Trump, Pelosi, the Wall, and the Government Shutdown

 

Arguments about the standoff between Nancy Pelosi and the Dems and Trump have gotten complex and passionate, something that would not be true if we were not in the first government shutdown ever called by a President.

Thoughts on the government shutdown-

Our president never lets compassion for his pawns (oops, people) get in the way of trying to make a deal.

Dems do not want to make a deal as long as the government is shutdown. They define the federal workers who are not being paid as ‘hostages’. I guess this makes Trump a terrorist. We don’t make deals with hostage-takers.

Thoughts about the wall-

The President wants $5.7 for the wall and has already spent over $7 b to get his way, because experts say that is the cost of the shutdown so far. People are upset with the Democrats and they are saying the Dems are being unreasonable and should take the newest deal on the table that offers the left a few tantalizing tidbits,

One, like a 3 year extension for some DACA young people.

What will happen after 3 more years in America, when these young folks, who have never lived in the country of their parents, or were too young when they left to remember it now, if they are deported to a land that is no longer their country?

Two, the President has offered to build the wall (barriers) in noncontiguous arrangements.

The Democrats do not want to pay for a wall at all. It is a symbol of our President’s racism and white supremacy (which he expresses all the time, although he says he doesn’t). MSNBC is showing a piece of film in which MLK is standing before the Berlin Wall and expressing his sorrow about any efforts towards separating humans from each other. MLK knew what walls were for.

So two reasons not to give in on the wall: because the President wants it for immoral reasons, and because the President has taken ‘hostages’.

Here’s another reason, the President is only concerned about getting reelected. This was his election promise and right wing media people like the scary-mean Ann Coulter are holding Trump’s feet to the fire, reminding him he will never get reelected if he doesn’t build the wall.

Trump’s New Deal

These are the things that Trump offered in his speech to America on 1.19.19. There are some things that Trump offered that people think will help at the Border

  1. 800 m. for immediate humanitarian aid (used how?)
  2. 805 m for improved drug technology at legal ports of entry
  3. Hiring 2,750 new border agents
  4. Hiring 75 more immigration judges to help with asylum backlog
  5. Installing a new system that allows minors to apply for asylum before they leave their home country (A pretty transparent way to end caravans but good for young people and children if they are granted asylum. However, will everyone just be turned down? Is this just a way to get this out of view of Americans)
  6. Steel barriers along 230 more miles of the border

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-major-announcement-today-humanitarian-crisis-southern-border-mexico-daca-deal/

Media begins to blame Nancy Pelosi for being stubborn when workers are suffering

The media is beginning to turn on Nancy Pelosi. They are upset that she turned down the deal before the American people even heard it.

They do not seem to give credence to the importance of ending the shutdown first. Are we now in a fight over ‘order of operations’?

The American people are also beginning to turn on Nancy Pelosi. They think she is being heartless to the federal workers who aren’t being paid and that she should be more flexible now that Trump has offered those tantalizing tidbits.

The Democrats in the House can pass all the legislation they want but they know that any of their passed bills are unlikely to be taken up in the Senate. Their power is limited by strong opposition. Winning the House was not winner-takes-all.

Democrats have planning they can do and investigations they can do put beyond run-of-the-mill House Resolutions the only other thing they control is the purse strings.

Democrats would not be in any hurry if it were not for the ‘hostages’. Trump may have no compassion, but Democrats do. Trump is pretty sure he can break the Democrats if things get bad enough for workers affected by the shutdown.

How much of this is just about power? Should Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats who just won control of the Congress allow themselves to be humbled? What negative effects could that have on the country? We already have spent two years without any checks and balances. Can Trump have a long-view strategy for sidelining the Dems in the House so he still has no checks and balances?

Is this just an arm wrestling match with a side show of unpaid workers looking on woefully from behind the President, directly appealing to their only hope, the Democrats’ to throw the match?

Is this really about the Southern Border at all? When did the Southern Border become a crisis that had to be solved right this very minute, the Republican way, with no input from the Democrats? The only reason this issue is front and center right now is because our President made it so and the right wing nuts will not let him back down. (Most people must agree that Ann Coulter and Steven Miller are wingnuts.) Ann Coulter is not even in our government. No one elected her or appointed her to any office in our government.

However, I believe that the Democrats will have to cave so people can go back to work. Otherwise we may never again be able to see Democrats as being the party with a heart, the party of ‘we the people’. If the Democrats let Trump win he may use this tactic over and over again and that is a risk we will have to take if public opinion gets any more negative.

Can Nancy Pelosi sell a cave-in to the newest Democrats and still keep the speakership? How?

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Chester Energy and Policy

 

 

Your Turn-Design and Submit a Border Security Plan

It’s Your Turn-Design and Submit a Border Security Plan

Introduction

It is entirely possible that our president, Donald Trump, wants zero immigration at the southern border, plans to accept zero asylum seekers at our southern border, and doesn’t want to honor any BCC’s or Border Crossing Cards. He wants to block off South America and Mexico and other nearby neighbors completely so that those nations, in a sense, cease to exist. If this is the case, then only a concrete wall will suffice and sophisticated border security with lots of digital bells and whistles will be totally unnecessary. Brute force and the wall, that will stop everyone (maybe).

There are several problems with 45’s plan. For one thing his plan ignores our current immigration laws and the court rulings that have upheld those laws – thus Trump’s derision of the 9thcircuit courts. Soon the Supreme Court will decide if the ways Trump has used immigration law will become acceptable. Another difficulty is geography. There are places along the border where it will be impossible to build a wall without leveling mountains, a very expensive proposition. A wall will not only stop most people; it will stop animal migration, which could have unknown environmental effects. And then there is the eminent domain problem, and the fact that the border runs down the middle of a river and through a desert (more geography), the problem that some border towns don’t want it, and the problem that humans are ingenius (people will find work-arounds like tunnels).

So, if you are a Trumper, zero immigration over our southern border probably sounds good to you, and you don’t want to feel like a sucker who chanted ‘wall’ with such verve and zest for nothing. I don’t believe Trumpers are as frightened of an invasion of terrorists and gangs as they say they are. Perhaps they enjoy being perverse to anyone who leans left. Trumpers have such fun telling off a few libtards and watching them attempt to use reason against irrational convictions.

If you happen be someone who believes a wall is old technology, or will be ineffective, or is a waste of taxpayer money then your own defense right now is in the hands of one tiny grandmother, Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, who is in a pitched battle with Trump right this very moment. 800,000 people are working or not working but still have federal jobs with no pay because Trump has shut down the government and will not reopen it until Nancy Pelosi and the Dems in the House agree to give him the initial down payment on that ill-conceived wall. Pelosi says that since the government is shut down she will not expect her people to come up with plans for border security that don’t involve a wall. Trump will speak to the nation again tomorrow. Will he end the shutdown?

Well, whether he does that or not, I say we have a lot of talent out here in America. If you have great ideas, come up with a plan for border security that doesn’t involve a wall, and send a copy to Donald Trump, a copy to Nancy Pelosi, and a copy to Mitch McConnell. Flood Washington with plans for border security. Let the paper flow. Use pictures as much as possible, because 45 is not literate and has no patience with words.

Here are some facts to get you started. Most of this information is from Wikipedia. If you don’t trust the source there are lots of other sources on the internet.

****If you prefer graphics to words thanks to the Washington Post you are in luck. Skip to the **** at the end of this article.

Geographical Facts

The border is 1,954 miles long from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.

The border extends (by agreement) 12 miles into the Gulf of Mexico and 18 miles into the Pacific Ocean.

Border details are the province of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC).

Where there is no river to act as a boundary there are monuments set into the landscape at regular intervals.

American states along the border are California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas.

Mexican states along the border are Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas.

There are 48 US-Mexico Border Crossings with 330 ports of entry.

“At these points of entry, people trying to get into the U.S. are required to open their bags for inspection.[12] Border crossings take place by roads, pedestrian walkways, railroads and ferries. From west to east, below is a list of the border city “twinnings”; cross-border municipalities connected by one or more legal border crossings.

The total population of the borderlands—defined as those counties and municipios lining the border on either side—stands at some 12 million people.”

What is Already in Place

The US Immigration Act of 1924 established the Border Patrol.

In June 2018 a facial recognition system is being installed.

Our border control strategies have had considerable success:

Operation Gatekeeper in San Diego, CA

Operation Hold the Line in El Paso, TX

Operation Rio Grande in McAllen, TX

Operation Safeguard in Tucson, AZ

There is also the Arizona Border Control Initiative (ABCI) along the Arizona border.

As of 2010 there are more than 20,000 border agents.

Our southern border has the highest number of legal crossings of any land border in the world.

Our border patrol only covers 1,100 miles of border (out of 1,954).

We have the ability to stop or prevent illegal entries along 129 miles of border.

We also have a system of parallel checkpoints within 25 – 75 miles of the border in America, and within 50 miles of the border in Mexico.

Illegal entries are about 350,000 per year since 2007.

America has made $395 billion from undocumented labor.

The Secure Fence Act of 2006 called for the construction of 700 miles of high-security fencing.

The Mexican government and various US-based organizations oppose extending the fence.

# of deaths along the border has steadily increased as people try dangerous places to seek entry unnoticed.

June, 2018 began the policy of separating parents from children at the border.

Also in June, asylum seekers were turned away and told that the US has no room for them. These matters are now in the courts.

Within 100 miles of the border is a designated border zone established by the US Dept. of Justice. Officials have the right to stop and search anyone within the zone. They can enter private property without a warrant within 25 miles of the border. And they may establish interior checkpoints in the zone.

There are some limits on Customs and Border Protection that allow searches of vehicles only with a warrant and do not allow pulling people over using profiling, but these limits are routinely ignored.

And we have Operation Streamline which includes zero-tolerance policies and permission to expedite removal of undocumented immigrants.

That’s what we already have at the border.

Your Turn

Now go, make a valid plan – use a map with short notes, or an infographic, or engineering and computing suggestions, or use any skill you possess to come up with a viable border security plan that keeps illegal entry down to an absolute minimum.

Make 3 copies to send to:

President Trump

https://www.wikihow.com/Contact-the-President-of-the-United-States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

Nancy Pelosi

1236 Longworth HOB (House Office Building)

Washington, DC 20515

Mitch McConnell

US Senate

317 Russell Senate Building

Washington, DC 20510-0001

You can also send to the House Committee on Homeland Security and the House Judiciary Committee if you like redundancy.

Final Note

I keep imagining that we build a great wall at the behest of our fearful leader and then aliens land in Canada and we try to run South to escape them and we either come up against the ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, or the wall. If this seem too far-fetched an image, what if what we have to run from is extreme flooding or extreme weather? Could we migrate out of America by foot if there was an impenetrable wall between the US and Mexico?

Thank you Wikipedia.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexico–United_States_border

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – mapmanusa

****Wow! Be sure to take a look at this flyover graphic of the entire US border with Mexico, it shows why blocking migration across our Southern border, legal or illegal, is so difficult to manage.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/national/us-mexico-border-flyover/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curb Your Nostalgia for Political Process

Tuesday, January 15, was the congressional hearing/job interview to determine William Barr’s fitness to serve as our new AG. I watched most of the proceedings on TV with occasional gaps to deal with some loads of laundry. For a warm, mushy minute the hearing harkened back to the calm, respectful order of less partisan days. Hard to believe there is nostalgia for a political process that can seem as uneventful as watching paint dry, except that recently such occasions have offered something more akin to fireworks.

Everyone treated William Barr with seriousness and regard because he certainly has the chops for the job, having been AG thirty years ago (in a Republican administration) and having lived a life of public service. William Barr had with him his 8 year old grandson, apparently a child with some charisma, but the presence of family did not prevent the confrontational tone of the Kavanaugh hearing.

These days we cannot allow ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of comfort. Underneath the welcome civility of a well-conducted political ritual, the content revealed during questioning was more problematic. While Barr obviously trusts Mueller to refuse to conduct a “witch hunt” style investigation, he made no promises that the public will ever learn what the special prosecutor has found. He said it nicely. He said he could not answer the question until he saw the report, but he firmly insisted on his absolute power over whether to release the information and over exactly what information he will release. Then there is the question of why he, or indeed anyone, would want this job.

So I was yanked from my sentimental swoon and reminded that, while these hearings seem civil on the surface, they are an empty form. Democrats will only be allowed to ask questions. Republicans have the votes to confirm William Barr without any assistance from the Democrats and nothing would be negative enough to deter them.

We are being humored, swayed by phony protocol, until we forget that we still have no power to approve or disapprove Trump appointees. Republicans in the Senate are just putting on a show at taxpayer expense, but have actually bought themselves a rubber stamp. They need the show hearing because without it everyone would see that there is no such thing as regular order and wishing for it will not make it so.

It seems Republicans are also willing to reveal that the money we spent on a special prosecutor does not give ‘we the people’ access to Robert Mueller’s findings. My heart sank; I had not considered this until it came up in discussions over the past few weeks. (And then there was that moment when Lindsay Graham – in a very calm tone – asked Barr to promise to investigate Mueller’s staff because of rumored bias – the word liberal is understood – and Barr agreed that he would.) We cannot afford to let sentiment cloud our vision. Our power to check this administration will not really exist until we win at least the Senate in 2020.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – USA Today

Wealth Distribution Goes Awry

We are living in a time and a nation where there is a disparity in wealth distribution, when the distribution of wealth has gone awry. We have all heard that the top 1% have wealth that is out of all proportion to what the other 99% of us share. We see what such a disproportionate access to economic resources does to every aspect of our society. When the rich fix the machinery of the economy so as to deliver the main share of wealth, that is supposed to circulated throughout the culture, into their own pockets, bank accounts, investment instruments, and perhaps their businesses, the entire economy is disrupted.

Rich folks seem to be emboldened by their wealth to believe that they have done something to deserve the riches they have amassed; that money equals entitlement and is proof that they have been somehow chosen. It could be that wealthy people have poured money into politics to get laws passed that ensure that wealth moves up the ladder; that they get all the cream off the top. But then they have some kind of selective amnesia and they forget that they made sure that the croupier would shovel the largest share of chips in their direction.

Once a few individuals come to feel that they are superior to all of the lowlier folks in their culture, once they are isolated into a class of their own, they, of course, do not want to lose any of the wealth they have amassed. Since they see everyone else as less worthy they become disinclined to offer benefits to the unlucky and the lazy, which means everyone poorer than they are. They want to pay workers as little as possible because it comes out of their pockets as they see it. They lose sight of what will happen if there are no consumers in the marketplace. They seem to think that their funds will magically keep multiplying.

They don’t like things like unemployment insurance, health insurance, a minimum food and housing allowance. Since they do not live in the same neighborhoods as poor members of their culture the problems of poverty that affect middle class people do not impinge on the wealthy. They lose their empathy. And they forget that everything is interconnected; that eventually the filth and disease of the neglected will infiltrate their privileged domains. They buy land and build an isolated and self-sufficient kingdom. But will their kingdom rely on the labor of the less-well-off. If their paranoia makes such an arrangement suspect they might actually have to become laborers again at some point. Perhaps they don’t entertain profound thoughts at all while yachting and partying and paying lobbyists and super PACs to keep the right people in power.

Without consulting history it seems as if this problem is unique to 21stcentury America, but obviously this is not so. Wealth distribution can fail whenever wealth and power get concentrated in a relatively small group of citizens of a nation. When wealth gets stuck in the pockets of a group of powerful people eventually something happens to redistribute that wealth. It could be accomplished with sensible laws and raised taxes on the wealthiest class. It could be accomplished by order of a dictator like Mao who turned the Chinese economy upside down with his Cultural Revolution. It could be accomplished by a war which brings all classes together with a common purpose so that the classes mix, and empathy and community feeling are engendered. Or a revolution.

I keep hoping we will find a relatively benign and political solution to our own growing wealth inequality that is creating a greedy class and is pinching everyone else. Democrats are the party that would like to find ways to distribute wealth more fairly but Democrats are out-of-power. They have won a toehold in the House of Representatives but, without any support from the opposition in the Senate important initiatives will not be enacted. Our only hope is to prepare an agenda and find a path to win a majority in both houses of Congress and, the Presidency in 2020. We have had plenty of wars but they are not the threat-to-all-humanity kinds of wars that serve as class equalizers. And we might get ourselves a dictator but the current applicant for the job will have no interest in redistributing any wealth.

I have been reading Churchill: Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts and there is Winston Churchill dealing with this exact situation early in his political career (1909-1910). He was born to the aristocracy, but his family had no money. His father was a well-known political figure but he stayed with his class. Winston switched to become a Liberal and defied his class and was subjected to predictable criticism, fortunately minimized because he was such a great speaker and original thinker with more energy than anyone else in government at the time. (It is even more bizarre to be reading this as the Brexit deal fails and Theresa May loses, not her seat but her power.)

Churchill also lost his bid to redistribute wealth in 1910 and he called for the government to be disbanded, and for a new election. He did win a seat in the new election and he was given a post in the Home Office. The ‘People’s Budget did eventually pass but reform was slow. We know that the British did pass social reforms that offered a safety net to British citizens.

Churchill, pg. 129

“The paternalist in Churchill wanted, in Masterman’s critical but essentially accurate phrase, ‘a state of things where a benign upper class dispensed benefits to an industrious bien pensantand grateful working class’”

Pg.129-130

“In April 1909 Lloyd George unleashed the naked class war that Churchill had predicted five months earlier, with his Finance Bill, soon nicknamed by Liberals the ‘People’s Budget’. In order to raise the extra £16 million, income tax would rise from 1s to 1s 2d in the pound (that is from 5 to 5.83 per cent), a supertax would be introduced on high incomes, as well as taxes on tobacco alcohol, motor cars and petrol, and a halfpenny per pound on the value of undeveloped land, with death duties of 25 per cent on property valued over £1 million, and a 20 per cent capital gains tax on land. This represented wealth redistribution on a scale unprecedented in recent British history…” “If that opposition could not be mollified or overcome and the Lords refused to pass the budget there would be a profound constitutional crisis.

“Tomorrow is the day of wrath!” Churchill told Clementine on 28 April, before a key vote on the Finance Bill. “I feel this Budget will be kill or cure: either we shall secure ample pounds for great reform next year, or the Lords will force a Dissolution in September.”

Pg. 130

“If I had my way I would write the word ‘insure’ over the door of every cottage and upon the blotting book of every public man, because I am convinced that by sacrifices which are inconceivably small, which are all within the reach of the very poorest man in regular work, families can be secured against catastrophes which otherwise would split them up forever… when through the death, the illness, or the invalidity of the bread-winner, the frail boat in which the fortunes of the family are embarked founders and the women and children are left to struggle helplessly in the dark waters of a friendless world.”

Pg. 131

“’The wealthy”, he said, in the course of a nearly 7000-word speech, ‘so far from being self-reliant, are dependent on the constant attention and waiting of scores and sometimes even hundreds of persons who are employed in ministering to their wants.’

In a speech in Leicester

“The issue will be whether the British people in the year of grace 1909 are going to…allow themselves to be dictated to and domineered over by a miserable minority of titled persons, who represent nobody, who are responsible for nobody, and who only scurry up to London to vote in their party interests, in their class interests, and in their own interests.”

“He now wanted the House of Lords to be stripped of its equality with the Commons, and therefore no longer capable of vetoing legislation sent to it by the democratically elected lower Chamber.”

“Churchill’s speech shocked many Tories, and led to protests from both the King and Prime Minister.”

Pg. 132

“In October, Churchill stoked the fire further and told a Dundee audience that it was ‘an extraordinary thing’ that 10,000 should own practically the whole land of Great Britain and that the rest should be trespassers on the soil on which they were born.”

Pg. 133

“On 4 November 1909, the People’s Budget passed the House of Commons.” (Paraphrasing)-If the Lords turned down the Budget the consequences would be a general election.

Pg. 134

“The Budget was rejected by 350 to 75. Parliament was dissolved two days later and an election called, voting to get under way on 14 January 1910, which the Liberals would fight on the slogan ‘The Peers versus the People.’

Pg. 135 (some early 20thcentury trash talk)

“Curzon complained that Churchill had the ‘manners of a mudlark’. Lord Newton spoke of the ‘nauseous cant of Winston Churchill’ and the Duke of Beaufort said he would like to see Churchill and Lloyd George ‘in the middle of twenty couples of drag hounds’.” (Since Winston and his wife Clementine belonged to the aristocracy, although they were quite poor, they suffered social setbacks as a result of Churchill’s politics, but Clementine was supportive of her husband.)”

I will read on and see if Churchill deserves any credit for the benefits Great Britain offers today. It seems like history is a sort of time machine which reminds us that we fight the same fights over and over again; that class struggles have existed as long as there have been human societies. It was both stunning and discouraging to see the parallels between the beginning of the 20thcentury and the beginning of the 21st. A Churchill, however, seems to be exactly what we need right now and I hope the Democrats find one.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – 99 Get Smart

Humble the Democrats

This manufactured crisis is not about a wall at all. It is about humbling the Democrats and train them to heel. Trump does not work with dissenters. He only works with what he calls “facilitators”. We have called them “cult” members, and this seems closer to the mark. To Trump being a leader means that everyone does his bidding. The Republican Party has been acting like a pack of zombies in thrall to great white (and orange) kahuna. He appeared in their midst like one of those benighted and shipwrecked souls who happen to land on a deserted island where the inhabitants seem to think he is a god. They were occasionally cannibals, but they don’t eat him, they seat him on a throne and never notice his small hands and his fake hair.

When the neighboring tribe arrives for the yearly celebration and trading session they see through this pasty king but the islanders refuse to accept the judgments of their neighbors. The hosts fall on their guests and, at spear point, demand that they stop saying bad things about their king. Although the neighbors see that this man is just a person, and a rather poor specimen at that, the tribe insists that they either swear allegiance to their new king or die. What do they do?

This is the situation the Democrats are in. Our president had a moment of shock when so many Democrats were elected to the House, but he still has his intact tribe in the Senate. He had a deal for his wall along the southern border before the Democrats took their seats but he refused to sign it. He refused to sign it because he had a plan to use it in an MMA-style wrestling match with the Democrats for control of the government. He believes that if he wins this match the Dems will be in his pocket and will not be able to assert their authority again on any issue at all. I’m not sure why he believes this, but the Democrats would lose a lot of “face” if he were to win, and it might make it almost impossible to have a massive standoff again.

Obviously Trump understands that the Democrats are running as humanitarians against a newly-cold Capitalism that takes the money and runs and a white supremacist president who scorns compassion if it requires him to part with a single penny of taxpayer money that could and should reside in the bank accounts of the rich and powerful. Look at the bait he dangles in front of the Democrats. He says 800,000 Americans will not get paid until you agree to the wall. He says no asylums will be granted until I get my wall. And the coup de grâce – he will use the money earmarked for rebuilding nations and neighborhoods after natural disasters. This is the kind of red meat that motivates the Democrats. And to win they have to ignore the pain of these victims of a leader who is trying to bend the Party to his will. They can’t listen to the impassioned cries, but they have to broadcast them to the nation hoping that we will fight for the rights of the president’s hostages and for the Party.

Only a leader, who does not care about the pain of his people, puts on a stubborn face and insists that he has to do this. And he does have to do it in a way, because he knows that the Democrats brought those “crazy” young radicals into Congress with them and that they intend to find all the ways that he has trashed our Constitution and our laws, and because he does not have a democratic bone in his body. A leader, to Trump, is a great white god; he is a puppet master who holds all the strings. Congress is his. It is there to do as he says, or the people will suffer. The courts are his. How does this man who seems so squishy and weak exert his will so successfully? It is because he will do anything; he has no compunctions, is amoral, so he can use tactics no one else would touch.

What did those people do when their neighbors held spears to their throats. They grabbed the spears, tied up their neighbors in a great big ridiculous-looking bundle and set the ersatz king adrift with a promise to lick his bones if he ever showed his face in their midst again. If the Democrats don’t stand up to this guy and win, America could cease to be our republic and we will lose the dreams of our forefathers to our own great orange king. If we lose we may never be able to get back to being the land of the free and the home of the brave, and we would be losing to a man who learned his leadership skills from the mafia.

Photo Credits: The Daily Beast

Women’s Rights – “Slip-Sliding Away”

Men are still determined to dominate women and some men pay an awful lot of attention to the things women do to stay healthy in body, mind, and spirit. Of course there are women who do this too, but whenever I have been to a Planned Parenthood rally, it has been men who are the most rabid protestors. Religions also try to control what women can do with their bodies in the name of keeping them from sin, I guess. Catholics and Evangelicals would not seem like natural allies, but when it comes to being against ending pregnancies, they are, and they have no interest in the circumstances. Things move so fast that we often get over things that seem shocking and adapt to them quite quickly. We are, also, so distracted by the constant requirements of our President, who must always be the center of attention, that we are letting the states take action on women’s rights that we will really regret; actions which will affect us all.

Now that our government is so often controlled by Republican men, women’s rights are up for grabs in the very places where laws that championed the rights of women were once upheld. It seems to be the fashion that if you don’t like a law, you get creative and find a work-around. Most of this action occurs in the states and perhaps we just feel good that this stuff did not happen in our state. It is really euphemistic to call these activities creative. They actually are ways to break a law. These laws get challenged and end up in court but our courts are being stuffed with Conservatives so sometimes discriminatory laws get upheld. You would think that we would never allow ourselves to become accustomed to legal dirty tricks designed to take away rights, but these are such issue-rich times that we lose our focus.

Specifically, I am talking about what so-called pro-life people have done to sidestep Roe v Wade because they can’t overturn it. As soon as this decision came down from our Supreme Court opposition began. Initially opposition was loud and sometimes violent. Opponents called women who chose to have legal abortions, baby killers, murderers, and tried to block women who needed to end a pregnancy (a personal, private right given to women by law). Emotions ran so high that eventually a doctor who performed abortions was shot and he died. Fear was used as a deterrent to seeking an end to a pregnancy, a sort of cultural terrorism against women already in crisis.  Some women could afford to seek out a clinic that was not under attack but the poorest women could not. We don’t keep statistics on how many women were dissuaded from ending a pregnancy by activists but I suspect this has happened.

Recently the anti-abortion coalitions (formal or informal) have left terrorism behind and they have been thinking outside the box. They still label women as baby killers but have come up with some very effective strategies to close clinics that provide abortions. They have used TRAP laws, mainly in southern states. These laws set standards for women’s health clinics that the clinics cannot afford to meet. The laws decree that clinics affiliate with a nearby hospital when the law’s drafters already know that most hospitals will not allow this. Alternatively, the law requires the clinic to hire high level professionals and buy equipment too costly for their budgets, equipment also unnecessary for the procedures performed there. In West Texas so many clinics had to shut down that there was only one clinic left. I doubt that it is still operating.

As I have already stated, on these matters Catholics and Evangelicals find they are allies, and many of the most obdurate voices are male. These odd allies have been attacking women’s rights on the issue of contraception. Many believe that contraceptives are abortifacients and are therefore also being used to kill babies (perhaps before they are even conceived) (sarcasm). Pregnancy can be planned, but it is often pretty random. Men who don’t like to use protection may be the worst offenders. It only takes one sperm and one egg and a baby could result unless the process of cell division is stopped. Apparently preventing a sperm from fertilizing an egg is considered against God and nature. These folks want to take women back to either abstinence or the highly ineffective rhythm method. (Look it up if you don’t know what it is.) It is total myth that all women in any age practiced abstinence.

The newest pseudoscientific attack on the issue of abortion centers around the determination of “personhood”. When can a fetus feel pain or pleasure. When does a fetus become a “person”. Ohio and Iowa have recently set that mark at 6 weeks and have introduced bills known as “heartbeat” bills which contend that a fetus becomes a person when it has a heartbeat. Scientists say this happens at 6 weeks. Newer attempts are setting “personhood” at conception. Interesting that these people who are often right wingers dismiss science on climate and embrace science that puts women in their “rightful” place, “barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen”. The contention here is that as soon as a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall and meiosis begins – voila, personhood happens. Legislators are now asking, “is that tiny “person” entitled to all the rights granted to persons in our documents. Oh, Oh.

This could be bad, really bad. And that is already proving to be true, although on a very small scale so far. There have been several cases where women who claim to have had a miscarriage are being arrested and charged with murder.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/22/abortion-pregnancy-law-prosecute-trump

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/indiana-has-now-charged-two-asian-american-women-feticide-n332761

https://www.thenation.com/article/women-are-being-arrested-and-jailed-self-abortion/

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/12/28/opinion/stillborn-murder-charge.html

All this happens under the radar in the Trump administration, more properly called “The Trump Show”. But we had better not ignore these mental shenanigans practiced by the anti-abortion faction because instead of overturning Roe v Wade these constant attacks on the law could render it moot. Women would once again lose control over their own health, their own bodies, and their own lives. Do we really want to kiss the 60’s goodbye? I still have a newsprint, stapled copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves. Perhaps one day it will be illegal to own it.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – News and Media Committees

National Emergency or Armageddon?

National Emergency or Armageddon?

Can “we the people” declare a national emergency as our President is threatening to do? Only if we put our bodies out in the streets and/or in the halls of government. Only if our elected representatives use their bully pulpits to turn the tables on the President. We can see our own president as either a National Emergency or Armageddon for our democracy/republic.

Other leaders have found the loopholes in our documents that allow them to use political trickery, “creativity”, semantic license, to expand their powers. Isn’t that the whole point of the trending movie, Vice, which shows how Dick Cheney smiled his oily smile and annexed power; mostly new frontiers of power for a Republican president (Bush) and, incidentally, the Republican Party?

Donald Trump, in the name of whatever he means by “winning”, is finding ways to invest even more power in the office of the Presidency. The powers Trump uses are real, because each time pundits tell us that he can do what he is doing without facing legal repercussions, but they also tell us that he is pushing the envelope in ways that will change presidential power, possibly forever. Previous leaders have used a presidential power to declare a National Emergency sparingly, as in we have had few instances where our leaders actually have used the power to call a National Emergency at all.

In the past this power was used to order the internment of Japanese Americans in WW II (along with the seizure of their property), an instance we are not proud of. Obama called a National Emergency for a flu epidemic, perhaps, in retrospect, an overreaction, but not a power grab. In fact, neither of these instances involved a power grab.

However, now we have a President who has already emptied our agencies of thousands of federal employees by simply not replacing people who leave. In this way he has made government smaller, with little attention paid. He uses up cabinet members like tissues in a bottomless box. If they are not toadies, they cannot stay. It is never good when a leader surrounds him/herself with only “yes” men/women. He is stuffing the courts with young conservative pseudo-judges who will serve for a lifetime. It is never good when a leader stuffs the courts as an offensive play, although it is sometimes necessary when playing defense, as we have seen. We often see this very strategy when a country is becoming more authoritarian.

Trump sidelined Congress by using the party apparatus to insure a Congress that only did his bidding. As soon as we the people placed one house of Congress in the hands of our representatives in order to oppose his policies he shut down the government on the bogus issue of funding the wall. He had had a document on this desk to fund the wall and avoid the shutdown; he refused to sign it, even though he had already signaled that he would. Again he sidelined a house of Congress, this time a house that opposes him, by setting an agenda that distracts mightily from the agenda the Democrats want to pursue.

This shutdown is a “twofer” – bringing the contentious issue of the wall front and center, and hooking into Democratic (and national) compassion for furloughed public employees who might lose everything. It might even be a “three-fer”, because of the chaos of uncollected garbage, closed and unsupervised National Parks, failing national security systems at our points of entry, and since there are no judges available to adjudicate asylum matters at our southern border that perhaps foments more chaos there (hence making a wall seem more necessary).

Furloughing 800,000 federal employees further empties out the government. Now all we have in Washington is Trump, his swampy cabinet, and his supine Senate proving to the upstart Dems who actually still has the power (white men). And of course, we still have Trump, who is playing “king of the mountain” in his usual mobster fashion.

This could be seen as an excellent move in what already seems like a slow-walk authoritarian coup. Trump is not just holding federal workers hostage, he is using dubious policy as a wall to hold back the Dems in the House of Representatives (now full of minorities and women). He may be a crazy old coot, but he is our crazy old coot, and he sometimes seems to be crazy like a fox. This could be less National Emergency and more Armageddon folks. Why do we appear to have so few options?

Photo Credit: From a Google image search – NYT

Facebook Conversation with True Believers: Still Divided

FB Conversation with True Believers: Still Divided

On New Year’s Eve I did something I don’t usually do. I allowed myself to get embroiled in a Facebook conversation with friends of a friend. We grew up in the same community and went to the same schools, although they are a bit younger than me. It still shocks me to find so many people who consider Fox News a legitimate media outlet. And it seems that many Americans now get some of their “news” from You Tube, a source that has come under scrutiny recently for having lots of fake accounts, some traceable to Russia and China.

Anyway I did not acquit myself very well and I certainly did not win. I felt ridiculed and belittled. I need to have more give-and-take conversations where I learn to marshal my best arguments so I can offer snappy comebacks that cause brain explosions in my opponents (OK, hyperbole). But this is one of those times when I think of better things to say the next day than I said at the time. I know people who have a talent for thinking brilliantly on their feet and I may have to make that my next goal.

I went back and copied down the conversation so you could see how it went and perhaps invent some excellent answers I could have given that I didn’t. One thing that always impresses me about Fox News listeners is how absolutely certain they are that they are in possession of all the real facts and that what they believe is incontrovertible. I do not have confidence that my ideas will provide the absolute correct answer. It was not a great way to celebrate New Year’s Eve, but it was interesting. Some things seem to have been edited out of the conversation, like when one of the girls called me a “moron”, and another addressed me as “little miss nancy pants”.

This was my friend’s post:

I’m taking a poll. Who thinks that we need a wall?

Here are the comments:

DE-K:  Me!!!! (1 like)

Me:  We don’t need a wall. (no likes)

DE-K:  Even Obama stated we needed one when he was President. What changed, Why don’t we need one now that he isn’t the President.

Me:  Not that many people are getting across the border now. What we have at the border is a processing problem. Too many people, not enough judges. Obama does not back Trump’s wall now. But Obama is no longer our President. Perhaps you think we should have zero immigration at the southern border. That would require new laws.

JL: posts a meme of a man tying on clown shoes – “Before you judge Senator Schumer walk a mile in his shoes.”

DE-K:  Let these illegal immigrants keep killing Americans and while they’re doing that, how about we let the terrorists plant some bombs or even better, fly some more airplanes into some buildings and kill more thousands of people. Perhaps you believe open borders are best for America (an emoji?) Done.

Me: Trump wants 5b dollars for a wall, but it will cost much more. We are not talking enough people to justify a wall. What about more border patrols, using digital drones. A wall is using a 5th century solution for a 21st century problem. [I heard a pundit say this on MSNBC so I stole it.] The Berlin Wall got torn down. Russia controlled its borders with an Iron Curtain which was not a physical wall at all. It was just done with fear. A wall will close us in, not just close our neighbors out. It’s a waste of tax dollars.

LD:  Watch CNN much (3 emojis-laughed ‘til I cried) (1haha)

Me: Too tame, MSNBC for me, and I read and think and write. Fox News gives me a stomach ache and brainwashes people. [I shared two blog posts, one on How We Got Our Immigration Policies; one on The Wall.]

HD:  Let’s hire them all and put our own people out of work. Muslims call us infidels and guess what. We are. Trump wants America first, most insane Americans want to sell our country out so we become salves (slaves?) to Islam. Wake the F up. (2 likes)

HD:  and Happy New Year (1 thumbs up, 1 peace sign, 1 blown kiss)

DE-K:  Helen, you’re hilarious!

Me: This is why I don’t usually discuss politics on Facebook.

(some of this may be out-of-order because some comments are hidden away)

Me: American(s) also kill lots of Americans, immigrant crimes rates are not that big, although killing fills us all with grief. Border guards say that tunnels under the wall are a bigger problem. You are listening to Fox (non) News.

MDD:  Google how many miles are not fenced on the southern border. Texas alone has 500 miles in one spot. These people are walking across the border in steady numbers every day. Go look at You Tube. When do you think this will end? We need the wall. People need to educate themselves. (2 likes)

Me:  Then let Texas pay.

LD:  You must not have family in Texas. But I do. Build the Wall!! (1 like)

DOS (My name) You obviously have not lived in a border state. They commit most of the crimes in these states!! Terrorist have already been facially identified. And a new caravan started yesterday in El Salvador containing the gang leaders from M 13 a very ruthless gang. Get informed on the truth!!!

Me: (DOS) This stuff is not true.

DOS:  I lived there for 35 years and saw this daily. It is very true and hard to believe that you have that opinion. (2 likes)

DOS: We have been paying millions to care for those people. The wall will enable us to STOP paying for illegals and have money for AMERICANS!!! (2 likes)

Me:  Our laws allow immigrants to seek asylum in America. I’m done. You can’t change my mind and I can’t change yours. I am outnumbered here but not in real America. (1 haha) [If only I had really been done.]

Me:  (LD) Move, it will be cheaper for all of us. (1 like)

DE-K:  I’m positive that if any one of her (Miss N) family members were killed she would change her opinion in a heartbeat. (1 like)

LD: (NB) I think you should move to Venezuela maybe then you will care what happens in America.

PM-B:  No, but technology yes!!

Me: What is wrong with you people OMG! There are no terrorists at our southern border. Yes, when an undocumented immigrants kills someone it’s terrible. But we cannot wall out the future. I don’t want to be an Islamic slave nor do I want that to happen to anyone. But I just don’t believe a wall will buy us the security we crave. We are surrounded by oceans. People can come on boats. There are airplanes. Airplanes laugh at walls. I think we need to brainstorm some really effective ways to secure our borders. For now it may work to keep everyone out but by the time we turn the world over to our kids that may not work anymore.

I was left with an unhappy feeling about how this conversation turned out and my role in that. I don’t think I presented my best arguments. Lately people in major media keep prodding us to talk to each other. In this conversation we just talked past each other. I keep thinking that at least I presented another view. I have about two of these conversation a year and I can never decide if I could have won a smidge of respect at least if I presented better arguments, or that it is not possible to sway a “true believer” and that I should just quit trying.

Photo Credits: From Google Image Searches – The Sun, Townhall

How We Got Our Immigration Policies: What Now

Introduction

The sonnet at the base of the Statue of Liberty was written by Emma Lazarus at the urging of her friends for an auction to raise money to build a pedestal to put the statue on in 1883. It was engraved on a bronze plaque which was added to the base of the statue in 1903. But apparently America was already sort of in the “fake news” business, since we have not exactly had a love affair with the various immigrant waves that have arrived on our shores, or our desert roads. Since I kept being wrong about what things we have done to immigrants before now, I decided to do some research.

The very first article I found was extremely helpful offering a timeline of immigration events, laws, actions, and even a few statistics. There is also an infographic (not included here). Although I would like to blame all the times America got exercised about immigrants who did not enter America legally (and a few times when we even got hot under the collar about legal immigrants) on the Republicans it is not possible. For one thing during the Civil War the Democrats were the Republicans, sort of, so things get murky.

Clearly we did not get where we are in 2018 in one giant step. In many administrations Presidents and Congresses have dealt with trying to solve the problems of people who immigrated to America without going through proper channels. And the more complicated the rules have become the more people seem to try to go around them.

Sometimes there may have been popular pressure on the government as people felt overrun by waves of one immigrant group or another and the fact of all these new folks settling in seemed to threaten current demographics, or change a favored neighborhood beyond recognition. Other times immigration crack-downs seemed to have been related to historical events such as the Great Depression which made it difficult to take care of even the citizens who had been here for decades and the Second World War which made many Americans paranoid about people from Japan. There was possibly also an element of revenge after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Finding all the reasons for immigration freak-outs would require more research and still might not offer a complete picture. Perhaps you had to be there in those moments.

Late 1800’s to early 1900’s

The timeline I found says that the first dedicated immigration detention facility in the world appeared in America in 1892. People had to stay somewhere between apprehension and deportation. The first guards appeared on the US-Mexico border in 1904.

Calvin Coolidge (Rep)

 “1924 Johnson-Reed Immigration Act (also known as the National Origins Act and Asian Exclusion Act) – Restricted immigration further to the number of immigrants admitted from any country annually to 2 percent of the number who were already living in the United States before the 1890 census. Intended to “preserve American homogeneity,” the Johnson-Reed Act provided a pathway to citizenship for European immigrants while restricting Asians, Arabs, and most Africans completely.”

Herbert Hoover (Dem) and Franklin D Roosevelt (Dem)-The Great Depression into WWII

Entering illegally or overstaying a visa became a misdemeanor in 1929 (just before the Great Depression). During the Great Depression Herbert Hoover (Rep) and later FDR (Dem) “rounded up and deported 500,000 Mexicans and Filipinos, even though 60% of them were US-born citizens. 1942 was the beginning of the Japanese internment under FDR (Dem) (World War II). But FDR also began the Bracero Program which issued temporary visas to Mexicans to work in agriculture. This program ended in 1964.

Harry S. Truman (Dem)

In 1946 the US Army School of the Americas (SOA) began training Latin America soldiers and leaders in Georgia. It eventually earned the reputation of being a school for despots and is often considered to be responsible for the destabilization we still see in South America today.  In 1952 an immigrant’s criminal record or radical political views could be grounds for deportation/detention. It also became possible to grant noncitizens release from detention on bond based on community ties.

Eisenhower (Rep) and Jimmy Carter (Dem)

Eisenhower (Rep)(1954-56) targeted 1 million Mexicans for deportation in the charmingly named Operation Wetback (sarcasm). Under Jimmy Carter (Dem) (1980-81) a new round of mass detentions took place, this time Cubans, Haitians, and Central Americans.

Ronald Reagan (Rep)

Ronald Reagan (Rep) took office in 1981. Reagan wanted to deter Latin American immigration so he began the detention of asylum seekers. A renewed War on Drugs brought militarization to the border. Reagan set up the McAllen Detention Center in Puerto Rico to hold Haitians in 1981. In 1983 he signed the Mass Immigration Emergency Plan which required that there always be 10,000 beds ready to use for immigrant detention. And in 1983 the first private prison company (CCA) Correction Corporation of America (which became CoreCivic in 2016 was allowed to house detained immigrants. GEO Group formed to set up more private detention prisons. In 1986 the Immigration Reform and Control Act was signed and granted blanket amnesty for undocumented immigrants. It also sanctioned employers who hired them. In 1987 GEO won the first government contract which gave GEO taxpayer money to detain immigrants. Busy times.

Bill Clinton (Dem)

Bill Clinton (Dem) in 1994 doubled the Border Patrol and constructed five miles of border wall in the wake of which data showed an increasing number of deaths in the border lands.

“Together known as “The 1996 Laws,” this set of laws has had the greatest impact on expanding the U.S. immigration detention system by expanding the list of “crimes of moral turpitude,” including non-violent drug and other charges, for which both legal immigrants and undocumented non-citizens can be subjected to mandatory detention and deportation. These laws can be applied retroactively, and also impose 3-year, 10-year, and lifetime bars on returning to the U.S. after deportation.”

George W. Bush (Rep) Post 9/11 attacks on World Trade Center

Under George W. Bush (Rep) in 2003 the Supreme Court upheld the right to detain immigrants during deportation proceedings. The Department of Homeland Security was created in 2003 also. Under G.W. private prisons began to be administered by the Bureau of Prisons.

Barrack Obama (Dem)

Under Obama (Dem), 2009 the quota for emergency beds that must be maintained at all times went to 34,000. Obama temporarily ended family detention, but the detention centers remained open. He established DACA in 2012. In 2014 he resumed family detention because of increases in unaccompanied minors, women and children. When the US Justice Department and DHS tried to phase out use of private prisons in 2016, their stocks plummeted. Obama detentions were over 40,000/day  and he had deported over 3 million people, more than all other Presidents added together up to that date.

Donald J. Trump (Rep)

When Trump was elected in 2016 prison stocks rose again. [However by January, 2017, under Trump detentions are over now 44-45,000/day according to The Daily Beast. Family separation is new, although supposedly suspended for now, and it appears that Trump would like to end all immigration through our southern border. He wants a “wall” along the whole southern border.]

Here’s the irony, in Oct. 2017 California, home of the first private prison for immigrants passed the Dignity, not Detention Act. We can see that as American population grew immigration law became steadily more intense until we arrived at where we are now. Countable.com asked me today what I would do with children and unaccompanied minors if they were not detained. I liked when we found families to take them in but this doesn’t even make the list as an official policy and how do you find the number of homes we need.

All of this timeline information, except where noted, was mined from the following article:

https://www.freedomforimmigrants.org/detention-timeline/

Not the Whole Story if Trying to Place Blame

Presidents don’t always write laws or enact laws. A President may initiate a law or rule or act but this is more likely to begin in Congress and then end up on the President’s desk for a signature. This was an excellent article for setting up a timeline and I have tried to condense the contents for you. But what is missing are the political forces that led government representatives to write these bills and put them forward for a vote. Who favored the policy and who did not. We can find all of that, there is a Congressional Record and there are history books but it would require some major digging and will have to be put off for another time, another article. Once again I will repeat that sometimes you had to be there.

Private Prisons (The Daily Beast article)

What sent me on this journey through history was an article in The Daily Beast  12/27/2018 which delineated the role of private prison corporations in the detention of immigrants, a phenomenon that has exploded. What it also makes clear is that these for-profit (on the stock market) private prison corporations are paid through government contracts, in other words, taxpayer dollars. We are basically unable to process the numbers of asylum seekers, visa overstayers, immigrants arriving without going through channels, and so they have become prisoners. They are apparently not required to work but life is so boring that many opt to work. They are paid $1/day, or if they work in the kitchen, $3/day. Much of the data about payments is kept away from the public but from what Spencer Ackerman and Adam Rawnsley were able to uncover we have spent 807 million for private contracts to 19 different facilities where immigrants are detained. The Daily Beast article also contains an informative infographic by Sarah Rogers.

Conclusions

Obviously Trump did not create current immigration policies and although he has escalated them he is not alone in this. That has been the trend for the last 150 years. But Donald Trump is fear mongering by exaggerating the dangers of immigration at our southern border. He would, seemingly, like to end all immigration through the southern border for the time being. Americans don’t see how it is possible to keep increasing detention facilities and detention time frames. We are unhappy with the imprisonment of asylum seekers. We are unhappy that they have to stay in detention too long because there is not adequate staffing on the judicial side to adjudicate asylums or deportations. Separating mothers and fathers from their young children is really very upsetting to most Americans. It does not sit well with our sense of justice to see a two year old in a court that will decide his/her fate without legal representation or anyone who speaks Spanish. Our system is not working. Imprisonment is obviously not the answer. In fact our whole set of laws to foil undocumented immigrants is a soul-sucking mess. Once again the law-and- order people have had their say and their message is always the same, “lock ‘em up”. We can do better, but first we have to stop doing this.

Photo Credits: From Google Image Searches – thedailybeast.com -CoreCivic-Cleveland.com

Addendum- Kennedy-Johnson Presidencies – 1965

 

I left out a number of rules, laws, and firsts from my quick reference immigration list but a colleague pointed out one very important act that I neglected to mention. This is the Hart-Celler act of 1965, initiated in the Kennedy administration and passed after Kennedy’s death by the Lyndon Johnson administration. The Immigration and Naturalization Act abolished earlier quota systems based on national origin and established a new immigration policy based on reuniting families and attracting skilled labor to the US. “In removing racist national barriers the Act would significantly alter the demographic mix in the US,” according to Wikipedia. This act was widely supported in Congress. 74% of Democrats said yes and 85% of Republicans voted yes. But the policies passed in this act are at the heart of our current immigration controversies. Many Americas are unhappy that white folks will soon be the minority in America (although no one minority group will represent the majority) so they want drastic changes in quotas. President Trump would like to go back to quotas that give Western Europeans the advantage in immigration, and many Republicans back this approach. This bill also focused on the policy that Trump has called “chain migration” because it gives an advantage to family members of immigrants already in America. Trump and most Republicans would like to end the practice of “chain migration,” ostensibly because it aids terrorists, but also because they want to change the complexion of America in order to bring back the ‘whiteness’ factor that, to some, represents the true face of America.

 

 

Fact or Propaganda in the Age of Trump

Deciding if a statement was fact or propaganda used to seem easier. However, being bombarded by fake news is beginning to have a disturbing side effect, not unforeseen, but unsettling even so. We never felt that politicians were completely honest with us and sometimes we didn’t trust any words that came out of certain mouths (Nixon for me). But now when I hear almost anyone who is supposedly offering me facts to support a point, I, always a skeptic, find myself thinking that things I used to accept as facts are sounding like propaganda. In fact, everything is starting to sound like propaganda.

I hear what General Mattis is saying about what will happen if we leave Syria and Afghanistan abruptly and I want to accept his advice on this matter, but this is a man who stayed on Trump’s staff for 2 years for mostly unfathomable reasons. In fact I don’t know who I trust to tell me about what we should think or do about Syria or Afghanistan, or Yemen, or the Taliban or ISIS. Even Richard Engle, often immersed in these conflict areas, does not always present a consistent viewpoint. If we leave Syria and Afghanistan will the Taliban flourish? If we leave Syria will threats from ISIS grow unchecked and bring their particular form of terror back into our living rooms once again? The Washington Post tells us that looting in Iraq and Syria has made ISIS wealthy and that they have that money stowed away somewhere.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/retreating-isis-army-smuggled-a-fortune-in-cash-and-gold-out-of-iraq-and-syria/2018/12/21/95087ffc-054b-11e9-9122-82e98f91ee6f_story.html

This implies that ISIS is good to go and will be back to terrorize the world once again. Or will they? My only strategy is to wait and see what happens because I’m not sure why people are predicting the various possible outcomes to removing troops that they are offering us. Do they stand to gain something from the stance they are taking? Are they offering us sincere assessments based on opinions? Are these educated opinions backed up by actual facts? I do think that abandoning the Kurds to Syrian genocidal tendencies is a good reason to think about staying. I also think that withdrawing into a position of isolation from pressure points in the Middle East and elsewhere leaves Putin’s Russia and Assad in Syria, Saudi Arabia, and even China to fill the vacuum this creates. But this week our President dropped the sanctions on a Russian oligarch whose name is way too familiar to us, Oleg Deripaska, friend of Paul Manafort. Not to mention his behavior to what is clearly a Saudi assassination of a journalist. We don’t even know if our own President is an ally of America or any of our allies.

Ted Lieu (D-CA) just said we should leave because only Congress can deploy American troops and Congress did not deploy these troops. That would not top my list of reasons to leave now that we are there, and yet I am very worried that our Constitutional guardrails are disappearing. Of course we never could believe everything we hear from Washington or in the media, but now I find myself trying to see the political motivations for the “facts” that are being delivered daily. Is someone taking a stand because they stand to gain personally or politically? Are they spouting propaganda? Let’s just say my skepticism is at Def Con 5.

Listen to Mitch McConnell, looking like he got a good night’s sleep and dripping sugar trying to convince Democrats to join Republicans and find a way to end this shutdown on TV this Saturday morning before Christmas. Turning down the volume makes it stop but then you can’t hear what he’s saying. He is trying to hook into Democrat’s humanism about government employees who won’t be paid in order to bribe them to accept language that will please Trump.

Some pundits still think that we should make a deal for DACCA. Have they been paying attention? A deal made with a liar is not deal at all. Our president has no compunctions about making a deal and then backing down on it once he gets what he wants. We cannot trust this man. When people go on camera to make his policies sound reasonable it drives me crazy. We are not being governed by a reasonable person.

Democrats do not want a wall, do not want to fund a wall, no bargaining, no deals. Democrats have offered money for border security which is pretty generous considering the kinds of border security that we see on offer. What Trump considers border security looks to me like a humanitarian nightmare.

We do feel bad for government employees but we cannot allow the Republicans and Trump to take human hostages every time they want some unpopular thing. I know I don’t trust Mitch McConnell one little tiny bit. He is always a political animal. But I find myself having real trouble separating facts from propaganda. What is fake and what is real? I expect this effect of Trump’s mind games to worsen with time and I am shocked that it is starting to affect me. I see these effects even in the way foreign nations are acting and reacting to the media and to leaders with authoritarian tendencies.

Our President seems bent on revenge against the whole wide world, and the American people who did not cheer him at his rallies; but we cannot cheer a man who acts as if he hates democracy and every democratic value. We are in a standoff with our own President and he is trying to make us doubt all that we have ever believed in. And it seems to be working.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Vox