Monday, July 29, 2019

Undocumented poet detained by ICE after reading his critical poetry in public

An undocumented activist ( Jose Omar Bello Reyes ) was arrested (again?) after reciting an original poem critical of federal enforcement of immigration policy, SF Chronicle story here. 
A literary speech advocacy group  called Pen America filed an amicus brief. 

Saturday, July 27, 2019

SCOTUS allows military funds for "the wall"

The Supreme Court has ruled, 5-4, that the Trump administration can use up to $2.5 billion in Pentagon funds to build some sections of the wall. 

 The story cited has an embed of the opinion.

There were legal arguments regarding separation of powers.   There were practical ones regarding the idea that the funds could be used for humanitarian assistance at the border.
Whether volunteer groups might soon be allowed to organize such assistance sounds like a good question.
But merely insisting that migration be “legal” is not unto itself “racist”.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

American citizens (of color) mistakenly held in detention by ICE

In a rather shocking incident, a US citizen, Fernando Erwin Galicia, 18, born in Dallas in 2000 was held mistakenly by ICE for nearly a month while his younger brother, not born in the US, was deported.

CBS New has the story, via Dallas Morning News.

Why his documentation was hard to procure is hard to see. A law firm got him released.

The ACLU reports the case of Peter Sean Brown, an American citizen held in the Florida keys.  These cases will surely lead to more litigation. 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Buttigieg criticizes white Americans for complacency about how they could have to own up to past white privilege

Rachel Scott et al of ABC News report candidate Pete Buttigieg’s saying “white supremacy could be an ‘issue that ends this country.’”

This is a little startling from Buttigieg whose policy statements sound fairly moderate and based in pragmatism.  But he has had issues in his own administration in South Bend.

He seemed to imply that the current “neutrality” of the attitudes of most centrist (non partisan) Americans, as expected in most workplaces, is not enough. That itself is a serious problem for free speech as we know it (and objective reporting) on the web.

The Washington Post Outlook section Sunday has several articles that express a similar sentiment, especially Viet Thanh Nguyen’s “Trump expects immigrants to be grateful and service” in a discussion of “go back”. The article refers to privileges “which many white people who are not white supremacists” benefit from, as if they will have to own up personally to sharing reparations in some publicly sacrificial way. 

To go back to quoting Buttigieg
"The entire American experiment is at stake in whether we can manage to deliver prosperity in a way that your race has no bearing on your income, your wealth, your employment opportunities, your experience with criminal justice [and] your ability to vote."
"We’re just not there and we won’t get there until we acknowledge that replacing a racist historical structure with a more neutral current one is not enough,"

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Activists claim individuals need to be more willing to "act" in solidarity with oppressed groups and not insist on speaking just for themselves

Within the past day, at least two callers to the David Pakman Show have asked why more Americans are taking to the streets in protests, to get Trump removed (especially in light of the “send her back” mess).

Pakman’s answer applied mostly to private persons who are hanging on to jobs and don’t have time to protest. But there is another side to this.  Some people (and probably this includes a lot of journalists) feel that shouting in a public demonstration is beneath them (for “losers”), and this is more likely with conservatives (and many moderates or conventional individualistic liberals) than progressives, or with people who already feel marginalized and have no shame in group identity.

You can see the groupthink if you navigate to about 2:00 on this video by Sargon of Akkad, “The Meltdown”. 

Now, I’ve thought about this a lot lately.  I do have grave reservations (as I have said other blogs) that I can keep my own blogging environment sustained forever (at least past 2021), given all the challenges, ranging from FOSTA to proposed copyright changes, to EU issues, and to the recent squeamishness of platforms about amateur political content in general and the risks it brings.  No worry, the progressives say, you should join us and raise money for us.  Not so fast I say, if I lose my own voice, I disappear. I won’t join anyone and beg and let somebody speak for me. 

Now usually we think of “responsible behavior” or personal responsibility in relatively narrow terms, regarding more or less private things like family, relationships, job, paying bills, etc.  My own theory is that the explosion of self-promotion online (partly enabled by Section 230 and safe harbor laws) in the past twenty years has “de-privatized” personal responsibility. Until the last couple of years (with Trump’s election) most of us knew what the “common sense” rules for behavior online ought to be (like not harassing people). No problem.  We could identify some obviously wrongful things, like foreign terrorism recruiting, easily enough.  But our own polarized domestic political climate (as well as the EU’s) have made this much harder, as the “alt right” has indeed buried a lot of stochastic traps in self-broadcast speech to trip on, as became quickly apparent after Charlottesville.

The boundaries of acceptable speech on the (far) right now generally mean that claims of group (racial) superiority and the intention to use that to subjugate or exclude are not acceptable. On the left, there is no comparable obvious boundary (Communism is based on class but not specific groups otherwise). Furthermore, the (far) Left, with some justification, claims that the right has been terrorizing them and that it has the right to defend itself and become combative in a group sense, even if that takes down people whose speech online suggests the remotest social connection (by personal association) with the most extreme aims of the alt-right.  It has been harder for platforms and even law enforcement to call out (some) extreme behavior on the (far) Left (as with Antifa).  And more recently I’ve seen, at least, appeals to me that I should be willing to join groups and to take up arms, and that the unwillingness of someone like me to fight, if challenged, endangers everyone.  That’s a bit like asking, what would I do had I been a “privileged” Jew in Germany in 1933 and just wanted to be left alone.  Sometimes you do have to respond. One element of my normal reaction to emails and social media messages that I get is that “you” are asking me to support “extremely marginalized” persons based on “group theory” and go way beyond libertarian (or at least neo liberal) principles that I normally believe and support.

The Left, with some justification, fears that “centrist” or moderate individual speakers online dilute their cause and discourage solidarity, offer criticism but interfere with actually getting oppression stopped.  They feel that everyone should be responsive to group needs (as shown in the Sargon video quoted above). That is another reason for pressure on tech platforms against “conservatives”.
Moral behavior from individuals does sometimes mean (in addition to living up to the idea of a personalized "social credit" or "paying your dues") being able to deal with external coercion (if the group needs are great enough), or with sudden privations or intergenerational needs (climate change is part of this, as is infrastructure security; immigration is much more immediate).  In my case, there really is a lot more I could say about it.  There are buzzwords like "no spectators" and "skin in the game" that I could connect to this discussion. When does action need to overtake talk?  Tim Pool is always warning us if we stop talking (on our own), the fighting will start. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

"The Squad" v. Trump and the "end of liberalism": no, it's a cover for a Trump asylum ban?

David Brooks seemed to summarize the existential question of what today’s political polarization could require of every one of us, as he writes “What Pelosi vs. the Squad Really Means”. 

Nobody wants liberalism now, where everyone directs himself through a moral maze to find what’s best for him.  But now we see this kind of individualism as an excuse for unearned power.

Conservatives want the constraint of clan, because the ability of families to continue and particularly for men to defend and provide (and remain intimate in faithfulness) requires some faith in the purity of others. Conservatives are on to something, ironically, when they see social credit as a related to learning to provide for others, and to give back to those who are less competitive on their own in proportion to what was done previously for oneself.  It’s easier if you are gifted.  At least, however, the tribe built on lineage is a natural group and the only effective place to teach interpersonal caretaking that everyone is supposed to learn before branching out into the world as an autonomous adult.

The “Left” has winnowed down to essentialism, where one’s station in life is defined by an immutable identity. The problem is that any such identity, starting with race, is a purely arbitrary social construct. Groups based on behavioral potentials and limitations are really artificial indeed.
Individualism is tied to free speech, and the Left sees speech, as opposed to collective action, as a way to hold on to some sort of schizotypal notion of one’s own personal influence and importance, unfettered by any accountability for unearned group privilege.

After going through a tour of civilization’s moral foundation, Brooks returns to the Squad, and seems to imply the Squad is playing Trump with bait, making demands so collectivist that Trump is bound to lash out with stupid statements that will betray him as racist, simply because he doesn’t want to dirty his fingernails or golden scalp hair with “losers”.

Ezra Klein, of Vox, pretty much buys this interpretation. But he also sees it as an attempt of the far Left to pull the center of gravity of power all the way over, to force voters and persons to see moral obligations more in terms of the historical privileges or burdens for groups than in terms of something individual people can curate in the narrower realm of “personal responsibility”. 

All the sudden Tim Pool comes along and turns this upside down in this Timcast, where it is Trump who is playing the Left as a distraction from his announcement of a policy limiting asylum seeking with “third party processing”.

Wow.  Trump really is willing to act proud to be seen as a racist to get his way.  Yet, some of his immigration goals really are defendable.  Already, there is litigation as to what federal law really says (Politico). 

Apparently Trump, playing demagogue, got his base to chant "send her back" at a rally today, as if that meme would get you banned on Twitter. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Federal debt ceiling could cause system to seize in early September if Congress doesn't fix it; this boogeyman is back

The Washington Post shouldn’t have to title an editorial this way today (Monday, July 15, 2019): “Congress Must Extend the Debt Ceiling”. In print (in your local 7-11) it says “Extend the debt ceiling Ideally Congress should do so before leaving for its August recess”.

We saw all this go on in the summer of 2011, and again at the start of 2013. Trump was ambivalent, but isn’t afraid to hurt people and take political hostages to “get what he wants”.

Now the Treasury Department says it could run out of money by early September, long before November. It might run out before Congress returns.

So Congress needs to fix this in August, while the French are on vacation, always.
Past analysis has maintained that the legal structure of the Social Security Trust system should still protect payments. But Congress could make a political deal to start means testing, for those who have inheritances, for example. 


Deal reached (see retirement blog, Jan. 23).  Post takeway in an editorial.  Better is the New York Times, Congress shouldn't need a crisis or brinkmanship to do its job

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Vox cites new book and Oakland law group in arguing for "evidence based intervention" to prevent gun violence, and frankly reduce the count of guns in circulation

German Lopez, of Vox, argues for a focused strategy for gradually reducing the number of weapons on the streets among person who should not have them, as he argues in a Vox piece “How to dramatically reduce gun violence in American cities”.

He discusses a book “Bleeding Out” by a criminal justice expert Thomas Apt.
Lopez argues for “evidence-based strategies” with focused interventions in at risk families and neighborhoods.  He cites the Giffords Law Center, “Faith in Action” called “A Case Study in Hope: Lesson’s from Oakland’s Remarkable Reductionin Gun Violence”. 

This could lead to increase in the use of ideas of adult guardianship in some states with citizens, especially alone, who seem less competent.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Trump signs XO encouraging more kidney transplantation and more home dialysis, with less use of centers

The Trump administration has signed an Executive Order which would provide more Medicare “investment” in home kidney dialysis machines, as compared to treatment in dialysis centers, and would also favor more people getting kidney transplants.

CNBC reports on the business impact here

Trey Yingst, from Fox News, tweeted yesterday that some people have multiple transplants, as many fail.

But an increase in transplants would probably lead to more social pressure for people to make live kidney donations.
Organ generosity was not possible when I was growing up, so the social media climate surrounding it was not really possible then.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Virginia legislature punts on gun legislation in front of competing, if brief, demonstrations and protests on the state Capitol grounds in Richmond

A special session of the Virginia legislature adjourned after two hours and refused to take up a bill tightening gun purchase requirements after a May 31 mass shooting in Virginia Beach, AP story by Ann Suderman and Sarah Rankin, here

 The bill will be taken up in November after the next statewide election.
Gregory S. Schneider, Laura Vozella, and Antonio Olivo report for the Washington Post 

The Richmond Times Dispatch reports (Paywall, no free copies) here.

NBC12, Richmond television station, has a report here
There were competing rallies at the SW corner of the state capitol, including groups bussed from Washington by March for our Lives. But the rallies were short and over by noon.  The protests had been called just to pressure the state legislature to act today rather than procrastinate.
The Daily Press has a photo essay of the demonstrations yesterday here

But March for our Lives has a more personal photo essay on its Twitter feed here.  

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Extinction Rebellion holds climate change protest at Capitol

Extinction Rebellion held a protest in Spirit of Justice park on the Capitol grounds on Tuesday, July 9, 2019.

Protesters were ordered to stay on the sidewalks but sometimes disobeyed, but there were no arrests.
The group celebrated statements by OAC and Bernie Sanders of a “climate emergency” but they had intended more civil disobedience, as in New York City in June.

News2Share has some footage. The Washington Post has some scientific discussion of Monday morning's unusual cloudburst, which this time missed Ellicott City. 

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Buttigieg leverages his own post-DADT military experience to proposal national service

Pete Buttigieg has proposed a national service plan, which would emphasize ages 18-24 and would introduce new ideas like a Climate Corps.  Politico has a typical story.

As usual, you wonder if government agencies should supervise these, or if social service agencies (some of them would be faith-based and would have to agree not to discriminate), as is the case now with settling refugees, would be better.

Buttigieg relied on his own military experience (after the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell) in being motivated to make the proposal. 

Service would enable student loan payoff, but that benefit would be less valuable if the loan forgiveness happens anyway as under Warren or Sanders.  Maybe it would be useful for higher income students with less loan forgiveness.

There would be a productive question, as to whether periods of service could be proposed for retirees.
However, if I ever joined such a program all my own blogging and journalism would stop and could not be readily resumed when I returned (unless there was a solid business proposal, next paragraph).
In the future, if the ability to create citizen journalism channels on social media becomes more restricted (my main blog, June 27) a service period could be considered as showing evidence of “social credit”.  I wonder if that is in the back of Buttigieg’s mind.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Border crisis starting to affect the morality of individual Americans?

Reports of inappropriate posts in a closed Facebook group by some border agents surfaced Monday, and were discussed on AC360 Monday night (story).  Anderson was told that at least one remark was made about him for his homosexuality.

A closed group is supposed to be “whitelisted”, but the participants could have reasonably expected that their behavior would become public.  (Not so sure with Kyle and Harvard.)

Tonight Anderson interviewed a DHS (Homeland Security) watchdog (I did not get the name). Appalling conditions were described, and the speaker made the argument that Americans owe the people care despite their illegal entry.

Literally, that is normally true.  People who have been apprehended for crimes or law violations have injuries treated.

Here, masses of persons have apparently crossed the border, with some of the caravans organized by cartels and smugglers. Not all of them, but certainly criminal elements have exploited the politically volatile situation of polarization in the US.

Demonstrations and protests mount. David Hogg has entered the fray, Twitter stream   He supplied a long potential organizational donation list.

OK, what do we do?  We can’t release unaccompanied minors.  We can bring the parents back but that sounds very difficult logistically.  Besides the demonstrations and protests, does someone have a policy solution?

Congress, you haven’t done your job.  The Democrats have the House now.  Do your job.

I get the emails from Move On, to get stickers and attend protests, such as here, for "#ClosetheCamps".  But then, where do you send "them"?  This is beginning to sound like a wartime crisis. 
You can’t just release thousands of people (still separate from families) into the wild with no financial support.

You could push for private sponsorship, Canadian style. You could pressure people who inherited estates to offer to adopt or support the kids.  (Martin Goldberg raised the issue recently, is it our own personal responsibility to take care of other countries’ kids when we haven’t taken our own?  

 According to some quasi-Marxist theories of personal rightsizing, well, maybe yes. Particularly if you have any inherited wealth, and that is something I have to ponder. At some point, some of us become personally accountable for what our government does?? 

A Congresswoman told Chris Cuomo that non-profits should take care of the kids, but that is how refugee processing (not asylum seekers) works now. There are about ten large non-profits certified by DHS to supervise refugee placement (some are faith-based).  They don’t handle asylum seekers.