This Cannot Become “Normal”

I came across this OpEd in the New York Times by one of my favourite opinion writers, Nicholas Kristof, earlier today.  It is a prescient warning that I think is worth sharing.

Don’t Let Trump Make You Numb to What’s Unacceptable

Our species has an ability to adapt. Now’s not the time.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

  • Nov. 6, 2019

The problem with being a frog in a beaker is that you may not notice the water temperature rising to a boil.

Humans, too. In New Delhi, people get used to air that is filthy. In Syria, to checkpoints. In Angola, to corruption. In China, to propaganda. And in America, we risk becoming numbed to a political, social and moral breakdown.

Scandal and dysfunction dribble out from Washington day by day, numbing us so that we may forget just how unprecedented and outrageous the trends are. It was only five years ago that Fox News was deploring a “shocking” and “desperate” presidential scandal that Republican Representative Peter King described as inexcusable: Barack Obama wore a tan suit! Now we can’t even keep track of how many countries President Trump has asked to do him political favors.

I’ve been traveling abroad, so I’ve been asking journalists and officials how they see America, and from a distance they offer blunt assessments. “If your president isn’t a Manchurian candidate,” one senior European official said, “he’s doing a pretty good imitation of one.”

In 2016, Obama’s passivity and Republican intransigence may have allowed Russian cyberattacks to swing the presidency to Trump (there’s no way to be sure, but that’s what the forensic work of Kathleen Hall Jamieson suggests). Yet despite improvement, the United States still doesn’t have an adequate strategy to foil Russian or Chinese interference in the 2020 election.

Trump is a hero of many evangelical Christians who previously emphasized the importance of personal values and restoring “honor and dignity” to the White House. Meanwhile, he is on his third wife, has cheated on all three and has been accused of sexual misconduct by 25 women. And Trump tweeted a supporter’s praise likening him to “the second coming of God.”

Since taking office, Trump has made more than 13,400 false or misleading statements, according to a Washington Post database. The Post found that he has recently accelerated his falsehoods to a rate of 22 per day, more than one per waking hour. (I’ve covered many world leaders, and the only two whom I consider pathological liars are Trump and former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.)

Trump has declared “I am the chosen one.” His press secretary last month spoke of “the genius of our great President.”

Trump, who according to a Times investigation is wealthy partly because of fraud, pledged to fight corruption and “drain the swamp.” Since then, he has lost more first-term cabinet members to scandal than any president in history.

 “I’m not going to have time to go play golf,” Trump said before his election. In fact, he has visited golf clubs approximately 224 times since taking office, including more than three months in total at Mar-a-Lago. These vacation trips have cost taxpayers more than $100 million.

Trump’s mother was an immigrant, as are two of the women he married (his current wife may have been undocumented). Yet he has ripped children from parents at the border, and his administration has argued that detained immigrant children do not need soap or toothbrushes.

We haven’t even gotten to Trump trying to buy Greenland, marching into women’s changing rooms to admire undressed teenagers, borrowing Stalinist language to denounce the press as the “enemy of the people,” claiming that climate change is a Chinese conspiracy, banning Muslims or diverting money to build the wall that Mexico supposedly would pay for.

Oh, and that multibillion-dollar wall is now being cut open by smugglers with $100 saws.

Yet America’s dysfunction goes beyond Trump, and it will outlast Trump, even as it is aggravated by him.

American kids ages 1 through 19 are 57 percent more likely to die than those in other advanced nations, according to a study in the journal Health Affairs. That’s partly because the United States is virtually alone in failing to provide universal health coverage: Trump didn’t create that problem, but he did magnify it so that the number of uninsured children is now increasing.

Longstanding economic inequality in the United States, exacerbated by Trump’s tax cuts and other policies, is staggering. A single hedge fund tycoon, James Simons, made $1.6 billion last year, or more than $4 million each day — yet the United States has 100,000 children who on any given night are homeless. Since 2000, 61,000 foster kids have simply gone missing. Girls and boys are sold by pimps for sex in every American city.

America is not, as President Trump once called it, a “hellhole.” It is a nation of enormous strengths and resources, but we need to muster them now. A merit of our species is that we are adaptable and resilient and can get used to almost anything.

But we should never get accustomed to all this. Let’s not let ourselves be numbed by the daily drip into accepting a level of Trumpian dysfunction that should always be unacceptable.

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American Kristallnacht?

On the night of November 9, 1938, the Nazi’s paramilitary arm, the Sturmabteilung (SA) stormed cities throughout Germany, demolishing Jewish homes, hospitals and schools, and arresting 30,000 men for no crime other than being Jewish.  The event, lasting two days, was to become known to the world as Kristallnacht, or Crystal Night, for the broken glass that was left behind on the streets.

Will Sunday be the equivalent of Kristallnacht for the U.S.?  On Sunday, Trump plans to have his version of the SA, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, round up thousands of immigrants in at least ten cities across the U.S. and take them to detention centers to await deportation.  We are told that these ‘round ups’ might include ‘collateral’ arrests, in other words those who are here legally, perhaps even citizens, but just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time on Sunday.

What could possibly go wrong, eh?

Per a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official, Trump’s purpose is to use the operation as a show of force to deter families from approaching the southwestern border.  Phrases like “a show of force” disturb me.  Trump and his minions have already proven they have no sense of humanity, and they see any who don’t look like what they see in the mirror, as “the enemy”.  They never heard Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder when they sang …

We all know that people are the same wherever you go
There is good and bad in ev’ryone
We learn to live, when we learn to give
Each other what we need to survive, together alive

Already we have thousands of children, snatched from the arms of their parents and housed in ‘detention’ camps, which have aptly been compared with concentration camps, housed without beds, without basic hygiene necessities, and given inadequate care.  Reportedly, there has also been sexual abuse of some of the children. Now the same ‘man’ who put them there, is planning to implement thousands of arrests and send the detainees, families and children, to similar camps.

Tell me again how this is “America, the land of the free”, the nation that welcomes all with open arms?  Are people in this country really so damn scared of immigrants that they have sold their conscience, that they are willing to turn a blind eye to the atrocities being committed every day by our government?

There is a likelihood … nay, a certainty that some children born in this country, and therefore citizens, will be separated from their parents during these raids. Already, plans have been made for ICE officers to oversee those children until such time as some other family member can get them.  Meanwhile, more children, separated from their parents, crying themselves to sleep at night.  And added to the growing number of children suffering abuse at the hands of a government whose leaders simply do not care.

Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony 

Let’s be honest for a minute.  This is not who we are.  This is not the nation the Founders envisioned in 1787.  This is not who we want to be.  And then ask yourself this question:  What’s next?  Or perhaps more apt:  Who’s next?

Cruel And Inhumane …

aoc.jpg“This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying. This is not hyperbole. It is the conclusion of expert analysis. And for the shrieking Republicans who don’t know the difference: concentration camps are not the same as death camps. Concentration camps are considered by experts as “the mass detention of civilians without trial.” And that’s exactly what this administration is doing.”

Those are the words of freshman Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on June 18th.  I fully agree with her words.  She has been taken to task by republicans, and even by Yad Vashem, of the Holocaust research center.  I have read the arguments, pro and con, and I still agree with Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.  The conditions under which we are holding people, particularly children, against their will and for no legitimate reason, is unconscionable, is a crime against humanity, and defies international law.  It is not much different from what the concentration camps in Germany were in the early days of Hitler’s regime, before the death camps.

What crime have these children committed?  None.  What crime have their parents, then, committed?  In most cases none, unless it is a crime to flee from violence and seek a safe haven for one’s family.

What, exactly, are ‘crimes against humanity’?  The United Nations Human Rights Council defines crimes against humanity as …

“… murder, extermination, torture, enslavement, persecution on political, racial, religious or ethnic grounds, institutionalized discrimination, arbitrary deportation or forcible transfer of population, arbitrary imprisonment, rape, enforced prostitution and other inhuman acts committed in a systematic manner or on a large scale and instigated or directed by a Government or by any organization or group.”

Warren Binford is a law professor at Willamette University in Oregon, and one of the few lawyers that visited a Customs and Border Patrol detention center in Clint, Texas, where 250 infants, children and teenagers are being held.  According to her report, these children are denied adequate food, water or sanitation.  Listen to what she said about the conditions in this facility …

There is a 1997 federal court ruling that came as a result of abuses dating to the 1980s, that strictly limits the government’s ability to keep children in immigration detention.  This is known as the Flores Settlement, and it requires the federal government to do two things: to place children with a close relative or family friend “without unnecessary delay,” rather than keeping them in custody; and to keep immigrant children who are in custody in the “least restrictive conditions” possible.

Trump has fought to overturn or circumvent the Flores Settlement, but it is one thing he cannot legally accomplish via executive order, so the republicans in Congress have proposed legislation that would effectively overrule the decree.  Last week, the government was in federal court to argue that it shouldn’t be required to give detained migrant children toothbrushes, soap, towels, showers or even half a night’s sleep inside Border Patrol detention facilities.  Yes, you read that right.

Arguing the government’s case was Justice Department lawyer Sarah Fabian who faced a three-judge panel.  Ms. Fabian was, as she should have been, shredded by the judges, for there can be no legitimate case for depriving children of the most basic necessities.  She hedged and deflected, lied and stuttered, and at the end of the day she looked like the fool that she is.  Take a look …

Her only real argument was that the Flores Settlement does not specifically list the items that must be provided in border facilities, and that it created a problem of “enumerating certain hygiene items”.  Circuit Judge William Fletcher responded …

“It wasn’t perfume soap. It was soap. It wasn’t high-class mild soap. It was soap. And that sounds like it [falls in the category] of safe and sanitary. Are you disagreeing with that?”

I wonder how Ms. Fabian would like to sleep in her clothes, on the floor, with only a piece of tin foil for a blanket, then wake the next morning unable to either shower or brush her teeth?  Or Donald Trump?  Perhaps they should have to spend a night or two in the conditions they have imposed on these children.

Six migrant children have died in the “protective” custody of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP).  How many more … how many more must die before someone in the Department of Justice or the administration has the guts to stand up and say, “ENOUGH!!!”?  The federal government of the United States already has blood on its hands.  Donald Trump has blood on his hands and is as guilty of murder as if he had personally killed those six children.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is essentially correct, these are no better than concentration camps.  I hear my representative, republican Warren Davidson, referring to how “proud” we should be of our country.  His only concern these days is something or other to do with “cryptocurrency”.  I hear Trump say how he’s made this such a “great country”.  I disagree.  Right now, I am not proud of this nation … not one little bit.

Tears of Shame

There are at least a few episodes in the history of the United States of which we are, or at least should be, deeply ashamed.  Slavery, our treatment of Native Americans, Jim Crow, Japanese internment camps, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, My Lai, and others.  One of those moments occurred eighty years ago today, when the United States government refused to allow the S.S. St. Louis, carrying more than 900 Jewish refugees from Germany, to dock on its shores. St-Louis.jpgSome passengers attempted to cable President Franklin D. Roosevelt asking for refuge, but he never responded. A State Department telegram stated that the asylum-seekers must “await their turns on the waiting list and qualify for and obtain immigration visas before they may be admissible into the United States.”

The ship turned to Canada, but with no luck there either was ultimately forced to turn back to Europe.  Ultimately, 254 of the more than 900 passengers would fall victim to the Nazi Holocaust because of the arrogance of the United States and Canadian governments.

Eighty years later … what did we learn from our perfidy in 1939?  Not much, apparently, if one only looks toward the southern border of the United States, a border shared with one of our two closest (geographically) allies.  Turning away the S.S. St. Louis was cruel, but what is happening on our border is even more so, for we are separating children from their parents, locking them up in cages, treating them as animals, and thus far six of those children have died in U.S. custody.  And our government does not bat an Monday, Carlos Hernandez Vásquez, a 16-year-old Guatemalan became the sixth child to die in Customs and Border Protection custody since the Trump administration began the fiasco at the border.  Felipe Gomez Alonso, an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy, died in a New Mexico hospital on December 24th, Christmas Eve 2018.  Jakelin Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl, died last December 7thJuan de Leon Gutiérrez, a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy died on April 30th.  An unnamed Guatemalan boy age two-and-a-half died on May 14th.

DarlynAnd then there was Darlyn Cristabel Cordova-Valle — a 10-year-old girl from El Salvador with heart defects who died in HHS custody last fall.  Her death was kept secret until just last week.  Acting Director of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, testified before Congress in December, but did not notify lawmakers that Darlyn had died in Border Patrol custody three days before.  How many more have died that we don’t even know about?

What is being done?  Investigations and inquiries.  Well, folks, we’ve seen how well those go, haven’t we?  Does anybody trust the Department of Homeland Security to be forthcoming, especially after they covered up one child’s death for five months?  Does anybody trust Trump & Co to do anything to stop the madness? More to the point, how long until the next child dies?  And how many people are literally starving to death on our southern border because our government sees them as being somehow less than human?  Don Trump claims that there is a crisis at our southern border … there is a crisis, but it is not the one he pretends it is … it is a humanitarian crisis.  This nation is not the victim, but rather the persecutor.

Just as in 1939 when the U.S. government turned away nearly a thousand people fleeing for their lives, today we are turning away people … families, children … fleeing for their lives.  The difference is that today we are turning away, or imprisoning nearly 100,000 every month.  Do not ever make the mistake of thinking that the United States is a country of compassion, of humanity, for it is not.  It is rapidly becoming a nation of white supremacists, of arrogance, of somehow believing that the only lives worth saving are those of white Christians.  We have the blood of these six children on our hands, and who knows how many more to come.  Think about it.

Clockwise from upper left:  Juan de Leon Gutiérrez, Jakelin Caal Maquin, Carlos Hernandez Vásquez, and Felipe Gomez Alonso

I Just Couldn’t Resist …

… Concluding the week with a few little tidbits.  A couple may border on being ‘snarky snippets’, but I did not start out with that intent.

Another one  😞

Another synagogue shooting.  Another death.  More injuries.  Why?  Because we are becoming a nation of haters.  We are becoming a nation of people who think that the lighter their skin, the more worthy and deserving they are.  We are becoming a nation of “Christian” vs everybody-else.  We are becoming a bunch of jerks.  The latest in the long series of jerks is John T. Earnest, age 19, who entered Chabad of Poway synagogue north of San Diego, California, on Saturday while about 100 people were inside celebrating the final day of Passover.  He opened fire, killing Lori Kayne, age 60, and injuring four others.  One of the injured was Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was leading the service, and bullets penetrated both hands, shattering the bones.  Among the others injured were Noya Dahan, age 8, and Almog Peretz, age 34.

What possessed John T. Earnest to do this horrific thing?  John Earnest posted an anti-Jewish screed online about an hour before the attack. He described himself as a nursing school student and praised the suspects accused of carrying out deadly attacks on mosques in New Zealand last month and at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue Oct. 27 last year.

I. Don’t. Get. It. What the Sam Heck makes a Jew or a Muslim any less worthy than a Christian? What makes a black man less valuable than one with lighter skin?  What makes a man more important than a woman?  What makes people hate based on nothing more than superficial differences?  We may be African, Israeli, French, or Iraqi … it does not matter!  We are all a part of the human race!!!  Isn’t it about damn time people wake up and realize that???

Update on the migrant children …

I haven’t written lately about the migrant children who, upon crossing into the U.S. at the U.S.-Mexico border, had been separated from their parents.  Other things have occupied space in my mind and on my blog.  But, last night I decided it was time to check in and see what, if anything, had been happening since my last post on the subject, the one where I reported that the government had said it would take up to two years to reunite these children with their parents.  Quite by accident, my timing was good.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, the same one who ordered the children be returned to their parents in June of last year, gave the administration exactly six months, not one day more, to straighten out the mess they have made.  I really like Judge Sabraw!

“It is important for all government actors to have a time frame, a deadline. You tend to stand on it.”

I will make a note to re-visit this one each month, for this is too important for us to let it fade into the background.  Trump claims there is a ‘crisis’ at the border.  Yes, there is a crisis … a humanitarian crisis in the form of potentially 2,800 children who cry for their mamá every night.

Finally, a bit of justice

The song, Too Much, Too Little, Too Late comes to mind.  Trayvon Martin’s murderer got off scot-free.  Philando Castile’s murderer got off scot-free.  Alton Sterling’s murderer got off scot-free.  Samuel DuBose’s murderer got off scot-free.  Freddie Gray’s murderers got off scot-free.  And more.  What did these have in common?  The victim was an unarmed black man, and the killer was a white police officer.

On Thursday, however, the tables turned for once.  Former Florida police officer Nouman K. Raja was sentenced to 25 years in prison for each of two counts:  manslaughter by culpable negligence and attempted first-degree murder with a firearm in the shooting death of Corey Jones.

On the night of Oct. 18, 2015, Mr. Jones was on the side of an Interstate 95 exit ramp in Palm Beach County at about 3:15 a.m. calling for a tow truck, as his vehicle had broken down. Mr. Raja, an officer with the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department who was on duty in plainclothes, approached Mr. Jones’s SUV in an unmarked van.  Mr. Raja did not identify himself as a police officer. Within moments of approaching Mr. Jones, Mr. Raja fired six shots and struck Mr. Jones three times, killing him.

Mr. Raja’s defense team tried to invoke the infamous “Stand Your Ground” law, but after listening to a recording of the incident by the tow-company’s dispatcher, that argument held no water.  This is the first time since 1989 that an officer has been sentenced for an on-duty killing in Florida.  It’s about time.

And just a few mini-snippets …

  • Attorney General William Barr is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, May 2nd, regarding the Mueller report in general, and also over those portions he, Barr, chose to redact.  But apparently Mr. Barr did not like the format that committee chairman Jerry Nadler plans, and is now threatening to ignore the hearing.  Mr. Barr seems to think that, just as he believes the president is above the law, he himself is also above the law.  I hope he is proven wrong, and quickly before his ego has a chance to grow any bigger.

  • It is just possible (highly unlikely, but possible) that in some states next year, Donald Trump’s name will not be on the ballot!  Fourteen states are attempting to pass legislation that requires every candidate to make public their tax returns in order to qualify to be placed on the ballot.  If the legislation passes in those states, and if Trump continues to hide his tax returns, he might find himself out in the cold in states like North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Arizona, all states he won in 2016.  Just thinking about this makes me smile.

  • As our friend Gronda noted in a recent post, Fox ‘News’ commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano wrote a piece earlier this week that was fair and honest, therefore not kind to Donald Trump.  Napolitano opines that Trump is, in fact, guilty of obstruction of justice which we know to be an impeachable offense.  He concluded by saying, “… ordering obstruction to save himself from the consequences of his own behavior is unlawful, defenseless and condemnable.”  As you might guess, Trump didn’t take kindly to his own personal media venue allowing such a voice to be heard, and he came back with … what else?  Tweets, of course!Trump-tweet-1

Well, that’s a wrap, folks.  Enjoy the last few remaining hours of your weekend, and I’ll be back with Jolly Monday in the morning!

Just Two Things …

On Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg …

rbgIf I had to pick a favourite among the current Supreme Court Justices, it would be Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  The woman is intelligent, has spunk, and her heart is in the right place, unlike some others.  She has gone through a lot, but she bounces back.  Since her most recent bout with cancer, she has returned to the Court, heard oral arguments, authored opinions, and even made a few public appearances outside the courtroom.  But yet …

There are some who claim Justice Ginsburg has been dead for weeks, and that democrats … of course, it’s always the democrats … are covering up her death in order to keep the jackal in the Oval Office from nominating another one of his sycophants for the seat.  Say WHAT???  How can a person who is in the public eye, who goes to work every day and is seen by her co-workers and others, be believed to be dead?  What rock have these people slithered out from under?

According to The Hill

The Supreme Court has been bombarded with Twitter users demanding evidence that Ginsburg is still alive, while some online videos allege her public appearances have been manufactured.

There are also claims that audio of her from recent Supreme Court oral arguments has been doctored and is nothing more than phrases pieced together from earlier recordings of her remarks.

There’s little chance the Ginsburg conspiracy theory is going away anytime soon, experts say, mainly because the biggest proponents are unlikely to accept any proof that she’s alive.

I have a solution.  Invite them all to visit the court at a specified date and time, then let Justice Ginsburg go ‘round the room and poke each one of them in the eye with a stick.  Perhaps that will convince them.

It seems, though, that Donald Trump is hoping for Justice Ginsburg’s demise, for he has already decided on a nominee for her replacement:  Judge Amy Coney Barrett.  Barrett, not surprisingly, is known as a “superstar” among the religious right.

Barrett is young (46) and has vociferously made known her willingness to overturn Roe v Wade, which, along with Obergefell v Hodges seem to be the only thing the religious right cares about when it comes to the Supreme Court.  Take away women’s rights and take away the rights of the LGBT community, and Trump’s biggest fan base will be happy.

Personally, I hope that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stays healthy for at least another two years.

Not tough enough???

Kirstjen-Nielsen.jpgThe big news of the day is that Trump apparently forced the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.  Now, I’ve never liked Nielsen, always considered her to be rather a cold, heartless bitch, but apparently she wasn’t heartless enough to suit Trump, and that should concern us all.  It will likely thrill his base of white supremacists, however, who would like nothing better than to line the southern border with armed guards who are told to shoot first and ask questions later.

Bruce Plante Cartoon: DHS Secretary Kirstjen NielsenRumours abound, as they will when facts are not made available.  One, the most probable one, is that Trump is eager to reinstate his horrendous child-separation policy, taking children from their parents when they cross the southern border.  Ms. Nielsen rejected the plan, in light of the fact that a federal judge struck down the policy last year.

Another theory was proposed by Josh Campbell, the former FBI agent turned CNN national security analyst.  Mr. Campbell believes it possible that Ms. Nielsen was the author of the anonymous OpEd in the New York Times last year that caused such a stir.    The basis for his conclusion is stylistic similarities between Nielsen’s letter of resignation and the OpEd.  Not much to go on, but if she was the author of the OpEd, now that she has resigned from her position she has nothing to lose by coming clean, so … maybe?

I’m still stunned, though, that she wasn’t ‘tough enough’ to please Trump, even after she authorized the use of tear gas to repel a large crowd attempting to break through a border fence on New Year’s Day.  I’m also stunned that Trump has plans to defy Judge Dana Sabraw’s order and reinstate his cruel, inhumane child separation policy.

Are there no longer any restrictions or limitations on the power of the presidency?  Has Donald Trump, in fact, become the dictator he always wanted to be?  He shuts the government down in an attempt to get his way.  That doesn’t work, so he declares a state of national emergency to get his way.  That hasn’t worked yet, so he demands the resignation of the Secretary of Homeland Security to replace her with a man who is even more cruel and heartless.  Where does it end.  When do We the People finally say we have had ENOUGH???  Or do we keep burying our heads in the sand, believing that somehow, in some way, it will all work itself out.  Believing that our Constitution, or next year’s election will stop him.  Think about it.

Remember The Children …

Imagine, if you will, your child being torn out of your arms at, say, age 5, and then not seeing him again until he is 7 or 8 years old.  You did nothing wrong, he did nothing wrong, but this is how we welcome you to the “great” United States of America.  We take your child, then we lock you up in one place, throw your kid in a cage and forget where we put him.  Finally, after a couple of years, we get it all sorted out and … here’s your kid back … hope you enjoyed your visit.immigrant child-2Last June, Judge Dana M. Sabraw ordered the reunification of children and parents who had been separated under the Trump administration policy.  Ten months ago.  Since then, some 2,800 children have been reunited with their parents, however a group of separated families including possibly as many as 2,000 children was unaccounted for because the government lacked an effective tracking system.  Even after Judge Sabraw’s order that the government cease separating children from their families, another 245 children were taken from their parents.  But the government let the ball drop when it came to record-keeping, so there is speculation that the number may, in fact, be much higher than 245.immigrant-children-2.jpgOn Friday, the Department of Justice filed court documents stating that it will take at least a year to review about 47,000 cases of unaccompanied children taken into government custody between July 1, 2017 and June 25, 2018.  Why?  Because record-keeping was shoddy, or perhaps non-existent.  Because nobody cared enough about these children to take time to even find out who they were.  Because the people currently responsible for running this nation care only about people whose skin is white.

The government said it would apply a statistical analysis to about 47,000 children who were referred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement and subsequently discharged.  After that, the government said it would manually review the case records of the children who appeared to have the highest probability of being part of the separated families.  Officials estimated that the process would take at least one year and potentially two. In explaining the reason for such an arduous process, the government said United States Customs and Border Protection did not collect specific data on migrant family separations before April 2018.immigrant-childrenWhat???  Did they not think it would ever be necessary to figure out who these kids were and where they belonged, such as with their parents?  Did they just hope the children would disappear, and that the parents would forget about them?

In the court filing, Jonathan White, a commander with the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, wrote that identifying this group of children presented new challenges because they were already discharged from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, meaning the government “lacks access” to them.  One has to wonder if the government even knows quite where these children are.

The government also stated that they would have to rely on computerized statistical analyses, for manually reviewing each of nearly 50,000 cases would “overwhelm” the resources of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.  It didn’t overwhelm their resources to take the kids, did it?  These are human lives we’re talking about here, not Wheat Thins!!!  Somebody is seriously lacking functional brain cells in our government, not to mention a heart!immigrant-children-3Last year, for a few weeks, the story of the children separated from their parents and kept in questionable conditions was in the news every day.  It was front and center in our minds and we … well, most of us anyway … were appalled and horrified.  Then, Judge Sabraw issued his ruling, the government partly complied, and the story receded into the background to be replaced by other abominations of the Trump regime.  But the story is not over … not by a long shot.  Meanwhile, these children are undoubtedly suffering both physical and emotional damage that may last a lifetime.  Is this, then, what Trump meant when he said he was going to “make America great”?  Sorry, Donnie, but in my book this makes America pretty darn lousy.

When Judge Sabraw issued his order that the children be returned, he said, “The hallmark of a civilized society is measured by how it treats its people and those within its borders.”  It would appear that we are not, contrary to popular belief, a “civilized society”.

The Wild West???

The United States today is beginning to look like the ‘Wild West’ if one looks closely.  A madman in the Oval Office is only the beginning.  Out on the streets, in our neighborhoods, things are happening that were unheard of just a few short years ago.

rashad jamesTake, for example, the case of African American attorney Rashad James in Maryland.  As Mr. James entered the courthouse in Harford Country, Maryland earlier this month, he was detained by a deputy who did not believe he was a lawyer and demanded proof.  Just one more in a string of cases where African-Americans have been detained or questioned by police as they went about their everyday lives, golfing, gardening, swimming, shopping, sitting in a Starbucks, leaving an Airbnb, grilling out and napping at a college.

Or, the little boy’s birthday party that was crashed by Chicago’s ‘finest’.  Didn’t hear about that one?  No wonder, for if the name ‘Trump’ isn’t in a story these days, you’re not likely to see it on the front pages.  Well, TJ Jackson was 4 years old on that cold day last month, and his parents were having a birthday party for him in their basement apartment on the South side of Chicago.  Four children were having fun, playing games, and the birthday cake awaited on the table.  Suddenly the door burst open and in strode 17 Chicago police officers, weapons drawn and pointed at the children!

According to the lawsuit that was filed this week by TJ’s family, the officers questioned the children, used vulgar language, damaged furniture as they searched the apartment, and made the adults sit lined up against a wall for 45 minutes while they searched the small apartment.  Why?  They were looking for a man who had lived in the apartment five years before.  A simple bit of research would have shown them that he no longer lived there.  They might have knocked and acted in a respectful manner.  If the family had been white, perhaps they would have done so.

And what about the hundreds of children still separated from their parents at the southern border?  Were you aware that even now, nine months after federal judge Dana Sabraw ordered the Trump administration to stop separating immigrant children from their parents, it is still happening?  And were you also aware that just this week the Department of Homeland Security requested Congress to pass legislation allowing the department to send all unaccompanied children who try to cross the border back to their home countries?  Fortunately, Nancy Pelosi rejected the idea in short order, but it is still a sign of these turbulent times.

Oh, and let us not forget about the hundreds of people being held under a bridge in El Paso, Texas, surrounded by fencing and sleeping on dirt. el-paso.png


If you still have any doubts that ‘civilization’ in the U.S. is on a backward roll, consider that there is a push for people … any people … to be able to carry concealed weapons without any testing, permits, or even background checks.  Fully one-third of the states have already passed such laws, or un-laws as I call them, and there is a push for this un-law at the federal level. Quite literally, in some states, a man convicted of murder could break out of prison, walk into a gun show, and purchase an AR-15, no questions asked.

Oh, and did you know that the United States has been ranked as the 10th most dangerous nation for women on the globe?  From 1994 until 2017, we had a law called the Violence Against Women Act, that was allowed to lapse under the Trump administration and republican-controlled Congress.  The current Congress is trying to re-authorize the Act, but … the National Rifle Association (NRA) is lobbying against it. Why?  Because it calls for gun bans for those who have been convicted of domestic abuse or violence against a ‘romantic partner’.  This is a nation where we apparently want to ensure that the men can keep their ‘womenfolk’ in line, one way or another – if fists aren’t enough, then grab the gun!

Oh yeah … and speaking of guns, I almost forgot that there is also an idea gaining momentum that teachers in schools should carry them … guns, that is.

Then, of course, there is the “leader”, who breaks every norm of a civilized society and who encourages violence among the people of the nation, divides rather than unifies, promotes hate rather than peace, and panders to those who engage in every form of bigotry imaginable.  Is it any wonder, then, that some days it feels like we are moving backward in time?  We have regressed in so many areas, including civil rights of every sort.  The United States, once referred to as the “Leader of the Western World”, is now well on its way to becoming a third-world country, all just in two short years.  Welcome to the Wild West – Part II.

Last Week Today

I was reminded that I didn’t do a post with ‘toons last week, so consider this to be last week’s post this week.  Rather like the title of John Oliver’s show, Last Week Tonight.  Much was in the news this week, but the cartoonists grabbed one topic as their central focus … the college admissions scandal.

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Then there was Trump’s ludicrous budget proposal …

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The tragedy of immigrant children, separated from their parents and kept in ‘detention centers’ …

immigrantimmigrant-2Bruce Plante Cartoon: DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen

And a few just about Trump and his circus act …

Reduced sentence

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Have a great week!