“Liars and Bullies"
There’s a name for people who pick on women and children in order to look tough. Hint: It’s not “strong”.
Immigration and compassion both make our country strong. They always have. But it takes courage to stand up for them when they’re attacked. And they’re being assailed now as never before. Trump is working hard to cement himself as a tyrant and, to do that, he needs a crisis that allows him to take control by suspending the rule of law. He needs his “Reichstag fire”. Since there isn’t a crisis, he’s manufactured one, one that appeals to his “base” who are frightened that their white majority is threatened.
Trump has decided to pick on women and children fleeing violence from their homes in Central America, pretending that they’re a menacing threat, trying to link them to images of gang violence. In fact, in the great majority of cases, they’re actually fleeing the very gangs that Trump’s describing – in their home countries, far away in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala. They’re coming here over long, treacherous distances at enormous personal risk, begging for our help.
Trump and his minions tell nothing but lies about his false crisis, pretending that women and children fleeing persecution are somehow, incredibly, a danger to us. Worse, he instituted a policy on his own to criminalize them, jail them and take their children from them by force. After enormous public outcry, he pulled back – but only a bit. Instead of tearing their children away, Trump now wants to incarcerate the families together indefinitely in camps. Yes, effectively concentration camps – for over 120,000 people. This is illegal, but there’s never been a restriction on his power that Trump didn’t want to be rid of. And now he even wants to eliminate the right to due process enshrined in the Constitution – a move that threatens every single American. Meanwhile, there's the continuing danger that the children already ripped away from their parents will never be returned to them.
Trump has to be stopped, here and now. And it’s going to take all of us.
“It’s Up to You to Draw the Line”
“The most insidious thing about the descent into illiberalism is that it is incremental. There's no dramatic moment, no Rubicon. Every step seems bad, but only a little worse than the previous step. Smart autocrats are careful not to provide that moment…
By jailing toddlers, Trump has potentially made a mistake. Instead of incremental illiberalism, this seems like a jump, something to shock the conscience. It is yet another opportunity for a Moment, a time for the rest of us to say: no. This is not normal. It's not ok.”
– David Roberts, Twitter thread
It’s a moment each of us must individually seize and now. No one else is going to do it for us. We’re running out of time. The plight of the children and their parents is heart-wrenching and nearly overwhelming. At the same time, Trump is just using them – not to “secure the border”, but to expand his absolute power.
Building detention facilities to house over 100,000 is a move reminiscent of Germany in the 1930s. So is removing the right to due process, enshrined in the Constitution. While this all looks at the moment as if it is pointed at immigrants, once in place these tools can be used against anyone, including citizens. (For example, if due process is suspended, then a citizen merely accused by ICE of being an alien and arrested would lose the right to due process and be unable to prove the error of their arrest.) And Trump has been very clear that the only people he considers worthy of protection are those in his base. The rest of us he considers his enemies.
At the same time, Trump has been using family separation as an implicit threat to anyone who might dare oppose him: if I can do this to them, I can also do it to you. It’s a dominance display.
We can’t let this pass and it’s not going to get better on its own. It’s time for each of us to draw the line and, at every opportunity, to say, “NO. This is not OK.”
In Other News
- The family separation issue, all week long, was a web of contradictory lies from everyone who spoke for the administration. Be forewarned: they are not going to tell the truth going forward, either. Not about reunited families, not about anything.
- The confusion threw another wrench into efforts by Republicans in the House to move an immigration bill forward. At one point, Trump urged them to drop the effort, which will almost certainly happen, as there isn’t consensus even in the Republican caucus about immigration. Meanwhile, Senator Feinstein has introduced the Keeping Families Together Act and Representative Jerry Nadler introduced H.R. 6135, the corresponding House version of the legislation. Both have full Democratic support and would protect the children and their families. Republicans, embracing Trump’s cruelty, if gingerly, have refused to sign on.
- Trump doubled down on his trade war with China, calling for $200B more in tariffs. He’s clueless about trade and stumbling into this with his characteristic combination of aggression and ignorance. Republicans, who are mortified, are of course also silent and complicit. Making things even worse, Trump has been deliberately attacking our allies, making them less likely to come to our aid. And Russia, a puny player in the world’s economy, lacks the resources to save its puppet. Expect this to end badly for American businesses and consumers.
- The Supreme Court declined to address the issue of gerrymandering, leaving electoral maps on Wisconsin and Maryland intact for this year’s election.
- It came to light that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross had maintained “stakes in companies co-owned by the Chinese government, a shipping firm tied to Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, a Cypriot bank reportedly caught up in the Robert Mueller investigation and a huge player in an industry Ross is now investigating.” The ownership now belongs to his family, which isn’t much better. With the shipping firm, he used inside knowledge to short the stock and appears to have lied about at least one investment to federal authorities. We wouldn’t want Wilbur to be clean in a Cabinet that includes the likes of Steve Mnuchin and Scott Pruitt.
- The House Budget Committee was working to draft a plan to trim the federal deficit, set to explode because of the Republican Tax Scam passed last December, by taking a hatchet to Medicare and Medicaid. While the measure isn’t expected to move forward before the election, the intent was clear: we gave all the money to the indolent rich, now we’re going to pay for it with your hard-earned benefits.
- The Trump regime issued a new executive order which undid most of President Obama’s oceans policy. Unconcerned with the extreme threats faced by the oceans, including acidification, climate change and overfishing, the regime focused its attention instead on energy policy and commercial use.
- The Republican House passed a farm bill that includes devastating work requirements for those receiving help from SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, popularly known as food stamps. The requirements would create a huge, unfunded bureaucracy and make it much more likely that people who are hungry and need help won’t get it. The Senate isn’t expected to pass the bill in its current form, but it still needs careful watching.
And A Bit of Good News
- Kansas Secretary of State Chris Kobach’s vote suppression law was thrown out in court – and the judge ordered Kobach, a lawyer, to take six hours of legal continuing education because he had done such a poor job at the basics of arguing his case.
- Longtime GOP strategist Steve Schmidt left the party, calling it “corrupt” and “immoral”. A couple of days later conservative columnist George Will urged readers to “Vote Against the GOP This November”.
Trump is accelerating his efforts to turn our country into an authoritarian state. He knows, as we do, that November could be a turning point and his hurry to destroy the rule of law must certainly be taking that into account. So, please, don’t delay and don’t think that someone else will save you. We need every possible voice raised, drawing the line, saying “NO” to protect our country before it’s too late.
– Tom Benthin
A reminder: a key resource for tracking all the abnormal events from the past week of the Trump presidency is Amy Siskind’s Weekly List: theweeklylist.org .
Before the disaster of the 2016 election we could follow the events that affected our lives by checking the news or seeing occasional posts on Facebook. Since then, with Trump’s erratic, aggressive and autocratic behavior and the Republicans’ unceasing attacks on our government and their efforts to transfer ever more money from working Americans to the rich, it has become much more difficult – and more important – to find our way through the weekly onslaught of news. To get ourselves grounded in the facts and to prepare for the week of action ahead, we provide this weekly summary of critical events to help us cut through the distractions and stay focused and informed as we fight to preserve our democracy.