Trump administration is still kidnapping children

Officially the Trump administration’s policy of taking children from their parents is no more, but:

But, at a packed processing hub, Christian was taken from Noehmi and placed in a cage with toddlers. Noehmi remained in a cold holding cell, clutching Helen. Soon, she recalled, a plainclothes official arrived and informed her that she and Helen would be separated. “No!” Noehmi cried. “The girl is under my care! Please!”

Noehmi said that the official told her, “Don’t make things too difficult,” and pulled Helen from her arms. “The girl will stay here,” he said, “and you’ll be deported.” Helen cried as he escorted her from the room and out of sight. Noehmi remembers the authorities explaining that Helen’s mother would be able to retrieve her, soon, from wherever they were taking her.

Later that day, Noehmi and Christian were reunited. The adults in the family were fitted with electronic ankle bracelets and all were released, pending court dates. They left the detention center and rushed to Jeny’s house, in McAllen, hoping to find Helen there. When they didn’t, Noehmi began to shake, struggling to explain the situation. “Immigration took your daughter,” she told Jeny.

Is it even crazier and worse? Of course it is, this is the Trump administration:

But, in early August, an unknown official handed Helen a legal document, a “Request for a Flores Bond Hearing,” which described a set of legal proceedings and rights that would have been difficult for Helen to comprehend. (“In a Flores bond hearing, an immigration judge reviews your case to determine whether you pose a danger to the community,” the document began.) On Helen’s form, which was filled out with assistance from officials, there is a checked box next to a line that says, “I withdraw my previous request for a Flores bond hearing.” Beneath that line, the five-year-old signed her name in wobbly letters.

Is it even stupider and inane? Of course it is, this is the Trump administration:

He agreed to represent Noehmi and her family, and at the summer’s end he went with them to court to represent them in removal proceedings. There, a judge granted Noehmi and her relatives more time to apply for asylum. Toward the end of the hearing, Delgado brought up Helen.

“Judge, this case doesn’t stop here,” Delgado said. “What about the little child lost in the system?”

The judge looked confused. “What do you mean?” he asked.

“Well, where is Helen, the five-year-old?”

The judge, Delgado recalled, seemed startled. Both he and the government prosecutor had no idea that Helen existed, let alone where she was being held.

Is there a glaring moment of hypocrisy? Of course, this is the Trump administration:

Soon after, the shelter sent a small black backpack that Helen had left behind. It held Helen’s legal paperwork, including the document that the five-year-old had been told to sign, withdrawing her request to see a judge. The backpack also held Helen’s colored sketch of Lady Liberty. Beneath the statue’s image, a lesson summary, in Spanish, read, “Objective: That the students draw one of the most representative symbols of the United States.”

This is the US under Donald Trump.

NY Times: Donald Trump is rich because his father gave him lots of money

It’s politically incorrect to say this but Donald Trump is not a self-made billionaire. From the New York Times:

But The Times’s investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.

and he got much of this money the way the rich often get their money, he swindled it:

Much of this money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes. He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents, records and interviews show. Records indicate that Mr. Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions more. He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings.

These maneuvers met with little resistance from the Internal Revenue Service, The Times found. The president’s parents, Fred and Mary Trump, transferred well over $1 billion in wealth to their children, which could have produced a tax bill of at least $550 million under the 55 percent tax rate then imposed on gifts and inheritances.

The Trumps paid a total of $52.2 million, or about 5 percent, tax records show.

Fred Trump gave Donald money in multiple ways, all designed to minimize taxes,:

He made Donald not just his salaried employee but also his property manager, landlord, banker and consultant. He gave him loan after loan, many never repaid. He provided money for his car, money for his employees, money to buy stocks, money for his first Manhattan offices and money to renovate those offices. He gave him three trust funds. He gave him shares in multiple partnerships. He gave him $10,000 Christmas checks. He gave him laundry revenue from his buildings.

and if Fred Trump could get others to partially pay, all the better:

Each year Fred Trump spent millions of dollars maintaining and improving his properties. Some of the vendors who supplied his building superintendents and maintenance crews had been cashing Fred Trump’s checks for decades. Starting in August 1992, though, a different name began to appear on their checks — All County Building Supply & Maintenance.

Mr. Walter’s computer systems, meanwhile, churned out All County invoices that billed Fred Trump’s empire for those same services and supplies, with one difference: All County’s invoices were padded, marked up by 20 percent, or 50 percent, or even more, records show.

The Trump siblings split the markup, along with Mr. Walter.


The Trumps used the padded All County invoices to justify higher rent increases in Fred Trump’s rent-regulated buildings. Fred Trump, according to Mr. Walter, saw All County as a way to have his cake and eat it, too. If he used his “expert negotiating ability” to buy a $350 refrigerator for $200, he could raise the rent based only on that $200, not on the $350 sticker price “a normal person” would pay, Mr. Walter explained. All County was the way around this problem. “You have to understand the thinking that went behind this,” he said.

As Robert Trump acknowledged in his deposition, “The higher the markup would be, the higher the rent that might be charged.”

State records show that after All County’s creation, the Trumps got approval to raise rents on thousands of apartments by claiming more than $30 million in major capital improvements. Tenants repeatedly protested the increases, almost always to no avail, the records show.

Donald would have lost his money a couple times if this father hadn’t bailed him out, such as:

Donald Trump took on a mien of invincibility. The stock market crashed in 1987 and the economy cratered. But he doubled down thanks in part to Fred Trump’s banks, which eagerly extended credit to the young Trump princeling. He bought the Plaza Hotel in 1988 for $407.5 million. He bought the Eastern Airlines shuttle fleet in 1989 for $365 million and called it Trump Shuttle. His newest casino, the Trump Taj Mahal, would need at least $1 million a day just to cover its debt.

On Dec. 17, 1990, Fred Trump dispatched Howard Snyder, a trusted bookkeeper, to Atlantic City with a $3.35 million check. Mr. Snyder bought $3.35 million worth of casino chips and left without placing a bet. Apparently, even this infusion wasn’t sufficient, because that same day Fred Trump wrote a second check to Trump’s Castle, for $150,000, bank records show.

In December 1987, records show, Fred Trump bought a 7.5 percent stake in Trump Palace, a 55-story condominium building his son was erecting on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Most, if not all, of his investment, which totaled $15.5 million, was made by exchanging his son’s unpaid debts for Trump Palace shares, records show.
Four years later, in December 1991, Fred Trump sold his entire stake in Trump Palace for just $10,000, his tax returns and financial statements reveal. Those documents do not identify who bought his stake. But other records indicate that he sold it back to his son.

And now he’s President of the United States. It makes me proud.

The Trump administration is both cruel and incompetent

Here’s another example that shows what the Trump administration is all about:

The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” crackdown at the border this spring was troubled from the outset by planning shortfalls, widespread communication failures and administrative indifference to the separation of small children from their parents, according to an unpublished report by the Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog.

The DHS Office of Inspector General’s review found at least 860 migrant children were left in Border Patrol holding cells longer than the 72-hour limit mandated by U.S. courts, with one minor confined for 12 days and another for 25.

The investigators describe a poorly coordinated interagency process that left distraught parents with little or no knowledge of their children’s whereabouts. In other instances, U.S. officials were forced to share minors’ files on Microsoft Word documents sent as email attachments because the government’s internal systems couldn’t communicate.

Based on observations conducted by DHS inspectors at multiple facilities along the border in late June, agents separated children too young to talk from their parents in a way that courted disaster, the report says.

“Border Patrol does not provide pre-verbal children with wrist bracelets or other means of identification, nor does Border Patrol fingerprint or photograph most children during processing to ensure that they can be easily linked with the proper file,” the report said.

On June 23, three days after the executive order halting the separations, DHS announced it had developed a “central database” with HHS containing location information for separated parents and minors that both departments could access to reunite families. The inspector general found no evidence of such a database, the report said.

Remember that there was no surge in illegal immigration, this was all caused by policies of the Trump administration and they didn’t plan for it. And then they lied about it when taken to task. So, not only was the family separation policy unnecessarily cruel it was also badly administered. This is the Trump administration in a nutshell.

Goodbye to the EPA

Science is bad for Republicans because it can show that things are true that interfere with the ability for businesses to do whatever they want, such as showing global warming is real. Therefore, they get rid of science:

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to dissolve its Office of the Science Advisor, a senior post that was created to counsel the EPA administrator on the scientific research underpinning health and environmental regulations, according to a person familiar with the agency’s plans.

The move is the latest among several steps taken by the Trump administration that appear to have diminished the role of scientific research in policy making while the administration pursues an agenda of rolling back regulations.

Separately Tuesday, in an unusual move, the EPA placed the head of its Office of Children’s Health, Dr. Ruth Etzel, on administrative leave, while declining to give a reason for the move. Agency officials told Etzel, a respected pediatric epidemiologist, that the move was not disciplinary. As the head of an office that regularly pushed to tighten regulations on pollution, which can affect children more powerfully than adults, Etzel had clashed multiple times with Trump administration appointees who sought to loosen pollution rules.

Republicans really want to get rid of the EPA but it’s popular so instead they just get rid of it piece by piece.

Ulysses S Grant and public schools

Via here, this (you have to scroll down to number 29) is a pretty remarkable speech by President Grant:

Let us then begin by guarding against every  enemy threatening the perpetuity of free republican institutions. I do not bring into this assemblage politics, certainly not partisan politics ; but it is a  fair subject for soldiers in their deliberations to consider what may be necessary to secure the prize for which they battled in a republic like ours. Where the citizen is sovereign and the official the servant, where no power is exercised except by the will of the people, it is important that the sovereign — the people — should possess intelligence.

The free school is the promoter of that intelligence which is to preserve us as a free nation. If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon’s, but between patriotism and intelligence on the one side, and superstition, ambition, and ignorance on the other. Now in this centennial year of our national existence, I believe it a good time to begin the work of strengthening the foundation of the house commenced by our patriotic forefathers one hundred years ago, at Concord and Lexington. Let us all labor to add all needful guarantees for the more perfect security of free thought, free speech, and free press, pure morals, unfettered religious sentiments, and of equal rights and privileges to all men, irrespective of nationality, color, or religion. Encourage free schools, and resolve that not one dollar of money appropriated to their support, no matter how raised, shall be appropriated to the support of any sectarian school. Resolve that the State or Nation, or both combined, shall furnish to every child growing up in the land, the means of acquiring a good common-school education, unmixed with sectarian, pagan, or atheistic tenets. Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and the private school supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separate. With these safeguards, I believe the battles which created the Army of the Tennessee will not have been fought in vain.

It’s not exactly something the current Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, would say. She doesn’t believe in public education. And the bolded part is anathema to Republicans–I’m sure this would really confuse those who say Democrats are the racists since it was the party of the KKK, after all political parties never switch their views.

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.

CFPB student loan ombudsman resigns since Trump administration sides with banks not students

The CFPB was pretty good at helping students who were hurt by predatory colleges and lenders

Since 2011, the CFPB has handled more than 60,000 student loan complaints and, through its investigations and enforcement actions, returned more than $750 million to aggrieved borrowers. Frotman’s office was central to those efforts. It also played a role in lawsuits against for-profit giants ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges and the student loan company Navient.

This, of course, could not be abided and the Trump administration struck back:

Over the past year, the Trump administration has increasingly sidelined the CFPB’s student loan office. Last August, the U.S. Department of Education announced it would stop sharing information with the bureau about the department’s oversight of federal student loans, calling the CFPB “overreaching and unaccountable” and arguing that the bureau’s actions were confusing borrowers and loan servicers alike. Of the move, Frotman writes, “the Bureau’s current leadership folded to political pressure … and failed borrowers who depend on independent oversight to halt bad practices.”

In May, Mulvaney called for a major shake-up in Frotman’s division. The Office for Students and Young Consumers would be folded into the bureau’s financial education office, signaling a symbolic shift in mission from investigation to information-sharing. While the CFPB told NPR at the time that the move was “a very modest organizational chart change,” consumer advocates reacted with alarm.

Seth Frotman, who was in charge of student loans at the CFPB has finally had enough and resigned today with a nice little letter:

The challenges of student debt affect borrowers young and old, urban and rural, in professions ranging from to clergymen. Tackling these challenges should know no ideology or political persuasion. I had hoped to continue this critical work in partnership with you and your staff by using our authority under law to stand up for student loan borrowers trapped in a broken system. Unfortunately, under your leadership, the Bureau has abandoned the very consumers it is tasked by Congress with protecting. Instead, you have used the Bureau to serve the wishes of the most powerful financial companies in America.

As the Bureau official charged by Congress with overseeing the student loan market,1 have seen how the current actions being taken by Bureau leadership are hurting families. In recent months, the Bureau has made sweeping changes, including:

  • Undercutting enforcement of the law.
  • Undermining the Bureau’s independence.
  • Shielding bad actors from scrutiny. The current leadership of the Bureau has turned its back on young people and their financial futures. Where we once found efficient and innovative ways to collaborate across government to protect consumers, the Bureau is now content doing the bare minimum for them while simultaneously going above and beyond to protect the interests of the biggest financial companies in America. For example, late last year, when new evidence came to light showing that the nation’s largest banks were ripping off students on campuses across the country by saddling them with legally dubious account fees, Bureau leadership suppressed the publication of a report prepared by Bureau staff. When pressed by Congress about this, you chose to leave students vulnerable to predatory practices and deny any responsibility to bring this information to light.

Oh sorry, I meant a scathing letter noting the Trump administration cares more about banks than students. Mulvaney probably sees that as a compliment.

 

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