink Floyd’s more obscure albums, Ummagumma. Anyone who has ever sat under a shady tree on a summer’s day strumming a guitar will “get” this song, which is one of David Gilmour’s most beautiful compositions. I love how he incorporates nature sounds.
Joni Mitchell– “The Hissing of Summer Lawns” – The haunting title cut from Joni’s 1975 album, co-written by drummer John Guernin (who also plays moog). The song also features Victor Feldman on keyboards and James Taylor on guitar.
Sly & the Family Stone– “Hot Fun in the Summertime” – A quintessential summer song and an oldies radio staple. And don’t forget…I “cloud nine” when I want to.
Walter Egan– “Hot Summer Nights” – A memorable cut from Egan’s 1977 album Fundamental Roll, which was produced by Lindsay Buckingham. Buckingham contributes the guitar licks (and backing vocals, with Stevie Nicks).
Ray Charles– “In the Heat of the Night” – This sultry, swampy main title theme for the eponymous 1967 Best Picture winner (composed by Quincy Jones, with lyrics by Marlilyn and Alan Bergman) is a perfect marriage of music with a film.
Mungo Jerry– “In the Summertime” – It wouldn’t have worked without the jug.
The Dream Academy– “Indian Summer” – If there are five stages of summer, here’s acceptance: When August and September just become memories of songs/to be put away with the summer clothes/and packed up in the attic for another year.
Chris Rea– “Looking for the Summer” – Wallet, keys…summer? Couch cushion?
Marshall Crenshaw– “Starless Summer Sky” – In a just world, this power pop genius would have ruled the airwaves. Here’s one of many perfect examples why.
The Isley Brothers– “Summer Breeze” – Yes, I know Seals & Crofts did the original version, but the Isleys always had a knack for making covers their own.
The James Gang– “Summer Breezes” – Not to be confused with the previous tune, this is an original song written by the late, great Tommy Bolin, who replaced Joe Walsh in 1973. Catchy, melodic rock with great slide work by Bolin.
The Lovin’ Spoonful– “Summer in the City” – All around, people lookin’ half-dead/walkin’ on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head. Written by John Sebastian, Mark Sebastian and Steve Boone, this 1966 hit is a clever portmanteau of music, lyrics and effects that quite literally sounds like…summer in the city.
The Webb Brothers– “Summer People” – Christaan, Justin, and James Webb started out with a pretty good pedigree-they’re the sons of songwriter Jimmy Webb. This catchy, Who-ish number is taken from their 2000 album, Marooned.
Chad & Jeremy– “A Summer Song” – The biggest hit for this British pop duo (it made the Top 10 in 1964). I always thought it had a Simon & Garfunkel vibe to it.
XTC– “Summer’s Cauldron/Grass” – A mini-suite of sorts, all about summer romance, lazy days, and the uh, things we did on grass. Produced by Todd Rundgren.
Ella Fitzgerald– “Summertime” – This classic George Gershwin song (from his 1935 opera Porgy and Bess) has been covered by many artists (allegedly there are 25,000 recordings), but I feel that Lady Ella’s version is pretty damn close to definitive.
Blue Cheer– “Summertime Blues” – Eddie Cochran wrote and performed it originally, and the Who did a great cover on Live at Leeds, but for sheer attitude, I’ve got to go with this proto-punk (some have argued, proto-metal) classic from 1968.
The Kinks– “Sunny Afternoon” – This poor guy. Taxman’s taken all his dough, girlfriend’s run off with his car…but he’s not going to let that ruin his summer: Now I’m sittin here/ sippin’ at my ice-cooled beer/ lazin’ on a sunny afternoon…
The Drifters– “Under the Boardwalk” – Kenny Young and Arthur Resnick wrote this iconic 1964 Top 10 hit, and Johnny Moore sings the lead tenor vocal. The group has a very strained and byzantine history (over 60 members since 1953), but its legacy is assured by the likes of this tune, “On Broadway”, “Save the Last Dance for Me”, “This Magic Moment”, “Dance With Me”, “Up on the Roof”, and many others.
Central Line– “Walking into Sunshine” – This jazz-funk outfit hailed from the UK and produced three albums from 1978-1984. This 1981 tune was a U.S. club hit.
The Beach Boys– “The Warmth of the Sun” – This song (featuring one of Brian Wilson’s most gorgeous melodies), appeared on the 1964 album Shut Down Vol 2. Atypically introspective and melancholy for this era of the band, it had an unusual origin story. Wilson and Mike Love allegedly began work on the tune in the wee hours of the morning JFK was assassinated; news of the event changed the tenor of the lyrics, as well as having an effect on the emotion driving the vocal performance.
Russia’s Foreign Minister has held a telephone call with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which he complained about the Americans’ arrest of a Russian woman on allegations of being a covert agent.
U.S. prosecutors have accused Maria Butina of working to infiltrate political organizations, including the National Rifle Association, before and after Donald Trump’s election as president in 2016.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov “stressed the unacceptability of the actions of the U.S. authorities who arrested Russian citizen Butina on the basis of fabricated charges, and the need for her early release,” the ministry said about the Saturday call.
The two diplomats also “exchanged views on prospects for further building relations” in the wake of the Helsinki summit of Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the ministry said.
A young Trump supporter from central California has lost his wrestling scholarship after being caught happily spewing hate on camera, alongside his father and a friend. On June 30, Bronson Harmon, 18, pictured above, showed up as counterprotesters to the Modesto #FamilesBelongTogether rally with his father, Todd, and an unnamed friend. After the event ended, an attendee encountered the screaming father-son-friend trio, and whipped out his phone.
Abdul Lasaing, who recorded the video, said he heard the men shouting as they approached so he pulled out his cell phone.
“I not once said anything to these guys, I was just walking,” Lasaing told The Tribune on Wednesday. “I’m not sure if I was disrespected for my skin color or my “World Peace” sign. I was shocked.”
Lasaing said he was scared because one of the men, Todd Harmon, was wearing gloves and looked like he was there to fight.
Just as the video begins, Papa Todd can be heard shrieking “Send their asses back!” Apparently unwilling to disappoint his father, the younger Harmon, who knows he’s being filmed, shouts “Fuck you, faggot!” at Lasaing. Bronson then flips him the bird, while a still-unnamed friend smiles for the camera.
Presumably, the Harmons and Bronson’s buddy headed home to do whatever racists do after a long day of hate mongering. Meanwhile, Lasaing uploaded the video to Facebook; as of this writing, it’s been viewed over 41,000 times. In another video, posted to Twitter but since deleted, the younger Harmon was recorded shouting “Take pictures of this! Trump 2020!” The family was later involved in a physical altercation, according to Modesto Police Department spokesperson Sharon Bear.
According to Harmon, he saw a man placing a screwdriver behind the tire of his father’s truck as they were getting ready to leave. The man, who later filed a complaint with police, said he saw the screwdriver and was trying to pick it up to prevent a flat tire.
Bronson and the others confronted the man and allegedly pushed him, according to the complaint, and he fell against a tree and scraped his arm. There was a small amount of blood on his arm and clothing, but he refused medical assistance at that time, Bear said. The victim asked to press charges. Harmon told The Tribune he never touched the man.
Just three days later, on July 2, Jon Sioredas, the wrestling coach at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, called Harmon and told him his wrestling scholarship had been revoked. Cal Poly Athletic Director Don Oberhelman refused to discuss the decision in-depth, but did tell The Tribune that the video had been viewed by school officials before the scholarship was rescinded.
Oberhelman said the offer of financial aid signed by all student athletes says the university can cancel aid for actions that could cause embarrassment to the school at the discretion of the athletic director.
As of Tuesday, Harmon, who was one of the Golden State’s top-ranked wrestlers, still plans to attend the university, and focus on his dreams of being a mixed martial arts fighter. He also expressed something slightly resembling regret, with a healthy scoop of First Amendment victimhood.
“Saying what I said is definitely not the right thing. I am supposed to be there to help the community be the best person I can be and represent the college the best way I can,” Harmon told The Tribune on Tuesday. “But I still feel like my freedom of speech was taken away, and I don’t think my scholarship should have been revoked over something like that.”
The Washington Post has a great insider account of what happened at the White House over the last week. But it's the lede that says it all:
Executive time began early on Thursday, just after sunrise.
Feeling exasperated and feisty as he awoke in the White House residence, President Trump firedoff his grievances on Twitter about how the media had been covering his Helsinki summit. And, refusing to be cowed, Trump gave national security adviser John Bolton an order: to schedule a second summit and officially invite Putin to visit Washington.
The two presidents had already discussed the likelihood of a follow-up meeting, but at Trump’s direction Thursday morning, Bolton sprang into action to make it official, making an overture to the Kremlin. By midafternoon the White House announced that plans were underway for a fall summit in Washington.
The bulletin landed midway through a remarkably candid interview of Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats at the Aspen Security Forum that underscored the disconnect and tension on Russia policy between Trump and his administration. The intelligence chief criticized Trump’s performance during the Helsinki summit and — taking a deep breath and then offering a prolonged grimace-laugh — made clear that he had no advance knowledge of the follow-up meeting with Putin.
“That’s going to be special,” Coats said wryly, as the crowd in Aspen, Colo., rallied around him in sympathy for being left in the dark.
For Trump and his White House, the days that followed the Helsinki summit amounted to an unofficial Walk Back Week — a daily scramble of corrections and clarifications from the West Wing. Each announcement, intended to blunt the global fallout of the president’s Russophilic performance in Helsinki, was followed by another mishap that only fueled more consternation.
The Giant Toddler had a tantrum after watching TV and decided to show everybody by inviting the foreign leader who sabotaged Hillary Clinton's election campaign for him to a big summit at the White House.
That's what we're dealing with.
I have no doubt that he made some deal with or is under the influence of Vladimir Putin. There's just no way to avoid that reality anymore. But he's also a psychologically and intellectually unfit cretin. There's something very wrong with him. Either of those problems should disqualify him and render him subject to impeachment. Both together represents a clear and present danger to all of us.
As this week’s end, it seems likely that it is quite near time for killing those involved in the multiple and clearly delineated attempts to stage a coup d’état against the legitimately elected [sic] Trump government and thereby kill our republic.
Finally, this week saw a significant and quickening advance toward the moment when those millions of well-armed citizens who voted for Trump, and who have been abused or wounded by Democrats, their Antifa-thugs, and their thug-civil servants for exercising their franchise to elect Trump, cannot be, in good conscience, patient for much longer.
Fortunately, they have in hand a long and very precise list of the names and photographs...
That's right. Scheur even provided a list of people who it is "quite near time to kill."
As Occupy Ice camps continue to spread across the US, some activists have warned that they have been subjected to intimidation by armed, Trump-supporting counter-protesters...
American Action Force 3% members arrived at the Occupy Ice Louisville camp, outside the city’s Ice building, early on 14 July. Many in the group were carrying guns.
As Chekov memorably said, "One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn't going to go off. It's wrong to make promises you don't mean to keep." In this case, the "stage" is ICE protests. But, to paraphrase another dramatist, in Trump's reality-show America, any action protesting Trump is potentially a stage, and we are but targets.
It is my sincere hope that I am wrong but I'm afraid Charlottesville was a prelude. tristero 7/21/2018 08:00:00 AM
Trump boosts manufacturing of orphans
by Tom Sullivan
The Trump administration has returned only a small fraction of separated children to their parents.
The court-imposed deadline is less than a week away for the Trump administration to reunite migrant families it forcibly separated a the border as part of its "zero tolerance" approach to refugees. The administration missed a deadline last week for reuniting children under five with their parents. Of the more than twenty-five hundred children in government detention, only 450 between the ages of 5 and 17 have reunited with their parents ahead of the July 26 deadline.
The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security that found it easy to take children from their parents' arms at U.S.-Mexico border stations find it much more difficult to reunite them. DHS personnel admitted weeks ago that records linking parents and their children have disappeared and in some case destroyed (a DHS spokesperson disputes this). HHS requested volunteers to help pore through case records to match children with their parents.
The Trump administration admitted Thursday while it had found 1,606 parents "potentially eligible" for reunification with their children, another 900 have been classified ineligible.
Of the parents the government claims are ineligible for reunification, two are in state or federal custody, 136 "waived" reunification rights when interviewed, 91 had a criminal record or were otherwise deemed ineligible. But, the largest group -- mostly likely to cause further questions -- are 679 that require "further evaluation."
On Monday, an HHS official took the witness stand and revealed under questioning that the administration has not been able to identify the parents of 71 children. There is no reference to that group in Thursday’s filing. The filing also contained no information about parents who have already been deported without their children. The administration promised to provide that data to the court and the ACLU sometime on Friday, including the date of the deportation, the parents’ home country, and the last place they were detained in the United States.
In the same joint status report, the American Civil Liberties Union complained that the government has refused to give them the information it needs to contact parents and inform them of their legal rights. In particular, the attorneys say they are concerned about the roughly 700 parents in the class who have a final order of removal, and may be swiftly deported just after they are reunified.
Thus, Trump's America treats destitute refugees seeking asylum by making orphans of their children.
Barbara Hines, a retired clinical law professor from the University of Texas School of Law, describes for the Austin American-Statesman the detention system for asylum seekers as the tip of the iceberg in a sprawling system of mostly for-profit private facilities housing 40,000 immigrants daily:
An utter lack of transparency and incompetence have been hallmarks of detention. The disorganized reunification process of separated children is clear evidence. The focus on abducted children has highlighted problems that immigration advocates — including myself — have complained about for years. Abhorrent conditions, sexual abuse, inadequate food, lack of medical care and deaths in detention have been repeatedly documented. Although nothing in the system changes, the administration has pushed for expanded and longer detention.
Immigrants arrested in South Texas have always been held in freezing and crowded cage-like cells. Only now has this hidden gulag sprung into public vision.
In most facilities, immigrants in the so-called civil system are clothed in prison jump suits. They are transferred at will across the country from one detention center to another, even when they have legal representation. For example, separated parents were moved from Laredo, Texas, to Tacoma, Washington. Indigenous-language speakers cannot convey their legal claims or find their children. There are insufficient interpreters for this population, and phone interpretation lines are frequently broken. Attorneys must communicate with clients by leaving messages that may never be delivered. Waiting times to see clients can be up to three hours, and attorneys must share the few available visitation rooms. At the Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, where many separated mothers were incarcerated, the visitation rooms consist of see-through plastic cubicles that are not soundproof.
Despite the similarities with the prison model, immigrants are not entitled to court-appointed lawyers. This makes navigating the immigration court system nearly impossible for most immigrants.
Emma Platoff of the Texas Tribune on Thursday posted a Twitter thread of court documents in which detainees confirm what Hines's experience: detainees signing documents they cannot read; no legal assistance; denial of requests for asylum processing, etc.
National Public Radio last night ran a story of a woman Lourdes (last name withheld) who had a "credible fear" hearing with an asylum officer in El Paso:
Back in 2012, Lourdes says, she owned a small clothing store in Honduras. A local gang tried to extort money from her — money she didn't have.
"Four people came into my store, with their faces covered," Lourdes said. They beat her, and burned her arm with acid, she said, and damaged her left hand so severely that four fingers had to be amputated.
She went into hiding for five years. When she emerged, she says, the gang found her and threatened to kill her. The asylum officer in El Paso denied her claim. She is scheduled for deportation.
"The Trump administration is trying to send a message to asylum seekers," said Carlos Moctezuma Garcia, an immigration lawyer in McAllen, Texas. "Perhaps we will reunify you. But we'll reunify you on the plane back to your home country, without allowing you to present your full case before an immigration judge," Garcia said.
Garcia says he recently visited the ICE facility in Port Isabel, Texas, where some of his clients are detained. Out of 76 women in the cell block, Garcia says, his clients told him that only 8 had passed the credible fear screening.
L. Francis Cissna, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, testified before Congress in May that he wants to curtail "frivolous filings." Many smugglers, traffickers, and criminals, he said, are exploiting the system, creating "lingering backlogs can be exploited and used to undermine national security and the integrity of the asylum system." His testimony provided no data to establish the scope of the problem.
Is is a "get tough" argument similar to that used to erect barriers to voting in the name of election integrity. God forbid any who cheat get through the net – we cannot say how few. Better to make the barriers higher for everyone. "Zero tolerance" is not simply a policy, but an authoritarian mindset.
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