Trump’s Labor Day

Next Monday the country celebrates labor, this is the way President Trump does it:

President Donald Trump has told Congress he is canceling a pay raise that most civilian federal employees were due to receive in January, citing budgetary constraints.

Last year, his administration passed a tax cut that has mainly gone to the rich and now he uses that as an excuse to get rid of pay increases (and since there is this thing called inflation, that means there’s basically a pay cut). Happy Labor Day.

Another reason government regulations matter

Ronald Reagan snarkily said:

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.

This has become the Republican mantra, private business is always better and more trustworthy than government. Here’s a counter example:

The 50-year-old woman and her husband, 49, operated a so-called baby farm. That is, they earned a living taking in children whose parents were unable or unwilling to care for them. Over the course of three years, about 200 children were taken into their custody. Not all of them survived.

Joanne Hulbert, who studied the case as Holliston’s town historian, said the Reynolds farm was symbolic of the kind of dangers faced by abandoned and poor children during the 1800s.

“This wasn’t the only baby farm out there, this was just one of many,” said Hulbert. “And maybe [the Reynolds farm had] a more heinous history, the worst of the worst, but none of these places had any oversight.”

Even so, the baby farm system would continue for decades, and the risks children faced could be nightmarish. Amelia Dyer, who worked as a baby farmer in Britain during the latter half of the 19th century, is believed to have murdered hundreds of children during her spree. She was hanged in 1896. In New Zealand, Minnie Dean became the only woman executed in that country’s history when she was hanged in 1895 for murdering a baby in her care. Investigators reported also finding three dead children buried in her garden.

Even in Boston, the law that Reynolds inspired did not eliminate risks faced by children. In March 1895, the Globe reported on a baby farm on Shawmut Avenue where a child was “willfully exposed to a draft” and died so the farm’s operator could claim insurance taken out on the child.

This is what some businesses will do without oversight–it’s why rivers were so polluted they caught fire and Lake Erie was declared dead. Governments are far from perfect but at least they have some public oversight.

Lock them up

It was not a good day for Donald Trump yesterday. Paul Manafort, who was his campaign manager for five months, was convicted on eight counts:

Manafort was convicted of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failure to disclose a foreign bank account. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the remaining 10 counts, and the judge declared a mistrial on those charges.

This one seems like a building block case for the possible Russian collusion-it doesn’t talk about the collusion directly but it shows Manafort committed crimes while working with people who worked with Russians, if there was collusion he was probably involved.

In the second case, Michael Cohen pled guilty to counts of breaking campaign finance laws, tax evasion, and bank fraud. This seems less related to Russian collusion but was more directly damaging to Trump:

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, made the extraordinary admission in court Tuesday that Trump had directed him to arrange payments to two women during the 2016 campaign to keep them from speaking publicly about affairs they said they had with Trump.

The whole Mueller probe seems like a classic mob prosecution. It started with lesser figures and is working it’s way in (see who has been charged so far here). There is already enough so that the House should be talking about impeachment, but that’s unlikely as long as Republicans hold the majority. Vote in November.

Turkey, compare and contrast

Donald Trump is very upset with Turkey:

U.S. President Donald Trump intensified his spat with Turkey on Friday by imposing higher tariffs on metal imports, putting unprecedented economic pressure on a NATO ally and deepening turmoil in Turkish financial markets.

Why is he so upset?

Brunson, an evangelical Presbyterian pastor from North Carolina, was jailed for allegedly supporting a group that Ankara blames for an attempted coup in 2016. Brunson denies the

charge. His cause resonates with Christian conservative supporters of Trump, who could also be influential as Republicans seek to retain control of Congress in midterm elections in November.

This was a change:

At the U.N. General Assembly last year, Trump called Erdogan a “friend” who got “very high marks” for how he runs the country.

Just weeks ago, Trump was reported to have fist-bumped Erdogan during a NATO meeting in Brussels.

Now compare this to an incident last May:

Supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, including his government security forces and several armed individuals, violently charged a group of protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence here on Tuesday night in what the police characterized as “a brutal attack.”

The episode was not the first time that Turkish security forces have ignited violence in the American capital. The police and members of Mr. Erdogan’s security team clashed with demonstrators last year outside the Brookings Institution, where Mr. Erdogan was giving a speech. Brookings wrote on its website that his bodyguards had “behaved unacceptably — they roughed up protesters outside the building and tried to drag away ‘undesired’ journalists, an approach typical of the Russians or Chinese.”

After that incident, President Trump … still called Erdogan a good friend. So, roughing up US protestors in the US is fine but jailing an evangelical pastor crosses the line? This is life in the time of Trump.

Trump, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Iran

Saudi Arabia is mad at Canada:

Saudi Arabia said on Sunday that it is ordering Canada’s ambassador to leave the country and freezing all new trade and investment transactions with Canada in a spat over human rights.

“We consider the Canadian ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia persona non grata and order him to leave within the next 24 hours,” Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry said on Twitter.

Why? It seems because of this tweet:

Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful human rights activists.

That’s obviously a terrible thing:

The Saudi Foreign Ministry called the use of “immediately release” in Canada’s tweet “unfortunate, reprehensible, and unacceptable in relations between states.”

It dismissed Canada’s characterization of the activists as “an incorrect claim” and said Canada’s attitude was “surprising.”

“Any other attempt to interfere with our internal affairs from Canada, means that we are allowed to interfere in Canada’s internal affairs,” it said.

Canada replied as they should:

A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland issued a brief response to the Saudi complaint on Sunday evening.

“We are seriously concerned by these media reports and are seeking greater clarity on the recent statement from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said Marie-Pier Baril.

“Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, very much including women’s rights, and freedom of expression around the world. Our government will never hesitate to promote these values and believes that this dialogue is critical to international diplomacy.”

This reaction is typical of Saudi Arabia:

The dispute with Canada is part of a larger pushback against external criticism, analysts say. Germany similarly has found itself targeted by the kingdom in recent months over comments by its officials on the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

It’s also not the first time Saudi Arabia has lashed out diplomatically over the Badawi case. In 2015, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Sweden and stopped issuing work visas for Swedes after the Scandinavian country’s foreign minister described the Badawi court decision as “medieval” and the kingdom’s ruling Al Saud family as presiding over a “dictatorship.”

Normally, the US would be expected to back up an ally like Canada but:

Analysts say the dispute between Riyadh and Ottawa shows Saudi Arabia won’t accept any outside criticism and will continue flexing its muscles abroad, especially as the kingdom enjoys a closer relationship with President Donald Trump.

In a (hopefully) coincidence, today is the day US sanctions on Iran are renewed:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran will be rigorously enforced and remain in place until the Iranian government radically changes course.

‘‘We’re hopeful that we can find a way to move forward but it’s going to require enormous change on the part of the Iranian regime,’’ he said Sunday. ‘‘They’ve got to behave like a normal country. That’s the ask. It’s pretty simple.’’

Since the Trump administration hasn’t said anything about Saudi Arabia, I guess they consider their actions to Canada’s statements to be normal?

 

How the pro-life treat immigrants

Well, this is typical of the Trump administration (in other words, horrific):

Two weeks after arriving in the US seeking asylum, E, 23, found herself in a detention cell in San Luis, Arizona, bleeding profusely and begging for help from staff at the facility. She was four months pregnant and felt like she was losing her baby. She had come to the US from El Salvador after finding out she was pregnant, in the hopes of raising her son in a safer home.

“An official arrived and they said it was not a hospital and they weren’t doctors. They wouldn’t look after me,” she told BuzzFeed News, speaking by phone from another detention center, Otay Mesa in San Diego. “I realized I was losing my son. It was his life that I was bleeding out. I was staining everything. I spent about eight days just lying down. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t do anything. I started crying and crying and crying.”

While the national focus has been on family separations, another Department of Homeland Security policy quietly introduced by the Trump administration five months earlier has devastated women fleeing violence in their home countries: the detention of pregnant women not yet in their third trimester.

Before that directive, which the Trump administration implemented in December before announcing it in March, ICE was under an Obama administration–era directive not to detain pregnant women except in extreme circumstances or in relatively rare cases of expedited deportation.

The new ICE directive states that women are not to be held into their third trimester and that ICE is responsible for “ensuring pregnant detainees receive appropriate medical care including effectuating transfers to facilities that are able to provide appropriate medical treatment.”

But BuzzFeed News has found evidence that that directive is not being carried out. Instead, women in immigration detention are often denied adequate medical care, even when in dire need of it, are shackled around the stomach while being transported between facilities, and have been physically and psychologically mistreated.

This from the most pro-life President in American history. Of course, I’m not sure this administration considers immigrants real people.

There’s a bill in the Senate to stop this and there is also action in the House. Both of my Senators are co-sponsors and my Rep (Katherine Clark) introduced an amendment for similar restrictions. Yay Massachusetts.

Civility

Most people have heard this quote from William Lloyd Garrison about civility:

I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.

But he has an even more relevant quote:

With reasonable men, I will reason; with humane men I will plead; but to tyrants I will give no quarter, nor waste arguments where they will certainly be lost.

People who take children away from their parents are not reasonable or humane and being civil with them gains little.

Wonkette brings up another relevant case here:

Anti-abortion activists recently blanketed two Indianapolis neighborhoods with flyers to tell people living there that one of their neighbors is a doctor who performs abortions.

The flyers were produced in conjunction with a national conference held this week in Indianapolis by an organization that seeks to abolish legal abortion.  About 200 to 300 members of Dallas-based Operation Save America will attend the conference, said James Farrar, pastor of the Aletheia Church on the southside, a local church that is helping host the event.

Operation Save America does not advocate violence, Farrar said. Every person who attends the conference signs a pledge of non-violence.

“We are pro-life. We believe that people have a right to live. … In the entire history of OSA, there’s never been a case where OSA has ever been prosecuted or been violent towards anyone,” he said.

Hey, here’s a story about OSA:

The group’s protest efforts have been focused on site of the future Planned Parenthood clinic on South Claiborne Avenue, but on Sunday, they took a different turn when members showed up inside the First Unitarian Universalist Church at Claiborne and Jefferson. The disturbance took place as the congregation was holding a moment of silence for a member of the church who had died the week before, said the Rev. Deanna Vandiver.

“Into that sacred silence, a voice began to speak, and it began to speak about ‘abominations,’ ” Vandiver said. The protesters were shouting that the church was not a true faith, she said. “Literally in our most tender and vulnerable space, religious terrorism began.”

And let’s look at some history of the organization:

In 1994, Flip Benham became the director of the organization, then called Operation Rescue National. Benham replaced Keith Tucci, who had replaced Randall Terry.[3] Terry, Tucci and Benham have all been convicted of crimes related to their protest activities.[4] Rusty Thomas is the current national director, having taken over when Flip Benham stepped down.

And some more history:

On May 31, 2009, Tiller was assassinated in his church. Scott Roeder of Merriam, KS was convicted of first degree murder in the shooting. Operation Rescue denounced Tiller’s murder in numerous statements, describing it as “cowardly”[27][28] and “antithetical to what we believe”.[29] The group also said that Roeder had “never been a member, contributor, or volunteer with Operation Rescue.”[30] Roeder responded to Newman’s disavowal by declaring, “Well, my gosh. I’ve got probably a thousand dollars worth of receipts, at least, from the money I’ve donated to him.”[31]

The phone number for Operation Rescue’s senior policy advisor, Cheryl Sullenger, was found on the dashboard of Scott Roeder’s car.[32] At first Sullenger, who was convicted for conspiring to blow up a California abortion clinic in 1988, denied any contact with him, saying that her phone number is freely available online. Then, she revised her statements, indicating that she informed Scott Roeder of where Dr Tiller would be at specific times:

“He would call and say, ‘When does court start? When’s the next hearing?'” Sullenger said. “I was polite enough to give him the information. I had no reason not to. Who knew? Who knew, you know what I mean?”

And Wonkette looks at a list of violence against abortion providers:

Since the 1994 murder of Dr. David Gunn, there have been 10 more murders and 26 attempted murders related to anti-abortion terrorism. Between 1977 and 2009, according to the National Abortion Federation, there were 179 incidents of assault and battery, 41 bombings, 175 arsons, 96 attempted bombings or arsons, 390 invasions, 1400 incidents of vandalism, 1993 incidents of trespassing, 100 butyric acid attacks, 659 anthrax threats, 4 kidnappings, 506 death threats, 151 burglaries and 525 incidents of stalking committed by anti-abortion terrorists. Obviously those numbers have gone up in the last 9 years.

These people have shown they don’t deserve civility. And it’s a waste of time to try to engage with them. Fuck them.

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