Breaking: Flight Delays – Staffing Issues

The Federal Aviation Administration halted flights into La Guardia airport in New York City on Friday amid a shortage of air traffic control staff, according to multiple reports.

The partial government shutdown has impacted air traffic controllers, who are deemed essential workers and have to work without pay.

Newark and Philadelphia reportedly are also stopping all incoming flights, according to Bloomberg.

Various reports of Reagan being closed but reopened.

Stay safe if you’re flying today.



Falwell and the Pool Boy*

*(Alternate Title: Michael Cohen: Zelig for Scumbags)

So, while we wait for the next irruption of lethal folly from Dear Hairpiece, how’s about a little fun from the Evangelosphere:

The prominent evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. has for the first time acknowledged putting up $1.8 million for a business venture managed by a young pool attendant whom he and his wife befriended during a stay at a luxury hotel in 2012.

This story has been kicking around for a while:

BuzzFeed News first reported in May on a lawsuit that claimed the Falwells had developed a “friendly relationship” with Giancarlo Granda, then 21 years old, at the lavish Fontainebleau Miami Beach, flying him in a private jet, offering “financial assistance,” and ultimately setting him up in business. [All links in quotes are from the originals.]

“Friendly relationship” is a nice way of putting…whatever.

I got no problem with whatever connection either or both professional Christians and Mr. Granda may have.  But there is a sinner, stone and glass house problem here, and I’d say the good (Narr: he was not good) Mr. Falwell is up to his neck in “got some ‘splainin’ to do.”

What makes this all a bit more than the usual sexual fear-mongering-Christianist-hypocrite schandenfreudal moment is this. Falwell was famously the first major Talibangical leader to back Trump, giving him a venue at Liberty (sic!) University and a powerful endorsement.  This didn’t come out of the blue:  “Trump visited Liberty University Sept. 24, 2012, to give the convocation address.”

The timing was convenient:

Six months after evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife befriended a Miami hotel pool attendant in 2012, the young man was introduced to Donald Trump during a visit to the large religious school Falwell runs, Liberty University, according to a photograph sent to BuzzFeed News.

Guess who connects Falwell, the pool boy, and the failed president.

No prizes for guessing Michael Freaking Cohen.

Why was Cohen there? Turns out…

Cohen was an acquaintance of Falwell’s and helped arrange Falwell’s milestone endorsement of Trump during the 2016 election campaign, BuzzFeed News reported, citing a high-ranking official at Liberty University.

But not to worry:

As BuzzFeed News had previously reported, a source close to Falwell said he was “sure” Falwell had discussed the Granda case with Cohen prior to his unexpected decision to lend his backing to Trump. There is no evidence that these discussions played any part in the endorsement.

That’s their story, and I’d say they’d best stick to it.

Open thread!

Image:  William Morris Hunt, The Bathers, 1877

 



Criminalizing Kindness

We are governed by monsters:

The Trump administration has arrested 170 undocumented immigrants who came forward to try to take migrant children out of government custody, federal officials said Monday. More than 100 of those arrested had no criminal record.

This is pure Trump/Sessions cruelty-as-policy:

The arrests follow a move by President Donald Trump’s administration earlier this year that allowed immigration authorities to examine the criminal background and legal status of anyone who steps forward to sponsor unaccompanied migrant children — usually parents or close relatives already in the U.S. — as well as any other adults living in their home.

That rule allowed ICE to collect biometric data, including fingerprints, of the sponsors as well as other adults in the home.

The obvious consequences of this move are two-fold.  For one:

Advocates for migrant children argue that increased background checks and arrests will scare away potential sponsors, resulting in more children being stuck in long-term federal custody while they seek legal permission to stay in the U.S. An adult’s immigration status is irrelevant to whether a home is safe for a child, and a child’s welfare should be the only focus of such background checks, advocates argue.

My only quibble with Tal Kopan’s writing above is that, while I get while the conventions of journalism dictate this kind of attribution, it’s not just advocates who argue that the threat of arrest scares people away from taking a given action…pretty much everyone gets the point here.

In any event, terrorizing would be loving care-takers of these unaccompanied kids has an immedate corollary: they will be — I won’t say cared-for, but warehoused by a government and an agency actively, intentionally, purposefully, unable to do a good job of it:

Children’s advocates fear that conditions for migrant youths could worsen as the number in federal custody grows. The Health and Human Services care system was intended to be a bridge for often traumatized children into a more stable home while they sought legal status in the U.S. Advocates fear the administration is treating it like a penal system.

The increase has been beyond what the network of shelters across the country can accommodate.

Again, the word “fear” might be more accurately replaced by “expect” or “are documenting”…but the point is clear enough.

To recap: the US government holds children they cannot care for — in some, perhaps many cases, kids that our border polizei stole from their parents.  They actively seek out members of the public who can care for these kids — who need not just food and shelter and affection, but schooling and all the daily life of growing up, almost all of which a US internment camp (never call it a Kinder Konzentrationslager) can provide.  Then they destroy dozens more families by arresting those willing to extend their household and family to include a child in need.

Donald Trump — but more, everyone in the Republican Party who does not recoil in horror from this depravity — are moral monsters.  And that is, for now, every nationally elected member of the GOP.  The Republicans run the House (for a couple of weeks more) and the Senate…they could say that no, this is a step too far.  They have not.  They are complicit; accessories and co-conspirators.

I am not a Christian, but I know that a great many are among those who have designed, implemented and provided the political cover for this evil.  I know that the Republican Party as a whole parades its Christian virtue as both its essential character and as the only legitimate source of moral value available to any American.

And to them — all of them, from Dear Hairpiece on down — I say y’all best hope that the afterlife you declare you believe in ain’t real. For I give you Jesus himself, telling you where your sorry asses will end up:

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment… 

Adriaen van der Werffe, The flight into Egypt, 1710.



Jesus Wept…While The GOP Laughed

I hope I never have enough snark in me to snark at this:

A 7-year-old girl from Guatemala died of dehydration and shock after she was taken into Border Patrol custody last week for crossing from Mexico into the United States illegally with her father and a large group of migrants along a remote span of New Mexico desert, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Thursday.

This child was in CBP custody for more than eight hours before she started seizing.  When someone finally checked her out, they found that

she “reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days.”…

…An initial diagnosis by physicians at El Paso’s Providence Hospital listed the cause of death as septic shock, fever and dehydration, CBP said.

The quoted official response centers on a lie:

“Border Patrol agents took every possible step to save the child’s life under the most trying of circumstances…”

If they had done so, of course, she and all the refugees in her group would have received water in less than one third of a day.

The warehousing and brutalization of refugees is being done in our name, by people and an infrastructure at the border that is at best ill-equipped and insufficient for the task, and at worse, deliberately engaged in a campaign of exemplary mistreatment designed to décourager les autres.

So children die. In the care and under the “protection” of the US government; our government.  As a result of a policy that uses neglect as a tool of border enforcement.

This policy, this explicit choice is Donald Trump’s. But it is far from his alone. The GOP controls Congress. It could have chosen not to be party to the misery and sorrows unto death.  It did not.

Every Republican in national office is complicit.  All of them share in this tragedy, and the others we’ve heard about and the (likely) many more we haven’t.  The moral stain on America as a whole ain’t fading anytime soon, and the reckoning won’t even be able to begin until the GOP as it is now constituted goes the way of the Confederate States of America.

Last thought: I note we are in the midst of the holiday season, the culmination of which, as conservatives hasten to remind us, is the day on which Christians remember the birth of the Prince of Peace. What Babies Would Jesus Starve?

Image: Albrecht Dürer, Christ as the Man of Sorrows, c. 1493.



Our New Surreality

It’s kind of weird where we are right now. Pretty much everyone now knows and has internalized that our President and many of those who surround him, including Pence, have either committed multiple felonies or were a party to them. And that’s just the stuff we know about right now. Who knows what else Jared and Trump’s spawn have done that haven’t even been released yet. And we have barely scratched the surface of his rogues gallery of cabinet appointments.

But even knowing that, our nation’s elites are still tip-toeing around the basic fact that our President is a criminal who broke who knows how many laws. Instead of a national conversation about how we are going to prosecute him, it’s more horse-race nonsense- “Will it hurt Democrats to bring impeachment charges? Can a Trump win in 2020 and outlast the statutes of limitations?”

It’s kind of insane. It’s sort of analogous to when we knew all the Catholic priests were molesting those kids, but people were more afraid of uprooting the church than dealing with the monsters. So people talked in veiled terms and looked the other way, and never dealt with the problem or really held anyone accountable.

The Republicans are so corrupt that even with everything we already know, they will not convict in the Senate. We’re basically just going to have to live with a criminal President until the economy craters and the money guys decide to cut their losses. It’s nuts.