Friday, May 31, 2019

Last Call For The Grift Wall Games

The Trump regime is of course turning a blind eye towards efforts to build a private border land wall near Mexico, because in a couple of centuries they might even be done with it.  And of course, Kris Kobach is neck deep in the con job.

Down a bumpy dirt road, past a dozen “No Trespassing” signs, two amateur sentries in neon safety vests guarded the way to a giant symbol of Trump-era politics rising up from the Chihuahuan Desert.

After one of the guards Armando asked our business and radioed someone called Viper, telling him to “stand down,” we were waved through a makeshift checkpoint and onto the site where supporters of President Donald Trump have built hundreds of yards of border wall on private land overlooking the Rio Grande.

What began in December as a quixotic online crowdfunding effort to get Trump’s promised “big, beautiful wall” built has turned into a physical barrier constructed under the direction of influential right-wing immigration opponents. On Wednesday, its backers demonstrated the wall to a handful of reporters, showing off the structure in all its steel-and-concrete glory ahead of an official ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday.

Its organizers insist their version of the wall is a feasible model for securing hundreds of miles of southern border. Its critics call it a xenophobic scam. The fact that the effort has gotten to this point at all suggests a different and broader truth: That in the Trump era, the line between a surreal stunt and an important political development can be extremely blurry.

On Wednesday, former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach offered a tour of the wall — at one point scrambling over crumbling hillside to demonstrate the difficulty of passing the terrain — while negotiating with local officials over a permitting issue that threatened to derail construction.

At the same time, Kobach has been overseeing legal aspects of the project, now housed under a nonprofit called We Build the Wall, he has been negotiating with the White House over a possible appointment as the nation’s actual “immigration czar,” a potential new post that could give him vast influence over the federal bureaucracy.

Last week, The New York Times reported a list of Kobach’s conditions for accepting the job, which included 24/7 access to a government plane and were reportedly viewed as presumptuous by some inside the administration. On Wednesday, Kobach defended those conditions. “If you're serious about solving this problem you've got to have a position that has the authority and the tools to solve the problem,” he told me.
He also said he is “99 percent” certain he knows who leaked the list, though he did not offer any names.

Kobach said he last spoke to Trump about the wall project in the Oval Office three weeks ago, and that the president drilled him on the technical specifications, expressing special interest in their model’s anti-climbing features, a set of horizontal steel plates covering the tops of the wall’s vertical slats. “Are you going to paint it?” Kobach recalled the president asking him.

The wall stands on the same stretch of border where an armed militia group, the United Constitutional Patriots, was recently detaining migrants as they enter the United States. Kobach and other leaders of the wall project said they are not associated with the militias and do not condone armed vigilante action. They argue that putting up walls will put such groups “out of business.”

But his disavowals have not been entirely embraced by the movement. “I don’t support that sort of activity—yet,” said conservative pundit David Clarke, a former sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, who works on public outreach for the project. “I’m real close,” said Clarke, who said that if there is not a more significant migration crackdown by the end of Trump’s first term, he would endorse vigilante action.

There also appears to be some intermingling of the militia group and the wall efforts. We Build the Wall has shared footage shot by the group online, and people associated with the group continue to make appearances at the site of the private wall project, despite intense scrutiny of the militia’s activities.

Everybody in the GOP wants in on the grift, and Kobach is leading the charge.  Never forget that the GOP is all about enriching themselves at the expense of the rest of us.

White Supremacy, Naturally

The Trump administration plans to launch a new panel to offer "fresh thinking” on international human rights and “natural law,” a move some activists fear is aimed at narrowing protections for women and members of the LGBT community.

The new body, to be called the Commission on Unalienable Rights, will advise Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to a notice the State Department quietly published Thursday on the Federal Register.

“The Commission will provide fresh thinking about human rights discourse where such discourse has departed from our nation's founding principles of natural law and natural rights,” states the notice, which is dated May 22.
Several human rights activists said Thursday that they were surprised by the move and trying to learn details. Some privately said they worry that talk of the “nation’s founding principles” and “natural law” are coded signals of plans to focus less on protecting women and LGBT people.

The word “natural” in such context is often interpreted to mean “God-given,” a phrasing that is less common in modern human rights literature but which could signal a religious component, experts said.

Activists and former U.S. officials noted that the Trump administration’s record on human rights so far is spotty at best.

“Many in the human rights community will welcome an opportunity to advise the Trump Administration on where its policies contradict America’s founding principles. There will be much to discuss,” said Rob Berschinski, a top official with Human Rights First.

The State Department already has an entire bureau devoted to the issues of human rights, democracy and labor, and it was not clear whether officials in that bureau were involved or even aware of the plans for the new commission.

The top State Department contact listed on the notice was Kiron Skinner, Pompeo's director of policy planning. Her team acts like an in-house think tank that considers long-term foreign policy strategy.

Skinner drew criticism recently for seeming to suggest that China, a rising power, is such a fundamentally different culture from the United States that arguments about human rights may not have much effect in dialogue with Beijing. Skinner’s defenders have argued she is a serious thinker who probably simply stumbled in trying to articulate her point.

State Department officials were not able to offer details about the planned commission on Thursday.

But in remarks to reporters after this article was first published, Pompeo said the goal of the panel was to sort out “how do we connect up what it is we’re trying to achieve throughout the world, and how do we make sure that we have a solid definition of human rights upon which to tell all our diplomats around the world.”

Let's be frank here. "Natural law" means the Trump State Department getting ready to tell the world that it will no longer comply with international human rights treaties and agreements where they differ from the platform of the Trump regime on civil rights.  If you thought we were going backwards at breakneck speed on abortion rights and climate change, wait until Pompeo gets recommendations from this "panel".

It will very soon be the official position of the United States government that "natural law" supersedes international law, and that the US will no longer go along with protections for people who aren't white Trump voters.

If you thought it was a travesty when we dropped out of the Paris climate accords and nuclear agreements with Russia, wait until we decide that the United Nations has no business telling the US what to do, and that we will no longer honor international human rights norms.

We're this close to declaring White Supremacy as the official religion of the country.  We will be even more of an international pariah than we already are, and the rest of the world will maybe decide that something has to be done to contain us.

Trump Trades Blows, Con't

Because somehow Trump doesn't think his trade war is tanking America's economy quickly enough, he announced a plan to ratchet up tariffs on all Mexican import goods by 5% per month until our neighbors south of the border are facing 25% tariffs or Mexico stops all undocumented and asylum seekers from entering America through the country.

President Donald Trump, incensed by a surge of illegal immigrants across the southern border, vowed on Thursday to impose a tariff on all goods coming from Mexico, starting at 5% and ratcheting higher until the flow of people ceases.

Trump’s move dramatically ramped up his battle to control a tide of immigrants that has swelled despite his efforts to build a border wall and halt the thousands crossing from Central America through Mexico to the U.S. border.

The president’s decision, abruptly announced on Twitter and in a subsequent statement, was a direct challenge to Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and appeared to take the Mexican government by surprise.

It raised the risk of deteriorating economic relations between two neighbors heavily dependent on the cross-border flow of goods. It also opened up a new front on trade as the Trump administration struggles to conclude a trade deal with China.

Higher tariffs will start at 5% on June 10 and increase monthly until reaching 25% on Oct. 1, unless Mexico takes immediate action, he said.

“If the illegal migration crisis is alleviated through effective actions taken by Mexico, to be determined in our sole discretion and judgment, the tariffs will be removed,” Trump said.

The announcement rattled investors who feared that worsening trade frictions could hurt the global economy. The Mexican peso, U.S. stock index futures and Asian stock markets tumbled on the news, including the shares of Japanese automakers who ship cars from Mexico to the United States.

“We’re in a good moment building a good relationship (with the United States) and this comes like a cold shower,” said Mexico’s deputy foreign minister for North America, Jesus Seade.

U.S. officials said 80,000 people are being held in custody with an average of 4,500 arriving daily, overwhelming the ability of border patrol officials to handle them.A senior White House official said Trump was particularly concerned that U.S. border agents apprehended a group of 1,036 migrants as they illegally crossed the border from Mexico on Wednesday. Officials said it was the largest single group since October.

Most likely this will never be implemented, as somebody will sit down with Trump and explain to him just how many US jobs in red states will be lost over this, and how many people will blame Republicans in those states for not stopping Trump.  It will be a bloodbath come next year.

This is Trump manufacturing both an immigration crisis and an economic crisis, both of which he thinks he will be able to exploit in order to justify use of unprecedented "emergency powers".

The bitter reality will strike home on this very quickly, and Trump will fold soon.  The one thing keeping people from flooding the streets to get rid of the GOP right now is the singular fact that they haven't comepltely tanked the economy yet.  The second that happens, it will be carnage.


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