The Cost of Doing Business

After reflecting on the financial good news of last week, I can’t figure how much of the US economic recovery is on account of Obama’s old work, or from Trump’s new policies. I suspect it’s a little of both. I also suspect the removal of regulations has played a major part in our energy production, at least. In this case, it’s ironic that the administration is calling such production “sustainable.”

I have no problem with a booming economy. (And as my mother pointed out, we Democrats better be very careful about how we react to the boom—because we do not want to sound as if we’re rooting against the economy.) That said, I’ve got everything against my country getting rich to the tune of environmental and humanitarian degradation. Just today, I got an e-mail from the NRDC about how the Trump administrations’ drilling plans will threaten such areas as the Bears Ears National Monument. Last week, as the court-ordered border reunification deadline passed, CNN reported that 33 percent of detained children still remain separated from their parents. (How this detention ever affected the economy is beyond me—but the Trumpers claim that undocumented immigrants take their jobs, so…)

And here’s more behavior I reject: I reject Trump’s implication that America is a victim and that we’re just now reclaiming respect around the world. According to Gallup (from last January), the median approval of US leadership dropped 30 percent, among 134 countries, during 2017. Last month, tens of thousands of British protestors dogged Trump with—among other things—the Trump-baby blimp. Later in that same month, world leaders were still condemning Trump’s lap-dog routine with Vladimir Putin. And last May, while I was in Iceland, our tour-guide, who depended on tips, joked about Trump to a busload of high-end, excursion-booking, Americans. All of this is a far cry from President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.

And let’s not forget that this victim talk is actually despot talk. Victimhood, such as it is, has been used to justify atrocity and tit-for-tattery from Carthage to Dachau to the border detention centers. Stalin used at least the threat of victimhood to liquidate tens of millions of his own people while his Soviet Union transformed itself into an industrial super power. (Hmm.)

And speaking of Russia… In his annual foreign policy speech, last October, Vladimir Putin said this: “The biggest mistake our country made was that we put too much trust in you [the west]; and your mistake was that you saw this trust as weakness and abused it.” Sound familiar? Putin says that the US humiliated Russia. (Just this week, Trump said that other countries have humiliated us.) Putin says that NATO has betrayed Russia. (Earlier this month, Trump called NATO delinquent.)

The script changes, somewhat. Obviously now, Trump and Putin are such good buddies that they have secret conversations. But the voice is the same—and the stance is the same. Trump sounds like Putin’s protege. And our economic growth, though welcome, is far too small a compensation for us embrace the same tradition of totalitarianism that we’ve resisted since the pilgrims fled it 300 years ago.

I Think Something Similar Happened with Ivan the Terrible

I’ve lately heard some friends talk about how low the Trumpers will go in their tolerance for their president. And I’m afraid it doesn’t matter how morally repugnant Trump is as long as he can stock the courts and give hell to the “illegals.” To his supporters, the ends justify the means. Dearies. Have you ever been in an argument with somebody like that? You realize, at some point, that they seek to win at any cost—even if it means sacrificing any mutual respect, trust, or goodwill that has ever grown between you. And this suggests that although, in the end, they may win their fight, they’ll have lost the relationship. In this case, of course, it will be a relationship with half the country (and possibly a large portion of the world). And if I were a Trumper, I would think very carefully before accepting a sacrifice like that.

A friend once said she wondered what would happen to the arch right if they finally succeeded in mangling the courts to the point where they toppled Roe v. Wade and marriage equality. What would the conservatives have left to rally around? Who would be their grand enemy then?

I’m guessing it would be immigrants, seeing that Trump is already promising to “save ICE.” That will be his battlecry for the midterm elections. We liberals need to be very cautious about how much we let him frame that contest.

And as for the Republicans, I suggest (again) that they reconsider who they’ve let into their bed. Trump rallies people behind him by pointing to enemy after enemy. That’s what bullies do. The trouble is that there always has to be an enemy. And this means that if you let Trump do everything he wants to quash women’s rights, gay rights, and immigrant rights, you better have some other scapegoats to feed him after he’s done. If you don’t, his enemy might well become you. And then, because you’ll have driven off everyone else in the meantime, there will be no one left to spare you from the very country you saved.

ICE Statistics

Here are some statistics from last night’s presentation from the Center for Worker Justice, the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, and the Eastern Iowa Community Bond Project:

In the first seven months of Trump’s presidency, interior—not border—immigration arrests have increased by 43 percent.

In 2018, nearly 70 percent of immigration cases start in detention. Compare this to 35 percent in 2017.

Federal law does not provide legal representation to a non-citizen if she can’t afford it herself. Nationally, only 14 percent of detained immigrants have the funds to hire an attorney.

Nationally, 68 percent of immigrants released on bond are able to stay in the United States. The fulcrum here seems at least partially to rest on whether or not the immigrant receives a fair hearing.

Regarding the May Mount Pleasant, Iowa, raid–which has rattled my neck of the woods–locals have raised over $100k in legal aid for the detainees within the space of one month. As of now, 23 of the 32 detainees have achieved bond, and are living at home while they await their trail date. Of the remaining nine, six still need bail and three have opted for “voluntary” deportation. The Mount Pleasant raid used local, county, state, and federal law enforcement. It employed helicopters, dogs, and tasers. Aside from violations involving unlawful residency, no member of the Mount Pleasant 32 faces criminal charges of any kind.

(Originally posted June 21, 2018)

A Good Man is Hard to Find

Did you guys see this float by from George Takei? According to a Tinder survey–admittedly, it is Tinder–the number one fear women have about a blind date is that she’ll be killed. The number one fear that men have? That the woman will be fat. I remember this from my stint in online dating. I weighed 120 pounds at the time–but if anybody wrote on their profile that they liked a “woman who takes care of herself,” they were out.

(Originally posted April 20, 2018)

Incarceration Ratio

 US News and World Report named Iowa the best state in the country. Our governor is all about this. And I too love Iowa, with its farms and its schools and its space. I especially love Iowa City, which Livibility ranked as the #2 most livable town in the country, and which UNESCO ranks as one of the most literary settlements in the world. But here’s something few people mention. (I’ve quoted it from my church’s bulletin): “The Sentencing Project, which compiles state-level criminal justice data from a variety of sources, tells us that the racial disparity in incarceration rates for black and white U.S. residents in the state of Iowa is 11.1:1” 

After further research through the Sentencing Project, I’ve learned that the national sentencing average of black males vs. white males is 6:1. (I don’t know about females–but I assume the ratio is comparable.)

None of these stats is good, of course. But it’s clear that Iowa–that abolitionist bastion–has a problem.

(Originally posted April 15, 2018)

After the March for Our Lives

Two things I love:

1. I love that so many of you dear people went out and marched. Alas, I did not, on account of a fierce snow storm. I admire all of you who Valley Forged ahead anyway. (See what I did there?)

2. I love that the world marched. NBC reports that people planned demonstrations in France, Israel, the UK, Australia, Japan. Dearies, do you know what the gun-violence death rate is in, say, Japan? School shootings are mostly–if not completely–an American problem. And the world marched. They marched with our kids. That’s something close to a moment of world peace.

(Originally posted March 24, 2018)

PRIVATE Signs Protect Immigrants

Dearies: Do you know that ICE can’t enter a residence without a judge’s warrant? Do you know that workplaces can extend a modicum of that protection by putting a Private/Staff Only sign on a door to, say, a back room? The National Immigration Law Center says, that “to show that some areas are private, mark them with a ‘Private’ sign, keep the doors closed or locked, and have a policy that visitors and the public cannot enter those areas without permission.” I’ve heard other lawyer folks say that this measure isn’t ironclad, as the need for a signed warrant pertains only to an area that provides an “expectation of privacy.” But it can help. And, you know, PRIVATE signs are cheap.

(Originally posted March 20, 2016)