June 27, 2019

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ON THE RECORD.....

“I watched the whole thing last night. I know no one wants to waste that kind of time even looking at him, but not wanting to see the enormity of the fight ahead doesn’t make it go away. He hasn’t lost one inch of his fired-up insane base. Are you ready?” — Michael Moore, commenting on Trump’s campaign kickoff.

“I only say they spend $400 to $450 billion over a period of time, all money, all jobs, buying equipment, I’m not like a fool that says, ‘We don’t want to do business with them.’ And by the way, if they don’t do business with us, you know what they do? They’ll do business with the Russians or with the Chinese.” — Trump shrugging off the Saudi’s brutal dismembering of Jamal Khashoggi.

Many of them are sleeping on concrete floors, including infants, toddlers, preschoolers. They are being given nothing but instant meals, Kool-Aid and cookies - many of them are sick. We are hearing that many of them are not sleeping. Almost all of them are incredibly sad and being traumatized. Many of them have not been given a shower for weeks. Many of them are not being allowed to brush their teeth except for maybe once every 10 days. They have no access to soap. It's incredibly unsanitary conditions, and we're very worried about the children's health. — Warren Binford, a law professor who visited some of the detention facilities where migrant children are being held in grim and dangerous conditions.

“It is not a tenable strategy… His message is that he’s the guy who can beat Donald Trump and he is viewed as the least risky choice. Over time, if the only interactions he has is around these screwups and gaffes, then he is going to start losing that message.” — David Axelrod, saying Joe’s Biden’s media avoidance strategy isn’t viable.

“With all the women it’s the same: He denies it, he turns it around, he attacks, and he threatens — and then everybody forgets it until the next woman comes along.I am sick of it. I am sick of it.” — E. Jean Carroll, voicing frustration that Trump has not faced consequences from a string of previous allegations of misconduct.

“I will have a very good conversation with him. What I say to him is none of your business.” — Donald Trump on what he and Russian President Vladimir Putin may say to each other behind closed doors.

“If we have two old white guys at the top of this ticket, we will lose.” — Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) echoing calls by other prominent liberals for the party to embrace diversity on its presidential ticket.

“Robert Mueller terminated their text messages. He terminated them. They’re gone. And that’s illegal. That’s a crime.” — Trump lashing out at former special counsel Robert Mueller, accusing him without evidence of committing a crime by deleting text messages exchanged by two former FBI officials who had expressed disdain for the president.

"Here's a guy -- nobody ever heard of him before. And now, I made him, and he wants to show how tough he is, okay. Let him show how tough he is. He's a-- he's a-- he's not doing a good job.” — Trump trashes Fed Chair Jerome Powell on Fox.

IN THIS ISSUE

FYI

1. The Investigation - A Search for the Truth in 10 Acts, a play ripped from the pages of the Mueller report
2. Feds Tell 9th Circuit: Detained Kids ‘Safe and Sanitary’ Without Soap
3. Migrant children are suffering at the border. But reporters are kept away from the story.
4. Trump is bumping into a very low 2020 ceiling
5. Only 3 percent of Democratic voters want a president in their 70s
6. Deutsche Bank Faces Criminal Investigation for Potential Money-Laundering Lapses
7. Budget talks at impasse as spending cuts, debt ceiling threaten economy
8. U.S. military spending set to increase for fifth consecutive year, nearing levels during height of Iraq war
9. Steel industry begins to idle plants, shows signs of weakness — despite Trump’s support
10. Federal judge says census citizenship question merits more consideration in light of new evidence
11. The DAILY GRILL
12. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
13. From the Late Shows
14. Republicans Block Ex-Cons From Voting in Biggest Swing State
15. Scottish people would vote to leave the United Kingdom if Boris Johnson becomes prime minister
16. 'Electability' is the most important, least understood word in the 2020 race
17. A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
18. Premature baby and teenage mother held in immigration detention facility
19. Medical groups warn climate change is a ‘health emergency’
20. Democratic group's poll shows Trump vulnerable with his base on health care
21. Commerce Dept. ordered ex-official not to answer House panel questions

OPINION

1. Caitlin Dickerson:’There Is a Stench’: No Soap and Overcrowding in Detention Centers for Migrant Children
2. Ken White: Why a Government Lawyer Argued Against Giving Immigrant Kids Toothbrushes
3. Michele Moses: Why the Polar Bear Is an Indisputable Image of Climate Change
4. Maureen Dowd: Blowhard on the Brink
5. Dan De Luce: Obama, others warned Trump that pulling out of Iran nuke deal could lead to war
6. The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial: Yes, we do have concentration camps
7. Bess Levin: Trump Deals Final Death Blow to the Planet
8. Ronald Ron Brownstein: The Biggest Obstacle to Trump’s Victory in 2020
9. Peter Beinart: Bolton Keeps Trying to Goad Iran Into War
10. Eric Levitz: With Trump’s Migrant Camps, the History We Should Fear Repeating Is Our Own
11. Max Boot: Marco Rubio’s humiliating transformation into a Trump fan-boy is complete
12.  Ed Kilgore: Trump Is Helping Democrats Mobilize Against Him
13. Sarah Jones: Elizabeth Warren Wants to Ban ‘Corrupt and Inhumane’ Private Prisons
14. Jonathan Chait: Manafort Promised Sean Hannity He Wouldn’t Flip on Trump
15. Eric Lutz: Trump Claims He’s Being Disappeared On Twitter
16. Jack Shafer: With Iran, Trump Wants to Be Arsonist and Firefighter
17. Jennifer Rubin: Trump has no excuse for mistreatment of children
18. Matt Stieb: Everything We Know About the Inhumane Conditions at Migrant Detention Camps
19.  Bess Levin: The Trump Admin Would Rather You Not Know Climate Change Affects The Food Supply
20. Joshua A. Geltzer and Neal K. Katyal: The Travel Ban Shows What Happens When the Supreme Court Trusts Trump
21. NY Times Editorial: There’s No Excuse for Mistreating Children at the Border. Here’s What To Do About It.
22. Hiroko Tabuchi and Steve Eder: A Plan to Mine the Minnesota Wilderness Hit a Dead End. Then Trump Became President.
23. Washington Post Editorial: America must listen to E. Jean Carroll. It’s clear Trump won’t.
24. Dana Milbank: Trump demands subservience and gets incompetence
25. Alexandra Petri: Not my type


FYI

1. The Investigation - A Search for the Truth in 10 Acts, a play ripped from the pages of the Mueller report

The play, written by the Pulitzer Prize winning Robert Schenkkan, dramatizes the Mueller Report. The play which uses the actual text of Mueller Report for dialogue, stars John Lithgow, Jason Alexander, Annette Bening. Watch it at https://lawworksaction.org/

2. Feds Tell 9th Circuit: Detained Kids ‘Safe and Sanitary’ Without Soap

The Trump administration argued in front of a Ninth Circuit panel Tuesday that the government is not required to give soap or toothbrushes to children apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border and can have them sleep on concrete floors in frigid, overcrowded cells, despite a settlement agreement that requires detainees be kept in “safe and sanitary” facilities.

All three judges appeared incredulous during the hearing in San Francisco, in which the Trump administration challenged previous legal findings that it is violating a landmark class action settlement by mistreating undocumented immigrant children at U.S. detention facilities.

“You’re really going to stand up and tell us that being able to sleep isn’t a question of safe and sanitary conditions?'” U.S. Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon asked the Justice Department’s Sarah Fabian. https://www.courthousenews.com/feds-tell-9th-circuit-detained-kids-safe-and-sanitary-without-soap/

3. Migrant children are suffering at the border. But reporters are kept away from the story.

News stories emerged last week about squalid conditions at a Border Patrol detention facility housing about 300 migrant children on the U.S.-Mexico border. The media accounts described the facility in Clint, Tex., near El Paso, that houses children separated from their parents by order of the Trump administration.

Apart from their appalling specifics, the stories were notable for one element: They were all based on secondhand accounts. Reporters were unable to see the facilities themselves or speak to any of the children. Instead, they relied on descriptions provided by lawyers and advocates who were granted access under a legal settlement with the Border Patrol.

If journalists had access to the detention centers at the border where children are being held in filthy conditions, those centers would not exist,” said Elora Mukherjee, an attorney who interviewed children at the Texas facility and described them to reporters last week. “If videos were released there would be massive changes” because the public outcry would be enormous. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/migrant-children-are-suffering-at-the-border-but-reporters-are-kept-away-from-the-story/2019/06/24/500313a2-9693-11e9-8d0a-5edd7e2025b1_story.html

4. Trump is bumping into a very low 2020 ceiling

Most polls have shown a majority of Americans — as many as 57 percent in one poll, but usually a slimmer majority — say they will definitely not vote to reelect Trump. It’s one thing to lack appeal to such a large segment of the population; it’s another for them to rule out supporting you entirely. If this segment of the electorate doesn’t budge, it would make Trump’s reelection very difficult; he’d have to hope these people simply don’t turn out to vote, that he could win with a plurality thanks to third-party candidates and/or that he could carry the electoral college without winning the popular vote (again).

As problematic for Trump is that this number seems to be bearing out in early polling — in the form of a ceiling. Most matchups in high-quality national polls have him struggling to climb out of the low 40s, no matter who his opponent is. In fact, only one high-quality national poll in recent months has him taking more than 42 percent of the vote in any matchup: a recent CNN poll. The situation is similar in key states like Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/06/20/trump-is-bumping-into-very-low-ceiling/

5. Only 3 percent of Democratic voters want a president in their 70s

Pew, a nonpartisan arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts that conducts research and polls, found that the age of presidential candidates is important to potential Democratic or Democratic-leaning voters and that they prefer their candidates younger, specifically in their 40s, 50s and 60s.

The percentage of Democratic or likely Democratic voters who said the optimal age for a president is someone in their 70s: 3 percent. https://www.rollcall.com/news/congress/voters-dont-prefer-presidents-well-aged

6. Deutsche Bank Faces Criminal Investigation for Potential Money-Laundering Lapses

Federal authorities are investigating whether Deutsche Bank complied with laws meant to stop money laundering and other crimes, the latest government examination of potential misconduct at one of the world’s largest and most troubled banks, according to seven people familiar with the inquiry.

The investigation includes a review of Deutsche Bank’s handling of so-called suspicious activity reports that its employees prepared about possibly problematic transactions, including some linked to President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, according to people close to the bank and others familiar with the matter. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/19/business/deutsche-bank-money-laundering-trump.html

7. Budget talks at impasse as spending cuts, debt ceiling threaten economy

Though Mnuchin said there is plenty of time before a Sept. 30 government funding deadline and a potential breach of the debt ceiling in the fall, time is much shorter in the halls of Congress where decades ago each chamber routinely passed 12 appropriations bills to fund the government each year. Lawmakers are scheduled to be in session just five more weeks before a five-week recess starting in August, and spending bills can take days to process on the Senate floor.

Both parties in Congress agree that avoiding cuts of $55 billion to domestic spending and $71 billion to defense spending is imperative. But there is sharp disagreement over how to do that, with the administration seeking to keep spending from rising any further given the yawning annual budget deficit. But by proposing a continuing resolution, the administration would scuttle the annual congressional appropriations process, a key bipartisan priority in the House and Senate counterparts. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/19/budget-debt-ceiling-deal-1371455

8. U.S. military spending set to increase for fifth consecutive year, nearing levels during height of Iraq war

America’s military budget is set to grow for a fifth consecutive year to near-historic highs in 2020, as lawmakers push increases in defense spending for next year despite opposition from some liberals in Congress and deficit hawks.

The Trump administration has proposed $750 billion in defense spending as part of its budget request to Congress for next year, as well as steep cuts to domestic programs in health care and education.

House Democrats in their budget proposed increasing defense spending to $733 billion a year — an increase in line with inflation — in exchange for Republican support for an increase in domestic spending that would be twice as large. https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2019/04/18/us-military-spending-set-increase-fifth-consecutive-year-nearing-levels-during-height-iraq-war/

9. Steel industry begins to idle plants, shows signs of weakness — despite Trump’s support

U.S. Steel announced it will temporarily halt production at two domestic plants despite the boost from the Trump administration’s tariffs, as a steel industry singled out for federal support shows signs of weakening.

On Tuesday, U.S. Steel said it would temporarily halt operations at a blast furnace near Detroit as well as one in Gary, Ind., on the shore of Lake Michigan. U.S. Steel will be idling a third plant in Europe, the company said.

The closure runs in sharp contrast to the narrative President Trump has offered about the steel industry. Tuesday night in Orlando, as he formally announced he was running for reelection, Trump boasted about helping the steel industry through the use of tariffs on imports. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/06/19/steel-industry-begins-idle-plants-shows-signs-weakness-despite-trumps-support/

10. Federal judge says census citizenship question merits more consideration in light of new evidence

A federal district judge in Maryland on Wednesday ruled that new evidence in the case of a census citizenship question merits more consideration, opening the possibility that the question could come before the Supreme Court again even after it rules as expected this month.

Civil rights groups who had sued the government over its addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census had asked U.S. District Court Judge George J. Hazel to reconsider his ruling on whether the government was guilty of conspiracy and intent to discriminate after new evidence in the case emerged last month. Files discovered on hard drives belonging to a deceased Republican redistricting strategist suggested he had communicated with the Trump administration about how to get the citizenship question onto the survey and that the strategist had determined that adding the question would create an electoral advantage for Republicans and non-Hispanic whites. In his ruling Tuesday, Hazel wrote that the plaintiffs’ motion “raises a substantial issue” in the case. https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2019/06/19/maryland-judge-rules-new-evidence-census-citizenship-question-lawsuit/

11. The DAILY GRILL

Remember that I predicted a long time ago that President Obama will attack Iran because of his inability to negotiate properly-not skilled! -- Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump 10 Nov 2013

VERSUS

To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS! -- Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump Jul 22 2018

 

Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia. This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country….. -- Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

VERSUS

Treason is the only crime explicitly defined in the U.S. Constitution. The Founding Fathers knew the word’s history as a weapon wielded by tyrants to justify the persecution and execution of enemies. They made its definition immutable—Article III reads: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort”—to ensure that it couldn’t be abused by politicians for self-serving attacks on rivals or critics. The crime is almost never prosecuted, but Mr. Trump has used the word dozens of times. … Having already reached for the most incendiary language available, what is left but putting his threats into action? — New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger in a Wall Street Journal op-ed deploring Trump’s campaign against the media.

 

“President Trump has told confidants as recently as Wednesday that he believes he has the authority to replace Jerome Powell as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. In Trump’s line of thinking, he could demote Powell to be a board governor, but isn’t planning to do so right now.” -  Jennifer Jacobs and Saleha Mohsin in Bloomburg

VERSUS

“I think the law is clear that I have a four year term, and I fully intend to serve it.” — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell

 

"We had separations when I became president, President Obama had a separation policy. I didn’t have it. He had it. I brought the families together. I’m the one that put them together.” — Donald Trump, in an interview with the Spanish-language TV network Telemundo, adamantly claimed that the separation of immigrant families at the border during his presidency happened because of an Obama policy.

VERSUS

The Obama administration did not have a policy to separate families arriving illegally at the border. Family separations rarely happened under the Obama administration, which sought to keep families together in detention. Then, based on a court decision, it released families together out of detention.— Miriam Valverde in Politifact

 

“We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran. Never can Iran have a nuclear weapon.” — Trump executive order imposing additional economic sanctions on Iran.

VERSUS

The nuclear accord negotiated under the Obama administration says in its first paragraph: “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.” — Washington Post

 

“You cannot have nuclear weapons [regarding Iran]. And they would have had them with President Obama. He gave them $150 billion.” — Trump on “Meet the Press.

VERSUS


In fact, the Iran nuclear deal was forged to keep Iran from nuclear weapons, and the $150 billion wasn’t U.S. money – it was Iran’s money  frozen in international financial institutions around the world. — NBC News

 

Obama had a lousy economy. It was a dead economy.” —Trump on “Meet the Press.

VERSUS

In fact, the state of the economy has been fairly consistent between Obama’s second term and Trump’s first two years in office – with Obama enjoying slightly higher job-creation numbers and Trump with slightly higher GDP numbers. But in no way was the economy “dead” under Obama — NBC News

 

I could have managed Obamacare so it would have failed or I could have managed it the way we did so it’s as good as it can be. Not great, but it’s as good — it’s too expensive and the premiums are too high. I had a decision to make. I could have politically killed Obamacare. I decided not to do it. — Trump to NBC’s Chuck Todd

VERSUS

Really? Seriously? Aside from its efforts to kill the Affordable Care Act legislatively, the Trump administration has undertaken 60 distinct initiatives to undermine Obamacare, according to a careful analysis by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. —  Ed Kilgore in Intelligencer

 

"Looking forward to collaborating with all of our #BeBest Ambassadors. Delighted to be working alongside so many people both inside and outside of government to better the lives of children everywhere!” — The first lady’s tweet

VERSUS

"Is this White House seriously sending out this 'be best' bs while children are being tortured? If @FLOTUS wants to help children face challenges, get them the f*ck out of these torture chambers! Whew! I'm Beat!” — Tiffany Cross, managing editor of The Beat DC which focuses on the intersection of politics, policy and people of color.

12. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)

Fox has revived its fearmongering over Ebola and the southern border. Is Trump watching? https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2019/06/20/fox-has-revived-its-fearmongering-over-ebola-and-southern-border-trump-watching/223973

While in court facing sanctions for similar claims, Alex Jones continued to suggest Sandy Hook families' attorneys planted child pornography on his servers. After he was sanctioned, Jones attacked the judge in the case as "ignorant" and said she's part of a conspiracy against him. https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2019/06/20/while-court-facing-sanctions-similar-claims-alex-jones-continued-suggest-sandy-hook-families/223991

Newt Gingrich baselessly speculates that Iran will launch "terrorist bombings" in the US. Gingrich also says, "I don't think it's inconceivable that a couple of more provocations and the U.S. will simply take out the entire Iranian Navy, which we could do probably in three days.” https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2019/06/20/newt-gingrich-baselessly-speculates-iran-will-launch-terrorist-bombings-us/223988

During CNN’s “breaking news” coverage of the conflict between the United States and Iran, CNN political commentator David Urban advocated for a missile strike against Iran, claiming that “the Iranian government has to be checked” and that there needs to be “retribution” for its alleged actions against the United States. The network didn’t disclose to viewers that Urban is a lobbyist for numerous defense contractors. https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2019/06/24/cnn-doesnt-tell-viewers-its-analyst-who-urged-military-strike-against-iran-lobbyist-defense/224016

Sean Hannity: Trump has said "he may have to" "obliterate" Iran, and "I believe he will.” https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2019/06/24/sean-hannity-trump-has-said-he-may-have-obliterate-iran-and-i-believe-he-will/224020

13. From the Late Shows

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Trump Almost Started a War with Iran: A Closer Look: https://youtu.be/nPr_P2OEsjg

14. Republicans Block Ex-Cons From Voting in Biggest Swing State

Florida’s reputation as America’s tightest — and wildest — swing state should stay intact, as a battle over felons’ voting rights seems destined for the courts. At the least, it’s increasingly looking like Florida’s 1.4 million disenfranchised ex-convicts won’t be the potent voting bloc they might’ve been.

Seven months ago, almost two-thirds of voters approved Amendment 4, which restores registration rights to many felons. Florida had been one of three states, along with Kentucky and Iowa, where those convicted of a felony were permanently prohibited from registering without going through a lengthy clemency process, and many saw Floridians’ vote as bringing the state into the U.S. mainstream. Only those convicted of murder and sexual offenses still are excluded. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-22/republicans-block-ex-cons-from-voting-in-biggest-swing-state

15. Scottish people would vote to leave the United Kingdom if Boris Johnson becomes prime minister

A Sunday Times poll finds the Scottish people would vote for independence from the United Kingdom if Boris Johnson becomes prime minister.

Asked whether they supported leaving the UK, a narrow majority of 51% said they opposed independence. However, when asked how they would vote if Johnson became PM, independence gained a six point lead of 53% over 47%. https://www.businessinsider.com/scottish-vote-for-independence-if-boris-johnson-becomes-prime-minister-2019-6

16. 'Electability' is the most important, least understood word in the 2020 race

Unlike primary voters in every other recent presidential election, Democrats are still so rattled by the 2016 election that they keep telling pollsters they'll vote for whichever candidate they think has the best chance of beating President Donald Trump, whether or not they like that contender most.

The problem is that no one, whether it's the voters or the professional prognosticators, can predict the future enough to figure out who it will take to beat the president some 500 days from now.

“Electability is in the eye of the beholder," said Patrick Murray, who runs the well-respected Monmouth University poll. "Voters are not very good at predicting electability...It really is ill-informed, but we know that it's not facts —but perception — that drive voter behavior." https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/electability-eye-beholder-what-hell-do-we-actually-know-about-n1020576

17. A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

What if we actually pulled off a Green New Deal? What would the future look like? The Intercept presents a film narrated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and illustrated by Molly Crabapple. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9uTH0iprVQ

18. Premature baby and teenage mother held in immigration detention facility

The teenage girl with pigtail braids was hunched over in a wheelchair and holding a bunched sweatshirt when an immigrant advocate met her at a crowded Border Patrol facility in Texas.

She opened the sweatshirt and the advocate gasped. It was a tiny baby, born premature, being held in detention instead of where she believes she should have been — a hospital neonatal unit.

“You look at this baby and there is no question that this baby should be in a tube with a heart monitor,” said Hope Frye, a volunteer with an immigrant advocacy group who travels the country visiting immigration facilities with children to make sure they comply with federal guidelines.

Frye and other advocates say the case highlights the poor conditions immigrants are held in after crossing the border at a time when the government is dealing with an unprecedented number of families and children who are arriving each day. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/premature-baby-and-teenage-mother-held-in-immigration-detention-facility

19. Medical groups warn climate change is a ‘health emergency’

As Democratic presidential hopefuls prepare for their first 2020 primary debate this week, 74 medical and public health groups aligned on Monday to push for a series of consensus commitments to combat climate change, bluntly defined by the organizations as “a health emergency.”

The new climate change agenda released by the groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Heart Association, comes amid early jostling among Democratic candidates over whose environmental platform is more progressive. The health organizations’ policy recommendations, while a stark departure from President Donald Trump’s approach, represent a back-to-basics approach for an internal Democratic climate debate that has so far revolved around the liberal precepts of the Green New Deal .

“The health, safety and well-being of millions of people in the U.S. have already been harmed by human-caused climate change, and health risks in the future are dire without urgent action to fight climate change,” the medical and public health groups wrote in their climate agenda, shared with The Associated Press in advance of its release. https://apnews.com/ce88bd15279749dbabcde34c8ef3dc28

20. Democratic group's poll shows Trump vulnerable with his base on health care

The Democratic research group American Bridge is preparing a $50 million campaign to win over a slice of President Donald Trump’s base, and new polling has convinced the organization that Trump is vulnerable on pocketbook issues, especially health care, among white working-class voters.

The battleground-state polling is a new step in American Bridge’s plans to target Trump voters in small towns and rural areas with ads linking local events to unpopular Trump policies. The group’s president, Bradley Beychok, is not aiming to win a majority of those people in 2020. But even making modest inroads with these voters compared to 2016 would be a huge boost to the party’s hopes of beating Trump next year. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/24/democratic-poll-trump-health-care-1377517

21. Commerce Dept. ordered ex-official not to answer House panel questions

A former senior Commerce Department official refused to answer more than 100 questions during an interview with the House Oversight and Reform Committee that centered on the Trump administration’s controversial decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Commerce Department lawyers instructed James Uthmeier, who served as senior adviser and counsel to Secretary Wilbur Ross, not to answer the committee’s questions about his contacts with the White House and his conversations with Ross. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/25/commerce-house-panel-questions-1380209

OPINION

1. Caitlin Dickerson:’There Is a Stench’: No Soap and Overcrowding in Detention Centers for Migrant Children

A chaotic scene of sickness and filth is unfolding in an overcrowded border station in Clint, Tex., where hundreds of young people who have recently crossed the border are being held, according to lawyers who visited the facility this week. Some of the children have been there for nearly a month.

Children as young as 7 and 8, many of them wearing clothes caked with snot and tears, are caring for infants they’ve just met, the lawyers said. Toddlers without diapers are relieving themselves in their pants. Teenage mothers are wearing clothes stained with breast milk.

Most of the young detainees have not been able to shower or wash their clothes since they arrived at the facility, those who visited said. They have no access to toothbrushes, toothpaste or soap.

“There is a stench,” said Elora Mukherjee, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School, one of the lawyers who visited the facility. “The overwhelming majority of children have not bathed since they crossed the border.” https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/21/us/migrant-children-border-soap.html

2. Ken White: Why a Government Lawyer Argued Against Giving Immigrant Kids Toothbrushes

Arguments before the United States Court of Appeals are usually dry, esoteric, and nerdy. What would it take to make one go viral? This week, in a clip that launched a million angry Facebook posts, we found out. It took a lawyer for the United States telling a panel of incredulous Ninth Circuit judges that it is “safe and sanitary” to confine immigrant children in facilities without soap or toothbrushes and to make them sleep on concrete floors under bright lights.

This assertion generated widespread outrage. Sarah Fabian, the senior attorney in the Department of Justice’s Office of Immigration Litigation who uttered it, was instantly excoriated online. As fate would have it, the clip of her argument went viral at the same time as a new wave of reports of brutal and inhumane conditions at immigrant confinement centers. It also immediately followed the raucous debate over Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referring to the confinement centers as concentration camps. The juxtaposition suggested, misleadingly, that the Trump administration was explicitly justifying the worst sorts of child mistreatment we were seeing on the news.

The truth is more complex, but still appalling. The sheer effrontery of the government’s argument may be explained, but not excused, by its long backstory. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/why-sarah-fabian-argued-against-giving-kids-toothbrushes/592366/

3. Michele Moses: Why the Polar Bear Is an Indisputable Image of Climate Change

The story of climate change has been told, in part, through pictures of polar bears. And no wonder: in their glittering icy habitat, they reflect the otherworldly beauty that rising temperatures threaten to destroy. The photographs from Norilsk this past week were not precisely of a species forced out of its habitat by climate change—though, as a story of human cruelty, they are no less disturbing—but the visceral reactions they inspired were arguably an appropriate response, nonetheless, given the current crisis. Because of its nickel-mining and smelting industry, Norilsk is one of the most polluted places on Earth—the average life expectancy is about ten years shorter than in the rest of Russia. In 2016, industrial waste from the nickel factory caused the city’s Daldykan River to run red.

The presence of an animal that we are accustomed to seeing in pristine natural beauty makes the whole setting seem even bleaker and more corrosive. Yet to see a line of cars stop to observe a creature whose habitat their emissions are destroying is like an instance of restorative justice—the culprit and victim encounter each other face to face. It provides a rare opportunity for us to confront the far-reaching moral consequences of our seemingly benign actions, like driving. No revelation about the situational truth of the image should feel like permission for us to simply look away and get back in our cars. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/annals-of-appearances/why-the-polar-bear-is-the-undisputed-image-of-climate-change

4. Maureen Dowd: Blowhard on the Brink

Trump told Todd that he thought the Iranians shot down a $130 million drone to get his attention because they wanted to talk. (Like when a little kid flicks a paper airplane at your head, but more expensive.) A rare case of Trump’s bloated ego working to our advantage.

It is not hard to imagine Bolton and Mike Pompeo conjuring a Tonkin specter, with a drone or U.S. plane buzzing Iranian airspace to provoke Iran to respond, so we can start a war. It’s also not hard to imagine the two uber-hawks doing this without Trump understanding what’s going on. And it’s certainly easy to think that Trump might not be leveling with us about how this went down.

At least, unlike W. — another underinformed president — Trump is not a captive of the neocons. He has outside advisers, after all: Fox News anchors.

It’s hard to believe that the man standing between us and another world war is Tucker Carlson, late of “Dancing With the Stars.”

But we must count on Carlson, who, The Daily Beast reported, has been calling Trump directly to counteract Sean Hannity, who has been cheerleading on air for a strike, threatening Iran: “You’re going to get the living crap bombed out of you.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/22/opinion/sunday/dowd-trump-iran.html

5. Dan De Luce: Obama, others warned Trump that pulling out of Iran nuke deal could lead to war

To supporters of the Iran nuclear deal, it's no surprise that President Donald Trump is now facing a potential war with Iran.

Long before Trump was elected, advocates of the nuclear agreement — including then-President Barack Obama, French President Emmanuel Macron and others — had argued that abandoning the accord carried grave risks that could lead to an armed conflict.

"So let's not mince words. The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war — maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon," Obama said in a speech in 2015 defending the deal before a congressional vote.

Trump as a candidate vowed to dump what he called "the worst deal ever" and he made good on his promise in 2018. A year later, Trump is openly discussing the pros and cons of bombing Iran.
On Friday, the president said in a tweet that he had ordered and then called off military strikes against Iran after Tehran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz.

In his 2015 speech, Obama said that without an agreement limiting Iran's nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, any U.S. administration would be left with only one option to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon — "another war in the Middle East.” https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/national-security/obama-others-warned-trump-pulling-out-iran-nuke-deal-could-n1020461

6. The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial: Yes, we do have concentration camps

They are not work camps. They are not death camps. At least, not on purpose. Our government is not building massive gas chambers and industrial crematoria. It is not conducting sick medical experiments on members of an unfavored class.

But that does not mean that the places into which we are herding tens of thousands of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers are not properly called concentration camps. Because that is precisely what they are.

The places where these tempest-tossed humans are being held are kept deliberately uncomfortable and largely out of view of the public, the press, members of Congress and even the courts. The whole point is to keep them beyond the reach of the rights and protections that, by our Constitution and international treaties, are afforded to all persons, not just citizens.

The people being held there are cold, hungry, dirty and often sick. Children are separated from parents. Children are caring for children. Medical care is not to be found. A few — not millions, but a few — have died.

The administration actually told the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals the other day that it is under no obligation to provide refugee children with soap, toothbrushes or anywhere to sleep but cold cement floors in overcrowded cages. They’ve already cut off funding for education, counseling and recreation.

The argument that our government’s failings don’t matter because the migrants have broken the law is legally and morally bankrupt.

People have a moral right to seek a better life, and a legal right to seek asylum. If our border and immigration system isn’t up to the task, that’s not their fault, it is ours.

Our nation is operating concentration camps for refugee children. We need to stop denying that and decide if we are comfortable with that fact. And how we will explain it to our children. https://www.sltrib.com/opinion/editorial/2019/06/22/tribune-editorial-yes-we/

7. Bess Levin: Trump Deals Final Death Blow to the Planet

In the 476 months that he’s been in office, Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear that he would like the earth to die in a fire—literally. In that time he has abandoned the Paris climate agreement; unveiled a proposal to freeze rules on planet-warming pollution from cars and trucks; claimed wind turbines aren’t a viable source of energy because the sound they make “causes cancer”; and hired a guy who believes carbon dioxide has been demonized like “Jews under Hitler” to discredit the findings of 13 federal agencies that increased levels of CO2 pose a national emergency. But it was only today that his pièce de résistance, when it comes to letting climate change really rip, was officially put into place.

On Wednesday, the administration officially replaced Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan with an alternative it cooked up called the Affordable Clean Energy rule.

While Obama’s measure would have substantially reduced planet-killing pollution from coal plants, by setting national emissions limits and requiring the “reconstruction of power grids to move utilities away from coal,” Trump’s rule will almost certainly increase levels of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere by allowing states to decide how much they want to cut emissions. If they don’t want to cut them at all? That’s totally cool! (A 2018 joint study from Harvard, Syracuse, and Resources for the Future, a research organization showed that 18 states and D.C. would experience higher greenhouse emissions from the Trump rule; in 19 states, pollutants like nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions would increase.) https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/06/trump-epa-affordable-clean-energy-rule

8. Ronald Ron Brownstein: The Biggest Obstacle to Trump’s Victory in 2020

Trump’s unrelenting emphasis on stoking that base—both in his rhetoric and through his policies—creates two distinct but interrelated problems for his reelection. One is that he’s providing the fuel for Democrats to mobilize their own core constituencies, particularly young people and nonwhite voters. The second problem is even more formidable and may represent the biggest obstacle to winning a second term: His polarizing approach to the presidency is alienating an unusually large number of voters satisfied with the economy.

That dynamic clearly wasn’t on his mind at his Tuesday rally in Orlando. He did dutifully tick off a list of economic accomplishments in his speech, but only after an hour of splenetic reliving of old grievances about the Robert Mueller investigation, the media, and Hillary Clinton. He demonized immigrants with sweeping condemnations. He raged, blustered, and summoned his supporters to a battle for survival against Democratic opponents, whom he portrayed as not only misguided on policy but as fundamentally un-American in their aims. “They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it,” he thundered.

And yet, as the Orlando rally demonstrated again, Trump is most comfortable framing the election as a cultural confrontation in which he alone can protect his supporters against all the forces he portrays as arrayed against them: immigrants, “socialist” Democrats, the media, Washington insiders, duplicitous foreign trading partners, contemptuous domestic elites. In 2020, as in 2016, the nation is less likely to divide along lines of class than of culture, with Trump rallying voters uneasy about the nation’s demographic and cultural changes and with Democrats mobilizing those who largely welcome them.

Democrats aren’t guaranteed to win an election between these competing coalitions of restoration and transformation. But surely they like their 2020 odds better in a campaign that divides along that axis than one that turns on Ronald Reagan’s famous question: Are you better off than you were four years ago? https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/06/trump-may-need-talk-economy-win-2020/592153/

9. Peter Beinart: Bolton Keeps Trying to Goad Iran Into War

In April, the Trump administration announced that the U.S.—having already reimposed sanctions on Iran after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal—was eliminating the waivers that permitted China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey to buy Iranian oil. The goal, in Pompeo’s words, was to drive Tehran’s oil exports—which provide roughly 40 percent of its government revenue—to “zero.” In May, the administration added sanctions on Iranian steel, aluminum, iron, and copper, which comprise 10 percent of the country’s exports.

By May, events were bearing out the Pentagon’s fears. “In private meetings,” the Times noted, “military officials have warned the White House that its maximum-pressure campaign against Iran is motivating … threats to United States troops and American interests in the Middle East.” The former Bush-administration official Kori Schake observed that “every single European government believes that the increased threat we’re seeing from Iran now is a reaction to the United States leaving the Iran nuclear agreement and trying to force Iranian capitulation on other issues.”

This was the plan: Provoke Iran until it provides a pretext for America to strike. (What comes after such a strike is something Bolton has not publicly discussed as national security adviser. In his previous writing, he has generally breezed past the subject while vaguely suggesting that an attack might help foment regime change.) https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/bolton-keeps-trying-goad-iran-war/592108/

10. Eric Levitz: With Trump’s Migrant Camps, the History We Should Fear Repeating Is Our Own

On Monday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told her Instagram followers that the White House is “running concentration camps” on our nation’s southern border — and that those who believe “ ‘Never again’ means something” must oppose Donald Trump’s “fascist presidency.”

Republicans, and many Jewish-American organizations, then excoriated the congresswoman for (supposedly) demeaning the memory of the 6 million Jews who “were exterminated in the Holocaust.”

For all the differences between the predicament of Europe’s Jews in the 1930s and Central American asylum seekers in 2019, there are also commonalities. In each case, governments demonized vulnerable out-groups, warehoused them in isolated camps, and deliberately subjected them to inhumane treatment to advance a racist conception of the national good. The potential benefit of highlighting these areas of overlap is obvious: Analogizing a contemporary injustice to a world-historic atrocity may help complacent Americans recognize the moral urgency of combating the former. By all appearances, AOC’s analogy has done precisely this. http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/06/aoc-holocaust-why-migrant-detention-centers-are-concentration-camps-explained.html

11. Max Boot: Marco Rubio’s humiliating transformation into a Trump fan-boy is complete

I should be inured to it by now, but it still hurt — it was still soul-crushing — to see Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) beaming in the audience as President Trump kicked off his reelection campaign with an Orlando rally on Tuesday. In a speech marked by his trademark combination of self-pity and self-aggrandizement, Trump boasted about his supposed achievements, smeared old opponents such as Hillary Clinton and whined that he wasn’t getting the credit he deserves. Applauding this blizzard of bunkum was Rubio, who tweeted, like the fan-boy that he has become: “It’s official #KeepAmericaGreat.”

Hard to believe, but only a little more than three years have passed since Trump was calling Rubio “Little Marco” and Rubio was calling Trump a “con artist” who was seeking to perpetrate “the biggest scam in American political history,” an “erratic” liar who couldn’t be trusted with the nuclear codes and a candidate who “isn’t gonna make America great, he’s gonna make America orange.” Rubio’s transformation from “Never Trump” to “Forever Trump” is, of course, hardly unusual in today’s principles-free Republican Party. Sitting next to Rubio, after all, was Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who, before becoming Trump’s caddie, once called him a “jackass,” “kook” and “idiot.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/06/20/marco-rubios-humiliating-transformation-into-trump-fan-boy-is-complete/

12.  Ed Kilgore: Trump Is Helping Democrats Mobilize Against Him

In these days of intense partisan polarization, driven in no small part by an intensely polarizing president, it’s become commonplace to argue that the politics of persuasion don’t matter anymore, and that elections are won by “energizing” or “mobilizing” one’s own party base. And it’s true that with the number of swing voters dwindling, turnout strategies have become indispensable in any competitive election.

But there are limits to base-mobilization, as veteran political reporter Ron Brownstein notes in an observation on Trump’s incessant efforts to keep his troops in a hate frenzy:

Trump’s unrelenting emphasis on stoking that base—both in his rhetoric and through his policies…[is] providing the fuel for Democrats to mobilize their own core constituencies, particularly young people and nonwhite voters. 

The result is that Trump attracts much less support than his predecessors did—in terms of approval rating and potential support for reelection—among voters who say they are satisfied with the economy.

Because — to put it mildly — rational persuasion isn’t the 45th president’s style, he will likely supplement his base-tending with savage attacks on his Democratic opponent aimed at making her or him equally unpleasant to swing voters. If 2016 was any guide, he’ll supplement this strategy with overt and covert efforts to suppress Democratic turnout (apparently a major focus of Trump’s social media strategy) by repeating intra-party Democratic complaints about the ultimate nominee. His Republican allies at the state level, of course, will seek to suppress Democratic turnout in more literal ways by planting mines along the path to the ballot box for young and minority voters.

It may or may not work, but it’s a hell of a way to campaign for reelection when you’ve claimed to have restored American greatness. http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/06/trump-is-helping-democrats-mobilize-against-him.html

13. Sarah Jones: Elizabeth Warren Wants to Ban ‘Corrupt and Inhumane’ Private Prisons

Senator Elizabeth Warren is now running on what people have been saying about her for months: She’s got a plan for that — for student loan debt, for expensive child care, and now, for private prisons. On Friday, she released a new plan that would, she says, ban private prisons. Warren isn’t the only Democratic presidential candidate to criticize private prisons, or to suggest an end to their use. As the Los Angeles Times reported on Friday, Senator Kamala Harris has also criticized them, despite her troubling record as California’s attorney general. And Senator Bernie Sanders wrote on Medium that we must “end the existence of the private for-profit prison industry.”

In her own Medium post, Warren hits a similar note. She says she’d end “the use of federal private detention facilities by ending all contracts that the Bureau of Prisons, ICE, and the U.S. Marshals Service have with private detention providers.” Local governments would lose public-safety funding if they failed to use public prison facilities. Warren also pledges to block private-prison contractors “from charging incarcerated and detained people for basic services they need,” including phone calls to their families and over-the-counter medication, and to force them to end “exploitative price markups” on commissary items. She would implement several new transparency measures. She would also make contractors subject to FOIA, and appoint an independent monitor at the Department of Justice to investigate conditions in prisons.

“Washington hands billions over to corporations profiting off of inhumane detention and incarceration policies while ignoring the families that are destroyed in the process,” she writes. “We need to call that out for what it is: corruption.” https://www.thecut.com/2019/06/elizabeth-warren-private-prisons-ban-plan.html

14. Jonathan Chait: Manafort Promised Sean Hannity He Wouldn’t Flip on Trump

Robert Mueller was famously unable to establish a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. Possibly this was because no such conspiracy took place, but it is also very possible that Mueller was thwarted by the refusal of the two campaign aides most closely involved with Russia’s election operation, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, to cooperate with his probe. Mueller found that Manafort passed 75 pages of polling data to a suspected Russian intelligence agent during the campaign, but couldn’t figure out what the data was used for.

Newly-released text messages between Manafort and Fox News host Sean Hannity in 2017 and 2018 give more insight into Manafort’s relationship with Trump, and why he may have withheld cooperation. In the texts, Manafort repeatedly lavishes superlative praise on Hannity, who in addition to hosting slavish pro-Trump propaganda, also gives the president private advice frequently. “You are so important to saving our country,” Manafort says, at one point complaining that in a fair world, Hannity would get a Pulitzer prize.

Manafort repeatedly assures Hannity (and, therefore, Trump) that he won’t flip on the president. “I won’t give in,” he insists. At one point, Hannity asks why Manafort does not “get a sweetheart deal like [Rick] Gates?,” his former partner who cooperated with Mueller in exchange for a dramatically reduced prison sentence. Manafort replies, “They would want me to give up dt [President Trump] or family, especially jk [Jared Kushner]. I would never do that.” Hannity tells Manafort to “stay strong.” http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/06/in-texts-manafort-told-hannity-he-wouldnt-flip-on-trump.html

15. Eric Lutz: Trump Claims He’s Being Disappeared On Twitter

Donald Trump on Wednesday took a brief respite from ginning up fear over immigrants, threatening Iran, and lying about Robert Mueller to discuss another issue near and dear to his heart: His Twitter account. In a rambling interview with the Fox Business network, the extremely online president whined that he was being censored on the social media platform, claiming—naturally without evidence—that shadowy forces are making it “very hard for people to join me on Twitter,” and that he’s lost followers because the company is “biased toward Democrats.”

“What they did to me on Twitter is incredible,” Trump said, which is true only in the sense that his tweets literally lack credibility. “I have millions and millions of followers, but I will tell you, they make it very hard for people to join me on Twitter and they make it very much harder for me to get out the message.” Saying that “these people”—meaning, in theory, Jack Dorsey and company—are “all Democrats,” the president posited that he would pick up “five times more followers” were he to suddenly announce that he’s a liberal. “I was picking up a hundred-thousand followers every few days,” Trump told host Maria Bartiromo, who appeared to take the president’s self-serving conspiracy theorizing at face value. “Then, all of the sudden it stopped,” Trump continued, though noting—paradoxically—that he is “hotter now than he was a number of months ago.” https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/06/trump-claims-hes-being-disappeared-on-twitter-fox-business-interview

16. Jack Shafer: With Iran, Trump Wants to Be Arsonist and Firefighter

Proving his excellence once again at serving as an arsonist and the leader of the fire brigade at the same time, President Donald Trump, who has been publicly spoiling for a military scrap with Iran, took credit this morning for both ordering a military strike on three of the country’s military installations and then canceling the mission 10 minutes before go time. Crisis averted!

This is far from the first time Trump has run this play. As David A. Graham of the Atlantic and others have noted, he delights in conjuring and intensifying crises—a lawless border, a national crime wave, threats of a government shutdown, threats of new tariffs, threats to oust the special counsel, the North Korea situation in which he promised “fire and fury,” et al.—and then riding in on a white golf cart at the last moment to head off the approaching calamity.

Trump’s usual shtick is to paper over the problem of his creation and then declare victory, but this week he added a biblical dimension to the drama-making. First, he assumed the persona of the vengeful god, commanding an attack on Iran in retaliation for its shoot-down of a $200 million Navy surveillance drone. Then he ducked into the wardrobe for a costume change to emerge in the cloak of the Prince of Peace and called off the strike. Why the 180-degree mood change? Because as he told Chuck Todd of NBC News, he learned it would kill 150 Iranians and he didn’t think the death toll was “proportionate” to the Iranian action. Or perhaps Trump just enjoys the sensation of changing his mind. Citing a source close to the president, the New York Times reported Friday that Trump “was pleased with Thursday night’s events because he liked the ‘command’ of approving the strike, but also the decisiveness of calling it off.”

Anyone who doesn’t want to see war with Iran would shout “halleluiah” to Trump’s last-minute stand-down—except, like many of his hasty rationalizations, the Iranian one seems crafted from pick-up sticks and collapses at first touch. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/06/21/iran-trump-strikes-arsonist-firefighters-227204

17. Eric Levitz: With Trump’s Migrant Camps, the History We Should Fear Repeating Is Our Own

On Monday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told her Instagram followers that the White House is “running concentration camps” on our nation’s southern border — and that those who believe “ ‘Never again’ means something” must oppose Donald Trump’s “fascist presidency.”

Republicans, and many Jewish-American organizations, then excoriated the congresswoman for (supposedly) demeaning the memory of the 6 million Jews who “were exterminated in the Holocaust.”

For all the differences between the predicament of Europe’s Jews in the 1930s and Central American asylum seekers in 2019, there are also commonalities. In each case, governments demonized vulnerable out-groups, warehoused them in isolated camps, and deliberately subjected them to inhumane treatment to advance a racist conception of the national good. The potential benefit of highlighting these areas of overlap is obvious: Analogizing a contemporary injustice to a world-historic atrocity may help complacent Americans recognize the moral urgency of combating the former. By all appearances, AOC’s analogy has done precisely this. http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/06/aoc-holocaust-why-migrant-detention-centers-are-concentration-camps-explained.html

18. Matt Stieb: Everything We Know About the Inhumane Conditions at Migrant Detention Camps

Conditions in a McAllen, Texas Facility “Could Be Compared to Torture Facilities”

Sevier, a private-practice physician in the Rio Grande Valley, was granted access to a facility in McAllen, Texas, after attorneys discovered a flu outbreak that sent five infants to a neonatal intensive-care unit. At the detention center — the largest such Border Patrol facility in the country — Sevier examined 39 children under the age of 18 facing conditions including “extreme cold temperatures, lights on 24 hours a day, no adequate access to medical care, basic sanitation, water, or adequate food.” All 39 exhibited signs of trauma.

Sevier told ABC News that the teenagers she observed were not able to wash their hands while in custody, which she called “tantamount to intentionally causing the spread of disease.” Teen mothers in custody described to her not being able to clean their children’s bottles: “To deny parents the ability to wash their infant’s bottles is unconscionable and could be considered intentional mental and emotional abuse,” Sevier wrote. In summary, she determined that “the conditions within which they are held could be compared to torture facilities.”

Children “Had to Sleep on the Floor … as Punishment for Losing the Comb”

Outside of El Paso, attorney and children’s-rights advocate Warren Binfordgained access to a Border Patrol facility where 351 migrant children were detained; over 100 were under 13, and the youngest was just over 4 months. Binford reported that many of the kids had been held for three weeks or longer, and that guards had created a “child boss” who was rationed extra food in an attempt to control the other children. Binford told The New Yorker about the Clint, Texas facility’s treatment of a lice outbreak. http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/06/the-inhumane-conditions-at-migrant-detention-camps.html

19.  Bess Levin: The Trump Admin Would Rather You Not Know Climate Change Affects The Food Supply

Donald Trump is not a big fan of science, math, or data analysis, particularly the kind that hurt his arguments for, say, cutting the number of refugees the U.S. admits to a historic low or claiming that climate change doesn’t exist and the atmosphere would be lucky to be on the receiving end of more carbon dioxide. Unfortunately, some people still believe in scientific studies and tend to get upset when they show the dire consequences of doing nothing about increasing levels of planet-warming pollution, or telling coal plants to let ‘er rip. So, in an attempt to keep the bellyachers at bay, the administration continues to simply bury all the bad news.

Last month, the New York Times reported that the EPA planned to sweep thousands of projected deaths from its Clean Power Plan replacement under the rug by altering “the way it calculates the health risks of air pollution.” Also this spring, James Reilly, the White House-appointed director of the United States Geological Survey, ordered scientific assessments that only project the impact of climate change through 2040, rather then the end of the century. Scientists have warned that doing so will give a “misleading picture because the biggest effects of current emissions will be felt after,” but, obviously, that’s all part of the plan. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/06/usda-climate-change-reports

20. Joshua A. Geltzer and Neal K. Katyal: The Travel Ban Shows What Happens When the Supreme Court Trusts Trump

A year ago, the Supreme Court upheld, by a 5-4 vote, President Trump’s imposition of a ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries. The court’s decision was gravely disappointing the day it was handed down. A year later, it looks even worse — particularly because it rested on three premises pushed by Trump Administration lawyers that have proven thoroughly unfounded.

The false premises should act as a cautionary tale: This term’s Supreme Court case on whether to allow a citizenship question on the 2020 census was similarly argued on what may turn out to be false premises.

In the travel ban case, first, the more conservative justices emphasized its temporary nature. The decision acknowledged that the provision of federal immigration law relied on by President Trump refers to a president’s authority to “suspend the entry” of foreigners to the United States; it further acknowledged that the word “suspend” means something temporary rather than permanent. Moreover, the majority opinion emphasized that, according to the same federal law, the president could maintain the ban only “for such period as he shall deem necessary.” The ban was thus upheld as something merely temporary — as required by law.
Yet here we are, a year since the court upheld Mr. Trump’s third version of the ban, almost two years since that version took effect and nearly 29 months since Mr. Trump issued the ban in its original form. The ban upheld by the court remains in full effect, and there’s not a whisper from the White House that it will be repealed. What the court’s majority accepted as temporary looks increasingly permanent. This was exactly the risk that a bipartisan group of former top officials — like William Webster, Jack Danforth, Christie Whitman and others — warned. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/25/opinion/supreme-court-travel-ban-trump.html

21. NY Times Editorial: There’s No Excuse for Mistreating Children at the Border. Here’s What To Do About It.

From his promise of a “beautiful wall” to his false alarms about caravans of alien marauders at the gate, President Trump has exploited immigration as his marquee issue. He is right, there is a crisis: Not of undocumented immigrants or thousands seeking refuge, as the president would have it, but a crisis of American values, a crisis of America’s premier tradition as a welcoming and humane haven. A crisis Mr. Trump has created, even as Congress has fueled it.

That is not to deny that comprehensive immigration reform is urgently needed, as is funding for the overstretched facilities where undocumented immigrants, and most horribly the children of undocumented immigrants, are held.

But, by his divisive, incoherent and barbaric policies, Mr. Trump has only made agreeing on an approach to immigration in the United States far more difficult. He has done so by systematically creating a false narrative of immigrants as job-stealing criminals, by insisting that there is a crisis of illegal immigration where there is none and, most maliciously, by dreaming up schemes to torment these people in the perverse notion that this would deter others from trying to reach the United States.

The most appalling of these has been the separation of children from their parents and detaining them in conditions no child anywhere should suffer, and certainly not children in the care of the American government. At a recent hearing before a federal appeals court in San Francisco, judges were stunned by the administration’s arguments that children sleeping on concrete floors in frigid, overcrowded cells, without soap or toothbrushes, were being kept in “safe and sanitary” facilities, as required by law. “You’re really going to stand up and tell us that being able to sleep isn’t a question of safe and sanitary conditions?” asked one judge. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/24/opinion/border-kids-immigration-help.html

22. Hiroko Tabuchi and Steve Eder: A Plan to Mine the Minnesota Wilderness Hit a Dead End. Then Trump Became President.

Beginning in the early weeks of Mr. Trump’s presidency, the administration worked at a high level to remove roadblocks to the proposed copper mine a Chilean conglomerate wanted to build near a pristine wilderness area in Minnesota, government emails and calendars show, overruling concerns that it could harm the Boundary Waters, a vast landscape of federally protected lakes and forests along the border with Canada.

For the family of the billionaire Andrónico Luksic, which controls the Chilean conglomerate, the policy reversals could provide a big boost to its mining business. Since the change in administration, the Antofagasta subsidiary Twin Metals Minnesota has significantly ramped up its lobbying in Washington, according to federal disclosures, spending $900,000.

But the mining project’s breakthrough, already unpopular with environmentalists, has drawn additional scrutiny and criticism because of an unusual connection between Mr. Luksic and two of Mr. Trump’s family members.

Just before Mr. Trump took office, Mr. Luksic added a personal investment to his portfolio: a $5.5 million house in Washington. Mr. Luksic bought the house with the intention of renting it to a wealthy new arrival to Mr. Trump’s Washington, according to Rodrigo Terré, chairman of Mr. Luksic’s family investment office, which handled the purchase.

The idea worked. Even before the purchase was final, real estate agents had lined up renters: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/25/climate/trump-minnesota-mine.html

23. Washington Post Editorial: America must listen to E. Jean Carroll. It’s clear Trump won’t.

TRUMP, following the latest of more than a dozen allegations of sexual assault against him, did not say that he would never touch a woman without her consent. He said, instead, “She’s not my type.”

The crudeness and cruelty of this response to a woman’s recounting of trauma are not surprising. Mr. Trump has said similar things before. But neither the president’s callousness nor advice columnist E. Jean Carroll’s accusation in New York magazine that he attacked her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room 23 years ago can be met with a shrug.

Ms. Carroll says Mr. Trump, in the fall of 1995 or spring of 1996, asked for help buying lingerie for “a girl.” Then, in the dressing room, she says, he pushed her against the wall and pulled down her tights and assaulted her. Ms. Carroll did not report the incident to the police, but she did tell two close friends at the time, both of whom have corroborated her account. The Manhattan department store no longer has security tapes from that time.

Mr. Trump claims that Ms. Carroll, in addition to not being his type, is “totally lying.” As a matter of principle, everyone deserves a presumption of innocence. But in Mr. Trump’s case, that has to be tempered by what we know. We know that Mr. Trump routinely traffics in falsehoods. We know that he has shown contempt for the law in many contexts. And we know that Mr. Trump has boasted about assaulting women — grabbing them, as he said during a 2005 conversation on an “Access Hollywood” bus, “by the p---y.” In this context, Ms. Carroll’s allegation is consistent, credible — and horrifying. She writes in her essay published last Friday, “He opens the overcoat, unzips his pants, and, forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me.” Recall Mr. Trump’s words: “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/america-must-listen-to-e-jean-carroll-its-clear-trump-wont/2019/06/25/4bf5467a-9762-11e9-916d-9c61607d8190_story.html

24. Dana Milbank: Trump demands subservience and gets incompetence

The Trump administration, if you haven’t noticed, is undergoing one of its frequent paroxysms of incompetence.

On the border, the administration holds hundreds of migrant children in deplorable conditions: filthy, frightened and hungry. The president ordered and then called off a massive immigration raid, and, in the middle of the chaos, the administration’s top border security official resigned Tuesday. 

Overseas, the administration is stumbling toward war with Iran, ordering and then canceling an attack. Iran on Tuesday said the White House is “afflicted by mental retardation,” and Trump responded by threatening Iran with “obliteration.”

Here in Washington, Trump just appointed a new press secretary for the third time and a White House communications director for the seventh time. He refuses to say whether he has confidence in his FBI director, his third, and he’s publicly feuding with the Federal Reserve chairman he appointed over whether Trump can fire him. Meantime, Trump is defying a Trump-appointed watchdog who called for the firing of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway for illegal political activities, and he’s brushing off the latest credible accusation of sexual misconduct by saying the accuser is “not my type.” And Trump’s protocol chief is quitting on the eve of the Group of 20 summit, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday, amid allegations that he carried a whip in the office. 

The chaos takes on many forms, but most of it stems from a single cause: Trump’s determination to run the country like “The Apprentice.” 

The common thread to the mayhem and bungling is Trump’s insistence on staffing his government with officials serving in temporary, “acting” roles at the pleasure of the president and without the stature or protection of Senate confirmation. This allows Trump to demand absolute subservience from appointees. Because he can replace them at will, they don’t contradict him. But this tentative status also means they lack authority within their agencies and the stature to stand up to Trump when he’s wrong. 

In other words, the administration is run by people on perpetual tryout, perpetual probation, unable to make long-term plans or to command the respect of those they (nominally) lead. The Federal Aviation Administration, which botched its handling of the Boeing 737 Max crashes, has been led by acting officials. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, which bungled the recall of Fisher-Price’s Rock ’n Play bassinet, has been run by an acting chairwoman. (She announced last week she will step down at the end of her term in October.)

Now, Trump’s “actings” are causing babies to go hungry, and they may soon bumble us into war with Iran. But that’s okay, because Trump likes the “flexibility.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-demands-subservience-and-gets-incompetence/2019/06/25/ec69b692-978d-11e9-830a-21b9b36b64ad_story.html

25. Alexandra Petri: Not my type

“She’s not my type,” the president says, in response to an excerpt from writer E. Jean Carroll’s recent book, accusing him of sexual assault. “Number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened.”

I am sick to death of this, this brazenness, this insult heaped upon injury. This conflation of two things that are not the same. That the words he says to dismiss this are “not my type” — as though a violation would have been a compliment. As though to be told the horrible things a man would do in the name of attraction is flattery, not threat.

There is a door in my head behind which I am screaming all the time. That this man is president, that a man we think capable of this is president, that this will dent nothing, because this is what is expected. That these are the words that issue from him instead of a proper denial. That he thinks to say he would not rape a woman is an insult. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/06/25/not-my-type/

26. Jennifer Rubin: Trump has no excuse for mistreatment of children

The Post reports, “U.S. immigration and health authorities, facing what they say is a financial and logistical crush, have scrambled to move hundreds of migrant children out of an overcrowded Border Patrol station after lawyers who visited the facility last week described scenes of sick and dirty children without their parents, and inconsolable toddlers in the care of other children.” Nevertheless, “the agency had to return 100 children to the station [in Clint, Tex.,] Tuesday because of a lack of bed space in U.S. shelters and insufficient funding to expand facilities for children.”

President Trump as usual refuses to accept responsibility for his administration’s ineptness and cruelty. He insists the Obama administration was the one to start separating children from their families. But, once more, the Obama administration did not create a zero-tolerance policy that resulted in the detention of thousands of children, a situation the administration has never sufficiently prepared for.

Trump also blames Congress for the intolerable conditions. However, cumulative months have been spent on a government shutdown, snatching money from defense to build a useless wall, threatening Mexico with tariffs (and then negotiating a largely empty deal), slashing aid to Central American countries from which the migrants are fleeing, threatening raids on noncriminal illegal immigrants and cooking up plans to ship the asylum seekers elsewhere. Had the administration put such nonsense aside and requested a stand-alone bill to greatly increase the number of immigration judges (thereby speeding up the processing of asylum requests) and expand facilities — or simply discontinue automatic incarceration of innocent women and children — we would not be faced with a human rights disaster of Trump’s own making. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/06/25/trump-has-no-excuse-mistreatment-children/


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