Saturday, June 23, 2018

Saturday Evening Post for June 23rd, 2018: Reposting in Full Jonathan Chait and Charlie Pierce Pieces on the Reasons for and Results of Trump's Immigrant Humanitarian Disaster

**This entry was posted June 23rd, 2018.**

Beata Mejia-Mejia is reunited with her seven year old son, Darwin, at BWI Airport, Friday morning, June 22, 2018.

As this CBS story explains, Ms. Mejia-Mejia had been separated from him for a month by the United States Government after she arrived at the U.S. border. This followed her 2,300-mile, three-week journey including by foot from Guatemala, seeking asylum from violence and domestic abuse. She was detained after they crossed into the U.S. near San Luis, Arizona, and said she had no idea where her son was for more than a month.

Her reunion with her son at BWI Airport.

She has an attorney who is suing agencies of the U.S. Government. Furthermore, ten states are suing the Justice Department for this hateful Trump horror show, itself based upon racist hate and a barbaric worldview that is the antithesis to everything for which the U.S., a nation of immigrants, is supposed to stand.


Saturday night.

It's a warm and humid night. At 11 p.m., it is 75F with a 70F dew point at KDCA. There have been some scattered showers and thunderstorms around the area on an otherwise warm and very humid early summer day.

Apartment view, 16th and U Streets and New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, D.C., 8:01 p.m., June 23, 2018.


As is my custom, I'm back from the gym and in for the night doing my usual Saturday routine nighttime -- blogging, making dinner, and laundry while watching MeTV's Super Sci-Fi Saturday Night lineup and its subsequent Red-Eye Sci-Fi Sunday into the wee hours.

The episode of Wonder Woman was Judgement from Outer Space: Part 1." It's a weird episode. This is from the first season of the series when it was set during World War II rather than in the then-present-day 1970s.

The Svengoolie-hosted monster movie is the bizarre and creepy 1964 thriller The Night Walker. I didn't realize Barbara Stanwyck was in this sort of psychological thriller film.

After two 30-min episodes of Batman, the Star Trek: TOS episode at 11 p.m. is "The Thoian Web." The Battlestar Galactica episode at 12 a.m. is "Experiment in Terra."

The rest of the lineup is Kolchak the Nightstalker ("Werewolf"); Lost in Space ("Ghost in Space"); Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea ("The Human Computer"); and Land of the Giants ("The Case") ending at 5 a.m.

While I may very well be up until the end of Land of the Giants, I'm supposed to meet Lynda tomorrow at 11:30 a.m., so I might not get a lot of sleep.

Of course, I more or less slept until 3:30 p.m. today and then went to the gym, where I skipped the jog part but had a decent weightlifting workout and concluding swim.


For this entry, I am reposting in full two pieces from yesterday (Friday) -- one by Jonathan Chait and the other by Charlie Pierce -- on the barbaric Trump immigration family separation (i.e., state-sponsored kidnapping of young children), the failure of that abhorrent effort (I won't dignify it with the term "policy"), and

As reposted here, the pieces do not have other embedded URLs.

The images in the Chait article are taken from this article (link embedded):

This abandoned island was once a brutal prison — and the photos of it will haunt you.

This refers to the set of prisons that made up on the former notorious penal colony on two of the three islands -- Île du Diable (Devil's Island) and Île Saint-Joseph -- that make up the Salvation's Islands of French Guinea (the third island being Île Royale).

The Genesis of Trump's Family-Separation Policy
By Jonathan Chait
Source here.

When Donald Trump first proposed to ban all Muslim immigrants from the United States two and a half years and a thousand Trump controversies ago, the Republican front-runner was asked if he would have supported the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

"I would have had to be there at the time to tell you, to give you a proper answer," he equivocated, before proceeding to express his general sympathy for the concept. "It's a tough thing. It's tough,” he said. "But you know, war is tough. And winning is tough. We don't win anymore. We don't win wars anymore. We don't win wars anymore. We're not a strong country anymore."

One of the things this comment revealed was Trump's odd belief that the internment of loyal Japanese-Americans had somehow helped win the war, rather than divert human and material resources from the war effort in service to a cruel, racialized panic, as historians generally believe. More was at work here than simple confusion.

This historical digression proved to be a prophetic guide to an as-yet-unimaginable future Trump presidency. It displayed one of Trump's foundational values: his contempt for human and legal rights, especially those of racial minorities, and his atavistic fixation with toughness as both the source of the country’s (imagined) historical decline and the key to its restoration.

The Trump presidency is a surreal experience in part because it is so difficult to discern the reliability of the president’s rhetoric as a guide to action. The family-separation crisis is an important moment in Trump’s presidency because it collapses the chasm between word and deed. The brutal vision of the American state Trump has been painting for three years has finally materialized before our eyes.

The family-separation policy is the physical incarnation of Trump's answer to the question of whether he would have relocated Japanese-Americans. Here were weeping migrant children, pulled from their parents and held in cages. The federal government was repurposing new holding facilities especially for children.

The bureaucratic chaos and confusion were part of the punishment. One public defender described a judge incredulous that the parents whose children had been torn from their arms were given no information as to where they had been taken. ("If someone at the jail takes your wallet, they give you a receipt. They take your kids, and you get nothing? Not even a slip of paper?")

The weaponized disarray of government officials at ground level seemed to follow the pattern of fog emanating from Washington. The Trump administration was perhaps employing a brilliant disinformation campaign; more likely, this was a hopelessly chaotic attempt to obfuscate its own policy.

Trump blamed the separation of parents from children on unnamed laws passed by Democrats. "We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period," tweeted Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who told reporters that she considered the suggestion that her department was using family separation as a deterrent against illegal immigration "offensive." It was an insultingly obvious lie. When Trump took office, children were not being separated from their parents. Now they were. No law had been passed in the meantime. The Democrats, being shut out of power, didn't even have the opportunity to pass a law.

The month before, though, Nielsen's predecessor, John Kelly, the current White House chief of staff, had defended family separation in precisely those terms. Asked about sending children of migrants to juvenile shelters, Kelly replied, "A big name of the game is deterrence." The reporter stated, "Family separation stands as a pretty tough deterrent."

Kelly replied, "It could be a tough deterrent -- would be a tough deterrent. A much faster turnaround on asylum seekers." Asked if it was "cruel or heartless," Kelly casually explained, "The children will be taken care of -- put into foster care or whatever. But the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States, and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long."

Kelly's comments help explain why the administration imposed such a horrific policy in the first place. The Trump immigration agenda has failed utterly by not only the standards of human decency but by its own metrics. Border crossings, which had fallen in early 2017, were back up. There is no prospect of getting Mexico to pay for the wall -- Trump couldn't even get the U.S. Congress to pay for all of it. In May, the president subjected Nielsen to a 30-minute tirade, questioning her toughness and demanding a crackdown. The administration began pulling children away from parents because it could think of no other way to satisfy Trump's demands.

It turned out that even Trump himself found the images of terrified children too uncomfortable, or at least inconvenient, to tolerate. In this instance, Trump's couch-potato management style instigated a rare positive course correction. "The president watches more cable news than most Americans," a source told Axios. "So he experienced an overdose of the outrage and the media frenzy." Trump announced that the policy, which his administration had insisted never existed, would be reversed.

The “reversal” was carried out with the same deft touch as the original policy, with confusion and disarray left in its wake. Even after Trump's decision, children who had been forcibly "unaccompanied" were showing up at New York airports escorted by Homeland Security agents, and no officials seemed to know what would become of the 2,300 children already separated from their parents.

Interviews with various Trump supporters reflected the confusion over the intentions of Trump's policy. The stalwarts insisted that the refugees had brought it on themselves by taking their children across the border or that the entire episode had been fabricated by the Fake News media.Yet the crisis flowed naturally and perhaps inevitably from the language of dehumanization Trump deploys as a matter of course.

The song "The Snake," which Trump has recited repeatedly at rallies, is his favorite immigration metaphor. He enjoys calling MS-13 "animals" while conflating the violent gang with the people fleeing it. Democrats, he insists via tweet, "want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13."

It is possible to dismiss this kind of rhetoric, which historically tends to precede state-sponsored terror, as mere pandering. But there is no political rationale that could explain Trump’s decades-long habit of praising the repressive governing style of the world’s dictators. He recently enthused that Kim Jong Un "took over" and "ran it tough," using his preferred description of the brutal but necessary measures hard men must take. Citing the public demonstrations of devotion North Koreans must make toward their leaders upon pain of arrest, Trump cooed, "His people, you see the fervor. They have a great fervor."

Appearing a few days later on Fox News, Trump was still marveling at the toughness of his North Korean counterpart. "He's the head of the country, and I mean he's the strong head. He speaks and his people sit up in attention," he said, gesturing at the White House behind him. "I want my people to do the same." That would seem to explain why the entire administration cooperated with a policy many of them appeared to regard as immoral. Trump is selecting for and insisting upon obsequiousness and mindless devotion in his staff. Even if it requires the violation of basic human decency, they are prepared to follow orders.

*This article appears in the June 25, 2018, issue of New York Magazine.


Next up, is a must-read Charlie Pierce piece. I've broken up the text with some political cartoons -- including an excellent one by David Horsey of the Seattle Times and number of great ones by Drew Sheneman of Tribune Content Agency. There are also pictures from the border region this past week and a protest outside Customs and Border Patrol.

This Nation Is Beginning to Realize the Full Extent of What It Did to Itself in November 2016

The country's head is clearing. The spell of the reality show presidency* is wearing off.

By Charles P. Pierce
June 22, 2018
Source here.

Optimism may be illusory, but it's all we have at this point, so, when it stirs, anywhere, it's worthy of nurture and support. Over the past week, ever since the administration*’s crimes against humanity along the southern border were revealed, there became an edge to the political opposition that has not been there through all the marches and the rhetoric that have attended this government since the president* was inaugurated.

Up until now, all of the #Resistance has contained a barely acknowledged undercurrent of futility. It was not that the opposition was empty. It was that it generally broke like a wave on a seawall when it collided with the immutable fact that the president*'s party controlled every lever of political power at the federal level, as well as a great number of them out in the states, too.

The week just passed has changed the calculations. The images from the border, and the White House's fatheaded trolling of the situation, seems to have shaken up everyone in Washington to the point at which alliances are more fluid than they have been since January of 2017. There seems little doubt that the Republicans in the House of Representatives are riven with ideological chaos, struck numb by the basic conundrum of modern conservatism: When your whole political identity is defined by the proposition that government is not the solution, but, rather, the problem, you don't know how to operate it when fortune and gerrymandering hand you the wheel.

You can fake it pretty convincingly, doing the bidding of your donor class and knuckling the powerless and making a nice living for yourself, as long as events pursue a fairly predictable course for which there are familiar precedents in your experience. You can even see the setbacks coming from around the corner. Even your defeats are predictable and, thus, explainable -- or, at least, spinnable. Can't repeal Obamacare? RINOs like John McCain!

The problem arises when something unpredictable happens, and the government you control has to be fast on its feet, and you don't know how that really works. A hurricane and a flood drowns New Orleans, and the luxury horse-show official you put in charge of the country's emergency management system—because who cares, right? -- finds that he's really not up to the job.

Or, suddenly, you find that, no matter how hot the emotions run at your rallies or how brightly your favorite TV network polishes your apple, or how hard you pitch the snake oil that got you elected, the country will not stand for being complicit in the kidnapping and caging of children. The pictures begin to pile up. The mirror in which the country prefers to see itself cracks into a million sharp shards that begin to cut your political life away.

You can feel the difference in the air. The members of the governing party, uneasy about the prospects for this year’s midterms anyway, are fairly trembling at the moment, seeing in their mind's eyes a hundred 30-second spots of weeping toddlers behind chain-link walls. The president* has gone completely incoherent, standing firm until he doesn't, looking for help in the Congress that he'll never get, and reversing himself so swiftly on his one signature issue that he's probably screwed himself up to the ankles in the floor of the Oval Office. By Friday afternoon, he was back on the electric Twitter machine, yapping about the Democrats and "their phony stories of sadness and grief." And a hundred Republican candidates dive back behind the couch.

The country's head is clearing. The country's vision is coming back into focus and it can see for the first time the length and breadth of the damage it has done to itself. The country is hearing the voices that the cacophony of fear and anger had drowned out for almost three years. The spell, such as it was, and in most places, may be wearing off at last. The hallucinatory effect of a reality-show presidency* is dispersing like a foul, smoky mist over a muddy battlefield.

The migrant crisis is going to go down through history as one of the most destructive series of own-goals in the history of American politics. The establishment of the “zero-tolerance” policy made the child-nabbing inevitable. The president*'s own rhetoric -- indeed, the raison d'etre of his entire campaign -- trapped him into at first defending the indefensible and then abandoning what was perhaps the only consistent policy idea he ever had—outside of enriching himself and his family, that is.

Then the cameras began to roll, and the nation’s gorge began to rise, and the president* couldn't stand the pressure that was mounting around him. Of course, because he knows nothing about anything, including how to actually be president*, he bungled even his own abject surrender. He's spent the days since signing his executive order railing against what he felt compelled to do and arguing against himself and losing anyway.

That's the optimism, and it may, in fact, be illusory, but the power balance in our politics seemed to shift this week. Terrible policies are still coming from the various agencies. Scott Pruitt remains a grifter of nearly inhuman proportions, and a vandal besides. Neil Gorsuch continues to prove himself to be the reliable conservative hack for whom the Republicans stole a Supreme Court seat.

But the crisis at the border is a leg-hold trap for all of them. There's no way for them to keep faith with themselves and get out from under the humanitarian disaster they concocted. One day, maybe, brave Guatemalan mothers and their very brave children may be said to have saved the American Republic from slow-motion and giddy suicide. Some even may be our fellow citizens by then, and we should remember to thank them.

Meanwhile, the New York Times YET AGAIN is treating us to these goddamn type of political stories about how Trump worshipers in the cult that is the GOP are doubling, tripling, and quadrupling down on their love for their sociopathic, syphilitically-mad, huckster savior and how that will, of course, help the GOP maintain one-party rule.

Frig, frig, frig with these hardcore Trump voters. I'm fed up with them and detest everything they stand for. They and what they represent -- and who represents them -- cause nothing but trouble. I simply don't want to be in the same country as them.

While this historically shameful humanitarian crisis was going on, thanks to Trump's barbarism, the fucking House Republicans did the only thing they can do: Hold another fucking hearing on Hillary's emails. (Honestly, I don't know why Dems even bother showing up to these.) Beyond that, the GOP is a zombie party.

Sure, it'll keep winning elections thanks to gerrymandering and the 40 percent of the country that is sick like it, but it's a dead party incapable of governing.

Sidewalk, 1500 block V Street NW, rainy day, 11:46 a.m., June 22, 2018


OK, that's all for now. Jukebox Saturday Night entry to follow shortly. My next planned entry will be late Monday or Tuesday.


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