You are browsing the archive for 2018 June 15.

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'A Crisis of America's Own Invention': MSNBC Guest Chokes Up While Giving Powerful Rebuke to Trump's Cruel Immigration Policies

June 15, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The president has tried to blame his horrifying policies on the Democrats.


MSNBC guest Alicia Menendez delivered an emotional denunciation of President Donald Trump's policy of separating immigrant kids from their families on Friday, clearly rebutting his lie that Democrats are to blame for the practice.

“Did you read the story about the 5-year-old boy from Honduras who brought notes… pictures of his family,” she said to the panel on Nicolle Wallace's show “Deadline: White House.”

She continued, her voice cracking with emotion: “He is now sleeping with them under his pillow at night as he cries himself to sleep in one of these detention facilities. That's where we are because of this policy.”

“I think it's just so important that we remember that this does not require legislation to be fixed. This could be handled by DHS by reversing this policy. and it is a crisis of America's own invention. it is taxing a system that was never meant to handle this type of overflow of children.”

She also pointed to a picture of a 2-year-old in custody, who she noted was “raised in Honduras, probably doesn't speak English, has very minimal language skills. How do you explain to her what is happening? And also remember that the reason these migrants are coming is because they are seeking asylum in the united states because something that is happening in their home country is so bad, so dangerous they have risked this journey to the united states in order to find freedom and safety. Instead what we are doing is taking these children away from their parents.”

Wallace, too, seemed stunned by the situation. “Are we still America, when you see these pictures?” she asked.

“Unfortunately, there is a lot of ugly stuff happening in America,” said contributor John Heilemann. “So we are not the best of America when we see these pictures. we are not the America we all want us to be.”

Watch the clip below:

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'You Are Okay With Him Lying!': MSNBC's Katy Tur Corners GOP Lawmaker Over His Shameful Fealty to Trump's Dishonesty

June 15, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

He seems incapable of answering a single question.


No matter how much President Donald Trump lies, the Republican Party doesn't seem to care.

MSNBC's Katy Tur made this point Friday as she interviewed Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) about his refusal to criticize the president for his rampant dishonesty.

From the very start of the interview, Jordan refused to answer Tur directly. Asked how he feels about the fact that Trump lied 19 times Friday morning while talking to reporters, Jordan tried to talk about the recent Department of Justice inspector general report. Even when Tur pointed out that she didn't ask about the report, she asked about Trump's lying, Jordan wouldn't budge from his pre-arranged talking points.

But Tur didn't relent, and her repeated forcing of the issue of Trump's lying served to make Jordan look ridiculous. He tried to talk about the unemployment rate, North Korea, the Iran deal, and taxes, but it all showed how desperate he was to talk about anything other than Trump's habitual lying.

“I want to focus on what the president says, and why the Republican Party — and you included — are OK with him lying,” Tur said. “Because that's basically what I'm getting from this. You're OK with him lying! So long as it furthers the agenda you're trying to push.”

Later, she repeated the point: “How are you OK with the president not telling the truth so consistently?”

Instead of actually answering her, Jordan decided to try some lies of his own about FISA court applications in the Russia investigation — but Tur was able to correct him.

“You can't pull the wool over my head on that,” she said.

Watch the clip below:

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Giuliani Says Trump May Pardon His Way Out of the Mueller Probe Following the Jailing of His Ex-Campaign Manager

June 15, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The president's lawyer is now floating an idea that could spark impeachment hearings.


Rudy Giuliani floated the idea of using presidential pardons to put an end to special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation on Friday — a course of action that could potentially lead to the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

The former New York mayor's remarks came in response to news that Paul Manfort, Trump's one-time campaign chairman, will be jailed ahead of his trial because prosecutors allege he has been attempting to tamper with witnesses.

“When the whole thing is over, things might get cleaned up with some presidential pardons,” Giuliani told the New York Daily News.

“I don’t understand the justification for putting [Manafort] in jail,” he added. “You put a guy in jail if he’s trying to kill witnesses, not just talking to witnesses.”

MSNBC's Chris Hayes noted that “Pardoning Manafort should be viewed as no different than firing Mueller/Rosenstein.” An even Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has said such actions to shut down the investigation could constitute an “impeachable offense.”

Even without actually pardoning Manafort, the president could be sending a message through his lawyer to induce his former employee to stay loyal and not to cooperate with investigators.

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Source: ALTERNET

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FBI Reveals It Has Uncovered a Ton of Records that Michael Cohen Apparently Tried to Hide

June 15, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The results of the raid on Cohen's work and home appear to have paid off for the investigators.


When federal investigators searched and seized documents from the work and home of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump immediately denounced the action taken against his lawyer and seemed fearful about what the records might show.

In a new court filing from the FBI on Friday, it has now become clear why: Investigators have uncovered a large trove of documents and data that Cohen appears to have kept hidden.

The letter reveals that investigators reconstructed 16 pages of Cohen's documents that had been shredded — indicating that they contained sensitive information he was trying to conceal.

The FBI also now has 731 pages of messages that Cohen sent on apps such as WhatsApp and Signal. These programs allow users to message other people while keeping the content of their texts encrypted. If Cohen was conducting criminal business over his phone, he was almost certainly using an encrypted messaging app — and the FBI may now have evidence of those crimes.

In addition, the FBI has two of Cohen's BlackBerry phones. While it has been able to extract 315 megabytes of data from on of the phone, the bureau notes that it is “in the process of attempting to extract data from the second phone.”

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Source: ALTERNET

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Trump Whines It's 'Very Unfair' DOJ Hasn't Prosecuted Clinton As His Former Campaign Chairman Lands Behind Bars

June 15, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Paul Manafort landed in jail Friday after he was accused of witness tampering.


When President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was jailed as a part of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, you knew Trump would have to tweet about it.

Well, he did — and it was even more preposterous than we would have predicted.

“Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort, who has represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other top political people and campaigns,” Trump wrote. “Didn’t know Manafort was the head of the Mob. What about Comey and Crooked Hillary and all of the others? Very unfair!”

There's so much that's wrong here.

First, Manafort wasn't sentenced — he's been jailed pending trial. It's true that this is unusual for cases involving the types of charges against Manafort, but that's because Manafort took the even more unusual step of getting in contact with witnesses, and prosecutors now believe he was corruptly trying to influence their testimony.

Since he has been accused of conspiring to influence testimony in conjunction with someone believed to have ties to Russian intelligence, Manafort is actually now officially charged with crimes that could be called “Russian collusion.”

Second, spending the period before trial in jail is actually quite typical for other types of clients, and the fact that so-called “white collar” criminals get better treatment is a sign of the great inequality in our justice system. Spending time in jail is hardly reserved for members of the “Mob,” but often for poor people who are disadvantaged by the courts.

Third, both Comey and Clinton were subjects of a massive Department of Justice report released Thursday, which Trump himself cheered. And while both were implicated in making serious mistakes, the inspector general found no reason to believe that either should be charged with any crimes. The fact that Trump thinks he should be judge and jury over his political foes remains a troubling aspect of his presidency.

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Singapore, Inc. — Entrepreneurial, Not Parasitical

June 15, 2018 in Economics

By Steve H. Hanke

Steve H. Hanke

Singapore pulled off a brilliant Trump-Kim summit in all
respects, including the bottom line. Indeed, the government of
Singapore spent $15 (USD) million, and
according to estimates by Meltwater
, that expenditure generated
$568 (USD) million for the city-state. Not a bad return for a few
days’ work. But, it’s not surprising. Singapore is run
like a business. Singapore, Inc. is entrepreneurial, not
parasitical.

Singapore validates Adam Smith’s counsel on economic
development: “Little else is requisite to carry a state to
the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but
peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of
justice.”

To understand the Singapore Strategy (read: Singapore, Inc.), we
must examine two systems of public finance: entrepreneurial and
parasitical. The parasitical system is the familiar system whereby
political entities derive revenues by attaching legally enforceable
tax claims to the private economic activities of market-based
entities. In contrast, under the entrepreneurial system of public
finance, political entities derive revenues directly from the
provision of services.

To trace the development of the entrepreneurial and parasitical
public finance systems from economic theory to institutional
arrangements, it is necessary to sketch the historical development
of public finance. The origins of public finance, as a field of
scholarly inquiry, can be traced to the cameralists who arose in
the German speaking lands in the 16th century. The
cameralists’ proto-entrepreneurial conception of the state
and public finance viewed the prince as a business person. As a
business person, the prince managed his various lands and estates
to generate the revenues required to finance the provision of
public services. In cameralist thought, the main instruments of
public finance were fees and charges, not taxes.

With respect to leagues of city-states and city-states
specifically, the Hanseatic League and the Italian city-states
provide historical illustrations of the entrepreneurial,
commerce-centered character of those regimes. These cooperative,
multi-state systems arose largely out of a desire to protect and
facilitate commerce, and reduce trade frictions.

Contemporarily speaking, Singapore, Hong Kong, and even the
Cayman Islands exemplify commerce-oriented city-states. How can
such a small player, like Singapore, achieve prominence on the
world’s stage? Since the projection of military power is not
an option, prominence must be secured through commerce.

States, like Singapore, face a choice between following the lead
of the imperialist powers and embracing parasitical public finance,
or acting as a commercial republic and embracing a regime of
entrepreneurial public finance. The table below depicts the main
differences between these two frameworks of state organization.

Two Frameworks of State Organization

It is clear that the culture of an entrepreneurial inclined
city-state — like Singapore — differs significantly
from that of a parasitical state that feeds on tax extractions. No
wonder …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Questioning the Case for War

June 15, 2018 in Economics

By Christopher A. Preble

Christopher A. Preble

While much of the world is focused on the war avoided
(temporarily at least) on the Korean Peninsula, I’ve been
thinking about the one in Iraq that we failed to stop fifteen years
ago—and the one that some still want to fight in neighboring
Iran. The occasion for this reflection is the upcoming release of
Rob Reiner’s “Shock and Awe,” a film about Knight
Ridder’s Washington Bureau, one of the very few American news
organizations that got the Iraq story right.

Knight Ridder’s
Washington Bureau was one of the very few American news
organizations that got the Iraq story right.

McClatchy, which acquired Knight Ridder in 2006, hosted an
advanced screening this week at the Newseum. A discussion with
Reiner and the four real-life characters who are the film’s
main characters followed: DC Bureau Chief John Walcott, and
reporters Jonathan Landay, Warren Strobel, and Joe Galloway.
(McClatchy has compiled several of the stories featured in the film
here).

I’ll have more to say about the movie closer to its official
release (scheduled for July 13; it will be available on DirecTV starting on June 14), but two things
from the movie and ensuing discussion particularly resonated with
me: one, the deliberate and often deceptive way that hawks divulge
information to build the case for war; and, two, the pressure that
is exerted upon those willing to question it.

One of the touchstones of Knight Ridder’s journalism was
the inclination of its reporters to challenge conventional wisdom
and to seek out alternative explanations. In the post-screening
discussion, Walcott explained that too many reporters rely on the
statements of senior government officials, serving more like
stenographers than thoughtful individuals attempting to uncover the
truth. News organizations tend to assess the quality of information
based on the seniority of the persons doling it out. In fact, the
inverse may be closer to true: mid-level personnel with comparable
access, but who are less invested in a particular course of action,
are likely to divulge information that strays from the official
narrative.

Such skepticism is particularly important in the run-up to war.
The typical technique for discrediting the opposition often hinges
on the claim that outsiders, lacking access to classified
information, don’t have sufficient grounds to question the
war advocates’ claims. Instead, we are all expected to defer
to the judgement of a select few who purportedly have all the
relevant facts.

But the hawks often determine what is “relevant.” In
his reporting at the time, Landay noted that many within the U.S.
intelligence community were highly skeptical of Bush administration
officials’ claims. Whereas Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld was dismissing …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The DACA 'Compromise' Bill Is the Worst Immigration Legislation in a Century

June 15, 2018 in Economics

By Alex Nowrasteh

Alex Nowrasteh

Ever since President Trump set in motion the gradual termination
of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gave
work permits to young immigrants brought here illegally when they
were children, Congress has been stalled on solving the situation
of these 700,000 so-called Dreamers.

After much Republican intraparty wrangling, Speaker Paul D. Ryan
just agreed to bring two bills to the floor of the House of
Representatives.

He released one of those bills Thursday. The other has been
kicking around Washington for a while: the Securing America’s
Future Act. The White House supported an earlier version of it,
stating that it “would accomplish the President’s core
priorities
for the American people.” The problem is that
even if the SAF Act doesn’t pass, its draconian cuts to
immigration will be the Republican starting point for all future
negotiations.

It’s misleading to even
call the SAF Act an immigration bill. As a matter of rhetoric, it
an anti-immigration piece of legislation.

The primary outrage is this: SAF won’t give Dreamers green
cards. Instead it grants renewable residency permits — with
no pathway to citizenship — to some DACA recipients.
Worse, the restrictions are so onerous that few Dreamers could ever
spend a year as a stay-at-home mother, risk starting a small
business or even become a priest. That’s because this bill
would make it a crime for anyone holding a SAF permit to have an
income below 125% of poverty level.

The House sponsors of the SAF Act claim it will cut only about a
quarter of all green cards, but they are significantly understating
its effect.

SAF cuts the number of legal immigrants by about 40% initially,
and that number could reach 50% over 10 years. It cancels the
diversity green card lottery, eliminates all family-sponsored
immigration categories except for the most immediate relatives of
U.S. citizens, and cuts to the bone the number of asylum seekers
who will be admitted.

The SAF Act also purports to increase the number of highly
skilled immigrants allowed into the U.S., and allocates 55,000 additional green cards toward
that. But of adults who immigrated on a family or diversity visa in
2015, 47% had a college degree. The impact of any cuts to those
programs will far outweigh the added employment visas.

This bill also poses major trouble for the families of legal
immigrants. Under SAF, legal immigrants who already have a green
card would be mostly unable to bring their foreign-born spouses or
children to the U.S. Additionally, immigrants who have waited for
decades for a type of green card that would be eliminated by the
SAF bill would …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Trump May Well Have a Point over Trade but It Doesn't Mean He's Right

June 15, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

‘Well, he’s got a point.” One hears that
phrase a lot about President Trump. It explains his appeal.
Highlighting self-evident truths others gloss over — that
some illegal immigrants commit gruesome crimes, for example —
he gives voice to fears usually left unsaid. Those who reactively
deny it look stupid. Those who describe it in broader context?
Well, “if you’re explaining, you’re
losing”, as President Reagan once said.

Before and after the G7 summit,the President
faced righteous criticism from international leaders for deciding
not to renew exemptions for the EU, Canada and Mexico from his
steel and aluminium tariffs. He responded by pointing out how
heavily protected Canadian dairy and EU car markets are.

“We have put up with Trade Abuse for many decades —
and that is long enough,” he tweeted. His tariffs, and
consideration of extending them to cars were, he claimed, really a
response to this protectionism. Ideally, all countries would eliminate tariff and non-tariff
barriers,
he mused. But in the absence of that, he just wants
reciprocity and a level playing field.

Who can argue with that? It all sounds reasonable. And,
importantly, he does have a point! Canada’s dairy market is
heavily insulated, with a “supply management” system
incorporating tariff rates of near 300pc on dairy imports beyond
their quota of 10pc market share. The European Union does impose
10pc tariffs on imports of American cars while the US charges only 2.5pc the other way
(though truck tariffs are higher in the US than EU).

Trump, therefore, gives voice to the US car and dairy industries
who want more freedom to export. These facts also allow him to take
the moral high ground, creating space for Republican free-traders
to justify new US trade barriers as a short-term price to pay for a
freer future global trading environment.

But should we really believe that is what Trump desires?
There’s not much evidence to suggest so. Remember, his steel
and aluminium tariffs have been legally justified on “national
security” grounds,
not tit-for-tat protection. Why Canada
and the EU opening up their dairy and car markets would resolve
national security concerns about importing steel and aluminum
inputs from allies is anybody’s guess.

If Trump were actually concerned with reciprocity, he
wouldn’t cherry-pick individual sectors, but look at the
bigger picture. This shows international tariffs have been falling
worldwide over the past three decades as a result of painstaking
multilateral negotiations and free trade deals.

According to World Bank data, the overall weighted mean applied
tariff rate for the US and EU are near identical at 1.6pc, and even
lower in Canada at 0.8pc. Mexico …read more

Source: OP-EDS