IN TIMES OF DISASTER, AS USUAL, AMERICA WILL RELY ON HER UNDOCUMENTED POPULATION TO REBUILD! — “Gonzo Enforcement” Is Just Plain Dumb (In Addition To Wasteful And Inhumane)!

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_popover_share.aspx?guid=46301428-7f08-4ddd-9a61-ba495f303a3f

Saket Soni reports for the LA Times:

“In Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, mammoth hurricanes have left behind a colossal amount of work. The cleanup and reconstruction efforts are going to take years. That means a severe demand for salvage and demolition crews, roofers, carpenters, IMMIGRANT workers at a makeshift camp in Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. (Marcio Jose Sanchez Associated Press) drywall installers, painters, plumbers and workers in all manner of other trades and skills. And if recent history tells us anything, much of this demand will be met by immigrants — migrant laborers, many of them highly skilled, and many of them lacking legal status.

. . . .

This wasn’t a problem only for immigrants. As long as labor was exploitable and cheap, American-born workers and local businesses suffered too, as conditions and wages slid toward rock bottom.

If we had a federal government sensitive to these issues, the solution would be a moratorium on immigration enforcement in disaster zones. This would ensure that the rebuilders could keep working, and that those depending on them could return home as soon as possible. Given the Trump administration’s relentless attacks on immigrants, there’s little hope for this sensible fix. In the absence of such a moratorium, governors and mayors should insist that federal labor laws be enforced in these areas while reconstruction is underway. Labor laws guarantee workers payment, safe working conditions and the ability to report mistreatment, among other things.

When workers are vulnerable and afraid, aware that their immigration status can be used against them, they are easy targets for abuse. They know that one complaint could mean a quick call to immigration. Their fear of being deported and losing everything shackles them to bad employers.

. . . .

Diaz and the other workers organized, protesting the discrimination and illegal treatment. In retaliation, the employer evicted them without compensation. When they demanded their pay, the employer called local police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which arrested the workers immediately. After spending 78 days in jail, Diaz convinced the district attorney that the workers had been the victim of employer retaliation. The D.A. withdrew the charges, but ICE still detained the workers and sought to deport them.

These abuses, and the exploitation that took place after Katrina, occurred during the George W. Bush administration, which supported comprehensive immigration reform. The climate of fear is far worse today, with agents and officers from ICE and the Border Patrol running roughshod over immigrant communities, goaded by President Trump’s toxic rhetoric.

Nevertheless, immigrants will still risk their lives to come here. Their need is that dire — and our demand is that urgent. The credit rating company Moody’s estimates that the damage from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma could total $150 billion to $200 billion — considerably more than the $108 billion or so in damage left by Katrina. Irma destroyed an estimated 25% of homes in the Florida Keys. In Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston, more than 136,000 homes and other structures were flooded by Harvey. In the aftermath of these disasters, there has been talk of rebuilding homes and cities with greater attention to long-term sustainability and resilience.

Some have even called for a “green New Deal” that marries these goals with stronger social safety nets for storm victims. This worthy vision can and should take into account the people who are doing the rebuilding, making sure they are safe, secure and paid a fair wage. And that means starting with meaningful protections for the immigrant workers who help storm victims return home.

Saket Soni is executive director of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice and the National Guestworker Alliance

*****************************************

Read the entire report at the above link.

Just another example of how White Nationalist inspired “Gonzo Enforcement” is not only wasteful, impractical, and inhumane, but also just plain dumb! The Trump Administration degrades America and our values with each day it is in office. When your “worldview” is driven by prejudice, bias, and political pandering, you’re bound to make lots of bad decisions!

PWs

10/12/17

NYT: DAVID LEONHARDT CALLS OUT “BOBBY THE CORK!” — “Put Up Or Shut Up!” — And, While You’re At It, Bobby, How About Accepting Some Responsibility For The Trump Debacle?

https://www.nytimes.com/newsletters/2017/10/10/opinion-today?nlid=79213886

Leonhardt writes:

“All talk. A United States senator went on CNBC to explain that while Donald Trump may be an unorthodox politician, “there’s a lot of evolution that is taking place, and I think you’re already seeing that.”
To everyone who argued that Trump was unfit for the presidency, the senator had a ready answer: “My advice would be to chill for a while,” he said. “My sense is that a lot of people who have been resisting will become more comfortable.”
The senator was Bob Corker of Tennessee, and he was speaking on the show “Squawk Box” in May 2016. Today, of course, Corker has become Trump’s newest enemy, saying that the president is “on the path to World War III” and that the White House has become “an adult day care center.”
So what is Senator Corker’s responsibility now, given the crucial role that he and other eminent Republicans played in making Trump seem normal enough to win the presidency? James Fallows answers that question in The Atlantic. “Talk is better than nothing,” Fallows writes, “but action is what counts.”
As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker has the ability to hold hearings about the threat Trump poses to the country and the world, Fallows notes. Michelle Goldberg of The Times writes that Congress can also bar “the president from launching a nuclear first strike without a congressional declaration of war.”
I’ll add to that list: Corker and other senators can bring Trump’s legislative agenda to a complete halt until he begins acting more responsibly. No talk of a tax cut until he stops talking of nuclear war. Even the most ardent tax cutter should be willing to make that trade.
The reality that Corker has described — with an out-of-control president — is chilling. Trump, as Fallows puts it, is “irrational, ill-informed, impulsive, unfit for command, and increasingly a danger to the country and the world.”
It’s not enough to merely withhold support from Trump or to criticize him. Members of Congress have an unmatched ability to prevent damage by this president. Those members, like Corker, who ushered Trump into power by describing a man who doesn’t exist, bear a particular burden.”

**************************************

Neither acting on their criticisms of Trump nor accepting responsibility are in the GOP’s tool box. Nor has the GOP shown the slightest interest or ability to govern in a bipartisan manner for the national interest.

The modern GOP is a toxic and motley collection of rich guys, xenophobes, war-mongers, theologues, racists, White Nationalists, science deniers, anti-intellectuals, and anarchists each apparently vying to be more selfish and irresponsible than the next. Where was “Bobby the Cork” when Trump and the GOP were planning to destroy Americans’ health care and tank insurance markets to reward fat cats with undeserved and unneeded tax breaks? He was right there on the Trump-GOP-Turtle “Destroy America Because We Promised To Do It Bandwagon.” Talk is cheap — responsible action is something else.  I’ll believe it when I see it coming from “Bobby the Cork” and his GOP fellow travelers!

PWS

10-10-17

 

 

 

 

BRINGING OUR CONSTITUTION BACK TO LIFE — AN IMPORTANT FIRST STEP: “JAYAPAL, SMITH INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO REFORM IMMIGRATION DETENTION SYSTEM!”

https://www.theindianpanorama.news/unitedstates/jayapal-smith-introduce-legislation-reform-immigration-detention-system/

From Indian Panorama:

“WASHINGTON (TIP): Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) and Indian American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) introduced, on Oct 3, the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, legislation to reform the systemic problems in immigration detention system. This bill will end the use of private facilities and repeal mandatory detention, while restoring due process, oversight, accountability, and transparency to the immigration detention system.

“The high moral cost of our inhumane immigration detention system is reprehensible. Large, private corporations operating detention centers are profiting off the suffering of men, women and children. We need an overhaul,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “It’s clear that the Trump administration is dismantling the few protections in place for detained immigrants even as he ramps up enforcement against parents and vulnerable populations. This bill addresses the most egregious problems with our immigration detention system. It’s Congress’ responsibility to step up and pass this bill.”

“We must fix the injustices in our broken immigration detention system,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “As the Trump administration continues to push a misguided and dangerous immigration agenda, we need to ensure fair treatment and due process for immigrants and refugees faced with detention. This legislation will address some of the worst failings of our immigration policy, and restore integrity and humanity to immigration proceedings.”

In addition to repealing mandatory detention, a policy that often results in arbitrary and indefinite detention, the legislation creates a meaningful inspection process at detention facilities to ensure they meet the government’s own standards. The bill requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish legally enforceable civil detention standards in line with those adopted by the American Bar Association. With disturbing track records of abuse and neglect, DHS has a responsibility to ensure that facilities are held accountable for the humane treatment of those awaiting immigration proceedings.

Individuals held in immigration detention system are subject to civil law, but are often held in conditions identical to prisons. In many cases, detained people are simply awaiting their day in court. To correct the persistent failures of due process, the legislation requires the government to show probable cause to detain people, and implements a special rule for primary caregivers and vulnerable populations, including pregnant women and people with serious medical and mental health issues.”

**************************************

Since these guys are Democrats, their bill is obviously DOA. But, it is important to start “laying down markers” — even symbolic ones — for the future.

As a  former administrative judge who was required to administer and enforce mandatory detention (under DOJ rules, we were not permitted to consider the constitutionality of the mandatory detention statutes and the DHS implementing regulations) for the better part of two decades, I can assure you that it was a totally unnecessary, grossly wasteful, and stunningly unhumane blot on our national conscience and our reputation as a nation that adheres to principles of simple human decency.

There is absolutely no reason why U.S. Imigration Judges cannot determine who needs to be detained as a flight risk or a danger to the community and who doesn’t! But, for that to happen, we also need an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court not beholden to the Attorney General (particularly one like Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions with a perverse ignorance of Constitutional protections, an overwhelming bias against immigrants, and a record largely devoid of notable acts of human decency.)

Every study conducted during the last Administration, including DHS’s own Advisory Committee, found serious problems and inadequate conditions in private detention and recommended that it be eliminated. Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch actually announced an end to private detention for criminals. Yet, remarkably and unconscionably, the response of the Trump Administration, led by Gonzo Apocalypto, was to double down and expand the use of expensive, inhumane private detention for convicted criminals and for “civil” immigration detainees whose sole “crime” is to seek justice from the courts in America.

Thanks much to Nolan Rappaport for sending this in!

PWS

10-06-17

 

GONZO’S WORLD: HOMOPHOBIC AG ATTACKS LGBTQ COMMUNITY WITH BOGUS LEGAL MEMO STRIPPING TRANSGENDER INDIVIDUALS OF CIVIL RIGHTS PROTECTIONS!

https://www.buzzfeed.com/dominicholden/jeff-sessions-just-reversed-a-policy-that-protects

Dominic Holden reports for BuzzFeed News:

“US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed a federal government policy that said transgender workers were protected from discrimination under a 1964 civil rights law, according to a memo on Wednesday sent to agency heads and US attorneys.

Sessions’ directive, obtained by BuzzFeed News, says, “Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status.”

It adds that the government will take this position in pending and future matters, which could have far-reaching implications across the federal government and may result in the Justice Department fighting against transgender workers in court.

“Although federal law, including Title VII, provides various protections to transgender individuals, Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se,” Sessions writes. “This is a conclusion of law, not policy. As a law enforcement agency, the Department of Justice must interpret Title VII as written by Congress.”

But Sharon McGowan, a former lawyer in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and now an attorney for the LGBT group Lambda Legal, countered that Sessions’ is ignoring a widespread trend in federal courts.

“It’s ironic for them to say this is law, and not policy,” McGowan told BuzzFeed News. “The memo is devoid of discussion of the way case law has been developing in this area for the last few years. It demonstrates that this memo is not actually a reflection of the law as it is — it’s a reflection of what the DOJ wishes the law were.”

“The sessions DOJ is trying to roll back the clock and pretend that the progress of the last decade hasnt’ happened,” she added. “The Justice Department is actually getting back in the business of making anti-transgender law in court.”

“The Justice Department is actually getting back in the business of making anti-transgender law in court.”
The memo reflects the Justice Department’s aggression toward LGBT rights under President Trump and Sessions, who reversed an Obama-era policy that protects transgender students after a few weeks in office. Last month, Sessions filed a brief at the Supreme Court in favor of a Christian baker who refused a wedding cake to a gay couple. And last week, the department argued in court that Title VII doesn’t protect a gay worker from discrimination, showing that Sessions will take his view on Title VII into private employment disputes.

At issue in the latest policy is how broadly the government interprets Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which does not address LGBT rights directly. Rather, it prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an independent agency that enforces civil rights law in the workplace, and a growing body of federal court decisions have found sex discrimination does include discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sex stereotyping — and that Title VII therefore bans anti-transgender discrimination as well.

Embracing that trend, former attorney general Eric Holder under President Obama announced the Justice Department would take that position as well, issuing a memo in 2014 that said, “I have determined that the best reading of Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination is that it encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status. The most straightforward reading of Title VII is that discrimination ‘because of … sex’ includes discrimination because an employee’s gender identification is as a member of a particular sex, or because the employee is transitioning, or has transitioned, to another sex.”

But Sessions said in his latest policy that he “withdraws the December 15, 2014, memorandum,” and adds his narrower view that the law only covers discrimination between “men and women.”

“The Department of Justice will take that position in all pending and future matters (except where controlling lower-court precedent dictates otherwise, in which event the issue should be preserved for potential future review),” Sessions writes.

Sessions adds: “The Justice Department must and will continue to affirm the dignity of all people, including transgender individuals. Nothing in this memorandum should be construed to condone mistreatment on the basis of gender identity, or to express a policy view on whether Congress should amend Title VII to provide different or additional protections.”

Devin O’Malley, a spokesperson for the Justice Department, explained the decision to issue the memo, telling BuzzFeed News, “The Department of Justice cannot expand the law beyond what Congress has provided. Unfortunately, the last administration abandoned that fundamental principle, which necessitated today’s action. This Department remains committed to protecting the civil and constitutional rights of all individuals, and will continue to enforce the numerous laws that Congress has enacted that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”

McGowan, from Lambda Legal, counters, “The memo is so weak that analysis is so thin, that it will courts will recognize it for what it is — a raw political document and not sound legal analysis that should be given any weight by them.”

*************************

Virulent homophobia has always been a key element of the “Gonzo Apocalypto Agenda.” Check out this report from Mark Joseph Stern at Slate about how when serving as Alabama’s Attorney General Gonzo attempted to use an Alabama statute that had been ruled unconstitutional by a Federal Judge to both publicly demean LGBTQ students and stomp on their First Amendment rights. (So much for the disingenuous BS speech that Gonzo delivered on Free Speech at Georgetown Law last week.)  Here’s what happened:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered a speech at Georgetown University Law Center in which he argued that “freedom of thought and speech on the American campus are under attack.” As my colleague Dahlia Lithwick explained, the attorney general said this in “a room full of prescreened students who asked him prescreened questions while political demonstrators outside were penned off in ‘free speech zones.’ ” Ensconced in a safe space of his own, Sessions blasted the notion that speech can be “hurtful,” criticizing administrators and students for their “crackdown” on “speech they may have disagreed with.”

Mark Joseph Stern
MARK JOSEPH STERN
Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers the law and LGBTQ issues.

Sessions’ hypocrisy on speech issues is not a new development. In 1996, the then–attorney general of Alabama used the full power of his office to try to shut down an LGBTQ conference at the University of Alabama. Sessions took his battle to court, asking a federal judge to let him block the conference altogether—or, at the very least, silence students who wished to discuss LGBTQ issues. He ultimately failed, but his campaign reveals a great deal about his highly selective view of free expression. Sessions claims to support freedom for “offensive” speech, but when speech offends him, he is all too happy to play the censor.

When Sessions served as Alabama attorney general, the state still criminalized sodomy. A 1992 law, Alabama Education Code Section 16-1-28, also barred public universities from funding, recognizing, or supporting any group “that fosters or promotes a lifestyle or actions prohibited by” the sodomy statute, either “directly or indirectly.” The law also forbade schools from allowing such organizations to use public facilities. Sessions’ predecessor, Jimmy Evans, had interpreted the statute to effectively outlaw the discussion or promotion of gay rights on public campuses, with that prohibition even extending to AIDS awareness campaigns.

In 1995, the University of South Alabama’s Gay Lesbian Bisexual Alliance sued in federal court to block Section 16-1-28. That summer, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that, under the First Amendment, public universities may not deny access to facilities or funding for student organizations on the basis of their viewpoints. This decision, the GLBA asserted, rendered Section 16-1-28 unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson agreed, holding the law to be invalid in a January 1996 ruling.

This decision was excellent news for the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Alliance at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. The GLBA had planned to host the Fifth Annual Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual College Conference of the Southeastern United States in February 1996. Sessions, by now attorney general, was trying his hardest to shut it down.

“University officials say they’re going to try to obey the law,” Sessions said at the time, as CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reported in December of last year. “I don’t see how it can be done without canceling this conference. I remain hopeful that if the administration does not act, the board of trustees will.” Sessions didn’t give up even after Judge Thompson struck down the law. “I intend to do everything I can to stop that conference,” he said.

In a last-ditch effort, Sessions returned to Thompson’s court and asked permission to ban the conference. “The State of Alabama,” he explained in court filings, “will experience irreparable harm by funding a conference and activities in violation of state law.” Failing a total ban, Sessions implored Thompson to let him censor any discussion of “safe sex and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.” Sessions claimed that, by talking about LGBTQ issues, conference attendees were essentially conspiring to promote criminal activity, and Alabama should not be obligated to support their criminality. Predictably, Thompson rejected Sessions’ arguments, writing that the attorney general was endeavoring to violate students’ free speech rights. Sessions then appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which unanimously ruled against Alabama. The conference went on as planned.

Cathy Lopez Wessell, a lead organizer and spokeswoman for the conference, told me Sessions’ intervention “was incredibly stressful. We got threatening phone calls. We were attacked from all sides.” She continued, “We were the abomination of the month. I didn’t feel safe in the world for a while. I started to internalize some of the judgment leveled at our group. I thought, there must be something deeply wrong with you if you need to be silenced.”

Lopez Wessell explained that Sessions’ campaign against the conference registered as a broader attack on LGBTQ students.

“If we can’t talk, do we have a right to exist?” Lopez Wessell asked. “If our speech is so dangerous that it needs to be stopped, then are we dangerous? We weren’t promoting any particular activity; we just wanted to talk—about our experiences, about our existence.”

********************************************

Denying the humanity as well as the human rights of those he is biased against is a staple of the Gonzo Apocalypto agenda. Just look at his constant attempts to tie all members of the Hispanic ethnic community to crime, drugs, and gangs (even though all credible studies show that immigrants or all types have markedly lower crime rates than native-born U.S. citizens) and his false and gratuitous attempts to tie “Dreamers” to crime, terrorism, and loss of jobs!

There is no more certain way of knowing that a DOJ “legal” memo is all policy and no law than the statement: “This is a conclusion of law, not policy.“ In other words, “Don’t you dare accuse me of doing what I’m actually doing!”

Since assuming the office of Attorney General for which he is so spectacularly unqualified, here’s a list of the folks whose rights or humanity Sessions has attacked or disparaged:

Hispanics

African Americans

LGBTQ Individuals

Dreamers

Immigrants

Refugees

Asylum Seekers

Poor People

Undocumented Migrants

Women

Muslims

Civil Rights Protesters

Black Athletes

City Officials Seeking To Foster Community Law Enforcement

Prisoners

Immigration Detainees

Forensic Scientists

State Governors Who Disagree With Him

Federal Judges Who Find Trump Policies Illegal

State & Federal Judges Who Object To Migrants Being Arrested At Their Courts

Convicts

Liberal Students & College Administrators

Anti-Facists

Anti-Hate-Group Activists

Reporters

Unaccompanied Migrant Children

President Obama

Whistleblowers (a/k/a “Leakers” in “Gonzopeak”)

DOJ Career Attorneys

I’m sure I’ve left a few out.  Feel free to send me additions. The list just keeps getting longer all the time.

The only group that appears to be “A-OK” with Gonzo is “White straight Christian male Republican ultra rightists.”

Liz was right!

PWS

10-05-17

 

 

 

 

 

BHUTANESE REFUGEES REJUVENATING AKRON, OHIO — Refugees Are People, Adjusting To A New Life, And Making America A Better Country — “We understand that it’s not just the right thing to do as human beings,” she said, “but it has amazing social and economic consequences.” — AMERICA NEEDS MORE REFUGEES, LESS TRUMP, LESS SESSIONS, LESS MILLER, LESS BANNON, LESS “AYATOLLAH ROY!”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/akron-ohio-bhutanese-refugees_us_59ca88cfe4b0cdc773353640

M.L. Schultze reports for HuffPost:

Thanks “AKRON, Ohio ― Akron owes its only population growth since the turn of the century to a kingdom on the other side of the Earth. As many as 5,000 Nepalis, who held onto their culture during centuries in Bhutan and decades in refugee camps in Nepal, have made their way here during the last decade.

They went to work in the Gojo plant, enrolled their kids in public schools and learned how to navigate roads, snow and U.S. society. But real success in resettling refugees “means moving people from surviving to thriving,” says Eileen Wilson, who runs refugee outreach for a Cleveland agency called Building Hope in the City.

 

MADDIE MCGARVEY FOR HUFFPOST
Family Groceries in Akron, Ohio.
Thriving means different things to different people. In Akron, it’s come to mean a dozen Nepalese shops and restaurants in what were once abandoned storefronts on North Hill. It means neighborhoods where long-slumping home sales are recovering. It means a cricket pitch in the park, a Nepalese bed-and-breakfast, and the migration of refugees from Houston, Atlanta, Chicago and New York ― the kinds of places Akron is used to losing people to.

It also means that a once alarmingly high suicide rate among refugees has dwindled.

Akron has declared itself a “Welcoming Community,” and Deputy Mayor Annie McFadden says the city and its newest residents are establishing a synergy.

Listen to America, a HuffPost Road Trip
HuffPost is hitting the road this fall to interview people about their hopes, dreams, fears ― and what it means to be American today.
Thirty-nine-year-old Amber Subba has lived the Akron migration story from the beginning. On his Facebook page, he introduces himself as Bhutanese-Nepali-American.

Subba and his family came to Akron in 2008. They’d spent more than 17 years in a refugee camp in Nepal. They’d been forced there when he was 11 by the Bhutanese government’s campaign for a national identity ― one that had no room for people of Nepalese descent who held onto their language and culture.

As refugee camps go, Subba says, the seven clustered in southwest Nepal weren’t bad: Refugees organized systems of commerce, education and self-governance. But more than 100,000 people were also living with annual monsoons and periodic fires, little privacy and constant uncertainty, including how much longer Nepal would let them stay.

In late 2006, President George W. Bush surprised the refugee resettlement world by announcing the U.S. would accept up to 60,000 Bhutanese refugees. Most of America barely noticed, but local, federally chartered agencies like the International Institute of Akron started to make plans.

Subba acknowledges his adopted city wasn’t exactly prepared.

Jobs were scarce. Language was the great isolator. The laws and customs were unknown.

Practically “nobody had a car,” Subba said. “Nobody had driver’s licenses and we didn’t have proper training about how to use the bus. And we didn’t know about snow and things like that.”

Still, he said, “we survived.”

In fact, Subba did quite a bit more than survive. He rose from interpreter to case manager at the institute, became a U.S. citizen and was president of the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron. He composes folk music ― love songs played on streaming radio and easily recognized in the world of the Nepalese diaspora.

His was the first marriage outside the tight circle of Akron’s Bhutanese community. His wife, Tiffany Ann Stacy, enjoys their definition of family that extends well beyond their two children.

As with most families in their culture, Subba’s parents live with them. “It’s really nice, because my kids don’t go to day care,” she said. “They spend the day in the garden digging in the dirt, growing vegetables and learning two languages.”

“The best thing is I’m never lonely,” she joked. “The worst thing is, I’m never alone.”

*********************************

Read the rest of the story at the link.

Compare the human decency and humanity described in this article with the selfishness, grotesque cowardice, prejudice, and indecency of the Trump Administration. Refugees make us better; Trump makes us worse!

PWS

10-02-17

 

 

 

 

 

THE GRIFTERS: Yes, It’s Satisfying To See A True Scumbag Like Price “Outed!” But, Before You Get Too Excited, Remember That His Replacement “will serve at the altar of Trump, after all. The only requirement? Destroy what you can. Let everyone else suffer.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/30/tom-price-resignation-victory?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Ross Barkin writes in the Guardian:

“The sad truth is that Trump will probably replace him with a health and human services secretary who is just as bad at the job
For the Trump skeptics, the full-blown resisters, and everyone who prefers to see government remotely good, the downfall of Tom Price was a moment of true catharsis.

Donald Trump’s loathsome health and human services secretary was driven from office on Friday after a series of stunning Politico reports detailed how he racked up at least $400,000 in travel bills for charter flights. The extravagance was too much even for Trump, who in his past life as a failed developer wasted plenty of taxpayer money, and Price was told he had to go.

Before sobering reality sets in – nothing has really changed about Trumplandia – let’s remember all the ways Price represented the worst of the worst about Trump’s storming of Washington.

Tom Price resigns as health secretary over private flights and Trump criticism
A former rightwing congressman from Georgia and an orthopedic surgeon, Price spent most of his House tenure trying to destroy Obamacare and replace it with something far more draconian.
AdvertisementHide
As health and human services secretary, his dream fully realized, Price set about trying to undermine American healthcare as much as humanly possible without achieving a repeal of Obamacare. Price stopped trying to encourage people to sign up for insurance, ensuring costs would rise for everyone else. He obliterated Obamacare’s advertising budget.

Price backed a Trump budget that slashes funding for health and human services, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His vision of healthcare was rather simple: get any trace of the government out of there, any protections that might be offered for the poorest and sickest. Let the free market take care of the rest.

Now Trump will cast about for a worthy successor. Price, a multimillionaire, will feel shame for a few days and then go back to cashing out in the private sector, maybe as a healthcare lobbyist trying to wrangle goodies from his old colleagues. The waterline of the swamp will rise.

Health secretary Tom Price apologizes for taking private flights for work
The real question, once the celebration dies down from liberals and various journalists heartened by the power of the press to get their scalp, is how anything will change in Trump’s Washington.

Will a new HHS secretary bring some common sense to the role and realize stabilizing the healthcare markets is their chief job? Will he or she attempt to be anything resembling an administrator? Probably not.

Despite the conventional wisdom that Trump is a gun-slinging independent beholden to no party, he is fully indoctrinated in far-right, slash-and-burn thinking. He is a president for nihilist billionaires and Milton Friedman apostles. He will lurch to the left, but his grounding will stay true. We know that from his tax plan, which promises to give relief to the rich and no one else.

In another time now lost to history, both parties paid allegiance to the idea of governing. Democrats, in the post Franklin D Roosevelt-era, were the party of large, activist government, but Republicans understood that dismantling what they inherited made no sense.

Richard Nixon preserved the gains of Lyndon Johnson’s civil rights and Great Society legislation. Medicare and Medicaid remained.
Under a moderate Republican president – almost no moderates actually ran for president in 2016, and it’s increasingly unclear such a creature even exists – Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act would be understood for what it is: not socialism, but a mixture of government intervention and market-driven policies dreamed up by the rightwing Heritage Foundation and later pioneered by a Republican governor, Mitt Romney.

It is nothing approximating single-payer healthcare. It’s a start – but it’s also plenty flawed.

Many marketplaces are succeeding, but others are failing, in part because the Trump White House is encouraging their failure. The next best thing to repealing Obamacare, for the Republican party, is to let it rot without serious reform.

Federal subsidies must be increased and a public option should be introduced to compete with private insurers. The long-term goal, championed by Bernie Sanders, should be Medicare-for-all, universal healthcare, though we’re not there yet.
Price’s successor probably won’t think about any of these things. He or she will serve at the altar of the Trump, after all. The only requirement? Destroy what you can. Let everyone else suffer.”

*********************************

Why wouldn’t Price, who ripped off taxpayers to the tune of approximately $1 million, face some consequences beyond being permitted to resign?

Also, Donald Trump is not “destroying the soul of the GOP” (an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one). The modern GOP stands for the same corrupt agenda as Trump. That’s why they never really stand up to him. And, Tom Price, a Swamp Creature if  there ever was one, was a perfect representative of everything that is wrong with today’s GOP.

And with a truly miserable specimen of a human being like “Ayatollah Roy” and a slate of Bannon-inspired scummy White Nationalist candidates in the wings, the GOP has by no means “bottomed out.” The worst is yet to come.

PWS

10-01-17

 

 

MAKING AMERICA GREAT: MEET THE FACE OF REAL AMERICAN SOCIAL JUSTICE AND PROGRESS — Madison Cap Times Profiles Justice Castañeda, Executive Director Of Madison’s Common Wealth

http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/q-a-justice-casta-eda-brings-a-unique-life-story/article_c4be73c7-2b00-5afb-9655-fc30cb096a44.html

Jason Joyce reports for The Cap Times:

“As the executive director of Madison’s Common Wealth, Justice Castañeda, 37, oversees an organization that is involved in affordable housing development and management, youth and adult job training, business incubation and community engagement.

It’s a unique operation and Castañeda brings to the job a unique life story and approach to his work. In a discussion with the Cap Times, Castañeda discussed his background, the organization’s efforts in the Meadowood Neighborhood, where it will soon open a second office, and how the city can better support its community development organizations.

Were you born in Madison?

I was born at 23 N. Ingersoll St., at home.

And you grew up in Madison? Went to Madison schools?

I went to a lot of them. I moved a lot, like 19 times before I was 18 years old.

My academic career started at Red Caboose daycare center, graduated fifth grade at Mendota Elementary, graduated eighth grade from O’Keeffe Middle School and by the grace of God I graduated from East High School. As an educator, I realize I was probably somebody’s project. A teacher got together with a guidance counselor and said look, here’s this guy. Let’s try to figure out a way to get him across the stage.

It turns out Madison is a really hard place to grow up as a person of color, boy of color in particular, but my father had a very strong network of people who wrapped their wings around me. As much as I had to deal with, I had this very strong orbit.

And after high school, you went into the military?

I worked construction for a couple years. I was charged with a felony because when I was 18, I got into a fight at East High School and because two of the kids were 17, I was charged with physical abuse to a minor. It got dismissed. I think about it every day. If kids get into fights should they get felony charges? By the skin of my teeth I beat that charge, but I think about how my life would have been dramatically different with a felony because I wouldn’t have been able to get into the Marine Corps.

What did you get out of your service?

In the Marine Corps, all those basic needs are taken care of and you have time to reflect. I thought a lot about Madison and why I was so angry. It gave me space to approach education from a healthy space where I wasn’t worrying about things. I was able to take random classes. I had a lot of things to learn. I started liking school.

A couple lessons learned: Don’t go back to Madison. That’s 101. I still think that, for folks of color, if you can get out of here, stay out. Especially if you’re educated. You don’t realize it until you leave, but in Southern California where everyone looks like me, it was critical. So I stayed in San Diego. I started at UC-San Diego when I was still in the military. Going back to school when you’re 25, education like youth is wasted on the young. It’s a whole different experience. I got straight As, I got my degree and started working as a teacher’s apprentice in San Diego. I was teaching kids who reject the hypocrisy of mainstream educational processes and institutions. Call them what you will.

They told me you should think about grad school. I ended up going to Stanford for policy organization and leadership studies in the school of education. When I finished that Master’s degree, I didn’t feel like I was done. I then went on to MIT, on the GI Bill, and did another Master’s in city planning, looking at housing, community and economic development.

And you got pulled back to Madison.

I was looking for a case study and I just happened to know about Madison and how there’s been an inordinate amount of money put into things and, from every indicator, it’s only gotten worse, particularly for people of color here. How is that possible? I wrote a proposal to the mayor to come here and study this and I would do some work for him, but I was funded through MIT. This was 2012.

We looked at land use, including economic development, and family and children’s health. It was three years we worked on this. We came here, we stayed here, we rode the buses. I had a group and it was helpful they were not from Madison. I think there’s a lot that we take for gospel where someone from the outside would say, explain that to me. Explain why you think the center of the city is a place that’s not accessible to the majority. What’s the history of that? Who was able to own land there? How did they get access to it? We looked at not just organizations, but their boards. You find that it’s a very small group of people who have been making decisions for a long time.

People say Madison is 77 square miles surrounded by reality, but it’s really 77 square miles that epitomize reality. I was able to take this Madison work and put together a huge framework for community and economic development. I started doing consulting for foundations and think tanks around these national community development initiatives. Ninety percent of what I used came out of Madison.

And when did you start at Common Wealth?

It will be eight months on Oct. 1.

Common Wealth has purchased and rehabbed housing in the Meadowood neighborhood. What are your goals there?

I was working for the city when they started doing job training out there. They ended up buying buildings around Meadowood Park. Organizationally, people weren’t sure we should be working out there. The neighborhoods aren’t well designed out there. The low-income housing was not designed aesthetically for human beings.

 

What do you mean by that?

Human beings respond to light. They are not well lit. And the air doesn’t move. People always want to know how you get kids to stop hanging out at the gas station and I say put benches in so they’re not standing in the thoroughfare. People disagree with that, so I say get some of your friends and on a 90-degree day, go spend a weekend in low-income housing. There’s no protective, defensible spaces like porches. Places for people to practice the art of parenthood.

Yahara View Apartments (Common Wealth’s building on East Main Street) is the only low-income housing project on the isthmus and nobody even knows it exists. Why is it different? It was made for human beings. The porches on the Meadowood buildings aren’t porches. They’re jump-off egress points that are for the fire code. That’s almost insulting.

What you’re looking at with housing rehab is, does the building have integrity to begin with? Are you creating housing for humans? Imagine what it’s like for people to fall in love there. To thrive there. Is that the housing we’re building? Build housing as if human beings matter, for children to grow up and fall in love.

And are you increasing the housing stock? We have a housing shortage, so if you’re doing all this rehab, why not build more housing? And is this being supported by comprehensive community development efforts? I compare housing to the wheels on a car. The engine is the most complex part of the car, but without wheels you’re not going nowhere.

So Common Wealth has housing, we do business incubation, we do adult and youth workforce development, we have a comprehensive violence prevention effort. We have a huge investment on the east side, so our staff has grown from the east side. Now we have this component of 39 units on the west side. It can’t be housing alone. We have to bring everyone.

We made a lot of promises to people when we bought buildings on the west side. But we’re going to leverage everything Common Wealth does to support that work. And by the way, we’re going to get an office out there. I have old ties to Allied Drive, old family and friends. A lot of the people I grew up with on the east side can’t live on the east side anymore, so they live out there. So we’re going to be good neighborhood partners. Common Wealth opened in ‘79 and it’s taken 38 years to help stabilize Willy Street. This takes a long time.

I see Common Wealth as a Madison asset. It’s an idea. It was a bunch of rogueish, badass hippies who saw a problem and said we’re going to fix it and it’s going to be weird, but we’re going to do it and try these things out. It’s a Madison thing. Going around the country, I’m really interested in youth development and education and then I’m also into housing, land use and land trusts. And also I think we need to talk about economic development and industrial relations and people look at me like, “Yo, you’re crazy. There’s no such place.” And I’m like, you don’t know from whence I came.

In Madison, a common concern is you’ve got all of these groups doing good work, operating in silos and they are too busy to talk to each other. People on the east side don’t talk to people on the west side. Is there a solution for that?

One of the advantages of growing up all over this town is I know people all over town. With this problem, you’ve got the four Cs: Competition in that I’m competing against you to get something. Then cooperation, we can sit at the same table. Coordination: I’m going to use the sink right now, and when I’m done you can use it. Collaboration: You’re going to make the pie crust, I’m going to pick the cherries, someone else is going to make the filling and we’re going to eat the pie together. It’s really important we understand the iterations there. Generally, people want to go from competition to collaboration. But there are steps in there.

A lot of that is driven through funding cycles. Are the funding cycles at the various organizations like Evjue (the charitable arm of the Cap Times) and the Madison Community Foundation and United Way aligned? Because we’re always asking organizations that don’t have any money, run by folks who are just passionate, who don’t have formal education. We want them to do advanced coordination and collaboration. Is that being asked of the funding entities? The city, county, state, university? And the private sector? Are we asking those areas to align? How about someone design a structure to look at all these things collectively.”

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It’s fantastic that Justice was willing to return to Madison and help make things better for everyone, notwithstanding his reservations about the community from his youth. Some people are part of the problem; others, like Justice, are part of the solution.

Speaking of “the problem,” clueless, racist, old White guys like Sessions, Trump, and their GOP cronies are never going to improve conditions in minority communities, nor are they going to solve crime, gang, and drug problems with their wasteful and counterproductive “gonzo enforcement” that has proved spectacularly unsuccessful and counterproductive time after time. The only things they are doing is wasting money, making problems worse, driving ethnic communities into isolation, and throwing some expensive and socially damaging “red meat” to the racist White Nationalist “base.”

As I’ve pointed out before, making life better for all Americans, promoting social justice, increasing trust, and achieving community cooperation in law enforcement are painstakingly slow processes that take some real thought and reflection and an honest understanding of how America treats many in the minority community. There are no “silver bullets.” As I’ve said before, MS-13 started in the US and was exported by Reagan-era politicos who did not care about understanding either the causes of gangs or the effects of deporting gang members to a civil war torn El Salvador without a plan for helping to deal with what would happen on the “receiving” end. “Out of sight, out of mind” — but, not really. “What goes around comes around.”

PWS

10-01-17

 

“Warren Buffett on Immigration Reform: Buffett feels that immigrants (including undocumented ones) have been and continue to be a key part of our prosperity — not a part of the problem.“

https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/09/29/warren-buffett-on-immigration-reform.aspx

Matthew Frankel reports for The Motley Fool:

“Immigration reform has been a hot-button issue long before President Trump pledged to build a wall along our border. And while there’s certainly an argument to be made that we need to do a better job of controlling illegal immigration, there’s also a strong case to be made that immigrants are a big driving force behind America’s growth — past, present, and future.

Warren Buffett has been very outspoken in recent years about America and its amazing economic story. Not only does Buffett feel that immigrants have led us to where we are today, but he also thinks that immigrants are an essential component of our country’s future success.

Here’s what Warren Buffett thinks of immigrants
In a nutshell, Buffett feels that immigrants (including undocumented ones) have been and continue to be a key part of our prosperity — not a part of the problem. “This country has been blessed by immigrants,” Buffett said in February at Columbia University. “You can take them from any country you want, and they’ve come here and they found something that unleashed the potential that the place that they left did not, and we’re the product of it.”

Referring to Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard, both of whom were immigrants themselves, Buffett said, “If it hadn’t been for those two immigrants, who knows whether we’d be sitting in this room.”

In his most recent letter to Berkshire Hathaway’s (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B) shareholders, Buffett specifically mentioned immigrants as one of the major components of America’s success story. “From a standing start 240 years ago — a span of time less than triple my days on earth — Americans have combined human ingenuity, a market system, a tide of talented and ambitious immigrants, and the rule of law to deliver abundance beyond any dreams of our forefathers.”

On a pathway to citizenship
Buffett is an outspoken Democrat who actively campaigned for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential race. So it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Buffett doesn’t want to deport millions of illegal immigrants who are currently in the United States.

In a 2015 interview with Fox Business, Buffett said

People should be able to earn citizenship who are here. You know, I do not think we should deport millions of people. So, I think we should have a real path to citizenship.

Buffett was then asked specifically about the DREAM Act and its 800,000 minors who are in the country illegally and now face an uncertain future after the end of DACA, from the perspective of a successful American businessman. Buffett replied:

It is a question of being a human being not really a businessman. Immigrants came, our forefathers came as immigrants, they got here anyway they could. And who knows what I would have done if I were in some terrible situation in a country and wanted to come here…a great percentage of them are good citizens. I would have a path to citizenship for them, I would not send them back.

 

On immigration policy and reform
As we all know, the immigration debate has been going on for a long time. And Buffett’s stance hasn’t changed much over the past several years. In a 2013 interview with ABC’s This Week, Buffett said:

I think we should have a more logical immigration policy. It would mean we would attract a lot of people, but we would attract the people we want to attract in particular — in terms of education, tens or hundreds of thousands of people. We enhance their talents and have them stick around here.

Buffett went on to say that any reform package should “certainly offer [undocumented immigrants] the chance to become citizens,” and one main reason for doing so would be to deepen the talent pool of the labor force.

Buffett’s stance on immigration in a nutshell
Warren Buffett believes that allowing immigrants who are already in the country to stay and pursue citizenship is not only the right thing to do, but is essential to America’s continued economic prosperity. Buffett certainly sees the need for immigration reform, as most Americans of all political affiliations do, but wants to encourage and simplify the legal pathways to immigration.”

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Buffet speaks simple truth: Immigrants, both documented and undocumented are not threats, but rather are a necessary ingredient for America’s greatness. We need to bring law-abiding undocumented individuals into our society in some type of legal, work authorized status. We also need substantial across the board increases in legal immigration, so that in the future the immigrants we need can come through the legal system (or wait in a realistic line) rather than coming through an underground system and working and living in the shadows.

The lies, misrepresentations, and false narratives being peddled by Trump, Sessions, Bannon, Miller, Kobach, Cotton, Perdue, King, Goodlatte, Labrador, the so called “Freedom” Caucus, and the rest of their White Nationalist restrictionist cronies are a path to national disaster. Removing existing non-criminal migrants who happen to be working here in undocumented status is a colossal waste of limited Government resources that actually hurts our country in numerous ways.

Time to stand up against the restrictionist, White Nationalist, xenophobic, anti-American blather. Demand that your Congressional representatives back sane, humane immigration reform that takes care of those already here and recognizes their great contributions while appropriately and significantly expanding future legal immigration opportunities so that we don’t keep repreating our mistakes over and over.

Let’s be honest about it. If the time, money, and resources that the U.S. Government is currently spending on the counterproductive aspects of immigration enforcement and inhumane immigration detention were shifted into constructive areas, there would be no “disaster relief crisis” in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands right now, and we’d have more money to spend on heath care, job training and retraining, infrastructure, addressing the opioid crisis, and many more legitimate national priorities!

PWS

09-30-17

CHARLATAN-IN-CHIEF: Trump Tweets As Puerto Rico Suffers!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/09/30/trump-doesnt-get-it-on-puerto-rico-he-just-proved-it-by-lashing-out-at-san-juans-mayor/

Aaron Blake reports for the Washington Post:

“President Trump is facing growing — but still measured — criticism of the federal response to the devastation in Puerto Rico. So what does he do? Lash out at the mayor of a hurricane-ravaged city, naturally.

Trump responded Saturday morning to harsh critiques from San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz by targeting her personally. The president accused the mayor of playing politics and succumbing to pressure from fellow Democrats to attack his administration. He also, remarkably, directly attacked her and other Puerto Rican officials’ leadership.

 

 

Anybody who is surprised at this from a president who attacked a former prisoner of war for being a prisoner war, criticized a Gold Star family and made fun of a reporter’s physical disability has a short memory. This is who Trump is. He doesn’t accept criticism and move on; he brings a bazooka to a knife fight — even when those wielding the knife are trying to save lives.

But it’s also hugely counterproductive. In three tweets, Trump has moved a simmering, somewhat-negative story for his administration to the front burner. He decided to attack a sympathetic character and turn this into a partisan political debate. Cruz is pleading for help by saying, “We are dying.” Trump essentially told her to stop complaining. He’s also arguing that somebody who is in charge of saving lives is somehow more interested in politics. That’s a stunning charge.

 

And it all shows just how much Trump still doesn’t quite grasp what a crisis Puerto Rico is — both for its people and for him.

There has been anecdotal evidence that Trump doesn’t quite get it. He has repeatedly misstated the size of the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico. He has repeatedly talked about what a tough state the island was in to begin with — as if to shift blame. He has talked repeatedly about how Puerto Rico is an island “in the middle of the ocean” — as if to temper expectations. He has even talked about how Puerto Rico might be made to repay the cost of its recovery. And he’s decided to take a weekend at his golf club in New Jersey right now, even as the scope of the problems in Puerto Rico is growing.”

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Today, Trump’s cowardly incompetence is threatening the lives of Americans in Puerto Rico. Tomorrow, it could be YOU! The next day it could be the entire WORLD!

PWS

09-30-17

 

AMERICANS ARE DYING IN PUERTO RICO: That’s “Good News” In The Trump Administration! — They Tried To Do It By Stripping Vulnerable Americans Of Health Care — But, This Is Easier — Just Do Nothing!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/09/29/san-juan-mayor-slams-trump-administration-comments-on-puerto-rico-hurricane-response/

Samantha Schmidt and Mark Berman report for the Washington Post:

“Dammit, this is not a good-news story,” [San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín] Cruz said. “This is a people-are-dying story. This is a life-or-death story. … When you have people out there dying, literally scraping for food, where is the good news?”

Residents of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory that is home to more than 3 million American citizens, have struggled without electricity, drinking water, food and medical supplies since Hurricane Maria tore across the island on Sept. 20. Many hospitals remain without power, and fears are mounting about the spread of infection and disease the longer people lack electricity and clean water.

[U.S. responded to Haiti quake more forcefully than to Puerto Rico disaster]

As the dire situation has worsened, the federal government’s initial response has drawn increasing scrutiny.

Critics of the administration have compared it to the government’s poor reaction to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or unfavorably contrasted it with the efforts shown after other disasters, including the recent hurricanes that battered Texas and Florida. The retired three-star general who commanded the massive U.S. military response to the Haitian earthquake of 2010 told The Post that it is fair to “ask why we’re not seeing a similar command and response” in Puerto Rico.

 

The Trump administration has bristled at the criticism, with multiple officials defending their response and the president complaining on Twitter about the media coverage. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has praised the federal government’s efforts and said the president has called him multiple times.

Trump has also been criticized for his comments about Puerto Rico, including repeatedly invoking the country’s debt issues, which stand in sharp contrast to the way he spoke about Texas and Florida after storms hit those states.”

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Read the rest of the story at the link.

The Trump Administration’s toxic combination of evil, corruption, dishonesty, and incompetence is a clear and present danger to the health, welfare, and safety of every American!

Why was the response to Haiti better? That’s a “no-brainer!” Back then we had a REAL President rather than the current Charlatan-in-Chief!

 

PWS

09-29-17

 

INSIDE THE AMERICAN GULAG: New Suit Alleges Abuse Of Pregnant Detainees BY DHS!

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-pregnant-women-ice-20170928-story.html

Melissa Etehad reports for the LA Times:

“When Jennye Pagoada Lopez arrived at the U.S. border post of San Ysidro in July seeking political asylum, she showed agents ultrasound images of her pregnancy and told them she was bleeding and needed immediate medical attention.

But instead of taking her to the hospital, they detained her for more than a day before transferring her to the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego.

It took two days to get a medical exam. Four days after that, she was informed that she had a miscarriage.

That was the account she gave in a sworn declaration to her lawyers.

 

“I was neglected, subjected to abusive conditions and denied medical treatment when requested,” she testified.

Pagoada is among ten women whose testimony was included in a complaint filed this week against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security by seven rights groups accusing immigration officials of improperly detaining pregnant women and failing to provide them with adequate medical care.

The complaint — made to the department’s inspector general and civil rights officer — alleges that the women suffered physical and psychological harm and asks the department to investigate the cases and report on what steps immigration authorities will take to enforce its policies on the detention and treatment of pregnant women.

“We are gravely concerned with the agency’s failure to abide by its own policy against detaining pregnant women, the detention conditions that have been reported by pregnant women in various detention facilities across the country, and the lack of quality medical care provided to women who are pregnant or have suffered miscarriages while in custody,” the complaint said.”

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Read the rest of Melissa’s report at the link.

The American Gulag intends to demean, dehumanize, demoralize, and discourage migrants like Jenny Pagoda Lopez.

But, the reality is that Lopez and others like her come out as human, brave, and courageous.

The truth is that all Americans are demeaned and dehumanized by unnecessary immigraton detention. It is a stain on our humanity, our professed values, and our national conscience that will not easily be washed away.

“JUST SAY NO” to politicos who support, actively or passively, this un-American regime!

PWS

09-29-17

DEAN KEVIN JOHNSON PREVIEWS JENNINGS V. RODRIGUEZ (INDEFINITE PREHEARING IMMIGRATION DETENTION) OA IN SCOTUS BLOG

http://www.scotusblog.com/2017/09/argument-preview-constitutionality-mandatory-lengthy-immigrant-detention-without-bond-hearing/

Dean Johnson writes:

“Detention as a tool of immigration enforcement has increased dramatically following immigration reforms enacted in 1996. Two Supreme Court cases at the dawn of the new millennium offered contrasting approaches to the review of decisions of the U.S. government to detain immigrants. In 2001, in Zadvydas v. Davis, the Supreme Court interpreted an immigration statute to require judicial review of a detention decision because “to permit[] indefinite detention of an alien would cause a serious constitutional problem.” Just two years later, the court in Demore v. Kim invoked the “plenary power” doctrine – something exceptional to immigration law and inconsistent with modern constitutional law – to immunize from review a provision of the immigration statute requiring detention of immigrants awaiting removal based on a crime.

How the Supreme Court reconciles these dueling decisions will no doubt determine the outcome in Jennings v. Rodriguez. This case involves the question whether immigrants, like virtually any U.S. citizen placed in criminal or civil detention, must be guaranteed a bond hearing and possible release from custody. Relying on Zadvydas v. Davis, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed a district court injunction that avoided “a serious constitutional problem” by requiring bond hearings every six months for immigrant detainees. The court of appeals further mandated that, in order to continue to detain an immigrant, the government must prove that the noncitizen poses a flight risk or a danger to public safety.”

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Read the rest of Dean Johnson’s analysis at the link.

This is huge in human rights. A “W” for the Administration, which many observers view as likely with the advent of Justice Gorsuch, will essentially “Green Light” the Trump-Sessions-Miller plan to construct the “New American Gulag.” The Gulag’s “prisoners” will be noncriminal migrants (many of them women fleeing violence in the Northern Triangle) whose only “crime” is to assert their rights for due process and justice under our laws.

The concept that migrants have rights is something that sticks in the craws of the White Nationalists. So, punishing them for asserting their rights (with an objective of coercing them into giving up their rights and leaving “voluntarily”) is the next best thing to denying them entirely (which the Administration routinely does whenever it thinks it can get away with it — and the Article IIIs have largely, but not entirely, been asleep at the switch here).

And, make no mistake about it, as study after study has shown, the “conditions of civil detention” in the Gulag are substandard. So much so that in the last Administration DHS’s own study committee actually recommended an end to private immigration detention contracts and a phasing out of so-called “family detention.” The response of the Trump White Nationalists: ignore the facts and double down on the inhumanity.

Based on recent news reports, DHS immigration detainees die at a rate of approximately one per month.  And many more suffer life changing and life threatening medical and psychiatric conditions while in detention. Just “collateral damage” in “Gonzo speak.”

Immigration detainees are often held without bond or with bonds that are so unrealistically high that they effectively amount to no bond. And, in many cases (like the one here) they are denied even minimal access to a U.S. Immigration Judge to have the reasons for detention reviewed.

Plus, as I reported recently, across the nation DHS is refusing to negotiate bonds for those eligible. They are also appealing Immigration Judge decisions to release migrants on bond pending hearings, apparently without any regard to the merits of the IJ’s decision. In other words, DHS is abusing the immigration appeals system for the purpose of harassing migrants who won’t agree to waive their rights to a due process hearing and depart!

Also, as I pointed out, in the “no real due process” world of  the U.S. Immigration Courts, the DHS prosecutors can unilaterally block release of a migrant on bond pending appeal. In most cases this means that the individual remains in detention until the Immigration Judge completes the “merits hearing.” At that point the BIA determines that the DHS bond appeal is “moot” and dismisses it without ever reaching the merits. Just another bogus “production” statistic generated by EOIR!

Oh, and by the way, contrary to “Gonzo” Session’s false and misleading rhetoric on so-called “Sanctuary Cities,” one of the things jurisdictions that rationally choose to limit cooperation with DHS enforcement to those with significant criminal records are doing is protecting their law-abiding, productive migrant residents and migrant communities from the patent abuses of  the “American Gulag.” “Gonzo policies” predictably drive reasonable people to take protective actions.

But, some day, the bureaucrats, complicit judges (particularly life-tenured Article III Judges, like the Supremes), reactionary legislators who turn their backs on human suffering, and misguided voters who have allowed this human rights travesty to be perpetrated on American soil will be held accountable, by the forces of history if nothing else.

PWS

09-28-17

NPR: THE TOTAL IDIOCY (AND WASTE OF RESOURCES) OF THE TRUMP-SESSIONS “GONZO ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM!”

John Burnett reports for NPR Radio. Listen here:

http://www.npr.org/2017/09/20/552339976/border-patrol-arrests-parents-while-infant-awaits-serious-operation

Here’s the written version:

When 2-month-old Isaac Enrique Sanchez was diagnosed with pyloric stenosis, a condition that causes vomiting, dehydration and weight loss in infants, his parents were told that their son’s condition was curable. The problem was that no hospital in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas had a pediatric surgery team capable of performing the operation on his stomach.

To make Isaac well, Oscar and Irma Sanchez would need to take their infant son to Driscoll Children’s Hospital, in Corpus Christi, Texas. It was just a couple of hours up the highway, but for them it was a world away.

The Sanchezes, who are undocumented, would need to pass a Border Patrol checkpoint.

“The nurse told us we had to go there,” Oscar says in Spanish. “We said we couldn’t go.”

While they pondered their predicament in a Harlingen, Texas, hospital, a Border Patrol agent showed up in the waiting room — Oscar Sanchez suspects a nurse turned them in — and said he could arrange for officers to escort the parents through the checkpoint to Corpus. But the agent said when they arrived, they would be arrested and put into deportation proceedings. The couple agreed.

The events that followed at the Corpus Christi hospital are the latest developments in a national controversy over so-called sensitive locations. Under President Barack Obama, the Department of Homeland Security adopted a policy that immigration agents should avoid enforcement actions at hospitals, schools, churches and public demonstrations unless there are special circumstances.

AROUND THE NATION
ICE Agents’ Tactics Raise Concerns About Migrants’ Access To The Justice System

 

Listen· 3:51

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The Sanchezes’ 48-hour odyssey with federal agents shows the lengths to which the Trump administration will go to round up people in the country illegally, whether they have a criminal record or not.

The Border Patrol followed the ambulance, the night of May 24, as it raced to Corpus through desolate ranchland, carrying Oscar, Irma and tiny Isaac — with an IV in his arm and a tube in his stomach. Once they arrived at Driscoll Children’s Hospital, the green-uniformed agents never left the undocumented couple’s side. Officers followed the father to the bathroom and the cafeteria and asked the mother to leave the door open when she breast-fed Isaac.

“Everywhere we went in the hospital,” Oscar says, “they followed us.”

Customs and Border Protection says it is required to monitor subjects in custody “at all times” and tried to do so at the hospital “in the least restrictive manner possible.”

The next morning, agents took Oscar and Irma Sanchez, separately, from the hospital to the Corpus Christi Border Patrol station to be fingerprinted and booked. They were permitted to return. Oscar asked the surgeon if she could delay the operation until both parents could be in the waiting room. She agreed.

The parents said because Isaac is a U.S. citizen, the operation was covered by Medicaid.

“You feel vulnerable,” Oscar says. “We didn’t know if they were going to let us stay with our son or not.”

The Border Patrol, in an email to NPR, says it made sure to leave one parent with the baby at all times and that agents played no role in the decision to postpone the operation.

Driscoll Children’s Hospital, citing patient privacy, declined to discuss the case.

On a recent Tuesday 3 1/2 months after the operation, Isaac sat on his mama’s lap — all pudgy cheeks and wide eyes, wearing a top covered with little race cars. The family lives in a tidy, weathered frame house in North Brownsville, Texas.

“Thank the Lord, everything went well,” Irma says. “He still throws up a little milk, but thank God he’s fine.”

Religious Communities Continue The Long Tradition Of Offering Sanctuary
U.S.
Religious Communities Continue The Long Tradition Of Offering Sanctuary
Sanctuary Churches Brace For Clash With Trump Administration
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Sanctuary Churches Brace For Clash With Trump Administration
Advocates are puzzled why the Border Patrol chose to put the Sanchezes under such intense supervision, which one would expect for higher-value targets like drug traffickers or MS-13 gang members. The couple has no criminal records. They overstayed visitors visas that were issued 12 years ago. He works construction and landscaping; she stays home with their four children, all of whom are citizens.

“I can’t pretend to understand any reasoning that would have led anyone up the chain of command to think that Irma and Oscar were flight risks or dangers to the community or in any other way people who needed to be followed into a hospital in order to be placed in deportation proceedings,” says Lisa Koop, a lawyer with the National Immigrant Justice Center. She will be asking an immigration judge in December to let the Sanchezes remain with their children in the U.S.

“That’s how you treat criminals that are harmful, and that’s understandable for our own protection,” says Ana Hinojosa, an immigrant advocate with the Mennonite Central Committee in Brownsville, who is also working on the case. “But they’re a family that’s just here trying to make a living, provide an education and a future for their children.”

Advocates are concerned that immigration enforcers are chipping away at places formerly considered safe zones. Three examples: Immigration agents detained six men after they left a church homeless shelter in Virginia; they removed a woman with a brain tumor from a Texas hospital and put her back in detention; and they arrested a father after he dropped off his daughter at school in Los Angeles.

As with the Corpus hospital, the agency maintains none of the arrests were actually made inside a sensitive location. But several members of Congress, all Democrats, are troubled just the same. They have proposed the “Protecting Sensitive Locations Act,” which would codify protected places in federal law. And it would expand them to include courthouses and bus stops.

“They’re pushing the envelope to the point where they’re trying to find out how far they can go,” says Bronx Rep. Jose Serrano, one of the bill’s authors. He is outraged by what happened to the Sanchez family in South Texas. “It violates human decency,” he says. “You don’t interrupt medical procedures.”

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Obviously, Congress should not give DHS any additional enforcement resources, given that they have so little to do and such little internal discipline that they waste time and manpower needlessly on cases like this.

Under any sane Administration, these folks would have been granted “PD” or “prosecutorial discretion.” Even assyuming that the agency wished to go forward they could merely have mailed a Notice To Appear (“NTA”) to the couple at their home address or served them at home at a later date. The case isn’t going to be heard for months (or more) anyway.

This total lack of discipline and common sense started under and was enabled by Gen. John Kelly, at the urging of “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions, during the time when he was Secretary of DHS.

PWS

09-21-17

THE LIARS ON THE HILL: Spurred By Trump’s Example, GOP Legislators and Politicos In Washington Have Taken Outright Lying And Knowingly Spreading False Narratives To A New Level

Dave Leonhardt writes in “Opinion Today” at the NYT:

“First, health care: Here’s a giveway about how bad the new Senate health care bill is: Bill Cassidy, one of its authors, keeps trying to sell it by telling untruths.
“The relatively new phenomenon of just ‘up is down’ lying about your bill’s impacts is jarring,” says Loren Adler of the USC-Brookings-Schaeffer Initiative on Health Policy.
Most egregiously, Cassidy is claiming that the bill would not ultimately deprive sick people of health insurance. That’s false, as NPR calmly explained when Cassidy said otherwise.
In fact, the bill — known as Graham-Cassidy — would free states to remove insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Without those protections, insurers could price such people out of the market.

If you get cancer (or even have a family history of it) or your child is born with a birth defect — among many, many other health issues — you could find yourself unable to buy insurance. Without insurance, you could be denied crucial treatments. In a tangible way, Graham-Cassidy would harm millions of Americans.
Aviva Aron-Dine and Sarah Kliff have both written good explainers on this issue. As Kliff notes, “There is literally no analysis” to support Cassidy’s claim that the bill would expand the number of insured.
Jimmy Kimmel, the country’s most unexpected health wonk, has urged Cassidy to stop “jamming this horrible bill down our throats.”

Insurers came out against the bill yesterday, joining doctors, hospitals, AARP, patient advocates, multiple governors and others.
Meanwhile, Republican leaders are trying to win the vote of Lisa Murkowski — one of three Republican senators who voted against a previous Obamacare repeal bill, in July — by funneling money to Alaska.
In the least surprising development of all, President Trump is now repeating Cassidy’s falsehoods.
The last word on health care this morning goes to Nicholas Bagley of the University of Michigan. “Graham-Cassidy is a brazen effort to block any level of government, state or federal, from achieving near-universal coverage,” he writes. “That’s what the debate is about. Everything else is just noise.”

Read Leonhardt’s entire piece with working links to his sources and citations at this link:

https://www.nytimes.com/newsletters/2017/09/21/opinion-today?nlid=79213886

 

And Leonhardt is by no means the only one blowing the whistle on the GOP’s latest War on America. Among many others, the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” awarded Senator Cassidy “Three Pinocchios” for his false claims about coverage:

“Regular readers of The Fact Checker know that the burden of proof falls on the person making the claim. Cassidy has provided little evidence to support his claim of more coverage, except that innovation would flourish and help bring down costs and expand coverage. That’s certainly possible, but it would be more plausible if his proposal did not slash funding to such an extent.

Kimmel’s claim that 30 million fewer Americans will have insurance may be a high-end estimate. But already, in 2019, CBO calculations suggest at least 15 million fewer Americans would have insurance once the individual and employer mandates are repealed. Much of that decline might be by choice, but Cassidy insists the gap will be filled and then exceeded in 10 years. Unlike Cassidy, no prominent health-care analyst is willing to venture a guess on coverage levels — but the consensus is that his funding formula makes his claim all but impossible to achieve.

Given the lack of coverage estimates by the CBO or other health-care experts, Cassidy’s claim does not quite rise to Four Pinocchios. But it certainly merits a Three.

Three Pinocchios”

Here’s a link to the complete analysis by the Post’s Glenn Kessler:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/09/21/sen-cassidys-rebuttal-to-jimmy-kimmel-more-people-will-have-coverage/

Wow! Three Pinocchios is getting into Trump, Sessions, Miller territory!

PWS

09-21-17

🤥 🤥🤥

 

 

 

GOP’S WAR ON AMERICA REVS UP — NEW HEALTH CARE PROPOSAL IS THE WORST EVER! — LESS CARE, MORE UNINSURED!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/09/18/the-new-gop-health-care-measure-goes-further-than-the-failed-one/?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_pp-healthcare-457pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.04f181cc6baa

Paige Winfield Cunningham reports for the Washington Post:

“Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) is pushing a health-care bill that could get a Senate vote in the next two weeks.
A dealbreaker in July may not be a dealbreaker in September.

The latest Obamacare overhaul bill gaining steam on Capitol Hill slashes health-care spending more deeply and would likely cover fewer people than a July bill that failed precisely because of such concerns. What’s different now is the sense of urgency senators are bringing to their effort to roll back the Affordable Care Act, with only a dozen days remaining before the legislative vehicle they’re using expires.

The political prospects for the bill, offered by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), seemed to be improving by the hour Monday. A key Republican governor, Arizona’s Doug Ducey, signaled support for the legislation, and some moderate senators whose votes are crucial have either signed onto the bill or at least haven’t ruled it out yet. Ducey opposed the Senate leadership’s Better Care Reconciliation Act — which was defeated in July — and his opposition heavily influenced the decision by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) not to back that measure.

 

Worries over steep Medicaid cuts and how many people could potentially lose protections or their health coverage altogether drove the GOP effort into a ditch at the end of July, when BCRA failed by seven votes.

It’s hard to see how the Cassidy-Graham plan resolves those concerns. In many cases, it could make them even more acute. The Congressional Budget Office has said it will release a “preliminary assessment” of the measure next week, which will provide some information on its effects on the budget. But the CBO said it would be “at least several weeks” before it can estimate whether people would lose insurance and whether premiums would spike.

The measure would actually cut federal health-care spending even more than BCRA, and aim the cuts more directly at states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. It was the governors and senators from those states who were most deeply worried about Medicaid cuts to begin with.”

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The GOP is a threat to the health, safety, and welfare of most Americans. When will voters wake up and vote these clowns out of office before they do irreparable damage to America?

PWS

09-19-17