The Evening Blues - 6-20-18
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features New Orleans r&b singer Lloyd Price. Enjoy!
Lloyd Price - Mailman Blues
"Every robber or oppressor in history has wrapped himself in a cloak of patriotism or religion, or both."
-- Eugene V. Debs
News and Opinion
President Trump capped a speech on Tuesday in which he repeatedly railed against illegal immigration by embracing the American flag.
Trump gave a speech before the National Federation of Independent Business, during which he discussed immigration at length, including his "zero tolerance" policy that separates families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump concluded his speech by praising small business owners, saying, “We’re doing well as a country, and you are the ones truly who are making America great again." He then hugged the flag as he walked off stage.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) June 19, 2018
New York Times signs on as Trump's lapdog presstitutes.
The White House Didn't Want You To Hear Stephen Miller's Voice Defend Family Separation (And the NYT Said OK)
Although far-right activist-turned-White House policy adviser Stephen Miller has been a chief architect of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy and its forcible separation of families, he has remained largely behind the scenes as outrage has grown over the practice—and on Tuesday, with help from the New York Times, the White House kept it that way.
After conducting an on-the-record interview with Miller for an article that appeared in the New York Times last week about the family separation policy, the Times submitted to a White House request to not include audio from the interview in its popular news podcast "The Daily."
So New York Times has big, newsworthy interview with Stephen Miller. Story posts last week. The White House knows there is a podcast called The Daily. Miller knows he is speaking into a microphone. But yesterday WH says, don’t use audio. And then NYT says... okay, never mind?
— Robert Mentzer (@robertmentzer) June 19, 2018
Worth reading in full, there is considerable, damning detail:
Separation Of Immigrant Families Was Part Of Deportation Under Obama — Now Trump Is Expanding The Practice
There is no denying President Donald Trump’s immigration policy is far more menacing in presentation than his predecessor, President Barack Obama. But how much is this a difference in style versus a difference in substance? The material outcomes of Obama and Trump’s deportation approaches, and the reaction among Democrats to both, tell us a lot about the circumstances in which incontrovertible violence is deemed acceptable in America. There seems to be confusion. To be clear, family separation and child detention are a basic feature of American deportation proceedings. They occur on a routine and systematic basis, even if the government in charge isn’t pounding its chest about it. In fact, immigrant communities were outspoken on this reality for many, many years. ...
Liberals suggest this separation under Obama was different than what’s happening under Trump because some of the children may have been born here and therefore not eligible for deportation like their parents. They argue families may have been separated, but Obama didn’t do what Trump is doing now. These are troubling procedural arguments that legitimize certain kinds of violence. Some liberals have said, even if Obama’s deportation machine was larger (and remember, it was twice as large), it was somehow kinder and gentler than Trump’s because Obama incarcerated families together and he didn’t jail kids alone. They see this as an example of how the Obama administration showed empathy towards families. This is another semantic argument, and a rather twisted one at that because once again this argument involves defending the violence that occurs in detention. And because of that, the truth is missed.
Family detention centers were well-known havens for sexual violence and deprivation. They were overcrowded and lacked basic medical care. Numerous reports warned of these conditions over the years but were ignored throughout Obama’s presidency. Ironically, even family detention involved separation, as the facilities primarily held women and children. Men were incarcerated separately and often forced to labor in dangerous conditions for little-to-no pay.
Obama organized ad campaigns in Central America that used the violent specter of these experiences to try and dissuade people from coming to the U.S. or sending their kids unaccompanied. Families were targeted for raids, which resulted in the detention of children and widespread fear in immigrant communities.
Trump Cabinet’s Bible Study Minister Justifies Child Separation as Consequence of Immigrants’ “Illegal Behavior”
Amid increasing scrutiny of President Donald Trump’s hard-line immigration policies, criticisms have been lodged against the policy of family separation at the border by, among others, members of his own party and otherwise stalwart Christian right allies of the GOP. One Christian ally of the White House, though, came out swinging in favor of taking children away from their parents: Capitol Ministries.
Ralph Drollinger, the head of the private Christian group, which leads Bible study sessions for Republican lawmakers and senior members of Trump’s Cabinet, led the charge to defend the administration even as photos and stories emerge showing children crowded into cages and snatched from their mothers.
“No one, especially my personal friend, the kind-hearted Attorney General Jeff Sessions, desires that a mother or father be separated from their children,” wrote Drollinger, in a message to supporters on Friday. But, the Capitol Ministries leader said, there are “three classifications of people in every country, as was true in ancient Israel in the Old Testament.” In Drollinger’s interpretation, there are citizens, legal immigrants, and foreigners — the latter were known as being “illegal,” he said — and the Bible only forbids family separation for citizens and legal immigrants.
“It follows that when someone breaks the law of the land that they should anticipate that one of the consequences of their illegal behavior will be separation from their children,” Drollinger wrote. “Such is the case with thieves or murderers who are arrested and put in jail.”
The Trump administration has likely lost track of nearly 6,000 unaccompanied migrant children, thousands more than lawmakers were alerted to last month, according to a McClatchy review of federal data. Federal officials acknowledged last month that nearly 1,500 unaccompanied minors arrived on the southern border alone without their parents and were placed with sponsors who did not keep in touch with federal officials, but those numbers were only a snapshot of a three- month period during the last fiscal year.
“There is a lot more,” said a field specialist who worked in the Office of Refugee Resettlement until earlier this year and was tasked with reaching out to sponsors and children to check on their well-being. “You can bet that the numbers are higher. It doesn’t really give you a real picture.” ...
“To the extent that there are problems for protection of unaccompanied children, this will only become worse as they put more kids in the unaccompanied category by ripping them away from their families,” said Clara Long, U.S. researcher at Human Rights Watch.
According to a report by the Daily Beast, the US federal government has engaged the services of the defense industry to facilitate its strategy of tearing migrant children from the arms of their mothers as a deterrent to improper entry to country. Defense contractors’ intended role in this madness? Childcare providers.
I took the opportunity to review the website of one such contractor, Virginia-based MVM, Inc. The website includes an impressive list of services and expertise – not including childcare. As an immigration lawyer who frequently represents unaccompanied minors in immigration court, and as a father of two, I find it unconscionable that an industry that principally serves the needs of the military and federal law enforcement agencies would be charged with overseeing the health and wellbeing of children.
“Every part of separation is deliberately designed to make a buck,” Bridget Cambria, an immigration lawyer who works with detained children, told me. And to protect that business, the government and private contractors make it as difficult as possible for those affected to seek legal recourse. Calling the process an “administrative monstrosity”, Cambria explained that the ultimate goal of separating parents and children is deportation of both parent and child, while generating money in the meantime. “Each day, moment, and second a child or parent is in this crazy custody chain – people profit, and they profit a lot.”
The result of separation, Cambria said, is that parents, frantic to do whatever it takes to get their children back, usually give up and accept deportation. She says that the Trump administration’s strategy of family separation places parent and child on two different legal tracks, with the parent likely quickly removed without their child. This results in children (sometimes infants) awaiting proceedings without their parent, in the custody of government contractors.
After Weeks of Lies and Cruel Family Separations, Trump Says He Will Sign Order to Save Children From Horror He Created
After weeks of spreading the outright lie that "Congress alone" can stop his administration's cruel practice of separating children from their families at the border, President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that he will sign an executive order drafted by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen that will end family separations by locking kids and their parents up together.
Details yet to come, but @realDonaldTrump’s “solution” to family separation sounds like handcuffs for all. Locking up children and families in detention centers is unacceptable and un-American. #KeepFamiliesTogether
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) June 20, 2018
"We want security and insist on security for our country. And we will have that. At the same time, we have compassion. We want to keep families together. It's very important. I'll be signing something in a little while that's going to do that," Trump said after his administration has already detained and traumatized thousands of children.
Following increasing levels of national outcry and global condemnation, Trump's announcement on Wednesday completely destroys the narrative—pushed by the White House and seized by GOP lawmakers—that the president was forced by existing laws to rip children from the arms of their parents, and that only legislation could stop the horrifying family separations. ...
As independent commentators, reporters, and Democratic lawmakers have pointed out since Attorney General Jeff Sessions first unveiled the White House's so-called "zero tolerance" policy in early May, Trump has always had the power to end the family separation policy with a single pen stroke.
.@realDonaldTrump can sign all the executive orders he wants. It won't change the fact that his Administration, as a matter of choice, chose to rip infants out of their parents arms in an effort to terrorize people seeking safety and refuge. A choice that reveals who he really is
— Stephen Miles (@SPMiles42) June 20, 2018
Millions Lack Food, Housing, and Healthcare, But 38 Democrats Just Joined GOP to Spend $716 Billion on Endless War and Empire
not that anyone cares but the Senate just passed a $716B defense bill for 2019, a 13% increase over 2017, or roughly $82B. Had the DOD's budget simply STAYED THE SAME we could have funded public college for every student in the US & had $12B left over. https://t.co/ScW0T138kh
— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) June 19, 2018
Democrats and Republicans decided to join hands once more late Monday—in an overwhelming 85-10 vote—to affirm that militarism and massive handouts to defense contractors top education, healthcare, and anti-hunger programs on the list of congressional priorities.
Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) Cory Booker (D-N.J.) Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) Ben Cardin (D-Md.) Tom Carper (D-Del.) Bob Casey (D-Penn.) Chris Coons (D-Del.) Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) Doug Jones (D-Ala.) Tim Kaine (D-Va.) Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) Patty Murray (D-Wash.) Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) Gary Peters (D-Mich.) Jack Reed (D-R.I.) Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) Tina Smith (D-Minn.) Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) Jon Tester (D-Mont.) Tom Udall (D-N.M.) Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) Mark Warner (D-Va.) Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)
The Democrats like war, interventions and United States hegemony. They always have. If anyone wants proof they need only look at their collective hissy fit regarding the Trump and Kim summit. Part of the reaction is caused by fear of Trump getting credit for a foreign policy achievement. But Democrats are also true believers in imperialism. The last thing they want to see is any reduction in the American military presence in Korea or anywhere else. ...
Not one member of the Democratic Party has acknowledged that South Korea is supportive of a process that impacts it most directly. Democratic senators Tammy Duckworth and Chris Murphy have actually proposed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would require Pentagon approval for Trump to remove any of the nearly 30,000 American troops stationed there. ...
If Democrats were as progressive as they claim to be they would pressure Trump to follow through and end the 70-year old American intervention in Korea. But they support America’s professed right to invade and intervene in the affairs of countries all over the world, The bipartisan war making consensus is in full effect. Russia and China share borders with North Korea but the pundits and politicians disregard them and their rights to engage with their neighbors.
Democratic Party imperialists like Rachel Maddow point out Russia’s proximity to Korea as proof of evil intent. The highest rated cable television talk show host dispenses war propaganda to millions of people every day with idiotic and dangerous comments. ... The two war parties and their partners in media conspire to keep Americans ignorant. ... People who call themselves liberal recoil at the idea that other nations should be able to assert their rights of sovereignty. It is considered a given, an accepted dogma, that the United States ought to have 800 military facilities in the rest of the world.
We live in a state of perpetual war, and we never feel it. While you get your gelato at the hip place where they put those cute little mint leaves on the side, someone is being bombed in your name. While you argue with the 17-year-old at the movie theater who gave you a small popcorn when you paid for a large, someone is being obliterated in your name. While we sleep and eat and make love and shield our eyes on a sunny day, someone’s home, family, life and body are being blown into a thousand pieces in our names.
Once every 12 minutes.
The United States military drops an explosive with a strength you can hardly comprehend once every 12 minutes. And that’s odd, because we’re technically at war with—let me think—zero countries. So that should mean zero bombs are being dropped, right? Hell no! ...
You’re thinking of a rational world. We do not live there. ...
Donald Trump’s administration puts all previous presidents to shame. The Pentagon’s numbers show that during George W. Bush’s eight years he averaged 24 bombs dropped per day, which is 8,750 per year. Over the course of Obama’s time in office, his military dropped 34 bombs per day, 12,500 per year. And in Trump’s first year in office, he averaged 121 bombs dropped per day, for an annual total of 44,096.
Trump’s military dropped 44,000 bombs in his first year in office. ... Under Trump, five bombs are dropped per hour—every hour of every day. That averages out to a bomb every 12 minutes. ...
We are a rogue nation with a rogue military and a completely unaccountable ruling elite. The government and military you and I support by being a part of this society are murdering people every 12 minutes, and in response, there’s nothing but a ghostly silence. It is beneath us as a people and a species to give this topic nothing but silence. It is a crime against humanity.
Television mogul and Democratic Party megadonor Haim Saban is privately reprimanding lawmakers who spoke out about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza Strip. Saban emailed the senators, some at their personal addresses, to directly express his displeasure with a letter organized last month by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
Twelve Democrats and Sanders signed the May 11, 2018, letter calling for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “act urgently in order to help relieve the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.” The letter, which came amid a deadly Israeli response to a protest movement in the Gaza Strip, said that the Trump administration should restore funding to a United Nations humanitarian effort and encourage Israel to ease restrictions on Palestinians living in Gaza. Three days after the senators sent the letter, Israel fired on another round of protestors, leaving dozens dead and hundreds more wounded.
On Tuesday, The Intercept obtained a copy of an email Saban sent to six of the senators, along with a handful of staffers for the others, expressing his “dismay” that they signed. ...
“As this condescending letter attacking several leading Senate Democrats shows, Saban is, as he once described himself, a ‘one issue guy’ and ‘that issue is Israel,'” said Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights. “The uncouth and belittling language is directed at these 13 senators for daring to suggest that Palestinians suffering in Gaza deserve humanitarian relief. The tone sounds less like a sincere attempt to convince anyone and more like the bitter ramblings of a political investor who knows the base of the party he has long supported is uninterested in backing Israel’s heinous human rights abuses any more.”
Saban is a powerful figure in the Democratic Party, a massive donor to party organs and one of the top contributors to Hillary and Bill Clinton’s political careers. His most visible political advocacy, however, is for hawkish pro-Israel causes. “I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel,” he told the New Yorker in 2010. Saban played an early, leading role in fighting against progressive Rep. Keith Ellison’s failed bid to win the Democratic National Committee chair, calling the Muslim Minnesota Democrat an “anti-Semite and anti-Israel individual.”
Israeli jets have attacked 25 targets linked to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, after the group launched rockets and mortar shells at Israeli territory, the military said. Three Palestinians were lightly injured during the attacks in the early hours of Wednesday, residents said. The exchange was one of the most intense recent barrages of rocket fire and air strikes.
No casualties were reported in Israel. Air raid sirens and Israeli phone warning applications sounded throughout the predawn hours. The Israeli military said 45 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israeli territory and said its Iron Dome anti-missile shield intercepted seven rockets.
While Hamas praised the rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel on Wednesday, it did not take responsibility for them. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said it was time for new rules of engagement, where "bombing is met with bombing".
"It's the Israeli occupation that started the escalation.The resistance has warned against continuing to target civilians, fishermen, farmers, and resistance positions. ...
Palestinian rocket fire came hours after the Israeli military said it struck Hamas infrastructure in response to "arson balloons" launched from Gaza into Israel. Israel has carried out air raids in the Gaza Strip over the past few weeks, saying it was retaliating for Palestinians setting fire to Israeli land. In recent weeks, Palestinian protesters have used flaming objects attached to kites to set fire to agricultural land just over the border fence with Israel.
House Republicans released a proposal Tuesday that would balance the budget in nine years — but only by making large cuts to entitlement programs, including Medicare, that President Trump vowed not to touch. The House Budget Committee is aiming to pass the blueprint this week, but that may be as far as it goes this midterm election year. It is not clear that GOP leaders will put the document on the House floor for a vote, and even if it were to pass the House, the budget would have little impact on actual spending levels. ...
Lawmakers of both parties agree that spending that is not subject to Congress’s annual appropriations process is becoming unsustainable. But Trump has largely taken it off the table by refusing to touch Medicare or Social Security, and Democrats have little interest in addressing it except as part of a larger deal including tax increases — the sort of “Grand Bargain” that eluded President Barack Obama.
The House Republican budget, titled “A Brighter American Future,” would remake Medicare by giving seniors the option of enrolling in private plans that compete with traditional Medicare, a system of competition designed to keep costs down but dismissed by critics as an effort to privatize the program. Along with other changes, the budget proposes to squeeze $537 billion out of Medicare over the next decade.
The budget would transform Medicaid, the federal-state health-care program for the poor, by limiting per capita payments or allowing states to turn it into a block-grant program — the same approach House Republicans took in their legislation that passed last year to repeal the Affordable Care Act (the repeal effort died in the Senate, but the GOP budget assumes that the repeal takes place). It also proposes adding work requirements for certain adults enrolled in Medicaid. Changes to Medicaid and other health programs would account for $1.5 trillion in savings.
Social Security comes in for more modest cuts of $4 billion over the decade, which the budget projects could be reached by eliminating concurrent receipt of unemployment benefits and Social Security disability insurance.
The oil baron billionaires Charles and David Koch are bankrolling astroturf campaigns across the United States to kill investment in public transit, according to a "must-read" investigation published Tuesday by the New York Times.
"Since 2015, Americans for Prosperity has coordinated door-to-door anti-transit canvassing campaigns for at least seven local or state-level ballots. In the majority, the Kochs were on the winning side," the Times reports, referencing the political advocacy organization funded by the Koch Brothers.
"Americans for Prosperity and other Koch-backed groups have also opposed more than two dozen other transit-related measures—including many states' bids to raise gas taxes to fund transit or transportation infrastructure—by organizing phone banks, running advertising campaigns, staging public forums, issuing reports, and writing opinion pieces in local publications," the report continues.
The development of public transit, particularly when it is sustainably powered, is often seen as positive for both impoverished communities and the environment—especially considering that transportation is the largest contributor to the nation's total greenhouse gas emissions. As the Times notes, "the paucity of federal funding for transit projects means that local ballots are critical in shaping how Americans travel."
And while the brothers' opposition to investment in public transit aligns with their far-right, libertarian ideals, as the Times points out, "it also dovetails with their financial interests, which benefit from automobiles and highways." As the newspaper explains: "One of the mainstay companies of Koch Industries, the Kochs' conglomerate, is a major producer of gasoline and asphalt, and also makes seatbelts, tires and other automotive parts. Even as Americans for Prosperity opposes public investment in transit, it supports spending tax money on highways and roads."
A spokesman for Koch Industries told Times that the company does not control Americans for Prosperity's activities and that the group's efforts to kill public transit are not connected to the company's interests.
According to estimates, the population of tigers in people’s back gardens in the US outnumbers those in the wild. Seven thousand of the big cats live in US captivity, whereas, despite increases, there are as few as 3,890 wild tigers worldwide. Most of the captive animals are kept in unregulated conditions, as the BBC reported last week. Only 6% are housed in zoos or facilities approved by the US Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The rest live in private breeding facilities, back yards, even urban apartments. In some states, it is easier to buy a tiger than to adopt a rescue dog.
Leigh Henry, a species policy expert at the World Wildlife Fund, says the situation threatens the work that has been done to conserve wild populations in Asia. “A patchwork of regulations governs these tigers, meaning no agency can say how many there are, when they are born, when they die and what happens to their valuable parts when they do. Illegal trade in tiger parts remains the primary threat to tigers in the wild, and the last thing we want is parts from captive tigers helping sustain or even fuel this black market.” ...
A tiger in your back garden is far removed from William Blake’s unknowable and majestic creature burning bright. But even Blake wrote at a time when the Exeter Exchange on the Strand in London displayed tigers, lions and elephants in a first-floor “department store”, visited by Lord Byron and Jane Austen.
As we reduce and affect their natural habitats, will we be left with big cats as flea-bitten, oversized but potentially deadly kittens?
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Lloyd Price - Have You Ever Had the Blues
Lloyd Price - Lawdy Miss Clawdy
Lloyd Price - Stagger Lee
Lloyd Price - Down by the River
Lloyd Price - No Limit To Love, Such A Mess
Lloyd Price - Lady Luck
Lloyd Price - I'm Too Young
Lloyd Price - Baby, Please Don't Turn Your Back On Me
Lloyd Price - Frim Fram Sauce
Lloyd Price - Where You At?