Failing to comply with a court order demanding that he reunite immigrant children with their parents, Donald Trump is asked what he is doing to expedite the process. The solution, he responds, is for these people to have never come here in the first place.

In late June, U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw issued a preliminary injunction requiring that the federal government reunite families that had been separated at the southern border as a result of the Trump administration’s racist and unnecessarily cruel “zero tolerance” immigration policy. Sabraw, in his ruling, demanded that children four years old and younger be returned to their parents within 14 days, with all other children being reunited with their families by July 26. [Approximately 3,000 children were taken from their families and put into federal custody as a result of the Trump administration policy. Of those, it’s been reported that 102 were four years old and younger.]

Well, as today marks Sabra’s first deadline, and as only about 38 of the 102 infants and toddlers seized by the U.S. government have yet to be returned to their families, journalists asked Donald Trump, who was leaving today for his private meeting with Vladimir Putin, what he was doing to expedite the process and comply with the court order.

Here, via the White House press pool, is what happened when Trump was asked the question.

And, yes, you read that correctly. When asked what he was doing to remedy the situation that he’d created, and return these small, terrified children to their parents, he said that the solution was for them to have never come to America in the first place. “Well, I have a solution,” Donald Trump told members of the press. “Tell people not to come to our country illegally. That’s the solution.”

The President then went on to say, “I also have a cure for those Americans dying from cancer. It’s very simple. Don’t get cancer.”

OK, I made that last part up, but he might as well have said it… I mean, who in their right mind, when asked what he’s doing to expedite the return of infants to their parents, responds by saying the solution is for them never to have come in the first place?

Here, for those of you who might doubt that President Trump would say such a thing, is the video, which was subsequently released by the White House… Apparently, not only is the administration not embarrassed by this, but they think it’ll work with their base. And, sadly, they’re probably right.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Surprising absolutely no one, Donald Trump, when handed a list of 25 potential Supreme Court candidates to choose from, picked the one who has said that a sitting president can not be subject to criminal investigation or prosecution

For those of you wondering why, when given a list of 25 young, conservative, activist judges to choose from by the Republican establishment, Donald Trump chose to nominate Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court this evening, I humbly submit the following for your consideration.

To my knowledge, Kavanaugh was the only one of the 25 corporatist, anti-abortion, pro-gun potential candidates to actually put in writing his belief that a sitting president can not be subject to criminal investigation or prosecution… which could be kind of a big deal, given that the judge nominated to fill Justice Kennedy’s seat, in the words of Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, “could be (the) deciding vote on legal challenges to the Mueller investigation.”

Here’s an excerpt from Kavanuagh’s 2009 article in the Minnesota Law Review, in which he argues that, “The indictment and trial of a sitting president… would cripple the federal government.” [Kavanaugh says in the same law review article that, if a president is truly corrupt, Congress has a means by which to remove him from office through impeachment. As we’ve seen, however, that check against the power of the President doesn’t always hold up under pressure.]

And here’s a little more from today’s Washington Post.

…Having observed the weighty issues that can consume a president, Kavanaugh wrote, the nation’s chief executive should be exempt from “time-consuming and distracting” lawsuits and investigations, which “would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national security crisis”…

Putting aside how laughable it is to think that Donald “executive time” Trump, who probably works less than any President in America’s history, might be kept from “the weighty issues that can consume a president” by a criminal case, it must be really nice to be in a position where one can pick his own judge.

update: NBC’s Geoff Bennett is reporting that Kennedy agreed to retire only if Trump appointed Kavanaugh, who was his former law clerk. If true, we need a federal investigation. Call your elected officials today and demand that they look into this.

update: White House spokesperson Raj Shah does not deny that a deal was made between Kennedy and the administration.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 388 Comments

Boots Riley’s “Sorry to Bother You” hits theaters half a dozen years after telling us about it

Back in November of 2012, Washtenaw Eviction and Foreclosure Defense somehow managed to bring world-renowned hip-hop provocateur Boots Riley and his band, The Coup, to Ypsilanti to play a fundraiser for Ozone House, to support their work with at-risk and marginalized LGBTQ teens. As you may recall, in my interview with Riley, recorded a day or two before the show, amid all the stuff about his childhood in Detroit, which was spent in a household of Communist organizers, and his work at the time, organizing people in his neighborhood as a member Occupy Oakland, there was mention of a film that he was trying to get made. Well, here we are six years later, and that film is not only out, and going into wide release after a huge debut weekend, but it’s getting rave reviews. [Rotten Tomatoes is calling the film, which stars the likes of Atlanta’s Lakeith Stanfield, Terry Crews, Patton Oswalt, David Cross, and Danny Glover, “Fearlessly ambitious, scathingly funny, and thoroughly original.”]

Here, in hopes that it’ll motivate at least one or two of you to go and see the film, is an excerpt from that 2012 interview, where Riley and I talk about what he was hoping to accomplish with the film, which, at that point, he’d been hoping to star in.

MARK: You mentioned that you were making some headway in Oakland with the fast food workers. What happened with that?

BOOTS: The main problem was convincing other folks in Occupy Oakland that it was something worthwhile compared to the other things that were going on. There are so many things going on with Occupy Oakland. People are spread really thin. So, it just wasn’t the time to bring this out. People weren’t down to dedicate the time.

MARK: It’s tough. It seems, with the Occupy movement, that so much time and effort is spent providing social services… like just recently, with all of the Occupy Sandy stuff. There are just so many needs that have to be addressed, that it takes up a lot of the bandwidth.

BOOTS: I think Occupy Oakland is different. It does provide services, but in the midst of campaigns. We’ve got the foreclosure defense stuff going on. And we’ve got various folks working on police brutality stuff. There are all sorts of things happening. Some people don’t want to do the service stuff and all, and, other people, that’s their thing. They like feeding people.

MARK: So it wasn’t a question of capacity. It was more a result of an internal discussion within the organization concerning priorities.

BOOTS: Yeah, a fast food workers union seems like a good idea, but the question is whether fast food workers would be down with it, and you’re not going to know unless you’re part of that outreach. And, at the same time, we had the school occupation happening, and a lot of people were involved in that. There were foreclosure defense actions. There were neighborhood assemblies. We were declaring moratoriums on foreclosure in certian neighborhoods. So, a lot of people were doing many different things. So, that was part of the problem at the time. Then there’s people that had experience organizing unions, and many of them wanted to be sure that it was their union that got to do it, and it was just too early to declare that. Let’s put it like this… It wasn’t for lack of wanting by people that were in fast food work. We actually had people that were down to do it, and we had a few things in place, we just didn’t have enough people to really carry it through.

MARK: Speaking of the plight of low-paid workers, your new album, Sorry to Bother You, is about telemarkting, and, in a broader sense, I guess, it’s about shitty, low-paying jobs in general. In addition to just being a good record, in the tradition of The Coup, is there a bigger message behind it? Are you trying to rally support for anything specific? Does either the album, or the movie that you’re working on, which uses the album as a soundtrack, touch on, for instance, the importance of organizing low-wage workers?

BOOTS: Not specifically around organizing telemarketers. The movie has some stuff about a union that’s being attempted at a telemarketing spot. Which is what was happening at the place that I worked at (when I was doing telemarketing). But it’s not specifically around organizing telemarketers. It’s around organizing people in the workplace in general.

MARK: So that message is in the movie?

BOOTS: Yeah. Yeah… Well, I don’t know that the “message” is in the movie, but the situation is in the movie.

MARK: Are you in pre-production yet for the movie?

BOOTS: I guess, technically, yeah.

MARK: Your producer, I’ve read, is Ted Hope, who produced movies like The Ice Storm, Happiness, American Splendor…

BOOTS: And 21 Grams. And the director is this guy, Alex Rivera, who did this movie called Sleep Dealer.

MARK: How’d it all come together?

BOOTS: I just kind of put a blast out to people I know, and Danny Goldberg, who was managing Street Sweeper Social Club, and also used to manage Nirvana and work with Led Zeppelin, read it and loved it. And he got it to Ted Hope. And Ted Hope was like, “I want to make this movie.” It probalby also helped that I had a soundtrack.

MARK: How did you sell them on the idea that you would be the right person for the lead? Or was that just part of the deal going in?

BOOTS: That was just part of the deal. I was like, “I’ve written this script. I have the soundtrack. And I will play the lead.” So, if somebody did’t like that, they just didn’t respond… It’s also a good marketing thing for them too. You know, if it’s going to be an independent film, there’s probably going to be more interest in it if the creator of it is part of it as well. I’m acting all the time anyway.

MARK: What do you mean… on stage?

BOOTS: Yeah, as a performer – it’s theatrical.

MARK: Had you attepted to do someting like this before? Didn’t I hear about a book that was being written from one of your songs, and the possiblity that it may turn into a film as well?

BOOTS: So a woman heard a song (Me and Jesus the Pimp in a ’79 Granada Last Night) and wrote a book based on it… I didn’t want the movie made. It had the potential to be a very terrible movie, if not done by the right person… I didn’t like the themes. She took the story and read things into that I…

MARK: With this new record, when you started writing it, did you know that you wanted to see it evolve into a dark comedy…

BOOTS: Well, I wrote the script first. I took like a year and wrote the script, while my manager, agent and record label said, “What are you doing?”

MARK: Because they wanted to keep you recording, and playing on the road…

BOOTS: Yeah. Yeah. It’s like, “You’re not going to get a movie made.” They wouldn’t say it in exactly that way, but that was the thought.

MARK: So, you think that it will do well in the marketplace… that people will buy tickets and like it?

BOOTS: Oh, yeah. There are people that have read it that I trust, that think that it’s a great, new, and interesting thing.

MARK: I’m happy for you… You put something out on Twitter a few days ago. “I realized five years ago,” you said, “we’re never going to go platinum, we’re never going to get radio play, we’re never going to make money at this.” Is part of this movie thing because you want to reach a wider audience, or is it more about paying the bills?

BOOTS: I don’t think people are able to pay bills on independent movies.

MARK: I imagine that you’d get a cut on video sales, right?

BOOTS: Yeah, but think about the time that you spent on it.

MARK: I guess what I was getting at is that it’s probably a little more lucrative than the record business.

BOOTS: Maybe for somebody. But independent movies? No. It’s not like that. It’s a labor of love. But people want to make some money at it. And that’s one thing about Ted Hope. He’s an independent movie guru. He’s someone who’s able to make independent film turn a profit. But, again, like I said, the amount of profit, compared to the amount of time put into it… It’s not like some cash cow. But it’s possible, you know. Maybe it could be some breakout hit. But it’s not real likely to happen. And that’s the name of the game in every industry. “More work for less pay.”

As it turns out, Riley didn’t end up playing the lead. He did, however, direct… Here’s the trailer.

Posted in Art and Culture, Detroit, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

I should have said, “Climate change deniers ‘in government’ should be treated like war criminals.” Otherwise, I stand by this.

Posted in Environment, Politics | Tagged , , , | 143 Comments

Republican members of Congress spend the 4th of July in Moscow less than 24 hours after the Senate Intelligence Committee issues a report unequivocally stating that Putin’s government interfered in our election on Trump’s behalf

We’ve yet to discuss it here, but, two days ago, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which, it’s worth noting, is chaired by the Republicans, released a report stating unequivocally what most of us already knew to be true — that Russia meddled in the 2016 election to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump as part of an ongoing campaign to destabilize the democratic underpinnings of the United States. Following is an excerpt from the report, which essentially says that there is no credible evidence which would cause one to question the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) that “Putin and the Russian Government aspired (through various means) to help President-elect Trump’s election chances.”

Interestingly, the very day after this report was issued, seven elected Republicans, led by Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, were in Moscow, meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. In another era, given the facts outlined above, it would have been a tense meeting. Shelby and his fellow Republicans, however, didn’t seem to care too much that the Russians had interfered in our election, hacked into our state voter registration databases, spread fake stories with the intention of sowing discord, etc. In fact, Shelby started the meeting by actually saying, “I’m not here today to accuse Russia of this or that or so forth.” [The Republican delegation consisted of Senators Richard Shelby (Alabama), Steve Daines (Montana), John Thune (South Dakota), John Kennedy (Louisiana), Jerry Moran (Kansas) and John Hoeven (North Dakota), and Congresswoman Kay Granger (Texas).]

So, our esteemed Republican delegation, in spite of the evidence showing that Vladimir Putin and his government had actively sought to select our president for us, just sat there, talking about how the United States, to quote Senator Shelby, should be striving for “a better relationship” with the country that had, quite literally, attacked us. But, really, who would have expected anything different from the shameless and craven Trump enablers who remain in the Republican Party? They take their direction from the President, and the President, it’s quite well established, doesn’t give a fuck about the Russian attack on our democracy. Here, in case you missed it, is just the most recent example of Trump’s pro-Putin stance, recorded at a rally in Montana earlier this evening.

None of this is normal. It wasn’t normal when, shortly after we learned the extent to which Putin had gone to see Trump in the White House, our president suggested that we turn to Russia to help safeguard future elections, and it’s certainly not normal now, after all of the indictments and guilty pleas.

Here, for those of you who can’t remember back that far, is that tweet of Trump’s about how we should partner with the Kremlin to form “an impenetrable cyber security unit” that would guarantee the security of our elections going forward.

And here’s our patriotic Fourth of July delegation to the Kremlin, laying the groundwork for a July 16 meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in Helsinki — a meeting which, we’re told, Donald Trump has requested that no other Americans be present for… Again, this is not normal. None of this is normal. And we cannot accept it. Our nation is not just under attack by a foreign adversary, but that foreign adversary is being aided in its efforts by our elected officials. In any other period of American history, the authorities would be waiting at the airport to greet these seven Republicans on their return from Moscow, and we’d be discussing the possibility of treason charges. Instead, though, because we live in the era of constant chaos and the 5-minute news cycle, we’re already onto the next horror. [Take you pick: The sexual abuse scandal involving Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, Donald Trump mocking a war hero dying of brain cancer, or the firing of an EPA director who is currently the subject of a staggering 14 ethics inquiries.]

I know they say the issue of Russian election interference isn’t something that American voters care about, and that we’d have a better chance of retaking Congress if we just forgot about it, and focused instead on health care and the economy, but we are quite literally under attack, and our elected officials not only refuse to take action, but they’re actively coordinating with our enemies to ensure that the assault on our democracy continue. We cannot allow this.

[Today’s post is dedicated to the memory of Trump’s soon-to-be-departed EPA Director Scott “I pray as I have served you I have blessed you” Pruitt.]

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 61 Comments

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