To Catch a Predator Edition
APPROVAL ALERT AT PRESS TIME:
FiveThirtyEight Poll: 42.2% – up from 42.1% last week
Rasmussen Poll: 46% – down from 47% last week
Welcome to Trumplandia, a place where with a bit of wit and snark, we keep the world caught up on all of the tasty Nuggets-O-Trump you may have heard about but were too busy to care. Because most of this minutia occurs just below the massive headlines about the POTUS, it’s in a land of its own. Here, an infusion of social media, video clips and print media meld with our outdated political views to make more delicious “Fake News” about our Commander-in-Chief.
So just like the president, we start it all with a little tweet like this:
A Real Cliff Hanger
The week of our Trump – Aug. 10, 2019: This week’s news cycle was hijacked by the type of media antics that turn rumor into fact and hyperbole somehow into the biggest story of the week.
I am of course referencing the jailhouse suicide of pedophile, kidnapper and rapist Jeffrey Epstein, who despite “federal protection” was able to end it all in his private cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.
Epstein, 66, was a good friend of President Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton, and a registered sex offender. He was arrested last month as the result of a joint investigation by the FBI and the New York Police. His arrest was tied to incidents of alleged prostitution, rape and molestation of children and teens from 2002 to 2005.
Known for lavish sex parties featuring young girls for sale for wealthy men like himself, it was understood Epstein had dirt on many of the nation’s most powerful people. He was found dead in his jail cell last week, and just yesterday the New York City medical examiner ruled it a suicide by hanging.
Until the official report was released, conspiracy theories sprouted from both sides of the political strata questioning how such a high-profile prisoner could accomplish a “fait accompli” after previously being on suicide watch.
Seen as someone who “knew too much,” Democrats linked Epstein’s death to Trump, who famously called the pedophile a “terrific guy,” with a “#TrumpBodyCount,” the Commander-in-Chief took it one step further by baselessly linking his pal’s death to a hit squad dispatched by his arch rival Hillary Clinton and her hubby, President #42.
This week it was reported in the New York Times and the Washington Post the autopsy revealed broken bones in the neck that were consistent with breaks found in suicidal hangings. Lawyers have rejected the findings of the medical examiner and called for an outside autopsy.
Both conspiracies suggested there had to be something extraordinary to happen with Epstein’s death given his powerful circle of friends, all the naughtiness in which he must have personally participated and many secrets he must possess. Many in the media were shocked a prisoner could die in federal prison and that it could have been missed by sleeping guards.
To normal people, it looked at least like basic prison neglect and a guy who realized his goose was cooked, so he cashed in his chips. That basic theory was bolstered by the medical examiner’s report, but nasty Jeff would not to go into the night quietly.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr launched an investigation into the suicide almost immediately, stating that if someone is going to die on his watch there would be repercussions. After all, Epstein had attempted to kill himself about three weeks earlier, and at the time he was placed on suicide watch. His then cell mate was investigated and was cleared of any wrongdoing in his July attempt at death.
However, amid all the speculation rose a re-tweet from the President that openly implicated the former occupant of the White House for putting a hit on Epstein. The original tweet was from Trump supporter and comedian Terrence K. Williams, who suggested Epstein was killed by the “Clinton’s,” like others who have divulged secrets about them.
The video on Trump’s re-tweet was disabled by Twitter as we penned this weekly wrap, and Williams, on his personal Twitter page, voiced concern for his safety even though he was backed by Trump. He exclaimed: “If something happens to me I am not suicidal!”
However, Trump’s lowering of the bar and possible defamation of Bill and Hillary Clinton was another hit on the credibility of the office of the President.
I have no problem with an actor/comedian and private citizen like @w_terrence aka Terrence K. Williams advancing his opinion, but when the leader of the Free World re-tweets it on his platform and adds to the mayhem, that may be abuse of power.
Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to procuring a person under 18 for prostitution and felony solicitation in connection with the charges, but then-U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta allowed Epstein to sign a non-prosecution agreement allowing him to only serve 13 months, mostly on work release in a private wing of a county jail. Dozens of Epstein’s alleged victims were never allowed a day in court and were not informed he was released from prison in 2009.
Epstein’s non-prosecution agreement with Acosta’s office became public due to civil lawsuits filed by a number of the predator’s victims. Federal authorities found between 2001 and 2007, Epstein conspired with others to knowingly persuade or entice young girls to engage in prostitution and others to transport the children across state lines for illicit behavior and prostitution. He often paid minors to have sex with him during “private massages” that he paid between $200 to $1,000 per illicit act.
An investigation was opened by the Justice Department in February of 2019 into how federal lawyers handled Epstein’s case in 2008. Letters from Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) questioned Epstein’s “sweetheart deal” of a sentence and more alleged victims pressed forth with civil lawsuits. Sasse’s push caused Acosta, then Trump’s Secretary of Labor, to resign amid questions about how Epstein’s sentence was handled.
His jail time was tied to the time period between 2002 and 2005 when he allegedly paid hundreds of dollars in cash to girls as young as 14 to have sex with him in his Manhattan townhouse. He was being charged with one count of sex trafficking conspiracy and one count of sex trafficking. He faced up to 45-years in prison if found guilty. His planned court date was expected to give his victims an opportunity to tell their stories.
There are currently several civil lawsuits being brought against Epstein’s estate, and Barr said “any co-conspirators should not rest easy.”
As the FBI and Justice Department’s inspector general continue to investigate how Trump’s buddy was able hang himself, Barr had the two correctional center employees responsible for watching Mr. Nasty on his last night on Earth placed on administrative leave, and Warden Lamine N’diaye was moved to the Bureau of Prisons and replaced.
But the cowardly Trump continued to fan the flames of division like an ignorant teenager. He never took responsibility for his reckless and arguably defamatory tweet. When interviewed about why he shared the author’s view and accused a former President of a contract hit, Donnie hung all the blame on the obscure comedian we did not vote into office.
“He is a highly respected conservative pundit, a big Trump fan, that was a re-Tweet, it wasn’t from me,” the President said of his possible abuse of power. “It was from him. He’s a man with half a million followers…and he’s respected.”
President of Israel?
King Donald of America took his biggest step towards nixing democracy for some kind of plutocratic alternative this week when he was able to impose the American Muslim Ban in sovereign Israel.
At the behest of the American leader, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Aug. 15 forbade two freshman members of the U.S. Congress from visiting Israel because of legislation they sponsored in America.
Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, were forbidden from visiting Israel during a planned trip with other members of Congress and the media set for Aug. 18-22, 2019.
Omar and Tlaib planned the trip as a way to see Israel, but from a Palestinian perspective. The move was not supported by the Trump Administration or the Israeli government. Palestine is not a country recognized by either country. Netanyahu disallowed the planned visit following the Trump tweet.
HIs decision rebuffs an earlier decision on the visit entered by the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ambassador Ron Dermer, who signed off on the tour in July, was aware both Omar and Tlaib wanted to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories.
He said: “Out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel.”
So what changed?
Trump’s above tweet placed a rather large bee in Bibi’s bonnet, and only hours later the Israeli Prime Minister issued his version of the Muslim ban in obeyance to the American president’s assessment. Trump’s sycophant later released a statement that said the two Congresswomen only sought to damage Israel and therefore could not be allowed to visit.
The unprecedented move drew immediate condemnation from Democratic members of Congress and of course Omar and Tlaib, who all saw it as a way for Trump to use a foreign country to punish his rivals.
Following Trump’s tweet, perception of the planned visit changed from a fact finding mission to a way to formally support the “Boycott, Divest and Sanctions” movement. The movement allegedly aims to end international support of Israel due to its policies on Palestine. Both Congresswoman have voted against a House of Representatives measure to condemning the movement.
Yesterday, a day after her ban, Tlaib’s travel restriction was lifted by Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who accepted the Michigan Congresswoman’s request to visit the land of her ancestors and her 90-year-old grandmother in Beit Ur al-Fouqa. The ban could only be lifted if Tlaib penned a letter requesting permission from Israel to enter on humanitarian grounds and accept restrictions imposed upon her.
Tliab, who is of Palestinian descent, rejected the invite soon after.
“I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in – fighting against racism, oppression & injustice.”
Deri characterized the stance of the Congresswoman as a snub, stating her hatred for Israel was stronger than her love for her grandmother. Deri went on to view the planned visit as “a provocation in order to besmirch Israel.”
Trump tweeted support for Israel and accused Tliab of using the trip to grandstand. He said Israel acted appropriately by banning members of Congress, especially after Israel had been “respectful and nice.”
I guess when you are an aspiring dictator, autocrat or whatever you’d call the Israeli Prime Minister “Bibi” Netanyahu and you know you glean a ton of money from the U.S., it’s not surprising your Daddy could tell you when to jump and how high.
In the end, an outside nation has again been used to suit Mr. Trump’s political mood. His distortion and vilification of the so-called “Squad” is yet another political move that is beneath the office and disrespects this American democracy.
If you thought we took exception to Donald Trump leading cheers to tell Omar and Talib to go back to the countries from which they have come, even though they are all full American citizens and elected by the citizens of their states.
Who is Israel, or any other nation, or Donald Trump for that matter, to be able to tell us where we can go and about which we can talk? This action, made partisan by Trump and his cult, strikes at the very basis of our nation’s sovereignty and re-casts our Republic as less than great again.
Partying Like it’s 1882
The Trump Administration this week began a push to make the country as great as it was under President #21 Chester Arthur.
Re-visiting the Immigration Act of 1882, which allowed immigration authorities at U.S. ports of entry to identify and remove anyone they felt was a convict, lunatic, idiot or any person unable to take care of themselves without becoming a public charge, the Trump administration unveiled a new/old way to torture migrants.
Presented as the new “public charge” law, the new provision would expand the federal government’s ability to deny green cards for legal immigrants based on their use of food stamps and Medicaid. Announced on Aug. 12, the new law would go into effect on Oct. 15, 2019.
The Trump Administration trotted out Acting Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli to appear on NPR’s Morning Edition on Aug. 13 and offer an overview of what is expected to be yet another provision to the immigration laws that would limit legal immigrants.
The Cooch even took the liberty of re-interpreting the Emma Lazarus poem that is inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty itself, which he re-imagined to say:
“Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”
The Trumpian interpretation of the archaic law, which would be reimagined to lower legal immigration, is a resurrected version of the racist Congressional laws that attempted to limit Chinese immigrants under the Chinese Exclusion Act.
In a CNN op-ed authored by Cuccinelli, the new law would allow the federal government to reject green card and visa applicants if they are low income, don’t have sufficient education or have used public assistance since arriving. Cuccinelli said this change will allow Citizenship and Immigration Services to objectively determine whether the applicant is likely to receive public benefits.
“The law,” he wrote. “will require self-reliance and self-sufficiency for those seeking to come to or stay in the United States,” and “self-sufficiency has been a core tenant of the American dream.”
The unassuming announcement did not go over well.
Led by Washington State Attorney General Robert Ferguson, 13 states filed a lawsuit against the “public charge” rule on Aug. 14.
Washington State, Virginia, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico and Rhode Island sued the Department of Homeland Security over the new rule.
Ferguson said the rule is unlawful and changes the meaning of the term “public charge,” which he argues violates the Immigration and Nationality Act.
“The rule is arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion because – among other reasons – it reverses a decades-old consistent policy without reasoned analysis,” the Washington State lawsuit stated. “The Trump Administration’s message is clear: if you’re wealthy you’re welcome, if you’re poor, you’re not,” Ferguson further stated.