6/23 “This zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.”
I’m leading with this story, because it may remind you how many good people are shoulder-to-shoulder with us, fighting against the co-opting of America. Immigration detention works like the rest of our legal system—if a detainee can post a set bail he/she can walk out of jail to await their hearing—but most immigrants arrive with a handful of possessions at best and can’t hope to post even a few hundred dollars. Parents moved by the plight of detained immigrant families being separated from their children started a Facebook fund-raiser hoping to raise $1,500 to help at least one immigrant family make “bail” to get out of detention. Within days they’d raised $4 million—at the time of this writing, a week later, they’ve raised almost $20 million (so far), blowing out of the water all previous records for a Facebook fund-raiser, and more than doubling the annual budget for RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services), a nonprofit organization that offers free or low-cost legal assistance to immigrants which had just had its budget slashed by Donald’s administration. The money will be used as a perpetual bail fund and for legal representation for immigrants seeking asylum, to help reunite parents and children.
Former first lady Laura Bush penned a heartfelt and direct op-ed for the Washington Post decrying this administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from families and drawing a direct comparison to Japanese-American internment camps during WWII, “one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history.” Bush said, “This zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.”
Former presidential candidate Jeb Bush added his voice as well, asking that the White House end its “heartless policy” and stating that “children shouldn’t be used as a negotiating tool.”
A slew of other GOP politicians weighed in as well: Ben Sasse, Republican senator from Nebraska, said in a long Facebook post, “The President should immediately end this family separation policy,” and called the policy out as Donald’s “new discretionary choice.” Texas Republican House Rep Will Hurd literally laughed at Homeland Security’s Kirstjen Nelson’s flat-out lie that the White House did not have a policy of separating children and families, citing the numbers of families to whom it did exactly that. And MA governor Charlie Baker, also a Republican, changed his mind about sending National Guardsmen to the border, calling Donald’s policy “inhumane.” Michigan GOP House Rep Fred Upton echoed the sentiment, calling it “ugly and inhumane.” The sheriff of El Paso, TX (of all places), refused to help the feds guard the tent city set up for detained immigrant children, stating, “I think it’s wrong.”
And fresh on the heels of the commander of cheese announcing his intent to withdraw the U.S. from the U.N. human rights council (for obvious reasons of self-protection for his anti-humanitarian actions), the head of the U.N.’s Human Rights Council denounced Don John’s policy of tearing children from families, citing a statement from the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, who said that detaining children separately from their parents was “government-sanctioned child abuse.” The following day Nikki Haley announced that the U.S.’s withdrawal from the U.N. Human Rights Council. Please read that again—the UNITED STATES, once the world’s defender of human rights and a bastion for equality and fairness, has withdrawn from the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The United Methodist Church is bringing “church charges” against AG Jeff Sessions (a member of the church) for the policy of separating children from families at the border. More than 600 United Methodist clergy and parishioners have filed a complaint accusing him ofchild abuse, immorality, racial discrimination and dissemination of doctrines contrary to the standards of the doctrine of the United Methodist Church. “To argue that these policies are consistent with Christian teaching is unsound, a flawed interpretation, and a shocking violation of the spirit of the Gospel,” the complaint says. Practically this probably means nothing, but it’s a powerful—and hopeful—sign that at least some churches and faith groups are speaking out against policies that bear no resemblance to anything taught in any religion, ever.
In Texas, for instance, numerous faith groups are decrying the White House’s policy of separating families, many rebuking Don John and Jeff Sessions directly and by name—and denouncing Sessions’s use of Bible verse to defend the policy. Even the Mormons are pissed.
United Airlines and American have told the government to “immediately refrain” from using them to transport migrant children.
Amid all the furor about immigration (including the House’s failed bill this past week), Gallup found in a new poll that Donald’s hardline stance may actually be having the opposite effect he intends: a vast majority of Americans—and growing—are in favor of immigration: “a record-high 75 percent of Americans, including majorities across all party groups, think immigration is a good thing for the U.S., up from 71 percent last year. Just 19 percent of the public considers immigration a bad thing. When asked more specifically about “legal” immigration, 84 percent said it’s a good thing. Perhaps more significantly, Gallup found a record-low number of Americans — only 29 percent — think immigration into the U.S. should be decreased, which has been one of Trump’s core demands to congressional negotiators. A 39 percent plurality think immigration should be kept at its present level, while 28 percent say it should be increased.”
FBI director Christopher Wray is speaking out to defend Robert Mueller and his investigation, stating, “I do not believe Special Counsel Mueller is on a witch hunt.”
Social and Civil Rights Advances
San Francisco elected its first black female mayor.
The royal family will see its first same-sex wedding when one of Queen Elizabeth’s cousins weds his partner.
Chain-store giants are celebrating Pride month—like Nordstrom with its rainbow flags in the entry, and JCrew’s LOVE FIRST apparel.
Steve Schmidt, former campaign adviser to John McCain and longtime Republican strategist, announced Wednesday that he was renouncing his membership in the Republican party, which he called “fully the party of Trump” and “a danger to our democracy and values.” He urged voters to elect Democrats in the 2018 elections.
George Will, a renowned conservative columnist who renounced his GOP membership several months ago, also urged voters to vote Democratic in 2018 in his latest op-ed.
The Senate voted—85 to 10—to block Donald’s attempt to keep Chinese telecom company ZTE in the U.S. market. The telecom giant manufactures phones that are said to be a mechanism for espionage because they can be tracked and enabled to steal intellectual property.
In other news, a recent CNN poll found a nearly Nixonian level of pro-impeachment sentiment among Americans for the mentally deranged dotard. (And yet a record high approval rating among Republicans of 90 percent.)
Republicans Against the Law
New York and Massachusetts are suing Donald’s administration for its expansion of health care plans that don’t meet ACA requirements.
Federal prosecutors subpoenaed the publisher of the National Enquirer as part of their Michael Cohen investigation, for allegedly sending stories about Don John directly to Cohen, his personal attorney, for vetting before publication during the 2016 campaign and once Donny took office. Donald might be growing a little nervous about Cohen, especially after actor Tom Arnold, working on a special in which he is seeking to uncover and air incriminating footage of the very stable genius, tweeted a pic of himself with Cohen…which Cohen retweeted.
The Office of Government Ethics is investigating Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for making a false statement to OGE about his stock holdings when taking office, and possible insider trading after he “short-sold” stock in a shipping company with Russian ties.
“Draining the Swamp”
Guess who’s leading this section…again? That’s right, the Scott Pruitt/EPA Greatest Hits of Corruption and Graft. This time records reveal that Pruitt has spent—wait for it—a total of $4.6 million on security, $1.1 million more than he reported even a month ago. And on guess what? Let’s go through his latest shopping list a little:
- $2,749.62 on “tactical pants” and “tactical polos”
- More than $80,000 worth of radios
- $700 worth of shoulder holsters for carrying those radios like badasses
- $931 for a kit to break down doors. FOR THE EPA.
- $10,200 to lease an SUV with bulletproof seats
- A panic alarm for Pruitt’s office
Watchdog groups examining Scott Pruitt’s official email records discovered Pruitt sent one single email in his first ten months in office—an unlikely figure that raises the question of what channel he is using for official government communication.
In other cabinet corruption, I’ll just quote this Politico article’s first line directly, because I can’t state the appalling truth any more baldly than they did: “A foundation established by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and headed by his wife is playing a key role in a real-estate deal backed by the chairman of Halliburton, the oil-services giant that stands to benefit from any of the Interior Department’s decisions to open public lands for oil exploration or change standards for drilling.” The proposed commercial development—which the Zinkes own property next to—will apparently include a microbrewery, a business Ryan Zinke has been lobbying the city for, for years, and which is rumored to be set aside for him to own and operate.
More White House staff hemorrhaging: Donny’s deputy chief of staff will be resigning in July. I’m not including his name because why try to keep track of the ins and outs of the crazily revolving door our executive branch has become? And our legislative branch, for that matter, with the rush of retiring lawmakers. If by “drain the swamp,” Donald meant his own crooked cronies, then at least he’s making inroads.
Your Feel-good Stories of the Week
Hundreds of people showed up at LaGuardia airport with messages of love and support for immigrant children torn from their families and flown to NY.
Genetic testing company 23 and Me is donating DNA test kits to help parents separated from their children find and reunite with them.
300 Microsoft employees are threatening to resign unless the company terminates its contract with ICE.
Voters in Portland (Oregon seems to be the moral compass of the nation lately) shut down an ICE facility where they were holding immigrants.
By a vote of 6 to 1, an elementary school in Richmond, VA rejected its Confederate name (J. E. B. Stuart) in favor of renaming itself Barack Obama Elementary. <3 It’s poetically beautiful that the school in the former capital of the Confederacy buried rebel general Stuart’s name in favor of the nation’s first African-American president.
Seth McFarlane donated $2.5 million to NPR after tweeting that he was embarrassed by his network—FOX—when Tucker Carlson exhorted viewers to “always assume the opposite of whatever they’re telling you on the big news stations.” (As if FOX is not one of the biggest, BTW) (Oh, but wait, I think I see where he was going with that—we can’t call that a “news station.”)
The cast of Roseanne will be back on the air for at least 12 shows after being yanked due to Roseanne Barr’s racist twitter comments: the network has announced a spinoff called The Connors will start production next month, now that Barr has agreed to forgo any financial or creative involvement or benefit. Perhaps this is a utopian glimpse of a future America, where people of differing views can still love one another and get along, minus racism, hate, and vituperative personal attacks.