Trump threatens another shutdown as budget battle heats up
By ANDREW TAYLOR
Monday, May 28
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has warned Congress that he will never sign another foot-tall, $1 trillion-plus government-wide spending bill like the one he did in March. His message to lawmakers in both parties: Get your act together before the next budget lands on my desk.
After a brief government shutdown earlier this year, Democrats and Republicans now agree on the need for budgeting day-to-day operations of government the old-fashioned way. That means weeks of open debate and amendments that empower rank-and-file lawmakers, rather than concentrating power in the hands of a few leaders meeting in secret.
But Capitol Hill’s dysfunction is so pervasive that even the most optimistic predictions are for only a handful of the 12 annual spending bills to make it into law by Oct. 1, the start of the new budget year. The rest may get bundled together into a single, massive measure yet again.
The worst-case scenario? A government shutdown just a month before Election Day, Nov. 6, as Republicans and Democrats fight for control of the House and possibly the Senate. Trump is agitating for more money for his long-promised border wall with Mexico. So far, he has been frustrated by limited success on that front.
“We need the wall. We’re going to have it all. And again, that wall has started. We got $1.6 billion. We come up again (in) September,” Trump said in a campaign-style event in Michigan last month. “If we don’t get border security, we’ll have no choice. We’ll close down the country because we need border security.”
At stake is the funding for daily operations of government agencies. A budget deal this year reversed spending cuts that affected military readiness and put a crimp on domestic agencies. A $1.3 trillion spending bill swept through Congress in March, though Trump entertained last-minute second thoughts about the measure and promised he would not sign a repeat.
The demise of the annual appropriations process took root after Republicans took over the House in 2011 and is part of a broader breakdown on Capitol Hill. The yearly bills need bipartisan support to advance, which has grated on tea party lawmakers. GOP leaders such as House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and his predecessor as speaker, Ohio Republican John Boehner, have preferred to focus on other priorities.
Ryan did throw his weight behind a two-year budget agreement this year that set an overall spending limit of $1.3 trillion for both 2018 and 2019, citing a need to boost the Pentagon.
That, in theory, makes it easier to get the appropriations process back on track. But in the GOP-controlled House, where Democratic votes are generally needed to pass the bills, Democrats are complaining that Republicans have shortchanged domestic agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency.
That’s not the case in the Senate, where the new chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Alabama Republican Richard Shelby, is determined to get the system working again. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York is on board, as is Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., himself a decades-long veteran of that powerful committee.
“We want this to work,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who criticized the GOP-controlled House for continuing to pack legislation with “poison pills.”
Obstacles remain, however.
For starters, floor debates could lead to votes on contentious issues such as immigration, the border wall, gun control and others that some lawmakers might hope to avoid.
Democrats are wary of Republicans trying to jam through the Pentagon spending bill before dealing with some agencies.
And Trump could blow up the whole effort at any time.
Trump is prone to threatening government shutdowns on Twitter or when he riffs in public, and then backing off when bills are delivered to him.
In the House, a familiar problem awaits.
Many conservative Republicans won’t vote for some bills because they think they spend too much money. That means Democratic votes are a must. But many Democrats are upset over unrelated policy add-ons pushed by the GOP, and they won’t vote for the spending bills unless those provisions are removed, which usually doesn’t happen until end-stage talks.
At the same time, House GOP leaders are distracted by disputes over immigration, and they haven’t made the appropriations bills a priority.
An effort led by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to cut or “rescind” $15 billion in unspent money has run into greater opposition than anticipated. Meantime, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., is unpopular with some House conservatives, who cite his votes against a recent farm bill and against last year’s tax cut measure, and that may hamper his effectiveness.
Mass graves of unidentified migrants found in South Texas
By Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Maya Srikrishnan
Jun 21, 2014 Los Angeles Times
A series of mass graves filled with remains of unidentified migrants has been discovered in a South Texas cemetery.
Anthropology researchers exhumed bodies from 52 plots in the Brooks County-owned Sacred Heart Burial Park Falfurrias earlier this month. One plot contained three bodies stuffed inside a single body bag, and another had at least five people in body bags and other small garbage bags. Other plots contained skulls and skeletal remains in biohazard bags.
The total number of people buried was unclear because the remains had been intermingled.
“I was pretty upset at the end, because this isn’t the way to be interred,” Baylor University anthropologist Lori Baker said Saturday. “The idea that all along the border there are these people buried anonymously is horrible. This isn’t even the worst we’ve seen, and it has to stop.”
Brooks County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Benny Martinez said he would meet with the county judge and commissioners Tuesday in Austin to investigate what happened with the burials.
“I’m trying to get a grasp as to why that occurred,” he said.
Martinez said he doesn’t foresee any criminal charges for the funeral home, Funeraria del Angel Howard-Williams, that the county pays to take care of bodies after sheriff’s officials recover them.
“We have always been under budget constraints,” he said. “Maybe there was no money to facilitate burying the bodies.”
A spokeswoman for Service Corporation International, which owns the funeral home, said in an emailed statement: “No matter if this is one of our client families we serve on a traditional basis or a migrant family’s loved one we are serving and we do not have identification of the loved one, it is our policy to treat the decedent with care, to treat them just like we would treat anyone else.”
The researchers who exhumed the bodies include professors and students from Baylor and the University of Indianapolis who are working on the Reuniting Families project. That multiyear effort attempts to identify the bodies of the hundreds of illegal immigrants who have died while crossing the Texas-Mexico border over the last few years.
Brooks County has a high number of immigrant deaths. It has recorded 33 so far this year. Last year, 87 bodies were recovered, and 129 the year before that, Martinez said. The county has a Border Patrol checkpoint on the main highway north, which many immigrants and their smugglers try to avoid by crossing nearby ranchland. Bodies are often found in the unforgiving terrain.
The exhumed bodies were buried between 2005 and 2009, Baker estimated.
When the researchers discussed the matter with the funeral home before the excavation, Baker said, they were told that Sacred Heart didn’t have maps or lists to help figure out where the bodies were buried or who they belonged to. When they asked for the materials the funeral home used for the burials, they were shown fiberboard coffins, Baker said.
“But we are yet to find any burials using those,” she said.
Because the county is 70 miles from the border, it doesn’t receive federal funding to help with immigration issues.
“They’re so overworked,” Baker said. “Trying to keep people alive who are in distress is the county’s No. 1 priority, so they haven’t been able to make the remains one.”
More evidence: Bernie has never been a soldier and is not a veteran. When he hit the Senate, the Dems put him on the Vets Affairs committee because its a committee nobody wants to serve on. They reserved all the “big shot” committee positions for party insiders, so Bernie landed on the committee nobody wants to be on (you don’t get big bribes from banksters, for example, serving on that committee). So Bernie just applied his values to veterans issues; not being an expert, he just did the right thing. Unlike most VA committee members, he actually showed up to committee meetings. The chairman, Richard Burr (R-NC), now famous for stalling the Russia investigation as chair of the Senate Intel Committee, was Sanders’ nemesis in those days. Burr tried more times than I can count to cut, gut, eliminate or privatize the VA healthcare system. The only thing that stopped him was Bernie Sanders who lobbied the rest of the committee members with arguments like these: “How well do you think its going to play at home that you voted to kill millions of veterans?” Bernie Sanders won EVERY fight on that committee despite being in the minority; despite not even having a party to back him. Sanders is not a veteran, he is not “one of us”. But he stood up for us when we were under threat and he will do the same for anyone who puts him in charge of defending them.
If the government has enough info to send me a draft card on my 18th birthday, they should just register me to vote while they’re at it.
Trump Speaks At Fourth-Grade Level, Lowest Of Last 15 U.S. Presidents, New Analysis Finds
By Nina Burleigh
President Donald Trump—who boasted over the weekend that his success in life was a result of “being, like, really smart”—communicates at the lowest grade level of the last 15 presidents, according to a new analysis of the speech patterns of presidents going back to Herbert Hoover.
The analysis assessed the first 30,000 words each president spoke in office, and ranked them on the Flesch-Kincaid grade level scale and more than two dozen other common tests analyzing English-language difficulty levels. Trump clocked in around mid-fourth grade, the worst since Harry Truman, who spoke at nearly a sixth-grade level.
At the top of the list were Hoover and Jimmy Carter, who were basically at an 11th-grade level, and President Barack Obama, in third place with a high ninth-grade level of communicating with the American people.
The Flesch-Kincaid scale was developed in 1975 for the U.S. Navy to assess the relative difficulty of training manuals. A database of Trump’s words, compiled by the incomparable factba.se, ran the comparative analysis yesterday, in response to the president’s claim that he is “a genius.”
Donald Trump President Donald Trump talks with journalists after signing tax reform legislation into law in the Oval Office on December 22, 2017. Trump praised Republican leaders in Congress for all their work on the biggest tax overhaul in decades. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Trump has been swinging back hard against on the record allegations in Michael Wolff’s bombshell new book that members of his own team called him “dumb” and “a dope.”
In a Saturday-morning tweet, Trump reminded people that he was elected to the presidency “on my first try.”
“I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!” He also tweeted hat “throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.”
In comments at Camp David later, he added that he was “a very excellent student” and “came out and made billions and billions of dollars … ran for president one time and won.”
Factba.se has collected interviews, speeches and press conferences from previous presidents, using material publicly available from presidential libraries, and including the University of California, Santa Barbara’s American Presidency Project, which contains presidential press conferences going back to Hoover in 1929.
The website excluded communiques issued by the last two presidents on social media and limited the study to unscripted words uttered at press conferences and other public appearances.
The words were run through a variety of lexicological analyses, besides the Flesch-Kincaid, and the results were the same. In every one, Trump came in dead last. Trump also uses the fewest “unique words” (2,605) of any president—Obama was the best at 4,869—and uses words with the fewest average syllables, with 1.33 per word, compared to positively multi-syllabic president Hoover at 1.57.
“By every metric and methodology tested, Donald Trump’s vocabulary and grammatical structure is significantly more simple, and less diverse, than any President since Herbert Hoover, when measuring “off-script” words, that is, words far less likely to have been written in advance for the speaker,” Factba.se CEO Bill Frischling wrote. “The gap between Trump and the next closest president … is larger than any other gap using Flesch-Kincaid. Statistically speaking, there is a significant gap.”
The White House is furious at Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury, but the book makes a compelling case that West Wing insiders do not have confidence in the president.
National security adviser H.R. McMaster reportedly called Trump an “idiot” with the intelligence of a “kindergartener” back in November. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly called the president “a fucking moron.”
And Trump’s National Economic Council chief Gary Cohn allegedly wrote in an email that the White House was in chaos.
“It’s worse than you can imagine. An idiot surrounded by clowns,” Cohn wrote. “Trump won’t read anything—not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored. And his staff is no better.”
One member of that staff, Stephen Miller, had to be physically escorted from CNN’s State of the Union talk show on Sunday in a dispute with host Jake Tapper. Miller declined to discuss specific issues, but repeatedly defended the president.
Chris Hayes just shared a heart-wrenching court record of a mom begging ICE to not take her baby away
By Salvatore Nicholas
Published on May 25, 2018
The immigration debate is quite easily the most controversial debate in America today. Not because it causes the greatest amount of conflict between the political parties, but because both political parties tend to ignore the plight of the American immigrant – particularly when the color of their skin is brown.
It should not be so difficult to garner attention on this subject, but among even some of the most liberal individuals, it gets swept under the rug, a discussion regaled to another day – one which never seems to come.
And yet, the atrocities committed against immigrants in one of the top developed countries in the world is like something out of a deeply buried Netflix original film – everything seems so over-dramatized that it can’t possibly be real – but it is.
Chris Hayes posted this thread to his timeline in a desperate attempt to call attention to the horrid conditions to which immigrants are subject:
In case the individual stories weren’t convincing enough, another lawyer who simply goes by the name @nycsouthpaw, managed to get the full 46-page transcript from ACLU lawyers Lee Gelnert, Esq. and Badis Vakili, Esq. from their lawsuit against the government.
What it describes should turn everyone’s stomach. Here are just some of the highlights, specifically from Gelnert:
“And when you have little kids being separated – 18-months-old, and they are sitting there screaming and crying, “please don’t let me be taken away!” – I think something needs to be done nationally because there are 700 little kids sitting there by themselves without their parents. They are traumatized. They declarations about how these little kids are being taken away and screaming… they are just little kids.”
“None of these people are being told. They even have birth certificates, and the government is simply saying, “Well, we don’t believe you.” So the sort of presumption that “let’s do what’s best for the child” is really not in play here.”
More horrors exist within the 46 pages if anyone is still left ambivalent to the plight of immigrants under ICE detention.
What’s worse is the Trump administration’s indifference to these horrors, evidenced by this interaction between a Department of Justice attorney representing ICE and the court:
The Court: “The way I understand the process… is the person gets out of custody for the conviction they are serving, they then go into ICE detention to pursue immigration and asylum related matters, but their child is somewhere else, with or in some other facility. And there is no procedure or mechanism for that parent to reunite with their child, absent from hiring lawyers or pursuing it on their own. Is that correct?”
Sarah B. Fabian, Esq, U.S.A. DOJ: I think that is correct.”
Admittedly, these atrocities predate Trump’s tenure in the White House, as reported this morning. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done about the past, but there are parents and children suffering right now. In spite of the best efforts by the ACLU, these children are rounded up like animals with no hope to see their families again.
This must become as vogue a discussion as LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, and every other social justice crusade the left so passionately defends.
Immigrants deserve attention and human rights just like the rest of us. Regardless of when this horror-show began, it’s time to bring this practice to an end.
Humanity shouldn’t be this difficult to drum up from the human race.
Washington Press is a political news website dedicated to providing our readers the most accurate, concise, and breaking political news of the day.
Trump plans to end heating assistance program for low-income Americans
Trump can solve the problem of icky poor people by just letting them freeze to death. Genius!
No victory protecting the poor is ever permanent when the bottomless demands of corporate profits must be fed. So goes the fate of a heating assistance program that Trump is now trying to gut for a second time, as he struggles to propose a budget that might balance out the incredible tax cut given to corporations and the wealthy. Trump wants to eliminate LIHEAP, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps pay the heating or cooling bills of Low income families, a large percentage of whom are elderly and disabled people. Losers in the mind of the King of Trumplandia.
The same excuses from Trump which were already beaten in Congress last year are zombie walking. Trump’s reason to cut the program is that no one will freeze without it, ‘if they have run out of heat why don’t they just go to their Florida home.’ Unfortunately it’s many of Trumps own base that will suffer. “If the president turned around and did away with that funding, I have no idea how we’d survive in the winter,” said Dwayne LaBrecque. He lost his job as a shipping manager in rural Maine, and collects disability after losing several toes and part of his foot to infection. The heating assistance is crucial in frigid Maine where LaBrecque tries to cobble together income to support himself, five children, and a fiancé.
LaBrecque voted for Trump, who he hopes has a “change of heart,” on the heating assistance program. He will not vote for Trump again if his heating is cut. Fortunately for LaBrecque’s children, 45 Senators asked Trump to keep the program last time, and it is still very popular.
Republican John Hoeven of North Dakota, characterizes the program as “vital resources.” The program may be saved, and LaBrecque will foolishly think Trump cares about poor people and will just continue to vote against his own interest. We fight for everyone, even when they don’t fight for themselves and I still think this beats letting kids freeze in the cold Maine winter.
By Being Liberal contributor: Sarah Ficca