Nel's New Day

October 4, 2017

A Needed Conversation on Race

Filed under: Discrimination — trp2011 @ 11:34 PM
Tags: ,

My small community on the Oregon coast is a mix of active progressives who fight for human rights and conservatives who pray to the Second Amendment. The local newspaper is a popular venue of discussion, some of it strongly opposed to public education, LGBTQ rights, and healthcare for all. (Many from the latter group are firmly attached to their Medicare because retired people compose a large percentage of the population.)

The tragedy of 59 deaths and at least 527 wounded people in Las Vegas earlier this week has consumed much of the media space, but the slow careful reading of condolences by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) doesn’t erase his antagonism toward a majority of people in the United States. His recent behavior in Puerto Rico when he was off teleprompter was indicative of his dismissal of anyone who doesn’t have his white skin. His throwing packages of towels at a group of survivors after the destruction of their second hurricane in a few weeks and his insistence that they grovel for assistance demonstrated his belief that, to him, Puerto Rico, is an inferior colony.

Conservatives keep writing letters with the message of “get over it” in their attempt to normalize DDT’s behavior. There is nothing normal about his behavior or his actions, and we can’t buy in to a need for this normalizing. Below is an op-ed to the local newspaper in response to letters supporting DDT’s racism. The author is right in stressing the importance of dialog about issues surrounding racism in the United States. Keep educating yourself, and keep talking!

A rash of letters here has begun to supply a needed conversation on racism. The public should be grateful to the editor for providing a venue for this. It’s time to step back and consider the whole issue more objectively.

The issues which set off this debate were the actions of neo-Nazis (which they proudly call themselves) at Charlottesville, Trump’s defense of them, and his equation of peace activists and leftists with the various neo-Nazi, KKK, and other white supremacists groups which began the provocation.

Trump’s obvious sympathy for groups of this kind was long preceded by his bigoted attacks on women, Blacks, Hispanics, immigrants, and Muslims. This was followed by the pardon of Joe Arpaio, guilty of abusing his office, racial profiling, contempt of court, and violating the Constitution. Trump’s pardon excuses these things and undermines the rule of law.

As a result, there have been letters attacking Trump’s racism and letters defending him. The letters attacking Trump refer to facts, i.e. 74% of hate crimes in the last 10 years have been committed by right-wing hate groups, 24% by Islamists” and only 2% by “leftists.” Letters defending Trump rely on name-calling, using words such as “haters,” “dims,” and even “Californians.” Anything to avoid the facts of the argument. Always, they promote the idea that Trump’s critics are a radical extreme.

The facts are different. Trump has been denounced not only by Democrats, but by noted Republicans, his own Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, former party chairs, etc. Across the world, people are appalled as well.

One of the letters which sparked special local outrage was one in which the author said that “if you stand with Trump, you stand with the Nazis.” Even some progressives thought this was a bit too much. Really? In criminal law you would talk about “aiding and abetting,” in military law, you would talk about “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.”

People trying to stop hate speech aren’t as “hate-filled” as armed thugs shouting, “Jews will not replace us” and “blood and soil.”  The blood part of that chant refers to the idea that human “goodness” resides in the “purity” of your “blood.”  Do such utterances not deserve loud and very clear denunciation?

My point is that this really is about race, not political correctness.  Our community needs to talk about it. And I hope that readers note the quality of the arguments on both sides.  On one side, there are denunciations of real faults; on the other deflections and denial.

The bottom line is, lots of Germans supported Hitler, not because they were members of the Nazi party, or because they hated Jews or foreigners, but because they liked some of what Hitler said, especially the idea that he was “making Germany great again.” These supporters and others who just kept quiet helped him along, and they rightly share the blame for what happened.

Trump is a package deal—in the end you will be responsible for the whole ugly package.

Diane Eckstein

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September 25, 2017

Divider-in-chief Attacks Athletes, Ignores Presidential Issues

Forty percent of the states in the United States have a population less than 3.4 million—the population of Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory that is completely without power—perhaps for another six months—after Hurricane Maria hit the island. Seventy-thousand people are in danger of the Guajataca dam’s breaking. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may send a disaster aid request to Congress in another few weeks while Puerto Rico suffers a humanitarian crisis. Texas got help within a week.

DDT tweeted over a dozen times this past weekend about athletes not kneeling during the national anthem but presidential. Nothing about Puerto Rico. Or North Korea’s claim that DDT has declared war and they will shoot down U.S. even if they’re not in North Korean airspace. Or that DDT is getting deeper into the Russia influence on the presidential election. And certainly nothing about DDT’s most recent problem, that his family and aides—Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Gary Cohn—used government business while he continues to accuse Hillary Clinton of doing this. Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server was a prime fixture in DDT’s campaign against her, and he’s still promoting the “lock her up” argument, as recently as last week’s rally in Alabama.

At the same rally when DDT sort of supported GOP Sen. Luther Strange for election to his appointed position, DDT started a firestorm by demanding the firing of sports players who kneel instead of stand during the national anthem in protest to racial injustice in the country. (You may have heard about this; there are almost 40 million links to the story.) DDT also suggested an NFL boycott and referred to those who kneeled as a “son of a b—-,” an insult the players’ mothers. On ABC’s Sunday news show, This Week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tried to cover for DDT by saying that he means NFL players “can do free speech on their own time.” Mnuchin added that the president is saying “that the owners should have a rule that players should have to stand in respect for the national anthem.” To DDT’s profane slur, Mnuchin said that “the president can use whatever language he wants to use.”

The protests moved to London where several Ravens and Jaguars players knelt during the national anthem. Shadid Khan, the billionaire owner of the Jaguars who donated $1 million to DDT’s inauguration, demonstrated solidarity with his players by linking his arms with them. Several professional teams stayed in the locker room during the anthem yesterday, and coaches and owners supported them. The responses from over 30 pro NFL teams is here.

America First Policies, a DDT-supporting PAC, is disseminating an anti-NFL ad called “Turn Off the NFL” on social media to boost DDT’s criticisms. It encourages NFL fans to watch a patriotic movie instead of NFL games.

DDT attacked the NBA as well as the NFL.  LeBron James called DDT a “bum,” and Gregg Popovich, coach of the San Antonio Spurs, called DDT “an embarrassment in the world.” After the NBA champion Golden State Warriors waffled about accepting an invitation to the White House, DDT said that he was disinviting them although he had not sent them one. DDT personally attacked Warriors star Stephen Curry, who said that DDT’s comments to “target certain individuals … rather than others” are “beneath” his office.

Non-pro teams protested as well.  Garfield’s Bulldogs, including the coaches, knelt during the anthem before the team’s 52-9 Metro League win against West Seattle. A coach asked why people talked about the flag instead of the issues (listed here) surrounding the players’ actions. The third verse of the anthem ridicules black men for seeking freedom from U.S. slavery by joining the British, stating that “the hireling and slave” cannot find “refuge.”

DDT, who avoided military service with “bone spurs,” has tried to make his battle against sports figures about patriotism. He tweeted, “Courageous Patriots have fought and died for our great American Flag — we MUST honor and respect it!” In a classic blog, Margaret wrote her friend Helen that a sports player has as much right to “taking a knee” as DDT has to say that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) isn’t a war hero because he was captured.

The White House and DDT are trying to avoid the racial overtones of his criticism. DDT overlooked the refusal of Tom Brady, a white player, to accept an invitation to the White House but lambasted Stephen Curry, a black player, for doing the same thing. Colin Kaepernick started the movement over a year ago to protest police brutality against people of color, but this morning DDT tweeted that the protests have nothing to do with race. His war started in a place known for segregation, and conservatives have praised DDT for his brilliant strategy. Yet the statements may have come from DDT’s impulsivity, not his thoughtfulness. He loved the attention he received, however, and continued to dominate the press with his tweets.

The massive internet exchange on the issue of kneeling during the national anthem is reminiscent of events a half century ago during the civil rights protests. Moderate Republicans currently think that blacks should politely sign a petition instead of taking up the cause at the sports games; in 1964, 74 percent of people thought that “mass demonstrations by Negroes” would “hurt the Negro’s cause for racial equality.”

DDT also repeated his argument at the same rally that pro football isn’t violent enough for him. Part of his disjointed babblings in the speech described a “beautiful tackle” and made sarcastic comments about a referee’s wife “sitting at home …. so proud of him” when the ref throws a penalty flag. He said:

“Today if you hit too hard — 15 yards! Throw him out of the game! They’re ruining the game! They’re ruining the game. That’s what they want to do. They want to hit. They want to hit! It is hurting the game.’’

In USA Today, Tim Sullivan called DDT’s statement “callous, short-sighted and without nuance, the kind of barstool bluster you hear from those wired to react without research or reasoning.” The calls for more violence came the same week as the revelation that former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez suffered from a severe case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Just days before that discovery, a study showed the same brain disease in 110 of 111 former NFL players who had died.

In another study released last week, men who played football before they were 12 have a doubled risk of “problems with behavioral regulation, apathy and executive functioning” and a tripled danger of “clinically elevated depression scores.” The increased risk is dependent on the number of years playing football and the number of reported concussions. Key brain development in males occurs between ten and 12 years of age, but earlier first exposure to football is connected to worse clinical function.

CTE begins with headaches and loss of concentration and moves to depression, mood swings, short term memory loss, and explosive behavior. The disorder moves to language difficulties, impulsive behavior, and thoughts of suicide as well as cognitive impairment and ends with memory loss combined with dementia. Common causes of death in people suffering from CTE are respiratory failure, cardiac disease, suicide, overdose, and symptoms associated with end-stage dementia and malignancy.

DDT’s latest campaign is to promote violence and concussions for his personal entertainment with indifference to the possibility that the majority of men in the United States will develop symptoms of CTE. Future polls and NFL ratings will determine his success.

September 24, 2017

Christian Goals against ‘Others’ Fail to Protect ‘Us’

The travel ban may be extended to eight countries as Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues his battle against terrorists from a religion other than Christianity. “We cannot gamble with American lives,” said John Kelly last January when he was secretary of Homeland Security. Since 9/11, an average of one person has died each year on U.S. soil because of Islamic terrorists both foreign and U.S. Using the excuse of keeping the nation safe, the government has spent at least $4 trillion on wars, veterans, and interest on the expenditures.

Yet 16 people have been killed in only two mass killings thus far this year in the U.S., eight each in Plano (TX) and Bogue Chitto (MS). The reason for both was domestic violence. Most people don’t even know about these tragedies—or the thousands of other deaths in U.S. mass murders. The recent, non-lethal bombing at the London tube consumed the media for days, but the Plano tragedy that occurred about the same time got less than less than 5 percent of internet links.

In 2015, 1,686 women were killed by men in “single victim/single offender” incidents. Ninety percent of the victims knew their offenders, and of those who did, 64 percent were wives or other intimate acquaintances of their killers. Three women are murdered every day by a current or former intimate partner.

The news coverage of the London bombing fits the U.S. obsession with “Islamic terror” driven by conservatives. Fear is the motivation for their successful elections. When they become legislators, they make guns more accessible, again using the motivation of fear.

During the past two days, the issue of kneeling during the national anthem has consumed the media. Conservatives are on television bitterly complaining about the “disrespect” for the flag. Yet domestic violence and sexual assault by prominent sports figures are overlooked or explained by blaming women. In the past 14 years, 80 football players had been involved in 87 arrests.

Baltimore Ravens football player Ray Rice was suspended for two NFL games for knocking out his fiancé—now his wife—in an elevator. Giants kicker Josh Brown was suspended for one game in 2015 for assaulting his wife, Molly. She had been assaulted almost two dozen times, once when she was pregnant, according to police and court records. A sheriff said that the NFL never asked him for records in their investigation. Brown’s journal revealed that he abused his wife and saw her as a slave. “I have controlled her by making her feel less human than me,” Brown wrote.

Brown used the same tactic that white supremacists use against the Muslims, people of color, and other minorities: white conservatives consider everyone else as less humans. One way to do that is to overemphasize the violence of “others,” and de-emphasize the violence of “us.” That way white conservatives can maintain their feelings of superiority and ignore the suffering of others.

DDT is a master of “othering.” His selection of nominees shows his prejudices with white male far-right religious conservatives dominating his appointments to courts, cabinet, and staff. For example, Jeff Mateer, DDT’s pick for a Texas federal judgeship, is a classic symbol of LGBT hatred. He not only advocates for nondiscrimination laws but also calls transgender children as “part of Satan’s plan.” Mateer is a former high level staffer for the religious right organization Liberty Institute, now known as First Liberty Institute (FLI). The organization founded to ban marriage equality represents conservative Christians and opposes separation of church and state. While working there, he advocated against nondiscrimination laws that included LGBT people, lamented the increase in states banning the dangerous practice of “conversion therapy,” and described transgender children as “part of Satan’s plan.” Mateer, who has no judicial experience, thinks the separation of church and state is not guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Federal judges are appointed for life.

Another nominee with no judicial experience, Matthew Kacsmaryk, is also associated with FLI. Federal judges are appointed for life. Russell Vought, pick for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote that Muslims have a “deficient theology” because they “do not know God.” And the list goes on.

Another DDT appointee who was confirmed with only 50 votes, Department of Education Betsy DeVos, is also protecting white males against everyone else. She has rescinded the college sexual assault policy to help rape victims in favor of their rapists. DeVos said that rapists should be expelled from a school only when found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” not when the preponderance of evidence is against them. Schools can also use informal mediation for sexual assault accusations, forcing victims to meet face-to-face with their rapists for an “amicable” solution. The only advantage is that—thus far—universities don’t have to follow DeVos’ new guidelines.

DeVos got her information from men’s organizations, including the National Coalition for Men that publishes names and photos to women whose cases were dismissed. Another of her consulting organizations, SAVE, wants a victim’s sexual history used as evidence.

Candace Jackson, appointed by DeVos as her civil rights official, claims she was a victim of discrimination because she is white. She also said that 90 percent of rape accusations “fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.” There is no evidence for Jackson’s claim. Jackson also believes that all the women accusing DDT of sexual assault were lying “for political gain.”

Early in the summer, DeVos cut back investigations of civil rights issues so that there will be no check into systemic problems. DDT’s budget removes over 40 employees from the investigation staff.

As part of his Christianizing the U.S., DDT officially proclaimed September 3, 2017 as a National Day of Prayer in violation of a judge’s ruling on separation of church and state in 2010. His announcement told people to “go to your church and pray”—no synagogue, mosque, or other place or worship and no provision for people who choose to have no place of worship. A president’s direction to “pray” is also exclusionary and endorses a religious message.

The base of the GOP is the white Christian. There is no guarantee that changing demographics mean changing numbers of elected Democrats, but there’s some hope and whites will stop hating the “others.” An example of that is the Christian church that is “tithing for trans people,” raising money to help people obtain gender affirmation medical care. Faithfully LGBT wants to repair the damage of right-wing pretend Christians who discriminate against trans people and encourage violence. The church started its project after 150 evangelical leaders signed the “Nashville Statement” that rejects transgender identity, homosexuality, and feminism in its need to reestablish the “Christ-defined” roles of men as household leaders.

White Christians are going to be fighting even harder now that they are in the minority—43 percent of the population to be exact. That’s a little over half the number 40 years ago when eight of ten people identified as white Christians. During the past several decades that demographic has elected presidents, locked in Congress, and taken over the majority of state governors and legislatures. The percentage of white Christians shrinks with younger voters: two-thirds of seniors are in that category whereas only one-fourth of those 18-29 are white Christians.

 

August 24, 2017

Louise Linton Epitomizes DDT Cabinet Wealth

Filed under: Discrimination — trp2011 @ 8:10 PM
Tags: , , , ,

When Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) selected most billionaires for his Cabinet, he justified it by explaining that these are successful people who can “make America great again.” Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin, known as the “king of foreclosures” for his ability to drive more people into poverty, married another privileged person who recently offended millions of people in the United States. She began by bragging about how much her wardrobe cost as she and her husband flew to argue in Louisville (KY) for more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. The $16,000 that she wore is comparable to an annual salary for many people. Nineteen percent of people in Kentucky live below the poverty level.

In Our Future, Richard Eskow (right) explains a few facts of life to Ms. Linton:

Dear Ms. Linton,

This has undoubtedly been a difficult couple of days for you, both as a person and as the wife of the United States Treasury Secretary.

Nobody enjoys the sudden onrush of hostile attention that comes when something they’ve said goes viral, and not in a good way. Your public record, and even your recent infamous post, suggests you want to be a good person – or, at the very least, that you’d like to be seen as one.

That’s not how people are seeing you at the moment, and that has to be rough.

Perhaps it would help if someone explained why you’ve received so much negative attention in the last 48 hours.

Bubble Life

Simply put: You live in a bubble. That’s not your fault. It’s just the way it is. According to the Internet – the same Internet that has turned on you with such ferocity – you were born into a wealthy Scottish family and educated at the prestigious St George’s School for Girls and Fettes College.

Your family owns a real-life, honest to God castle, for God’s sake.

A little self-awareness is therefore in order: Your experience is not like that of most people. Some people are born into privilege and make a dedicated effort to see life from other people’s point of view. That does not seem to have been the case with you.

Out of Africa

The controversy about your “memoir” of life as a volunteer teenager in Zambia suggests that you didn’t see the people of Zambia at all. The country itself seems to have passed you by. There are, for example, no 12-inch spiders there. [Last year, Linton has pulled her self-published “memoir,” In Congo’s Shadow, from Amazon.]

You portrayed Zambia as a savage, untamed place where wild animals roamed the street. You also imagined they saw you as an idealized, almost heavenly figure: a skinny foreigner “with long angel hair.”

Here’s a tip: Zambia is not a wild land, and you were not the first blonde that the people there had ever seen. They have many foreign visitors. They are also familiar with European and American magazines, television, and film.

The only “angel hair” spoken of in the capital city of Lusaka, in fact, is served at one of the city’s many Italian restaurants: here’s a listing of the top five, courtesy of TripAdvisor. Casa Portico has good pasta dishes, we’re told, while Frescobar is praised for its “great food and vibe.” 

 

 

See the People

You apparently do not appear to see the people of this country, either. In the United States, the wealthiest nation in human history, 45 million people live in poverty. That’s unjust. Most of us have endured decades of wage stagnation, a dying middle class, rising deaths of despair, mass incarceration, and other ordeals undreamed of in your rarefied world.

That might help explain why you received a rather unfriendly response when you posted a picture of yourself exiting a U.S. government plane with your husband, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, along with the following comment:

Great #daytrip to #Kentucky! #nicest #people #beautiful #countryside #rolandmouret pants #tomford sunnies, #hermesscarf #valentinorockstudheels #valentino #usa

You were shown exiting an aircraft that is paid for and bears the symbolic markings of the American people, while wearing – and boasting about – your very expensive clothing. You ended your hashtag string with the name of the country itself, as if this nation – suffering and struggling as it is – was nothing more than another accessory, a bauble to be worn around your wrist or finger or ankle or neck.

An Expensive Bauble

But then, that’s how the entire billionaire-heavy Trump administration, from the President and your husband on down, has treated this country: as a personal trinket to be used for personal enrichment or glorification.

That’s undoubtedly why an Instagram user named Jenni M responded, “Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable”

You certainly didn’t empathize with Jenni, did you? Here’s what you wrote:

@Jennimiller29 cute!….Aw!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day “trip” than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours. You’re adorably out of touch. Thanks for the passive aggressive nasty comment. Your kids look very cute. Your life looks cute. I know you’re mad but deep down you’re really nice and so am I. Sending me passive aggressive Instagram comments isn’t going to make life feel better. Maybe a nice message, one filled with wisdom and hunanity [SIC] would get more traction. Have a pleasant evening. Go chill out and watch the new game of thrones. It’s fab!

Have You Given More?

Oh, Louise. You got that so wrong. There’s no room to list all your grievous mistakes, but here are some highlights:

“Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband?”

I don’t need to know anything about Jenni M to know that, in fact, she has been better for the economy than your husband.

There’s no kind way to put this: Your husband was involved in some very bad business. He literally foreclosed on a widow over a 27-cent error.

Investigators in the California Attorney General’s office concluded that his bank had engaged in “widespread violations,” identified over a thousand illegal actions, and wanted to file charges.

Most people find that behavior even creepier than… well, than a 12-inch spider.

Mortgage holders, especially elderly widows, are not something to be used and then discarded like last year’s Hermes scarves.

Your husband’s reputation wasn’t helped when reports emerged alleging that he had perjured himself before Congress. He was once required to run his bank under the supervision of an independent monitor – by an agency he now oversees. Maybe that can help explain why people are a little touchy about the flaunting of your family’s wealth in a government aircraft.

Your husband hasn’t “given” anything to the economy. He and his fellow bankers nearly crashed the global economy, in fact, and the recession they caused has robbed the U.S. economy of trillions of dollars.

Fort Knox

It’s more than a little ironic that you and your husband were in Kentucky to tour Fort Knox, that target of James Bond villains where the nation’s gold bullion is stored. He and his fellow bankers robbed the economy of much more money than Fort Knox could ever hold.

Your wealth isn’t the product of personal virtue. You, along with other billionaire families, have benefited from government policies that created levels of economic inequality unseen since the Roaring Twenties of the last century.

You should not have as much as you do, and that which you do possess should be taxed appropriately to restore economic balance.

What’s more, paying taxes isn’t a “sacrifice.” It’s a reciprocal obligation, a chance to repay the nation that has allowed people like you to become so wealthy. It’s an opportunity for gratitude. What’s more, given the way tax laws work in this country, there is every possibility that Jenni M has paid a greater percentage of income in taxes than you or your husband have.

Angel Heart

In all likelihood, your ordeal is ending as I write these words. You’ve apologized for your comments through your publicist, and that’s good.

Most of us have to apologize directly, because we don’t have publicists, but any apology is appreciated. Your social media account is now private. If you’re not prepared to grow and change, that’s undoubtedly a good decision.

In any case, I hope this has been “a nice message, one filled with wisdom and hunanity.”

I know it’s been harsh in places, but sometimes the kindest thing we can do is be honest. I hope that the next time you’re tempted to speak out publicly, you will do so with humility and compassion.

Oh, and here’s one last hint about life here in the ordinary world: We identify angels by looking at their hearts, not their hair.

[Thank you, Mr. Eskow.]

August 23, 2017

Our Dark Week

Filed under: Discrimination — trp2011 @ 10:34 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

This week was one of darkness. On Monday, people rejoiced across the country with the morning eclipse as millions of people looked up through their special lenses so that they would not permanently damage their eyes by looking at the sun. Thousands of others most likely may suffer from some physical damage because they ignored the instructions to not stare at the sun without these glasses. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was one who ignored these directions—six times.

If you still have your funky glasses, you can recycle them with Astronomers without Borders. They are collecting these glasses to sent to children in Asia and South America in 2019. Mail them to the organization’s corporate sponsor: Explore Scientific, 621 Madison Street, Springdale, AR 72762

The joy from the eclipse was short-lived. That evening DDT gave his first prime-time speech to announce what he calls his “strategy” for the war in Afghanistan. After calling the war a waste for several years, he decided that war is good and President Obama’s attempt to wind it down is bad. DDT spent 27 minutes with the message that the U.S. will be at war forever but he can’t say anything specific. He’s turning over all the decisions to the military—those generals he earlier said are dumber than he is. Goading both Pakistan, which DDT says is not civilized, and India, who he says should give aid to Pakistan, DDT claimed both of them are the biggest terrorist threats in the world although neither country is on the travel ban. DDT refuses to appoint any diplomats and plans to vastly increase finances for killing people in the world and spending more money on “the nuclear.”

DDT clearly plans to loot Afghanistan of its wealth in minerals. Hamdullah Mohib, Afghanistan’s ambassador to the U.S., said:

“President Trump is keenly interested in Afghanistan’s economic potential. Our estimated $1 trillion in copper, iron ore, rare earth elements, aluminum, gold, silver, zinc, mercury and lithium.”

The reason behind the speech’s timing is unknown although he could be trying to rescue is badly sagging approval ratings. The verbiage and approach were similar to that of George W. Bush when he declared his preemptive war. DDT had no new ideas except perhaps his goal to negotiate with the Taliban. Founder of privatized military Blackwater and sister of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Erik Prince, called DDT’s “strategy” an “Obama-lite policy.” Many people agree with Prince, but he may be suffering from sour grapes because he wanted to operate a privatized military in Afghanistan. Breitbart, run by the deposed White House strategist and white supremacist Steve Bannon, demonstrated hostility toward DDT’s speech by describing the proposed surge as giving in to national security adviser H.R. McMaster and the other national security officials. The Telegraph agreed:

“If Donald Trump sounded presidential on Afghanistan it is because he is repeating his predecessors’ mistakes.”

No mention was made of Russia, who may be providing physical support for the Taliban. With his speech on Tuesday, however, DDT now owns the wars in the Middle East, no matter what their results.

The Afghan War:

  • 104,000: people killed in armed conflict since 2001, including over 31,000 civilians.
  • 26,512: civilians killed after troop surge in 2009 (48,931 injured).
  • 8,400: U.S. military members in Afghanistan.
  • 2,394: U.S. military casualties, including the 44 killed after the official “end” in 2014.
  • 22,100: Pakistani civilians killed, including 2,000-3,800 from U.S. drone strikes since 2015 and 40,000 wounded.
  • 1.4 million: Pakistani refugees from violence.
  • $1 trillion: direct costs to war in Afghanistan including medical services for wounded veterans.
  • $1 trillion: federal costs for treating wounded veterans from military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan by 2053.
  • $4.8 trillion: total price tag for U.S. operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria since 2001.
  • $453 billion: interest as of 2014 on debt to pay for wars with another $7.9 trillion added to the national debt by 2053.
  • $110 billion: humanitarian relief and reconstruction in Afghanistan.
  • 58 percent of $13.3 billion: USAID funds on reconstruction to only ten contractors despite complaints about delays and cost overruns as well as lies about improvements including students in U.S.-funded schools at 70 percent lower than these claims.
  • 54 percent: defense share of U.S. discretionary budget with DDT’s request to increase it to 63 percent in 2017 and 68 percent in 2018.

The Fox network expressed great admiration for this speech contributed by DDT’s generals and read somewhat competently from the teleprompter. That was Monday. Last night DDT gave another campaign rally in Phoenix (AZ) to throw red meat to his ever-shrinking base. Any positive remarks from the media press—about half of them—could be summarized with the common statement that “Trump was Trump.”

DDT outdid himself in lying as he relitigated the media response to his racist remarks after the protests at Charlottesville (VA). His 30-minute tirade against the media completely distorted his statements as he read only portions of his reaction. Gone were comments about the protesters against racism, who he called the “alt-left,” being “very violent” and placing “blame on both sides.” DDT had frequently repeated the accusation of their being “very violent.” Also missing for last night’s speech were his descriptions of some white supremacist marchers as “very fine people.”

DDT’s threats:

  • Close down government if Congress doesn’t approve his wall. [Mexico must be off the hook for the cost because DDT wants taxpayers to pony up the tens of billions of dollars.]
  • Terminate NAFTA.
  • Pardon law-breaking former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in the future. [DDT said he wouldn’t pardon “Sheriff Joe” at his speech because he didn’t want to cause any problems. “I’ll make a prediction. He’s going to be just fine.” Wink, wink. Left: Arpaio campaigning for DDT.]

 

 

More DDT lying assertions:

  • CNN quit the rally. [Their cameras stayed on for the entire show.]
  • CNN is at an all-time low. [CNN is at a five-year high.]
  • CNN shouldn’t have fired “poor Jeffrey Lord” who tweeted “Sieg Heil!” at a prominent liberal activist.
  • Only Fox and Sean Hannity are honest media.
  • DDT drained the swamp. [No mention of the large number of billionaires benefiting from DDT’s administration, especially the Goldman Sachs coterie.]
  • Racism was worse with Barack Obama as president. [Perhaps DDT sees a stronger white supremacy since his inauguration?]
  • Kim Jong-Un “respected” his words of fire and fury. [North Korea has threatened “merciless retaliation” this week.]
  • DDT has a new coal mine that cleans coal.
  • About the journalists: “[DDT]went to a better school than them. I live in a bigger, more beautiful apartment than [the journalists] do.”
  • DDT’s claimed that very few people were outside overlooked several thousands of people. Police pepper spray and tear gas dispersed the crowd.
  • The image showing huge crowds in the streets for DDT was actually one of the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers parade.
  • And more.

DDT vigorously criticized both Arizona senators and came close to endorsing Kelli Ward over Sen. Jeff Flake in 2018 while bragging that he wouldn’t mention them by name. Ward ran against McCain last year. She sees chemtrails behind jets as a government plot to poison people, Arizona’s GOP senator John McCain as responsible for ISIS,  the UN having an agenda to move rural people to cities, Common Core standards turning children into slaves, foreign powers sending troops to subdue U.S. citizens, “polio-like illnesses” from undocumented people shipped throughout the nation, mysterious helicopters spotted in Arizona, and martial law. [Maybe she knows DDT’s plans on the last one.] She also described her time on the Cliven Bundy ranch in 2014 to visit with the Oathkeepers as a “family friendly” event.

Another strange piece of DDT’s speech came from the careful placement of a black man behind DDT waving the sign “BLACKS FOR TRUMP 2020.” Maurice Symonette believes that “ISIS and Hillary race war plot to kill all black & white women of America.” He has a fixation with the evil Cherokees, beginning with a demand that they pay taxes and continuing that they are the “real KKK masters.” You can read his rants on his website.  Another of his favorite websites. Symonette was praised by Glenn Beck, opened a Rick Santorum rally, and accused Barack Obama of trying to assassinate him.

DDT’s speech brought out open discussions on many media outlets pondering DDT’s mental instability. Even past friend and GOP Joe Scarborough (The Morning Show) joined in the criticism:

“This was a hateful, derisive speech. It was a frightening speech. He sounded like an autocrat trying to dehumanize his allies.”

Don Lemon began his memorable reaction by calling the speech “a total eclipse of the facts.”

Former intelligence chief James Clapper, who has worked for every president until DDT since John F. Kennedy, questioned DDT’s fitness for office, especially with his access to the nuclear codes.

DDT did not address the five injured and ten missing or dead sailors lost in the latest collision between a Navy ship and a merchant ship at any of his speeches. His first response when he was told about the tragedy was “that’s too bad.”

Today has stayed dark. DDT preached love and unity for all, including the military, both on Monday in his “strategy” speech and this afternoon at an American Legion convention audience in Reno (NV) when he signed a bill streamlining the appeal process on disability for veterans. He also sent a memo to the Pentagon to give Secretary of Defense James Mattis six months to enforce the transgender ban cited in DDT’s tweets, an act that leaders of the military branches oppose. Mattis will be in charge of deciding whether transgender service members are to be thrown out of the military. “This is NOT how you keep America safe,” Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), minority leader, tweeted. The ban reverses a one-year policy allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military. Five transgender service members, including veterans of recent wars, are suing DDT for violation of their rights to due-process and equal protection under the law.

The question now is whether transgender veterans will have any benefits. And whether immigrants who served honorably in the military will continue to be deported.

April 17, 2017

Pence, A Scary Dude

The far-right and even a few liberal pundits had a meltdown a few weeks ago about ridicule and outrage directed toward VP Mike Pence. The subject was the “Billy Graham Rule” of 1948 that banned men from certain social and business situations. A man cannot have dinner alone with another woman: he must take his wife with him. In addition, a man cannot be without his wife if he is with other people where alcohol is served. I don’t know if a man can have coffee alone with a woman; I haven’t read the complete code.

In the 21st century, the United States vice president has a behavioral code that diminishes women to sluts who will all attack a man if they are alone with him at a dinner. And he’s not alone in this belief: females are frequently made responsible for all male transgressions toward them—infidelity, sexual assault, etc. Beyond demeaning women, the “rule” removes women from all professional interactions in networking, mentoring, and one-to-one time. An anonymous 2015 National Journal survey of female staffers in Congress showed that exclusion from one-on-one time with their male bosses was a “huge impediment to moving up.”

For centuries, women have been “protected” from opportunities in education and the job market. The discrimination starts early with school dress codes only for girls. For example, a dress code in a North Carolina public charter school requires girls to wear skirts and bans their wearing pants. The school’s founder, Baker Mitchell, explained that the mandate is “to preserve chivalry and respect among young women and men” and that a woman is “a fragile vessel that men are supposed to take care of and honor.” A school board supported the requirement as preparation for workplaces with gendered clothing, beginning with an example of the restaurant Hooters.

All school dress codes for girls follow Pence’s example—that they are a “distraction” to males: it’s the female responsibility to control men’s “baser urges.” Enforcement is then used to shame and victim-blame girls. Another solution in schools for “protection” is single-sex classrooms, following the Pence Plan. School officials reason that teenage boys are “distracted” from school work by the presence of girls. The program is not intended to teach young people to work together as equals because in a Pence World, there is no need.

A serious disadvantage of the Pence Plan for more secular people is that, as a far-right evangelical Christian, he thinks that everyone should behave in the way that he does. “Religious freedom” allows anyone to deny everyone else anything if the “religious” person disagrees with the beliefs or actions of the other person. If a Muslim, such as Keith Ellison, were to refuse to have dinner alone with a woman not his wife, evangelicals would be grabbing their petitions to prevent Sharia Law. The former CEO of the blog RedState agreed with the Pence Plan saying that his eating alone with woman not his spouse is acceptable only for “planning your spouse’s surprise party or funeral and that is it.” He is a strong supporter of the party that elected the man who rejoiced in his right to grab “pussy” whenever he wished.

Melania Trump, almost invisible in her role as First Lady, said in a speech at the state department’s International Women of Courage Awards:

“We must continue to fight injustice in all its forms, in whatever scale or shape it takes in our lives.”

Yet that same week during Women’s History Month, Press Secretary Sean Spicer ordered reporter April Ryan not to shake her head at him, and Fox host (maybe) Bill O’Reilly, known for his sexual assaults, ridiculed Rep. Maxine Walters’ (D-CA) hair. DDT asked a group of women if they had ever heard of Susan B. Anthony. In Iowa, a legislator wants a pregnant woman to carry her dead fetus to term because it “saves babies’ lives.”

The day after he addressed a “Women’s Empowerment Panel” at the White House, VP Mike Pence cast the 51st deciding vote to stop mandates for states to deliver family planning services to people with low income through Planned Parenthood—about four million patients across the nation. Spicer said that DDT “made women’s empowerment a priority,” but Pence took away women’s empowerment to get contraceptives, well-woman exams, and cancer screenings. Pence, like DDT, has meetings with no or few women present. Far-right males love this position because of their anger about losing their rightful superiority to women and minorities. Their ticket won with the biggest gender gap in a presidential election while men wore “Trump That Bitch” T-shirts. Pence has joined DDT in removing the ability of women to decide their futures—even when or if to have children. The game plan is to win the next election with male-domination.

Those who want to impeach DDT need to think about the fact that DDT is the only person blocking the United States from male Christian domination by the Family or the Fellowship, an evangelical cult with an office on Capitol Hill.  In his book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, Jeff Sharlett writes:

“The enemy, to them, is secularism. They want a God-led government. That’s the only legitimate government. So when they speak of business, they’re speaking not of something separate from God, but they’re speaking of what, in Mike Pence’s circles, would be called biblical capitalism, the idea that this economic system is God-ordained.”

An example of Pence’s determination to overcome government officials is his hiring a private law firm when Indiana’s attorney general refused to join a lawsuit to overturn President Obama’s executive order about immigrants, charging taxpayers for the cost, and then hiding information about it. When a citizen filed a public records request for the cost and other communications, Pence argued that the courts had no control over what he chose to reveal. An appeals court rejected Pence’s argument but agreed with Pence that the information was privileged attorney-client communication. The basis of the lawsuit, originated by Texas senior official Daniel Hodge, is its attempt to control executive orders—which should be embarrassing for a man who works for a president who constantly signs executive orders. Before DDT, Pence agreed that “the unchecked expansion of executive authority … threatens the constitutional balance of power.” That argument has disappeared with a Republican president. Another Pence problem is the scrutiny regarding his use of a private email account to conduct state business while he was Indiana’s governor. Pence frequently criticized Hillary Clinton for her private email server.

Pence’s issues go far deeper than the problems listed above. Following is my letter published in the Eugene Register Guard:

People who believe that the “scientific method … is in no danger from Vice President Mike Pence’s … religion” should consider his history. As governor of Indiana, he signed a bill into law forcing women to carry non-viable pregnancies to term. Not only anti-abortion in all cases, he also cosponsored legislation to ban common forms of contraception, stem-cell research, and in vitro fertilization. Believing that LGBT people can be made heterosexual, he supported electroshock therapy for LGBT children and fought marriage equality. His opposition to HIV/AIDS programs started a full-blown epidemic in his own state.

In his refusal to believe science, he said “global warming is a myth” and thinks that smoking isn’t harmful to health because only one-third of smokers die from a smoking-related illness. According to Pence, even the smallest quantity of cannabis possession should be a felony rather than a misdemeanor.

Pence refused to comply with federal rules to reduce prison rape, tried to ban state agencies from bringing Syrian refugees into his state, and defended the Iraq War, calling it a “victory.”

Mike Pence is anti-worker, anti-woman, anti-minority, anti-elders, anti-poor, anti-environment, anti-nonChristian, anti-media, anti-science, and pro-war. He is more dangerous than the current president because he is a religious zealot, determined to force everyone in the nation to follow his far-right non-scientific evangelical Christian view of the world. None of his beliefs have any connection with “the scientific method.”

More information about Pence is here and here.

Mike Pence is now playing president in Asia, claiming that “the era of strategic patience is over” with North Korea and that the bombing of Syria and Afghanistan shows our “strength and resolve.” No matter how tough Pence tries to look, he’ll have trouble out-bullying Kim Jong-Un. The result may be another war in Korea—if we don’t expire from nuclear weapons. But then Pence loves a good holy war. At least the military–not Pence or DDT–is making all decisions regarding strikes, bombings, and other warlike activities. Even with all the civilians who they have killed, the Pentagon may have more sense than the two men elected vice president and president.

April 11, 2017

Three LGBT Wins in Court

 

On the surface, last week’s court case about Gavin Grimm looked like a loss for human rights. When the Gloucester County (VA) School Board banned transgender students from using the bathrooms that conformed with their gender identities, Gavin Grimm, then 15, addressed the board on November 11, 2014 to explain why he was not a threat to other students. The transgender teen explained that he had used the boys’ bathroom in public places throughout Gloucester County and had never had a confrontation. As Seth Millstein wrote:

“He explained that he is a person worthy of dignity and privacy. He explained why it is humiliating to be segregated from the general population. He knew, intuitively, what the law has in recent decades acknowledged: the perpetuation of stereotypes is one of many forms of invidious discrimination. And so he hoped that his heartfelt explanation would help the powerful adults in his community come to understand what his adolescent peers already did. G.G. clearly and eloquently attested that he was not a predator, but a boy, despite the fact that he did not conform to some people’s idea about who is a boy.”

Regrettably, a majority of the School Board was unpersuaded.

In 2014, Grimm sued the Gloucester County (VA) School Board for banning transgender students from using the bathrooms that conformed with their gender identities. He argued that the policy violates Title IX prohibiting gender discrimination in public schools. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals had ordered that Grimm could bring a claim against the school district because of an order issued by President Obama, and the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear the case on March 28, 2017. SCOTUS returned the case to the loser courts after Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) issued a directive permitting schools to discriminate against trans students.

Grimm (with journalist Katie Couric) asked the 4th Circuit Court to hear his case on an expedited basis with the hope that he could be treated equally for even one day before his graduation. On April 7, 2017, however, three judges from the 4th Circuit Court issued procedural orders refused Grimm’s request, and his case will be heard after he graduates to determine whether Title IX protects transgender students independently of any federal guidance.

 

 

Instead of the usual one-line order announcing procedural decisions, Senior Judge Andre Davis wrote the following:

I concur in the order granting the unopposed motion to vacate the district court’s preliminary injunction and add these observations.

Our country has a long and ignominious history of discriminating against our most vulnerable and powerless. We have an equally long history, however, of brave individuals—Dred Scott, Fred Korematsu, Linda Brown, Mildred and Richard Loving, Edie Windsor, and Jim Obergefell, to name just a few—who refused to accept quietly the injustices that were perpetuated against them. It is unsurprising, of course, that the burden of confronting and remedying injustice falls on the shoulders of the oppressed. These individuals looked to the federal courts to vindicate their claims to human dignity, but as the names listed above make clear, the judiciary’s response has been decidedly mixed. Today, G.G. adds his name to the list of plaintiffs whose struggle for justice has been delayed and rebuffed; as Dr. King reminded us, however, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” G.G.’s journey is delayed but not finished.

G.G.’s case is about much more than bathrooms. It’s about a boy asking his school to treat him just like any other boy. It’s about protecting the rights of transgender people in public spaces and not forcing them to exist on the margins. It’s about governmental validation of the existence and experiences of transgender people, as well as the simple recognition of their humanity. His case is part of a larger movement that is redefining and broadening the scope of civil and human rights so that they extend to a vulnerable group that has traditionally been unrecognized, unrepresented, and unprotected.

G.G.’s plight has shown us the inequities that arise when the government organizes society by outdated constructs like biological sex and gender. Fortunately, the law eventually catches up to the lived facts of people; indeed, the record shows that the 4 Commonwealth of Virginia has now recorded a birth certificate for G.G. that designates his sex as male.

G.G.’s lawsuit also has demonstrated that some entities will not protect the rights of others unless compelled to do so. Today, hatred, intolerance, and discrimination persist — and are sometimes even promoted — but by challenging unjust policies rooted in invidious discrimination, G.G. takes his place among other modern-day human rights leaders who strive to ensure that, one day, equality will prevail, and that the core dignity of every one of our brothers and sisters is respected by lawmakers and others who wield power over their lives.

G.G. is and will be famous, and justifiably so. But he is not “famous” in the hollowed-out Hollywood sense of the term. He is famous for the reasons celebrated by the renowned Palestinian-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye, in her extraordinary poem, Famous. Despite his youth and the formidable power of those arrayed against him at every stage of these proceedings, “[he] never forgot what [he] could do.” Judge [Henry Franklin] Floyd has authorized me to state that he joins in the views expressed herein.

The value of this ruling—and of Gavin Grimm’s bravery—is that it tells the story of why the nation needs justice for the marginalized people. Even losses can take the rights of people forward.

Another amazing story comes from Grace Dolan-Sandrino, a 16-year-old Afro-Latina trans teen, who wrote “I’m a Trans Teen—Stop Talking About My Genitalia Under the Guise of ‘Privacy.’”

Grimm and Dolan-Sandrino (right) are two people feared by many people if they simply use the bathroom of their gender identities. The male trans student was forced into girls’ facilities, and the female was expected to use the boys’ bathrooms. Or they could choose damage their health and avoid any bathrooms for the long days at school. As Dolan-Sandrino wrote:

“When I was in middle school I had to use a nurse’s bathroom two floors down from my class, across an open courtyard, and down a hall in a separate building. Because it was so far away, teachers began limiting the times I could use a bathroom in a day. Soon enough, I could only go once, maybe twice—while the rest of my peers could use bathrooms located just across the hall.”

 

Another court ruling last week was a clear win for LGBT people. Three same-gender couples in Nebraska, sued the state in 2013 because a 1995 directive prevented fostering children to any couples who were not “heterosexual.”  A district court found for the couples in 2015, but Nebraska appealed to the state Supreme Court, arguing that the three same-gender couples did not have standing because they hadn’t been denied foster care licenses.

Last Friday, the same day that the 4th Circuit refused to expedite Grimm’s lawsuit, the Nebraska Supreme Court unanimously rejected the state’s appeal and affirmed the lower court decision invalidating the 1995 directive. Justice John Wright said that same-gender couples suffer constitutional harm from knowing that official state policy constitutes discrimination. He endorsed Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s finding that “basic due process and equal protection principles” stand as a barricade against this discrimination. He further stated that direction declaring that “heterosexuals only” need apply to be foster “is legally indistinguishable from a sign reading ‘Whites Only’ on the hiring-office door.”

A valuable part of the ruling is that the existence of anti-LGBT policies inflict grievous constitutional harms, echoing the Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor’s concern that anti-LGBT laws “degrade” and “demean” same-gender couples. Nebraska judges agree that the 14th Amendment shields the rights of sexual minorities throughout the nation.

A third groundbreaking ruling in favor of LGBT people came three days before these two rulings. The full 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 8-3 that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBT people from workplace discrimination because discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is sex discrimination. The appeals court, covering Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, gives Kimberly Hively the right to sue Ivy Tech Community College (South Bend, IN). She alleges that she was denied full-time employment and promotions because she was seen kissing her girlfriend. The first appeals court to determine LGBT people have the right to sue on the basis of Title VII came to that conclusion after examining 20 years of Supreme Court rulings, including the ones on marriage equality. The Supreme Court may take this case because other appeals courts in Georgia and New York have differed in their rulings.

It is hoped that other civil rights cases will be affected by the 7th Circuit Court ruling. Other courts have ruled that Title IX, the basis for Grimm’s ruling, should use the same interpretation as Title VII. Another difference of opinion is whether Title VII protects transgender people.

The U.S. Supreme Court giveth, and it taketh away. We will wait to see what it’s decision will be in the upcoming cases about LGBT civil rights.

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.

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