Browsing the blog archives for June, 2018.


A Toxic Man

Trump Maladministration

The Capital Gazette put out a newspaper today.

Yesterday’s shooter, Jarrod W. Ramos, had been waging a feud with the newspaper since an article published in 2011 described how he had been stalking and harassing a local woman. Ramos sued the newspaper for defamation, but the judge in the case dismissed it, pointing out that everything written in the article appeared to be true. He’d been issuing threats against the paper and its staff from time to time since.

So, once again, we see a man’s fanatical, entitled grievance fueling a mass shooting. And this syndrome is interconnected not just to misogyny and the gun culture, but to Trump support and terrorism around the world generally.

I’ll be traveling today and won’t be able to communicate.  Do talk among yourselves about whatever is happening.

 

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Dems Get a Memo

Trump Maladministration

Rep. Joe Crowley of New York’s 14th Congressional District was apparently too busy setting up his challenge to Nancy Pelosi’s speakership to defend himself against a primary challenge, and he lost the nomination to a Bernie Sanders socialist.

Crowley, who is chairman of the Queens Democratic Party, had never faced a serious primary challenge in any of his 10 previous elections. But Ocasio-Cortez picked up steam in the 14th Congressional District by channeling progressive dissatisfaction with New York’s Democratic establishment. She tied Crowley (not unfairly) to Wall Street and real estate interests and argued that it was time for the overwhelmingly non-white district to be represented by someone like her, a Puerto Rican from the Bronx.

The Young Turks had also called Crowley a “Big Pharma favorite.” But to be fair, Crowley had signed on to “Medicare for All.” He wasn’t quite as oblivious as Nancy Pelosi. Still, there was one article that spelled our why Crowley represented what’s wrong with the Democrats. See Crowley’s loss leaves gaping void for next generation of Democratic leaders.

Crowley’s loss drew immediate comparisons to the stunning upset of Eric Cantor (R-Va.) four years ago when he was the sitting House majority leader and lost to now-Rep. Dave Brat (Va.) in the GOP primary.

But, in that instance, House Republicans had several other young lawmakers who had the standing and support to rise into top posts, including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who was waiting in the wings for another year to take charge.

Crowley, 56, despite being in his 20th year in office, was considered a relative newcomer to Democratic leadership circles because the other three have been at the top since early last decade, longer than most House Democrats have even served in Congress.

There’s Nancy Pelosi, 78, the California Democrat who has served four years as speaker and is in her 12th year as minority leader; Steny H. Hoyer, 79, the Maryland Democrat who is in his 16th year serving as Pelosi’s top deputy; and James E. Clyburn, 77, the South Carolina Democrat who has been the No. 3 leader for a dozen years.  …

… Pelosi and the other 70-somethings have been in something close to a staring contest over who would retire first and open the door for one of the others to take the top reins, all while the rank-and-file Democrats grew increasingly anxious about the line of succession amid a string of election defeats and disappointments.

Crowley is younger than I am, but he’s still a balding, gray-haired, chubby white guy with little apparent charisma. If that’s the best Democrats can offer in the way of the “next generation of Democratic leaders,” this is a problem.

In social media one perpetually comes across discussions of who should be the democratic nominee in 2020, and it’s nearly always the same few names that have been around forever, like Joe Biden. I like Joe, but he’s a relic of the past at this point. Why don’t the Democrats allow young lawmakers to rise to the top posts? The Dems seriously need newer, and more diverse, faces to represent them if they are going to win the trust and loyalty of younger voters.

Did Crowley’s loss amount to a wake up call? James Hohmann wrote,

Just like loathing of Barack Obama kept Republicans united in 2014, disgust with the president will keep Democrats together going into the fall elections. But make no mistake: The party’s identity crisis will be front and center after November, especially if Nancy Pelosi steps down or gets dislodged as the leader of House Democrats. The internecine conflict could become all-consuming in the free-for-all nominating contest to take on Trump in 2020 and cause a leftward lurch that helps the president win reelection.

This is bullshit. Ossified Democratic leadership is the cause of the “identity crisis,” and if the party doesn’t start to lurch left, good luck turning the young folks out to vote. As Dylan Scott says, Maybe Democrats should stop being afraid of the left.

Anyway, congratulations to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who sounds like just what the Dems need.

Elsewhere: In a ruling even worse than the Muslim ban atrocity from yesterday, SCOTUS nixed public sector unions.

On the plus side, a judge has given Trump 15 days to reunite parents with the young children he took away from them, and 30 days to return older children.

Satellite images revealed that North Korea has been continuing to upgrade a major nuclear reactor since the Singapore Summit. What? You mean Kim lied to Trump? Who would have imagined that? No reaction from Trump yet.

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Forget the Norms

Trump Maladministration

Of course I’m disappointed with the SCOTUS ruling upholding Trump Muslim travel ban. But I can’t help but remember that President Obama, having nominated a moderate to the Supreme Court, did nothing to fight the Congress that stole the nomination from him. Even if he sincerely believed there was no way Trump was going to beat Clinton, why would he have thought that a Republican Congress would be any less obstructionist to Clinton than to him? I realize there’s a lot to be said for maintaining “norms,” but where are those “norms” now?

We can’t look to courts to save us and America. The Right has done too good a job of getting its people appointed to the courts. And it’s also the case that we can no longer look to “norms” to save us.

For a long time the reality has been that Democrats, on the whole, respected the norms while Republicans did not. The Right has counted on the indulgence of the Left to continue to undermine democracy. When I say “indulgence” I mean the reluctance of elected Democrats to firmly counter nonsense like Mitch McConnell’s refusal to allow the Senate to consider the Merrick Garland nomination.

So time and time again, Republicans behave badly, and Nancy Pelosi gets in front of a camera and sputters about it, but nothing is done. Somebody has to follow the norms or everything falls apart. So the Left remains unilaterally disarmed.

At this point it’s gotten so bad that even George Will is telling people not to vote for Republicans. David Brooks got his ossified brain out of the attic and coaxed it into a few thoughts about the difference between conservatism and the Republican Party. Whether either of these, um, people realize the degree to which they helped create the current crisis is unlikely, but at least they seem to have found a line they couldn’t cross.

They must feel like people who spent their lives saving for and building their dream house, but then realizing too late they foolishly built on a flood plain. And it’s all washing away.

I was at least gratified to read an article at the Weekly Standard, of all places, that acknowledges the Right played a role in breaking down the norms. After quoting an article at the Federalist in which some whackjob seriously suggested taking liberal scalps. From the Federalist:

So, back to scalping thing. When you make that long trek to the reservation the leftists have set up for you—and make that trek you will—what memories do you want to take with you? When living in the liberal utopian nightmare of 57 genders and government control over everything in your life, you will want to have been a Lakota. You’ll want to know, to remember, even just cherish the knowledge that, one day, you rode out onto the plains and made them feel pain.

To which the Weekly Standard writer answered (to my astonishment),

I would tell you, Fred Thompson-style, that this sort of talk will eventually get someone killed, but perhaps you’ve forgotten about Heather Heyer. You shouldn’t have.

No, none of us should have. Blood is already in the streets. We must not forget that.

After I published yesterday’s blog post about civility, Charles Pierce wrote this:

For the benefit of those people also living in Fred Hiatt’s Land Without History: abortion providers have been stalked. Their children have been stalked. Their places of business have been vandalized. And, lest we forget, doctors who perform abortions have been fucking killed! They’ve been gunned down in their clinics, in their kitchens, and in their churches. They have not been allowed to live peaceably with their families, Fred, you addlepated Beltway thooleramawn. They haven’t been allowed to live at all. I’m no expert, but I’m fairly sure that a bullet in the head is far more uncivil than a complementary fucking cheese plate. What is wrong with these people?

I’m old enough to remember the raucous town halls of 2010, when the AstroTurfed forces of the Tea Party shouted down members of Congress while men with automatic weapons strolled around the perimeter of arenas in which the President of the United States was speaking. I’m old enough to remember when N. Leroy Gingrich, Definer of Civilization’s Rules and Leader (Perhaps) of The Civilizing Forces, was working out his Universal Lexicography of Insult for the benefit of a party that ate it up with an entrenching tool. Newt also emerged on the electric Twitter machine over the weekend, leaping to SarahHuck’s defense, and that was nearly enough to make me give up English as a hobby.

You know who would’ve been baffled by this sudden debate over “civility”? Samuel Adams and John Hancock, that’s who. They were a helluva lot less civil to the crew of the Dartmouth than Stephanie Wilkinson was to the Sanders party, and the citizens of Boston did not comp Thomas Hutchinson to a cheese plate when they ran his sorry ass across the pond. And, who knows, maybe if Elliott Abrams had been chased out of a few DC bistros in the 1980s, Archbishop Oscar Romero and four American nuns would still be alive.

This debate is stupid. It’s also dangerously beside the point.

The Democratic Party has been in a state of pathological denial about the dangers we face from right-wing extremism. They still seem to think a little better messaging and a couple of successful elections cycles will put everything back, right as rain. Most of ’em probably still don’t get it, Maxine Waters being an exception.

Note that both Pelosi and Schumer have, in effect, told Rep. Waters to chill. Waters is being blasted because she called for the public shaming of Trump officials. She didn’t call for violence.

Paul Waldman wrote,

Just over three years after Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president claiming that Mexican immigrants are rapists and criminals, then proceeded to cut a swath of resentment, anger and hate across America, we’ve all become terribly concerned that a Democrat here or there has been uncivil to the people who work for this least civil of presidents. I can almost hear the cackles of glee from the White House.

It’s as though I stood outside your door for years blasting death metal through gigantic speakers at 150 decibels, and when you finally shouted, “Hey, keep it down!” I demanded that the police arrest you for disturbing the peace. Have we gone nuts?

Of course, the reason the Left gets penalized for incivility and the Right does not for much worse is that the Right punches down, but the Left punches up. We make the establishment nervous.

Update: Milo Yiannopoulos Encourages Vigilantes to Start ‘Gunning Journalists Down’

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Dear Right-Wing Snowflakes: Bite Me

Trump Maladministration

Nondiscrimination in public accommodations, housing and jobs is an important principle to liberals. It’s not an important principle to the Right, which has a long history of what we might call creative interpretation of the Constitution to find “rights” to discriminate, based on religion or a backward reading of “freedom of association.”

Last year White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders let it be known that the White House had no problem  with businesses hanging antigay signs that explicitly state they don’t serve LGBT customers. Perhaps the Red Hen restaurant should have posted a sign saying they don’t serve liars and hypocrites before Sanders went to dinner there. But if I could explain anything to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, it would be that once you allow discrimination, you don’t get to whine when the hammer falls on you.

In short, either businesses get to discriminate, or they don’t. Make up your mind.

The American Right is largely made up of people who are incapable of understanding that the Golden Rule also works in reverse: What you want to be allowed to do unto others can also be done unto you.

Of course, systemic racism has allowed white people special privileges to discriminate racially, consequence free, for a long time.  But as those days are at least beginning to draw to a close, it might be argued that public shaming and shunning is just tough love to teach the slow-learning sots the value of antidiscirimination laws.

For example, recently Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Republican and knee-jerk Trump supporter, needed a police escort to leave a movie theater in Tampa because members of the audience were harassing her. (The film was Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, which makes this story even better.)

Bondi was not happy.  “When you’re violent and cursing and screaming and blocking me from walking into a movie, there’s something wrong,” she said. “The next people are going to come with guns. That’s what’s going to happen.”

Maybe. But nobody with guns came after these people, who were caught on video screaming at a black family in a resort swimming pool in Tampa.

Dr. Covey Banks took to Facebook with her story of being harassed and racially taunted by a white family at Omni Orlando Resort while in the pool. It all started when Banks noticed a little girl crying to her mother about needing to use the rest room.

In her Facebook post, Banks recounted hearing the girl’s mother tell her daughter to just pee in the pool.

“The little girl was crying and begging her mother to take her to the bathroom. The mom started looking around we presumed for the bathroom, and we pointed it out to her … She started yelling ‘you don’t know what MY daughter is saying,’ ‘I’m taking her to the bathroom,’ ‘I was not telling her to pee in the pool (guilty conscience), etc. Figuring she was embarrassed because she got caught being nasty, we paid her no mind,” she stated.

But then the white family ganged up on Dr. Banks and her children and screamed racial epithets at them. When there’s violent cursing and screaming at people who are respectable patrons of the resort using the resort pool, there’s something wrong.

The altercation was being recorded by Dr. Banks’s neice. The matron of the white family tried to grab the phone out of the girl’s hand, and Dr. Banks grabbed the woman’s arm to stop her. In true redneck snowflake fashion, the white woman then declared she’d been assaulted.

Tampa police were not helpful. This is just what happens in Pam Bondi’s Florida, I take it. The Omni Orlando Resort refused to intervene and remove the rednecks from the resort. However, when the video of the altercation went viral, the resort issued an apology to Dr. Banks.

I agree with AG Bondi that it’s dangerous when people show up with guns, like this guy in Charlottesville last year.

But, you know, wingnuts are the ones who insist on being able to carry any firearm they like anywhere they want. They count on the indulgence of the rest of us, who really don’t get our jollies by intimidating people with scary-looking weapons. If the Left were as violent as the Right, we’d be having open warfare in the streets in this country. And on those rare occasions righties really are held accountable for their bad behavior, they feel soooo sorry for themselves.

Now we lefties are getting fingers wagged at us, and once again we’re being told to be civil. I’m all for civility, but it would be nice if the same standard of public decorum were applied to the Right as well. I never support violence, no matter who is perpetrating it. But as Josh Marshall says, “Many calls for civility are simply calls for unilateral disarmament from those protesting injustices and abuses of power.”

The Right doesn’t want civility, because they aren’t about to practice it themselves. They just want us to shut up.

Josh Marshall continues,

One might further note that it is simply too comical to be lectured about social decorum by a party whose members shouted “You lie” at a President during a State of the Union address and made Donald Trump their party leader. But even that is really beside the point. What does matter is where we draw the lines of what’s legitimate and what’s not. Most of the civility talk isn’t about any real red line, any boundary that is critical to the kind of free society we want to preserve and build. It’s more a wet blanket meant to tsk tsk legitimate protest and legitimate resistance to corrupt government, misrule and injustice.

And I say that if a baker can’t be compelled to bake a cake for a gay wedding, then a chef can refuse to cook for Sarah Sanders. And it wouldn’t be that difficult to make a freedom of religion case for that.

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Pardon the Appearance

Trump Maladministration

The site looks a bit freaky today because I was getting a malware warning, and the bleeping anti-malware company I had already just paid a bleeping $99 a couple of weeks ago to renew my annual subscription wanted another bleeping $180 to “clean” the site that they were supposed to be protecting. So I did it myself. Whatever I did wiped out most of the right sidebar and screwed up the masthead. But the site seems to work and I’m not getting the malware warning now, and it didn’t cost me any bleeping $180.  I’ll go back in and pretty it up again when I get some time. Do let me know if you are having any problems with the site, especially if they are new problems.

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Nikki Haley Says Those Other Countries Are Bad, and Other News

Trump Maladministration

Trump keeps lurching from one unforced error to another. Wednesday morning he was still playing his chicken game. Wednesday evening he’d changed his mind, saying he’d keep families together, but he insisted on a quick legislative fix. So congressional Republicans scurried around to ready a couple of bills to vote on.

But Thursday morning, before the Republicans could vote on anything, he’d changed his mind again. Trump — or his tweeting alter ego, Stephen “Seig Heil” Miller —  undermined the whole thing. He has noticed that passing stuff in Congress actually requires some bipartisan cooperation, which is an alien thing to him.

Tara Golshan at Vox —

And as if on cue, lawmakers seemed to suddenly hit the brakes on one of the two votes slated to take place on Republican-led immigration bills on Thursday: a “compromise” bill between House conservatives and moderate Republicans, and a conservative bill originally introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). Neither proposal was designed to get any Democratic votes, and Republican House members are already preparing for both bills to fail on the floor.

Charles Pierce explains what happened to the bills:

On Thursday afternoon, there were two bills pending to address the crisis caused by the administration*’s cruel and boneheaded zero-tolerance policy on the southern border. One of them was a draconian bill, and the other a purportedly more moderate one backed by Ryan and his Keystone Kops leadership team.

The former got clobbered when it came to a vote. And then, when it was time for the latter to come up, the Freedom Caucus belfry came alive with bats, and Ryan had to postpone the vote lest he suffer yet another embarrassing loss.

There was a significant altercation between Ryan and Mark Meadows, leader of the House Freedom (for Troglodytes) Caucus.

Meadows is all up in Ryan’s grill, in the well of the House, in front of God, man, and Louie Gohmert. If someone had done this to Sam Rayburn, that person’s desk would be out on the sidewalk by the end of business that day. But, because Ryan is as terrible a leader as he is an economist, Meadows pretty much blows him off.

Today, Trump has decided that Republicans in Congress should stop “wasting their time” on immigration, but to wait until after the midterms.

“Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November,” Trump tweeted. “Dems are just playing games, have no intention of doing anything to solves this decades old problem. We can pass great legislation after the Red Wave!”

Sure, guy, whatever you say. Meanwhile, the border is in chaos. Nobody seems to know what to do.

President Donald Trump’s administration was gripped by confusion on Thursday as agencies struggled to implement his executive order halting the separation of migrant families at the U.S. border.

At the heart of the problem was uncertainty about how to begin detaining families together and whether the government would make any effort to reunite parents still in the U.S. with children currently held in separate shelters or foster facilities.

The mixed messaging began Wednesday, just hours after Trump signed his order, when the Department of Health and Human Services sent out a statement saying one of its spokespeople “misspoke” in saying that children who were already separated would not be returned to their parents but rather processed as unaccompanied minors.

On Thursday, the Department of Justice took issue with a report that border crossers would no longer automatically be referred for prosecution — the central tenet of Trump’s “zero-tolerance” enforcement policy, announced in April by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The chaos followed the hasty development of the executive order in response to a growing public outcry over the separations, which resulted in even babies and toddlers being sent alone to shelters. Two people familiar with the process said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told only her inner circle about the executive order, keeping top officials at DHS — including those at Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection — out of the loop.

Ed Kilgore:

It seems virtually none of the people responsible for implementing Trump’s executive order got any kind of advance notice it was coming. And more importantly, the practical implications of continuing a “zero tolerance” policy without separating kids from parents being prosecuted weren’t worked out at all. That became obvious today when border-control officials and the Department of Justice got into a public conflict with the Washington Post in the middle.

In brief, the Border Patrol informed WaPo “We’re suspending prosecutions of adults who are members of family units,” but the Justice Department told WaPo that prosecutions were not at all suspended.

Of course, immigration isn’t exactly a new issue:

“Looking Backward” (Puck, January 11, 1893) This cartoon satirizes those immigrants and their descendants who have made it in America but would deny new immigrants the same opportunity.

Click here for more ironic images.

Elsewhere:

A United Nations report condemning entrenched poverty in the United States is a “misleading and politically motivated” document about “the wealthiest and freest country in the world,” according to the Trump administration’s ambassador to the world body.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley criticized the report for critiquing the United States’ treatment of its poor, arguing that the United Nations should instead focus on poverty in developing countries such as Burundi and Congo. The U.N. report also faulted the Trump administration for pursuing policies it said would exacerbate U.S. poverty.

“It is patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America,” Haley wrote in a letter to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday. “In our country, the President, Members of Congress, Governors, Mayors, and City Council members actively engage on poverty issues every day. Compare that to the many countries around the world, whose governments knowingly abuse human rights and cause pain and suffering.”

Yeah, the nitwit actually said that.

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Koko, 1971-2018

Obituary

RIP, Koko.

 

Oh, and Charles Krauthammer died too.

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Today’s Family Separation Headlines

Trump Maladministration

I didn’t watch MSNBC last night, but I was told that everyone on it was having a breakdown. The headlines alone tell quite a story —

APNewsBreak: Youngest migrants held in ‘tender age’ shelters

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

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

… On a practical level, the zero tolerance policy has overwhelmed the federal agency charged with caring for the new influx of children who tend to be much younger than teens who typically have been traveling to the U.S. alone. Indeed some recent detainees are infants, taken from their mothers.

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

“The shelters aren’t the problem, it’s taking kids from their parents that’s the problem,” said South Texas pediatrician Marsha Griffin, who has visited many.

Texas Tribune: Separated migrant children are headed toward shelters with a history of abuse and neglect

Taxpayers have paid more than $1.5 billion in the past four years to private companies operating immigrant youth shelters accused of serious lapses in care, including neglect and sexual and physical abuse, an investigation by Reveal and The Texas Tribune has found.

In nearly all cases, the federal government has continued to place migrant children with the companies even after serious allegations were raised and after state inspectors cited shelters with deficiencies, government and other records show.

There’s long been a problem with “unaccompanied minors” who cross the border and must be warehoused somewhere until somebody figures out what to do with them. Creating a new class of unaccompanied minors who were not, in fact, unaccompanied isn’t helping.

Yahoo News: Businesses have made millions off Trump’s child separation policy

President Trump’s controversial child separation policy is being carried out with the help of private businesses who have received millions of dollars in government contracts to help run the shelters where young migrants are being held away from their parents.

The government has released few photos of the shelters where the children are being detained and at times declined to allow media and even elected officials access to the facilities. Amid this secrecy, many of the businesses participating in the program have remained behind the scenes without being identified.

However, by reviewing publicly available contracts data, Yahoo News was able to identify five companies that are participating in the operation of the shelters, including two companies that have not previously been tied to the program. And in response to inquiries, one of the companies said it would cease participation in a program that required it to “maintain readiness” to transport young migrants to government facilities.

How much do you want to bet that the companies getting these contracts have ties to Republican politicians?

NBC News: Trump admin’s ‘tent cities’ cost more than keeping migrant kids with parents

The cost of holding migrant children who have been separated from their parents in newly created “tent cities” is $775 per person per night, according to an official at the Department of Health and Human Services — far higher than the cost of keeping children with their parents in detention centers or holding them in more permanent buildings.

The reason for the high cost, the official and several former officials told NBC News, is that the sudden urgency to bring in security, air conditioning, medical workers and other government contractors far surpasses the cost for structures that are routinely staffed.

Detroit Free Press: Torn from immigrant parents, 8-month-old baby lands in Michigan

Four days ago, a Homeland Security official proclaimed: “We are not separating babies from parents.”

Yet in the middle of the night, two baby boys arrived in Grand Rapids after being separated from their immigrant parents at the southern border weeks ago.

One child is 8 months old; the other is 11 months old. Both children have become part of a bigger group of 50 immigrant children who have landed in foster care in western Michigan under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance border policy.

The average age of these children is 8, a number that has alarmed foster care employees who are struggling to comfort the growing group of kids who are turning up in Michigan at nighttime, when it’s pitch-dark outside. They’re younger than ever, they say. And they are petrified.

“These kids are arriving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Not only are they being separated from their family, they are being transported to a place that they don’t know in the middle of the night,”  said Hannah Mills, program supervisor for the transitional foster care program at Bethany Christian Services, which is currently assisting the displaced children. “We have found on many occasions that no one has explained to these children where they are going.”

According to Mills, some of these displaced children got picked up right at the airport by a foster family, while others wound up at a foster care center, begging to talk to their parents. Many have gone 30 days or more without talking to their parents because their parents can’t be located, she said.

Texas Observer: Texas Officials Allow 15 Immigrant Shelters to Hold More Kids than Licenses Permit

In recent months, Texas officials have granted permission to at least 15 immigrant youth shelters to cram in more kids than their child-care licenses allow, according to records obtained by the Observer. Two shelters have been approved to hold almost 50 percent more children. The decisions come as the Trump administration separates more and more families at the border, funnelling children reportedly as young as 8 months into government shelters.

A spokesperson for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, John Reynolds, said the agency allows shelters to exceed capacity only after reviewing bedspace, the number of children to a bathroom, recreational space and fire inspection compliance. But child advocates argue that the decisions are likely straining staff, endangering children and amount to the state kowtowing to the federal government.

Vanity Fair: “STEPHEN ACTUALLY ENJOYS SEEING THOSE PICTURES AT THE BORDER”: THE WEST WING IS FRACTURING OVER TRUMP’S CALLOUS MIGRANT-FAMILY POLICY

Trump’s decision to double down on the family-separation policy is sowing chaos in the West Wing, two sources close to the White House told me. For the second day in a row, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders—already eyeing an exit, though not for months—did not hold an on-camera briefing with reporters. “She’s tired of taking on water for something she doesn’t believe in,” a friend of Sanders told me. “She continues to have a frustration that the policies are all over the map,” another person close to her said. “It’s not a good look for Sarah.” …

…Meanwhile, as the border crisis spirals, the absence of a coordinated policy process has allowed the most extreme administration voices to fill the vacuum. White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller has all but become the face of the issue, a development that even supporters of Trump’s “zero-tolerance” position say is damaging the White House. “Stephen actually enjoys seeing those pictures at the border,” an outside White House adviser said. “He’s a twisted guy, the way he was raised and picked on. There’s always been a way he’s gone about this. He’s Waffen-SS.”

Making matters worse, Trump doesn’t seem to have an end game for the inhumane policy that is opposed by two-thirds of Americans. He’s continued to blame Democrats for allowing immigrants to “infest” the country; while in a closed-door meeting Tuesday night with congressional Republicans, he called on them to end family separation and “fix” the immigration system. He’s effectively boxed himself into a corner. “He doesn’t like this policy, and he knows it’s not helping him,” a Republican who’s spoken with him said. “But he can’t get within him that this is a problem, and he needs to take ownership of it.”

Today, Trump may be getting a clue that this is blowing up in his face …

White House considering executive action to prevent family separations at border

The White House is considering executive action to allow children to stay with parents caught crossing the border illegally, Fox News has learned — a step that could avoid the family separations that have triggered a national outcry and political crisis for Republicans.

The action under consideration would allow children to stay in detention with parents for an extended period of time.

In other words, what was going on before Trump ordered the family separations.

President Trump hinted at the new measure, while holding out hope for legislation, during remarks to reporters during a meeting Wednesday with lawmakers.

“I’ll be signing something in a little while [to keep families together],” he said, calling the move “somewhat preemptive” and stressing it would “be matched by legislation.” He also said he’s canceling the upcoming congressional picnic, adding: “It just didn’t feel right to me.”

Well, if he’s waiting for legislation …

TPM: GOP Bills To Lock Up Families Together Are Fulfilling The Trump Admin’s Wishes

Senate Republicans calling for an end to the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant parents from their children are pushing legislation that would roll back due process, anti-trafficking and human rights protections — something the administration has long sought to accomplish — allowing for faster deportations of asylum-seekers and the indefinite detention of minors.

House Republicans, meanwhile, are pushing bills that would do all that, slash legal immigration and allocate tens of billions of dollars for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

And, of course, a lot of Democrats would probably sign on to that so that they don’t get blamed for the crying babies, even though Trump was blaming them anyway.

Update: Josh Marshall

The President says he’s signing an executive order to end family separations. The actual aim seems to be to pick a fight with the courts and allow separations to continue while blaming judges. According to The New York Times, the President will sign an executive order allowing children to be detained indefinitely with their parents. The problem is that that violates a 1997 consent decree saying that you can’t detain/imprison children for more than 20 days (technically what’s currently happening isn’t detention). It straight up violates that order. So what will almost inevitably happen is that a court will step in, say you can’t do that and then Trump will announce that the judge is forcing him to keep separating families.

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Today’s Derp

Trump Maladministration

Item 1: Somebody forgot to tell Trump the old title was “leader of the free world.” Not that he’s doing any leading.

President Donald Trump continues to tout the success of his North Korea summit last week — but it’s Kim Jong Un who’s taking the real victory lap.

On Tuesday morning, the North Korean leader made his third trip to China in as many months to meet with President Xi Jinping. Xi used the opportunity to praise Kim and say that the summit was an “important step toward the political solution of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.”

And just the night before, the Pentagon announced that it would cancel a key military exercise with South Korea in August. That’s a big deal since that’s a significant concession the North Koreans have wanted for a long time. After all, they see these exercises as prep for an invasion and have protested against them every time they occur.

Xi Jinping is nobody’s fool. Trump is Xi’s fool.

Item 2: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is a fool for restricting the vote. But he had a bad day in court.

District Judge Julie Robinson (a George W. Bush appointee) decisively declared Kobach’s pet voter-ID law unconstitutional, and then ordered him to take some continuing legal education classes because he kept ignoring the basic rules of evidence and discovery during the proceedings in her court.

Poor baby.

Item 3: The United States is going to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council.  Of course.

Item 4: McClatchy reports that US officials likely lost track of nearly 6,000 unaccompanied migrant children. We could be living through one of the most egregious human rights calamities this country ever committed.

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Maybe There Was an FBI Conspiracy …

Trump Maladministration

If just about anyone but Paul Waldman had written this, I wouldn’t give it a second look. He argues that the real conspiraccy within the FBI was to stop Clinton from getting elected.

… a group of FBI agents in the bureau’s New York office seems to have been doing everything it could in the fall of 2016 to make sure Clinton wouldn’t become president. We don’t know their names. We haven’t read their texts. We may eventually learn the full extent of the actions they took, since the inspector general is conducting a separate investigation that involves them. But to this point, it has been something only the most dedicated aficionados of the story of how James B. Comey all but handed Trump the election knew anything about.

Let’s begin with the fact that during 2016, the FBI’s New York office was by numerous accounts the epicenter of an effort to undermine Clinton through leaks to the media and prominent Republicans. As one report put it just before the election, “Deep antipathy to Hillary Clinton exists within the FBI, multiple bureau sources have told the Guardian, spurring a rapid series of leaks damaging to her campaign just days before the election.” As one agent put it, “The FBI is Trumpland.” A former Justice Department official told Vanity Fair in 2017, “It was widely understood that there was a faction in [the New York] office that couldn’t stand her and was out to get her.”

Their efforts became critical when the office, in the course of its investigation of Anthony Weiner, husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin, acquired Weiner’s laptop on Sept. 26, 2016, and found on it thousands of emails to and from Clinton. Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and Trump’s most slavish water carrier, said last week: “We had whistleblowers that came to us in late September of 2016 who talked to us about this laptop sitting up in New York that had additional emails on it. So good F.B.I. agents brought this to our attention.” It’s a bit curious to characterize FBI agents who rushed to tell a Republican congressman about Weiner’s laptop within just a few days of its discovery, and before they had gone through the emails to see whether there was anything problematic about them (which, it turned out, there wasn’t), as “whistleblowers.” Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said yesterday that Nunes never told him at the time.

At the same time, there were agents leaking information about investigations into the Clinton Foundation to none other than Rudy Giuliani, who would then go and air the charges on Fox News. Two days before Comey would tell Congress that the bureau had reopened the investigation into Clinton’s emails — a blockbuster announcement that may well have thrown the election to Trump — Giuliani said on Fox News, “I do think that all of these revelations about Hillary Clinton finally are beginning to have an impact. He’s got a surprise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next two days.”

Going just by what was plainly visible in public, it certainly seemed that the FBI was giving Trump protections not being extended to Clinton.

Josh Marshall wrote something about this last week. He provides a timeline with details about the Anthony Weiner laptop episode that I did not know. Among othere things, agents in the New York office discovered the emails on the laptop in late September, and soon after contacted Devin Nunes and “other members of Congress” — but, apparently no Democrats — about them. Rudy Giuliani also got a heads up about the emails from FBI agents before the discovery was public.  Here’s a portion of the timeline:

Giuliani tells Fox News on October 25th: “I do think that all of these revelations about Hillary Clinton finally are beginning to have an impact. He’s got a surprise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next two days.” The following day: “I mean, I’m talking about some pretty big surprises.”

October 28th: James Comey sends letter to Capitol Hill disclosing discovery of Clinton emails “that appear to be pertinent to the investigation.”

October 31st: Loretta Lynch and Comey discuss letter to Congress and issue of anti-Clinton bias in New York Field Office, a pattern of bias she says “has put us where we are today.” According to Lynch, Comey said it had become clear to him “that there is a cadre of senior people in New York who have a deep and visceral hatred of Secretary Clinton. And he said it is, it is deep. It’s, and he said, he said it was surprising to him or stunning to him … and it was hard to manage because these were agents that were very, very senior, or had even had timed out and were staying on, and therefore did not really feel under pressure from headquarters or anything to that effect.” (IG Report, p. 387)

November 2nd: Rudy Giuliani tells Megyn Kelly: “You have outraged FBI agents that talk to me. They are outraged at the injustice. They are outraged at being turned down by the Justice Department to open a grand jury. They are convinced that Loretta Lynch has corrupted the Justice Department. You’ve got people in the Justice Department in charge of this investigation who are defense lawyers for Clinton people.”

And Nate Silver tweeted a couple of days ago:

Almost looks like a conspiracy.

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