Friday, May 25, 2018

Last Call For The Friday Night News Dump™

That three day holiday weekend when America is heading to the beach or that summer cookout is the perfect time for the Trump regime to crap out bad news, and they didn't disappoint this Memorial Day weekend.  First up, Trump attacks federal workers' unions, something not even they would do on Labor Day weekend, I guess.

The Trump administration unveiled a set of executive orders late Friday afternoon aimed at weakening unions that represent federal workers and making it easier for agencies across the government to fire their employees.

Senior administration officials told reporters on a call Friday afternoon that the executive orders will do the following: 
  • Shorten the length of time federal workers have to improve their performance after receiving a bad review, from 120 days to just 30.
  • Encourage federal agencies to terminate poor performers rather than suspending them.
  • Direct federal agencies to renegotiate their union contracts, and make those contracts publicly available online “so American people can see them.”
  • Encouraging agencies to conclude labor negotiations in less than a year.
  • Severely restrict the use of federal worker unions’ “official time”— which elected shop stewards currently use to mediate workplace grievances. Going forward, federal workers can spend no more that 25 percent of their time on union or other non-agency business.
  • Charge unions rent for the use of federal office space for that “official time” work.

Andrew Bremberg, the director of Trump’s Domestic Policy Council, said the changes would “advance merit system principles and accountability” and “make it easier for agencies to remove poor performing employees and ensure taxpayer dollars are more efficiently used.” He and other White House officials claimed the rule changes would save taxpayers at least $100 million each year.

But Jacque Simon, the political director of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), warned that the new rules weaken the ability of federal workers to protect themselves from politicized employment decisions.

“When you do this, you open the door to a situation where, if you don’t toe the party line, you’re out the door,” she told TPM. “Ultimately, these agencies are run by political appointees, and if employees don’t have these rights and the opportunity to defend themselves, then anybody is at risk who is questioning the administration’s denial of climate change, or the health benefits of a particular drug, whatever the hell else these people come up with next.”

Citing an uptick in reports of politically-motivated firings and reassignments at the State Department, Interior Department, Environmental Protection Agency and other federal offices, Simon said the new executive orders will make it easier for managers to make decisions based on “political loyalty.”

“Do you want scientists at the EPA who are providing objective data and information about the air we breathe or do we want political hacks?” she asked. “If you’re not with the program, if you’re not cooperating with the political agenda, you’re out the door. Out you go.”

I'm honestly surprised they FND'ed this one.  You figure Trump would be proud of this, except for the part where the vast majority of federal workers affected by this will be Virginia and Maryland voters who would on a normal news weekday be in range of a DC news crew looking for a reaction.

Second, the Trump regime is no longer hiding the whole "obstruction of justice" thing.

President Donald Trump’s legal team wants a briefing on the classified information shared with lawmakers about the origins of the FBI investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and may take it to the Justice Department as part of an effort to scuttle the ongoing special counsel probe.

Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s attorneys, told The Associated Press on Friday that the White House hopes to get a readout of the information next week, particularly about the use of a longtime government informant who approached members of Trump’s campaign in a possible bid to glean intelligence on Russian efforts to sway the election. Trump has made unproven claims of FBI misconduct and political bias and has denounced the asset as “a spy.”

If the spying was inappropriate, that means we may have an entirely illegitimate investigation,” Giuliani said of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. He then invoked the material compiled by former FBI Director James Comey before he was fired.

Coupled with Comey’s illegally leaked memos, this means the whole thing was a mistake and should never have happened,” Giuliani said. “We’d urge the Justice Department to re-evaluate, to acknowledge they made a mistake. It’s a waste of $20 million of the taxpayers’ money. The whole thing is already a waste of money.”

Rudy publicly calling for the Justice Department to end the Mueller probe is a big, big step.  Up until now Mitch McConnell could use the "nobody's calling for the end of the Mueller investigation" excuse to not do anything.

Now the White House is openly calling for it to end.

The move against Mueller has been staved off a couple times, but this time, I expect will be different.  We've gone in just a couple weeks from "We expect the investigation to wrap up" to "This never should have happened and the DoJ should end it." all while Trump is screaming lies about spies in his camp.

I'm not saying the Saturday Night Massacre is coming this weekend, but don't be surprised if it does.

The Enemy Of My Enemy Is A Useful Idiot

I'm pretty sure worthless "Never Trump but we support 99% of his policies" Republicans and "bi-partisan but really we're Republicans" Third Way Democrats deserve each other in the Trump era, so it's no wonder then that both groups are joining forces to make sure the GOP obtains total power in 2018.

Since Donald J. Trump began dominating American politics more than two years ago, Democrats concerned about his policies and behavior have taken solace in a group of influential Republicans who have consistently assailed the president as anathema to the values of their party, and the country more broadly. 
In the past year, however, influential liberal donors and operatives have gone from cheering these so-called Never Trump Republicans to quietly working with — and even funding — them. Through invitation-only emails and private, off-the-record meetings, they have formed a loose network of cross-partisan alliances aimed at helping neutralize President Trump, and preventing others from capitalizing on weaknesses in the political system that they say he has exploited. 
While this network has mostly eschewed electoral politics, some involved see the potential for it to help form an ideological — and possibly financial — platform to back candidates, including a centrist challenge to Mr. Trump in 2020, possibly from within the G.O.P. or even a third party. 
The network — composed of overlapping groups led by Democrats such as the donor Rachel Pritzker and several veteran Obama administration operatives, as well as leading Never Trump Republicans like Evan McMullin, Mindy Finn and William Kristol — aims to chart a middle path between a Republican base falling in line behind Mr. Trump and a liberal resistance trying to pull the Democratic Party left.

If you’re a Republican who is concerned about the health of the liberal order and alarmed over the destruction of the norms of American democracy, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be willing to work with a Democrat who is equally concerned about those same matters,” said Jerry Taylor, a Republican who is president of the Niskanen Center, a moderate think tank that grew out of the libertarian Cato Institute.

"Trump is a bad man yes, but I'm not sure that those dirty liberals who want health care, criminal justice reform, affordable housing and schools not getting shot up are a real answer either!" is a hell of a position to take while Rome is burning, but OK.

Let's face it, a "centrist third-party challenger" is exactly what these assholes want, splitting the resistance to Trump to the point where he just so happens to get 400 electoral votes and a second term "mandate" despite getting 40-45% of the popular vote.

If that happens (I fully expect the Mueller probe to have been dismantled or otherwise politically neutralized by the end of 2018) then we're done, and that's if we're not in the middle of a shooting war with North Korea or Iran or goddamn Mexico or something by November 2020.

Ugh, I can't with these guys today, I really can't.

First They Came For The Undocumented Kids

The Trump regime's immigration brownshirts at ICE continue to find ways to reach new lows, as if that's even possible, but here we are in America in 2018 being Germany in 1938.

Alma Jacinto covered her eyes with her hands as tears streamed down her cheeks.

The 36-year-old from Guatemala was led out of the federal courtroom without an answer to the question that brought her to tears: When would she see her boys again?

Jacinto wore a yellow bracelet on her left wrist, which defense lawyers said identifies parents who are arrested with their children and prosecuted in Operation Streamline, a fast-track program for illegal border crossers.

Moments earlier, her public defender asked the magistrate judge when Jacinto would be reunited with her sons, ages 8 and 11. There was no clear answer for Jacinto, who was sentenced to time served on an illegal-entry charge after crossing the border with her sons near Lukeville on May 14.

Parents who cross the border illegally with their children may face criminal charges as federal prosecutors in Tucson follow through on a recent directive from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to prosecute all valid cases, said U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Cosme Lopez.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection started referring families caught crossing illegally for prosecution several weeks ago, Lopez said. Those prosecutions unfold both in Streamline cases and through individual prosecutions.

On Thursday, Efrain Chun Carlos, also from Guatemala, received more information than Jacinto when he asked Magistrate Judge Lynnette C. Kimmins about his child during Streamline proceedings.

“I only wanted to ask about the whereabouts of my child in this country,” Chun said.

Kimmins responded she didn’t know where his child was and suggested he ask officials at the facility where he will be detained.

Christopher Lewis, the federal prosecutor at the hearing, told Kimmins that children from countries that are not contiguous to the United States will be placed in foster care with the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

“When they will be reunited, I cannot say because that’s an immigration matter,” Lewis said.

The yellow bracelet is a nice historical touch, right?  It's not a dehumanized chattel processing plant where parents are forcibly split from their children possibly forever, it's a fun, all-inclusive club where you get this cool wristband and can go on all the rides and enjoy all the food and entertainment for one low price!

And let's remember that the Trump regime doesn't exactly have a sterling record when it comes to actually keeping track of those children separated from their parents by the Immigration Gestapo, either.

A top official with the Department of Health and Human Services told members of Congress on Thursday that the agency had lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children it placed with sponsors in the United States, raising concerns they could end up in the hands of human traffickers or be used as laborers by people posing as relatives.

That was in April, and a month later, we still don't know where those 1,500 kids are. Nobody in this regime seems to give a damn, either.

If you ever wondered how you would react to the rise of European fascism 80 years ago, look in a mirror.   Are we the baddies?

At this point?  Yeah.  Yeah, we are.


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