I guess in a lot of ways I’m like most consumers of American political news. OK, perhaps a little more obsessed. Well, a lot more obsessed. In any event several times a week an item comes to my attention that really riles me. That occurred again last Friday and I wanted to discuss it with you today.
Friday night CBS News reported that John Kelly joined the Board of Directors of Caliburn Industries. If the name Caliburn Industries doesn’t mean anything to you join the club. At first glance it didn’t mean anything to me either. Caliburn Industries is the parent company of Comprehensive Health Services. That sounds harmless enough, in fact it sounds like a good thing; don’t judge a book by looking at its cover or a company by its name alone. Comprehensive Health Services’ facility in Homestead, Florida is the largest detention facility for unaccompanied migrant children in America and it has at least three other such facilities in Texas. In plain English they are in the business of incarcerating refugees who are minors and the American taxpayers are picking up the tab.
Make no mistake the difference between these facilities and for-profit prisons is much more one of corporate PR spin than reality. As with private prisons the emphasis is one keeping the beds occupied and thereby the profits up. It is not on returning the inmate (and in both cases that is what they are) to public life. An empty bed generates no profit.
Kelly, a retired marine general, started out as Donald Trump’s first Homeland Security Secretary and later became his second Chief-of-Staff. Kelly entered the administration with a good public record. I don’t believe much in “old cats” changing their stripes so I’m going to say it was a great PR job. During his time working for Trump, Kelly revealed himself to be a racist, misogynist, xenophobe and morally lacking. Remember his, “Empty barrel” comment about Representative Frederica Wilson? I do. Subsequently Kelly was proven to be completely incorrect on the substance of his difference with the congresswoman, let alone the rudeness of the remark. Despite daily contact with the press Kelly never once apologized. Why would he? Wilson is a woman and a black woman at that. Trump loved the job Kelly was doing at DHS because Trump viewed it as keeping brown people out of America.
When Kelly moved into the White House he was instrumental in getting Kirstjen Nielsen the Homeland Security Secretary job. Her legacy is that of the lady who put kids in cages. During her short tenure she repeatedly lied to Congress. Nielsen did have loyalty to Kelly, the man who got her the gig. During that time she kept arresting the kids and putting them in the cages Comprehensive Health Services made money off of. After Kelly left the White House Caliburn Industries rewarded him with a paid directorship.
Is that draining the swamp and shutting the revolving door? A bunch of penniless kids suffer perhaps irreparable damage so a guy who was already receiving a pension much greater than most Americans earn by working can make some more money off of their suffering. Kelly didn’t just become a bad and corrupt person overnight. I’m not sure who I feel sorrier for; the kids in cages or the countless Marines whose careers Kelly must have ruined during his climb up that ladder.
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