Nel's New Day

February 22, 2017

Deportation Guidelines Chaotic, Destructive to All

Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) timing is suspect in his attempt to distract people from the horrific things he does. On the same day that he announced he was not racist—trying to cover for his avoidance of the topic since he was inaugurated–his administration released new draconian guidelines for deportation and the construction of his border wall. The next day Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly went to Mexico to mend fences that DDT had put up between him and Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto.

It’s the same approach that DDT used on January 25 when he gave out his first executive orders on immigration and the wall, leading the Mexican president to cancel his plans to visit the United States within a few days. Since then, DDT has threatened to send U.S. military into Mexico to battle crime because Peña Nieto couldn’t handle it. This conversation followed DDT’s frequent campaign accusations that Mexico deliberately sent their drug dealers and rapists to the U.S.

With the new guidelines for deportation, DDT seems to think that any undocumented person in the United States just gets dropped on the other side of the border, no matter their country of origin. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), one of a group of U.S. senators visiting Mexico last weekend, said that migrants to the U.S. are largely not from Mexico but crossing the country from other parts of Latin America. He said that the U.S. needs Mexico’s cooperation to deal with that problem. DDT’s radical anti-Mexico rhetoric has energized progressive Mexican political parties, worrying business leaders on both sides of the border, and thousands of people rallied against DDT in Mexico City a few days ago.

According to the new guidelines, anyone with an immigration violation can be deported. No longer will the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency prioritize the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants who commit serious offenses. No “classes or categories of removal aliens” will be exempt from potential enforcement, according to the ICE website. Undocumented workers can be deported for paying taxes if they are using a false Social Security number. Immigrants who have completed their jail sentences are on the deportation list.

The old guidelines subjected immigrants to “expedited removal” without pleading their cases in front of immigration judges if they were caught within 14 days of entering the country without authorization and within 100 miles of the two contiguous countries of Canada and Mexico. New guidelines changed that time limit to two years and allows officials bypass due process protections such as court hearings during that time.

Unaccompanied children fleeing violence in their home countries to seek humanitarian relief will be affected by the new guidelines. International law requires that these non-citizens have the right to make a case that they left these countries to avoid persecution or death, but they will be deported if they cannot immediately present documents explaining a “credible” fear to apply for asylum. The 59,692 unaccompanied children who came across the southern U.S. border in 2016 face this deportation. New guidelines indicate that children reunited with their parents in the U.S. will no longer be “unaccompanied” and can be deported.

ICE can take away children from parents legally in the U.S. who smuggle them into the country under the pretense of child abuse by submitting them to this process and be referred for criminal prosecution. They may also face charges of human trafficking. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had unsuccessfully tried to persuade past AG Loretta Lynch to follow this procedure, but she is gone and Sessions is in charge.

Another part of the guidelines restores the Secure Communities Program, allowing ICE to get help from local law enforcement for detaining and deporting immigrants, making these officials de facto immigration agents. It also terminates the Priority Enforcement Program that prioritized serious crimes for deportation and asked for leniency for immigrants with longstanding ties to the United States.

DHS plans to hire 10,000 or more additional agents, expand the number of detention facilities, and create an ICE office to help families of those killed by undocumented workers. DDT has not identified the source of billions of dollars required for these guidelines. Undocumented immigrants will have their crimes publicized, and they will be stripped of privacy protections. Although Dreamers, who were brought to the United States as young children, are not to be targeted unless they commit crimes, ICE agents have been violating this order.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the new guidelines show that “the No. 1 priority is that people who pose a threat to our country are immediately dealt with.” Yet crime is lower among immigrants than native-born people of the United States.

Lawyers and advocates for immigrants said the new policies could still be challenged in court, and some courts in states such as Illinois, Oregon, and Pennsylvania are not holding immigrants for up to 48 hours beyond the scheduled release from detention. Since at least 1886, courts have used the 14th Amendment to give some constitutional equality and fair treatment to non-citizens. Many states and cities are not using law enforcement workers to identify undocumented immigrants, a federal responsibility.

Two former Senate aides for Sessions drafted the plan with no input from career DHS policy staffers. Much of it came from a 1996 law disregarded as either unenforceable or absurd, including the part that returns people “to the foreign contiguous territory from which they arrived.” The memo states that the U.S. can save money that way. Nothing was said about the security problems along the border as undocumented immigrants are pushed back and forth.

DDT said that he would send back only criminals, but the redefinition of crime includes everyone in the nation who came in without a proper visa or overstayed a visit. The idea to hire 10,000 new agents overlooks the fact that the U.S. can’t fill the existing positions. Sixty percent of applicants to the Border Patrol fail the mandated polygraph, and those who are hired aren’t sent into the field for 18 months. As for using existing law enforcement officials, police departments in the largest cities don’t participate because of their belief that it erodes the trust between officers and the communities that they are protecting.

Beyond the destruction of families and lives, the new guidelines will erase much of the labor pool for farm workers, especially in the West and Southwest. About 57 percent of the nation’s entire agricultural workforce is undocumented. Other industries—meatpacking, building, healthcare, restaurant and retail service, for example—are dependent on immigrant labor. Immigrants comprise 40 percent of Wisconsin’s dairy industry workers and almost one in three U.S. farming and fishing workers is from Mexico. The 8 million undocumented immigrants who are employed comprise over five percent of all workers and are clustered in low-wage industries, frequently making under minimum wage.

Alabama has already experienced the devastation from fewer undocumented immigrants after Gov. Robert Bentley, now on the verge of impeachment, signed a law causing these workers to flee the state. Farmers had to plant less because their crops had rotted in the field in the previous year. Georgia did the same thing, and farmers lost 40 percent of their workers along with $140 million worth of crops in just the first year. Farmers tried to hire local workers, but they couldn’t even last a day. Prisoners were sent out to pick crops, but they couldn’t endure the work. Even with visas for farm workers, farmers have had to watch their crops rot because of bureaucratic difficulties.

DDT’s plan could cost the economy $5 trillion in ten years—that’s $500 billion a year—with unauthorized workers contributing about 3 percent of private-sector gross domestic product.

As the graph in this article shows, no state supports DDT’s deportation plan, even if a majority of their voters supported DDT in the election. Let’s just hope that they remember what DDT is doing in the 2018 election.

DDT’s racist plan concentrates on Hispanics, who comprise fewer than half the number of undocumented immigrants, and stereotypes all of them as criminals. The plan shreds lives, families, communities, and businesses; it is an action that touches everyone in the nation in some way–physically, emotionally, and financially.

As usual, DDT controls people with unsubstantiated fears. He loves creating chaos, and the nation is allowing him to play with the country as he would with his other toys. As usual, he controls people with unsubstantiated fears.

 

February 16, 2017

Trump Surrounds Himself with White Supremacists

It’s the 21st century, and white supremacists are controlling the White House. After World War II, the nation was “great” because the United States had defeated Nazism during World War II. Less than a century ago, neo-Nazis are a key component in leading the country.

steve-bannonSteve Bannon, de facto president, has received a great deal of press, including posts in this blog. Readers of Breitbart.com learned about the high “black crime” and the “Muslim hordes” beating down the gates of “Western civilization.” Readers also learned that women who use contraceptives are ugly, but that’s another story.

stephen-millerSenior advisor Stephen Miller made a huge name for himself on last Sunday’s talk shows by explaining that the supreme power of and last word in U.S. government is DDT—a position of czar. College roommate of Richard Spencer, a major white supremacist leader, Miller fiercely advocates for “ethno-nationalism,” a way of claiming the superiority of whites and the belief that U.S. culture needs to force out anyone not believing in the nation’s “Judeo-Christian values.” Miller communicated this on the talk shows in his falsehood that “millions” of “illegal aliens” voted against DDT. [Above photo by Jabin Botsford]

Miller was behind DDT’s anti-Muslim rhetoric, probably writing DDT’s speech that “complained darkly that Muslim communities within the United States were sheltering terrorists.” He wrote other strident speeches, including DDT’s declaration that “nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.” In Miller’s view, immigration is one of the greatest “existential issues” in the nation, according to a former Miller colleague. Mostly behind the scenes until last Sunday, Miller is equally instrumental as Steve Bannon to DDT’s agenda of exclusion and white hegemony.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 09:  U.S. President Donald Trump (C) put his hand on the shoulder of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) after introducing him before Sessions's swearing in ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House February 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump also signed three executive orders immediately after the swearing in ceremony. Also pictured is U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L).  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Well-known racist, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions the Third has just been anointed Attorney General after Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his minions blocked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) from reading a Coretta Scott King letter about Sessions’ racist behavior. As DDT’s lap dog, he will protect all the president’s illegal actions. Sessions is now the leading law enforcement official of the entire nation, charged with protecting civil rights for racial minorities and other vulnerable populations. We can look forward to Sessions’ protecting the Ku Klux Klan and other white populations.

gorkaSebastian Gorka, DDT’s deputy assistant and former “national security” editor for Breitbart.com, is rabidly Islamophobic and a promoter—perhaps creator—of the term “fake news” for anyone who criticizes DDT. He also strongly supported the omission of any reference to Jews in the Holocaust remembrance statement, possibly because he’s also anti-Semitic.

medalA medal he sports in photographs, the Order of Vitéz, belongs to a Hungarian group identified in the State Department as collaborator with the Nazis during World War II. [visual] The medal of the “vitézi rend,” established by virulently anti-Semitic Miklós Horthy in 1920, was used to “knight” military members and could be inherited. The medal could be inherited, in Gorka’s case most likely from his grandfather. As a Nazi Germany ally, Hungary passed anti-Semitic legislation in 1938 and sent 100,000 Jewish men to forced labor in 1941.

In 1944, Hungary first put 440,000 Jews into ghettos and then deported 425,000 of them to Auschwitz-Birkenau where three-fourths of them were gassed on arrival. The others died from disease, starvation, and other brutal treatment. By the end of the Holocaust, 75 percent of Hungarian Jews were dead. The “knightly order” was banned after the war, but right-wing émigrés kept the organization alive. Anti-Semites again brag about predecessors being a “vitéz.”

michael-antonDDT has added another white supremacist to his team on the National Security Council. Michael Anton, aka Publius Decius Mus, wrote “The Flight 93 Election” for racist Trump supporters, comparing Trump’s campaign to the hijacked plane on 9/11 that passengers took back by force. As a communications aide for the National Security Council in 2001, he participated in preparing the case for invading Iraq that included the myth that Saddam Hussein wanted uranium from Africa. Like DDT, Anton has later disavowed that he supported the Iraq War. [Photo: AP/Carolyn Kaster]

Anton’s essay “Toward a Sensible, Coherent Trumpism” defended pre-world War II anti-Semitism:

“Diversity” is not ‘our strength’; it’s a source of weakness, tension and disunion. America is not a ‘nation of immigrants’; we are originally a nation of settlers, who later chose to admit immigrants, and later still not to, and who may justly open or close our doors solely at our own discretion, without deference to forced pieties.”

Even neoconservative Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, is critical, comparing Anton to the Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. Kristol wrote:

“The Bannon-Anton wing of the Trump White House has a penchant for semi-conspiratorial analyses and semi-kooky prescriptions. And for them, being responsible isn’t a virtue. Which is worrisome.”

As Heather Digby Parton wrote for Salon, DDT found his supporters among those who “see the Obama years as a conscious destruction of civil society through politically correct racial McCarthyism, confiscatory taxes, overbearing regulation, religious oppression, rampant crime and disarmament of the populace” that they learned “on Fox News, heard about from Rush Limbaugh and read about on Breitbart News for nearly a decade.”

DDT’s minions reported what was being pushed on these sources of lies, that Common Core is a disaster, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl “traitorous,”  DDT looks down from his plan and sees the nation as a “war zone” with high crime where all blacks live in violent, squalid ghettos. DDT pictures the U.S. on the edge of social and economic collapse. And these falsehoods are pushed by the white supremacists who DDT has selected to surround him.

“White nationalism” means hostility to Muslims, racial stereotypes of Hispanics, and contempt for blacks. Bannon recently wrote, “In America and Europe, working people are reasserting their right to control their own destinies.” “Working” is dogwhistle for “white” in the same way that Bannon meant Jews and other minorities when he denigrated “cosmopolitan elites.”

Neither Miller nor Bannon supported Andrew Puzder, accusing him of not being strong enough on anti-immigration. After wife-abusing Steve Bannon got rid of wife-abusing Puzder, who withdrew his nomination for Labor Department secretary, conservative Alex Acosta has appeared as a nominee for that position. Acosta’s resume includes clerking for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, confirmation to the National Labor Board, and top federal prosecutor in Miami.

acostaIt was his position on the DOJ Civil Rights Division during George W. Bush’s first term that led to his problems. Acosta’s oversaw the official with hiring authority who allowed employment of only conservative lawyers opposed to civil rights, including police abuse and voting rights violations. A report found that “Acosta took no action to alert those in his chain of command.” As a DOJ official, Acosta participated in Bush’s efforts to win Ohio by telling a judge to side with GOP attorneys when Democrats tried to reinstate the purged names of 23,000 voters. Acosta’s action caused him to lose out in his application to be the law school head at the University of Florida. A question is how Bannon and Miller will cope with Acosta’s pro-Muslim testimony in a congressional hearing.

The last two years have seen a rise in anti-Muslim hate groups in the United States with an almost three-fold increase just last year from 34 to 101. “As the radical right was energized by the candidacy of Donald Trump,” the overall number of domestic hate groups is now 917 in a “resurgence of white nationalism.” The report added that the new groups “were almost entirely focused on Trump and seemed to live off his candidacy.” The FBI reported a 67-percent surge of hate crimes against Muslims in 2015.

Today DDT again called himself  “the least racist [person you have seen in your entire life].” These are the people he chooses to “make America great again.”

January 31, 2017

Supreme Court Nominee, Lack of Independent Judiciary

Republicans said last year that no Democratic president would ever put a justice on the Supreme Court, starting with their refusal to vet President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, nominated almost one year before the end of the president’s term. Today Donald Trump (DT) drew attention away from his Muslim ban on entering the U.S. by his appointment for this position.Supreme Court nominees can be filibustered unless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) changes the rule to a simple majority.

DT’s nominee: Neil Gorsuch, 49, judge on the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals covering six Western states; the son of perhaps the most corrupt head of the Environmental Protection Agency in its history; attends Episcopalian church; appointed by George W. Bush in 2006; would be the most conservative judge on the court except for Clarence Thomas; opposes assisted suicide, legal in six states, because “human life is intrinsically valuable”; sided with Hobby Lobby in viewing contraception as immoral and defunding Planned Parenthood; falsely described birth control drugs and devices as having the effect of “destroying a fertilized human egg”; believes that business owners have religious liberty claims over their employees’ statutory right to access preventive health care; favors Christian religious expression in public spaces; endorses lack of gun safety laws; opposes agency regulatory power to consolidate power within the judiciary; is originalist, interpreting the Constitution as it was understood at the time it was adopted; opposes using the court for social reform; endangers labor and environmental protections, immigrants, and criminal defendants; most likely supports “religious liberty” to escape anti-discrimination laws; co-founded the ultra-conservative publication The Federalist; wants police to be immune from lawsuit for official actions unless “clearly established” law is violated.

In short, Gorsuch as Supreme Court justice would reward corporations and the Koch brothers and penalize voters, workers, women, and the planet. The question is whether DT appointed Gorsuch because the Democrats will filibuster against him and then go with Thomas Hardiman. Another question is how this nomination connects with the Department of Justice.

In his campaigns, Donald Trump (DT) promised to protect the U.S. Constitution. On Day Seven of his presidency, he issued a Muslim ban that violates up to three constitutional amendments, and on Day Ten he fired Sally Yates a few hours after the Acting Attorney General upheld the Constitution. DT claimed that she “betrayed the Department of Justice” and made the country less safe.

The last president to fire an Attorney General was Richard Nixon when Richard Nixon, who fired his AG and Deputy AG in the “Saturday Night Massacre” because they denied his order to dismiss the Watergate Special Prosecutor. Yates replacement is Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, until Senate confirms a person for AG. He said that he would order the DOJ to defend DT’s Muslim ban. At this time, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is being reviewed by the complete U.S. Senate.

In a letter to Justice Department lawyers, Yates stated that the DOJ must take positions in court that “remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand up for what is right.” She also pointed out that the DOJ’s mission is to defend and uphold the Constitution based on established legal precedents. Almost a year ago, she wrote a memo to employees that they must “ensure that politics does not compromise the integrity of our work.”

Concluding that DT’s Muslim ban failed to meet basic constitutional and moral tests, she said she would not assign federal attorneys to show up in court to defend the policy in court. The New York judge granting a temporary restraining order stopping the ban declared that it was likely unconstitutional.

During her 27 years with the DOJ, Yates prosecuted “numerous white-collar fraud and political corruption matters.” She was confirmed as Deputy Attorney General with 85 votes in 2015. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said:

“I supported her nomination, both in Committee and today in the full Senate, and I hope that she will show independence as she provides leadership at the Department. As she told us during her hearing, she is aware that her client is, ‘The people of the United States… not the President… not the Congress, it’s the people of the United States.’”

Sessions, now an anti-Constitution nominee for AG, supported Yates positions:

“Well. you have to watch out, because people will be asking you to do things you just need to say ‘no’ about. Do you think the attorney general has a responsibility to say no to the president if he asks for something that’s improper? [„,] If the views the president wants to execute are unlawful, should the attorney general or the deputy attorney general say no?”

Yates answered that the AG or Deputy AG had the responsibility to follow the law and the Constitution with “independent legal advice to the president.” Sessions followed up:

 “Like any CEO, with a law firm — sometimes the lawyers have to tell the CEO: ‘Mr. CEO, you can’t do that. Don’t do that. We’ll get us sued. It’s going to be in violation of the law. You’ll regret it, please.’ No matter how headstrong they might be. Do you feel like that’s the duty of the attorney general’s office?”

Yates agreed with the 2015 Sessions by saying, “I do believe that that’s the duty of the attorney general’s office, to fairly and impartially evaluate the law and to provide the president and the administration with impartial legal advice.” The year 2017 has a very different president, and Sessions, if confirmed for AG, plans to support the president who lacks respect for the document that Republicans promise to revere.

White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, defended the Muslim ban by citing the tragic attack on a Quebec mosque that killed six people and wounded another eight but made no reference that this was an attack on Muslims. The alleged attacker on the Muslims was Alexandre Bissonnette, a pro-Trump white French Canadian who was known for making anti-immigrant and misogynist remarks. Justin Trudeau accurately called it a terrorist attack on Muslims. Yet the Fox network and the Gab messaging service misinformation insisted on identifying a man of Moroccan descent as a suspect and not a witness.

Another DT defense of the Muslim ban is the attack in San Bernadino by Tashfeen Malick on a K1 visa. Malik was from a wealthy Pakistan family and later moved to Saudi Arabia; neither country is on DT’s list of banned countries. Her husband, who participated in the attack, was a U.S. citizen.

Asked about the five-year-old Iranian boy detained over the weekend in response to DT’s new Muslim ban, Spicer replied, “To assume that just because of someone’s age or gender or whatever that they don’t pose a threat would be wrong.” An 11-month-old baby, a U.S. citizen, was separated from the mother, a legal permanent resident who the Muslim ban tried to deport. The mother was kept from breastfeeding her child.

The press secretary also lied in his references to President Obama’s 2011 policy temporarily delaying visas for Iraqis. And Homeland Security and border patrol officials ignored court orders to release the detainees or even let lawyers see them.

DT also moved James Ragsdale, the Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to his former position with no explanation. He was replaced with Thomas Homan,  “deporter in chief” who deported at least 920,000 people and “spearheaded the management and reform of the largest civil detention system in the nation” by adding detention beds. An executive order signed by Mr. Trump last week calls for tripling the number of deportation agents. DT has now indicated that he intends to emphasize Homan’s harsh enforcement measures.

The possible confirmation of Jeff Sessions as AG is a continuing constitutional crisis exemplified by the firing of Sally Yates. White supremacist Steve Bannon said that he and Sessions are at the center of Trump’s “pro-America movement” and the global nationalist phenomenon. Bannon claims that the nation is “witnessing now is the birth of a new political order, and the more frantic a handful of media elites become, the more powerful that new political order becomes itself.” Sessions has refused to recuse himself from any investigations into DT, his family, his aides, his conflicts of interest—anything that would challenge DT. And he’ll have the support of the white supremacists.

DT’s firing Yates goes far beyond unconstitutionality of the Muslim ban to raise questions about his commitment to the Constitution and the law of the land. He has said that federal district judge, Gonzalo Curiel, could not properly adjudicate a fraud lawsuit against Trump University because his parents were born in Mexico. DT would “instruct the attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look” into Hillary Clinton if he got elected and suggested he would break the law by waterboarding terrorism suspects.

Firing Yates also raises questions about DT’s relationship with the judiciary, which is intended to be an independent government branch. Did DT require commitments from his new nominees, Sessions and Gorsuch? Would he directly contact them about personal complaints? Or push them toward decisions that he wants?

The United States may be in the midst of a coup, “a change in power from the top that merely results in the abrupt replacement of leading government personnel”–a massive power grab by people who hate the rule of law.

August 13, 2016

No Prison for Sexual Assault Perpetrator

Petition.

Another judge has ruled no prison term for a college student who sexually assaulted a young woman. Like Judge Aaron Persky in the Brock Turner case, a convicted sexual assault perpetrator jailed only three months for sexual assault conviction, Boulder District (CO) Patrick Butler finds the future of the perpetrator more important than punishment.

Austin James Wilkerson, University of Colorado (CU) student, was “pissed off” after the victim rejected his advances. He called her a “f*$%ing bitch” and told friends later that he would “take care” of her. While others watched, Wilkerson gave her water and checked her pulse and temperature. He even sent a text to her friend about his caring for her.

When he was alone with the victim, he sexually assaulted her in multiple ways while she went in and out of consciousness. At trial, he testified she wasn’t drunk and had made “pleasure sounds” while he “caressed” her vagina. He said he left in the middle of the encounter because he felt guilty for cheating on his girlfriend. Wilkerson finally admitted that he “digitally and orally penetrated” the woman while he “wasn’t getting much of a response from her.”

The probation department determined Wilkerson remorseful, but Deputy District Attorney Caryn Datz disagreed, saying the former college student had lied on the witness stand. “It was a five-day display of arrogance, entitlement, privilege and blatant disregard for the role of law,” Datz said of his trial. “This defendant on the witness stand admitted he is willing to lie to gain an advantage to himself.” Deputy District Attorney Lisa Saccomano said Wilkerson displayed a pattern of “highly deceptive, manipulative behavior,” changing his story when it suited him from the night of the sexual assault to his interviews with the probation department.

In court, Austin’s victim said:

“When I’m not having nightmares about the rape, retaliation or a retrial gone awry, I’m having panic attacks. Some days I can’t even get out of bed…. Have as much mercy for the rapist as he did for me that night.”

The victim also told the court about the victim blaming and quoted the ways that victimized are faulted for attacks on them–for example, “If I hadn’t been drunk, this wouldn’t have happened. If I hadn’t gotten separated, this wouldn’t have happened.” She asked, “Yet it was excusable for him to rape me because he was drunk?”

patrick butlerAlthough Wilkerson’s conviction for unlawful sexual assault and assaulting a helpless victim should have given him four to twelve years in prison with the possibility of life if he weren’t rehabilitated, Butler (right) was afraid that rehabilitation was not possible and didn’t want to send him to prison. Therefore he sentenced Wilkerson to 20 years to life on probation and two years in the county jail allowing him to leave during the day to work or attend classes. The judge agreed that Wilkerson appeared to feel “entitled” and “tried to play the system,” but he still kept Wilkerson out of prison.

University of Colorado has 13,000 female students. A recent survey shows that 28 percent of female undergraduates at CU say they were sexually assaulted during their time on campus. Datz explained what she tells victims they will have to endure if they take a sexual assault crime to court:

“That despite her courage, and telling her parents, her school, police coming to meet me, it wouldn’t be enough. That she would have to come into a court and be totally exposed in a court full of strangers. I had to tell her she’ll be accused of seeking attention or having some sort of unknown agenda, and that our community may dismiss this as a drunken college night. I hate to have these kinds of conversations with the bravest people I get to meet.”

In California, Persky is facing a recall campaign for his light sentence of Brock Turner. In the meantime, some prospective jurors are refusing to serve under Persky because of his actions in the Turner case. Persky was also removed from a case in which a male nurse faces allegations of sexually assaulting an anesthetized woman.

According to Mitchell Byars, staff writer for the Daily Camera, district judges are not subject to recall. They are appointed by the governor’s office and subject to retention votes. Butler is not up for retention until 2020, and voters in the 20th Judicial District, covering Boulder County, have always supported a judge in a retention vote. The state legislature can, however, impeach judges. Signatures on this petition are one way to show legislators that they need to impeach Butler for his sentence of Wilkerson.

Wilkerson is not the only person convicted of sexual assault in Boulder County to stay out of prison. Seven months ago, Boulder District Judith LaBuda saved Daniel Ryerson, an Air Force cadet convicted of raping a fellow cadet, from a prison term of up to six years to life. LaBuda said she saw no “remorse” but found he had “redeemable qualities” allowing him to “be a functioning member of society in a positive manner if and when you accept responsibility for the crime that you committed: the rape of somebody who trusted you.” Letters from Ryerson show only blame for the victim and the court as he considers himself the victim.

Despite forensic evidence of rape, defense attorney John Pineau said his client wasn’t to blame any more than the victim:

“The facts in the case indicate that there was a joint venture in the case where both people had almost identical conduct, yet one person is demonized and the other is made a victim. The truth is not typically black or white, it’s somewhere in between.”

Ryerson raped the victim in a bathroom while she was drunk at a party. She says that she now lives in constant fear of retaliation. LaBuda said that she hoped there was “education to the rest of the cadets,” but lack of prison may not provide “education.”

All three men convicted of sexual assault are white and alive and not in prison.

Trump Watch: Trump’s campaign spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson, may be as ignorant as Trump about foreign and domestic affairs. She told CNN that Barack Obama was responsible for invading Afghanistan—that country that George W. Bush invaded in 2011 after he was appointed president by the Supreme Court—seven years before Obama became president.

Trump says that the presidential campaign has boosted his business, but he still refuses to release any tax returns. His excuse that he can’t while he’s being audited is totally bogus. His statement was made as part of a deposition in a $10 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against Geoffrey Zakarian. The chef pulled out of a deal to open a restaurant in Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel after Trump accused Mexican immigrants of being rapists and drug dealers. Trump also blamed the media in his deposition for misinterpreting his comments. He also filed a lawsuit against chef José Andrés who also terminated his restaurant plans after Trump’s statements.

The deposition also showed that Trump’s company keeps two sets of books—the real ones and the “rosier” ones for lenders and investors, according to testimony from Raymond Flores,  a financial analyst. Projections from the two different sets of books about Trump’s $200 million luxury hotel from Washington, D.C.’s Old Post Office building shows a difference in earnings of 25 percent more in rooms and twice as much in food—millions of dollars—in the lenders’ “model.”

Asked about the reality of the “rosier” picture, Flores said that “it is within the realm of possibility to do great things with this hotel.” Trump’s lawyers tried to keep the May testimony from the public eye, but BuzzFeed News has petitioned the court for the full deposition. The judge ruled in favor of the media, but Trump’s team has filed an emergency motion asking for him to reconsider. If the judge turns Trump down, there may be more revelations about Trump’s dealings.

Trump’s past deceptions have been made obvious with probes into Trump University, his  purchase of condominiums in Baja California, the failure of his Atlantic City casino, refusal to pay his workers, etc. Only the investors in his projects lose.

Once again, Trump may have persuaded Reince Priebus, RNC chair, that the candidate can pivot into a civilized person. After Priebus appeared at a Trump rally to talk about their unity, the RNC and Trump’s campaign are working together to open 25 Florida field offices and install over 200 paid staff within the next three weeks. The spending is in the low six figures whereas Clinton and her allies have already spent more than $20 million in the state.

This is the same Trump who said about the recent letter from leading Republicans begging the GOP to dump him:

“I don’t know that we need to get out the vote. I think people that really want to vote, they’re gonna just get up and vote for Trump. And we’re going to make America great again.”

If he weren’t so scary, it would be more fun listening to him than the Bushisms of George W.’s early first term.

 

August 12, 2016

Equal Pay for Women’s Soccer Team; ACA Makes People Healthier

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team has won three World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals, but they are still get paid just 72 percent per game as the U.S. men’s team—that didn’t even qualify for the current Olympics. The women’s team generated almost $20 million more in revenue than the men’s team, and their World Cup final last year was the most watched soccer game in history. Liza Bayless wrote:

“The US women’s national team collectively earned $2 million for their 2015 World Cup win. The US men’s national team — who has not made it past the quarterfinals of a World Cup in more than eight decades, and has never won — earned $9 million for their loss in the round of 16 at the 2014 Men’s World Cup in Brazil. Germany, the winning team, collected $35 million….

“The women’s team brought in more revenue in the 2016 fiscal year (granted, a World Cup year) and is also projected to outperform the men in revenue and profit in 2017, when neither team is playing a World Cup. US Soccer expects they will bring in almost twice as much as the men–$17.6 million versus $9 million. And yet the federation pays its female players $1,350 for winning an exhibition match while the men receive up to $17,625 for doing the same. For a loss, men receive $5,000. Women receive nothing. For making the World Cup roster, a male player makes $68,750 while a woman makes $15,000.

“The women do receive a base salary of $72,000 for playing on the national team and some benefits that the men do not. However, if both teams were to win all 20 exhibition games–the matches they play outside of tournaments–in a year, a female player would be paid $99,000 total (including base salary) while a male player would be paid $263,320. Additionally, sponsors compensate men hundreds of dollars more per game appearance.”

If you think that the women deserve equal pay for their winning as the men do for their losing, please sign this petition.

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While Republican candidates march around claiming that they will do away with the Affordable Care Act, ACA has provided health insurance to about 20 million people and made people healthier.

  • People are less likely to have medical debt or postpone care because of care.
  • People are more likely to have a regular doctor and get preventative health services.
  • Low-income people in Arkansas and Kentucky, which expanded Medicaid insurance to everyone below a certain income threshold, are healthier than peers in Texas, which did not expand.

These are the findings from a study during the last two years. A 2015 survey found that the people in Arkansas and Kentucky, states with Medicaid expansion, are almost five percent more likely than peers in Texas, a state without Medicaid expansion, to say they are in excellent health, a bigger difference than the 2014 survey. Another study in Oregon tracked people for two years who received Medicaid insurance and those who remained uninsured. People with insurance were much more likely to be in good or excellent health as well as more financially secure. The most recent state to expand its health care program, Louisiana, became the 31st in the nation.

Trump - New Yorker - leftTrump Watch: Two covers reflect Trump’s downward trajectory since the GOP convention only three weeks ago. The New Yorker shows rain falling on Trump to indicate the increasing disaster of his campaign. Time is considering Trump as “person of the year,” defined as a person, group, idea or object that “for better or for worse…has done the most to influence the events of the year.”

 

Trump - Time cover

 

Message to Republicans and Bernie supporters who plan to vote for Trump: The risk of having Donald Trump for president is far worse than Hillary Clinton’s nominating liberals to the Supreme Court. That message comes from conservative legal scholars. They claim that Trump is totally unfit to deal with “foreign affairs and domestic crises”—much of a president’s job—and that it’s doubtful that he’ll keep his word about his justice nominees.

According to Ilya Somin, Trump’s picks could undermine the constitution and turn the country into “a big-government xenophobic party hostile to civil liberties and opposed to most constitutional constraints on government power–much like the far-right nationalist parties of Western Europe, whose platforms are very similar to his.”

Republicans who defiantly defended Donald Trump’s statement that President Obama is the “founder of ISIS” found themselves thrown under the bus after Trump said that he was just joking—two days after he repeated the statement over and over. It the same thing that he says after many of  his statements bringing negative publicity–yelling at a baby to leave his rally, calling violence on Hillary Clinton and her supporters, etc.

Trump may have listened to Clinton’s criticism that his entire economic team is male; he has added nine names to the group, eight of them female. Still no people of color, however. And still as conservative.

People who listen to Trump touting his program for child care need to realize that this is only for guests at his resorts. Although he said that he provides on-site child-care service for employees, called Trump Kids, no one can find evidence of such programs. Yet this service, also called Trumpeteers, caters to his hotel and gold club patrons.

For the people who believe that Trump will stop outsourcing, here’s a list of countries where Trump product are manufactured: furniture – Turkey; shirts – Bangladesh and other Asian countries; vodka – Netherlands; suits – Mexico; tie clips – china; barware – Slovenia; glass and building materials – China; elevator parts – Japan; shampoo – Hong Kong; beach furniture – China; artificial turf – United Kingdom; marble – Italy; pens – Norway; slippers and cutlery – China. Trump could make all these things in the U.S., as this website shows. Yet Trump swore he would never eat Oreo cookies again after Nabisco moved to Mexico and said, “Our people should have more pride in buying made in the USA.”

Repeating his accusation that he might lose Pennsylvania because the voting is rigged, Trump told his audience that the people need to “go down to certain areas … and make sure other people don’t come in and vote five times.” Donald Trump declared today that there’s only one way he could lose the state of Pennsylvania: if he’s cheated out of it. At this time, Clinton is ahead of Trump in Pennsylvania polls by ten points.

A team at the conservative Washington Post will publish Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power on August 23. Amazon is offering pre-orders, and it’s sure to instantly hit the best-seller list! An excerpt is available on-line for impatient readers.

What makes Trump the angriest? The media repeating his words. His description for journalists doing their job makes them “the lowest form of life.” He said, “I tell you, the lowest.”They are the lowest form of humanity.”

August 7, 2016

Flying While Muslim; Trump Watch

Filed under: Discrimination — trp2011 @ 8:19 PM
Tags: , ,

“Walking while black” came from the racial profiling of “driving while black” because police picked up black people at a far higher rate than whites. Now there is a new term for rampant prejudice: flying while Muslim. Starting in 2001 after the attacks on the World Trade Centers, more and more Muslims were removed from airplanes for doing nothing wrong. The only excuse given them is that “people feel uncomfortable.”

The issue didn’t attract much media attention until 2006 when six Muslims imams were removed from a US  Airways after accused of “suspicious behavior.” Conservatives such as Ann Coulter find this discrimination perfectly acceptable because conservatives accuse every Muslim of “radical Islamist terrorist.” Nine Muslim passengers, including three children were taken off an AirTran Airways flight in 2009 because one of them wondered where the safest place on the plane is. The FBI called the situation a “misunderstanding,” but AirTran refused to put them on another flight and reimburse them for the tickets. Negative public attention forced AirTran to publicly apologize and reimburse the Muslims.

Twice in 2015, Southwest Airlines wouldn’t let booked passengers fly because others accused them of speaking Arabic and said they looked like Muslims. Again in 2016, Southwest removed a passenger for speaking Arabic and declined to apologize even after the person was exonerated by the FBI. The passenger, Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, an Iraqi refugee tried to explain later that the dogs and officers and watching people reminded him of why he escaped Iraq—because of what Saddam Hussein did to his father. Southwest removed another passenger last spring because she traded seats with other passengers.

Last year, 40 U.S. Muslim passengers were barred from boarding a Northwest flight from Germany to their hometown in Detroit after returning from an annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Threatened with a boycott, Northwest, dubbed by Muslim travelers as “Northworst,” apologized.

Working on math equations got an Ivy League professor temporarily kicked off an American Airlines flight. Non-white, curly haired, foreign accent—those characteristics make any person suspect as a terrorist, even an Italian professor. Guido Menzio was luckier than some others—he was taken back to his plane after two hours and then treated respectfully.

The United States is not alone in its Islamphobia: a British Muslim was detained for reading a Syrian art book on a plane when she flew home from a honeymoon in Turkey. A cabin crew member on Thomson Airways accused Faizah Shaheen of “suspicious behavior” because she was reading award-winning Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline by Malu Halasa that features essays, short stories, poems, songs, cartoons and photographs from Syrian authors and artists.

The most recent people perceived as Muslim prevented from boarding are Faisal Ali and Nazia Ali, a Muslim-American couple flying from Paris to Cincinnati after celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary. They were told to leave the Delta aircraft and take all their possessions. Again one of the crew members had felt “uncomfortable,” and she accused Faisal Ali of sweating. The same week, two Muslim-American women were taken off an American Airlines flight because one of them agreed with a white man who was complaining about the poor service while the plane was kept on the tarmac for five hours. The male attendant “felt threatened,” but the white male passenger who instigated the conversation was left on the plane.

The excuse from all the airlines is that they are “following protocol.”

Randa Jarrar has advice on how to fly while Arab:

  • Do not have brown skin: If you do, wear a baseball cap and an American flag t-shirt. If this is not possible, a pair of shoes that are completely see-through (jellies, if you will) with American flag socks will help.
  • Do not speak Arabic: Or anything that remotely sounds like Arabic such as Urdu, Farsi, Russian, Klingon, Tuscan Raider, or one of over three dozen Arabic dialects.
  • Do not be a refugee: Makhzoomi was a refugee from Iraq where the U.S. gets a lot of oil.
  • Do not be excited: Arabs sound as if they’re fighting when they are happy or asking for something.
  • Do not think that accomplishments or intelligence will save you: Arabs who are alive are a threat to conservatives.

And I have a few more: do not speak, read, text, and even move–like sweating. Such is the state of racial and religious prejudice in today United States that is supposed to protect all religions.

Trump Watch: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, once a strong supporter of Donald Trump and considered his potential vice-presidential candidate, has admitted that Trump’s economic plan is ridiculous. Gingrich tried to cover up his statement by saying, “Historically, no candidates have numbers that add up.” Clinton has said that her economic plan could increase the national debt by two percent, but Trump’s plan would add $11.2 trillion—most coming from tax cuts for the wealthy like Trump. Tomorrow Trump is giving another speech on his economic plan–after his wealthy friends have been appointed to his economic council.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), one of the most reasonable and moderate GOP members of Congress, said on Face the Nation that Trump could lose the state of Arizona in the presidential election. Mitt Romney won Arizona in 2012 by nine points, but Bill Clinton won in 1996. Flake attributed the potential loss to Trump’s egregious statements about immigrants, Mexicans, and military members, including Arizona’s other GOP senator, John McCain, and the family of a fallen soldier in Iraq. Polls show that Hillary Clinton is ahead not only in Arizona but also in the traditionally red state of Georgia.

Another white supremacist is following former KKK leader David Duke in running for Congress. Like Duke, Rick Tyler Rick Tyler said that he “derived some inspiration from Donald Trump” because of Trump “created a climate conducive to conversation about … namely, the urgent and vital subject of race.” Duke’s aim is senator of Louisiana, and Tyler is running for a Florida representative. His motto is “Make America White Again” because the U.S. “has been stolen from” white Christians.

nazi

Rocky Suhayda, head of the American Nazi Party, said that Donald Trump is the biggest hope for U.S. fascist and white supremacist movements. Only six months ago, Suhayda doubted Trump’s sincerity or ability to carry out his racist plans, but Trump has proposed a ban on all Muslims entering the country and tweeted anti-Semitic images and messages. The icing on Suhayda’s belief was Trump’s ethnic attack on the Khan family after the Democratic convention. Suhayda has company from the American Freedom Party, the National Policy Institute, and neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer.

Donald Trump is the man who GOP leaders support for president and think that they can control.

August 4, 2016

Clinton’s ‘Woman Card,’ Sexism

Filed under: Discrimination — trp2011 @ 7:45 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Hillary Clinton has decided “to go all in as the woman-candidate,” according to conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg. As the “woman-candidate,” however, Clinton faces a tremendous level of sexism. People call her dishonest although her record finds her to be the most honest of all presidential candidates for the past three terms. Donald Trump is the most dishonest of all the candidates. Our culture teaches that girls and women lie—for example, rape victims are frequently accused of lying but rapists are believed. Women are less likely to be accepted as bosses or employees—and get paid less.

Life is harder for women who challenge gender norms—like running for president. Eleanor Roosevelt was frequently hated because she advocated for policies beyond the traditional First Lady role. Hillary Clinton’s favorability was shattered when she worked on health care reform during Bill Clinton’s early presidential years. As First Lady, she regained popularity when she was pictured holding babies as she traveled the world.

People repeat the myth that Clinton lied about her emails, but FBI Director James Comey, highly critical of Clinton, said, “We have no basis to believe she lied to the FBI.” He could find only three messages that might have been classified—all not properly marked classified when she received them. A video purporting to have 13 minutes of Clinton lying shows out-of-context statements and outdated viewpoints that Cliniton has since changed.

Overtly sexist remarks about Clinton are that her voice is too shrill—that she’s “nagging”—a common complaint for wives and mothers. She’s “too loud,” but Trump shouts and harangues. No one ever asks men to “smile,” but male pundits have called on Clinton to smile perhaps thinking they are being helpful.

If Clinton speaks firmly, she’s being aggressive—not assertive—but if she doesn’t, she’s not tough enough. When Bernie Sanders yells, he’s being “passionate,” but Clinton is criticized for yelling—and then criticized for not being passionate if she doesn’t yell. Jay Newton-Small, author of Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works, said:

“It is a subtle kind of sexism that exists that we don’t recognize. When women raise their voices, people tend to get their hackles up. People I talk to at Clinton events put her in a maternal role: ‘Why is she screaming at me? Am I in trouble?’”

Sanders tacitly encouraged his misogynist Bernie Bro followers when he criticized Clinton’s “drama” and her “shouting.” No one puts down Bernie Sanders for his wife’s economic mistakes while a college president, but Hillary Clinton is held responsible for all her husband’s perceived misbehavior.

Hillary Clinton has no charges against her for any of the scandals that the GOP have manufactured about her and her husband, but she is pursued by these scandals and the allegations that she’s too guarded or cautious. People who believe that Clinton is responsible for Benghazi or releasing classified emails refuse to accept exoneration from extensive investigations. The media even overlook a possible collusion between Trump and Russia. According to research, Clinton coverage has been far more negative than for Sanders or Trump perhaps because invented charges are far more acceptable against women than men.

Clinton has an 83.9 percent “liberal score,” a “F” rating from the NRA, and a calculation of “more liberal” than Barack Obama. Yet, the Progressive Left calls her a “neocon” who “was “bought by Wall Street,” thanks to repetition from the GOP and her opponent. No proof exists for these claims, but people want to believe that she must be guilty because no woman could have achieved her power without deception.

Donald Trump has now moved back to medieval times when he calls Clinton “the devil.” Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver told CNN over three months ago that Clinton “made a deal with the devil” in taking campaign funds from Wall Street, and Larry Nichols accused Clinton of engaging in Satan worship a year ago. Yet this is the first time that Trump made this accusation himself.

Referring to a female presidential candidate as the devil is not new: Victoria Woodhull, the first female presidential candidate in the U.S., was called “Mrs. Satan” and the devil almost 150 years ago. As usual, the pejorative is a way to discredit women. Sen. Orrin Hatch succeeded in getting Clarence Thomas approved as a justice of the Supreme Court by connecting Anita Hill to the devil through accusing her of taking her story from The Exorcist. Since that hearing 15 years ago, Hill’s claims of Thomas’ sexual harassment have been shown to be true, but Thomas still sits silent on the high court and consistently rules against human rights.

Three days before Election Day in 1872, Woodhull was arrested and sent to jail on trumped-up charges. At both conventions this year, Trump and Sanders delegates screamed “Lock her up” at Hillary Clinton—again on trumped-up charges. The fight against Clinton has frequently been referred to a witch hunt, a practice that targeted females, poor people, minorities, the disabled, and the old as “devil-worshippers.” The reason for calling women witches is to lower female status and create fear of women’s power. Killings in the U.S. for witchcraft have stopped, but people still compare feminism to witchcraft.

Sanders supporters love his bold masculine approach of vigorous rallies and strong independence in bucking the establishment, blaming it for everything. Clinton’s strength lies in what people perceive as “feminine”—listening, collaborating, evoking realism in not promising something that she thinks she can’t deliver. People who don’t complain about Clinton’s policies still call her boring and denigrate her approach to work. She’s rational, competent, detail-oriented, and hard-working, but revolutionaries want a big picture without giving a guide to achieving these goals.

David Brooks suggested that Hillary Clinton is unpopular because she’s a workaholic, caught up in her career. He wants her to have “fun” and be “intimate, personal, revealing, trusting and vulnerable.” Yet his political party incessantly complains about President Obama taking vacations and playing golf although he spends far less time doing this than George W. Bush did in cutting brush on his Texas ranch.

At this time, Congress is failing because members refuse to compromise. The current problems began on the night that Barack Obama was first elected as president: then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) vowed that the only goal for Republicans in Congress was to make sure that the president-elect would not get a second term. He lost for the next two years on some congressional decisions, and he lost the next presidential election. To accomplish this mission, GOP members of Congress started in 2010 to create total gridlock by refusing to cooperate with President Obama.

Research shows that compromise always occurs when a female is included among two decision makers or if both are women. The theory behind the failure of two men to compromise is that men need to prove their masculinity when they’re around other men. Because extremism is a more masculine trait, two male decision makers almost never strike a deal. Men are also far more willing than women to sacrifice ethics for money or job success. Women are less inclined to give up their ethics for bonuses, promotions, favors, and other career advancements.

Trump started the “woman card” fight in April by claiming that Clinton had nothing else going for her. When Trump is attacked, he gets mad, and he no doubt thought that would happen with Clinton. Another response to attack is get even. Clinton responded:

 “The other day, Mr. Trump accused me, of playing the, quote, ‘woman card.’ Well, if fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in.”

Since then, she used this as a rallying cry. Women who are paid less than men while working harder, who watch less qualified men get promotions over them identify with the “woman card.” They know that being female keeps women from deserved success, not giving them undeserved success. Alexandra Petri listed what she gets from her woman card: “a sizable discount on your earnings” from 9 to 37 percent; an increase of 11 percent over what men pay for the same products; commercials telling you how horrible you look; lectures from men; limits on reproductive rights; loss of personal space; constant negative judgment; and far more.

I’m voting for Hillary Clinton, not because she’s a woman but because she’s the most accomplished person for the U.S. presidency. Yet her abilities as a woman are a bonus for my decision.

Trump Watch:

  • Trump’s craziness may be his way to keep the press from addressing his close relationship to Russia.
  • The minutes of the RNC meeting when Trump supporters drastically changed the party’s platform to give Russia’s Vladimir Putin an advantage in attacking Ukraine have disappeared, but people who attended the meeting remember.
  • Trump has nothing to say about the growing problems of the deadly Zika virus, especially predominant in Florida.
  • Trump said that he met with Gold Star families.
  • Today’s big lie (confusion?) is that he watched a transfer of cash to Iran for ransom. It was repayment for a 1979 debt, and Fox network showed the release of three people released from a Tehran prison. Trump’s lie got four Pinocchios from the Washington Post.  

July 6, 2016

‘Political Correctness’ – Just Being Nice

“Political correctness” is a term initiated in the 1793 Supreme Court case Chisholm v. Virginia upholding the rights of people to sue states. Justice James Wilson wrote in his opinion that people, rather than states, hold the most authority which makes a toast given to the United States” is not “politically correct.” He preferred the greater accuracy of “People of the United States.”

For almost 200 years, the term was largely obscure until conservatives co-opted the term in the 1980s for their personal political gain by using the phrase for a leftist conspiracy that infiltrated the higher education system. For decades, people argued about being “politically correct” in teaching and language in university classes.

In the 2016 presidential campaign, political correctness was highlighted in the first GOP debate after Fox network Megyn Kelly asked Donald Trump about his verbal sexist attacks against women. He was ready with an answer:

“I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct. I’ve been challenged by so many people, and I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either.”

The audience applauded, and other GOP presidential candidates adopted the tactic. Erica Hellerstein and Judd Legum wrote:

“The term “political correctness,” particularly in the Republican presidential primary, does not have a specific definition. Rather it functions like a Swiss army knife—it is the answer to every kind of issue that a candidate might confront. It’s a “get out of jail free card” for bigotry, sexism and lying.”

Dr. Warren Blumenfeld wrote:

“The political Right coined the terms ‘political correctness,’ ‘politically correct,’ and ‘PC’ as pejorative rhetorical ploys to intimidate, discredit, and outright dismiss the statements, policies, and actions of the progressive Left generally, and more specifically, to inhibit anyone from thinking critically and challenging societal inequalities.”

Trump and his surrogates use the term the most. The candidate complains that he can’t even use the word “thug” without criticism. Corey Lewandowski has been fired from Trump’s campaign but still defends the candidate, describing the accusation of anti-Semitic content of Donald Trump’s tweet using the Star of David, Hillary Clinton, images of $100 bills, and the word corruption “political correctness run amok.”

In the past, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), former GOP presidential candidate, blamed political correctness on 9/11 and used it for collecting email addresses. Ben Carson tweeted that we should “#StoPP funding political correctness and Planned Parenthood.” Asked what they have in common, he said that “political correctness” is making people amoral. Carson also said tried to connect political correctness and his opposition to Obamacare and accepting Syrian refugees. Criticized for saying that a Muslim should not be president, a statement that violates the U.S. Constitution, Carson said, “Political correctness is ruining our country.”

The opposition to political correctness (aka civility) is supported by 68 percent of people in the U.S.—81 percent of Republicans. Even 62 percent agree that “a big problem this country is being politically correct.” GOP candidates know these high figures and play on them in order to avoid any difficult topics. It’s all in the repetition.

In today’s News-Times (Newport, OR), Gilbert Schramm provides his take on “political  correctness”:

Like most Americans, I was horrified by the shooting in Orlando—and by Trump’s response. He immediately tweeted, “We can’t afford to be politically correct anymore.” Wait, “political correctness” wasn’t the cause of the shooting; political incorrectness was the cause.

Obviously, if you subject any group to unrelenting bigotry and hate-speech, some unstable person will eventually act on the lies and hatred they have been fed. It doesn’t really matter whether the hatred in Orlando came from a radical Christian, Jew, or Muslim, extremist fundamentalists from all three religions can have equally ugly attitudes about the LGBT community.

To truly understand Orlando, you need to understand the systematic conservative attack on the term political correctness. Nothing defines what the modern Republican Party has become more clearly than its misuse and abuse of this term: Trump and his supporters take an obscene pride in mocking it.

This is truly puzzling. In general usage, “ correct” means right, and “incorrect” means wrong. Why do they reverse our traditional values and language and pretend that the term is an insult?

Through American history, as progressives fought for women, religious, ethnic and racial minorities, they developed new language that reflected their concern for equal rights. The whole idea of political correctness was to improve communication, to reduce conflict, and to be more civil. Not a bad idea.

In creating a better language to express American values, there was sometimes a silly notion that re-labeling problems simply made them go away. Some bigots may have used the new terms insincerely. Some good people may have been unfairly criticized for not keeping up with the changing language. But true progressives not only amended their language, they did other concrete things to rectify the scars caused by institutional racism.

Affirmative action was necessary to help correct the deep institutional disadvantages left by centuries of racism. The GOP has been attacking affirmative action for years by arguing that it constituted “reverse racism.” This is an absurd argument. Its very existence proves that those who use it don’t truly understand the lasting damage left by the real racism.

Then there is the term “colorblind.” Just recently, a Trump spokesman complimented Trump for being “colorblind.” Colorblindness is not vision enhancement; it is a vision deficit that removes a whole dimension of nuance.

So when you hear terms like political correctness, reverse racism, or color-blindness, you are hearing someone who doesn’t understand racism, bigotry, or gender bias at all, and who likely doesn’t care. Yet in spite of conservative efforts to turn the truth upside down, being politically correct (right) is better than being politically incorrect (i.e., just wrong and offensive).

The Trump attitude that “correctness is a bad thing has now spread from opinion to facts. His casual attitude towards facts is noteworthy—in most of what he says he just doesn’t have much use for the truth. For him, it’s right to be wrong.

Trump’s abuse of the term political correctness may have more to do with the “political” part than with correctness. After all, he has won so far by disclaiming any past experience as a politician. Republicans believe that the existence of governments is only excused by the fact that total anarchy is just a tad bit worse. Progressives, on the other hand, feel that government can play a positive role. History has repeatedly proven the progressives to be right.

If GOP conservatives don’t believe that government can make life better, they should leave governing to those who know it can do some good.

Meanwhile, they should stop turning the truth (and our very language) upside down. Corruption of language leads to corruption of thought. That corruption makes it possible to believe that suppressing the vote protects democracy, that there is something called “legitimate rape,” that more guns will make us safer, that gun-free zones attract violence, and other GOP nonsense.

Whatever mild annoyance has been caused by politically correct language, the carnage in Orlando is a stark example of the alternative.

Republicans brag that Donald Trump is honest because he says what he thinks. They seem to admire him for calling undocumented Mexicans “rapists” and stating that sex appeal is responsible for a woman’s success. Zeba Blay wrote:

“To yearn for the opposite of the ‘politically correct’ is simply to yearn for the ability to be comfortable, to maintain the right to trivialize issues that affect people’s lives…. Using “politically correct” as an insult or dismissal is emblematic of an inability to approach difficult conversations with the complexity they demand. Being uncomfortable or annoyed is not a good enough reason to dismiss every conversation that hinges on social justice, as if actual social justice were the worst thing in the world.”

Political correctness is accepting Spanish-language messages on service lines, not telling racist jokes at work, and being less demeaning to women. It’s a way of showing sensitivity toward others, especially those who have been invisible or expected to be submissive. Conservatives don’t like it because it’s hard work. They just want to say what they think—and what they think can be very unpleasant.

Noted author and illustrator Neil Gaiman said, “I started imagining a world in which we replaced the phrase ‘politically correct’ wherever we could with ‘treating other people with respect’, and it made me smile.” It makes me smile too.

May 8, 2016

Altercation over ‘Potty Police’

It’s Mother’s Day, and conservatives are working to convince mothers that they aren’t safe in bathrooms at Target stores and in states that don’t prevent trans people from using the facilities that match their identity—and appearances. When one considers the way that anti-trans activists are behaving, all women might worry about going into public bathrooms. One example is comes from the ultra-religious American Family Association, that is sending men into women’s bathrooms at Target.

According to AFA’s director of governmental affairs, Sandy Rios, the group is asking men to go into women’s bathrooms to build the AFA boycott against a company’s policy that customers can use the bathroom where they think they belong. AFA’s premise is that there will be “trauma, certainly for little girls [by] having men dressed like women coming in their bathrooms.” Therefore, AFA are going into these restrooms to frighten people—create “trauma”—instead of using the restrooms for their intended purpose. By now, however, AFA has gotten such bad publicity about doing this that they are denying that they have promoted this shocking behavior.

AFA is also announcing that they have over 1.2 million “pledges” to boycott Target, and news outlets in our post-fact world are publishing AFA’s press releases instead of investigating the facts. According to The Daily Beast, AFA used the online form Wufoo, owned by SurveyMonkey, which fails to check if the emails are related to real people. Different investigators have each signed the pledge with multiple emails, both real and bogus. The submissions are all accepted because there is no direction to “Allow Only One Entry Per IP.” Anyone can set up a robot to enter emails, resulting in the 1.2 million “signatures.” AFA also does not display any names of signers, nor do they send written confirmations to them.

Those earnest people who plan to shop at Walmart, recommended by Faith Driven Consumer, show that company policies don’t bother them. Walmart has had nondiscrimination protections for its trans employees since 2011. The same people may already be shopping at Walmart because the prices are better and the stores are more accessible. AFA-based Mississippi has 80 Walmart stores but only six Target locations in the entire state. Alabama has six times the number of Walmart stores as Target.

In answer to objections from protesters, Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder stated: “We certainly respect that there are a wide variety of perspectives and opinions. As a company that firmly stands behind what it means to offer our team an inclusive place to work — and our guests an inclusive place to shop — we continue to believe that this is the right thing for Target.” She added that people uncomfortable using their multi-stall restrooms are welcome to use the stores’ single-stall/family restrooms.

target

 

Continuing the obsession with bathrooms across the nation, Kansas legislators have introduced a “spot a penis win prize” bill that will help students pay for college tuition.  If the bill becomes law, schools can be sued for $2,500 every time a trans student walks into a facility “designated for use by the aggrieved student’s sex.” The bill even has a four-year statute of limitations, one year longer than child molestation has in former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s state of Illinois.

jessica rushMen now feel free to go into women’s bathrooms on the belief (pretense?) that they saw a man go into the facility. Afraid that Jessica Rush was peeing in the wrong bathroom at Baylor Medical Center in San Francisco, a man barged in after her.  Rush, born female, was wearing basketball shorts and a T-shirt from her alma mater, Texas Tech. With her bleached blond fauxhawk, she has been accused of being a man in a woman’s bathroom before. Trying to take advantage of these accusations, she decided to use the men’s restroom when the woman’s facility was full and immediately got thrown out. Men quickly figured it out and yelled, “Whoa, there’s a chick in the bathroom! Get out, get out!”

lee's clone

While conservatives worry about the nonexistent trans “predators” in bathrooms, they protect their own molesters. About serial child molester Dennis Hastert, GOP colleague Tom Delay wrote that he “has never disappointed me in any way.” He also tried to justify Hastert’s “transgressions” by doing is when he was “a young man.” Yet Hastert was still molesting young boys when he was over 30 years old.  Former CIA director Porter Ross wrote about Hastert, “Perhaps, the Speakers greatest gift to the House was trust.”

Republicans who vilify trans people who just want to pee give enormous privilege to those who display “Christian” piety. DeLay explained that Hastert “loves the Lord [and] gets his integrity and values from Him” because Hastert started a lunch-time Bible study for his colleagues. Protestants have been outraged at Catholic Church leaders who hid child molestation, but they allow their own to hide and continue their crimes under the guise of religion. In the Christian religion, repentance exonerates the criminal.

May 6, 2016

Katha Pollitt: ‘Why Bernie Didn’t Get My Vote’

katha pThe Nation, which endorsed Bernie Sanders, was brave enough to publish an article by Katha Pollitt called “Why Bernie Didn’t Get My Vote” in the midst of all the Hillary Clinton bashing. She pointed out a few of the standard bits about why people are not voting for him followed by these excerpts:

“Bernie didn’t ask for my vote. Oh, you can go to his website and find a page of boilerplate setting out his general commitments to women’s rights: He’s in favor of equal pay, reproductive rights, the ERA, the Violence Against Women Act, childcare for all, and so on—a laundry list, indeed, of the causes dear to the heart of those often derided by his supporters as bourgeois feminists content with incremental change. I am aware, too, that Bernie has a good voting record on those issues in Congress. But there’s a difference between someone who votes the right way, and someone who introduces legislation and champions the issue. He never convinced me that gender issues, specifically the persistent subordination of women in every area of life, were of much concern to him.

“There were all those little tells. Pooh-poohing Planned Parenthood and NARAL as ‘establishment’ when he didn’t get their endorsement. Arguing for parental leave because it allows a new mother ‘to stay home and bond with her baby’ instead of as something that benefits fathers as well, and something that women need in order to work and advance on the job. Doubling down on the idiotic quip by his surrogate, Killer Mike (‘A uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president of the United States’), with the pseudo-lofty pledge ‘No one has ever heard me say, “Hey guys, let’s stand together, vote for a man.” I would never do that, never have.’ Is there a word for someone whose entitlement is so vast, so deep, so historically embedded, and so unconscious it includes the belief that they got where they are by a resolute devotion to fair play? It’s not reassuring that his senior campaign staff, like his long-time political inner circle, is almost entirely white and male.

“In a long campaign, everyone says unfortunate things. But these and other remarks suggest that when it comes to gender, he just doesn’t feel the burn. The problem is less that Bernie focuses on class and economic inequality than that he doesn’t seem to understand that the economy, like society generally, is structured by gender and race. Equal pay is great, but if women and men are funneled into different kinds of work by race and gender, with men’s jobs valued more because men are valued more, and if women are hobbled economically by doing most of the domestic labor and having to contend with prejudice against working mothers to boot, equal pay alone doesn’t solve the problem.

“It would have been great if Bernie had given a major speech about his plans to make women’s lives better—safer, fairer, less dominated by men. Instead, he gives every sign of believing that his basic program—a $15 minimum wage, free public college, breaking up the big banks, single-payer health insurance—is quite enough. Those are all great and important goals—in fact, the $15 minimum wage will benefit more women than men. But they do not speak directly to the rage and fed-upness that so many women, in every class, justly feel. Bernie showed a similar blindness to the specific harms of racism, but, thanks largely to Black Lives Matter, has moved a little further toward integrating race into his analysis.

“At 74, you are who you are. Bernie is a traditional class-based leftist for whom feminism is a distraction. Abortion, as he told Rolling Stone, is a “social issue.” Women’s mental and physical health, their economic survival, their ability to determine the shape of their own lives as men do, is a social issue? The clear implication is that reproductive rights (like guns and LGBT rights, which he mentions in the same breath) are secondary considerations, impediments to winning broad support for his populist economic proposals. I can go to the comment sections of AlterNet—or The Nation—and get that view any day from the bros, but I really thought we’d be further along with a white man who wants to lead a movement in a party that is majority female and over a third people of color. (And that’s just registered members—in 2012, 46 percent of people who voted Democratic were people of color.)

“After Indiana, the GOP looks more likely than ever to nominate a racist, xenophobic misogynist of staggering crudeness and mendacity. If elected, Trump would consult with the conservative Heritage Foundation on Supreme Court nominations. We could well lose what remains of a century of progress for women, workers, LGBT people, and people of color, including the right to vote itself.

“Trump understands very well that racism and sexism are crucial components of the nationalistic insurgence he wants to lead; he appeals openly to some of the darkest impulses in our political id. It is more than disturbing that Bernie pays so little attention to these dangers. He’s changed the debate within the Democratic Party by showing that millions of voters want more than incremental, technocratic tinkering with growing inequality. For that, I’m grateful. But when it comes to dealing with the Republicans in November, I don’t think Bernie gets the awful reality we’re facing. Hillary does.”

Thanks, Ms. Pollitt. You say what I feel but so much better than I ever could.

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