As Above, So Below: More Repub-Enabled Tragedy Waiting to Happen


 
Wonkette summarizes J.J. McNab’s latest depressing domestic-terrorism news:

In early June, a conspiracy nutter, pretend veterans advocate, and wannabe rightwing star named Lewis Arthur got himself about two weeks’ worth of social media fame after he decided that an abandoned homeless camp in the desert near Tucson, Arizona, was actually a child sex trafficking site, complete with a “dungeon” and a “rape tree.” No evidence whatsoever, but he seemed so certain about it that some local TV stations that should have known better gave it coverage, and the wingnuttosphere glommed on to it as the latest “proof” of the vast imaginary pedophile network that started with #Pizzagate and later morphed into the insane QAnon troll drama that the kids are so into these days. The Internet, which has an attention span shorter than Donald Trump’s, moved on to other things, but instead of gracefully fading away like Numa Numa videos, Arthur is determined to regain his brief moment of online glory. He seems determined to be a complete asshole about it, and may just end up getting people killed.

As the invaluable militia-watcher JJ MacNab explains, a month after his brief fling with being the hottest new shit in wingnut world, Arthur finds himself with stagnating online support, mostly because “People have gotten bored watching hour after hour of Lewis pointing to trash and calling it proof that traffickers were there just before he and his crew ran them off.” …

As MacNab notes, Arthur seems to have decided on a new tack: Instead of looking for the child sex traffickers that he can’t seem to find, Arthur and his “Veterans on Patrol” (a group Arthur originally started to help homeless vets; he himself has never served but is very big on military-speak) will now start going after illegal immigrants, because obviously a bunch of loons in the desert looking for migrants to harass will bring an end to the child trafficking, too.

Lewis Arthur has a real cool plan: He’s gonna go out and find every single cache of supplies left to help migrants, “confiscate” the water, food, and medical supplies, and then place them in national parks and monuments (and maybe national forests — he seems unclear on the concept) so they can be used by Americans. At one point he claims he and his group will “re-open” the national parks, which he seems to think have been shut down by the constant flow of human traffickers and drug mules all over public lands…

Long story short: Lewis Arthur certainly isn’t going to be setting up any water stations in national parks. But the damn fool’s likely to destroy water supplies for migrants crossing the desert in Arizona’s summer heat, and that may very possibly lead to people dying. You wouldn’t be amiss in sending a few dollars to Humane Borders, which has this crazy idea that even though crossing the border is illegal, it shouldn’t be treated as a death sentence.

As the NYTimes is bound to assure us if — Goddess forbid, when — Arthur’s nutball stunting causes an actual tragedy, it’s not as though Donald Trump / Paul Ryan / Mitch McConnell were directly responsible. But Trump is the man who gave Arthur and his fellows explicit permission to “knock the shit outta” everyone not a bigoted xenophobe… and the entire Republican coalition are the ones whose endless energy have been directed, not at reducing the harm their Dear Leader can do, but at guaranteeing maximal damage for their own personal power.



Seriously: Abolish ICE (Or At Least Demand It Be Abolished)

The Washington Post, yesterday:

It started as a candlelight vigil for immigrant children who had been separated from their parents while crossing into the United States. A few dozen demonstrators gathered in front of the nondescript Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in southwest Portland on June 17.

After the candles were blown out, some of the demonstrators decided to stay, stumbling onto a more effective form of protest with a simple line of reasoning: ICE cannot deport people if immigration judges, lawyers and litigants cannot physically enter its facilities.

A week later, the number of people outside the facility has ballooned, blockading the government building around the clock with their bodies, hastily scrawled poster board signs and a tandem bicycle. By Monday morning, a Federal Protective Services spokesman told The Washington Post, the only people inside the facility were government officials making sure the doors were securely locked.

Occupy Ice PDX was born. Buoyed by their success, organizers spread the word to like-minded people in other immigration hubs.

“We invite the rest of the country to join this movement, to gather and occupy your local ICE facility until it’s shut down,” one message said. “Bring candles, signs, noisemakers and tents. Most importantly, bring yourself. Even if you can only come down for a day, for an hour, your presence is important and needed. It takes ALL of us working together to stop this machine of terror.”…

 
It’s riling up the racists already:



Open Thread: Choosing to Stand Up for Decency

When I first posted about Trump’s latest hate-rally, I assumed “They’re not even people, they’re animals” would get lost in the non-stop blizzard of Trumpian malfeasance. Kinda pleased (as far as I can be as a devout Cynic) to have been wrong about that…


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Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Maybe They’ll Call It ‘Brown Apron’

Mick Mulvaney’s brill idea seems to have evaporated overnight, but Repubs never give up on a proposal that looks like a chance to screw The Undeserving while allowing a little free-market looting… er, “privatization”… of the common treasury. So I figure we’ll soon be seeing sketches of the proposed Versace-designed uniforms for the troops of the ‘SNAP czar’ in charge of seeing those people are humiliated and starved for the crime of being poor:

The Trump administration is proposing a major shake-up in one of the country’s most important “safety net” programs, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. Under the proposal, most SNAP recipients would lose much of their ability to choose the food they buy with their SNAP benefits.

The proposal is included in the Trump administration budget request for fiscal year 2019. It would require approval from Congress…

Currently, SNAP beneficiaries get money loaded onto an EBT card they can use to buy what they want as long as it falls under the guidelines. The administration says the move is a “cost-effective approach” with “no loss in food benefits to participants.”

The USDA believes that state governments will be able to deliver this food at much less cost than SNAP recipients currently pay for food at retail stores — thus reducing the overall cost of the SNAP program by $129 billion over the next 10 years.

This and other changes in the SNAP program, according to the Trump administration, will reduce the SNAP budget by $213 billion over those years — cutting the program by almost 30 percent.

Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, a hunger advocacy group that also helps clients access food-assistance services, said the administration’s plan left him baffled. “They have managed to propose nearly the impossible, taking over $200 billion worth of food from low-income Americans while increasing bureaucracy and reducing choices,” Berg says…

It isn’t clear how billions of dollars’ worth of food each year would be distributed to millions of SNAP recipients who live all over the country, including dense urban areas and sparsely populated rural regions. The budget says states will have “substantial flexibility in designing the food box delivery system through existing infrastructure, partnerships or commercial/retail delivery services.”

Critics of the proposal said distributing that much food presents a logistical nightmare. “Among the problems, it’s going to be costly and take money out of the [SNAP] program from the administrative side. It’s going to stigmatize people when they have to go to certain places to pick up benefits,” says Jim Weill, president of the nonprofit Food Research and Action Center…

According to Dean, from CBPP, the Trump administration wants to trim an additional $80 billion from the SNAP program by cutting off about 4 million people who currently receive food assistance. Most of them live in states that have decided to loosen the program’s eligibility requirements slightly. Under the administration’s proposal, states would no longer be able to do so…

Of course, the biggest beneficiaries of SNAP are American farmers and local food retailers, both of whom need those ‘food stamp moochers’ as paying customers.

For more background, Simon Maloy at Media Matters has a good summary of the “decades of conservative lies about welfare” behind “Trump’s SNAP attack”.

(Fifty-four more excellent questions from Lowrey here.)


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Thursday Morning Open Thread: Thoughts & Prayers?


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The news stays this bad, people are gonna revive the old superstition about the health of a nation depending on the health of its king. Given the season, Trump’s handlers should probably be suspicious of any invitations for him to visit an oak grove, Bohemian or not…


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Apart from doing what we can to help those most in need, what’s on the agenda for the day?
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Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: The Loneliest Monster

The Media Village Idiots at Politico are trying on a new narrative: Trump is just a uniquely “self-contained” individual, who doesn’t respond to normal primate responses like ‘friendship’ and ’empathy’. He’s not really a monster, he’s just isolated, poor thing!

As someone who also has trouble connecting with humans, I will attest that this is the biggest load of shit since Ringling Brothers disbanded its animal acts. Trump, like any other circus performer, is an entertainer. He’s spent his entire life crafting a “Donald Trump” character, a media-friendly mock-up of everyone’s nightmare Big Boss Business Guy… the guy behind the curtain is just a meatsack that craves familiarity and doesn’t want to be touched.

The tragedy, for the rest of us, is that just as the aging monster’s physical and mental decline became inevitable, a confluence of Republican venality, American stupidity, and Russian cupidity propelled the Donald Trump Show into the White House. Great news for the parasites, not so much for the rest of us:

He’s increasingly isolated in the White House, but for Donald Trump, being alone is not a liability. It’s where he’s most comfortable…

His critics might see his growing isolation as a product of his political inexperience—an aversion to the norms of the legislative process, a penchant for topsy-turvy management. But as unprecedented as this might be in the annals of the West Wing, it’s merely a continuation of a lifelong pattern of behavior for Trump. Take away the Pennsylvania Avenue address, the never-ending list of domestic and international crises, and the couldn’t-be-higher geopolitical stakes—and this looks very much like … Trump throughout his entire existence. Isolated is how he’s always operated…

“One of the loneliest people I’ve ever met,” biographer Tim O’Brien said in an interview. “He lacks the emotional and sort of psychological architecture a person needs to build deep relationships with other people.”

It’s been this way always, because he’s always been foundationally, virulently untrusting. “There’s a wall Donald has that he never lets people penetrate,” a former associate told me. Trump has a dark, dour view of humanity. He considers the world “ruthless,” “brutal” and “cruel.” Through this zero-sum, dog-eat-dog lens, friends aren’t friends—there’s no such thing. “They act nice to your face, but underneath they’re out to kill you,” he wrote in his 2007 book, Think Big. “… they want your job, they want your house, they want your money, they want your wife …” Why he’s like this is the subject of vigorous discussion among psychology experts. The deep-seated influence of his formidable father? The wound of the alcohol-fueled death of his more mild-mannered older brother? Simple genetics? Trump is not self-reflective—“I don’t like to analyze myself because I might not like what I see,” he told a biographer several years back—but he can be self-aware. And on this front, he’s been quite clear, and remarkably consistent.
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Bread and Circuses

While gathering kettle corn and assembling beer bingo supplies for the Comey Show, let’s keep in mind that the spectacle means jack and shit, aside from its entertainment value. Trump essentially confessed to Lester Holt that he shit-canned Comey because of the RussiaGate investigation. At least one Republican operative has admitted he used information from Russian hackers to tailor campaign outreach to win a tight House race — and said he’d do it again.

On the strength of what are acknowledged facts right now, Republicans in congress who wanted to act in the interests of the American people rather than their donors could work with Democrats to rid us of the manifestly incompetent and embarrassing buffoon in the Oval Office. They could work with Democrats to get to the bottom of Putin’s meddling in our election and force the resignation of anyone who benefited from collusion with a hostile foreign power (looking at you, Brian Mast [R-FL]). But they aren’t, and they won’t.

Valued commenter Ruemara eloquently described this reality in a thread yesterday:

Let’s get honest. There isn’t a damned thing that would get the GOP to impeach this American fascist regime. They could (and are) very much implicated in colluding with a foreign power, they’ve already been shown to be undermining fair & free elections in America and every newspaper could have bombshell testimony that Trump gave the nuclear codes, and the NSA wifi password to Russia and Saudi Arabia and all the GOP would do is justify it. Not to mention that fuckheaded base of craven peasants that are key.

They are going to crack down on voting in the black, latino and young communities. Meanwhile, Dems and progressives are still humping Wilmer’s leg. We need your help to get us our votes. There is no savior coming out of these hearings. We need to know, but the work is not about knowing this. It was obvious from last May. Systemic voter suppression is why Clinton lost. Illegal voter tampering aided, but it wouldn’t have worked without the blind eye to local seats endemic to liberal & progressive voters and failure to act with full force on getting people registered, and out to vote.

If I sound angry, you’re goddamned right. Watching yet another person of color get choked to near death on video because the husband(!) of an off-duty sheriff felt he had a right to chokehold him until he stopped moving, while white people blocked access to the pair and tried to block them from taping the assault, it fucking makes me all the more aware of how the results of the 2016 election are affecting my communities. We pay first in our blood while everyone else gets to be “tired” and waiting for someone to say just the right goddamned thing to move people who’ve been proven to have the ethics of a worm.

Nothing coming out of this week will save this country from a party in control who have abandoned the principles of democracy. They’ve been showing that’s who they are for years. Yes, pay attention to what’s going on in the hearing, but don’t look for some grand denouement of criminality brought to justice. That’s movies and tv. This is real life and the people in charge will glad break this country down to its evil roots of terror, disease and poverty for everyone except a bare few. And enough voters are stupid enough to believe that they’re part of the few.

Ruemara is right; the Republicans aren’t going to do the right thing — they’re corrupt shitweasels who will countenance any attack on democracy, any loss of national credibility, any destruction of our institutions to hang onto power. The brain-dead morons who are sticking with Trump even as he schemes to take away their healthcare so he can give himself and the billionaires in his cabinet tax cuts aren’t going to suddenly gain 50 IQ points, lose their racism/sexism/xenophobia and stop punching themselves in the nuts.

So it’s up to us to turn the collaborators out of congress, and one of the best ways to do that is to counter voter suppression and gerrymandering efforts. Ruemara mentioned voteriders.org and flippable.org. Those organizations focus on getting IDs to folks the GOP deliberately disenfranchises and swinging state-level races so that statehouses reflect the political will of the voters rather than the Koch Bros.

Got any other ideas about how to make this happen? Here’s mine: Go to your local Democratic Party meetings and advocate for this approach. Volunteer to register voters, and when there’s an election — any election — volunteer to get out the vote. Donate to organizations that are taking on the vote thieves and gerrymanderers.

Meanwhile, enjoy the show.