Friday, June 22, 2018

AMERICAN GULAG - A PARTIAL RETRACTION

Just a month ago, I began to be concerned about President's Trump's desire to be a dictator (to appear strong) because he started to use dictatorial phrases in all caps (e.g.  I DEMAND an investigation),* and it seemed as if at least the House of Representatives felt that was all right.  Trump gloried in things he had control over like pardons and using claims of national security (if phony) to invoke tariffs.*  My concern increased as he continued to use words in all caps, like we will IMMEDIATELY stop military exercises near North Korea, something that was news to the US. military and South Korea.  A real surprise to me was Trump's edict that we will IMMEDIATELY form a Space Force.  I was worried that some terrible Trump dictatorial demand was about to occur.  My guess was that Trump might try to cancel the fall election.

What did happen was that President Trump began a policy of separating children from their illegal immigrant mothers, a policy endorsed by Attorney General Sessions.**  This was done in a slapdash dictatorial manner with no plan on how to reunite the children with their mothers upon deportation.  Was the "American system" going to permit Trump to do this?  As it has turned out, in response to the increasing and overwhelming opposition to Trump Policy of separating children from illegal immigrant mothers,** President Trump found that he could, after all, sign an executive order keeping families together without immediate congressional action.

The executive order is welcomed but is only a partial correction and does not address reuniting children already separated from their parents. These children are scattered all over the U.S.  and there are greater than 2,342 of these as of June 19th and counting (currently 64/day), perhaps as many as 3,000 by now.

Once the children are separated from their mothers, they are reclassified as "unaccompanied alien children" in the Office of Refugee Resettlement in HHS and given a new number so all connection with their mothers is gone.  There is no spreadsheet somewhere that has a column for mothers' name, another for child's name, and succeeding columns telling where the child is at present.  Some parents have been deported without the parents, complicating the problem.

What a terrible mess.

Perhaps the most discouraging fact on the Trump Separation Policy is that 58% of Republicans agreed with the Trump Policy as of June 17  (CNN/SSRS Poll from June 14-17).***  But the good news is that 80+% of Republicans say Trump is doing a good job so maybe about a third of the faithful are not with Trump on his family separation Trump Policy.

As for those who support Trump's Policy, perhaps nothing can be done.  Interviews with attendants of the rally in Duluth, MN, say such things as the pictures are faked or photoshopped or that it is all made up by the Fake News media.  Here is one quote by an attendee:
"I think it's being too lenient," she said. "They are still breaking the law. ... If you keep them together, 'Oh, we're going to give you free housing, all this food. And you get to stay together.' What's going to prevent them from coming here illegally?"****
and another attendee Amber Lewis of Superior said she reserved tickets immediately after learning of Trump's visit.  He's basically said everything we live and breathe by," she said****.

One gut-wrenching fact is that there was never a plan to reunite the children with their parents.  Mika Brzezinski said on Morning Joe (June 21) that reuniting children with their parents would be a good task for Ivanka Trump.  It may take DNA tests in many cases and some of the mothers are already deported.  But what about cases where the child was brought into the U.S. by someone other than the mother (or father)?  Can this guardian tell where the birth mother is?  What if the birth mother is dead?

But the overall response to the Trump Policy has been such that maybe there is hope that democracy will survive this administration.

* http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2018/05/can-president-trump-cancel-november.html
http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2018/06/president-donald-bully-trump.html
** http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2018/06/american-gulag.html
*** https://www.politico.com/newsletters/morning-score/2018/06/19/trump-family-separation-policy-roils-swing-district-republicans-258162
https://www.vox.com/2018/6/19/17479138/how-many-families-separated-border-immigration
**** https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/government-and-politics/4463194-cheers-jeers-classic-trump-rally

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

AMERICAN GULAG

Let me see if I have this right. (1)  First President Trump dreams up a draconian policy (separating children from their parents) and says it is a law;  (2) then he says it is all the opposing party's (Democrats) law; and (3) then he demands that the opposing party give him something (The Wall?) to get rid of the policy.  Now that's Chutzpah! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chutzpah)

The whole idea of separating children from their parents is too long a topic for a detailed discussion here so I am urging you to at least read an article in the LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-immigration-families-border-wall-20180616-htmlstory.html.  If you want a more favorable account of separating children from their parents, see: https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/05/illegal-immigration-enforcement-separating-kids-at-border/  I think this article addresses more what the system was supposed to be like and not what it is.  But I assure you, this is the kind of thing that if you have to explain it, you might as well not bother.

Former First Ladies Laura Bush, Rosalynn Carter, and Hillary Clinton have all given criticisms of the order.  First Lady Melania Trump has also made a compassionate statement.  I must say, though, that in the case of Melania Trump, a close reading of her statement does not conflict with things her husband, the President, has said.

Some Congressmen, even Republicans like the Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan, are starting to criticize the separation program also (http://time.com/5313052/gop-republican-children-parents-family-separations-trump-administration/).

The Council of Roman Catholic Bishops has come out against the separation of children and the Pope has backed them.  Now 640 members of the United Methodist church, of which Sessions is a member, charges Sessions with violating the United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline, its code of laws and social principles. (http://www.newsweek.com/jeff-sessions-united-methodist-church-catholic-church-family-separation-980210)  The Presbyterian Church of the U.S.A. also has come out against the separation of families of illegals.  some Evangelical Christians have come out against the separation policy, most notably Frank Graham, son of Billy Graham.

So the adults and children are put in separate Detention camps that may be separated by hundreds of miles.  These Detention camps are not like the Internment camps where families were not separated or Concentration camps, but more like Jails where defendants are separated.  It seems like there are cases where mothers and children are not reunified when the mothers are deported (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-border-patrol-immigrants-family-separation-ice-children-separation-a8394326.html)  There are thoughts that some children will never be reunified with their parents.

Picture of boys in a detention center.  Does this look like a jail to you?



According to NBC News, which visited the facility, only four social workers were available to care for the hundreds of children held in the facility's wire enclosures.
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/18/trump-immigration-policy-that-is-separating-families-in-pictures.html  And only social workers can change diapers.

America is comprised of all sorts of people.  On Morning Joe this morning, one participant pointed out that about 35% of Americans approved of Joe McCarthy after the military hearings.  McCarthy's favorable rating dropped from 46% in February to 34% in June of 1954 in a Gallup Poll (https://news.gallup.com/opinion/polling-matters/176441/public-opinion-recent-history.aspx).  So it wouldn't surprise me if around 35% of Americans approve of separating illegal parents from their children.

Japanese-American Internment Camps

Army-directed evacuations began on March 24. People had six days notice to dispose of their belongings other than what they could carry.
anyone who was at least 1/16th Japanese was evacuated, including 17,000 children under 10, as well as several thousand elderly and handicapped.
Japanese Americans reported to centers near their homes. From there they were transported to a relocation center where they might live for months before transfer to a permanent wartime residence.
These centers were located in remote areas, often reconfigured fairgrounds and racetracks featuring buildings not meant for human habitation, like horse stalls or cow sheds, that had been converted for that purpose. In Portland, Oregon, 3,000 people stayed in the livestock pavilion the Pacific International Livestock Exposition Facilities.
The Santa Anita Assembly Center, just several miles northeast of Los Angeles, was a de-facto city with 18,000 interred, 8,500 of whom lived in stables. Food shortages and substandard sanitation were prevalent in these facilities.*
.............................................................
Each relocation center was its own town, featuring schools, post offices and work facilities, as well as farmland for growing food and keeping livestock, all surrounded by barbed wire and guard towers.*
.............................................................
The last Japanese internment camp closed in March 1946.*

It was not only Japanese Americans who were interred during WW-II but many Europeans as well, particularly of German decent**

* https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/japanese-american-relocation
https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/6763

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/18/what-the-first-ladies-have-to-say-about-zero-tolerance-immigration-policy.html

Thursday, June 14, 2018

PM JUSTIN TRUDEAU HAS EARNED A "SPECIAL PLACE IN HELL?"

Here is what Justin Trudeau actually said (quotes in italics):*

Trudeau: "I highlighted directly to the president that Canadians did not take it lightly that the United States has moved forward with significant tariffs on our steel and aluminum industry, particularly did not take lightly the fact that it’s based on a national security reason that for Canadians, who either themselves or whose parents or community members have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with American soldiers in far off lands and conflicts from the First World War onwards, that it’s kind of insulting. And highlighted that it was not helping in our renegotiation of NAFTA and that it would be with regret, but it would be with absolute certainty and firmness that we move forward with retaliatory measures on July 1, applying equivalent tariffs to the ones that the Americans have unjustly applied to us.*
"I have made it very clear to the president that it is not something we relish doing, but it is something that we absolutely will do, because Canadians, we’re polite, we’re reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around."*
Hard to believe, but Larry Kudlow, Trump's economics advisor, said that this statement "stabbed Trump in the back"  I thought this statement was in jest, but hours later, Kudlow had a heart attack.  I hope it was not related to apparent anger over Trudeau's mild statement.  Though I often disagree with Kudlow, I certainly wish him well and hope he can continue in the White House.
Not to be outdone, another economic advisor, Referring to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said, “There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump.” **
"Special place in Hell!  Really.  Well, who can top that?  I suppose someone could say that Trudeau will get Fire and Fury such as the world has ever seen.

Well, at least Navarro apologized for the remark though what really bothered him is that it took away his message.  What message. Where? I don't remember any message.
* http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2018/jun/11/context-what-justin-trudeau-said-made-donald-trump/
**https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/opinions/wp/2018/06/11/that-special-place-in-hell-is-already-occupied/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.b633715f7690** 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

PRESIDENT DONALD (THE BULLY) TRUMP ON PARDONS AND TARIFFS

President (The Bully*) Tump is frustrated by the restrictions put on him as president (for just one example, Trump twice ordered the post office to double the charge for delivering Amazon packages.  This would break a contract and the post office couldn't comply.), but he has found two things he can do in an autocratic manner as president; pardons and invoking national security on trade.   These two items are what Trump expected the presidency to be. I think that the pardons are reasonably innocent, so far.  Trade, however, is more serious.

So why is Trump putting tariffs on our friends, claiming they are for national security, especially Canada, probably our closest ally, with whom we even have a positive trade balance?  Remember I have given him the nickname of The Bully.  I think the reason he is doing the tariff thing is to bully our friends.   That is his nature.  Trump doesn't seem to have friends.  He has frenemies.**  If you want to be his friend, be prepared to undergo heavy criticism and humiliation.

In general, as has been noted by many, Trump prefers dictators to democrats.  Vladimir Putin seems to be his closest friend and everyone wonders why he is so friendly with Putin.  I have wondered if it is because he much wants to get a Trump Tower in Moscow***.

* Below I have listed a number of items on this blog referring to Trump's nature as a bully.
http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2018/03/how-many-times-can-you-bully-friend.html
http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2017/12/bully-pulpit.html
http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2017/10/melania-trump-onbullying.html
http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2017/09/trumps-humor.html
http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2017/05/thats-gratitude-for-you.html
http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2017/02/donald-trumps-bullying-negotiation.html
http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2017/02/american-fabricated-steel.html
http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2017/01/bully-in-china-shop.html
http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2017/01/president-trumps-first-week.html

**  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frenemy (I don't recall having heard this word before until just recently when Ken Aruletta used it as the title of a book, but Wikipedia says the word has been around since 1953.)
*** http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/388075-cohen-worked-on-moscow-trump-tower-deal-for-longer-than-he-told

Thursday, June 7, 2018

IS TRUMP REALLY THE WITCH IN THE WITCH HUNT?

President Donald Trump is always talking about the Special Counsel's investigation of Russian involvement in the 2016 election being a Witch Hunt.  It makes me wonder if Donald Trump IS the Witch?  Well, he can surely mesmerize Republicans as his favorability among them is back up over 80%.  Isn't mesmerizing one of the powers of Witches?*

It all is worthy of an Edgar Allan Poe story.  Remember "The Purloined Letter"** which couldn't be found; yet there it was, in plain sight on the mantlepiece?

*http://unnaturalworld.wikia.com/wiki/Mind_Control
https://www.magicalrecipesonline.com/2016/01/the-11-powers-of-witches.html
** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Allan_Poe (a biography of Poe)
https://poestories.com/read/purloined (complete story)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Purloined_Letter (an analysis of the story)

Monday, June 4, 2018

IN GOD WE TRUST AND THANK YOU JESUS

I don't know about you, but I find it kind of worrisome what some Evangelical Christians are up to.  I wrote on In God We Trust and Under God before.*  As for money, my question is In God We Trust What?  That the money is worth something?

Phrases like In God We Trust mean a lot to some people, and they even got it to be the National Motto in 1956 replacing the traditional E Pluribus Unum (for a lost of national mottos, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_national_mottos).

A newer effort to me is signs that say Thank You Jesus.  At any rate, there is now a project Blitz that wants to put In God We Trust on many things such as Police cars.  What does that mean?  In God We Trust you won't arrest me or, ugh, won't shoot me?**

In Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana and Tennessee, so-called “In God We Trust” bills have become law since 2017, which will see the phrase emblazoned on public buildings, hung in schools and displayed on the side of public vehicles including police cars.**


Newer are signs that say Thank You Jesus***

The idea started as an Easter project in 2015, and it's evolved into a message to be celebrated year-round.
"Really, it's a Christmas message," Hunt said. "Without Christmas, you wouldn't have Easter."

The sign means something different to everybody who owns one. For some, it's a reminder to give thanks.
"A lot of us have heard stories about how the sign has impacted them on their life," Hunt said.
For others, it's a sign of hope.
"Whether you do believe or don't believe, we hope that it plants a seed in somebody's heart," Hunt added.
For Hunt and his team, the signs have come to represent giving back.
"It was all about planting them, instead of selling them," he said.

When the project took off, and the money started rolling in,
Hunt knew he didn't want to keep it.  He and the signs' co-creator Connie Frazier decided to create a non-profit, the Thank You Jesus Mission, to donate grants to local Christian organizations.  
Every time you see one of these signs, you know it's funding projects like serving breakfast and a Bible study for homeless people in Davidson County, providing transportation for after-school programs for low-income kids in Rowan County and helping to fund an upcoming conference in Concord for pastors in small towns and rural areas.***

While I am grateful for many things such the pleasant life I live and the longevity I have been given, still with a reasonably good mind and health.  While I have arthritis that is slowly crippling me, it is manageable and I give thanks for that too.

* http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2013/11/in-god-we-trust-and-under-god.html
** https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#inbox/163caab40bf343b4
*** https://www.thankyoujesussigns.com/about-the-movement/

REPUBLICANS AND NATIONAL SECURITY

To be a Republican seems to mean that you never have enough national security.  It was not always so and Republicans generally were against national Federal programs.  Even after WW-II there was a lot of resistance to the Federal Government doing national programs.  This impasse was broken by President Isenhower who claimed that we needed the interstate highway system for national security.

Since then, national security has joined interstate commerce that remains out there as an excuse for doing any Federal national program. By and large, the use of national security has involved the acquisition of armaments.  Even though the big ticket items like aircraft carriers and B-1 Bombers were not decisive in places like the Korean War and Vietnam War, we never seem to have enough of these or the ones they claim to need to be replaced.

President Trump has leaned on this national security button hard time.  He claims we need a tariff on steel and aluminum to maintain a steel and aluminum industry in the U.S. (Even now we produce over 80 million tons of steel a year and even though Canada can produce these cheaper than we can.  There are several reasons for this but one is that U.S. iron ore is degrading in iron percentage and is becoming less and less economic to mine.)  Can you imagine a situation where Canada becomes our enemy and cuts us off?  After all, we have a positive trade balance with Canada.  But here is the biggest laugh of all.  We import 100%, let me repeat that, 100% of the ore to make aluminum (the ore is called bauxite and we haven't produced any bauxite ore for decades).  Actually, national security has nothing to do with the tariffs and, of course, they are just an excuse.

Tariffs boomerang around.  Take steel, we import steel in Canda with the 25% tariff so U.S. firms can raise their prices.  At any rate, whether it is Canadian steel or domestic, the price of goods made from it will increase in price for the U.S. consumer.  Not only that, but goods we export to Canada will also increase in price because of tariffs making them more expensive for consumers there.  The result could well be fewer goods made from steel and may result in putting us back, economically, to where we began, though consumers will pay more in both countries.

I urge you to read the entire article by Greg Ip (March 9, 2018) "The Flaw In Trump's National Security Tariffs Logic.*

* https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-flaw-in-trumps-national-security-tariffs-logic-1520612895
https://www.forbes.com/sites/danikenson/2018/03/01/trumps-national-security-protectionism-will-open-pandoras-box/2/#75edaa9e3ffe