Tag Archives: Immigration

The Proximity Problem

So, how can a President of the United States of America spout racist spittle in his Twitter account while pompously announcing he hasn’t a racist bone in his body? And, how could sentient being believe that?

Anyone who isn’t white spots the hypocrisy immediately. Many who are white find his statement compatible with their own feelings.  It doesn’t take too long in life to hear someone white say precisely the same thing and to note the speaker believes it.  The trick, and the proximity problem, is in the word that all too often follows the clause…”but.”

I’m not racist…but they just don’t behave like us. Or, they don’t work like we do, or they don’t raise their children up like we do, or they don’t take care of their property like we do…And so on.  Such tried and tired lines passed from generation to generation create the basis for institutional racism, the foundation for everything from redlining to school segregation.  Library shelves are full of volumes and tomes explaining racism. Kitchen tables are full of conversations and comments which perpetuate it.

Much of the President’s unpalatable rhetoric doesn’t leave a bad aftertaste if the listener is inclined to be uncomfortable in racially or culturally mixed groups.  There’s the key word, “comfort.”  Recall the studies from years back that concluded whites were comfortable in mixed neighborhoods until a minority population started to exceed 10%?  Now, think in terms of a head nodding member of Trump’s audience reacting to a racist comment with an interior “yeah, I don’t have any problems with ‘them’ I just don’t want too many of them in the school, the neighborhood, or my city.”  Translation: I don’t want to be in proximity.

Proximity is challenging.  Segregation allowed generations of white Americans to live with the benefits of non-white work, but without the necessity of contact or proximity.   It’s probably no accident that the gun-sense activists of Parkland made common cause with their cohorts from predominantly minority population neighborhoods.  Proximity is less problematic after a couple of generations of integration?  Proximity is easier when there is a cause greater than personal comfort.

Trump offers comfort to the Discomfited.  Uneasy with an African American President?  How about a white male one? Was that African American President making you feel uncomfortable because he understood The Talk parents have with teenage sons?  The more uncomfortable with members of minority groups, the more comfortable with Trump! To admit he is racist is to admit to one’s own biases.  Racism is white supremacist hood wearing cross burning radicals…but the President isn’t one of those, therefore I’m not racist either?  No, skip the hood, but he certainly makes noises compatible with those unfortunate souls when he uses words like invasion, infestion, and his officials appear on television rewording the plaque on the Statue Of Liberty.

He’s upset at being branded a racist, as would all those who emphatically declare themselves free of racism in all portions of their skeletons.  The solution is simple to say, complex to implement: Get used to the proximity.  A solution made all the more difficult when a significant percentage of the country doesn’t want to live, work, play, or pray near those unlike themselves.  Those uncomfortable with the unfamiliar,  who are fearful of the implications for their status.  We ignore them at our peril, and their residual racism causes the resurgence of our proximity problem for each generation. However, like a disease which refuses to be eradicated, changes and attacks the body politic in each new generation, inoculation is possible.  Acquaintance assists. Proximity helps. Tolerance cures.

 

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Filed under Immigration, Politics, racism

It’s Been A Long Time Coming: Trump wasn’t built in a day.

The Mueller Hearing, July 24, 2019, laid bare the current differences between the modern renditions of Republicans and Democrats in a stark flash illuminating what’s been going on since 1964 (at least) and why there are no silver bullets to resolve the Constitutional issues.  The hearings took 7 hours, the problems it highlighted are freighted with 65 years worth of history. Viewed from this perspective, Trump isn’t the disease, he’s the major symptom.

If there’s a handy label for the current political shape of the Republican Party I’m not aware of it, but what we are looking at is an amalgam of revitalized Dixiecrats and long range planning by the National Association of Manufacturers as described in the 1971 memo authored by Lewis Powell.

There are more than enough tomes on both the rise of corporate power, and the insidious spread of racist political foundations, to fill library shelves.  All we need do is see the spectacle of GOP apologists for Russian interference in our elections as another mile marker on an already paved road.

Part of the pavement is composed of the vestiges of those states where the decision in Brown v Board of Education was not well received, and those states where the battle flag went back up when it was discovered that they really were going to have to integrate their schools and public accommodations.  Does anyone believe it’s an accident Senate Majority Leader McConnell is jamming through judicial appointments of those who are hedging on whether Brown was correctly decided?  Does anyone cling to the fiction that the anti-abortion culture war alliances don’t trace back to school desegregation orders? Does anyone doubt the blatant racism of Stephen Miller’s immigration proposals?

Trump hasn’t changed the racist nature of modern Republican political ideology, he’s just said the quiet part out loud.

The other part of the mixture recalls the days when the National Association of  Manufacturers decided to move their headquarters to Wasington DC.  The road map was drafted in Lewis Powell’s 1971 memo, the “American economic system is under broad attack.” Powell advocated a long term, gradual but steady, advance of corporate interests.  It wasn’t too difficult to combine the residual McCarthyism with the call for “less government” to achieve the unlikely scene of so-called populist ultra-conservatives avidly supporting a racist president against the Commies and Socialists in a hearing room; it just took time and patience.

Please give latitude to my cynicism. Impeaching Trump would be a very constructive activity, but it won’t solve the problem. The GOP will simply find another, possibly less boorish, model who will be all the more dangerous for being better able to keep his (And it will be his) thumbs and mouth under control, one who won’t say the quiet part at decibel levels associated with aircraft engines.

The better view may be to take a longer approach, and one which draws from their own playbook. Hit’em where they think they’re strongest. In this instance, hit Trump on the very issue he intends to ride to a 2020 victory…immigration.

He’s already doubled, perhaps tripled, down on the racism embedded in his approach as he angles toward a base turnout election.  When an opponent is digging himself into a hole, hand him a larger shovel.  It shouldn’t be too difficult to brand Trump’s policies as racist, which they patently are. Nor should it be too much effort to clothe him in these soiled philosophical garments. “Yes, the stock market is doing well, but what are we to make of the fact that some children are being detained away from their parents in squalid conditions?”  Some message discipline required, but if Democrats can tag every interview with a brief inquiry about children in cages, US citizens being detained, or why the Republicans won’t discuss DACA recipients, the frog may start to boil?

Then we can add the health care issue. There is no GOP plan to replace the ACA.  Add one measure of immigration attack (Why won’t the GOP listen to Dreamers? Why are children locked away?) to one measure of specifically what is your plan to cover those with pre-existing medical conditions?  What is your plan to provide maternity care? Mental health and addiction abatement care? Why can’t we address gun violence as a question of public health and safety?

As once members of the left avoided the term liberal because the right wing talkers besmeared it, let right wingers know how the racist, heartless, radical label grates?

We could strengthen and broaden the Democratic message, and take an opportunity to begin a longer phased approach to reclaiming the social contract binding citizens to their government.  Patience. Discipline. Progress. It’s possible. A pendulum swings both directions.

 

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Filed under conservatism, family issues, Gun Issues, Health Care, Immigration, Politics, racism

Stop Being Surprised, He’s A Racist

The erstwhile president of the United States of  America managed a good trick. Combine 1950s racism with 1950s white supremacist sentiments.  Not bad for one Twitter storm.

He blended the “Go back to Africa” taunt with “those outside agitators are Commies,” (abetted by his little minion Sen. Lindsey Graham). This harkens back to one of the old Redemptionist themes, “all our darkies were happy until those Yankee abolitionist agitators came along.” The updated version was all our N-words were happy before those outside agitators from the north started meddling in our state’s rights.  The current version generalizes opposition to white supremacist views…those outside agitators are Commies and un-American.  Repetition doesn’t improve the sentiment.

But why does anyone pretend to be shocked? He espoused the blatantly racist birtherism plague. He came down the escalator to tell us about “those” drug dealers and rapists, and said he couldn’t get a fair trial before that Mexican judge (a native of Indiana.)  He said there were some “very fine people” among those chanting the Nazi slogans in Charlottesville.  And to put some icing on the cake, his supporters are whining that it’s racist to call out his racism. (See Brit Hume)

He didn’t so much respond to reporters questions today about his racist tweets, as he talked past them, and over the reporters who pressed on.  His isn’t the most powerful voice on the lawn or in the room as it is the most rude and persistent. There’s a distinction. A distinction lost on him.

Senator Angus King recalled lawyer Robert Welch, “have you no decency…at long last have you no decency.” Perhaps it is telling that Senator McCarthy tried the same interruptive, rude, response during that infamous hearing. It was the beginning of his end.

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Filed under Congress, House of Representatives, Immigration, Politics, racism

So, what is it?

Citizen Trump’s pronouncements on the situation for migrants on our southern border are confusing. For example,  are the conditions so dire they will be a deterrent to other people from Central America? (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.) Or, are they just fine, and the press — heretofore denied access — should all flock to the Rio Grande for photographs? (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.)

Are there children unwashed? Without toothbrushes? Without medical care? Without clean clothing?  Because… they don’t want showers? They don’t know how to brush their teeth? They are better off here than they were at home? (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.)  Or, if the conditions are bad enough people won’t want to subject their children to this treatment?  Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.)

The President has or has not seen the border detention facilities? He said he’d seen the facilities and everything was fine. (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.) Or, he hasn’t actually visited any of the detention centers, but he knows everything is just fine. (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.)

There are, frankly speaking, nothing but mixed messages coming from this incompetent administration regarding the conditions in which adults and children are being held.  Further, while we’re trying to find out what is happening in supposedly short term processing centers, we’re not asking enough questions about what’s going on in the TrumpCamps.

This morning the administration is touting improvement at CBP centers, saying only 26 children remain in custody. Good, but of those no longer counted among the border detainees, how many are reunited with family? How many are still separated from family members?

We can, and should be, more specific when asking about those youngsters who’ve been assigned to places like the Homestead facility.  Where are the adolescent girls held? Under what conditions? With what kind of supervision and assistance?  Do all the youngsters have immediate access to legal representation? To education? To health and recreation programs? Are the children under the supervision of adults who aren’t likely to refer to them by using insulting slang terms?

Unfortunately, we’re not likely to get definite answers, and those we do get will be contradictory and confusing.  This cannot continue.

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Filed under Immigration, Politics

Returning Ramblings of a Slightly Hopeful Political Junkie

One of the problems dealing with continuous gaslighting, outright lies, and the fire hose of information and analysis (or what passes for it these days) that’s coming our way is the dilemma of how to respond to it without publicizing the incomprehensible or missing the monumental.  While broadcast media highlights the outrage du jour, or chases their latest shiny object,  the rest of us are left to sift through the wheat, chaff, weevils, and debris.  Let’s turn to some topics we’d not like to see get buried beneath layer upon layer of BS.

The current federal administration policy towards those fleeing from the violence in parts of Central America is deliberately cruel; cruelty troweled upon un-alleviated disdain and contempt.  Only a few hours ago this report emerged:

Miller, a notorious immigration hardliner who has been at the helm of President Donald Trump’s most controversial immigration policies, reportedly told ex-Trump aide Cliff Sims he “would be happy if not a single refugee foot ever again touched America’s soil.”[BI]

That would be presidential adviser, Stephen Miller. Granting that the likes of Coulter, Hannity, and Limbaugh have garnered most of the commentary about current negotiations between the White House and the Congress, these people have a vociferous ally in the corridors of executive power.  Stephen Miller.   One of the things I would like to see and hear from my television set is not less coverage of Miller — but more. More background, more video clips, more information about who this man is, and why he holds such sway?

How much approbation does he deserve for being the Rasputin of Refugees and people of color, and for being the smirk behind the shadow of the Resolute Desk?  When the president opines that there were good people on both sides at Charlottesville _ is Miller applauding? When the Oval Office speaks of Mexicans and others from Central America as drug dealers, gang members, and human traffickers – is Miller clapping along?  How different is Miller’s smirk from that displayed by the Covington High School student, who would now have us believed from his well-coached (at the hands of Scott Jennings’ consultancy) that he was an innocent victim of Internet bombast?   Yes, I did watch the “long version” of the video, and I still saw what I saw.  An immature, smirking, bigot-in-training disparaging the efforts of a Native American elder who was attempting to defuse the situation.  So, I ask again — where were the chaperones?  Why is the Bishop backpedaling as fast as he can?  Is Miller still smiling at this?

However, I remain hopeful this president and the advisers like Mr. Miller, aren’t going to have the free ride they enjoyed during the first two years of this mis-administration. Why?

Let’s grant that the most important investigation, that of Robert Mueller and his associates, will have the most impact.  The press has been breathlessly awaiting this report since its inception.  However — remember — it’s not the only report on the horizon.

The efforts of the prosecutors in the Southern District of New York continue.  And, no, the prosecution of Michael Cohen isn’t the item on the menu.  Not only do we not know what Mr. Mueller knows, we also don’t know the entirety of what the SDNY knows.

The FBI may or may not have a continuing counter terrorism investigation open on members of this mis-administration.  It may have been folded into the Mueller Probe. It may be ongoing for individuals and institutions about which we’ve not yet heard. A little patience may go a long way.

Follow the money?  We have breadcrumbs of information thus far  Recent media reports mention “money laundering.”  Who’s doing the laundry? With whose money? And at what expense?  We do want to keep our eyes on the investigations of Deutsche Bank, and other financial institutions, which were eager to do business with Trump and his associates when American banks had had their fill of his bankruptcies and litigation. These questions remain unresolved, stay tuned.

And, now enter the House Committees.  We may not have to wait for impeachment proceedings — high energy, high intelligence, Maxine Waters will be in charge of overseeing financial issues in the House.  Elijah Cummings will be doing real Oversight.  Adam Schiff will be in charge of the House investigations (and re-investigations) of Russian interference and assaults on our governmental institutions.  Nevada’s own Dina Titus can now look into those emolument questions concerning the DC Trump hotel.  I think we can wager we will be hearing some Georgia soft twang ringing in Trump’s ears.

There are at least 17 open investigations into this mis-administration; it may not take One Great Booming Report from Mueller’s domains to send this train wreck of an executive branch into he borrow ditch — there may be 17+ reports, each cutting through the web of lies manufactured by this increasingly flailing administration.  Those cuts are going to begin to hurt.

Let’s hope we can endure a bit more pain for a while.

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Could we get a little perspective here? Immigrants, Numbers, and Trumpian Fearmongering

Oh mercy me! Merciful mercies…there are 5000 migrants “storming” our southern border, waileth the Trumpian fearmongers, intent as they are on creating a curtain of dread veiling the eyes of those who are susceptible to such manipulation.  Let’s take what’s probably an inflated number (5,000) of people seeking to apply for asylum along our southern border and compare that to some other examples of people “storming” in lines we see every day.

For example.  The Clark County Department of Aviation compiles statistics on the number of people who “storm” McCarran International Airport.  (pdf)  Wow, thus far in 2018 we’ve been “stormed” by 25,013,841 people!  But wait, we like these people. They come, some spend money at the airport, some get off the planes in Terminal 1 and go spend more money in our special Nevada play zones; playing with cards, and machines, and things with bells and whistles designed to help separate our tourists from their dollars.   Now, get out the old plastic brains and punch in 5,000 and divide that by 25,013,841.  Hint: You are going to get a small number with an exponent “e-4” on the tail end of it.  We can play with these numbers a bit more.

Try this.  Compare the 5,000 “storming” the southern border with the McCarran traffic for one month.  Let’s take a happy month for us — July — with many happy people who land in Nevada’s sunny climes to part with their paychecks; 2,991,599 of them in the month of July.  There are 31 days in July, so divide the number above by 31.  No exponent this time.  There’s an average of 96,503 passengers using terminal 1 each day in July.  Now, divide 5,000 by 96,503 and you’ll get 0.0518, turn that into a percentage and it’s 5.2%.  In other words the “storm” at the US southern border is a measly 5.2% of the number of passengers using McCarran International Airport Terminal 1 on a SINGLE DAY  in the month of July.

We can play with some other numbers from the northern part of the state, for example, RTC ridership in Washoe County.  The RTC published a report of YOY comparisons for April 2016 (pdf)  reporting 105.082 rides on the RAPID system, coming in at about 43.8 rides per service hour.  Handy calculator time again please.  Our word problem solution for this one is that 5,000 “stormers” are about 4.8% of the rides on the Washoe RTC RAPID system.  Not so much of a storm huh?

But wait, cry the fearmongers, these stormers will clog up our social services and get welfare… uh, not so much, non-citizens in Nevada aren’t eligible for social service benefits.  But but but — they’ll pack our schools!  There are 492,496 youngsters enrolled in Nevada public schools (exc downld) and again our calculator hops into action.  If every single one of the 5,000 Stormers from the “Great? Caravan” were a school aged youngster and they all enrolled in a Nevada public school they’d constitute a — wait for it — a 1.01% increase in public school population.  Hardly the stuff of alarmist proportions.  Realistically, they aren’t all school aged, they aren’t all coming here, and they aren’t anything remotely like a “storm” of invaders upon our southern flank. Please take two deep breaths and call a friend for consolation prior to any more anxiety attacks based on “swamping” our schools blathering.

So, why all the televised emphasis on the “caravan?”  It’s good “optics” for the racists.  Get a nice tight crowd shot of “illegals storming” the border and the fear factor kicks in — much more so than if we emphasize the FACT that most visa over-stays are people who fly in.

DHS has determined that there were 52,656,022 in-scope nonimmigrant admissions to the United States through air or sea POEs with expected departures occurring in FY 2017; the in-scope admissions represent the vast majority of all air and sea nonimmigrant admissions. Of this number, DHS calculated a total overstay rate of 1.33 percent, or 701,900 overstay events.”

Excuse me, but I’m having a problem here envisioning a “storm” of unlawful entries into this country when we have most visa overstays dribbling in through POEs by air and sea, and there’s a 1.33% overstay rate.  What I’m not having a problem seeing is that people like the current POTUS, and his sidekick the virulently racist Stephen Miller, are driving a PR campaign to convince people that Brown is Bad, and that “hordes” of “those (read ‘brown’) people” are “storming” our southern border.  I’m not buying it, and frankly speaking I don’t think anyone else should be buying into their malarkey either.

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Filed under Immigration, Politics

Make America Good Again: Trump plays the race deck

MAGA blue good again

I’d rather not hear anyone from the right side of the political aisle make accusatory noises about “playing the race card.”  The Oval Office oaf is playing the whole deck, including during his performance in Las Vegas.  The GOP motto of the moment appears to be “Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid.”   There’s a …. caravan coming.  This isn’t a dog whistle to the white nationalists among us, it’s a bull horn announcement for all to hear.

The image: Thousands of brown skinned people approaching our southern border; brown people who are likely rapists, drug dealers, gang members, and now “middle eastern” potential terrorists.   “Patriots” grab your Second Amendment Solutions, protect your women and children; face down this onslaught of brown peril!  He who is President hasn’t yet used the term “brown peril,” but it can’t be too long before he does. He has already let us know he’s a “nationalist.”  All he has to do now is add “white” to make the statement completely true.

Demonize these migrants often enough and perhaps people will forget he put children in cages, separated from their parents at the southern border, and some 136 of them have yet to be reunited with parents his administration admits it cannot locate. Demonize them stridently enough and perhaps people will come to the conclusion that whatever might happen to them in detention camps is warranted?  Demonize them vitriolically enough and his “base” will applaud indefinite detention of families and children in an increasingly cruel and uncivilized application of immigration policy?

Demonize them, and by extension demonize those immigrants who came before, and those who have long since become U.S. citizens, and castigate the Democrats as the party of “others.”  “Others” who are not like “real Americans” and therefore must be unintelligent, obsequious, corrupt and capable of being corrupted, illegal and thus easily tempted to do illegal acts (like voting); “Others” who must be eliminated from our body politic before despoiling the white purity of our republic.

This kind of rhetoric from the White House isn’t discriminatory, it’s eliminationist.  Democrats are an “angry mob.”  While the anger of the Proud Boys spills out from the Republican Club in NYC and protesters are beaten; while the anger of the White Nationalists surges in Charlottesville bearing tiki torches and driving a vehicle into a crowd, killing one person and injuring several others; while these incidents are publicized for all to see, Trump and his minions project their own anger, their own frustration, their own bigotry onto the others.  It isn’t too far from the mentality of the mobs which gathered to watch, and to applaud, the lynching of African American men, or who took part in the lynching of  Michael Donald in 1981.

If Trump can’t find any examples of terrorists in the crowd of migrant refugees, he can use two of his favorite tricks.  Trick OneReverse the burden of proof.  When asked about whether there were gang members and middle eastern terrorists in the crowds, Trump replied that the news organizations should be the ones to investigate the matter. He is telling us that he believes this mythology (or finds it useful) and that it is up to everyone else to fact check him. He conveniently places the burden of proof on the media to debunk his lies, while he keeps lying.

Trick Two: Never admit a mistake.  If an independent investigation demonstrates no connection between immigrants and Democrats, then it must be that the news media didn’t look hard enough, didn’t look in the right places, didn’t debunk all the possible permutations of his preferred conspiracy theory of the day.  There’s a variation on this theme:  Move the goal posts.  It’s not enough to release a birth certificate, it has to be the long form.  It’s not enough to release the long form, the long form has to be verified by original sources. And so it goes. If this doesn’t work there’s always the dismissive “it’s not important anymore” comment.  We’ve seen this before.  He simple doesn’t want to talk about those instances when he has been emphatically, demonstrably, totally, dead wrong. So, he doesn’t.  He moves on to his next lie.

Flood the zone:  More lies, more often, and more work for the fact checkers.  This past week has been instructive if we’re looking for big lies, little lies, and a preponderance of lies.  We’re going to have a 10% tax cut for the middle class!  Not while Congress isn’t in session.  Well, maybe when Congress meets after the mid-terms…. maybe never because his first round of tax cuts has blown up the deficit.

He’d rather say anything than admit his Senate Majority Leaders has let the cat out of the burlap bag when McConnell openly stated programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security would have to be cut to pay for Trump’s tax bonus to the top 1%.

Mexico is never paying for his wall.  But, we have to have a wall. We have to have a wall. There’s a caravan, so there has to be a wall.  That there is precious little public land in Texas on which to put this wall and buying up private land (and using the dreaded eminent domain) will be prohibitively expensive, doesn’t matter.  It’s the symbolism of the wall, the idea of a physical barrier between the hordes of women and children and the border which is important to the imagery.

Perhaps we should listen to the “survivors” of the “Bowling Green Massacre?”  There are “riots in California.”  Interesting.  I haven’t seen any sign of this on my television set, and I live in an area in which California news is quite common.  There are more lies about how many jobs are related to arms deals with Saudi Arabia — and more about the size of the deals themselves. [VanFair]

His White House will not respond to inquiries about those “terrorists” in the caravan of migrants, nor does he answer too many questions about specifics of the Saudi arms deals; he will, however, change his tune concerning the murder of Jamal Khashoggi to fit the Saudi attempt at explication of the moment. [BBC]

There are two weeks until the U.S. mid-term elections.  Two weeks.  This is the checkpoint.  This is the place where the road forks and the lies, the demonization, and the obfuscation continue or it can take the other route and the guard rails gradually move back into place.  No one else can do this for us. We have to do it for ourselves. Vote.

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Filed under Heller, Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics