Monday, June 24, 2019

Making a killing off torture

I’ve been saying the camps holding refugee children are concentration camps. Leah McElrath takes it one more step. In a Twitter thread she links to a couple articles about the deplorable conditions in these camps. Then she adds:
When children die from the purposefully negligent conditions in these concentration camps, the camps will have become death camps.

Please understand:

Neglect can KILL young children — even if they have food & clean clothes. Babies and toddlers can die from a lack of nurturing.


Children dying from neglect in government facilities is NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE.

When one is willing to tolerate the purposeful neglect and abuse of infants and young children by the state, it’s not much further to being willing to tolerate their outright murder.

Melissa McEwan of Shakesville discusses reports that children are being shifted from one concentration camp to a tent camp outside El Paso. McEwan notes several things wrong with this.

* This is not an improvement for the children. It will also be a concentration camp with the same deplorable conditions we’ve seen. Tents in the heat of a Texas summer will be deadly.

* This switch is to hide the deplorable treatment.

* The nasty guy administration does not have an effective tracking system to reunify parents and children. Much of what we know about the camps is because families raised hell. Move the children and the chance of reunification goes down. And if the families don’t know if their children are alive or dead it is harder for them to attempt to get some kind of accountability. Which is likely part of the point of the exercise.

Mikel Jollett tweeted this:
Just want to congratulate the New York Times for its wall-to-wall coverage of Hillary Clinton’s email server. Children without soap sleeping on concrete floors without blankets are very proud of all the clicks you got.
And this:
The US government is paying private businesses $775 per day to keep children in sub-human conditions. For that money, these kids could stay at the Hilton, eat from the buffet, and we’d still have millions to spare. Someone is making a KILLING off the torture of children.

Just to be perfectly clear: It wasn't an accident or the result of bureaucratic mismanagement.

The Republican Party spent way MORE taxpayer money to SEPARATE vulnerable children from their parents than it would have cost to keep the families together
Joyce Alene notes: “$775 a day doesn’t even cover a toothbrush, soap, and a bed.”

Samuel Sinyangwe notes the current tally of deaths in camps – 24 adults and 6 children – and tweeted a suggestion I like very much:
Put this on a massive sign overlooking the White House. And outside of every white Evangelical church in America.

Deborah Roseman tweeted a call for impeachment:
It's like we've been abused by a teacher, a doctor's exam has confirmed it, but our parents haven't pressed charges. And each day they don't, not only does it bruise our spirit, but it puts other kids at risk.

Imagine our parents saying "Let's just hope the students all give the teacher bad end-of-year reviews and maybe he won't be back for another school year"

I don't know who said it first, but even if a racist jury won't convict a cop who needlessly gunned down an unarmed black man, you file the charges. Impeachment is like that.
Another tweet by Roseman explains the current refugee experience:
Your house is on fire. You grab your child and run out. The neighbors there--you've never met, but they're upwind, maybe they'll let you in. You enter their gate. They lock you in the garage and send your kid away. Who knows where. Guess you shouldn't have trespassed.

Only a blip

I will be taking three trips this summer. The first one starts Wednesday. My performance group is going on a two day tour. We are giving a home concert tomorrow night (more like a dress rehearsal), then a concert in central Pennsylvania on Saturday and another south of Cleveland on Sunday. Between the home concert and the PA concert I’ll be spending time with my brother near Pittsburgh. That means I don’t have to depart Detroit at 6:00 am Saturday morning, though I do have to be on the road that early Sunday morning.

All that to say I won’t be posting the rest of this week.

On to the little things that have been accumulating in my browser tabs.

E. Jean Carroll published an account of the nasty guy raping her back in the mid 1990s. She is the 22nd woman to accuse the US President of sexual assault.

Melissa McEwan of Shakesville and others note how much this rape story is not front page news in every newspaper across the country. It did not get discussed in the Sunday morning talk shows. The careers of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and many others were ended by such scandals. But the President? Silence.

Which prompted Mikel Jollett to tweet:
A sitting US President is credibly accused of RAPE by a famous writer and there are NO front page headlines in the @NYTimes. A woman manages her emails poorly: [NYT front page showing the headline: “New emails jolt Clinton Campaign in race’s last days.”]

As the nasty guy inflames tensions with Iran and threatening then calling off an attack, Polly Sigh tweeted:
Just a terrifying reminder as Trump does whatever the hell he's doing with Iran, that not only has the Pentagon been without a permanent leader for 6 months, but there has also been a mass exodus of senior Pentagon officials over the past 6 months. A perilous time to have temps running the Pentagon. An acting Secretary of Defense won't have all of the decision-making power they need when the nation is at war in several countries and conducting major military operations in dozens.

The Washington Post reported that federal officials and GOP campaigns have been staying at nasty guy properties, bringing his private businesses $1.6 million in revenue. McEwan says this should be a scandal, but it will only be a blip. This self-enrichment alone should be enough for impeachment.

Yahoo Finance reports that Amazon had a profit of $11.2 billion in 2018. Taxes paid: zero. I’ve written before that one becomes a billionaire by exploiting and oppressing others. By not paying taxes Amazon is oppressing others by underfunding schools and the social safety net (and that’s just a start).

Jim Hightower through his Hightower Lowdown discusses the USMCA, the United States Mexico Canada deal that is to replace NAFTA. Yeah, there are some really nice things in the deal. One is some new great worker protections.

But the deal also had a great deal of input from Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Food and other corporations. Those worker protections are great – but the deal provides no way to enforce them.

So labor leaders are now telling their members about the deal. The good parts are worthwhile. Let’s keep them. And talk to your Congress person about revising the rest.

Jo Yurcaba, writing for Bustle wrote of a watershed moment. Twenty-three candidates for the Democratic nomination for president were at a Planned Parenthood forum on reproductive rights held in South Carolina. A non-binary person asked candidate Juli├ín Castro how he would expand sexual reproductive health care access for trans people. A person who is non-binary is one who thinks of themselves as either both male and female or neither male nor female. Before answering Castro did something wonderful, he asked the person what pronouns they preferred. This is a really big deal for trans and non-binary people. It says I want to honor you for who you are. That a candidate knows to ask the question is also a big deal. This guy gets it. Castro’s answer to the actual question was pretty good too!

An NBC News report says, “An estimated 10,000 LGBTQ youth have been spared from conversion therapy due to state bans, report finds.”

Leah McElrath tweeted:

But, remember, this torture of #LGBTQ folks (it’s not “therapy” — it’s literal torture) is supported by Mike Pence.

And you can bet there is something in the works at a federal level to try to supersede state bans.

Claire Rudy Foster writes for Catapult about his transition to male (the article is in the first person so I’m not sure which pronouns Claire prefers). He wants a lower voice and maybe a beard, but masculinity is scary.
In my mind, masculinity was linked with lack. Men were greedy because they were deprived of intimacy and pleasure, the rich experiences women share with one another. Grown men didn’t cuddle. They didn’t laugh until they cried, or eat an entire bag of caramels because their feelings were hurt. They didn’t know the balm of hearing their friends say “you are so lovable” when their hearts were aching. A man’s role was to take power, control his emotions, and tell everyone else what to do. To me, trading estrogen for testosterone meant agreeing to live behind a thick, unbreakable pane of glass, separated: both policing the rest of the world and unable to enjoy it for yourself.
His father was like that. So were most of the men and boys he knew. He remembered a man who was different, his grandfather. There was a model to grow toward. Claire saw what male supremacy does to men.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

A United Methodist rebuke

My church just received a gift of a new grand piano! It’s slightly larger than a baby grand. I played a bell tree solo this morning and being accompanied by this fine piano sounded like a pretty good idea!

Except the piano wasn’t in tune with the bells. The piano tuner hadn’t come yet.

So after a couple minutes hearing the tuning clash I said it wouldn’t work. So we rolled the previous piano from the hallway back into the sanctuary and I played along with that one.

American regional conferences of the United Methodist Church have met or will soon meet. Many, perhaps most, are repudiating what happened at General Conference this past February. They’re also voting for delegates to next year’s General Conference. And those delegates will be much more progressive. Details in my brother blog.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

That authentic out of touch experience

Joe Biden, former Vice President and candidate for President has been putting his foot in it.

About ten days ago Biden said that when the nasty guy is gone things will change. Folks know better, they know this isn’t what they’re supposed to be doing.”

Joe, don’t you remember what the GOP did to your boss? Didn’t you notice that Merritt Garland is not sitting on the Supreme Court?

Melissa McEwan of Shakesville responded:
Trump is not an anomaly of Republican politics. He was an inevitability.

And I don't know what the fuck Republican Party Joe Biden is talking about, because, for my entire lifetime they have been attacking marginalized people, exploiting bigotry, waging class warfare, taking the nation to war on lies, defunding the social safety net, destroying public education, abetting polluters, subverting democracy, and otherwise generally being despicable pigshits, so even if the GOP returned to stasis post-Trump, they would still be fucking nightmares.

Biden's continued misrepresentation of the GOP in this moment of resurgent fascism is disqualifying. It's just that simple.

Then Biden made a comment about how he was able to work with segregationist senators James Eastland and Herman Talmadge. Presidential candidate Cory Booker responded:
You don’t joke about calling black men “boys.” Men like James O. Eastland used words like that, and the racist policies that accompanied them, to perpetuate white supremacy and strip black Americans of our very humanity.

Vice President Biden’s relationships with proud segregationists are not the model for how we make America safer and more inclusive place for black people, and for everyone. I have to tell Vice President Biden, as someone I respect, that he is wrong for using his relationships with Eastland and Talmadge as examples of how to bring our country together.
Then Booker asked Biden to apologize. On hearing that Biden wanted Booker to apologize.

Of course, Booker was only one of many to respond. Connie Schultz, who won a Pulitzer Prize (which she said did not impress her dog) and is married to Sen. Sherrod Brown tweeted:
There is no punchline here, no emoji or funny meme to soften the harm of your words. That segregationist never called you “boy” because you are white. If you want to boast about your relationship with a racist, you are not who we need to succeed the racist in the White House.
Leah McElrath tweeted:
Joe Biden is not Obama’s amiable sidekick.

Biden is the embodiment of all the negative mischaracterizations of Hillary Clinton, without her integrity or lifelong passion for social justice and the rights of children, women, and black Americans.
John Stanton tweeted a quote from Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Joe is an organic, shade grown old white man who will really give you that authentic out of touch experience.
Ta-Nihisi Coates discussed Biden on the Chris Hayes show:
Coates: The problem here is not that [Biden] had polite relationships with people who had deeply deeply deplorable views, this problem is those very polite relationships were premised on the fact that those people's deeply deplorable views actually disenfranchised an entire sector of the electorate. There is a reason that those polite relationships went away, and part of the reason they went away was because black people are now a voting force in the South, much to the chagrin of some other people.

Hayes: The price of that "cold peace", the price of that civility, is that you didn't cross them on race.
Yeah, one could work with a segregationist as long as one allowed, perhaps even assisted, them to be racist.

I’ve been keeping a list of the Democratic candidates for president. Biden has remained in the “no thanks” category.

A time when abortion wasn’t an issue

Morning Edition host Noel King and the podcast Throughline host Rund Abdelfatah discussed the history of abortion opposition within the Evangelical Christian community. Both shows are on NPR.

Abdelfatah said that the Southern Baptist Convention passed resolutions 1971, 1974, and 1976 (Roe. V. Wade was decided in 1973) affirming a woman should have access to an abortion. At the time evangelicals considered abortion a Catholic issue.

What changed their view? Racism. In particular, desegregation. A Supreme Court ruling in 1971 pulled Evangelicals into politics. When the Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of public schools, about 15 years before, and desegregation began to be enforced, white families pulled their children out of public schools and into private church academies.

That 1971 decision said that an organization that engages in racial desegregation cannot, by definition, be a charitable institution and cannot be tax-exempt. But to be affordable these schools needed the money that would now go to taxes. That pulled in such Evangelical leaders, such as Jerry Falwell.

But racism wasn’t enough to draw the general Evangelical members to the Republican Party, which was declaring itself on the side of the racists. Other issues – government overreach, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and free speech – weren’t enough of a draw either.

The search for additional reasons intensified under President Jimmy Carter because he was a Southern Baptist member, but was not conservative. The issue they found that could pull Evangelicals to the GOP was abortion. The number of abortions had begun to climb and that made Evangelicals uneasy.

In 1980 they amplified resistance to abortion and supported Reagan, who won. This sealed the deal between white Evangelicals and the GOP. And abortion is still a big draw to keep the racists in power.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

A haven for the oppressed

A huge part of the nasty guy’s campaign speech and of his actions in the White House is immigration and how he is going to stop it.

A UN report on refugees was released yesterday. Jamey Keaton at the AP summarized it this way:
A record 71 million people have been displaced worldwide by war, persecution and other violence, the U.N. refugee agency said Wednesday, an increase of more than 2 million from a year earlier — and an overall total that would amount to the world's 20th most populous country.

Also in the news was a statement by Mark Morgan, new new leader of Immigration and Customs Enforcement that they will target immigrant families who have received final orders for removal. Said Morgan:
It's going to send a strong message to those individuals contemplating coming here illegally not to do so. Not only will we be enforcing the law, maintaining the integrity of the system, but we're also going to send a powerful message to individuals in the northern triangle countries: Do not come, do not risk it.

That prompted Melissa McEwan of Shakesville to reply:
It is a risk to stay. It is a risk to leave. There can be no effective "deterrence" when there are no good choices.

This is indefensible child abuse. Nothing more.

John Stanton, formerly of BuzzFeed, tweeted a thread:
There are countless reasons why the people who are fleeing their home countries come to the southern US border, it's mind boggling. But 1 thing always sticks out when you talk to these people, who come not just from Central America, but from Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Every asylum seeker I've interviewed has always said the United States is a beacon of hope for them. A Somali I interviewed in the El Paso detention center told me as a child he'd learned about the US as a haven because of the branding we put on the sacks of rice his family ate.

Others — from Ghana, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras — they all mentioned that for them, the United States was a shelter in the violent, deadly storm of their lives. And it's because we've told the world, loudly and uncompromisingly, that we are a haven for the oppressed.

Obviously those of us who live here know this is a lie. It's a lie we've told ourselves, and the world. But it's a lie that's worth trying to make true. And through much of history, even when we explicitly knew we were lying, as a society we still wanted it someday to be truth.

While the IDEAL of America and the REALITY of America have never, ever matched up, at least on some level it was the goal we strived for, even if halfheartedly. And we have lorded that purpose, however disingenuous, over the world.

We have defined ourselves as this shining beacon of hope for a better more just future, and DEMANDED that the rest of the world do so as well. So of course the poor and oppressed now turn towards us.

Which is what makes so much of what is happening here so insane. Because the same people who insist the world treat the lie as true also demand to openly act in direct contradiction to it.

It's a salve for their guilt. Racists hate being called racist because they know it's wrong. But instead of trying to change their ways or keeping their mouths shut, they are emboldened to require us to accept both the noble lie and their evil actions.

Meanwhile, the poorest, most disenfranchised, most terrorized people on earth continue to turn towards our nation, hoping the lie has become truth and they will find a place of peace and calm for themselves and their children.

But instead they find brutal, state sanctioned hate. The same thing they fled from. their children are taken from them. their children are treated like animals, sexually assaulted, and left to die. We have beckoned them to us, only to turn out to be exactly what they fled.

We have become the cruelest joke.

Amped by hate

A couple evenings ago the nasty guy held a rally in Orlando, Florida to officially announce he is running for a second term. Melissa McEwan of Shakesville says his speech was full on authoritarian. What caught her attention was the crowd. Some waited outside the venue for days to make sure they’d be part of that crowd. And, McEwan wrote, they are rabid. They booed “fake news” more than once. They chanted “Drain the swamp!” and “Lock her up!” and went wild for him. They’ll do anything for him. And it will make no difference to them what he does.

I’m all for building community and there was definitely a community in the stadium. But it was a community glorying in their supremacy. If the nasty guy leaves office for any reason other than a natural death these people will be a problem. They will feel cheated of their leader. They will not disappear quietly.

This is not a reason to avoid impeachment.

McEwan summarized:
Trump has tapped into resentments and anger and hatred and bigotries that the Republican Party has spent *decades* cultivating, nurturing, and stoking. He knows how to inflame it. He knows how to exploit it. And he is eminently willing to do it, no matter the cost to this country or its people who aren't among his cultists.

I am horrified watching his crowds react to him, especially knowing keenly that he can and will provoke them to violence at any moment.

This, too, underlines the urgency of impeaching him.

Because that seething resentment and inflamed bigotry doesn't stay behind in the venue. His followers take it with them, out into the world. They are amped by hate.

And that is tremendously dangerous.

Lupinella12 added a comment. Orlando is where the Pulse Nightclub massacre happened in which 49 LGBT and Latinx people died:
We just had the 3 year anniversary of Pulse.

I have friends who have lived here since infancy who are now in fear of getting deported.

Last night I had a conversation with a friend who is non-binary, they are dating a man who is transgender, we were talking about the rally, & how it turns up our hyper-vigilance from our PTSD. They were talking about avoiding certain corner stores/petrol stations due to who was frequenting them. We had both noticed a recent uptick in MAGA hats, which also adds to the general feeling of no longer being as safe as we had been.

Another friend was talking about the rally making her want to move away from a city to be further from people & to feel less like a target for a mass shooting. As she pointed out, since she is also a bisexual Jewish woman, that brings up a whole other list of fears.

Before the rally the McEwan lamented that she doubts the Democratic candidates are ready for the nasty guy cultists and the political press setting off fireworks for him. McEwan notes the Orlando Sentinel will be an exception:
Donald Trump is in Orlando to announce the kickoff of his re-election campaign. We're here to announce our endorsement for president in 2020, or, at least, who we're not endorsing: Donald Trump. Some readers will wonder how we could possibly eliminate a candidate so far before an election, and before knowing the identity of his opponent. Because there's no point pretending we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump. After 2½ years we've seen enough.

You are valued. You are loved.

Every weekday Melissa McEwan of Shakesville reports on authoritarian news, then invites readers to add similar stories. Today, reader Auntie Thetical wrote about a protest in Edmonton against Bill 8 in the Alberta Legislature. The bill would roll back protections for school kinds wanting to form and participate in Gay-Straight/Queer-Straight Alliances. I love the mental image of the first paragraph. The rest of it is pretty cool too.
I am so glad I went. The outpouring of love and rage was exactly what I needed to be surrounded by. The local Court of drag queens represented, and stood behind the podium, so the speakers were backed up by a row of furious, glaring, six-and-a-half foot tall, drag queens with rainbow umbrellas.

My two favourite moments were:

1. One of the first speakers was a young girl, still in high school, talking about what belonging to her school’s GSA means to her. She started losing her composure, and had to stop, and there was an uncomfortable silence. Then somebody shouted “YOU’RE DOING GREAT!” and we all cheered until she was ready to go on. Which she did, so much stronger. That’s when I started crying.

2. A later speaker was a social worker who works with queer kids who are on the streets because their families kicked them out. She had us chant, for the kids who might see on TV, “You are valued. You are loved. We will keep you safe.” Which is when I f***ing lost it, snotty ugly crying. I realized I was there for my 13-year-old self who never got any of this and needed it so badly but didn’t even know it was a thing that could exist.

I guess the bottom line is: Everything is not OK. But at least we can be not-OK, not-alone.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Abortion is a religious issue

I didn’t see where letters to the editor of the Detroit Free Press are online, so I don’t have a link. A few days ago the paper ran an editorial titled, “Abortion restrictions can still protect choice.” I haven’t read it. In a lengthy letter reader Dennis Green of Farmington Hills called that an oxymoron. Here’s more of what he wrote:
The arguments regarding Roe v. Wade and women’s reproductive rights all skip over the basic assumption on which Roe is based, that abortion is a religious issue that the First Amendment reserved for the individual, not the government, which is why it speaks of privacy.
I hadn’t known religion was the basis of this right to privacy.

Basing the life of the embryo at the start of a heartbeat is inconsistent with the legal definition of life. The heart is just another organ which can be used in a transplant after a person has died. By itself it doesn’t define life.

Green was raised in a religion that believes a soul (a theological concept) is received at first breath – at birth. Catholics are taught the soul is received at conception.
An honest reading of the First Amendment says the government cannot choose between these irreconcilable beliefs and reserves it to the individual. … It’s time to stop debating in euphemisms of reproductive rights or the circular reasoning of defending Roe with Roe, and confront the truth that the abortion debate is about the establishment of religion. … Republicans rail against Sharia Law, but as one who ascribes to neither, I find Vatican Law equally odious.

In harmony with nature

This afternoon I went to see the documentary Biggest Little Farm. Molly Chester had been a traditional foods chef. Her husband John is a documentary filmmaker. In 2011 they left Los Angeles behind to start a farm, one of Molly’s dreams. This farm, though, was to be in harmony with the environment. And John turned his camera on himself.

The land looked pretty lifeless when they started. With the advice of Alan York and a team of people with similar goals they got to work. Ground cover plants under the fruit trees. Sheep to keep the ground cover from getting too tall. Pigs and cows to supply the manure. And lots of chickens.

Of course, it wasn’t a smooth transformation. Coyotes attacked the chickens, yet they needed coyotes to keep the gophers in check. Starlings ate the fruit on the trees, but soon the hawks moved in. Snails munched on the ground cover – and a few other plants – until they noticed that ducks like to eat snails. And the chickens like to eat fly maggots. They put up roosts for owls to keep the mice in check. The soil, now healthy and productive, drew pests, but also eventually drew the predators of those pests. Their ground cover prevented their soil from being washed away in a torrential rain. So by the time the film came out they felt they really were running a productive farm in harmony with nature. They began to show the world how they did it.

There were a few cute moments. When they bought Emma the pig they knew she was pregnant. They figured the litter would be 8-10 piglets. When she started giving birth they kept coming. And coming. Total litter was 17. They got a rooster, who decided to keep Emma company. A ewe died, leaving a young lamb behind. We watched it try to find another ewe that would nurse it.

As I watched them turn their rough terrain into a little paradise I saw that it took a lot of manual labor.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The trap he set for himself

Brian Dickerson is part of the editorial page staff of the Detroit Free Press. In his column for today’s edition (and I’m actually writing about it the same day!) he discusses the current tensions between Iran and America (or at least the American president).

Dickerson noted that the nasty guy has been waging a campaign to discredit our national intelligence services. Though when there were attacks on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz (get out your atlas!) the nasty guy says he has info from these same intelligence services that proves the attacks were from Iran.

Dickerson wrote:
So when an administration preparing the nation for possible war tells us we should trust the expertise and authority of institutions it has systematically devalued and disparaged, what are we to make of it? Was the White House lying then, or is it lying now?

Are we to be skeptical of those who work for the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security when the president's reputation is at stake, but surrender that skepticism when our children's lives are in play?

Or, to frame it a little differently: Would it be worse if the public were stampeded into war by a president willing to exaggerate Iran's threat merely to rally his base and distract attention from his political liabilities at home? Or would it be worse if a steady diet of disinformation and paranoia prompted a majority of Americans to disregard legitimate threats that demand a robust military response?

It is impossible to predict which scenario would be more fraught with danger. What's obvious is Trump's relentless campaign to discredit the institutions that Americans of disparate cultures and political creeds historically have coalesced around has left the president at a serious disadvantage in the face of any real emergency.

Like him or despise him, the American public can't afford to fall into the trap the president has set for himself. It's time for voters and elected leaders outside the White House to start having serious conversations about what's at stake in far-away places like the Strait of Hormuz, and how much blood and treasure a divided country should or can spend to maintain order there.

If it’s serious you do something about it

David Akadjian, part of the Daily Kos community, reviews some of the risks that would come with impeaching the nasty guy, then discusses the risks of not impeaching him.

Under risks of impeaching:

* Bill Clinton’s rallying cry: Even if he did something wrong, it does not merit removal from office. In the same way, an acquitted Trump is an immunized Trump.

* Mitch McConnell would block it in the Senate anyway.

* Polls show impeachment is not popular.

* Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she prefers he be defeated at the ballot box.

The risks of not impeaching:

* It adds credibility to the GOP narrative. If it’s serious you do something about it. If you don’t do something about it, it’s not serious. Which means the nasty guy sets a precedent for truckloads of nasty behavior.

* If Democrats don’t seize the investigative narrative, the GOP will. They’ll launch all kinds of bogus proceedings. The GOP “deep state” story is more credible if Democrats don’t impeach.

* Democrats will be portrayed as political, such as the theory (with no evidence) that Pelosi is avoiding impeachment to protect Democrats from swing districts.

* If you aren’t willing to fight for people, they aren’t willing to fight for you. For example, Pelosi’s approval rating reached its highest level when she fought against the border wall. The case for impeachment is a moral fight. Avoiding it makes the Dems looks like they’re protecting the establishment.

David Frum of The Atlantic says impeachment done now will backfire because the GOP majority in the Senate won’t convict. Instead, Frum has suggestions.

* Investigate the wrongs the nasty guy has done and is doing. But, for now, leave off the discussion of whether removal is the right remedy.

* Leaving off actual impeachment allows Dem candidates to talk about issues rather than talk about impeachment.

* Reserve impeachment for the start of a possible second term, at a time when Democrats will likely have more seats in the Senate.

I have a problem with Frum’s caution. He doesn’t address the refugees who are living in deplorable conditions along the border and might soon be living in concentration camps. Also, more Dems in the Senate (at the rate the GOP is rigging elections) is not guaranteed. At least Frum agrees that investigations need to be underway.

Egberto Willies of the Daily Kos community wrote about a recent interfaith rally led by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber. Willies quoted Common Dreams:
Hundreds of interfaith leaders stood ready to face arrest outside the White House on Wednesday where they delivered a "moral indictment to an immoral administration."

The march and rally, dubbed Moral Witness Wednesday, was organized to denounce the President Donald Trump administration's cruel and unjust policies including the detaining of migrant children and attacks on healthcare access. Rev. Dr. William Barber and Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of the Shalom Center, initially conceived of the action, organizations say.
Central to their protest, as Barber pointed out, is that the nasty guy’s policies violate the core values of Jesus, such as taking care of the poor, the least among us, and the immigrant. This rally was a moral impeachment. Their demands included:

* Stop the weaponization of judicial appointments. Uphold the constitution.

* Stop politicizing the census with a citizen question.

* Stop the abuse of executive power to pollute our communities.

* Stop the assault on the Affordable Care Act.

* Stop the brutal treatment of strangers at the border.

Common Dreams again:
Instead of covenantal leadership for justice, compassion, healing, and the empowerment of all, these sinful acts of the current administration pursue subjugation: subjugation of racial, religious, ethnic, and gender minorities; of women; of children; of the suffocating middle class, workers, family farmers, the poor, and people who fall sick; of immigrants and refugees; of the free press; of the Constitution; even of Earth, our common home. This hate-filled subjugation violates the Covenant. It must not stand.

Barber points out another aspect of this rally. Recently, Franklin Graham, a fundamentalist leader, held a day of prayer asking God to support the nasty guy. Graham said he had a letter signed by 250 clergy members praying for the nasty guy. It was a mainstream story. Barber had a letter about his march with 5,000 signatures, including people of every religion. Mainstream coverage was significantly less. The media has little interest in those calling out the nasty guy for his bad deeds. Willies said, “their complicity and dereliction of duty could give Trump a second term.”

Barber tweeted a photo of the rally. He’s in front in red. It looks like the crowd continued around the corner.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Not good for Americans

Over the last few days the nasty guy said he’d have no problem taking info if a foreign agent offered dirt on a political opponent. Later the nasty guy tried to walk it back, but not convincingly.

Asha Rangappa is a former FBI special agent. She spells out why it is wrong to accept such info and the practical reasons why we don’t want a president or presidential candidate to do this.
For one thing, nations don’t have “friends,” they have interests. Hostile foreign adversaries, in particular, are designated as “hostile” because they are typically acting against U.S. interests, principles, or values.

When foreign governments are offering to “help” a particular candidate, it’s not because they want to have a beer with them at some point. They want to be able to change our policies — including ones that make it easier for them to do things against the interests of the U.S.

The second reason we don’t want this is that when such help is accepted and kept hidden, it becomes a source of liability for the candidate/officeholder. This means that the foreign government then has LEVERAGE over a person who ends up in a position of public trust.

Obviously, someone who can be directly or indirectly coerced into using their position and powers to advance the interest of another country — including to the detriment of the United States — IS NOT GOOD FOR AMERICANS. This is bad.

Garry Kasparov, head of the Human Rights Foundation, responded to Rangappa:
Asha gets to the core of Trumpism, and other aspects of crumbling democratic norms. People like Trump don't ask WHY things are wrong if those things are useful to them personally. They look only at the consequences, good or bad.

When I said in a Feb 2017 interview that Americans were about to find out the hard way that many of their institutions were based on the honor system, this is what I meant. Donald "So Sue Me" Trump doesn't care about norms.

Mafiaso minds only care about consequences. They don't care "how bad it looks" or that it's against the intent of the law. Only if the costs to them are higher than the benefits.

They exploit the benefit of the doubt that the law provides the accused in the free world. "Prove it. Sue me. Is it really illegal?" And, eventually, "If you really cared, you would stop me."

Autocrats use the weakness of the opposition as a pretext for further abuses. This is why impeachment proceedings are essential, by the way. It's not just moral hazard or politics. Every delay is a green light.

So you have to fight at every turn, for every inch, and it's exhausting because the aggressor has the advantage, the full spectrum of state power to use & abuse.

Every concession to an autocrat, however minor, is a preparation for defeat later. There is no good faith, no common ground. They will betray you as soon as it suits them. Fight or lose.

From mass human rights violations to crimes against humanity

After playing a bell concert this afternoon I was hoping for a quiet evening of not thinking very hard. But before settling in to doing not much I read a bit of Sarah Kenzsior’s Twitter stream. Get a bit of news from the day, even if it is of the nasty guy.

There went the evening of not thinking very hard.

I followed a link or two and came to a Twitter thread from Elizabeth C. McLaughlin written a couple days ago. She’s an attorney and the CEO of Gaia Project Consulting.

She had been talking to a friend who is a legal volunteer inside Border Patrol facilities. This friend says the nasty guy is violating every basic human right.

A couple days ago I had mentioned a facility described as a “dog pound.” There is no protection from the elements, no baby food so mothers have to try to resume nursing, no running water. Everyone is sick.

Those that leave the dog pound are taken to the freezer, where it is intentionally kept at 55 degrees, which isn’t healthy, especially if your clothes are wet from the heat of outdoors. There are no beds. People are kept there for weeks.

From the freezer people are supposed to be taken to ICE facilities that are designed for residential care with beds, food, and bathrooms. (I would have thought refugees would be taken to this facility first and there wouldn’t be the dog pound or the freezer.)

But these facilities are empty and are being shut down.

Instead, refugees are being taken to military installations, such as Fort Sill, which had been a Japanese internment camp in WWII. Why?

Because Fort Sill and its counterparts are under the Department of Defense. And under the DoD refugees can be treated as prisoners of war, treated as enemies. Also under the DoD, unlike under ICE, the military can deny access. No media. No oversight. No lawyers. No human rights monitors. The camps would be declared protected airspace, so no drones flying over taking pictures of what’s inside. The nasty guy administration can do as it pleases with those inside.

Even before Fort Sill is set up and running, there are already atrocities in Border Patrol facilities. Denial of food, shelter, clothes, toilets, beds, and medicine. Agents refer to refugees as “bodies.” Not people or humans.

Soon we’ll be shifting from mass human rights violations to crimes against humanity.

Tell your senators and representatives.

In a second thread McLaughlin wrote today:
If US concentration camps at the border won't force @SpeakerPelosi to impeach, nothing will. That makes her a soulless, complicit enabler. No Democrat will forget this in 2020. We will primary every single elected official who supports her.

People, there is no “grand plan.” I have first hand intel on this straight off the Hill TODAY. There is nothing whatsoever divisive about telling the truth. You want things to change you have to be willing to put actual human lives above “unity.”

In a third tweet McLaughlin wrote:
The long-term purpose of the President and his people relentlessly lying, shouting "fake news," and gaslighting us:

Eventually, we won't believe the evidence of their atrocities, even when it's right in front of us.

Some of us are doubting it right now.

That's the point.

And in a fourth tweet McLaughlin shared a diagram of the various types of border facilities – Customs and Border Patrol Outpost, CBP Processing Facility, Office of Refugee Resettlement Facility, ICE Residential Facility, and Military Concentration Camp. The diagram also shows what conditions are like in each type of facility. Except for the ICE facilities (which are being shut down), life inside is horrific.

Dan Shafer linked to an article from the L.A.Times (looks like the one I mentioned before) with the headline, “Call immigrant detention centers what they really are: concentration camps.” Then Shafer tweeted:
It’s pretty mindblowing that the main question driving the national media conversation right now is anything other than, “why does America have concentration camps now?”

Marco Rogers, a black man, replied to Shafer.
But the real lesson white folks should be learning is that your history is a lie. America has always done this. What's happening now is part of a long American tradition of saying one thing while doing another.

Again, the point of this is not to say that what's happening now is okay. The point is to help people move past the "shocked and appalled" phase of their reaction to what's happening. We need more people to accept that this is real and move to the militant rage phase.

With this post I’ve now written more posts about the nasty guy in four years (since he announced his candidacy in 2015) that I wrote about President Obama in nine years.

Friday, June 14, 2019

LGBT business advantage

An article in last Sunday’s Detroit Free Press (sorry, can’t find the article online) says that when businesses are certified that they are LGBT owned they get a boost in business. The boost comes because some other businesses, various non-profits, and some government agencies have policies of favoring diversity or minorities when awarding contracts. And being LGBT owned qualifies.

The certification process confirms that at least 51% of the owners of the business are LGBT. One source of the certification is the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

After so many years of discrimination, hearing that being LGBT is now a business advantage is good news!

The mood is shifting

At the end of May I tried to get into a Congress, Coffee & Conversation event hosted by my US Representative Rashida Tlaib. So many came to the event I couldn’t get in. I wrote about that experience here.

Today I tried again. This time it was a morning event, held in a good sized room in a community center of a nearby suburb. I wanted to make sure I got in, so I was there at 9:40 for a 10:00 event. And I did get in – other than Tlaib’s own staff I was the first one there. Eventually just over 20 people showed up in a room that could handle three times that.

Tlaib took over the district that John Conyers held for over 50 years. Conyers had an office or two. Tlaib has Service Centers. She asked us to call her when we have problems at any level of government. She and her team will work to get it resolved (and not say “you need to call this number”). She said she does this because she wants to help. One service center has a social worker on staff to help with issues. Several of her siblings work in non-profits who can help those in need. She also does it because it helps her understand what issues citizens actually have. For example, if citizens complain about the high cost of insulin she knows to hold hearings and introduce bills aimed at getting drug companies to change their pricing policies. She knows the power of stories and that these stories can help convince her colleagues.

Tlaib is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants (she’s been accused of loving Palestine more than America). She is also Muslim, though doesn’t wear a scarf. When people accuse her of a Muslim takeover in Congress (get real, folks, the number of Muslims in Congress is now two), she says her district is 5% Muslim. It was the black and white people who elected her and who she represents.

Before opening the floor for questions Tlaib talked about issues that are big for her. She talked a bit about pollution (one zip code in her district is the most polluted in Michigan) and health care. She’s on the Finance Committee, so she works on insurance issues. She’s trying to ban the practice of insurance companies using credit scores to calculate premiums. What the insurance companies say implies being poor increases the likelihood of fraud, an idea she rejects.

She is also on the Oversight Committee. She and her colleagues are frustrated because the nasty guy administration is so opaque. But she is pushing back against those who think they’re above the law. As for impeachment, more people on the committee are leaning towards it. Her biggest reason for impeachment is that international lobbyists stay at Trump Tower when they come to Washington, and usually drop tens of thousands of dollars.

Tlaib no longer refers incidents and cases to the Department of Justice. She sees they no longer work for the citizens of the country, to protect the little guy from the big guy. Now the DoJ appears to have only on client – the nasty guy.

When Tlaib took questions from the floor, the one that got the biggest discussion was about immigration. People are horrified about what his happening at the border, as is Tlaib. They were also horrified to learn one of those detention centers for children is here in Michigan. Tlaib and her committee issued a subpoena to get the names of the children in this Michigan center. Their request was ignored.

After questions the official event was over, though Tlaib said she would talk to those who needed help. She talked to a few people each for several minutes. I stuck around because I had one more question to ask. When she finally got to me she told her staff to call her 11:30 appointment to say she would be late – it was 11:45. My question was: How is it going trying to convince your colleagues about the need for impeachment? She said with so many subpoenas being ignored the mood is shifting toward impeachment. She tells her colleagues we can’t wait for the 2020 elections. We must act now. We can't let this guy set a precedent that future presidents can follow.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

If there isn’t enough fraud

A few items about what’s going on in Washington. I learned about most of them from Melissa McEwan of Shakesville.

A report from Stanford has 45 recommendations for protecting the democratic process in America. Many of them have been formalized into bills before Congress. Many of those even have support of GOP senators and representatives. The number of those that Senate Majority Leader and democracy gravedigger Mitch McConnell has allowed to be considered: zero.

They want our election system to be vulnerable. Because it benefits them.

A campaign pollster told the nasty guy that polling showed him behind Joe Biden in several key states. The nasty guy told aides to deny this internal polling and to publicly say other data showed him doing well.

McEwan says, “Trump is almost certainly directing people to lie about polling as part of laying the groundwork to challenge election results.”

In a separate post McEwan wrote:
I cannot emphasize this strongly enough: Pinning all of our hopes for crawling out of this mess on the 2020 election is aggressively foolish. With Mitch McConnell at the helm, the Republican Party is doing every goddamn thing it can to rig this election. And, if all their efforts fail, Donald Trump will almost certainly assert that there was election fraud and refuse to leave office. We have to do something to prevent that outcome now.
This is saying that if there isn’t enough fraud to ensure the election of the nasty guy he will claim there is fraud committed by his opponent.

The big news this morning is an interview in which the nasty guy said that he’d consider taking information against an opponent if offered by a foreign agent. He certainly wouldn’t tell the FBI about it. Which means he’s inviting foreign agents to offer him info. Which is a reason to impeach.

When asked about impeachment the nasty guy replied that he’s different than Clinton and Nixon in one important way: “I don’t leave.” He is again saying that he won’t respect the 2020 election if he isn’t declared the winner. McEwan says his entire response was authoritarian propaganda.

The nasty guy continues to bait Joe Biden. This time he’s calling Biden mentally weak. Alas, it seems Biden and the press keep taking the bait. McEwan says the nasty guy is doing that because he’s scared of facing Elizabeth Warren, who is surging in the polls.

After all that we need something different. McEwan usually has a question of the day. Her community has a chance to share answers and to see a broad spectrum of responses. Yesterday’s question was from FloraFlora and asked, “What are two things that entirely do not go together?” My favorite responses:

McEwan: peanut butter and nuclear war.

Patrick Linnen: chocolate and beets.

Rebecca De Santis: Joe Biden and progressive politics.

RachelB: Ayn Randian ideals and a functioning society.

Yankee Transferred: Black Americans and the criminal justice system.

carovee: democracy and voter suppression.

krelnick: Mitch McConnell and a functioning democracy.

SisterShimmy: pumpkin pie and peanut butter.

Punishment for being in an ethnic group

After a couple news articles suggested it, Melissa McEwan of Shakesville got out the encyclopedia to check the definition of “concentration camp.” It is a term we associate with the Nazi regime in Germany, though it also applies to the internment of Japanese in America during WWII. Some of the key phrases of the definition from Encyclopedia Britannica:

* The people in the camps are there for reasons of state security, exploitation, or punishment.

* They are there usually be executive decree or military order.

*They are there because they are of a particular ethnic or political group rather than because of what they did as individuals.

* They are usually there without indictment or fair trial.

* Concentration camps are not prisons holding people lawfully convicted of crimes. They do not hold captured military personnel. They are not refugee camps for the temporary holding of displaced people.

McEwan adds that in a refugee camp they are residents – they can come and go as they please.

McEwan mentions all this because of three recent articles.

First, Jonathan Katz of the L.A. Times wrote an article saying the immigrant detention centers are concentration camps and we should call them that.

Second, W.J. Hennington of Time wrote that the nasty guy administration is holding migrant children at a former Japanese internment camp.

Third, Robert Moore at Texas Monthly describes an area where Border Patrol is detaining migrants near El Paso as a “human dog pound.” At least 100 migrants are detained outdoors in the 100F Texas heat with minimal makeshift shelter.

Yes, concentration camps. Here. In America.

Thin or dead

Ragen Chastian wrote an article Recognizing and Resisting Diet Culture for the National Eating Disorders Association. By diet culture she means both industries that sell diet plans and medical professionals who obsess over weight. I talk a lot about various forms of supremacy on this blog. This is thin supremacy. She lists several signs that diet culture and fatphobia are at work and how to resist them. My summary:

* Diet culture conflates size and health and treats some body sizes as intrinsically unhealthy. They give an evidence based treatment to thin people and diets to fat people. These diets can be such that if given to a thin person we would call it an eating disorder. But there healthy and unhealthy people in all sizes. Work for health at every size.

* Diet culture encourages following external rules about what, when, and how much to eat. Such rules when followed by a thin person would be red flags for eating disorders.

* Diet culture says that body size determines a person’s goodness, morality, and worthiness. It says that fat people should be stereotyped, shamed, stigmatized, and harassed. This leads to size-based oppression, including internalized oppression. Marilyn Wann said, “The only thing anyone can diagnose by looking at a fat person is their own level of prejudice toward fat people.”

* Diet culture creates thin privilege. It is created by a world that accommodates thin bodies. In this case it may be up to thin people to speak up against such things as fat people being asked to buy two airline seats.

* Diet culture suggests exercise is punishment for being fat or that exercise (even though it has been done all along) will melt the pounds away. People exercise because they enjoy it or get benefit from it. Exercise or movement or the lack of either is not a measure of worthiness.

* Diet culture views fat people as risk-able. Such things as stomach amputation (bariatric surgery) and diet drugs carry a great deal of risk. They have lifetime side effects and can kill.
Diet Culture creates a belief that it’s ok to risk the life of a fat person in order to make them a thin person. Diet Culture wants fat people to be thin or dead, and doesn’t seem to care much which.
It is never appropriate to risk a fat person’s health to turn them into a thin person.

* Diet culture is dangerous for those with or recovering from an eating disorder.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Be nice to the waiter

Mark Sumner of Daily Kos discusses signs that after almost nine years of steady economic growth a recession is on the horizon. Those signs suggest a recession might begin just before the 2020 election (meaning there wouldn’t be enough time to influence the election). And the nasty guy has a few ways to goose the numbers until after election day. Those predictions on timing aren’t very interesting. This is:
And when [the election is] all over, it’s entirely possible that we could slide into recession with absolutely no slack in the system. With the Fed rate already at zero. With Trump already having chopped corporate tax rates to an unsustainable degree. With the Republicans already burying the Treasury in record debt. With trade relations in tatters and the biggest buyer of U.S. treasuries alienated.
Translation: we could slide into recession with a federal government with no tools to pull us out. A government not having those tools is very intentional. And the people who will feel the pain are not the ones at the top.

A quote from presidential candidate Cory Booker, which I agree with:
Someone who's nice to you but not nice to the waiter is not a nice person.

Dahlia Lithwick of Slate describes Elizabeth Warren (a candidate I like more and more) who had been a teacher:
Warren is an extraordinary educator. We misread her as a detached wonk when she's actually a brilliant translator of complex ideas. Watching her on the stump, you come to realize that it's not so much the fact that she knows a lot of technical and complicated things that truly excites her fans, it's that she can explain them to you.

David Eisenberg is a doctor at the last abortion clinic in Missouri, one that was threatened with closure at the end of last month. He now has to deal with new provisions in the state law the severely restricts abortions. One of them is carrying out pelvic exams, which are not medically necessary and are invasive. He said:
What I realized was I effectively have become an instrument of state abuse of power.

Governor Jay Inslee, also a candidate for president, has been campaigning on climate changes. He has been pushing the Democratic National Committee to have one of their debates focus on climate change. The DNC said no. Sarak Kendzior of Missouri tweeted a response.
No major issue is unconnected to the climate crisis. Climate change impacts the economy, immigration, infrastructure, health care, etc. You also cannot separate the climate crisis from the rise of autocracy. The DNC should be ashamed of itself for denying a debate on this topic.

The public is owed a climate change debate. You DNC chickens***s who think it's "divisive" have no idea what real problems are. In my state farmers lost all their crops and families lost homes. They want answers, resources, plans. The pain is not partisan and you can't ignore it.

Profit handsomely

The June edition of The Washington Spectator has only one article in its eight pages, rather than the usual 3-4 articles. This one is “Modern-Day Gulags In the Golden State” by Barbara Koeppel. It explains quite well why prisons should not be run for profit.

Back in 1997 the Supreme Court says that civil commitment is legal. Since then 20 states, including California, passed laws allowing for its use.

A criminal, in this case a sex offender, can continue to be incarcerated after the completion of his prison term if two psychologists can state the man *might* be a threat to society. The man isn’t held on criminal charges, but for civil reasons.

California opened the Coalinga State Hospital in 2006. Though it may not be owned by a for profit corporation, it is set up in such a way that the employees and those connected to the hospital profit handsomely from it.

Overall, employees and others get money for each man committed to the hospital. Which means, once a man is in it is very difficult to get out.

The hospital is paid by the number of men it holds. The men are evaluated by psychology technicians. They come up with all sorts of ways to recommend that a patient is not yet ready for release. And they can use that threat to coerce their patients. The hospital is able to keep up its numbers of incarcerated.

When a man needs medicine or tests the state is billed at exorbitant rates. The men are charged a lot extra for special food and “authorized” computer tablets.

Lawyers are paid by the action. A very lucrative action is to ask the court for a delay in a release hearing. Some men have been waiting 15 years for an actual hearing.

Even the correctional officers have rigged things so that transporting a man to a court date needs three officers and lots of overtime.

And all these employees and others usually record lots of overtime. They do it because nobody checks.

Of course, lots of money is spent keeping politicians in line. Voters love politicians who proclaim how they’re keeping citizens safe – even though this continued incarceration makes no difference in public safety.

And if a researcher shows what is up their results are quickly buried and funding is pulled.

Those that don’t profit: taxpayers and the incarcerated men.

This is me speaking now: Every person involved, from food concessions to lawyers to politicians, is saying I’m better than the incarcerated men. That’s real easy to do when talking about sex offenders. And because they’re so low on the social hierarchy I have no problem keeping them locked up so that I can continue to make hundreds of thousands of dollars off their misery.

We can end gun violence

I was in downtown Detroit today for a double bill.

In the morning I took part in a rally put on by Moms Demand Action against gun violence. We were asked to wear orange, and I did, though not a shirt with their logo. I carried my hand-made poster that says, “Guns mess with my right to life,” which I’ve carried to another ralliy to end gun violence. Several people took pictures of it.

We gathered at the foot of Woodward Ave. (Detroit’s main street) outside the City-County building. This last block before the riverside park is now closed to vehicles and looks like a good place for rallies and protests.

The first part of the program was a march up a few blocks to Campus Martius, which we circled, then headed back to our starting point. We were on the sidewalk and stopped traffic at every cross street.

The march got very real for me when the organizers asked survivors to lead the march. Survivors carried posters with photos of loved ones killed by a gun. This wasn’t just a political position. These people are living it.

Here’s a photo shortly before the march stepped off. The big green guy in the background is known as the Spirit of Detroit.

There was a bit of time before the speaking began. Here’s a photo to show the size of the crowd.

Many of the speakers were survivors. Others were various elected officials at the local and state level. Some were both – they got into politics after they became a survivor. One of of these speakers was my US Rep. Rashida Tlaib. Here she is at the microphone with the Spirit of Detroit behind her.

Towards the end were four high school women who told about what it is like being in school during a time of so many school shootings. They spoke well and made important points (but I wasn’t taking notes). In this photo the last one is speaking. Her shirt says, “Police violence is gun violence.” The other three are behind the women with the shirt with the photo.

After the last speaker I had time to take my poster back to my car and get some lunch (not easy downtown during the weekend when a lot of lunch places are closed).

The second event was Motor City Pride. It had been a few years since I’ve gone to a pride event. But, I realized, this one would be literally across the street from my morning rally.

And I was reminded why I usually don’t go. Yes, pride events are important. For many it is a safe place and a chance to be who they are. For the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, a friend sent this:

Mostly what I find at pride events are vendors delighted for a chance to sell stuff to LGBT people, food trucks with not very good food (I’m glad I ate elsewhere), and performing groups with music I’m not interested in. I did listen to an LGBT choir for a while. I appreciated the songs of self acceptance and defiance they sang, but they weren’t all that good. So I stayed at Pride only an hour.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Compassion is my agenda

Melissa McEwan of Shakesville repeatedly (as in a daily summary) talks about the harm the nasty guy is causing, how malice is the agenda, and that she hates him “with the fiery power of ten thousand suns.”

McEwan says the nasty guy supporters frequently push back. One of their unoriginal taunts is that the nasty guy “is living rent free” inside her head.

No, she says. She doesn’t think about him all that much.

She’s too busy thinking about the people he is harming – The people who voted against him who are subject to his sickening whims. The women harmed by growing misogyny. The families torn apart at the border. The people of color targeted by white supremacists. The Muslim people targeted by travel bans. The queer people facing the loss of recently acquired rights. Indigenous people standing against climate change. Science people losing funding for research. Disabled people who lack insurance. Poor people faced with food insecurity. People who don’t have clean drinking water. These are the people in her head.
Malice is his agenda.

Compassion is mine.
May we all live with an agenda of compassion.

I want to see him in prison

More Democratic House members are calling for impeachment of the nasty guy. Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn’t budging. But this time her answer doesn’t make much sense. She said:
I don't want to see him impeached, I want to see him in prison.
Which prompted Melissa McEwan of Shakesville to write:
What in blazes is she even talking about?! There is a diminishing likelihood that Donald Trump will ever face consequences for *anything*, no less end up *incarcerated*, so long as Democrats refuse to use every tool in the box to try to hold him accountable.

Her position is indefensible. Her justifications are unconvincing. Her alternate vision is comprehensively unreasonable.

This is unfathomable.

If she cannot be convinced, she must be removed.
The comments to McEwan’s post got into a discussion of whether Pelosi is compromised. McEwan commented she clearly is.
It's *extremely* troubling that Pelosi doesn't have a single cohesive, legitimate argument for opposing impeachment, considering that we deserve a serious explanation for her decision to be derelict in her duties as Speaker.
The discussion went into whether it would help for us to suggest to our representatives that they confront Pelosi on being compromised. But that might not work because many House members may not want to consider the idea.

Commenter Widminter says it would help if Democrats, when talking about impeachment, to repeatedly say what crimes the nasty guy has committed, which are in urgent need of investigation, whether those crimes are still being committed, and what the Speaker is doing to protect the victims (which might be all taxpayers).

Monday, June 3, 2019

Prosecuted for saving a life

There are laws against human smuggling, which make sense. Many smugglers transport people for the purpose of enslaving them. But what about…

Scott Warren is a part of the group No More Deaths that leave food and water for refugees traversing the Arizona desert. He faces felony charges of transporting and harboring migrants. If convicted he could face 20 years in prison.

Theresa Todd was driving and flagged down by a man on the side of the road. She stopped and he pleaded for assistance for his sister. The migrants sat in her car as she texted a friend who is a legal counsel for the Border Patrol. Before the friend replied a sheriff’s deputy showed up, who called a Border Patrol agent. That agent was soon reading Todd her rights. And confiscating her phone.

It seems the nasty guy administration is telling us we’re not allowed to be compassionate.

That prompted Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon to tweet:
If I were faced with allowing a man, woman, or child to die of thirst in my backyard, or being prosecuted for saving the life of a fellow human being with a glass of water, I would give that glass of water every single time.

One of the replies to Merkley is from Stephen Jacobs, Buchenwald survivor. He notes America today feels like 1929 Berlin. “Things that couldn’t be said five years ago in public are normal discourse. That’s totally unacceptable.”

Another reply:
People who helped Jews only by giving them food were treated as criminals. This was how it began - you all know, how it ended.

Yet another shows Jesus in the story of feeding the 5000 with just a couple fish and loaves of bread. In this version one of the disciples says, “We can’t feed all these people. That would create dependency.”

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Pride month and Stonewall

Meteor Blades of Daily Kos wrote Saturday’s news summary and put these things side by side:

Not only is it Pride Month, it is also the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising that fueled the LGBTQ movement. In addition to the usual pride parades and festivals, there will also be a variety of symposiums, movie screening, art exhibits, and even an opera.

A Supreme Court ruling in 2003 overturned state sodomy laws, which made gay sex illegal. Even so, Texas, the state in the specific Supreme case, and 15 other states still have those laws. They’re not enforceable, but can still be used to harass LGBT people. In addition, the Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling, demanded states permit same-sex marriages. But laws banning our marriages are still on the books in many states. And, at least in Texas, repeated attempts to remove the laws get voted down.

For the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, Between the Lines published a cartoon showing how far we’ve come.

Anyone other than the president

Walter Einenkel of Daily Kos tells us about a group of former Republican prosecutors are calling themselves Republicans for the Rule of Law. They released a video of three of them making their case. The three are Donald Ayer, deputy Attorney General under GHW Bush; Paul Rosenzweig, assistat secretary of Homeland Security under GW Bush; and Jeffrey Harris, deputy associate Attorney General under Reagan. Einenkel pulled some quotes from the video that show their reasoning:
Obstruction of justice and perjury are far more important than most normal crimes. They go to the absolute core of how the rule of law functions in this society.

As a former prosecutor, I did not think it was even a close prosecutorial call as to whether the president obstructed justice.

Were the president anyone other than the president, he would have been subject to indictment.

In the Mueller report there is a damning case of obstruction of justice by the president.

Kerry Eleveld of Daily Kos looks at the downside of not impeaching. Part of the calculus so far has been impeachment could turn off independent voters, and, if he isn’t removed, boost the nasty guy’s approval rating and his chances of winning in 2020. This could be a big problem for Democrats in swing states or who eked out a win in a red state.

But black voters, and their black representatives, are explaining why they are baffled and upset. That can be summed up in something that was told to Rep. Dwight Evans of Pennsylvania
We sent you for one reason only: to get rid of the president, right? Why haven’t you gotten rid of him yet?
Black voters are a core part of the Democratic Party. So the calculus should weigh whether it is better to turn off some white voters or a lot of black voters.

Mark Sumner of Daily Kos looks at yet another reason why impeachment is necessary.

US District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the nasty guy administration to turn over transcripts of conversations between Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.

The Justice Department made up a fake reason why they won’t.

Which means the nasty guy has been ignoring or using the courts to tie up requests from Congress he doesn’t like. Now that the courts are ruling against him he is ignoring them too. The president, Congress, and the courts are supposed to be three equal parts of government, each with checks and balances over the others. The nasty guy is asserting he can do what he wants no matter what the other two branches say or do.

The nasty guy has a portrait of President Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office. Chief Justice John Marshall of the Supreme Court ruled against Jackson. Jackson supposedly said, “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!”

So what are the courts and Congress going to do now that the nasty guy has said the same thing?

Americans got fleeced

Dartagnan of Daily Kos discusses analysis from Think Progress on a report from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service titled “New study confirms ordinary Americans got fleeced by the Trump tax bill.” We’re not surprised. Major findings:

* The tax cuts had virtually no effect on wages, haven’t contributed to a surge in investment, haven’t come close to paying for themselves, and didn’t deliver a tax cut to the average taxpayer.

From Think Progress
This tax bill is already reshaping the real-world economy in ways that limit the prospects of ordinary people, potentially reinforcing the structural inequities that adversely impact democratic society.

* The tax cuts produced less than one-twentieth (5%) of the economic gain needed to pay for themselves.

* The GDP growth rate for 2018 matches the growth rate for 2015, the last year of the Obama administration.

* A trillion dollars went to shareholders. Most working people aren’t shareholders.

From Michael Hiltzik of the Lost Angeles Times
The tax cuts did almost nothing for ordinary Americans and may even have cost them money. The apparent gains in their income were negligible and short-lived. Wealthy Americans reaped the benefits of lower taxes and higher dividends. The cuts had a negligible effect on U.S. economic growth while depriving the government of revenue.