solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)
[personal profile] solarbird
Monday was a very bad day in newstown.

Item 9 is very important, in that this is basically a threat - they're going to investigate voters against Trump.

Also, FOIA requests are being made more difficult, and the White House is cutting off/disabling comment/feedback hooks - see items 2 and 27.

After that, things get worse. Fox and the fundamentalist right are joining up on the line that protests are "violent and fake" and paid by George Soros, as an anti-Semetic slur with varying degrees of overtness. (As for paid - oh yeah? Where the hell is my cheque?) The administration is also ramping up misogyny as an attack (see items 4, 17, and 31), and now Der Spiegel is calling for Germany to lead an international alliance against Mr. Trump's regime. Trump is also telling supporters that all negative stories and polls and such are fake, and that the media are covering up terrorist attacks - so except more strident Butt Trumpettes to start buying into the Bowling Green lies (items 10, 11, 13, 14, 19, 21). The League of the South is giving another go at raising an armed militia - this failed miserably last time they tried it, otherwise it'd be higher up. Mr. Trump's UN ambassador wants to do everything in her power to keep reproductive choices out of the hands of women and says so in plain language. And there's more.

The last item (nr. 32) is a huge wakeup call, as well. And may be a lucky one, given that we've beaten this back for a few days and can try to do something about it, because people in customs and immigration just did whatever they were told. Ignoring courts is bad enough, but handcuffing a five year old and separating him from his mother for hours? They didn't even hesitate. Maybe we need to add another tack - do not be monstrous.

Monday was a very bad day.

----- 1 -----
2 states say allowing travel ban would ‘unleash chaos again’
Originally published February 6, 2017 at 12:22 am
Seattle Times

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawyers for Washington state and Minnesota have told a federal appellate court that restoring President Donald Trump’s ban on refugees and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries would “unleash chaos again.”

The filing with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco came early Monday after the White House said it expected the federal courts to reinstate the ban.

Washington and Minnesota said their underlying lawsuit was strong and a nationwide temporary restraining order was appropriate. If the appellate court reinstated Trump’s ban the states said the “ruling would reinstitute those harms, separating families, stranding our university students and faculty, and barring travel.”

----- 2 -----
Eichenwald: Can Trump Tell the Difference Between Truth and His Lies?
By Kurt Eichenwald On 2/4/17 at 7:50 AM

This is more important than a few executive orders signed by President Donald Trump. It’s more important than his nominations for positions in his administration. It’s even more important than who gets appointed to the Supreme Court, or whether Obamacare gets repealed.

Nothing in the headlines these days is more important than this: The President of the United States is divorced from reality, unable to tell the difference between the truth and what he wants to be true. In August, much of the American press finally broke out the word “lie” to describe many of Trump’s statements, but that’s not enough. Reporters must now press the president to explain if he believes these statements to be true and why. Plenty of politicians deceive, but one who cannot discern reality from fiction is dangerous.

Lies, Lies, Lies

On January 21, Trump demanded that White House press secretary Sean Spicer inform the public they could not believe their lying eyes about the size of the crowd at his inauguration because photographers were intentionally deceptive, the reporting was deliberately false, magnetometers kept people out of the back areas (they weren’t used there), white grass-protectors that gave false impressions of the size of the crowd had never been used before (they have been), and on and on. That same day, Trump brought an applause team with him to the CIA’s Memorial Wall, which honors 117 CIA officers who died in the line of duty, where they clapped and whooped in a desecration of that sacred place as Trump spun more fantasies: that he had been on the cover of Time magazine more than anyone else (not even close: He’s been on the cover 11 times; Richard Nixon was on 55 times; Barack Obama was on it 12 times in 2008 alone); that God looked down and said He wasn’t going to let it rain when Trump gave his inaugural speech (it did); and, again, about the size of the inaugural crowd. On Meet the Press the next day, White House Advisor Kellyanne Conway explained that, in analyzing the size of the inaugural crowd, the Trump team had “alternative facts”—just a small step away from an alternative reality.

----- 3 -----
Steve Bannon's Fever Dream of an American Gulag
By Jeff Stein On 2/2/17 at 9:56 AM

[I've talked about these before: these are the concentration camps which would be required for Mr. Trump's stated plans.]

Imagine: Miles upon miles of new concrete jails stretching across the scrub-brush horizons of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, with millions of people incarcerated in orange jumpsuits and awaiting deportation.

Such is the fevered vision of a little-noticed segment of President Donald Trump’s sulfurous executive order on border security and immigration enforcement security. Section 5 of the January 25 order calls for the “immediate” construction of detention facilities and allocation of personnel and legal resources “to detain aliens at or near the land border with Mexico” and process them for deportation. But another, much overlooked, order signed the same day spells out, in ominous terms, who will go.

Trump promised a week after the November elections that he would expel or imprison some 2 million or 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions—a number that exists mainly in his imagination. (Only about 820,000 undocumented immigrants currently have a criminal record, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. Many of those have traffic infractions and other misdemeanors.)

----- 4 -----
Huckabee: Past executive branch “emasculated itself by surrendering constantly to the idea that once the court says something, that’s it”
6 February 2017

[The fundamentalist movement started arguing that courts can't rule laws unconstitutional a couple of decades ago, referring to rulings that laws were unconstitutional as 'legislating from the bench,' and, later, as 'judicial tyranny.' by the early 2000s, they were onboard with the neoconservatives to overturn/override Marbury v. Madison (1803). The goal isn't even specifically to remove the courts system; it's to remove all blocks from absolute power.]

Highlight quote: "I think we have had an executive branch that has emasculated itself by surrendering constantly to the idea that once the court says something, that’s it. It's the law of the land, and when I hear that phrase, it's the law of the land cause the court said it, I think did you guys pass ninth grade civics for gosh sake? The court can't make law. They cannot legislate."

----- 5 -----
FBI has announced they'll stop accepting all emailed requests in a month, will force the use of their #FOIA portal, fax or snail mail only.
Seen on Twitter - @NatSecGeek
6 February 2017
[Image at link]

----- 6 -----
Trump’s F.D.A. Pick Could Undo Decades of Drug Safeguards
The New York Times

President Trump’s vow to overhaul the Food and Drug Administration could bring major changes in policy, including steps to accelerate the process of approving new prescription drugs, setting up a clash with critics who say his push for deregulation might put consumers at risk.

Mr. Trump has been vetting candidates to run the agency, which regulates the safety of everything from drugs and medical devices to food and cosmetics. Among them is Jim O’Neill, a former official at the Health and Human Services Department who is an associate of the Silicon Valley billionaire and Trump supporter Peter Thiel. Mr. O’Neill has argued that companies should not have to prove that their drugs work in clinical trials before selling them to consumers.

Other candidates also have called for reducing regulatory hurdles.

If the most significant proposals are adopted — and many would require an act of Congress — they will reverse decades of policy and consumer protections dating to the 1960s. Congress toughened the drug approval process in the wake of the worldwide crisis over thalidomide, which caused severe birth defects in babies whose mothers had taken the drug in pregnancy. Since then, the F.D.A. has come to be viewed as the world’s leading watchdog for protecting the safety of food and drugs, a gold standard whose lead other countries often follow.


Mr. O’Neill is a libertarian who is on the board of the SENS Research Foundation, a charity that funds anti-aging research, and until recently served on the board of the Seasteading Institute, an effort to create new societies at sea.

----- 7 -----
The next battle: Congress wants polluters to dictate where drilling and mining happens
The Wilderness Society
Feb 3, 2017

[I realise this is a press release / action item, but it is actual also news about a bill - specifically, House Joint Resolution 44, which would negate public-input/tribal-input regulations regarding use of public lands for natural resource extraction - mining, logging, etc.

Here is the bill:

Here is the regulation (worked on for many years) that it would repeal:

Repealing this regulation would mean it could not be reintroduced by the agency.]

In a war on public lands, Congress launches a bill to help polluters call the shots. ... This week, they've come up with a bill to gut a Bureau of Land Management rule that ensures the public is involved in decisions about drilling, mining and logging on our public lands.

If passed, the effort could permanently harm nearly 250 million of acres of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. ...

Under the current BLM rule, Americans are allowed to weigh in by attending public meetings to voice their concerns in person or send comments in to the agency creating a land management plan. This keeps fossil fuel interests in check, allowing us to preserve some of the more sacred and wild places that we have deemed “too wild to drill.” The repealing of this rule would gift the fate of our public lands to corporate interests, forever.

Before this rule, oil, gas and coal companies were allowed to dominate the formal input process and many of our wildlands were hastily leased, often in the favor of resource extraction. Today, a staggering 90 percent of our public lands and minerals managed by the Bureau of Land Management are open to oil and gas leasing.

----- 8 -----
Government by White Nationalism Is Upon Us
It’s not just rhetoric anymore. It’s a political program that could set American democracy back 150 years.
By Jamelle Bouie | Slate
6 February 2017

Before the election, when Donald Trump was still just an unlikely presidential nominee, a conservative under the pseudonym “Publius Decius Mus,” wrote a remarkable essay in support of Trump. The pseudonym alone gave a glimpse into the writer’s thinking. The real-life Decius was a Roman consul who sacrificed himself to the gods for the sake of his embattled army. And in the same way, our internet Decius called on conservatives to embrace Trump—to back the vulgarian who mocked their ideals—for the sake of saving the country as they knew it. “The ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners with no tradition of, taste for, or experience in liberty means that the electorate grows more left, more Democratic, less Republican, less republican, and less traditionally American with every cycle,” he wrote, hailing the real estate mogul as the only figure who understood the stakes, who would beat back these “foreigners” and preserve America’s democratic tradition as Decius saw it. Not a tradition of pluralism, but one of exclusion, in which white Americans stand as the only legitimate players in political life. A dictatorship of the herrenvolk.

“Decius”—since revealed as Michael Anton, a former George W. Bush administration speechwriter—now works for President Trump. And he isn’t the only figure in the Trump circle who holds these views. Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, his former aide Stephen Miller, and right-wing media mogul Stephen Bannon occupy prominent positions in the present administration. Like Anton, they hold deep antagonism to immigrants and immigration, opposition to their equality within American society, and nostalgia for a time when prosperity was the province of the native-born and a select few “assimilated” immigrants. But these aren’t just ideologues with jobs in a friendly administration. They are the architects of Trump’s policy, the executors of a frighteningly coherent political ideology.


This nationalism, white nationalism, was the ideology of Anton’s essay, driven by contempt for immigrants and foreigners of all stripes. A century ago, in the preface to Madison Grant’s The Passing of the Great Race, a then-popular work of scientific racism, American eugenicist Henry Fairfield Osborn ably summed up this worldview, which now holds the White House.

Thus conservation of that race which has given us the true spirit of Americanism is not a matter either of racial pride or of racial prejudice; it is a matter of love of country, of a true sentiment which is based upon knowledge and the lessons of history rather than upon the sentimentalism which is fostered by ignorance. If I were asked: What is the greatest danger which threatens the American republic to-day? I would certainly reply: The gradual dying out among our people of those hereditary traits through which the principles of our religious, political and social foundations were laid down and their insidious replacement by traits of less noble character.

This is Decius’ view. It was essentially the ideology behind Trump's campaign, defined by its hostility toward Muslims, marked by its reliance on racist stereotypes of Hispanic immigrants, and not so subtly contemptuous of black Americans. Now, it all but drives Trump’s administration, voiced by key figures and expressed through policy.

The ideological leader of the Trump movement is Sessions, hailed by Bannon for “developing populist nation-state policies” from his somewhat isolated perch in the Senate. Bannon, who avoids the spotlight, gives away the game in his praise of Sessions. “In America and Europe, working people are reasserting their right to control their own destinies,” he wrote in a recent statement to the Washington Post, blasting the “cosmopolitan elites in the media that live in a handful of our larger cities.” Given the demographics of Trump’s support—given the demographics of Europe—this definition of “working people” can mean only one thing: white people. And “cosmopolitan elites” has a long history as a euphemism for Jews and other minorities.


That Sessions brings herrenvolk ideology to American politics is even more apparent from his history beyond the Senate. As the NAACP Legal Defense Fund details in its report on the Alabama lawmaker, “An unrelenting hostility toward civil rights and racial justice has been the defining feature of Jeff Sessions’ professional life.” As a federal prosecutor, Sessions went after black activists for voting rights; as a lawmaker, he praised the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County, which opened the door to laws that disproportionately disadvantage and discourage black voters. This mix of restrictive voting and restrictions on immigration is almost tailor-made to enhance the voting power of one group: white Americans.


Beyond these views is the simple fact that Bannon was once CEO of Breitbart, a media consortium that openly caters to anti-Semites, white nationalists, and various elements of the extreme right wing. The website once featured a “black crime” section and openly praises white supremacists. The website’s most visible contributor, Milo Yiannopoulos, is a racist and misogynist provocateur who delights in Nazi iconography and other fascist kitsch.


Stephen Miller has a lower profile than either Sessions or Bannon, but he’s made his mark as a staffer for the former. “You could not get where we are today with this movement if it didn’t have a center of gravity that was intellectually coherent,” said Bannon of Miller in an interview with Politico Magazine. “And I think a ton of that was done by Sen. Sessions’ staff, and Stephen Miller was at the cutting edge of that.” As a student at Duke University, the now–30-year-old Miller worked closely with Richard Spencer, then a graduate student who would leave the academy and become an intellectual leader for the “alt-right,” an online movement of white nationalists. And as a columnist for the campus paper, Miller worried that “immigrants from non-European countries were not assimilating.”


In this usage, white nationalist isn’t a pejorative; it’s the best term we have for the ideology of the Trump administration, one that gives coherence to its actions and approach. White nationalist helps us see how the expansive refugee ban is tied to the efforts to deny government benefits to legal residents and is tied to the promise by Trump to protect entitlements for those who receive them. It helps us see how his “populism” excludes tens of millions of Americans, and why he seems more interested in narrow enthusiasm versus broad popularity. And it gives a sense of what might follow in a Trump administration: not just demonization of disfavored minorities but possible attempts to expand the welfare state for the “deserving,” defined by race—a kind of welfare chauvinism. As he did during the campaign, Trump may adopt slogans and ideas from the left and right, not because he’s really a conservative or really a liberal, but because white nationalism exists outside the familiar divide. It confounds the left-right spectrum as we understand it in the United States. Trumpish policy won’t fall neatly into our old categories of liberal and conservative. Instead, it will turn on the question of what strengthens this basic notion that ours is a white nation.

Democrats, liberals, leftists, and dissident conservatives can dissent and resist, but the only party with the power to challenge Trump and win is the Republican Party, which controls Congress and may soon (again) have a majority on the Supreme Court. But the GOP is too complacent and complicit in the rise of Trump, too willing in its past and present to tolerate or even encourage appeals to white racial tribalism and ethno-nationalism. Indeed, in some regards, Trump is the logical conclusion of a process that began when Barry Goldwater opened his arms to Southern segregationists in his crusade for “liberty.” Besides, Republican leaders like Paul Ryan have embraced Trump as a vehicle for their conservative ideological agenda, content to back the president’s agenda for racial exclusion as long as he cuts health care, cuts taxes, and delivers the federal judiciary.

Defenders of pluralism have a tremendous struggle ahead of them. But as they mobilize and defend, they must understand the stakes. This is a fight to protect our multiracial democracy. It’s the latest in an old fight, one that goes back to our Reconstruction, when freedmen, freemen, and their white allies tried to build true democracy in the former Confederacy. They lost that battle, beat back by reaction, by “redeemers.” A century later, with the civil rights movement, we thought we had won the war. Not quite.

----- 9 -----
Trump says Pence will lead voter fraud panel
Sun Feb 5, 2017 | 4:53 PM EST
By Steve Holland | WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.

President Donald Trump said in remarks broadcast on Sunday that he would put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of a commission to probe what he believes was voter fraud in last November's election.

There is an overwhelming consensus among state officials, election experts, and politicians that voter fraud is rare in the United States, but Trump has repeatedly said he thinks perhaps millions of votes cast in the Nov. 8 election were fraudulent.

"I'm going to set up a commission to be headed by Vice President Pence and we're going to look at it very, very carefully," Trump told Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly in an interview taped on Friday.

Trump, who was spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, captured the presidency by winning enough of the state-by-state Electoral College votes to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Still, Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, piling up an overwhelming majority in deeply Democratic states like California. This has irked Trump and as a result he has claimed voter fraud without evidence.

----- 10 -----
Why Nobody Cares the President Is Lying
The New York Times - FEB. 4, 2017

MILWAUKEE — If President Trump’s first tumultuous weeks have done nothing else, at least they have again made us a nation of readers.

As Americans grapple with the unreality of the new administration, George Orwell’s “1984” has enjoyed a resurgence of interest, becoming a surprise best seller and an invaluable guide to our post-factual world.

On his first full day in office Mr. Trump insisted that his inaugural crowd was the largest ever, a baseless boast that will likely set a pattern for his relationship both to the media and to the truth.


Mr. Trump understands that attacking the media is the reddest of meat for his base, which has been conditioned to reject reporting from news sites outside of the conservative media ecosystem.

For years, as a conservative radio talk show host, I played a role in that conditioning by hammering the mainstream media for its bias and double standards. But the price turned out to be far higher than I imagined. The cumulative effect of the attacks was to delegitimize those outlets and essentially destroy much of the right’s immunity to false information. We thought we were creating a savvier, more skeptical audience. Instead, we opened the door for President Trump, who found an audience that could be easily misled.

The news media’s spectacular failure to get the election right has made it only easier for many conservatives to ignore anything that happens outside the right’s bubble and for the Trump White House to fabricate facts with little fear of alienating its base.

Unfortunately, that also means that the more the fact-based media tries to debunk the president’s falsehoods, the further it will entrench the battle lines.

----- 11 -----
The White House and Fox join forces to undermine anti-Trump protests as violent and fake
The New York Times
By Philip Bump February 6 at 10:55 AM

Fox News’s “Fox and Friends” has quickly emerged as a stalwart advocate for the presidency of Donald Trump. This may be due in part to the fact that Trump watches the show with regularity — so much so that a visual gag from the show about Trump flickering the lights of the White House at the hosts’ request went viral last week simply out of believability.

Part of that defense of the beleaguered president has been to dismiss the protests against him as harmful, violent and artificial. Consider this remarkable snippet from Monday morning’s show.

“Violent protests like this,” the host says over footage from last week’s violence in Berkeley, Calif., “not only disgusting but also dangerous. Now rioters protesting the president’s immigration order are accused of blocking an ambulance carrying a critically ill patient in Connecticut.”

It is true that a protest in Connecticut blocked a highway, delaying that ambulance. The patient lived, happily. But a local NBC affiliate showed what that protest looked like:

On “Fox and Friends,” this was a group of “rioters,” participating in “violent protests like” the one in Berkeley last week.


“Do you sense,” host Brian Kilmeade asks, “instead of being an organic disruption, do you sense that there is an organized pushback and people are being paid to protest?”

“Oh, absolutely,” Spicer replied. “I mean, protesting has become a profession now. They have every right to do that, don’t get me wrong. But I think we need to call it what it is. It’s not these organic uprisings that we have seen over the last several decades. The tea party was a very organic movement. This has become a very paid, Astroturf-type movement.”

----- 12 -----
A vote for DeVos is a vote for resegregation
By Felicia Wong | CNN
Updated 5:31 PM ET, Sun February 5, 2017

(CNN)As the Senate prepares to vote on the nomination of Betsy DeVos for secretary of education, opposition has primarily focused on questions of her basic competence. Some have also critiqued her background and experience almost exclusively with private, religious schools: She and her children have only ever attended Christian schools, and she and her husband have donated almost $8.6 million in recent years to Christian schooling organizations.

The limited scope of DeVos' education policy experience has raised questions for many about whether she is suited to run the federal agency charged with making American public education first-rate for all children.

----- 13 -----
Kellyanne Conway Referenced ‘Bowling Green Attack’ in TMZ Interview
There’s a new, third time Trump’s counselor talked about a fictitious terrorist attack — undermining the excuse she misspoke.
Gideon Resnick | Buzzfeed
02.06.17 6:23 PM ET

Kellyanne Conway referred to a fictitious “Bowling Green attack” to defend President Donald Trump’s ban on travel and immigration days before she said she misspoke on MSNBC’s Hardball.

During a brief video interview with TMZ on January 29, Conway referenced the event that did not happen.

“The fact is that it was President Obama and the Congress who identified these seven countries so President Trump is just following on,” Conway says in the video. “President Obama suspended the Iraq refugee program for six months in 2011 and no one certainly covered—I think nobody noticed.

“He did that because, I assume, there were two Iraqis who came here, got radicalized, joined ISIS, and then were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green attack on our brave soldiers.”

The Daily Beast has asked Conway and the White House for comment.


The same day she spoke to TMZ, Conway told Cosmopolitan about the fictitious “massacre.” Just days later, on February 2, Conway discussed the “massacre” again during an interview on MSNBC with Chris Matthews.

----- 14 -----
Pat Robertson: Muslim Ban Protesters Are Paid By George Soros
By Brian Tashman | February 6, 2017 2:28 pm
Right Wing Watch and The 700 Club

[Also, "I just don't like the thought that one Federal district court judge, just one out of many, can suddenly issue an injunction against an action of the president of the United States and make it apply nationwide - y'know, a Federal circuit judge shouldn't have that kind of authority." -- Pat Robertson]

Today on “The 700 Club,” Pat Robertson criticized a federal judge’s ruling blocking President Trump’s executive order barring people from several predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S.

After insisting that Trump’s executive order on immigration was legal and just, Robertson attacked President Obama for supposedly having “ignored Congress and let in thousands of people who shouldn’t have come into this country.”

The televangelist then made the bogus claims that Trump only wants to keep “about 100 people” out of America while insisting that the dozens of protests against Trump’s policy “are all fake.”

“They’re paid for, many of them, and George Soros and those like him are paying the bill to make all these demonstrations look like the nation is rising up against this ban; it’s not,” he said. “The people of America want to be safe from terrorists.”

----- 15 -----
Trump as Nero
Europe Must Defend Itself Against A Dangerous President
The United States president is becoming a danger to the world. It is time for Germany and Europe to prepare their political and economic defenses.
Is the United States turning its back on liberty?
A DER SPIEGEL Editorial By Klaus Brinkbäumer
AFP - Sunday, 2/5/2017 11:14 AM

There are times in life that really do count. Times when a person's character is revealed, when the important is separated from the unimportant. Soon decisions are taken that will determine the further path a person takes. With some, this can be tragic, and the moment comes too soon in their youth at a time when they aren't mature enough yet to foresee all the potential consequences. They make the decisions cheerfully and they lead to either luck or bad luck. But countries and governments are seldom as innocent when it comes to their decisions.

That's the kind of situation now approaching. The people who will soon have to decide are already grown up. They now have to start preparing, even if it will be painful.

Germany must stand up in opposition to the 45th president of the United States and his government. That's difficult enough already for two reasons: Because it is from the Americans that we obtained our liberal democracy in the first place; and because it is unclear how the brute and choleric man on the other side will react to diplomatic pressure. The fact that opposition to the American government can only succeed when mounted together with Asian and African partners -- and no doubt with our partners in Europe, with the EU -- doesn't make the situation any easier.

So far, Germany has viewed its leadership role -- at least the leadership understanding of Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble -- as one that is by all means in opposition to the interests of other European countries. Whether Schäuble's austerity policies or Merkel's migration policies, it all happened without much co-coordination and with considerable force. It is thus somewhat ironical that it is Germany, the country that is politically and economically dominant in Europe, that will now have to fill in many of the gaps created by America's withdrawal from the old world order, the one referred to by former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer as "Pax Americana." At the same time, Germany must build an alliance against Donald Trump, because it otherwise won't take shape. It is, however, absolutely necessary.

It is literally painful to write this sentence, but the president of the United States is a pathological liar. The president of the U.S. is a racist (it also hurts to write this). He is attempting a coup from the top; he wants to establish an illiberal democracy, or worse; he wants to undermine the balance of power. He fired an acting attorney general who held a differing opinion from his own and accused her of "betrayal." This is the vocabulary used by Nero, the emperor and destroyer of Rome. It is the way tyrants think.

----- 16 -----
Is Jeff Sessions Trump's scariest Cabinet pick?
By Dean Obeidallah
Updated 7:43 PM ET, Fri January 6, 2017

CNN Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio's daily program "The Dean Obeidallah Show" and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @TheDeansreport. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

(CNN) - "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is Trump's scariest pick of all?"

Even a magical mirror would have a tough time answering this question, given how many stunningly bad people President-elect Donald Trump has chosen for his administration.
There's Steve Bannon -- Trump's chief strategist -- whose selection elicited cheers from white supremacists. There's Trump's nominee for national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who has a history of embracing wild conspiracy theories and backing some of the nation's most notorious anti-Muslim activists.

----- 17 -----
When Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee disagree with something, they feminize it
That’s bad for everyone.
Updated by Jacob Gardenswartz@gardenswartzj Feb 6, 2017, 1:50pm EST

[I noticed this "emasculation" thing too, and it's part of the misogyny that really, truly, more than anything else alone, motivates the neofascist "alt-right"]

Following Judge James Robert’s order Friday night temporarily stopping the federal government from enforcing parts of President Donald Trump’s controversial visa ban, Trump lashed out against the “so-called judge” on Twitter, saying that Americans should “blame him and the court system” should something (presumably a national security disaster) happen.

Appearing on Fox News Monday morning, Christian minister and former Arkansas Gov. Mick Huckabee lobbed a different critique of the courts:

“I think we have an executive branch that has emasculated itself by surrendering constantly to the idea that once the court says something, that’s it,” he said.

----- 18 -----

[There is a story going around (started by The Wall Street Journal) which is raising questions about Trump Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch. I am suspicious of all of these for reasons that I can't entirely nail down - including that kind of allegation being used falsely before - though being a WSJ story gives it an actual, legitimate counterweight. (They're not exactly anti-Republcian.) The WSJ story is behind a paywall, so I'm bringing in a couple here.]

::::: a :::::
Neil Gorsuch’s History at Harvard Isn’t Adding Up
The Wall Street Journal has raised questions about his record volunteering as a student.
By Spencer Buell | Boston Daily | February 6, 2017, 11:26 a.m.
Boston Magazine

There’s something weird about Neil Gorsuch’s history at Harvard. One big chunk of it—a part that makes him seem like a really nice guy—isn’t adding up.

While he was a law student, he claims to have volunteered his legal expertise to help the less fortunate via the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project and Harvard Defenders. But the problem is, almost no one remembers him doing so.

The Wall Street Journal says it reached out to dozens of people who were at Harvard Law at the same time as Gorsuch, and despite the fact that many have fond memories of doing the work, most have no recollections of him actually helping out. He isn’t listed as having been a participant in yearbooks. No one can share details of cases he worked on. In a 2006 questionnaire about the pro-bono work, he didn’t offer any specifics.

One former classmate says he remembers hearing Gorsuch talk about Harvard Defenders, which pairs law students with low-income criminal defendants, once, the Journal reports. And the only tangible proof he might have been involved is an email from 2008, provided to the Journal by the White House, in which he replies to a Harvard Defenders alumni email group and recalls his time volunteering as “a very rewarding experience.”

This aspect of Gorsuch’s past has been listed in official bios and cited by President Trump as evidence that as a judge he is a firm, yet compassionate conservative and steward of the Constitution.

::::: b :::::
Trump’s Supreme Court pick touted volunteer work at Harvard — but ex-students don’t remember him
Sarah K. Burris | Raw Story
06 Feb 2017 at 09:42 ET

President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court Neil Gorsuch claimed that he volunteered for the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project and the Harvard Defenders, but fellow students don’t remember it that way.

During Trump’s nomination speech, he explained that Gorsuch had “demonstrated a commitment to helping the less fortunate,” but the Wall Street Journal reported “roughly three dozen students who participated in the two programs while Mr. Gorsuch was at Harvard Law School from 1988 to 1991 said they have no recollection of his involvement.”

There were two people who oversaw students doing the work for these organizations during this period. Both said they had no memory of Judge Gorsuch’s involvement. Another declined to answer when asked and classmates and friends admit that they have no recollection of him even discussing the program.

The White House did provide the Wall Street Journal with the name of one Harvard Law School graduate who said would corroborate the involvement, however. New York County prosecutor Chris Edel said he attended a few weeks of a training that the Defenders program did along with Gorsuch in either 1990 or 1991. The two lived together while in school and were members of a social club called the Lincoln’s Inn Society.

“What I am prepared to do is corroborate that Neil Gorsuch was in the Harvard Defenders,” Edel told WSJ. “I have a specific recollection of talking to him about one case, but I don’t want to go into the details…I’d like to leave it there.”

----- 19 -----
President Trump is now speculating that the media is covering up terrorist attacks
By Philip Bump February 6 at 2:55 PM
The Washington Post

Speaking to the U.S. Central Command on Monday, President Trump went off his prepared remarks to make a truly stunning claim: The media was intentionally covering up reports of terrorist attacks.

“You’ve seen what happened in Paris, and Nice. All over Europe, it’s happening,” he said to the assembled military leaders. “It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that.”


Trump’s comment goes far further than Conway’s, though. Her statement that “it didn’t get covered” probably referred to the alleged “six-month ban” from the Obama administration. (That this, too, didn’t happen has been somewhat swept under the rug.) Trump is positing that the media actively suppresses news of terrorist attacks to fulfill a political agenda.

It’s certainly true that not every terrorist attack receives broad coverage in the national media. FiveThirtyEight looked at the likelihood that a terrorist attack in a foreign country would be covered by the New York Times, looking at coverage of 40,129 attacks from 1968 to 2009. Not every attack received coverage over that period. Last spring, the Los Angeles Times set out to log every single terrorist attack in the month of April, counting 180 attacks that killed 858 people. Not every one of those attacks made your local nightly newscast.

But filtering what to cover is very different than suppressing information. On any given day, local newspapers and news broadcasts decide what to spend resources on. If your home is burglarized, it may not make the cut. This probably isn’t because the Channel 5 news director has a vendetta against you; it’s that there are limited resources.


With his comments on Monday, Trump implied that the media is complicit in making terrorists successful. It’s part of a recent pattern of suggesting that others are standing in the way of his terrorism-fighting efforts, which includes disparaging a federal judge who halted his immigration executive order.

----- 20 -----
Trump administration files brief supporting travel ban; arguments set for Tuesday
The government’s response comes after Washington and Minnesota obtained an emergency temporary restraining order on Friday that halted implementation of President Trump’s controversial travel ban on citizens from seven predominantly Muslim nations.
Originally published February 6, 2017 at 3:33 pm Updated February 6, 2017 at 3:45 pm
By Mike Carter Seattle Times staff reporter

The Trump administration has asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate its controversial ban on refugees and immigrants from seven mostly Muslim counties, arguing a Seattle judge exceeded his authority by issuing a nationwide injunction.

The administration argues that Trump was well within his authority when he temporarily barred refugees and most travel from seven mostly Muslim countries, citing national security.

Justice Department lawyers, in a 20-page brief, deny the president’s order is religious based, stating that all of the countries — Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Sudan — have been determined by Congress or previous administrations to be state sponsors of terrorism.

The appeal is being considered by a panel of three 9th Circuit judges based in Phoenix, Honolulu and the Bay Area, according to the court’s website. They have set oral arguments for Tuesday.

----- 21 -----
Trump Caught Spreading Debunked News Story On Facebook To Build Support For His Muslim Ban
Trump's Post Comes As He Cries "FAKE NEWS" To Discredit Coverage He Doesn't Like
Video ››› February 5, 2017 2:05 PM EST ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

[The Trump post of fake news is still live on Facebook. ]

CNN's Brian Stelter reported that President Donald Trump posted a false story on his Facebook page alleging that Kuwait imposed a "Trump-esque visa ban for five Muslim-majority countries." Stelter noted that Kuwait "categorically denied the reports" and that other news outlets issued corrections to their reports while Trump's post remains on Facebook. Even the Middle Eastern blog from which Trump posted his article published a story debunking its own report. BuzzFeed News reported that the story "cited only 'Kuwaiti sources' who spokes to 'local media'" and was picked up by Breitbart News, Infowars, and Sputnik News, a Russian government news site. Stelter said that this is the kind of reporting that Trump "might call 'fake news,'" as Trump has repeatedly disparaged reputable national outlets by calling them "false" and "FAKE NEWS." A number of Trump's associates have also been caught spreading fake news stories on social media in the past. From the February 5 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:

BRIAN STELTER (HOST): Before we go, a look at the president's Facebook feed. "Smart," that's what Trump wrote on Facebook a few days ago, linking to this story by a Middle Eastern blogging site. The headline says, "Kuwait issues its own Trump-esque visa ban for five Muslim-majority countries." Now, this is what the president might call "fake news." The president or one of his aides posted the pro-ban story to his official Facebook feed with the caption, "smart." A quarter of a million people have liked or commented on it. This idea about some sortof Muslim ban by Kuwait has been a popular rumor for awhile, but Kuwait, quote, "categorically denied the reports that it planned to stop issue and entry visas for some nationalities."

If you don't believe Kuwait, well, here's a headline from Pakistan, one of the countries allegedly affected, quoting a local embassy official saying there is no truth to it. Now, check this out. This is one of the Russian government's own news sites. It calls itself Sputnik News. It jumped on the rumor originally, saying, "Kuwait has ripped a page from the playbook of U.S. President Donald Trump." But then, Sputnik News had to post a correction saying "the following news article proved to be untrue." Now, let's go ahead and reload the president's Facebook page. Yeah. The baseless story is still racking up likes and comments. This raises a question: Does sloppiness matter? Do you expect Trump's aides to catch screwups like this, or do you just shrug it off?

[ Original source retraction of story: ]
[ Buzzfeed: ]

----- 22 -----
And Then the Breitbart Lynch Mob Came for Me
For 15 years, I’ve spoken out against executive overreach. But in the Trump era, even theoretical criticism puts a target on your back.
By Rosa Brooks | Foreign Policy | February 6, 2017

Here’s how lynch mobs form, in the age of the alt-right and “alternative facts.”

First, you inadvertently wave a red flag at an arena full of bulls. Then you sit back and wait for the internet to do its dark magic.

In my case, the red flag was a few paragraphs at the end of a recent column, speculating on what would happen if Donald Trump truly and dangerously lost his marbles. I wondered about one “possibility … that until recently I would have said was unthinkable in the United States of America: a military coup, or at least a refusal by military leaders to obey certain orders”:


Regardless, a few days passed quietly by after the column’s publication. Then, on Thursday morning, Breitbart — the “news” site previously run by Steve Bannon, now Donald Trump’s top political advisor — ran a story about my column, headlined “Ex-Obama Official Suggests ‘Military Coup’ Against Trump.”

Within a few hours, the alt-right internet was on fire. The trickle of critical email messages turned into a gush, then a geyser, and the polite emails of the first few days were quickly displaced by obscenity-laced screeds, many in all capital letters. My Twitter feed filled up with trolls.

Soon, extremists and conspiracy-oriented outlets from InfoWars to openly white supremacist websites had moved from claiming that I had “suggested” a coup to asserting that I was demanding, planning, and threatening the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. (Together with my sinister friend George Soros, of course, and a cabal of deranged left-wing academics.)

By mid-afternoon, I was getting death threats. “I AM GOING TO CUT YOUR HEAD OFF………BITCH!” screamed one email. Other correspondents threatened to hang me, shoot me, deport me, imprison me, and/or get me fired (this last one seemed a bit anti-climactic). The dean of Georgetown Law, where I teach, got nasty emails about me. The Georgetown University president’s office received a voicemail from someone threatening to shoot me. New America, the think tank where I am a fellow, got a similar influx of nasty calls and messages. “You’re a fucking cunt! Piece of shit whore!” read a typical missive.

My correspondents were united on the matter of my crimes (treason, sedition, inciting insurrection, etc.). The only issue that appeared to confound and divide them was the vexing question of just what kind of undesirable I was. Several decided, based presumably on my first name, that I was Latina and proposed that I be forcibly sent to the other side of the soon-to-be-built Trump border wall. Others, presumably conflating me with African-American civil rights heroine Rosa Parks, asserted that I would never have gotten hired if it weren’t for race-based affirmative action. The anti-Semitic rants flowed in, too: A website called the Daily Stormer noted darkly that I am “the daughter of the infamous communist Barbara Ehrenreich and the Jew John Ehrenreich,” and I got an anonymous phone call from someone who informed me, in a chillingly pleasant tone, that he supported a military coup “to kill all the Jews.”

My experience is not unusual. Anyone who attracts the attention of the alt-right is in for a rough ride. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done in the past: Even lifelong conservatives can find themselves on the wrong side of the baying mob. Consider the experience of National Review’s David French. He made the mistake of “calling out notorious Trump ally Ann Coulter for aping the white-nationalist language and rhetoric of the so-called alt-right.” Within days, French, his wife, and his children were all subjected to vicious, racist, and obscene attacks.


----- 23 -----
Nikki Haley’s test at the UN: Is access to abortion a human right?
Sacramento Bee
By Vera Bergengruen
18 January 2017

[Yes, this is a few weeks old, but I didn't see it before I don't think]

If Nikki Haley is confirmed as Donald Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, the strong opponent of abortion rights could be caught up in controversy over whether to define contraception and safe abortions as a human right for women, especially in developing countries.

Being a spokesperson for U.S. policy on these issues could test the South Carolina Republican governor, who was elected in the tea party wave of 2010 and has no formal foreign policy experience.

“The way the U.S. ambassador speaks about these issues is very important,” said Yasmine Ergas, director of gender and public policy at Columbia University’s School of International Public Affairs, who has worked as a consultant on women’s issues for international organizations including UNESCO.

“The U.S., by the attitude that it takes on questions like abortion, is actually affecting the lives of millions of women, not just those seeking abortions but those seeking care in other circumstances as well.”

An abortion opponent at the UN?

In her confirmation hearing Wednesday, Haley told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that she would bring her conservative views into her new role.

“I am strongly pro-life, so anything we can do to keep from having abortions, or to keep them from not knowing what is available, I will support,” she said.

----- 24 -----
Trump EPA Nominee Answers Senators With Contempt and Extremism
January 26, 2017 John Walke

----- 25 -----
Is Steve Bannon the Second Most Powerful Man in the World?
David Von Drehle
Feb 02, 2017

Most modern Presidents chart their opening moves with the help of a friendly think tank or a set of long-held beliefs.

Donald Trump's first steps had the feel of a documentary film made by his chief strategist and alter ego Stephen K. Bannon, a director who deploys ravenous sharks, shrieking tornadoes and mushroom clouds as reliably as John Ford shot Monument Valley.

Act I of the Trump presidency has been filled with disruption, as promised by Trump and programmed by Bannon, with plenty of resistance in reply, from both inside and outside the government. Perhaps this should not be surprising. Trump told America many times in 2016 that his would be no ordinary Administration. Having launched his campaign as a can-do chief executive, he came to see himself as the leader of a movement--and no movement is complete without its commissar. Bannon is the one who keeps the doctrine pure, the true believer, who is in it not for money or position, but to change history. "What we are witnessing now is the birth of a new political order," Bannon wrote in an email to the Washington Post.

----- 26 -----
League of the South Announces Formation of ‘Southern Defense Force’
February 06, 2017 - The Southern Poverty Law Centre

Edging closer to militancy, the neo-Confederate League of the South says it's forming a force to combat the 'leftist menace to our historic Christian civilization.'

In a military-styled order titled “Directive 02022017,” Michael Hill, president of the neo-Confederate League of the South (LOS), announced Friday the formation of a new vigilante “defense force.”

[T]he League of the South is calling for all able-bodied, traditionalist Southern men to join our organization’s Southern Defense Force for the purpose of helping our State and local magistrates across Dixie combat this growing leftist menace to our historic Christian civilization. As private citizens in a private organization, we will stand ready to protect our own families and friends, our property, and our liberty from leftist chaos. Moreover, we will be ready to assist our local and State authorities in keeping the peace should they find it necessary to “deputize” private citizens for that purpose.

It remains to be seen what actions the new “Southern Defense Force” [SDF] will take to “plan for contingencies – natural or man-made –– that might affect the Southern people.” But announcements of plans to militarize the League are not new.

In 2014, the group began developing and training a paramilitary unit called the “Indomitables” to advance a second secession, though such efforts fizzled quickly.

Promising increased LOS militancy has cost the group and led to faltering membership. Since Dylann Roof’s massacre of nine congregants at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church in 2015, Hatewatch has documented a string of high-profile departures.

All of that has not stopped Hill from adopting the posture of a military commander, albeit one who has demonstrated a repeated and remarkable inability to maintain a clear chain of command and restrain more impulsive League members. At last year’s LOS national conference, younger members broke away for an unsanctioned protest of a Montgomery, Alabama, LGBT Pride parade and shouted “God hates fags” at demonstrators.

----- 27 -----
Trump White House is leaving the public in the dark. Is it growing pains – or a plan?
By Anita Kumar | McClatchy DC
3 February 2017

Is Donald Trump shutting Americans out of his presidency?

The White House comment line is shut down. New signatures aren’t being counted on petitions posted on the White House’s website. Federal agencies are not allowed to respond to requests.

Americans aren’t just failing to get their voices heard. The administration, too, is failing to provide information to them.

Transcripts, executive orders and news releases aren’t being posted online. Social media accounts, including Flickr, Pinterest and Tumblr, are no longer in use. Sending information to the Federal Register, the daily journal of the U.S. government, is delayed.

On Friday, a national research watchdog group condemned the administration for removing thousands of documents relevant to enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act from the Department of Agriculture’s website. The removed documents included reports on fines, official warnings, inspection reports and annual reports.

“This is clearly a calculated move to protect from public scrutiny criminal entities who regularly break federal laws, endangering human health,” said Michael A. Budkie, the executive director of Stop Animal Exploitation Now, an Ohio-based nonprofit that monitors U.S. research facilities for animal cruelty.

“Even at the height of disagreement this has never happened,” said Maryanne Cottmeyer, 72, a retired federal worker from outside Olympia, Washington, who has called the White House comment line daily since Trump was sworn in, with no success. “They don’t want to hear.”

----- 28 -----
Donald Trump will not be allowed to address Parliament on UK state visit, Speaker John Bercow says
MPs break into spontaneous applause as Speaker says he will not permit the President to address Westminster Hall
Jon Stone Political Correspondent | The Independent
Monday 6 February 2017

Donald Trump will not be welcome to address Parliament on his state visit to the UK because of its opposition to racism and to sexism, the Speaker of the House of Commons has said in a major snub to the American President.

In a dramatic intervention, John Bercow, the Speaker, said he was “strongly opposed” to Mr Trump speaking in the Commons as he stressed that being invited to address Parliament was “not an automatic right” but “an earned honour”.

“Before the imposition of the migrant ban I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall," Mr Bercow told MPs.

“After the imposition of the migrant ban by President Trump I am even more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall.”

----- 29 -----
Bracing for Trump's Revenge
Some conservatives unequivocally opposed his election. Now he’s the president, with all the levers of government at his disposal.
David Segar / Reuters
McKay Coppins / The Atlantic
February 2017

Donald Trump has never made a secret of his penchant for personal vengeance. He boasts about it, tweets about it, tells long, rambling stories about it on the transcontinental speaking circuit. When, last year, he was asked to identify a favorite Bible passage, he cited “an eye for an eye.” And in his 2007 book, Think Big and Kick Ass, he devoted an entire chapter to the joys of exacting revenge.

“My motto is: Always get even,” he wrote. “When somebody screws you, screw them back in spades.”

For those who have crossed Trump, then, these are understandably anxious times. As he enters the White House and takes the reins of the most powerful government in the world, a small cadre of high-profile conservatives—the haters, the losers, the Never-Trumpers who never fell in line—has found itself wondering whether their party’s president will use his new powers to settle old scores.

“The question is not whether he’s vengeful,” conservative columnist Ben Shapiro told me. “The question is how willing he is to use the levers of government to exact that revenge.”

----- 30 -----
We can’t let Trump go down Putin’s path
The Washington Post
By Michael McFaul February 6 at 12:30 PM

For reasons still mysterious to me, U.S. President Donald Trump continues to praise and defend Russian President Vladimir Putin. Just yesterday, in an interview with Bill O’Reilly on Fox, President Trump affirmed his respect for Putin. When O’Reilly challenged Trump by calling the Russian president a “killer,” Trump defended Putin, whom he has never met, by criticizing the United States: “We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?”

A generous interpretation of this odd, unprecedented defense of Putin is that Trump is praising the Kremlin leader in order to cultivate better relations with Moscow. That is a naive, but tolerable, foreign policy. (U.S. foreign policymakers should pursue concrete national and economic interests, not “better relations,” but that discussion is for another day.) A more worrisome interpretation, however, is that Trump admires Putin’s policies and ideas, and may even seek to emulate his method of rule. That is unacceptable. Understanding Putin’s methods for consolidating autocracy in Russia might help us stop autocratic tendencies in the Trump era now, before it’s too late.


Today, of course, we see clearly how Putin’s first modest antidemocratic steps ultimately led to autocracy. Whenever Putin faced challenges to his power or constraints on his personal rule, he chose to increase repression, not to moderate. He arrested business leaders who dared to try funding opposition parties, including, most dramatically, the richest man in Russia at the time, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He used the powers of the state to limit real competition in national elections. He ended the direct election of governors.

And when tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets to protests against his regime in December 2011, Putin labeled them traitors and puppets of the United States, and then used a variety of means — disinformation, blackmail, and arrests based on bogus charges — to weaken and eliminate his opponents. One of the leaders of these protests, Boris Nemtsov, was later assassinated. Some remain in jail or under house arrest, while many others now live in exile. Just last week, liberal opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza was apparently poisoned for the second time in two years.


To counter the urban, educated, wealthy “creative class” protesting against him, Putin also mobilized his electoral base: the rural, poor, uneducated supporters who were the primary losers of Russia’s (partial) integration into the global market economy. Putin and his administration took deliberate actions to polarize Russian society, pitting citizens from big cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg against “real” Russians in the rural heartland.

In retrospect, Russians who lament the consolidation of Putin’s autocracy all say they reacted too slowly at the beginning. They didn’t believe things could get so bad. They didn’t believe Putin would ever go as far as he did. Back in 2000, Putin had few allies within the state, and lukewarm support in society. He won his first election because of government support and weak opponents, not because of wild enthusiasm among voters for him or his ideas. Back then, important actors in Russia’s business class remained autonomous from the state, regional leaders also acted a check on Moscow’s power, independent media still existed and parliament still enjoyed some real power. Had these forces pushed back immediately against creeping authoritarianism, Russia’s political trajectory might have been different.

Sounds familiar?

----- 31 -----
White House rattled by McCarthy's spoof of Spicer
By Annie Karni, Josh Dawsey and Tara Palmeri
02/06/17 08:40 PM EST

As the press secretary for a president who's obsessed with how things play on cable TV, Sean Spicer’s real audience during his daily televised press briefings has always been an audience of one.

And the devastating “Saturday Night Live” caricature of Spicer that aired over the weekend — in which a belligerent Spicer was spoofed by a gum-chomping, super soaker-wielding Melissa McCarthy in drag — did not go over well internally at a White House in which looks matter.

More than being lampooned as a press secretary who makes up facts, it was Spicer’s portrayal by a woman that was most problematic in the president’s eyes, according to sources close to him. And the unflattering send-up by a female comedian was not considered helpful for Spicer’s longevity in the grueling, high-profile job in which he has struggled to strike the right balance between representing an administration that considers the media the "opposition party," and developing a functional relationship with the press.

"Trump doesn't like his people to look weak," added a top Trump donor.

----- 32 -----
Ordinary Americans carried out inhumane acts for Trump
Chris Edelson | The Baltimore Sun
6 February 2017

A week ago, men and women went to work at airports around the United States as they always do. They showered, got dressed, ate breakfast, perhaps dropped off their kids at school. Then they reported to their jobs as federal government employees, where, according to news reports, one of them handcuffed a 5-year-old child, separated him from his mother and detained him alone for several hours at Dulles airport.

At least one other federal employee at Dulles reportedly detained a woman who was traveling with her two children, both U.S. citizens, for 20 hours without food. A relative says the mother was handcuffed (even when she went to the bathroom) and threatened with deportation to Somalia.

At Kennedy Airport, still other federal employees detained and handcuffed a 65-year-old woman traveling from Qatar to visit her son, who is a U.S. citizen and serviceman stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. The woman was held for more than 33 hours, according to the New York Times, and denied use of a wheelchair.

The men and women who work for the federal government completed these and other tasks and then returned to their families, where perhaps they had dinner and read stories to their children before bedtime.

When we worry and wonder about authoritarian regimes that inflict cruelty on civilians, we often imagine tyrannical despots unilaterally advancing their sinister agendas. But no would-be autocrat can act alone. As a practical matter, he needs subordinates willing to carry out orders. Of course, neither Donald Trump nor Steve Bannon personally detained any of the more than 100 people held at airports over the weekend pursuant to the administration's executive order on immigration, visitation and travel to the United States. They relied on assistance.

The men and women who reportedly handcuffed small children and the elderly, separated a child from his mother and held others without food for 20 hours, are undoubtedly "ordinary" people. What I mean by that, is that these are, in normal circumstances, people who likely treat their neighbors and co-workers with kindness and do not intentionally seek to harm others. That is chilling, as it is a reminder that authoritarians have no trouble finding the people they need to carry out their acts of cruelty. They do not need special monsters; they can issue orders to otherwise unexceptional people who will carry them out dutifully.


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