Sunday, June 24, 2018

This might have been the most embarrassing day in the history of the Fox News network

Laura Ingraham and Jeff Sessions making a mockery of decency and morality

Just when you think Fox News can’t go any lower, they find a sinkhole. Monday, while people nationwide were grappling with images of children being held in cages and were listening to the stomach-churning cries of a young girl repeatedly crying, “Noooo, Papa! Nooo, Papa!” as border agents tore her from her father in an audio recording snuck out of a Texas detention facility, the folks over at Fox News were clearly sticking to their marching orders: blame Democrats and downplay the cruelty that is clearly on display for the world to see. Here’s a round-up of the more callous, hateful, embarrassing and downright jaw-dropping moments their entire line-up shoved to viewers throughout the day. Buckle up and ride this embarrassing wave until the end.

The morning began with the bubbly Fox & Friends crew helpfully Foxsplaining to viewers that the children aren’t really being kept in cages. You see, they are “merely chain-link walls” to create rooms. Small rooms, but hey! Definitely not cages! Nothing to worry about Fox viewers, toooooootally not cages. (If you missed it, please view that video rage-inducing below.)

But, it was the evening and night time line-up that provided the best of the worst for Fox News. Let’s work our way through the crazy by starting with Tucker Carlson’s White Supremacy Power Hour. Carlson has really unleashed his racism since Donald Trump was elected and last night it was on full display as he went back and forth between dismissing critics of this border cruelty because many of the people publicly decrying this policy probably “don’t even have kids” (what?) and complaining “their goal is to change your country forever.” It doesn’t take a genius to decipher Tucker’s message to his white audience.

And with no irony detected whatsoever, Carlson’s guest, acting ICE Director Thomas Homan said the comparison to Nazis is unfair because “they are simply following orders.”

Next up, Sean Hannity spent his show trying to create news by once again bashing Hillary Clinton and the now-closed email investigation, the same investigation that Republicans have gone back over and over and over again. The same investigation that didn’t result in any charges and won’t in the future, no matter how much Republicans wish it were so. But, here’s Sean kicking that horse for the delight of his #1 viewer and best pal, Donald Trump.

Perhaps Sean and Donald were angry with Hillary Clinton after she grabbed headlines and wild applause yesterday when she called out Donald Trump's blatant immigration lies and said it's time for women to lead.
via GIPHY 

But, nothing, and I mean NOTHING could top The Ingraham Angle with host Laura Ingraham and special guest, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. First up, Laura Ingraham laughed off the suggestion that tearing kids, including babies, from their parents and sticking them in cages inside a former Walmart amounted to child abuse. Ingraham wanted her audience to know, these child prisons are “essentially summer camps!”

What the hell kind of summer camp does Laura Ingraham send her kids to? We have one working as a summer camp counselor right now and you know what they are doing? Zip lining, learning how to care for animals, doing craft projects, creating variety show skits and making s’mores over a campfire.

But, my God, nothing could prepare us for what came next on Ingraham’s show. Attorney General Jeff Sessions joined Ingraham to beat back the growing, legitimate comparisons between the concentration camps of Germany and these border facilities and the indefinite lock-up of migrants. Hitler whipped up nationalism using many of these same techniques, scapegoating Jewish people and immigrants. So, how did Sessions bat down these comparisons? By claiming they are nothing like the Nazis because Hitler wouldn’t let the Jews leave Germany. See? Tooooootally different.

Serious question, what is wrong with these people? Where were they radicalized to be so cruel and inhumane? Every action they take is more un-American and deplorable than the last. It is past time for Congress start acting as the check and balance they were intended to be. The only way this stops is if they find their spines and/or the American people send them to the unemployment lines in November. In the meantime, pick up the phone and call your elected representatives today to demand this policy end and these children are reunited with their parents.
WASHINGTON - AUGUST 18:  The phone number of the U.S. Capitol switchboard is displayed during a news conference to call on Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to open up a debate on offshore drilling on Capitol Hill August 18, 2008 in Washington, DC. House Republicans have urged people to call Democratic House Representatives in their districts to return to the Congress from their recess for the debate.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
If you get voicemail here, please Google the state office numbers of your elected representatives. Staffers are far more likely to pick-up these calls in the individual offices across the country. 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Trump Doing Little to Reunite Separated Children, According to Immigration Attorneys

Demonstrators rally against Trump's policy of separating families at the southern border. (photo: Eugene Garcia/EPA)
Demonstrators rally against Trump's policy of separating families at the southern border. (photo: Eugene Garcia/EPA)

By Kevin Sieff, The Washington Post

ach of the mothers had a different memory of the moment she was separated from her child.

For some, it was outside a Border Patrol station just north of the Rio Grande, shortly after being apprehended. For others, it was after an interrogation by federal authorities in a bitterly cold air-conditioned office.

Jodi Goodwin, an attorney in Harlingen, Tex., has heard more than two dozen variations of those stories from Central American mothers who have been detained for days or weeks without their children. So far, she has not been able to locate a single one of their offspring.

“It’s just a total labyrinth,” she said.

Even though the Trump administration has halted its policy of separating illegal border crossers from their children, many of the over 2,300 youths removed from migrant parents since May 5 remain in shelters and foster homes across the country.

The U.S. government has done little to help with the reunifications, attorneys say, prompting them to launch a frantic, improvised effort to find the children — some of them toddlers.

One legal aid organization, the Texas Civil Rights Project, is representing more than 300 parents and has been able to track down only two children.

“Either the government wasn’t thinking at all about how they were going to put these families back together, or they decided they just didn’t care,” said Natalia Cornelio, with the organization.

Government officials say they have given detained parents a flier with a toll-free number for the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the U.S. agency that is usually in charge of providing shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children. But not a single one of Goodwin’s clients had received one, she said. Lawyers maintain that when they have called the number, often no one answered. In some cases, when someone did pick up, that person refused to offer details of where children had been taken, the lawyers said.

“You wait and wait for no information,” said Jerry Wesevich, an attorney at Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid who is suing the government over the family separations.

Further complicating matters are bureaucratic errors that could leave government officials unaware that a child’s parent is detained in the United States. Attorneys also worry that some toddlers, or children who speak indigenous languages, might not have been able to give officials their parents’ complete names.

Because of such complications, attorneys and former U.S. officials have begun speaking about the possibility of “permanent separations.”

In the case of one Guatemalan family, the Border Patrol failed to note in its apprehension report that a mother and daughter crossed the border together, according to Wesevich. Without that information, government officials might not be aware that the child’s parent is detained in the United States.

In other cases, Cornelio said, children arrive at shelters without the facility knowing that they have been separated from their parents, meaning they could be considered unaccompanied minors rather than children in need of reunification.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement typically tries to find family members, foster parents or sponsors to take in children in its care. But it can take weeks before such people are approved to receive the children. That process normally applies to children who arrived in the United States without a relative.

“For the minors currently in the unaccompanied alien children program, the sponsorship process will proceed as usual,” Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement on Wednesday. The refu­gee resettlement office is part of HHS.

The U.S. government spent months developing the family-separation system, but authorities were struggling on Thursday to figure out how to reunite detained parents with children. There was no system for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which handled the parents’ cases, to work on the issue with the refu­gee resettlement office, which is responsible for the children.

Spokesmen at the Office of Refugee Resettlement did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Attorneys have described heart-wrenching meetings with their clients, who ask again and again for information about their children, often weeping in South Texas detention centers.

“We have to say, ‘We don’t know where your child is. The government is responsible for keeping your child safe,’” Wesevich said. “No parent would be satisfied with that.”
Goodwin said: “I tell them, ‘I’m not going to lie to you if I don’t know where your child is.’ ”

Some attorneys have been able to confirm with the government that their client’s child is in custody, but even in those cases, government authorities have often been unwilling to arrange phone calls between the two, or provide details about where the child is held, lawyers said.

“Reunification is obviously the goal, but they won’t even set up a phone call, so a parent can know that a child is safe,” said Rochelle Garza, an attorney in Brownsville, Tex.

In the absence of government assistance, attorneys have developed their own ad hoc system of tracking down the children of their clients. They ask the parents for the children’s names and then pass those along to legal organizations — many of them federally funded — that are representing the undocumented children.

But because the children’s lawyers are overwhelmed by their caseloads, responses can take days or weeks.

On Thursday morning, Goodwin began training a “rapid-response team” of volunteer lawyers who arrived from Washington, D.C., to help with the reunifications and asylum claims. Other lawyers waited outside a detention center in Brownsville, Tex., to meet some of the parents.

In some cases, there’s an especially urgent need for reunifications. On Thursday morning, the cases of 17 undocumented parents were dismissed in a federal court in McAllen, Tex., a possible shift away from the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy.

“But the children are still detained and there’s no reunification plan,” Cornelio said.

Erik Hanshew, an assistant public defender in El Paso, described dealing with the refu­gee resettlement office as a “chaotic and byzantine” process in an op-ed for The Washington Post this week.

“Some of our investigators have waited nearly an hour just to get a person on the line. And once they find someone, their inquiries are met with vague statements that the child is in the United States,” he wrote.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Frightening actual Dr. Suess cartoon from 1941

Canada Becomes Second Country in World to Legalize Marijuana

A woman celebrates National Marijuana Day in Ottawa. Canadian lawmakers voted Tuesday to legalize cannabis. (photo: Chris Roussakis/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman celebrates National Marijuana Day in Ottawa. Canadian lawmakers voted Tuesday to legalize cannabis. (photo: Chris Roussakis/AFP/Getty Images)

By Associated Press
anada's Senate gave final passage Tuesday to the federal government's bill to legalize cannabis, though Canadians will have to wait at least a couple of months to legally buy marijuana as their country becomes the second in the world to make pot legal nationwide.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government had hoped to make pot legal by July 1, but the government has said provincial and territorial governments will need eight to 12 weeks following Senate passage and royal assent to prepare for retail sales. Trudeau's government is expected to decide a date that would legalize it in early or mid-September.

"It's been too easy for our kids to get marijuana — and for criminals to reap the profits. Today, we change that. Our plan to legalize & regulate marijuana just passed the Senate," Trudeau tweeted.

Canada is following the lead of Uruguay in allowing a nationwide, legal marijuana market, although each Canadian province is working up its own rules for pot sales. The federal government and the provinces also still need to publish regulations that will govern the cannabis trade.

The bill passed in the Senate by a vote of 52-29.

"We have seen in the Senate tonight a historic vote that ends 90 years of prohibition of cannabis in this country, 90 years of needless criminalization, 90 years of a just-say-no approach to drugs that hasn't worked," said independent Sen. Tony Dean, who sponsored the bill in the upper house.

Canada is the largest developed country to end a nationwide prohibition on marijuana use. In the neighboring U.S., nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana. California, home to 1 in 8 Americans, launched the United States' biggest legal marijuana marketplace in January.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould tweeted that it was a "historic milestone for progressive policy in Canada as we shift our approach to cannabis."

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor tweeted she was thrilled that the Senate approved the bill. "We're on the cusp of a sensible, responsible and equitable cannabis policy," she said.

The Canadian government largely followed the advice of a marijuana task force headed by former Liberal Health Minister Anne McLellan as well as the advice of former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, who is the parliamentary secretary to the justice minister.

The task force recommended adults be allowed to carry up to 30 grams of pot and grow up to four plants. It also said marijuana should not be sold in the same location as alcohol or tobacco.

The most controversial aspect of Canada's move to legalize marijuana nationwide has been setting the minimum age for use at 18 or 19, depending on the province. That is lower than in U.S. states that have embraced legalization.

Advocates argued that putting the limit at 21 would encourage a black market and drive youths into the hands of criminals. But some health experts have worried that the lower age will encourage use of a substance that can have long-term consequences on still-maturing brains.

Conservative senators remained staunchly opposed to legalization.

"We're going to have all those involved in illegal marijuana peddling right now becoming large corporation," Conservative Sen. Leo Housakos said. "When you normalize the use of marijuana and you're a young person and you had certain reservations because of the simple fact that it was illegal, there's, I believe, a propensity to have somebody be more inclined to use it."

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Never underestimate the ability of white conservatives to feel sorry for themselves

The ability to empathize with others is what's supposed to separate us from the animals. The problem with this country is selfishness, and the inability of some to feel sympathy about anyone other than themselves.
I had a conversation with a friend last night about the nature of evil. She’s someone who’s very new-age spiritual in mindset, and we’ve had variations of this discussion before, but her perspective drives me nuts because she’s someone who should be smart enough to know better. The gist of her argument is a moral relativism which states there is no objective right and wrong in the universe. There are only differing viewpoints. So, for example, slavery is not evil per se, just a case of differing values and the context of the environments in which those values formed. And, to this end, in talking about Trump and conservative support for child abuse on our southern border, this friend of mine stated she didn’t think it was “evil,” just the fact privileged people don’t have the background or life experience to have an empathetic view towards people in this situation.

I believe this is absolute bullshit.

If someone sees suffering in front of them, or is told their actions are harming another, a person’s indifference to or rationalizations for it is evil. Because that’s what evil is: extreme selfishness. Whether it be slavery, pedophilia, child abuse, or just your average, every day dickish behavior towards one’s fellow man, all of them have in common that someone somewhere decided their pleasure and comfort were more important than someone else’s pain. This friend I’m talking about is also a vegan who in the past has lectured me about how I’m “consuming” the suffering and negative spiritual energy of an animal every time I have a cheeseburger or drink dairy.

Well, if that’s true, then what the hell kind of consumption is going on when people either actively cheer, make excuses for, or are indifferent to children screaming for their parents?

The past 50 years of the conservative movement has been based in selfishness. Whether it’s a “fuck you, I got mine!” rejection of any social safety net, a need to impose their own religious tenets on others, or a glee from spite (i.e., “suck it, libtards”) when they destroy anything a Democratic president has accomplished, all of it is selfish. It’s always rooted in an individualism which borders on narcissism that’s all about them. It’s not about society. It’s not about the future. It’s about expressions of their needs and insecurities. All of this, in and of itself, has been bad enough, but it’s the sanctimonious rationalizations which piss me off the most.

Over the past year, I’ve written a lot about conservatives seeing themselves as victims and how that mirrors trends in popular culture. But it also has some rather disturbing historical implications as well. Because … history may not repeat, but it sure does rhyme.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Trump's speech to National Federation of Independent Businesses is rant of a dictator

Donald Trump spoke on Tuesday morning to the National Federation of Independent Businesses. In the speech, which received a frighteningly level of cheers, Trump declared those who oppose him are criminals, declaimed that he wants “security, not judges” and repeatedly insisted that his political opponents should simply shut up. In a stunning, angry tirade, Trump talked about Canadians smuggling shoes, repeated his lies about crime rates in Germany, and make a shocking claim that in reporting about families being separated by his immigration policies the news media was supporting criminals and child smugglers.
Trump: They are helping these smugglers and these traffickers.  They know exactly that they’re doing. They know it. They know exactly what they’re doing. And it should be stopped.
Though Trump supposedly came to talk about health care, he jumped immediately into questions of immigration in a speech that was not just unhinged, but unbound.

In just a few rambling minutes, he claimed that Democrats want criminals to come into the country, attacked both Canada and Mexico, and repeatedly returned to deeply racist, xenophobic message that saw him come gliding down a golden elevator at the start of his campaign. 
Trump: These countries that we give tremendous foreign aid to in many cases, they send these people up & they're not sending their finest. Does that sound familiar? Remember I made that speech and I was badly criticized? Turns out I was 100% right and that's why I got elected."
The idea that there is some kind of organized effort among foreign governments to select bad people and put them up for the lengthy, heavily vetted and extremely unlikely prospect of receiving a diversity visa is a conspiracy that exists only in Trump’s mind.  But that did not stop Trump from using it as not just the basis of actions he’s taken so far, but of new, even less sensible foreign policy.

And that’s still not the worst or most frightening part of this speech.
Trump: I’m going for authorization that when countries abuse us by sending their people up—not their best—we’re not going to give any more aid to those countries. Why the hell should we? This is a responsible, common-sense approach that all lawmakers should embrace.
Trump is punishing countries for something he dreamed up. Following this point, Trump claimed that the United States had surpassed Germany in the number of people who had applied for asylum—treating that as it represented a great failure. Trump then followed up by talking about how Germany had taken in “millions” of immigrants and repeating his false claim that Germany’s crime rate had gone up. But Trump doesn’t have to be telling the truth. Because this was just one of at several occassions in the speech where he declared that he was right simply because he won.
Trump: Crooked Hilary Clinton is questioning that statistic. She says 'it's not true, it's not true.’ Didn't she already have her chance?
Trump’s claim that countries are intentionally sending criminals to the US is a complete fantasy, but Trump now claims it was proven true “because I was elected.” Hilary Clinton can’t cite statistics, because she already had “her chance.”

Trump isn’t making arguments. He’s saying that he doesn’t have to argue. He won. So he’s right. About everything, all the time. And since Trump is now privileged to make up statistics, he can make them say anything he wants.
Trump: You say ‘Welcome to America, welcome to our country ...’ You never get them out! Because they take their name. They bring their name down, they file it. Then they let the person go. They say, ‘Show back up to court in one year from now.’ One year! But here’s the thing. That in itself is ridiculous. Like three percent come back.”
There is indeed something “ridiculous” in that statement, because the statistic is closer to 80 percent. Even the most immigrant-angry Republicans had previously made claim of “only two thirds.” Trump has now pulled out a number that’s wrong by an order of magnitude. And then some.

In mid-speech, Trump wandered in and out of talking about the IG report, which he claimed showed that the government was full of “terrible people” and that Hilary Clinton got away with terrible things. Trump also insisted that Mexico was a hellhole where no one could live for more than a “couple of days” and Canada so burdened by tariffs that Canadians came to the US to smuggle back shoes, which they made appear old by “scuffing them up” and wearing them across the border.

Trump also reserved part of his attack for Democrats.
Trump: We need Democrats support. They don’t want to give it, because Democrats love open borders — let the whole world come in. The whole world! MS-13! Gang members from all over the place. Come on in, we have open borders. And they view that possibly intelligently except that it’s destroying our country. They view that as potential voters. Someday, they’re going to vote for Democrats.
What evidence does Trump offer for this? Because he won. That’s all. And because he won, he doesn’t have to answer to anyone. Which, so long as Republicans in the House and Senate agree, is absolutely right.

Trump’s speech may seem on the surface like just another of his bumbling rants. But there’s a serious, deeply concerning theme here: He can’t be questioned. He can’t be contradicted. He hasn’t been elected, he’s been anointed as ruler.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Top Six Dictators Who Also Divided Children From Parents Like Trump/Sessions

Joseph Stalin. (photo: AP)
Joseph Stalin. (photo: AP)

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment
18 June 18

eparating children from their parents, as Trump, Sessions and their myrmidons are doing, is monstrous and has been characteristic of the biggest dictators of the modern era. Here are a few cases in case you don’t believe me:

1. Stalin’s police used to designate some Soviet citizens as “enemies of the people” and then would take their children from those families. Some so designated who had their families confiscated were Jews.

2. Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the 1970s, 1980s:

Every family that lived in the cities was forced by Khmer Rouge soldiers to work in the fields in the countryside. This was the time in which husbands and wives, mothers, fathers and their children, and brothers and sisters were all separated from each other.

3. Under Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, Catholic hospitals were encouraged to steal babies from leftist families at the hospital, telling the parents they were stillborn, and then to give the infants to right wing families to raise.

4. Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator, expelled tens of thousands of Iraqis of Iranian heritage as marked by their family names. In some instances, Saddam kept the children but expelled the parents:

“Many Shi’a refugees from southern Iraq testified about the forcible separation of their families during the early years of the Iran-Iraq war, when the Baath regime summarily deported tens of thousands of Shi’a to Iran on the grounds that they were of “Iranian origin.”

5. The Burmese military junta has separated Muslim children from their families, as part of the ongoing attempt by the Buddhists to expel the Muslims.

6. And, yes, Hitler separated children from their families on a large scale. In some instances, he had children with blonde hair and blue eyes born into “Slavic” families kidnapped and given to a German family to raise Aryan.