Let’s get some clarity on the worst Trump administration policy so far.
- The Trump administration has made a policy of separating children from their parents at the border, for the express purpose of deterrence, that is, terrorizing people to keep them from attempting to cross the border. John Kelley said as much on the record, as did Jeff Sessions when he announced the policy.
- The Trump administration is now gaslighting us, denying what we all heard them say about their deliberate policy of tearing families apart. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Sunday on Twitter, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.” Trump himself has repeated the lie, over and over again, that families are being separated because of a nonexistent law passed by the Democrats.
- The children are being held in cages. The officials who deny there are children in cages, are denying what we have already seen. We have an unedited, confirmed audio recording of children wailing and crying for their parents. The recording lasts 7 minutes 47 seconds. Listen to the whole thing if you can. I can’t.
- Mitch McConnell has said that a “narrow fix” to the problem is needed. “I support, and all of the members of the Republican conference support, a plan that keeps families together while their immigration status is determined,” he claims. And yet: every Democrat in the U.S. Senate has cosponsored the “Keep Families Together Act,” a bill that would only allow undocumented children to be separated from their parents if there is evidence of parents abusing the children or children being trafficked. Sounds like a pretty narrow fix. But for all the hand-wringing and concerned noises being made by Republicans, not one Republican has endorsed the bill.
- Rank and file Republicans don’t bother pretending to oppose the policy. A new poll shows that 55% of Republicans approve of the family separations.
So to review, we have a Republican policy, that the framers of that policy are lying about. We have Republican officials opposing the policy, but not supporting a bill that would put an end to it. We have a solid majority of rank and file Republicans approving of a policy that can only be characterized as evil.
Let’s remember this when a Republican stands up, now and in the future, to tell us the difference between right and wrong. They have no standing to talk about morality. They are solidly and unapologetically behind evil.
Joni Ernst embarrassing herself in Red Oak:
Republican senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley have been back home in Iowa to hold small town halls in rural areas, places they probably thought would be ‘safe spaces’ from angry voters. WRONG. The rural voters who turned out were not happy with Donald Trump and they unloaded on Ernst and Grassley. In one particularly embarrassing moment for Sen. Ernst in Red Oak, Iowa (population 5,476), she drew laughter and scorn after this exchange:
SEN. ERNST: “He is standing up for a lot of the countries, um… where we have seen…”
CONSTITUENT: “Name a few, could you name a few?”
SEN. ERNST: “Yeah, you bet. Norway…”
You know by now, because everyone in the world now knows, that the President of the United States called African countries and Haiti “shithole countries,” according to “several people briefed on the meeting.” Trump later bragged about it to friends.
In the minds of Republican lawmakers, this is a problem. Not the racist garbage the President said, but the fact the someone repeated it to the public. Rand Paul is now telling us there can’t be an immigration compromise if people are running around calling the President a racist.
The premise that racist sentiments spoken by party leaders in private should not be repeated in public because allowing party leaders to be racist in private is important for legislative comity is word-for-word the argument used by decades of past southern Republicans. Presenting the two as equal sins—speaking racist things, and informing the public when racist things have been spoken—using the rhetoric of “both sides” behaving badly is the sort of moral grease fire Republican senators have long loved to simmer in.
And why would they turn on him now, after backing Trump for so long? It’s not as if they didn’t know he’s a racist; white supremacy is his brand, and a core value of the Republican Party.
An internal State Department memo explicitly confirms what we already knew about the Trump administration’s foreign policy priorities.
Apparently, a deputy named Brian Hook, a former Bush administration official, wrote up a memo for Tillerson explaining how the U.S. looks at human rights. And guess what? After nearly half a century we’re back to Henry Kissinger’s foreign policy from the 1970s. According to Politico, which got a peek at the memo, Hook explained to the neophyte diplomat that “the U.S. should use human rights as a club against its adversaries, like Iran, China and North Korea, while giving a pass to repressive allies like the Philippines, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.” As Tom Malinowski, former assistant secretary of state under Obama, told Politico, this “tells Tillerson that we should do exactly what Russian and Chinese propaganda says we do — use human rights as a weapon to beat up our adversaries while letting ourselves and our allies off the hook.”
Apparently Secretary of State Tillerson read and agrees with the memo.
Roy Moore had the backing of damn near every Republican, including Donald Trump, the Republican National Committee, most evangelical Christians, and Sean Hannity, despite being twice removed from the Alabama Supreme Court for misconduct, despite being disbarred, despite numerous credible allegations that he is a child molester, despite his support for getting rid of all the Constitutional amendments after the Tenth (including the ones that banned slavery and gave women the right to vote), despite his anti-Semitism.
Credit is due to the tiny minority of Republicans who didn’t go along, including the 1.7% of Alabama voters who wrote in someone else (giving the 1.5% margin of victory to Doug Jones), and the Nebraskan who quit the RNC over its support of Moore. One wonders what it would take to get those people to quit the Republican Party.
Can the Republican Party ever live down their support of such a candidate? It’s up to us to give a resounding “hell no” in answer to that question. No forgiveness, no normalizing of a party that is openly racist, no legitimacy. The Republican Party is permanently beyond the pale of democracy.
Things Republican leaders are saying about their candidate Roy Moore:
House Speaker Paul Ryan:
Number one, these allegations are credible. Number two, if he cares about the values that he claims to care about, then he should step aside.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:
I think he should step aside.
Senator Lindsey Graham:
He was barred from a mall. His behavior was so extreme in his thirties that apparently the Gadsden mall put him on the no-fly list. That tells me a lot. I don’t know anybody personally who’s been banned from a mall.
Things Republican leaders are NOT saying about their candidate Roy Moore:
Alabama Republicans have the power to say this, but won’t:
We, the Alabama Republican Party, hereby decertify Roy Moore as the candidate of our Party.
And no Republican anywhere has publicly said this:
Vote for the Democratic candidate instead.
An Alabama Republican is standing by Roy Moore, their candidate for Senate in an upcoming special election.
Alabama state auditor Jim Ziegler, a Republican operator, gave an interviews in which he justified Moore’s assaults on children by citing scripture, noting that “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter” and stating that Moore’s assaults on children were “nothing immoral or illegal…Maybe just a little bit unusual.”
Today’s Republican Party isn’t misogynist and utterly amoral and fascist, just maybe a little bit unusual. And of course Steve Bannon is blaming the media, not denying the serious allegations the media are reporting.
The President has pardoned Joe Arpaio. Arpaio has been found guilty of criminal contempt of court, and faced up to six months in prison, for willfully violating a court order instructing him not to detain immigrants who were not suspected of any crime. He wasn’t sorry.
The message to racist public officials could not be more clear: it’s open season. If you’re on the wrong side of a racist vigilante sheriff, having the law on your side is no protection at all; you have been warned.
Perhaps there’s another audience for this message as well. Now we know—if we had any doubts—that Trump will use his pardon power to reward personal loyalty to Trump. If you’re being questioned in the Russia investigation, don’t worry about being charged with obstruction of justice or perjury. The rule of law is suspended until further notice.
Update: Joe Arpaio’s history of official abuse is not short. False arrests of reporters, inmate deaths, rapes unprosecuted, a federal judge investigated. This is what Trump considers worthy of a pardon.
Trump gave a half-hearted denunciation of racist, swastika-wearing, Nazi-saluting white supremacists on Monday, days after one of them murdered an anti-racist protester in Charlottesville. And if you think “half-hearted” is unfair, look at what he said today.
In a long, combative exchange with reporters at Trump Tower, the president repeatedly rejected a torrent of bipartisan criticism for waiting several days before naming the right-wing groups and placing blame on “many sides” for the violence that ended with the death of a young woman after a car crashed into a crowd.
Mr. Trump repeated that assertion on Tuesday, criticizing “alt-left” groups that he claimed were “very, very violent” when they sought to confront the nationalist and Nazi groups that had gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a park. He said there is “blame on both sides.”
Sounding very much like a right-wing Twitter feed, the president added, “Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. This week, it is Robert E. Lee and this week, Stonewall Jackson. Is it George Washington next? You have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”
Trump went on to defend the tiki-torch-wielding racists who gathered on Friday night, before saying, in reference to the racist activists, “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.” …
He actually argued that there were “very fine people on both sides” and that he believes “there’s blame on both sides.”
If that sounds like a message white supremacists will be thrilled to hear, we don’t need to speculate: David Duke has already thanked Trump for this afternoon’s comments.
Where does it stop, indeed?