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'The Government Has a Lot to Answer For': MSNBC Guest Blasts the Trump Administration's Pitiful Efforts to Reunite Immigrant Families

July 10, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“This should be an all-hands-on-deck kind of exercise.”


Law professor Joyce Vance criticized the Trump administration's response to the crisis it caused by separating immigrant families en masse at the U.S.-Mexico border, arguing that officials haven't done enough to reunite the parents and kids despite a court-imposed deadline.

“This should be an all hands on deck kind of exercise,” she said Tuesday on MSNBC. “These are tender-age children, the youngest children who will be permanently damaged by prolonged separation from their parents.”

She continued: ”The government has incredible resources it can marshal for a situation like this. It hasn't marshaled those resources, and I think that's why we're seeing the judge in California today going line by line through these children asking the government in each case: 'Why can't you reunite this kid? Where are the parents?' There are even reports late today that there may be one young child who is an American citizen who was detained.”

“The government has a lot to answer for here,” Vance added.

When asked about the government's was extensive delays in reuniting families on Tuesday, Trump callously said: “Well, I have a solution. Tell people not to come to our country illegally.”

Watch the clip below:

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Source: ALTERNET

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The Trump Administration's Human Cages Aren't New — They Have a Long and Shameful American History

July 10, 2018 in Blogs

By Ariel Dorfman, Tom Dispatch

Our forebears once flocked in staggering numbers to “human zoos,” where thousands of kidnapped natives from various countries were displayed.


When Donald Trump recently accused “illegal immigrants” of wanting to “pour into and infest our country,” there was an immediate outcry. After all, that verb, infest, had been used by the Nazis as a way of dehumanizing Jews and communists as rats, vermin, or insects that needed to be eradicated.

Nobody, however, should have been surprised. The president has a long history of excoriating people of color as animal-like. In 1989, for instance, reacting to the rape of a white woman in New York’s Central Park, he took out full-page ads in four of the city’s major papers (total cost: $85,000) calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty and decrying “roving bands of wild criminals roaming our streets.” He was, of course, referring to the five black and Latino youngsters accused of that crime for which they were convicted — and, 10 years late, exonerated when a serial rapist and murderer finally confessed.

Trump never apologized for his rush to judgment or his hate-filled opinions, which eventually became the template for his attacks on immigrants during the 2016 election campaign and for his presidency. He has declared many times that some people aren’t actually human beings at all but animals, pointing, in particular, to MS-13 gang members. At a rally in Tennessee at the end of May, he doubled down on this sort of invective, goading a frenzied crowd to enthusiastically shout that word — “Animals!” — back. In that way, he made those present accomplices to his bigotry. Nor are his insults and racial tirades mere rhetorical flourishes. They’ve had quite real consequences. It’s enough to look at the cages where undocumented children separated from their families at or near the U.S.-Mexico border have been held as if they were indeed animals — reporters and others regularly described one of those detention areas as being like a “zoo” or a “kennel” — not to mention their parents who are also trapped behind wire barriers, even if arousing …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Here's Why Right-Wingers Are So Threatened by Hearing Foreign Languages in the Trump Era

July 10, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

Xenophobia runs deep among the far-right.


In many countries, studying foreign languages in public school systems is not only encouraged—it is mandatory, which is why so many Swedish, German, Norwegian and Dutch high school students have learned to speak English fluently even though it isn’t their native language. But among many right-wing Republicans in the U.S., being monolingual is considered a badge of honor. And in the Trump era, some ugly racial incidents demonstrate that speaking a language other than English in public can be met with verbal abuse.

In May, New York City-based attorney and strong Trump supporter Aaron Schlossberg went into a xenophobic anti-immigrant tirade in a Mid-town Manhattan restaurant, the Fresh Kitchen, when he overheard an employee speaking Spanish with two of the customers. Angrily, Schlossberg ranted, “My guess is they’re not documented; so, my next call is to ICE to have each one of them kicked out of my country. If they have the balls to come here and live off of my money—I pay for their welfare, I pay for their ability to be here—the least they can do is speak English.”

More recently on July 4, a Petaluma, California man named Larry Lappin showed his ignorance when he heard the family of his neighbor, Ivette Celedon—a third-generation U.S. citizen of Mexican descent—enjoying some Latin music in their backyard. Lappin was furious; as he saw it, listening to music that was performed in Spanish on the 4th of July was disrespectful and unpatriotic. And he angrily confronted them, insisting they had no right to “disrespect my fucking country” by listening to Spanish-language music on America’s Independence Day.

Lappin later apologized after a smartphone video of his rant went viral. But he certainly wasn’t the first American xenophobe to feel threatened by the use of Spanish in public, and he won’t be the last. To some racists, using any language other than English in the U.S.—even as a secondary or tertiary language—is akin to burning the flag.

Democrat Barack Obama found out that out during his first presidential campaign …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'Trump Really Can’t Stand Kelly': The President Reportedly Wants to Fire His Chief of Staff — But He's 'Too Chickens**t' to Do It

July 10, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The newest hire in the White House may help push Kelly out.


Former Fox News President Bill Shine has already generated bad press as a new hire at the White House for his alleged complicity in years of sexual misconduct and abuse at the conservative network. But according to a new Vanity Fair report, President Trump is thrilled to have him on board.

Reporter Gabriel Sherman found that Trump was impressed with the way his new deputy chief of staff for communications produced the spectacle of the announcement of Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination for the Supreme Court Tuesday night. One source told Sherman that Shine specifically chose the lighting to make Trump look younger.

But Shine's role may involve more than improving appearances. According to Sherman, Shine could help push out chief of staff John Kelly, who Trump is “too chickenshit” to fire on his own, one person told Vanity Fair.

For months, reports have suggested that Kelly was on his way out at the White House. His strict management of the White House and rigid style apparently chafe with Trump's freewheeling preferences. Many assumed that Kelly was a goner when it was revealed that he had kept staff secretary Rob Porter on board despite allegations of abuse from his ex-wives — but he has soldiered on.

Yet according to Sherman's reporting, Trump is frustrated by the former general. 

“[Sean] Hannity said Trump really can’t stand Kelly,” one source told Sherman. “He’s fed up.”

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Source: ALTERNET

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European Official Slams Trump with Reminder to 'Appreciate' Allies: 'You Don't Have All that Many'

July 10, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“America does not have and will not have a better ally than Europe today.”


European Council President Donald Tusk slammed President Donald Trump Tuesday ahead of the week's NATO summit, warning the president that the United States' relationships with its allies are on thin ice.

“Dear America, appreciate your allies, after all you don’t have all that many,” Tusk said, according to the Associated Press.

In the run-up to the meeting, Trump has been antagonizing American allies while placating Russia's authoritarian President Vladimir Putin.

“Many countries in NATO, which we are expected to defend, are not only short of their current commitment of 2% (which is low), but are also delinquent for many years in payments that have not been made,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “Will they reimburse the U.S.?”"

The tweet continued Trump's bizarre idea that NATO is some kind of protection racket, and that American military spending — which Trump has repeatedly advocated increasing — is some kind of charitable donation to American allies, rather than an assertion of U.S. power abroad.

Later, he attacked the European Union as a whole, using a wildly misleading trade deficit figure: “The European Union makes it impossible for our farmers and workers and companies to do business in Europe (U.S. has a $151 Billion trade deficit), and then they want us to happily defend them through NATO, and nicely pay for it. Just doesn’t work!”

But Tusk insisted that Trump should remember who his true allies are.

“America does not have and will not have a better ally than Europe today,” Tusk said. “Europeans spend on defense many times more than Russia and as much as China, and I think you can have no doubt, Mr. President, that this is an investment in common American and European defense and security, which cannot be said with confidence about Russian or Chinese spending.”

He added: “Mr. President, please remember about this tomorrow when we meet at the NATO summit. But above all, when you meet President Putin in Helsinki.”

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Afghanistan's Trauma State Fuels Endless War

July 10, 2018 in Economics

By Erik Goepner

Erik Goepner

As the Muslim world celebrated Eid al-Fitr last month to mark
the end of Ramadan, both the Afghan government and the Taliban
announced temporary cease-fires to coincide with the holiday.
Unfortunately, this transitory symbol of hope ignores reality:
Afghans will continue killing one another into the foreseeable
future.

My experience as a military commander in southern Afghanistan
provided more than enough evidence for me to see why Afghanistan’s
endless war will continue.

The first two arguments for civil war are well established:
motivation and opportunity. People rebel when sufficiently
motivated by grievance or greed, and they rebel when the
opportunity presents itself.

The village of Khaki Khel in 2010 brought those arguments to
life. As I sat among the elders, their grievances were obvious. The
Americans, along with the Afghan government, were there to
apologize for the accidental deaths of two children during a
military operation. Not only did the Afghan government normally
fail to offer the residents any protection, but when they tried,
the results were horrific. And beyond their incompetence, the
Afghan government also ranks as the world’s fourth
most corrupt.
Afghans have many reasons to hate their
government.

More war leads to more
trauma, which fuels continued war.

The opportunity for rebellion typically exists when a country
has ineffective security forces, recruiting rebels is easy, and
rebels can readily find sanctuary. The residents of Khaki Khel
rarely saw any Afghan police or soldiers and when they did, things
only seemed to get worse. The fact that the villagers were
subsistence farmers, eking out a living from one harvest to the
next, made any financial offer from the insurgents tempting. And
nearby Pakistan offered sanctuary to the rebels.

My time in Afghanistan and academic research since, however,
suggests a third theory for civil war should be added: Hurt people
go on to hurt people. Simply put, when a population endures epic
levels of trauma like Afghanistan’s 40 years of rampant war,
torture, and rape, violence becomes normalized as a way to resolve
problems and achieve goals. The vicious cyclefeeds off of itself. More war
leads to more trauma, which fuels continued war.

For example, in the midst of an argument between two senior
ranking Afghan security officials, one of them unholstered his
handgun and drew down on his colleague. Apparently he was ready to
end the dispute by killing the fellow colonel bothering him.
Thankfully, an American military commander put himself in front of
the gun and succeeded in getting Col. Habib to reholster his
weapon.

At that point, Col. Habib had been at war for 32 years. In a
country devoid of proper medical care, he …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Rediscovering the Art of Diplomacy with Vladimir Putin

July 10, 2018 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

The United States has enjoyed many advantages over the decades
because of its superpower status. As the principal architect of the
post-World War II liberal international order, Washington has
secured disproportionate security and economic benefits for itself.
America’s overwhelming military capabilities have magnified
that clout in global affairs. Allies and adversaries alike might
grumble at Washington’s preeminence, but they have been
prudent enough to avoid direct challenges whenever possible. Even
the Soviet Union confined itself (with the notable exception of the
Cuban Missile Crisis) to probes in marginal, mostly Third World,
arenas.

However, Washington’s dominant position has also led to
some foreign policy bad habits. Because U.S. leaders have not had
to deal with serious peer competitors in a long time, they appear
to have lost the art of skillful, nuanced diplomacy. Even before
the arrival of the Trump administration, U.S. policy exhibited a
growing arrogance and lack of realism about diplomatic objectives.
The upcoming summit between President Donald Trump and
Russia’s Vladimir Putin affords an opportunity to relearn the
requirements of effective diplomacy. If handled poorly, though, it
will underscore the adverse consequences of Washington’s
rigid approach to world affairs.

Too many American politicians, pundits, and foreign policy
operatives seem to believe that when dealing with an adversary,
diplomacy should consist of issuing a laundry list of demands,
including manifestly unrealistic ones, without offering even a hint
of meaningful concessions. Critics of Trump’s summit with
North Korea’s Kim Jong-un epitomized that attitude. Some of
them excoriated the president just for his willingness to accord
Kim implicit equal status by approving a bilateral meeting. House
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi groused that President Trump “elevated
North Korea to the level of the United States while preserving the
regime’s status quo.”

Others grudgingly conceded that the summit theoretically might
have been an appropriate move, but argued that Washington should
have demanded major substantive and irreversible North Korean steps
toward denuclearization in exchange for such a prestigious meeting.
In other words, they wanted North Korea’s capitulation on the
central issue before Trump even agreed to a summit. Critics were
furious that such a capitulation was not at least enshrined in the
joint statement emerging from the meeting. And if that hardline
stance was not enough, they insisted that Trump should have made
North Korea’s human rights record a feature of the
negotiations. Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne
asserted that “our wrongful indifference
to human rights in the past should not be used as an excuse to
justify apologias for dictatorships in our time.”

The lack of realism such positions exhibit is breathtaking. If
the hardliners had prevailed, no summit would have taken place.
Their demands were …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Trump Went with a Safe, Strong Choice for SCOTUS. But What a Ride It Was

July 10, 2018 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

One of the most suspenseful 10-day periods in American legal
history culminated Monday night in Trump naming Judge Brett
Kavanaugh as his pick for the Supreme Court. Of course, justices
have retired before, and presidents nominated their successors. But
for the Supreme Court’s “swing vote” to hang up his robes in a
politically fraught time as this, and then for the White House to
announce that a successor would be named on particular day at a
particular time? That’s gold, Jerry, gold!

We started with the list of 25 eligible jurists that had won
Donald Trump the election, assuring conservative elites and a
crucial slice of the electorate that whatever crazy deviation from
political orthodoxy the man represented, he actually did have the
best people working on judicial nominations. (Read Salena Zito and
Brad Todd’s remarkable “The Great Revolt” if you doubt that Iowa
farmers and Michigan waitresses weren’t paying exceedingly close
attention to the fight for Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat.)

In due course, contenders emerged — a short list of
appealing personalities that ranged in background about as much as
federal judges could. There was the son of Indian immigrants who
was born in Toledo and made a name for himself in Kentucky (Amul
Thapar); a brilliant law professor and mother of seven from Indiana
(Amy Coney Barrett); an introverted Michigan judge who preferred
the solitude of his wilderness cabin to the stifling Washington
swamp (Ray Kethledge); a Pittsburgher who was the first in his
family to graduate college and put himself through law school by
driving a taxi (Tom Hardiman); and of course the boyish D.C.
insider with the strong opinions on the separation of powers (Brett
Kavanaugh), the only Ivy Leaguer in the bunch who seemed to have
been preparing for this moment his entire life.

The fact that Judge
Kavanaugh wasn’t a consensus first choice shows what a deep bench
Republicans have.

Clerks and other surrogates (the law’s publicists) advocated for
their champions in a way I’d never seen before-or at least this was
the first time anyone thought they needed to send me their
“publicity materials.” The daily deluge of case summaries, legal
memoranda, and other lobbying efforts became overwhelming and
sometimes annoying. Then came the wave of op-eds praising this or
that judge’s originalism, his or her capacity to be a political
benefit or to see the law exactly like Justice Scalia, or
to be Justice Neil Gorsuch 2.0.

The process finished with a prime-time special that, quite
coincidentally I’m sure, ran right after the latest episode of
ABC’s The Bachelor. The anticipation and Twitter gossip
all day leading up to it — …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Buckle Up, People. The Trade War Between the US and China Has Begun.

July 10, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

Last Friday, President Donald Trump imposed $34bn worth of
tariffs on Chinese goods, with China responding in kind.

The US government mainly targeted intermediate products, such as
vehicle parts, electrical components, and machinery. But this could
be just the start.

A second round of $16bn tariffs is supposedly in the pipeline
for August. Beyond that, the President has even threatened tariffs
on Chinese goods of up to $200bn in the coming years.

We are facing an unprecedented escalation in US trade barriers
for the post-war era. Dartmouth University trade historian Doug
Irwin has called current policy “the biggest application of tariffs
by the US and affecting US trade” since the Great
Depression-era.

But listen to the President’s team and supporters, and you will
still notice a glaring contradiction in their justifications.

Buckle up, people. The
trade war between the US and China has begun.

On the one hand, they argue that tariffs are designed to bring
other governments to the negotiating table to reduce their own
tariffs on US goods.

On the other, they claim that the tariffs are actually good for
the economy, because they will increase domestic investment and
lead to reshoring of supply chains and manufacturing
activities.

Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel
suggested that she would be open to reducing EU tariffs on cars,
following Trump’s threats to raise America’s. This was celebrated
by Trump supporters as an example US strength (read, threats) being
used to liberate trade worldwide.

In this view, the President is merely seeking to use his bully
pulpit to open up highly protected foreign sectors. He’s not a
protectionist at all, but wants free trade on a level playing
field.

Yet when it comes to the tariffs on steel and aluminium, the
administration’s line appears completely different. Indeed, these
tariffs were justified, at least initially, on national security
grounds, and not because they would “open up a negotiation” about
tariff reduction elsewhere.

Trump adviser Peter Navarro has even celebrated (rather
dubiously) that the tariffs have led to a new aluminium mill in
Kentucky and the restart of steel-making facilities in
Illinois.

He claims that these measures are “pro-worker”, and appears
completely indifferent to the impact that raising the price of a
key input will have for the 6.5m workers in industries which
consume steel.

This is not the line of someone who sees tariffs as a temporary
and necessary evil to compel a more liberal trading environment
from others.

So what is the real view of the administration? Well, the signs
are not great.

Everything from Trump’s obsession with economically meaningless
bilateral trade deficits, through to his constant focus on
manufacturing producers rather than consumers, suggests that
“exports good, imports …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Trump Makes a Shrewd Political Move with Supreme Court Pick

July 10, 2018 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

By picking Brett Kavanaugh as his Supreme Court
nominee, President Trump showed that credentials and connections
still matter — when backed up by results. One of the most
scholarly members of the judiciary, Kavanaugh’s more than 300
opinions are read widely and influence courts across the country
— including the one that he now hopes to join. There are few
if any more respected lower-court judges.

More important than his erudition is Kavanaugh’s intense
commitment to constitutional structure. As Anthony Kennedy,
the justice he clerked for and now seeks to
succeed, often emphasized, this is vital not simply to the
functioning of our government, but to securing our freedom.

In his dozen years on the US Court of Appeals for the DC
Circuit, his docket was heavy with cases involving administrative
agencies and their place in our institutional design. His opinion
in PHH Corp. v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (2016), for
example, struck down the removal protections granted to that
embattled agency’s director, holding that even if it were
permissible to protect members of a multi-person commission from
removal, protecting the sole director in this manner was a
constitutional bridge too far.

The Kavanaugh selection
seems likely to secure the bulwarks restraining the expansion of
government against the onslaught of the swamp.

In Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting
Oversight Board
(2008), he also would have found certain
removal protections unconstitutional — and his dissent was
vindicated by the Supreme Court. Also notable are his opinions in a
string of Clean Air Act cases that ultimately made it to the
Supreme Court, pushing back on executive agencies that take too
much power for themselves.

While he has not attacked the Chevron doctrine — the idea
that judges should defer to agency interpretations that
aren’t “arbitrary and capricious” — as
directly as some others, he will likely make common cause with
Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas (and others) in curbing
bureaucratic excess.

Last year, for example, he wrote an opinion in United States
Telecom Association v. FCC that outlined a “major
rules” doctrine, in which novel agency rulemakings with
profound economic consequences are presumed invalid. That case
dealt with net neutrality, but it resonates widely in a time when
super-statutes like ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank reorganize our
lives.

In a speech at Notre Dame he advocated that judges look for the
best reading of a text, rather than hunt for ambiguities.
That’s one of the best indications yet that a Justice
Kavanaugh would leave “fixing” statutes to legislators
rather than having judges do so, or even worse, regulators.

The one concern that some have about Kavanaugh is that he might
be …read more

Source: OP-EDS