FACT VS MYTH on the Zero Tolerance Policy

by Michelle Martin, Cal State University

There is so much misinformation out there about the Trump administration’s new “zero tolerance” policy that requires criminal prosecution, which then warrants the separating of parents and children at the southern border. Before responding to a post defending this policy, please do your research…As a professor at a local Cal State, I research and write about these issues. I wrote the following to make it easier for you:

Myth: This is not a new policy and was practiced under Obama and Clinton – FALSE. The policy to separate parents and children is new and was instituted on 4/6/2018. It was the “brainchild” of John Kelly and Stephen Miller to serve as a deterrent for undocumented immigration, and some allege to be used as a bargaining chip. The policy was approved by Trump, and adopted by Sessions. Prior administrations detained migrant families, but didn’t have a practice of forcibly separating parents from their children unless the adults were deemed unfit. https://www.justice.gov/…/press-rele…/file/1049751/download…

Myth: This is the only way to deter undocumented immigration – FALSE. Annual trends show that arrests for undocumented entry are at a 46 year low, and undocumented crossings dropped in 2007, with a net loss (more people leaving than arriving). Deportations have increased steadily though (spiking in 1996 and more recently), because several laws that were passed since 1996 have made it more difficult to gain legal status for people already here, and thus increased their deportations (I address this later under the myth that it’s the Democrats’ fault). What we mostly have now are people crossing the border illegally because they’ve already been hired by a US company, or because they are seeking political asylum. Economic migrants come to this country because our country has kept the demand going. But again, many of these people impacted by Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy appear to be political asylum-seekers. https://www.npr.org/…/arrests-for-illegal-border-crossings-…

Myth: Most of the people coming across the border are just trying to take advantage of our country by taking our jobs – FALSE. Most of the parents who have been impacted by Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy have presented themselves as political asylum-seekers at a U.S. port-of-entry, from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Rather than processing their claims, according to witness accounts, it appears as though they have been taken into custody on the spot and had their children ripped from their arms. The ACLU alleges that this practice violates the US Asylum Act, and the UN asserts that it violates the UN Treaty on the State of Refugees, one of the few treaties the US has ratified. The ACLU asserts that this policy is an illegal act on the part of the United States government, not to mention morally and ethically reprehensible. https://www.nytimes.com/…/meatpackers-profits-hinge-on-pool…

Myth: We’re a country that respects the Rule of Law, and if people break the law, this is what they get – FALSE. We are a country that has an above-ground system of immigration and an underground system. Our government (under both parties) has always been aware that US companies recruit workers in the poorest parts of Mexico for cheap labor, and ICE (and its predecessor INS) has looked the other way because this underground economy benefits our country to the tune of billions of dollars annually. Thus, even though many of the people crossing the border now are asylum-seekers, those who are economic migrants (migrant workers) likely have been recruited here to do jobs Americans will not do. https://www.upi.com/…/Donald-Trumps-wall-ign…/2621477498203/

Myth: The children have to be separated from their parents because the parents must be arrested and it would be cruel to put children in jail with their parents – FALSE. First, in the case of economic migrants crossing the border illegally, criminal prosecution has not been the legal norm, and families have historically been kept together at all cost. Also, crossing the border without documentation is typically a misdemeanor not requiring arrest, but rather has been handled in a civil proceeding. Additionally, parents who have been detained have historically been detained with their children in ICE “family residential centers,” again, for civil processing. The Trump administration’s shift in policy is for political purposes only, not legal ones. See p. 18: https://www.aclu.org/…/ms-l-v-ice-plaintiffs-opposition-def…

Myth: We have rampant fraud in our asylum process, the proof of which is the significant increase we have in the number of people applying for asylum. FALSE. The increase in asylum seekers is a direct result of the increase in civil conflict and violence across the globe. While some people may believe that we shouldn’t allow any refugees into our country because “it’s not our problem,” neither our current asylum law, nor our ideological foundation as a country support such an isolationist approach. There is very little evidence to support Sessions’ claim that abuse of our asylum-seeking policies is rampant. Also, what Sessions failed to mention is that the majority of asylum seekers are from China, not South of the border. Here is a very fair and balanced assessment of his statements: http://www.politifact.com/…/jeff-sessions-claim-about-asyl…/

Myth: The Democrats caused this, “it’s their law.” FALSE. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats caused this, the Trump administration did (although the Republicans could fix this today, and have refused). I believe what this myth refers to is the passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which were both passed under Clinton in 1996. These laws essentially made unauthorized entry into the US a crime (typically a misdemeanor for first-time offenders), but under both Republicans and Democrats, these cases were handled through civil deportation proceedings, not a criminal proceeding, which did not require separation. And again, even in cases where detainment was required, families were always kept together in family residential centers, unless the parents were deemed unfit (as mentioned above). Thus, Trump’s assertion that he hates this policy but has no choice but to separate the parents from their children, because the Democrats “gave us this law” is false and nothing more than propaganda designed to compel negotiation on bad policy. https://www.independent.co.uk/…/trump-democrats-us-border-m…

Myth: The parents and children will be reunited shortly, once the parents’ court cases are finalized. FALSE. Criminal court is a vastly different beast than civil court proceedings. Also, the children are being processed as unaccompanied minors (“unaccompanied alien children”), which typically means they are in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS). Under normal circumstances when a child enters the country without his or her parent, ORR attempts to locate a family member within a few weeks, and the child is then released to a family member, or if a family member cannot be located, the child is placed in a residential center (anywhere in the country), or in some cases, foster care. Prior to Trump’s new policy, ORR was operating at 95% capacity, and they simply cannot effectively manage the influx of 2000+ children, some as young as 4 months old. Also, keep in mind, these are not unaccompanied minor children, they have parents. There is great legal ambiguity on how and even whether the parents will get their children back because we are in uncharted territory right now. According to the ACLU lawsuit (see below), there is currently no easy vehicle for reuniting parents with their children. Additionally, according to a May 2018 report, numerous cases of verbal, physical and sexual abuse were found to have occurred in these residential centers. The report covers earlier years, but I’m including it here to highlight that there are problems with keeping children in large residential centers, even if they are run efficiently and supervised by licensed social workers and counselors. There is an abundance of empirical evidence that shows that residential care, even highly efficient ones, are no place for children, particularly very young ones: https://www.aclu.org/…/aclu-obtains-documents-showing-wides…

Myth: This policy is legal. LIKELY FALSE. The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration on 5/6/18, and a recent court ruling denied the government’s motion to dismiss the suit. The judge deciding the case stated that the Trump Administration’s policy is “brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency.” The case is moving forward because it was deemed to have legal merit. https://www.bloomberg.com/…/aclu-suit-over-child-separation…

I Don’t Need to ‘Understand’ Anyone Who Still Supports This President*

by Charles Pierce, ESQUIRE

The New York Times had a story on Friday that should’ve brought shame and derision upon anyone who voted for the racist monster in the White House, and upon the racist monster that the other racist monster installed at the head of the Department of Justice.

The United States government is now committing human rights atrocities within its own borders and against the most vulnerable people it can find. I don’t need to “understand,” much less take seriously, anyone who still supports this president* and his administration* because, if you do, you’ve taken the idea of America and run battery acid through its veins.

An American government escort handed over the 5-year-old child, identified on his travel documents as José, to the American woman whose family was entrusted with caring for him. He refused to take her hand. He did not cry. He was silent on the ride “home.” The first few nights, he cried himself to sleep. Then it turned into “just moaning and moaning,” said Janice, his foster mother. He recently slept through the night for the first time, though he still insists on tucking the family pictures under his pillow. 
José’s separation from his father is part of the Trump administration’s latest and most widely debated border enforcement policy. Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the government would criminally prosecute everyone who crosses the border illegally, a directive that is already leading to the breakup of hundreds of migrant families and channeling children into shelters and foster homes across the country.

Does it get worse? Trick question.

Among other children recently fostered by Bethany families is an 18-month-old girl separated from her father, who has been detained. The child cries frequently, especially when she changes settings, such as leaving her foster family’s home to attend a doctor’s appointment. 
Dona Abbott, Bethany’s refugee program director, said that these newly separated children frequently have nightmares, anxiety and stomachaches. A 3-year-old boy taken from his mother at the border was inconsolable during his flight to Michigan and cried incessantly on arrival at his new home last month, she said. He recently has begun to bond with his foster mother, from whom he is now reluctant to be apart. “He seems fearful of losing yet another attachment,” Ms. Abbott said.

What in the hell are we doing calling ourselves civilized, let alone a free nation?

The one thing that animated him was discussing his “photos,” as he called the family drawings. He introduced “mi familia,” pointing to the figures of his parents, brother and younger sister. Staring intensely at the sketch of his father, with a slight mustache and a cap, he repeated his name out loud again and again. It was “just me and him” on the trip from Honduras, he told Janice one night as he lay in bed shuffling the pictures, taking turns looking at one and then the other. 
“He holds onto the two pictures for dear life,” Janice said, through tears. “It’s heart-wrenching.”… When sirens pierced the quiet of the night last week, José’s eyes widened with fear. “La violencia, la violencia,” he said. The family assured him that it was not violence; it was fire trucks.

Fire trucks. Jesus. Janice, the foster mother in the story, is practically the only person in it with whom I’m happy to share a planet.

“It’s incredibly conflicting for me as a parent to watch this little boy begin to just have fun and experience joy in simple pleasures,” Janice said. “His dad doesn’t get to see him being joyful. It’s as if these moments with his son have been stolen from him. I am no substitute.” 
For sure, the boy’s family always seems to be on his mind. 
At bedtime one night last week, he announced: “I am going with my papa on Saturday.” 
To which Janice responded, “You know, mi amor, I don’t think it will be Saturday. First we have to get more information about where your dad is so that we can call him, and then we’ll see.” 
He listened, and then asked her to remain in the room. “I don’t want to be alone,” he said.

So, thanks to this president* and his 63 million enablers, and his acolytes in the media, and all the people who didn’t care enough to stop him in 2016, and all the people who don’t care enough to stop him now, we have our own American variations on the Tuam babies and the Magdalene Laundries.

Children are being punished, cruelly and mindlessly, for the perceived sins of their parents and, because we are a secular republic, it is not being done in the name of God but, rather, on the behalf of everybody in this country. That does not make this better. Not by a longshot.

god:kids.jpg

 

 

 

 

Number of detained immigrant kids, ‘begging and screaming not to be taken from parents,’ surges

[It is U.S. Federal Law that any person from any country has the right to petition for asylum at our borders. Your government’s official policy now ignores that law and is literally kidnapping children as some sort of evil, misguided “deterrent” to keep people from even asking. This is your country. These things are being done in your name. Resist in any way you can.]

The number of migrant children locked up by the federal government has surged by more than 20 percent and left designated detention facilities at near-capacity, following a new, barbaric Trump administration policy ripping kids from the arms of their parents at the U.S./Mexico border:

Although the government has not disclosed how many children have been separated from their parents as a result of the new measures, the Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday that it had 10,773 migrant children in its custody, up from 8,886 on April 29.

Children kidnapped from their parents are placed in “an existing network of approximately 100 shelters in 14 states” run by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)—and those are now quickly filling up with frightened, confused children who should be with their parents. Those shelters are at 95 percent capacity, an HHS official said Tuesday, and the agency is preparing to add potentially thousands of new bed spaces in the coming weeks. HHS also is exploring the possibility of housing children on military bases but views the measure as a “last option,” according to the HHS official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the agency’s preparations.

An internment camp for brown kids disguised as a military base is still an internment camp for brown kids. “It’s as bad as anything I’ve seen in 25-plus years of doing this work,” said Lee Gelernt, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). “Little kids are begging and screaming not to be taken from parents, and they’re hauled off. Parents are telling their older kids, ‘Be brave, be brave.’”

The safest place for kids is with their families and in supportive communities. Yet this barbaric policy has resulted in 2,000 children as young as 53 weeks being torn from parents and thrust into an abusive system that is wholly unfit to care for them. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents, according to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago School of Law, have run over, punched, and sexually abused children:

In one complaint we obtained, a Border Patrol agent grabbed a girl he claimed was running away, handcuffed her to someone else and dragged them together along the ground, causing “two bruises on her neck, scratches to her shoulders and arms, and thorns in her head.” A 16-year-old recounted that a Border Patrol agent threw him down before he used his boot to smash his head into the ground.

Other children allege that agents assaulted them with their feet, fists, flashlights, and Tasers. In one case, an agent ran over a 17-year-old with a patrol vehicle and then got out and punched the child in the head and body. Often, children noted that other agents witnessed the abuse or saw the injuries but refused them medical attention. In one case, agents accused a pregnant minor of lying about the pain — which turned out to be labor contractions preceding a stillbirth.

There are countless more stories of this violence and mayhem being visited on children daily. It has to stop.

–Daily Kos

For the Love of God, You Gigantic Babies, Shut Up.

[A POINTED RESPONSE TO THE HAND-WRINGING AND COMPLAINING AND WHINING AND SULKING BEING PERFORMED BY CONSERVATIVES ALL OVER THE COUNTRY AFTER MICHELLE WOLF’S TEN MINUTES OF VERBAL GYMNASTICS AT LAST NIGHT’S WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT’S DINNER]

By HUNTER, Daily Kos diary

Every year, there is outrage when a famous comedian invited to host the self-gratifying political orgy known as the White House Correspondent’s Dinner uses the opportunity to crack jokes about the participants. As is the custom. Every year, the assembled journalists proclaim themselves outraged at the comedy routine making fun of journalists; every year, conservative politicians proclaim themselves terribly hurt by the lack of deference given to the worst of them. The problem, according to the gathered most powerful people in America, is that comedians are mean to them.

This year the fainting couches were rolled out in reaction to Michelle Wolf, who used a snippet of foul language—in front of baseball stars—and who insulted the White House’s principal propagandist, a woman who lies openly and freely in service to deflecting criticism of a president’s racist statements, racist actions, lies, more lies, still more lies, scandals, more scandals, failure to abide by even rote ethics expected of the presidency, vulgarities, potential criminalities, and take-your-pick, by pointing out that the liar was a liar, but one with fabulous eye shadow.

And all the people who stared blankly into the abyss as the now-president demonized immigrants, and non-Christians, and the last president, and his political opponents, and federal investigators, and the press, and the rule of law itself, on any occasion in which it caused him the slightest injury, and all the people who stare blankly at the Sean Spicers and Sarah Sanderses of the White House and wrote down, dutifully and punctually, the flagrant lies that the White House wanted disseminated on that particular day, pretended that this was the one incident of impropriety that shook them. The comedy routine.

And the conservatives, including the ones who host conventions in which the speakers regularly suggest that their political enemies are traitors to the nation who need to be expunged, with violence if necessary, and who demand mass purges of immigrants, rally around white nationalists and white supremacists, talk about what should be done with those that enable abortions, and so on, and so on, and so on, pretend to be outraged at the incivility of it all. For about twenty minutes. Not enough to forgo the after-dinner wine, of course.

White House director of strategic communications Mercedes Schlapp and her husband, conservative activist Matt Schlapp, walked out early. “Enough of elites mocking all of us,” he tweeted. (Still, the Schlapps later attended NBC and MSNBC’s after party).

Here is my hot take on the matter: Shut up.

For the love of God, you gigantic babies, shut up. You control the levers of power, but it is not enough. You control, to a larger extent than any other Americans in any other locations, the direction and speed of every political wind. You have the power to trivialize scandal, and scandalize trivialities, and you use it every day, against famous targets and against private citizens alike. You are the press. You are the government. You are at the peak of your profession; you are at the center of what America is and will be, if your town has any say at all over it. You determine what the papers will report tomorrow, and what they will ignore. And it is still not enough; there is never a point at which any other American, anywhere, will be able to do a tenth as much to you as you do to them without dozens upon dozens of the most powerful figures in America bursting into false tears and wringing their hands at the incivility of it all.

You show contempt for “Hollywood” daily, and promote that contempt; the same for sports stars in encroach upon your political turf; the same for high school students not wanting to be shot; the same for striking teachers, or whoever else attempts to dip their toes into your wading-pool.

But insulting one of the most flagrant propagandists America has seen within the White House in modern times—that is a bridge too far? That does not even rise to the level of maudlin. That is simply, for at least half of you, rote.

If a single night of barbs is too much, end it. Go home, you babies. Go back to your column-spaces and write about all the other people who are not allowed to encroach on your domain of explaining which professional liars are decent and which outrageously cruel ideas are perhaps not cruel at all, if you turn your morals off. Go to your conferences and whine bitterly, conservatives, that a movement predicated on contempt for all others receives contempt itself. Go, and let us never have these ostentatious, masturbatory, celebrity-adjacent self-promoting events again.

Just end this stupidity already. Go on, end it. Next year, have no comedian at all, rather than one who might wound the fee-fees of the most powerful men and women in the nation. Next year, have no event at all; content yourself with the after parties, where you can drink and brownnose in peace without having to hear a single barbed word other than the ones you dish out behind each other’s backs. We dare you. We dare you to abandon this one glittering party.

Go on, do it. Put up or shut up.

Ya babies.

No, He Lied. Say it: HE LIED.

by Jim Wright

American journalism is dead.

Or it might as well be.

They just can’t do it. They just can’t use the word. Just can’t do it.

Trump openly brags that he “made up facts” in a meeting with a foreign leader and the press just plays along.

Made up facts.

Made up “facts.”

In the context of information, a fact is defined as: a piece of information used as evidence or as part of a report or news article, a thing that is indisputably proven to be the case, information based on evidence.

You can’t make up facts.

If you’re making it up and presenting it as fact, you’re lying. By definition.

The word is “lied.”

Not alternative facts.

Not made up facts.

Not facts.

Lies.

HE LIED. THE WORD IS LIED. LIED. LIED. LIED.

Now, this morning, when I said something to that effect on Twitter, someone responded with, “They can’t! They can’t say ‘lied’ because libel laws.”

And you know what? That’s bullshit.

Look at how many times the conservative media has said, “Hillary Lied!” this week alone.

If you can safely say “Hillary Lied!” you can safely say “Trump Lied.”

More importantly, Journalism shouldn’t be about what you can and cannot SAFELY say.

And it’s not libel laws that prevent the press from using the words, from saying Trump lied.

It’s cowardice.

Then, somebody else asked, “does it matter?”

Does it really matter if the press says “lied?” Do you really think it would perceptibly move the needle [of public opinion]?

Does it matter?

Does it matter what terminology the press uses?

Yes. Yes it does. It matters a hell of a lot.

Why? HISTORY.

The press is the record of not only our time, of not only FACT, but how we as a people regard the world around us. The press is a record our views, our perception, our civilization in gestalt. It not only records our viewpoint, it helps to shape it. MOREOVER, it shapes history’s perception.

For context, look at how the press of the 1930s enabled Hitler and used vague euphemisms for genocide and fascism.

We ask ourselves, how could they have let Hitler happen? How could they have let the Holocaust happen? How could Germany have gone so insane? How? How is that possible?

How? Well, you’re looking at it. You’re looking right at it.

Do I think how the press records TODAY will alter our perception of Trump? Yes, no, maybe. It depends on the journalism, see Watergate for example. The truth, the ability to use the words, lied, stole, crook, directly moved the needle of public perception regarding Nixon — both in that time and IN HIS FUTURE. When we (that future) look back on that time, our judgement of our own nation in that moment is shaped in very large part by the press OF THAT TIME.

So, do I think how the press records TODAY will determine how future generations see US as a people?

Yes I very much do. Q.E.D.

This ongoing refusal to use the words, to describe Trump and this failed Congress in bald terms, reflects our inability as Americans to face our failure as citizens of the Republic.

It reflects a profound cowardice in not only the Press itself, but also in us as citizens, as a people, and as a nation.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

The Founders must have believed this too. They must have. Because the Press is the ONLY private institution, the ONLY private business, specifically called out in the Constitution and given enumerated rights.

That was for a very specific reason.

Because in a free society, the Press is THE watchdog of liberty.

This continued and repeated inability to use the words, to speak the truth no matter the cost, is an utter betrayal of that duty to the Republic.

This is cowardice pure and simple.

Cowardice of the press.

Cowardice of the people.

Cowardice of the nation.

And THAT is what the future will know of us.

Good People Don’t Defend A Bad Man

by John Pavlovitz

At times in this life it can be a challenge to figure out who the bad people are, but sometimes they help you.

Sometimes they do the work for you.

Sometimes with their every vulgar, bitter word from their mouth, they testify to their personal malignancy and they make it easy to identify them.

Generally speaking, there are things that good people do and things good people don’t do.

Good people don’t refer to entire countries as “shitholes”—most notably countries that have given birth to our very humanity; ones that for hundreds of years have been colonized and poached and mined of their riches by powerful white men; countries whose people have been enslaved and sold and forced to come and build your country. 

Good people by any measurement we might use—simply don’t say such things.

Of course good people also don’t say they could grab women by the genitalia, either.
They don’t defend racists and nazis and call them “fine people,” days after murdering a young girl and terrorizing an American city.
They don’t brag about their penis size during debates, or suggest protestors at campaign rallies should be roughed up, or crack jokes about captured war heroes, or make fun of the physically disabled.
They don’t.

Good people don’t tweet anti-Muslim rhetoric in the moments immediately following a bombing in order to bolster a position.
They don’t leave American territories filled with brown skinned people without power for months upon months, after publicly ridiculing their public servants and questioning their people’s resolve.
They don’t erase protections for the water and the air, for the elderly, the terminally ill, the LGBTQ.
They don’t take away healthcare from the sick and the poor without an alternative.
They don’t gouge the working poor and shelter the wealthy.
They don’t abuse their unrivaled platform to Twitter-bait world leaders and to taunt private citizens.

Good people don’t prey upon the vulnerable, they don’t leverage their power to bully dissenters, and they don’t campaign for sexual predators.

But this President is not a good human being, and there’s simply no way around this truth.

He is the ugliest personification of the Ugly American, which is why, as long as he is here and as long as he represents this nation, we will be a fractured mess and a global embarrassment. He will be the ever lowering bar of our legacy in the world.

And what is painfully obvious in these moments, isn’t simply that the person alleging to lead this country is a terrible human being—it is that anyone left still defending him, applauding him, justifying him, amening him, probably is too.

At this point, the only reason left to support this President, is that he reflects your hateful heart; he shares your contempt of people of color, your hostility toward outsiders, your ignorant bigotry, your feeling of supremacy.

A white President calling countries filled with people of color shitholes, is so far beyond the pale, so beneath decency, and so blatantly racist that it shouldn’t merit conversation. It should be universally condemned. Humanity should be in agreement in abhorring it.

And yet today (like so many other seemingly rock bottom days in the past twelve months) they will be out there: white people claiming to be good people and Christian people, who will make excuses for him or debate his motives or diminish the damage.

They will dig their heels in to explain away or to defend, what at the end of the day is simply a bad human being saying the things that bad human beings say because their hearts harbor very bad things.

No, good people don’t call countries filled with beautiful, creative, loving men and women shitholes.

And good people don’t defend people who do.

You’re going to have to make a choice here.

Normalizing the Unthinkable

Let’s play “what if?”

WHAT IF OBAMA HAD:

~an affair with a porn star

~paid off the porn star to buy her silence

~been accused by 19 credible women of sexual assault

~been accused by his former wife of rape

~been accused by a 13 year old of rape

~been caught on tape admitting how he enjoyed assaulting women

~cheated on three wives, once with a porn star three months after his son’s birth

~had kids by three women

~married an immigrant

~a father who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan

~spent one third of his time in office at golf resorts

~spent more on weekend and family vacations in his first year in office than the previous President did in two full terms—eight years

~taken money from a 9-11 fund claiming he was a victim

~been the first President in decades to refuse to release his tax returns, after promising he would release them after the election

~multiple bankruptcies, screwing thousands of businesses and vendors and investors

~been the subject of thousands of lawsuits

~connections going back thirty years to the Russian mafia

~bought the Plaza Hotel in NYC for $400 million and had it repossessed by the banks

~bought a yacht for $29 million and had it repossessed by the bank

~built 4 casinos at a cost of over $3 billion, filed for bankruptcies, stiffing contractors and employees

~started his own airline, never made a profit, planes and helicopters repossessed by the bank

~started companies dealing with mortgages, steaks, and vodka, all went out of business

~stiffed hundreds of suppliers, vendors, and contractors over the years in a host of projects and forced them to take him to court before he settled

~paid a $25 million fraud settlement to people who had “enrolled” in his phony University

~shifted kids cancer charity money into his business

~been sued by the federal government twice for housing discrimination, lost, and paid fines

~accused his campaign opponent of being “crooked,” even though the opponent had been investigated six times for “crooked” acts, with zero evidence found for each, resulting in no trials and no convictions; while he had gone to trial 1597 times in 30 years for “crooked” acts where evidence warranted a trial, and 236 times he was found guilty of “crooked” acts or settled cases when it was clear he would lose

~been sued over 3500 times over his 30 year career

~ignored security clearance warnings from the FBI about his daughter and son in law while giving them access to top secret files

~appointed an agent of a foreign power as the U.S. National Security Adviser

~invited top Russian diplomats into the Oval Office and gave them classified Israeli top secret info

~fired the head of the FBI and openly admitted he did it because that guy was getting too close to finding out how he had colluded with the Russians in throwing an American election

~threatened nuclear war with North Korea

~openly profited from his office by encouraging foreign government officials to stay at his hotels and resorts

~took millions from Russian oligarchs

~appointed one of his daughters an “adviser” and allowed her to make millions selling access to the White House with her line of foreign –made products and family hotels

~bragged about walking in on teenage girls naked at his beauty pageants

~bragged about wanting to sleep with his daughter

~campaigned openly for a Republican pedophile for the U.S. Senate

~insulted and ridiculed a Gold Star family

~attacked a Gold Star widow

~accused our troops of being thieves and “living the good life”

~attacked homeless veterans

~mocked, insulted and lied about Native Americans

~mocked and insulted a genuine American war hero and POW

~defended the KKK and the Nazis when they marched openly in Charlottesville, one of them driving his car into a crowd and killing a young woman

~went overseas and talked shit about America

~called America a hellhole

~attacked the judicial system, the DOJ, the CIA, the FBI and the State Department

~ignored reports from all 17 U.S. Intelligence agencies that the Russians had hacked an American election in his favor, and insisted there was no “proof”

~bragged about his “success” in Puerto Rico while people were still dying

~made it easier for the mentally ill to buy guns

~mocked and imitated a handicapped NYT reporter

~promised to hire only the “best people” and now has four of them facing federal indictments and pleading guilty to felonies with many more on the way

~proposed a budget that added $7 trillion to the debt and slashed safety net programs like Medicaid ($300 billion cut), SNAP ($213 billion), and disability programs ($73 billion), in order to provide his billionaire friends a trillion and a half dollar tax break

~criticized a security officer for not going into the Parkland school to face an AR15 with a pistol, and bragged that he would have gone in, with or without a gun—even though he claimed “bone spurs” as an excuse for avoiding the draft

~lied over 2000 provable times in the first year of his presidency

The Current Occupant has done ALL these things, with the list of jaw-dropping outrages growing daily. Yet 80% of Republicans still support him. Remember when Republicans and conservative pundits wrote long critical essays and went on TV to express their disgust with Obama when he had the temerity to put his feet up on the Oval Office desk? I do. 

We are in the process of normalizing this continuing shit show. The only way to stop it in its tracks is by showing up in force at the voting booth and saying, with overwhelming numbers, that THIS WILL STOP NOW.

 

When White Privilege Turns Lethal

[The ‘thing’ that nobody’s talking about in all the analysis of the Parkland school shooting is this: if the shooter had been black, brown, Muslim, or even living in a largely non-white community, he most likely would have been spotted, monitored, and stopped before he was able to carry out his deranged plan. But he was white, so the following piece about all the red flags and warnings makes us even more sick about this particular shooting than we usually are. It was preventable, all the way. But because law enforcement doesn’t focus as sharply on dangers emanating from the white communities, he was ignored, and 17 people are dead]

by Chauncey DeVega, SALON

White privilege can be lethal. On Feb. 14, in Parkland, Florida, it was channeled through toxic white masculinity when Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and wounded dozens more.

This mass murder by gun should not have occurred. It was almost entirely preventable.

In an extensive and chilling report, CNN details a litany of moments when Cruz’s murderous rampage could likely have been derailed. “An unidentified woman close to Cruz,” probably a relative, called an FBI tip line “to describe a young man with an arsenal of knives and guns who was ‘going to explode.’ She said she feared him ‘getting into a school and just shooting the place up.'”

The woman said Cruz had the mental capacity of a 12- to 14-year-old and had been kicked out of school for throwing chairs at students and teachers. She also provided the FBI with the user names for at least three of Cruz’s Instagram accounts, where he wrote that “he wants to kill people” and posted photos of mutilated animals.

The FBI admitted last week it had failed to act on that tip.

Separately, the FBI was warned in September about a YouTube commenter named Nikolas Cruz, who wrote: “Im going to be a professional school shooter.”

CNN also reported that the Broward County sheriff’s office had received 23 calls related to Cruz or his brother over the previous decade. These included “information from a neighbor’s son that Cruz planned to ‘shoot up’ an unknown school” and a different call from someone who reported that “Cruz was suicidal and could be a ‘school shooter in the making.'”

The many ways that white privilege and the color line intersect with guns and masculinity in the tragic case of the Parkland massacre could be a chapter in a textbook for an Introduction to Sociology course.

It has been repeatedly documented by social scientists and other researchers that police and other law enforcement officers are much more likely to be extremely aggressive, escalate to physical force, act in a more lethal manner and to be “proactive” when interacting with black and brown people as compared to whites. This pattern is true even when police interact with black people — especially black men — who are unarmed. In general, America’s police take perceived threats to public safety from whites much less seriously than they do from nonwhites (as well as Muslims).

Blacks deemed “mentally ill” are much more likely than whites to be institutionalized and otherwise monitored by the state, meaning the criminal justice system and social service agencies.

In America’s schools, black and brown children are more likely to be suspended or expelled, and to receive harsher punishments more generally, than are white children. This is true even when black and brown children behave the same way as white children.

It is almost so obvious as to not require comment that a Muslim or Arab who was accused of stockpiling weapons would have been immediately detained or arrested on suspicion of “terrorism.”

If Nikolas Cruz lived in a black or brown community he would have been much more likely to be under close surveillance and to have personally interacted with the police and other law enforcement agencies. Ultimately, black and brown communities — especially if they are also poor or working-class — are routinely over-policed in America. By comparison, white communities are in fact under-policed. This is a story of social control and power that can have a profound impact on a person’s life chances — and can also lead to tragic consequences for society at large, as in the case of Nikolas Cruz and what happened in Parkland, Florida.

Racism is a form of structural and interpersonal violence against nonwhites. But in fact racism and white privilege can have painful and devastating effects on white people too. The mass shooting in Parkland, and the other mass-shooting rampages by disaffected white men and boys with guns, offer numerous dreadful examples of that fact.

“See something, say something?” Total crap.

The meme that I was hearing over and over after the Florida shooting, and I was yelling at the TV, the meme that they kept promoting that was making me so crazy was, “oh, if you see something, say something – we should have been able to see this coming.” As if to say that only in the United States do we have people who have mental illness problems. This is just total crap.

New York City came up with this “see something, say something” slogan. In fact, they trademarked it. When Washington DC wanted to use that, they had to pay New York City. so they they came up with this thing. John Mueller writes about this for the Cato Institute of all things, back in 2012. But we’ve known about this for a long time. It began in 2006 in New York City, the “see something, say something” campaign in the New York subways and all over the city – call the police if you see something, particularly if it has to do with terrorism. In 2006 it had generated 9000 calls and by a year later it was 13,000 calls, in 2008 it was up to 27,000 calls. And by the way, every single one of those calls provokes a police investigation, so we’re talking probably tens to hundreds of millions of dollars spent.

So a reporter for the New York Times and then later a reporter for Cato asked, out of these thirty thousand calls about suspicious activity, how many produced an actual arrest or conviction for terrorism or any other crime?

Zero.

I remember last year there was a story when I was living in Washington DC about how the DC Metro was averaging something like 18,000 calls a year. How many terrorists had they caught?

Zero.

And so now we’re going to take this, which does nothing. The thing from previous years was “it’s too soon to talk about this, the emotions are too hot.” What crap. And everybody figured out it was crap. And everybody figured out this is just a way of avoiding a serious discussion while you continue to take your blood money from the National Rifle Association, Cory Gardner and Richard Burr. Richard Burr is at the top of the list. The NRA invested 7 million dollars in Richard Burr. You think he’s going to talk about gun control? You think he’s going to talk about an assault weapon ban, which by the way Ronald Reagan supported? Do you think he’s going to talk about bringing back the Brady Bill which Ronald Reagan supported?

These guys are not Republicans. These guys are shills for corporations. They go to whomever pays them the most. It’s just that simple. If you’re a deadly industry in the United States, if you produce pesticides that cause cancer, if you produce chemicals that kill people, if you work with petroleum products that foul the air and the water and kill our planet, the Republican Party will take your money. They’ll even pretend science doesn’t exist for you. That’s how sold are out they are.

And so the old meme was, “oh, our thoughts and prayers are with you and it’s too soon to talk about it.” Now after Newtown, we’re just not taking that anymore. So now they’ve come up with a new one and it’s all over the media. You see all these shills on TV over and over and over again and you need to be letting your networks know when you see these people how offended you are by this BS.

You see these people going, “oh well, if we had just had somebody report him.”

This idiot in Florida who shot these 17 kids, who murdered these 17 kids, he had already been reported to the FBI. There’s nothing you can do under the current law. At the very best you could adjudicate them mentally ill, but Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress passed a law – one of their very first pieces of legislation – that said even if somebody’s adjudicated mentally ill, and there are 75,000 people in America who fit that category, so severely mentally ill that they qualify for Social Security disability which is a multi-year process with multiple doctors certifying that you’re so badly impaired that you can’t work, that those people can now buy guns.

So calling up and saying, “I think this guy is a potential shooter,” it does nothing. But this is the new meme – do anything to avoid talking about gun control, anything to avoid talking about why the hell do we have weapons of war on the streets of America.

Congressman Tyler Tannahill from Kansas, this idiot congressman who the day before the shooting announced that he’s raffling off an AR-15 – yep if you want to support his campaign make a donation and your entered into the raffle for an AR-15, the weapon that killed those kids. These people are nuts.

No they’re not, they’re not nuts, they are sociopaths. They don’t give a damn about the United States of America. They don’t give a damn about our children. All people like Richard Burr and Thom Tillis and Roy Blunt and Marco Rubio and Cory Gardner and Joni Ernst and Rob Portman and Todd Young and Bill Cassidy, all they give a damn about is the millions that the NRA gives them.

–Thom Hartmann

How The Republicans Stole the 2nd Amendment

by Rebecca Koza, Daily Kos

[What follows is a brief historical review of how the 2nd amendment has been interpreted through the years by a variety of supreme court decisions, and how the Republican Party, over the last thirty years, has waged an unceasing war on academic, legal and lobbying fronts that culminated in their long-sought victory in 2008, in the form of District of Columbia v. Heller, a convoluted opinion penned by the late Justice Antonin Scalia that was as thoroughly, indelibly politically motivated and saturated as any the Supreme Court has issued. It’s where we are today– the “legal” right of an individual to bear arms, completely at odds with what the framers intended. “There is perhaps no more dramatic proof of how critical judicial nominations are than the arc of the Second Amendment. The stakes are illustrated all too often, in Sandy Hook and Orlando and Parkland; in the 96 people who die each day as a result of gun violence”]

*****

Republicans stole the Second Amendment.

Over the course of 30 years, the right waged a war on political, legal, and academic fronts to redefine that amendment, contrary to history, text, and precedent, as creating an individual right to bear arms. Of course, none of those efforts, nor their aggregate effect, would have been enough to accomplish the right’s aims without a far-right ideologue on the Supreme Court, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, to codify them.

The right’s misappropriation of the Second Amendment ranks among the most stunning legal feats in U.S. history.

In the two centuries following the adoption of the Bill of Rights, in 1791, no amendment received less attention in the courts than the Second, except the Third. As Adam Winkler, a constitutional-law scholar at U.C.L.A., demonstrates in a remarkably nuanced new book, “Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America,” firearms have been regulated in the United States from the start. Laws banning the carrying of concealed weapons were passed in Kentucky and Louisiana in 1813, and other states soon followed: Indiana (1820), Tennessee and Virginia (1838), Alabama (1839), and Ohio (1859). Similar laws were passed in Texas, Florida, and Oklahoma. As the governor of Texas explained in 1893, the “mission of the concealed deadly weapon is murder. To check it is the duty of every self-respecting, law-abiding man.”

Although these laws were occasionally challenged, they were rarely struck down in state courts; the state’s interest in regulating the manufacture, ownership, and storage of firearms was plain enough. Judges took regulation as not only common sense, but wholly compatible with the Second Amendment. As Jeffrey Toobin recounted for The New Yorker six years ago: For more than a hundred years, the answer was clear, even if the words of the amendment itself were not. The text of the amendment is divided into two clauses and is, as a whole, ungrammatical: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The courts had found that the first part, the “militia clause,” trumped the second part, the “bear arms” clause.

In other words, according to the Supreme Court, and the lower courts as well, the amendment conferred on state militias a right to bear arms—but did not give individuals a right to own or carry a weapon.

So, what spurred the departure from the well-established, longstanding understanding of the Second Amendment and the adoption of the contemporary, hopefully temporary, interpretation? Politics.

Before the nineteen-seventies, the N.R.A. had been devoted mostly to non-political issues, like gun safety. But a coup d’état at the group’s annual convention in 1977 brought a group of committed political conservatives to power—as part of the leading edge of the new, more rightward-leaning Republican Party. The new group pushed for a novel interpretation of the Second Amendment, one that gave individuals, not just militias, the right to bear arms. It was an uphill struggle. At first, their views were widely scorned. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, who was no liberal, mocked the individual-rights theory of the amendment as “a fraud.”

It’s worth noting that tensions remain within the NRA; its official positions are more extreme than those of its constituents. As Jill Lepore reported: Gun owners may be more supportive of gun-safety regulations than is the leadership of the N.R.A. According to a 2009 Luntz poll, for instance, requiring mandatory background checks on all purchasers at gun shows is favored not only by eighty-five per cent of gun owners who are not members of the N.R.A. but also by sixty-nine per cent of gun owners who are.

 Republicans’ long-sought victory came in 2008, in the form of District of Columbia v. Heller, a convoluted opinion penned by the late Justice Antonin Scalia that was as thoroughly, indelibly politically motivated and saturated as any the Supreme Court has issued.

Whatever the reason, handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid. If it seems bizarre that the statement concluding that a ban on gun ownership is unconstitutional hinges on the weapon’s popularity, that’s because it is. Former Justice John Paul Stevens, who also authored a dissent, spells out how egregious a deviation Heller is.

The Second Amendment plainly does not protect the right to use a gun to rob a bank; it is equally clear that it does encompass the right to use weapons for certain military purposes. Whether it also protects the right to possess and use guns for nonmilitary purposes like hunting and personal self-defense is the question presented by this case. The text of the Amendment, its history, and our decision in United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174 (1939), provide a clear answer to that question. More to the point, Stevens notes, there is no evidence of an intention to limit regulation.

Neither the text of the Amendment nor the arguments advanced by its proponents evidenced the slightest interest in limiting any legislature’s authority to regulate private civilian uses of firearms. Specifically, there is no indication that the Framers of the Amendment intended to enshrine the common-law right of self-defense in the Constitution. Although the right had approached its latest effort to argue for an individual right to bear arms with renewed enthusiasm, its reasoning and support hadn’t changed at all.

No new evidence has surfaced since 1980 supporting the view that the Amendment was intended to curtail the power of Congress to regulate civilian use or misuse of weapons. Indeed, a review of the drafting history of the Amendment demonstrates that its Framers rejected proposals that would have broadened its coverage to include such uses.

In understated but damning language, Stevens called out the majority’s relatively violent departure from stare decisis, the principle that a court should almost always adhere to precedent. (It’s Latin for “to stand by things decided.”) Even if the textual and historical arguments on both sides of the issue were evenly balanced, respect for the well-settled views of all of our predecessors on this Court, and for the rule of law itself, would prevent most jurists from endorsing such a dramatic upheaval in the law.

Justice Stephen Breyer’s separate, slightly more pointed dissent goes even further than Stevens’. It appears to have made a terrific impression on Scalia, who refers to Breyer’s dissent 15 times in the majority opinion. The majority’s conclusion is wrong for two independent reasons. The first reason is that set forth by JUSTICE STEVENS—namely, that the Second Amendment protects militia-related, not self-defense-related, interests. These two interests are sometimes intertwined. To assure 18th-century citizens that they could keep arms for militia purposes would necessarily have allowed them to keep arms that they could have used for self-defense as well. But self-defense alone, detached from any militia-related objective, is not the Amendment’s concern. The second independent reason is that the protection the Amendment provides is not absolute. The Amendment permits government to regulate the interests that it serves. Thus, irrespective of what those interests are— whether they do or do not include an independent interest gun in self-defense—the majority’s view cannot be correct unless it can show that the District’s regulation is unreasonable or inappropriate in Second Amendment terms. This the majority cannot do.

Two years after Heller, conservatives went back to the Supreme Court to secure the enforcement of an individual right to gun ownership against the states. In other words, they wanted to minimize the potential for both federal and state gun control regulation. In 2016, the right convinced the Court to formally declare that this new, distorted version of the Second Amendment applies equally to all “bearable” arms.

There is perhaps no more dramatic proof of how critical judicial nominations are than the arc of the Second Amendment. The stakes are illustrated all too often, in Sandy Hook and Orlando and Parkland; in the 96 people who die each day as a result of gun violence.