Reading Andrew Sullivan

Why, Andrew Sullivan asks, are we searching for some Rosetta stone to explain Trump’s foreign policy? Some evidence of his being a Russian asset? Some bribe? Some document or email proving his fealty to Moscow?  “Isn’t it possible that Donald Trump simply believes what he says.” And as Sullivan writes in a recent NY Magazine article:

I realize, of course, that this believing what he says is technically impossible from moment to moment. But bear with me. The slackened jaws, widened eyes, and general shock that greeted his chuffed [being overly pleased with himself] endorsement of the Kremlin over Washington this past week were understandable but misplaced. Everything Trump did in Europe — every horrifying, sick-making, embarrassing expostulation — is, in some way, consistent, and predictable, when you consider how he sees the world. It’s not a plan or a strategy as such. Trump is bereft of the attention span to sustain any of those. It is rather the reflection of a set of core beliefs and instincts that have governed him for much of his life. The lies come and go. But his deeper convictions really are in plain sight.

And they are, at root, the same as those of the strongmen he associates with and most admires. The post-1945 attempt to organize the world around collective security, free trade, open societies, non-zero-sum diplomacy, and multicultural democracies is therefore close to unintelligible to him. Why on earth, in his mind, would a victorious power after a world war be … generous to its defeated foes? When you win, you don’t hold out a hand in enlightened self-interest. You gloat and stomp. In Trump’s zero-sum brain — “we should have kept the oil!” — it makes no sense. It has to be a con. And so today’s international order strikes Trump, and always has, as a massive, historic error on the part of the United States.

There’s nothing in it for him to like. It has empowered global elites over national leaders; it has eroded national sovereignty in favor commerce and peace; it has empowered our rivals; it has spread liberal values contrary to the gut instincts of many ordinary people (including himself); it has led the U.S. to spend trillions on collective security, when we could have used that wealth for our own population or to impose our will by force on others; it has created a legion of free riders; it has enriched the global poor at the expense, as he sees it, of the American middle class; and it has unleashed unprecedented migration of peoples and the creation of the first truly multicultural, heterogeneous national cultures.

He wants to end all that. He always hated it, and he never understood it. That kind of complex, interdependent world requires virtues he doesn’t have and skills he doesn’t possess. He wants a world he intuitively understands: of individual nations, in which the most powerful are free to bully the others. He wants an end to transnational migration, especially from south to north. It unnerves him. He believes that warfare should be engaged not to defend the collective peace as a last resort but to plunder and occupy and threaten. He sees no moral difference between free and authoritarian societies, just a difference of “strength,” in which free societies, in his mind, are the weaker ones. He sees nations as ethno-states, exercising hard power, rather than liberal societies, governed by international codes of conduct. He believes in diplomacy as the meeting of strongmen in secret, doing deals, in alpha displays of strength — not endless bullshit sessions at multilateral summits. He’s the kind of person who thinks that the mafia boss at the back table is the coolest guy in the room.

This is why he has such a soft spot for Russia.

OK, That’s Andrew Sullivan’s explanation for Trump, whom we’re all trying to understand. Is Sullivan correct? Is he correct when he says that Trump “wants a world he intuitively understands: of individual nations, in which the most powerful are free to bully the others.”

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Yes, I think so. For wouldn’t it seem that our history is mostly the account of the most powerful nations bullying the less powerful? In your own experience do people hold back from taking for themselves what’s out there, and which may belong to someone else? Do people think of the repercussions on others of what they do and say? Do people think of others before themselves? From my own experience I would say no. People, most people, think first of themselves. And that’s what Trump is doing, and probably “better” than most.

And this would explain Trump’s being attracted to Vladimir Putin. For Putin is simply doing on the world stage, among the world’s nations, what Trump had been doing all his life among NY and NJ real estate agents. And now that he’s president, an eventuality that probably surprised himself as much as the rest of us, where could he most readily look for examples how to be President? Well to Putin, of course, who was out there, already a favorite of his, and already a great bully to his neighbors and to his own people. Look Trump admired the guy, and wanted to be like him.

As Sullivan says, the post-1945 attempt to organize the world around collective security, free trade, open societies, non-zero-sum diplomacy, and multicultural democracies was and is still pretty much unintelligible to Trump. And it seems also to be unintelligible to his Republican base, hence, Helas! his good chances for future elections for Congress in 2018, and for the Presidency in 2020.

 

Headmaster’s journal, February, 1990

When I was a young school Head I wrote and thought about big things. For example, the meaning of freedom. Twenty eight years ago in 1990 myself and my wife, who is still with me today after some 58 years, were directors of our own middle and high school founded in Berkeley, CA in 1972, established a few months later in Rockport, and a few years later in Beverly, MA. We published for our own community journal or monthly that we called Le Temps Retrouvé. This is where I would put the big ideas that I had about school. I realized at the time that there were few members of our community, other than my father and my wife, who would read them. The kids for their part filled out the journal with their poems, drawings and stories.

My wife, Josée, will often remind me of these earlier writings of mine. And sometimes I’m happy to meet up with them again, although not always. The piece below, on the meaning of freedom, she found in our school and family archives that she’s been putting together it seems for years and years. Now the meaning of freedom is a big thing, right? Something I wasn’t at all prepared for when she gave it to me. And I was surprised as I read it. My words of nearly 30 years ago could with few if any changes could have been written yesterday. Have I not changed in all that time? Maybe it’s because freedom itself hasn’t changed. That must be it.

The meaning of freedom.

The other day during meeting I asked the new students to Waring this year whether or not they felt 
they were freer here than they had been in their previous school environment, … “Well, yes,… no,… there were more things 1 had to do there, …here, there are more required courses…”

But most of all, they were silent, asking me by their silence about what I might have meant by being freer. The question was important, but they were by and large unable to answer it. In any case, they didn’t yet seem to know what freedom in this school environment might mean. There is a paradox to be uncovered here.

On the one hand in the world at large there has never been so much talk about freedom—openness or freedom of expression in Moscow, still the Soviet Union; the freeing of the captive East European countries; the toppling of the Berlin Wall; and then today, just a few hours ago, the freeing of Nelson Mandela by president de Klerk of South Africa.

On the other hand, the particular freedom that this school fosters in the lives of its students goes pretty much
 unrecognized as such. Are you free at Waring? The answers are on the level of:  “yes, we address the faculty by their first names; yes, we don’t have to raise our hands in class; yes, we can dress and act pretty much the way we want.” Or, “no, we are not free to not do the program, we have few elective courses to choose from, we are not free to have different goals, and we are all expected to become self-learners.”

I believe that man is right now learning to become free, just as in earlier periods he learned to use
 tools and language. He is right now in the throes of the most recent evolutionary developments, although the continued and further realization of his nature may not fully assert itself before another thousand or more years.

There are those who do not share my admiration for man’s becoming free—materialists and determinists for whom man’s freedom is an illusion; dictators and autocrats, such as in Soviet Russia, for whom the idea of freedom was detrimental to their goal of a totalitarian state. Both materialists and the statists would reduce man to being no more than the sum of his parts, —at the highest levels to being a member of a social organization or political party, or a physiological organism or animal, and at the lowest levels to being collections of cells, macromolecules, atoms and subatomic particles.

These same people would say that since states and organisms and cells can ultimately be understood in terms of physical laws, any illusion of freedom that we might experience in our own lives simply results from our ignorance of those laws. When those laws, or blueprints for what we are, become completely known, when, for example, we know the substance and significance of the tens of thousands of genes on the 46 chromosomes in every nucleus of the trillions of cells that make up our bodies what then would we mean by being free?

The materialist philosophy, called reductionism, says that to understand something,
 say the hereditary factor or gene, we need only “reduce” it to its parts, in this case a portion of a single chain of the spiraling double helix molecules of DNA. In turn the DNA may be reduced to the carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and phosphorus atoms and molecules of which it is made.

Many biologists do not adhere to this philosophy. They have known for a long time that some of the most important concepts in biology, such as life itself, mind, and consciousness, seem to be inexplicable in terms of their parts. Nor, they say, can these concepts be reduced to what came before. Those who once would explain the origin of life in terms of the readiness of the so-called primordial soup, with its proper mixture of water, amino acids and other essential organic and inorganic 
compounds, are more and more forced to admit that life seems to be something more than the sum of its organic 
components.

Biologists now recognize the existence of phenomena seemingly inexplicable except on their own
terms. They call these phenomena emergent phenomena. Life emerged, as did mind and consciousness. Emergence can be seen in physical phenomena as well. For example, wateriness is not there in the separated atoms
 of oxygen and hydrogen, nor saltiness in the atoms of sodium and chlorine combined as salt. Emergence is the name for the appearance 
of new characteristics in new wholes.

Freedom, as I would like to suggest, is an emergent quality, somehow emerging from consciousness,
 just as consciousness emerged from life, and life emerged from non-life. But there is an important difference 
between life and consciousness and freedom, the former are by now well-entrenched, well-rooted in man’s nature, have been around for a long time. In important ways their evolutionary stories are now over, in the case of life, appearing first on this planet billions of years ago. And consciousness? We don’t know, but probably millions of years ago. We are still heatedly debating whether or not not only men and dolphins but also bacteria are conscious beings. But at some point in evolutionary history, between 
bacteria and me, thinking or consciousness probably did emerge. Finally I would like to emphasize that the story of freedom is something else, it is new, and it’s what man’s short history of just tens of thousands of years (not billions, not even millions) has been most about, and continues to be most about.

Everyone will have remarked on the fragility of external freedoms, of freedom of movement and 
speech, in both the ancient and the modem worlds. Even more fragile is the more important freedom that each
 individual may or may not achieve in his or her own lifetime. This kind of freedom is not brought about by 
opening prison doors, or tearing down walls and barbed wire fences, nor even by attaching Bills of Rights to
Constitutions. This freedom is an individual phenomenon, within the power of the individual to achieve, as only  individuals can be alive and conscious. By this kind of freedom I mean the breaking down of the barriers in one’s own mind which the great men in history have all set out to do. By this freedom I mean freeing oneself from inert ideas and thereby realizing one’s own unique potential. James Watson (the co-discoverer of the double helix model of DNA) said something like this: I don’t have his exact words. “I think it’s important that you establish conditions where people will become important early in life, because being important will somehow give them the self-confidence to think big.”

pbw

This for me means that it’s important that kids make use of their freedom, learn what it means to rely on themselves, to bring things about by their own efforts “to think big.” Again, I would ask, not only the students new to Waring, but all of you, do you feel freer in this school? Do you feel that more than before your life is taking on a shape of its very own? Are you becoming someone who makes things happen, rather than a follower and bystander, a looker on? In order to learn and grow, that which school is most about, students must sooner or later, I hope sooner, come to grips with the meaning of freedom in their own lives. Do you understand that you are free? That the good that you will accomplish will be up to you. We are helping you to understand that. That’s our main job.
Philip B. Waring

The Ugly American

Being a loyal reader of the NYTimes (and the Washington Post and a few other publications) I sometimes overlook (forget) the fact that the readership of which I am a part represents but a tiny part of the what, the electorate? no that’s not the right word, because most of the eligible voters don’t vote (do they read?), a tiny part of the adult population of the country. In that regard how big is the readership of the Times?

A few numbers might help us in that regard. The adult population of the United States (2018) is some 250 million (total population 320 million). The Times daily reader circulation (including digital distribution) is some 1.9 million (less than that if we take into account the probably substantial foreign readership of the Times bring the total down to some 1.5 million Americans who read the Times). I’d love to see the Times own numbers for this one.

The Times readership is not in first place, the largest of any US publication. That place belongs to the WSJ with 2.4 million readers, with USA Today in third. Assuming, grossly inaccurately of course, that about a quarter of the Times readership may get to the opinion pages, that which I almost never miss, doesn’t that then make me one of some half a million American readers with whom I probably do share a good number of ideas and opinions. But there are some 250 million other Americans who probably don’t read the Times. So on this basis what right do I ever have to say, that what I’m reading at all reflects my country let alone the people of my country? No right at all, the largest number of my fellow citizens not being readers of the NYTimes.

If there is any meaning to the term “fake news” perhaps this may be it. What’s written in the so-called mostly liberal global media says nothing at all to and about most Americans. For the most part they never read it. For them the liberal and global media is  therefore “fake” in that while appearing to speak to and for Americans it’s not. It’s only speaking to the few Americans who may read it (and as in my case to the even fewer who live by it). Only for us is it “real” news, not fake.

Now this is probably the way things have always been. The literate classes, by and large are speaking and reading the Times, the Post, the WSJ and the other elitist media, as in other times a very similar literate and liberal class were reading similar publications, And when these readers write and speak to one another, in regard to what they’ve read,  they are, as they might say, preaching to the choir, the preaching to the choir, meaning, as a quick Google look tells me, that when you do this you are trying to make believers out of people who already believe, or convince people who are already convinced. That’s me when I send articles and opinions I like to my friends and family. I send nothing to the other and much larger America, that America that is now supporting Donald Trump.

An example might help to make clear what I’m talking about, about the two Americas, about two kinds of fake news, and two kinds of real news. Hardly a day goes by without my reading in the Times or Post or other such publication that the President’s electoral base, the registered Republicans, have never stopped supporting him, and at high levels, usually at 80% or 90%. That was the percentage Republicans who, being asked about the President’s recent meeting with Putin in Helsinki, supported their president no less after he spoke his bungled sentences words to Putin than before. While for the Times/Post readership the President’s words were a disaster, suggesting for some even a betrayal by the President of his own country.

So, to say the very least there’s another America out there, much bigger than the one I’m more comfortable and familiar with. And I and the Times/Post readership are not a part of that America. That used to be OK, there being an elitist liberal and global minority in charge, but that’s not the case any more. Why? Because, and this is what’s different today, the other America, the one that doesn’t share my mostly liberal and global points of view, is now in charge, in charge of the presidency, of the Congress, and is making a grab right now to take charge of the Supreme Court. While the Congress and the Supreme Court (not the president because he doesn’t read) may read the Times/Post media they are listening much more carefully to the other America, those who would if they didn’t listen vote them out of office.

If you don’t agree that there’s another America out there, and an America for some of us anyway, that is big and ugly, read the article below by Chris Mathias about some of the ugliest of the ugly Americans, one of them being the white supremacist, Steve King. I have no idea what Steve reads, but probably not the liberal media at all. And I’d ask, does Steve’s highly visible presence in our country’s heartland mark the return of another and uglier America from that earlier one of the 1950s?

TheUglyAmericanCover

 

 

The Ugly American of the fifties resulted in John Kennedy’s Peace Corps. Is it about time for sending what we might call a “Truth Corps” into the Republican lands that at this time blindly support, incomprehensibly to me and probably to all of the Times readership, a racist and white supremicist president?

 

 

Steve King is a White Supremacist, and also an Ugly American, and the Grand Old Party doesn’t care.

(Among other white supremacist views, congressman King refused to apologize for promoting a neo-Nazi on Twitter. Republicans continue to look the other way.)
By Christopher Mathias, The Huffington Post, 7/19/18

What is surprising, and concerning, is that a sitting U.S. congressman can unapologetically promote a neo-Nazi’s propaganda on Twitter without real political consequence. Over the past month, none of King’s fellow Republicans have pushed to censure him or expel him from Congress. None have called for him to resign. Mostly, they have stayed quiet….

King is still chair of the House subcommittee on the constitution and civil justice. He still sits in the subcommittee on immigration and border security. Over the past month, he’s received thousands of dollars in campaign donations, including from Koch Industries PAC. And come time for the 2020 presidential election, Republican candidates will likely come begging for his endorsement, just as they did in the last election….

King visited Wilders in the Netherlands earlier this month, posing with him in a photo outside the U.S. embassy. Last year, King tweeted a photo of himself standing proudly with Wilders. “Cultural suicide by demographic transformation must end,” the tweet said. “We need to get our birth rates up or Europe will be entirely transformed.”

King himself has a history of making his own wildly anti-Muslim proclamations. Just last month, speaking on Breitbart radio, King said that he didn’t want Somali Muslims working in Iowa’s meatpacking plants. Muslims often don’t eat pork, and in King’s twisted interpretation of Islam, the only reason Muslims would want to handle pork at meatpacking plants is to send non-Muslims “to Hell” and “make Allah happy.”

King has said the U.S. government should spy on mosques and that Muslims should have to renounce Sharia law before entering the country….

King has made the wildly false claim that over a quarter of violent crimes in the U.S. are committed by undocumented immigrants, and has referred to illegal immigration as a “slow-motion terrorist attack in the United States” and a “slow-motion holocaust.” (Undocumented immigrants commit less crime than native-born Americans.) He once, while proposing an electrified fence along the Mexican border, compared immigrants to “livestock….

King also uses white supremacist slogans. “Diversity is not our strength,” he tweeted in December 2017, linking to an article on the website Voice of Europe about Hungary’s far-right prime minister saying that “mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but a lower one.”King did not come up with the phrase “diversity is not our strength.” As HuffPost has reported, white supremacists have been saying it for years.

“The idea of multiculturalism and that every culture is equal — that’s not objectively true,” King told The Washington Post. “And we’ve been fed that information for the last 25 years in this country. And we’re not going to continue to become a greater nation if we don’t look at this objectively.”

“King has also paid homage to more traditional forms of American white supremacy. He has said the U.S. should not apologize for centuries of enslaving, murdering and raping millions of black Americans. He came out against putting a picture of emancipator Harriet Tubman — a conductor of the Underground Railroad — on the $20 bill.

And he once kept a Confederate flag on his desk even though his home state of Iowa was not part of the Confederacy. In fact, Iowa sent thousands of soldiers to fight for the Union against the Confederacy — a treasonous army fighting explicitly to protect the institution of slavery in the South.”

Last month, King won the Republican primary in Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District, ensuring he’ll be on the ballot this November in the general election against Democrat J.D. Scholten.

King represents an other America, an America that I would like to keep very other!



And now we have,

bannon-tease_djofez

Steve Bannon, or the Ugly American in Europe.

Steve Bannon plans foundation to fuel far right in Europe

Ignorance of our future, a characteristic we all share, brings about our too often bloody battles in the present.

I’ve just read in the opinion pages of the WSJ a laudatory review of President Trump’s first 18 months in office by the former (2013-15) Australian prime minister Tony Abbott. And I’ve also just read a good number of the more than 500 accompanying reader comments. Now I’m always overwhelmed, and no less so on this particular occasion, by how differently the readers will read any one opinion piece.

There is absolutely no general reader agreement about little or anything, although here, and as a rule, there are the two opposing sides, in this instance those who agree with Abbott’s favorable review of Trump’s tenure, and does who do not.

And furthermore, as usual, the agreements and disagreements among the readers are sharp, and reflect just as sharp country and world wide divisions out there, at least among those whose lives hold a place for ideas (not everyone, Helas!).

In any case it has seemed apparent to me during a lifetime of reading such pieces and comments that we, you and I, and anyone else, are not about to agree to anything, let alone the record of our President during his first 18 months in the Oval Office.

Ask yourself, does he lie? And if so why? To fool people, or to get to the truth, his truth and only in that his manner, seeming to us to lie? Without taking issue with the various things that Abbott says, I readily admit that the former PM does make some not negligible debating points. In what follows below I have excerpted some passages from his WSJ article, while liberally cutting but not editing, not changing I hope the meaning of his text.



Mr. Trump has been remarkably true to his word… On the evidence so far, when he says something, he means it—and when he says something consistently, it will happen. He said he’d cut taxes and regulation. He did. He said he’d pull out of the Paris climate-change agreement and he did. He said he’d scrap the Iranian deal, and he did. He said he’d move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and he did, without catastrophe. He said he’d boost defense spending. That’s happening too…

So far, though, Mr. Trump’s strong rhetoric and tough action haven’t triggered a full-scale trade war, but have forced other countries to address America’s concerns about technology theft and predatory pricing. Then there’s the nuclear diplomacy with North Korea. Maybe a hitherto brutal dictator is looking for the survival strategy that Mr. Trump has offered.

For Australia, Mr. Trump has so far been a good president. He seems to appreciate that Australia is the only ally that has been with America, side by side, in every conflict since World War I. He has exempted our steel and aluminum from the tariffs slapped on many others. As a country that’s paid its dues, so to speak, on the American alliance, we have been treated with courtesy and respect.

As weightier allies found at the NATO summit this week, Mr. Trump is reluctant to help those who don’t pull their weight, and who can blame him? America has been the world’s policeman, the guarantor of a modicum of restraint from the world’s despots and fanatics. No other country has had both the strength and the goodwill for this essential task….

The truth is that the rest of the world needs America much more than America needs us. The U.S. has no threatening neighbors. It’s about as remote from the globe’s trouble spots as is possible to be. It’s richly endowed with resources, including energy and an almost boundless agricultural capacity. Its technology is second to none. Its manufacturing base is vast. Its people are entrepreneurial in their bones. From diversity, it has built unity and an enviable pride in country.

In many respects, America is the world in one country, only a better world than the one outside. If it decided to live in splendid isolation from troubles across the sea, it would lose little and perhaps gain much, at least in the beginning. A fortress America would be as impregnable as any country could be.

A new age is coming. The legions are going home. American values can be relied upon but American help less so. This need not presage a darker time, like Rome’s withdrawal from Britain, but more will be required of the world’s other free countries. Will they step up? That’s the test.

America spends more than 3% of the world’s biggest GDP on its armed forces, and the rest of the Western world scarcely breaks 2%. It’s hard to dispute Mr. Trump’s view that most of us have been keeping safe on the cheap. The U.S. can’t be expected to fight harder for Australia than we are prepared to fight for ourselves. What Mr. Trump is making clear—to us and to others—is what should always have been screamingly obvious: that each nation’s safety now rests in its own hands far more than in anyone else’s.

Trump has 2½ more years in the world’s biggest job and every chance of being re-elected. He is the reality we have to work with.



Now what might all this have to do with the “bloody battles” of ideas of the present? We differ over the issues, over global warming, the use of the word global, over the deep state, the administrative state, over the reliance on religious dogma to help us with the thorniest issues, such as same sex marriage and abortion, we differ greatly over legal and illegal immigration, on whether we should always accept those coming to us for asylum with open arms. There is of course no end to our differences, to things we differ about, many of them being battle ready, and all the more so when the Presidency, the Congress, and the Supreme Court are all themselves struggling for their own survival. In all these battles our general, and perhaps universal ignorance of the future, something we all share, even about global warming, ought to bring us together, not make it that as now our differences are pulling us apart.

How “enduring” is our Constitution?

Is there any best way to read/interpret the Constitution of the United States? Also is the Constitution a dead, living or, as the late original originalist, Antonin Scalia, would say, “enduring” document? According to Scalia, the Constitution today means not what contemporaries including SCOTUS might think it means, but what it meant at the time of its creation and adoption, this being, again according to Scalia, the “public meaning” of the document, and that which today it is beholden on the Justices to recover.

But most things that today most concern us are not mentioned in the Constitution. Even the most thorough original is not going to find evidence of what the framers might have thought, regarding asylum seekers, gun owners, and to mention just two of the thorniest subjects, abortion and same sex marriage. What did the public of 1789 think about such things? Probably little or nothing of course, and at the time they weren’t obliged to. Now they, which today is we, we think a lot about these things and our opinions are all over the map.

So where do we look for help in untying the knottiest questions that confront us? At the moment more to the nine Supreme Court justices than to the 535 members of the Congress. And the result is that the Justices are deciding questions that are not even mentioned in the Constitution (should they be? Scalia would say no). How then can one even be an original given this situation, and during the present time the originals are rapidly becoming a court majority!

Our original originalist would probably say that if it’s not mentioned, or not clearly mentioned in the Constitution it should then be up to the Congress to act and by its action to resolve the question if not fully enlighten us. But that of course hasn’t always happened (and it’s hardly happening at all right now) and many of the decisions of the court exist because the United States Congress has not stepped up to the plate, this being true of such hot button issues as immigration, gerrymandering and redistricting, abortion, same sex marriage, all of great importance at the present time, and including whatever limits ought to be placed on the executive.

Now for example, how might the originalist read the Second Amendment to the Constitution, that which says: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. What this meant at the time, the “public meaning” of the phrase, doesn’t seem all that difficult for us to understand. Doesn’t it clearly mean that people will be allowed to “keep and bear arms,” but in a militia, or military force that is raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency (not just anywhere, not in a local public school, not on the campus of the University of Texas) —the militia being a force that will be used to defend the security of the State.

In this original understanding individuals with the right to bear arms will be members of a militia. Take away the militias and don’t you then take away the right to bear Arms? Where was the militia at Sandy Hook, at Columbine, and at Stoneman Douglas high schools? The Constitution says nothing at all about an individual right to purchase and own arms in his or her own defense (arms which by the way are not described in the Constitution, and in any case bore no resemblance to arms today other than being able to shoot someone dead). So hasn’t the original originalist misinterpreted the “enduring and public meaning” of the Second Amendment to the Constitution? And what’s to prevent the growing number of originals on the court to go on entirely misinterpreting the meanings of the founders, the “public meaning” of their words at the time?

I’m at a complete loss to understand why first Justice Scalia, and after him Justice Gorsuch, and perhaps in the near future Justice Kavanaugh, why the three of them, and many others of their persuasion, are so attached to what might have been the public meaning at the time of the words and phrases of our Constitution. The meaning of everything, including the words in the Constitution, changes in time. And what changes the most just has to be the meaning of the words, of any words from 200 years ago, as we grow in understanding and make changes accordingly. As for the meaning of “a right to bear arms” we ought to be trying to determine what meaning if any it has for us today. For example, are our lives more secure with this “right” than without it? Not an unreasonable question, and to the answer of which the “enduring” public meaning of 1789 has little if anything to. contribute….

 

Politicians and Magicians or Getting away with lying

How Trump Gets Away with Lying, as Explained by a Magician

 

 


“How does he just keep lying?”

“He can’t possibly get away with this again.”

“Why do people still trust him?”

Our current Administration has shown an unprecedented disregard for the truth, and many Americans are flabbergasted at how few people are disturbed by this disregard. As a former card magician — and therefore someone with a bit of experience deceiving audiences — I have developed some strategies to catch other people in their lies.

Magicians are the best liars in the business. Not because they tell the most lies, or the biggest lies, but because they can get away with them even when you are anticipating the lies. We all know magic doesn’t exist. We all know that magicians are somehow lying to us when they are performing. And yet, the profession of magician has been around for thousands of years. It’s the same with politicians.

Here, I will reveal five tactics magicians and politicians use to gain your trust….

1. Dress for the Occasion

This may be obvious but it’s still worth mentioning because I get to add lots of pictures to this article of comically dressed politicians….

2. Separate Yourself from the Liars

I’ll defer to again to Penn & Teller, the undisputed experts at this technique. The duo fully understands that magicians are a notoriously dishonest lot, so they try their damndest to appear as if they are “rebel” magicians by occasionally criticizing “normal” magicians and revealing their secrets….

3. Divert, Divert, Divert

Everyone knows that magicians use diversions. A burst of confetti or a strange tap of the wand are easily deemed diversions by most observers. However, the best magicians use diversions so natural and comfortable that the audience can’t help but fall for them. Yet again, I will refer to the expertise of Penn & Teller….

4. Claim You Predicted the Past

To explain this, I’ll have to let you in on a magician’s secret. When you are offered a fanned deck of cards and are told to “pick a card, any card,” you might not actually have as free a choice as you imagine. This is because magicians often use a technique known as a “pack force.” When they offer you the cards to choose from, they will actually slightly manipulate the cards in order to encourage you to pick from a certain group of maybe 5–10 cards. To explain this, see the picture below.

The face value of the “key card” is known by the magician, and 5–10 cards to the right of it are also known. Usually, the key card is an ace, and the 5–10 cards right of the ace are of the same suit in ascending order. The magician keeps an eye on this key card and will encourage you to pick one of the cards in that group. Once a card in the pack is selected, the magician can simply count to the key card and they will know the value of the selected card

5. Tell People Lies they Want to Hear

“That’s ridiculous,” you protest, “who wants to be lied to?”

The answer is: Most people.

We have a whole city in California dedicated to people pretending to be what they’re not, an entire industry telling us that products it’s selling are things they’re not, and cosmetic corporations that allow us to look like people we’re not. We happily welcome these little lies because they make the world a bit nicer to live in. A spoonful of sugar helps the deception go down.

For magicians, this means they must perform effects in which people want to believe. Everyone wants to live in a world where vanishing, conjuring, transfiguring, and teleporting are possible. Raymond Teller is famous for his expertly performed effects that spur feelings of whimsy in his audience. So elegant is his magic that after seeing it, you won’t even want to find out how it is accomplished.

The first example I provide of this is his fishbowl effect, in which he transforms coins into living goldfish.

The second example of this is one of magic’s all-time most unique effects: Teller’s “Shadows.”

Fluid, exquisite, and polished. You want to be fooled because for a short time, Teller brings you into a world where the impossible is possible.

So, how do politicians tell you the lies you want to hear?

You may notice that during election season, candidates are intensely bitter about the country’s current circumstances, and they always paint a bright picture of the future. Each candidate, no matter his or her party, must denounce the current times in some way, and then promise the audience that there are better times ahead. A candidate must provide hope. Everyone wants to believe in hope.

Yet again, here is something at which Donald Trump excels. In the interview below, the then future President scorns Obama’s healthcare bill and promises some impossible word-goulash of mutually exclusive pledges which, while entirely impossible, sound wonderful.

You probably also remember Trump’s secret “Destroy ISIS in 30 Days” plan. Anyone who’s tried a “Lose Weight in 30 Days” diet knows it doesn’t work. However, people continually buy into these ideas because they sound wonderful. Trump is full of such promises, ranging from his claim that he is a great negotiator who can magically solve problems created by NAFTA and the Paris Climate Agreement, to his vow to bring back a doomed coal industry.

This is lesson five in telling lies: make sure to tell people what they want to believe.

Liberal and Conservative 1.1

I have known about wars, shooting wars and wars of words. Both kinds have been a big part of my life, although I’ve never participated myself in a shooting war. On the other hand I have often been a part, often a big part of wars of words, mostly among my fellows, and mostly my fellow workers and students in schools and colleges where I have studied and taught. But often also within my own family and among friends. At best the wars, especially the wars of words, were fun. At worst of course were the shooting wars, where mostly young men and women lose their lives, no fun at all.

I was taught, by the social media, by the culture in which I was immersed, that wars were always out there, not far away and playing a big part in our lives. But the opponents in the shooting wars I was familiar with were not individuals, but nations and peoples, at best defending their own lands, and usually speaking different languages, (I I’ve never known up close a Civil War, of which there are still many, between peoples of the same land and language, and that’s probably a good thing). The opponents in the shooting wars I have known if only from a safe distance, as in WWII and earlier WWI, and even later in Korea and in Vietnam, were good Americans, and bad Germans, and later good and bad Russians and bad Chinese. And these wars were brutal, they had to be won, they were wars of survival, and during my lifetime the Americans were for the most part the winners.

It took me almost a lifetime to fully realize that the most demoralizing, if not most frightening wars are not necessarily shooting wars between different nations and different peoples but sharp differences between peoples of the same nation, holding different ideas and different beliefs, beliefs and ideas over which they were ready to fight, that is, ready to wage war. That’s the kind of war that is today most with us and perhaps hardest for many of us, me included, to live with. Why? Because other points of view bring into question what we hold most dear, such as, for example, our views of liberty, equality, and fraternity, the sorts of beliefs we will fight for.

The most demoralizing war of all is that between Left and Right, liberal and conservative, the rich and the poor, the haves and the have nots. Demoralizing because there is no need for it. And this war is going on right now. We read about it daily in the news. Just today for example we learn that President Trump has proposed a second far right conservative to fill the present vacancy on the Supreme Court. This will probably tip a long existing liberal/conservative balance on the Court definitely to the Right. It didn’t have to be like that. The Center is still there, although terribly neglected. Will those on the Left find the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh on the Right reason enough to go into battle, begin a war, to protect their own Left points of views about any number of issues such as religious freedom, marriage equality, entitlements and welfare, immigration and taxation, all with both Left and Right divisions?

The question I ask myself almost daily in response to the Left/Right difference regarding nearly any and every issue that comes up is this one, “is the difference real?” Does it really matter? Does it have to be there? Does it reflect or correspond to something substantial in our natures? Or might the Left and Right difference of opinion be eliminated easily by a random mutation in our genes, or by directed genetic manipulation of our DNA? Or best by a conversation in which the opposing sides listen to one another?

Re. immigration, if you’re on the Left you would take in more immigrants, not build a wall to keep them out, and you would abolish ICE. If you’re on the Right you’d give Trump his wall, and by the wall and in other ways reduce the number of immigrants coming here, legally as well as illegally, and with ICE as your big stick you’d send those who have come here say from the Northern Triangle in search of asylum, in search of a better life for their families, you’d send them back to their homes in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

What I really think is that all wars, wars of words or actions, are not at all necessary, and if they continue to exist it’s because we haven’t looked closely at our reasons for waging war, meaning taking one side or the other. About immigration, for example. We would only need to adopt a different belief about people, the belief that there is only one people, and that we are all one and the same people. If we did that why would we ever want to shut ourselves off from others, close our lands and minds and hearts to others just like us, people with the same nature, the same DNA, the different colors being of no more significance than the different clothes we might be wearing. And why would we not share with people who are asking us for asylum, what we have in such abundance?

OK, we’re not there yet. We’re a long way from being there. And now the Supreme Court is being used as another way of separating us. But there is nothing more real, is there, than our being all the same. To bring that dream of a global society about we need only  to work on the meaning of our sameness, to help ourselves and others to understand what that means. But, and that’s a big but, there are still too many who reject our sameness (our being creatures of the same species homo) and who want to go on “strengthening” what they see as our precious differences, the color of our skin, the external trappings of our religions, and what they see as the one and only permissible marriage, that between a man and a woman.

(Hey, think for a minute, a man and a woman, aren’t they more the same than different? Why would two men or two women being together be somehow less acceptable than a man and a woman being together? Are external physical characteristics or traits ultimately that which determines who we are, let alone what we can or cannot do? For many evidently they still are.)

separations

I wanted a picture and by a Google search I found this one, but I really don’t understand it. Explanations?

The last letter of Thomas Jefferson to the public (to us).

MY WISH, THAT DONALD AND HIS FRIENDS AT FOX NEWS STOP WHAT THEY’RE DOING AND READ THESE WORDS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON.

Our fellow citizens, after half a century of experience and prosperity, continue to approve the choice we made. May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings & security of self-government.

The form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man.

The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them illegitimately.

By the grace of God these are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.

 

Monticello June 24. 1826
Respected Sir
The kind invitation I receive from you on the part of the citizens of the city of Washington, to be present with them at their celebration of the 50th. anniversary of American independance; as one of the surviving signers of an instrument pregnant with our own, and the fate of the world, is most flattering to myself, and heightened by the honorable accompaniment proposed for the comfort of such a journey. it adds sensibly to the sufferings of sickness, to be deprived by it of a personal participation in the rejoicings of that day. but acquiescence is a duty, under circumstances not placed among those we are permitted to controul. I should, indeed, with peculiar delight, have met and exchanged there congratulations personally with the small band, the remnant of that host of worthies, who joined with us on that day, in the bold and doubtful election we were to make for our country, between submission or the sword; and to have enjoyed with them the consolatory fact, that our fellow citizens, after half a century of experience and prosperity, continue to approve the choice we made. may it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the Signal of arousing men to burst the chains, under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings & security of self-government. that form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. all eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. the general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view. the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of god. these are grounds of hope for others. for ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.
I will ask permission here to express the pleasure with which I should have met my ancient neighbors of the City of Washington and of it’s vicinities, with whom I passed so many years of a pleasing social intercourse; an intercourse which so much relieved the anxieties of the public cares, and left impressions so deeply engraved in my affections, as never to be forgotten. with my regret that ill health forbids me the gratification of an acceptance, be pleased to receive for yourself, and those for whom you write, the assurance of my highest respect and friendly attachments.
Th. Jefferson

Susan Jacoby: The White House Is Tearing Down the Wall Between Church and State

08jacoby-sub-superJumbo.jpg
Alex Merto

From Susan Jacoby, in the NYTimes of July 5, 2018:

Many Americans were shocked when Attorney General Jeff Sessions turned to the Bible — specifically, Paul’s epistle to the Romans — to justify President Trump’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents.

This scriptural justification for a political decision should not have surprised anyone, because Mr. Trump’s administration has consistently treated the separation of church and state as a form of heresy rather than a cherished American value.

Attacks on the wall of separation established by the founders — which the religious right likes to call “a lie of the left” — are nothing new. What has changed under Mr. Trump is the disproportionate political debt he owes to extreme religious conservatives, whose views on church-state issues — ranging from the importance of secular public education to women’s and gay rights — are far removed from the American mainstream.

The very meaning of the phrases “religious liberty” and “religious freedom”— traditionally understood as referring to the right of Americans to practice whatever faith they wish or no faith at all — is being altered to mean that government should foster a closer relationship with those who want to mix their Christian faith with taxpayer dollars. This usage can be found in numerous executive orders and speeches by Mr. Trump and his cabinet members. Changes in language have consequences, as the religious right’s successful substitution of “pro-life” for “anti-abortion” has long demonstrated.

Religion-related issues, especially if buried in lengthy government documents, can often seem obscure, but they dominated the news at the end of June, when the Supreme Court upheld Mr. Trump’s travel ban targeting majority-Muslim countries and struck down a California requirement that anti-abortion, state-licensed pregnancy clinics provide notice to their clients that abortion is an option. These significant rulings were immediately overshadowed by the retirement from the court of the frequent swing voter Anthony M. Kennedy, which now gives Mr. Trump the opportunity to nominate a predictable religious conservative who would most likely support the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

While it is impossible to overstate the long-term importance of the next court appointment, Mr. Sessions and many of his fellow cabinet members offer textbook examples of the everyday perils of entangling religion with politics. Mr. Sessions’s citation of the opening verse of Romans 13, which admonishes that every soul must be “subject unto the higher powers” and that there is “no power but of God,” inflamed an already bitter debate over immigration. the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, followed up with a reminder that it was “very biblical” to enforce the law. Neither went on to quote Verse 10, which proclaims, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

Many pro-immigration religious leaders, including Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims, took umbrage at the biblical justification for a policy that could hardly be described as loving. Their objections, however, were based mainly on the idea that Mr. Sessions had picked the wrong verse.

It was left to secular organizations to identify all religious rationalizations as the fundamental problem. The Center for Inquiry, a secular think tank, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, on whose honorary boards I serve, issued strong condemnations — as did the Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Rachel Laser, president of Americans United, put it succinctly: “The separation of church and state means that we don’t base public policy on the Bible or any religious book.”

And yet Trump administration officials have used fundamentalist biblical interpretations to support everything from environmental deregulation to tax cuts
Scott Pruitt, who resigned from his post as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday, once asserted in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network that Americans who want stricter environmental standards are contradicting the Bible. Mr. Pruitt, a former trustee of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said, “The biblical worldview with respect to these issues is that we have a responsibility to manage and cultivate, harvest the natural resources that we’ve been blessed with to truly bless our fellow mankind.” The trenchant headline recounting the interview in Baptist News read: “God Wants Humans to Use Natural Gas and Oil, Not ‘Keep It in the Ground,’ says E.P.A. Chief.”

Many evangelical Christians do not share such theocratic fantasies. These evangelicals, like former President Jimmy Carter, are spiritual descendants of Roger Williams, who was banished from the Puritan theocracy of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and founded the first Baptist congregation in colonial America. Williams is also credited as the first person to use the phrase “wall of separation,” in a 1644 response to the theocratic Puritan clergyman John Cotton. (There should be a “wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world,” he wrote.) Thomas Jefferson used the expression in a famous 1802 letter to a Baptist congregation in Danbury, Conn.
Williams is an inconvenient figure for today’s religious right, which asserts that the only purpose of the “wall of separation” was to protect religion from government — not government from religion. That was true in early colonial America, but the other side of the equation was well understood by the time the Constitution — which never mentions God and explicitly bars all religious tests for public office — was written. Destructive religious wars in 17th-century Europe, among other factors, had led many Americans to the realization that governments could indeed be threatened by a close identification with religion.

President Trump’s appointees seem unconcerned about whether statements praising the godliness of mixing religion and politics will offend secular and many religious Americans.

Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development and a devout Seventh-day Adventist, has described commitment to the separation of church and state as “crap,” prompted by “political correctness.”

At a December cabinet meeting, Mr. Carson was asked by Mr. Trump to say a prayer thanking God for the recently passed tax cut bill. Mr. Trump also took a jab at the press pool and said, “You need the prayer more than I do, I think.” Speaking to Mr. Carson, he added: “Maybe a good prayer and they’ll be honest, Ben.” Mr. Carson responded by thanking the Almighty for a “courageous” president.

Mr. Sessions took on a larger mission last fall when he sent a 25-page memo on “protections for religious liberty” to every federal agency. It warned that government “may not exclude religious organizations as such from secular aid programs, at least when the aid is not being used for explicitly religious activities such as worship or proselytization.”

Andrew Seidel, a lawyer with the Freedom From Religion Foundation, notes that although it’s hard to know what this will mean in practice, “It’s an invitation — but one that carries great authority — to go further and further and further in shrinking the distance between church and state.”

Last but not least is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Ms. DeVos, raised as a strict Calvinist, has devoted much of her life to promoting private and religious schools over public education. She is particularly proud that last year’s tax bill expanded the education savings accounts known as 529s so that they can now be used to pay for private schools, starting from kindergarten.

In May, Ms. DeVos visited New York City, which has the largest public school system in the country. She did not inspect a single public school. Instead, she stopped by two Orthodox Jewish schools and spoke at a fund-raiser where she was introduced by Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan. In her speech, she expressed support for tax credits to help pay tuition for private schools.

While applauding state initiatives to aid these schools, Ms. DeVos opposes any federal program that would create a new bureaucracy. That is not enough for Cardinal Dolan, who wants federal money (presumably because he knows that New York is unlikely to divert more taxpayer dollars to private schools).

“Some states will need more prayers and more action than others to bring about needed changes,” Ms. DeVos acknowledged.

As someone who believes that the separation of church and state provides equally needed protection for government from religion and for religion from government, I am grateful that laws speak louder than prayers — and take longer to craft on this earthly plane.

Susan Jacoby is the author of “The Age of American Unreason in a Culture of Lies.”

 

Why They’re coming.

Who’s Really Crossing the U.S. Border, and Why They’re Coming
By Stephanie Leutert
LAWFARE, Saturday, June 23, 2018,

border1
Central American migrants riding freight trains through Mexico (Flickr/Peter Haden)

The passages that follow are a much edited and much shortened version of Stephanie Leutert’s original article which I encourage you to read. For letting us know what in fact is happening at our southern border crossing her account is terrific . What would it take to get the president to read her text? More than anyone of us has, especially given the fact that the president doesn’t read at all. Why if ever he did begin to read, say “real news,” not the fake news of Fox and Friends, that by itself might begin to change our country, perhaps even begin to return us to the community of liberal democracies that are now being heedlessly and stupidly thrown under the bus by the president’s words and actions. As he so often says, SAD! DEMORALIZING!

 

Over the past week, the separation of 2,000 children from their parents along the U.S. border has forced immigration into the national spotlight. President Trump, who initiated the separations and then sought to quash criticism with a muddled executive order, has portrayed the policy as a harsh but necessary measure to stop a wave of migrants “bringing death and destruction” into the United States. He claimed that migrants want to “pour in and infest our country,” while linking those crossing the border to the gang MS-13.

But despite what the president says, the situation at the border is much more nuanced. There’s not a flood of people racing to and across the border. Also the migrants for the most part are far from being dangerous criminals. Most are women and children, fleeing the gang violence at home and certainly not trying to bring the gangs with them to our country.

Trump and co. has tried to tie Central American migrants to the gangs, MS-13 and Barrio 18. Our own government data reveals that gang members cross very irregularly and are the rare exceptions. The crossing numbers for gang members are far from being the “infestation” as described by the president.

The Migrants themselves today are not the same as they were some 20 years ago. The face of migration has greatly changed. Back in 2000, Mexican nationals made up 98 percent of the total and Central Americans (referring to Honduran, Guatemalan, and Salvadoran migrants) only one percent. Today, Central Americans make up closer to 50 percent. A declining Mexican birth rate, a stable economy, and the U.S. border buildup have all contributed to the decrease in migration from Mexico.

Still there’s no one simple description of a migrant. Across the U.S. political spectrum, politicians and activists present Central American migrants as either dreamers or law-breakers; those fleeing violence or those  using to their own advantage immigration loopholes; the crying toddlers or the MS-13 gangsters. Such divisions as these force migrants into rigid categories, losing the diversity of their reasons stemming from wide-ranging demographics and backgrounds.

To understand Central American migrants means first abandoning the depiction of the “Northern Triangle” of Central America as a homogenous region. All three countries of the triangle, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, have different histories and contemporary political realities, along with varying security and development indicators, all of which bear on today’s situation. What moves each of these immigrant groups to travel to the United States is not the same.

Take the following map,

 

which illustrates the hometowns of Central American migrant families apprehended at the border (as reported by the U.S. Border Patrol) from 2012-2017. In Honduras, most families report that they are coming from major cities, such as San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa; the situation is similar in El Salvador, with of these migrants hailing from San Salvador and San Miguel. This urbanization matters: these cities have high levels of urban gang violence, committed by MS-13 and Barrio 18. These groups have divided control of the cities up into a patchwork quilt and earn the majority of their money from local-level extortion.

For Central American residents, control of these gangs over their neighborhood likely means a weekly or monthly extortion payment simply for the right to operate a business or live in their territory. The price for failing to provide this money is death. All it takes is a neighbor or nearby shopkeeper to be gunned down for failing to pay the adequate fees, and it becomes clear that the only options are pay or flee. Parents may also send their children to the United States or take them north as the gangs try to recruit them into their activities: Boys of eleven years old (or younger) may be recruited as lookouts and teenage girls may be eyed for becoming the members’ “girlfriends.” Older women who date or at one point dated a gang member can become trapped and unable to escape the violence, with partner-violence a driving migratory factor for many women….

Without an ability to live safely or prosperously in Central America, residents begin looking to head north to the United States. That means coming up with the US$6,000 to $10,000 necessary for hiring a smuggler. To obtain this money, residents may sell their land or property, rely on the generosity of friends or family in the United States, or borrow money from local loan sharks and leave their farms and property as collateral…

The journey across Mexico is not, as Trump commented on Thursday, “like … walking through Central Park.” Migrants are extorted, robbed, assaulted, raped, kidnapped, and murdered at alarmingly high levels and with almost complete impunity. The perpetrators vary by geographic area, including MS-13 and Barrio 18 in the southern part of Mexico; larger criminal groups such as the Zetas and Gulf Cartel in the northern parts of the country such as Tamaulipas; local kidnapping rings and bandits throughout the territory; and even municipal, state, and federal migratory and public security authorities. …Women and children are also at particular risk, with nearly one-third of the women reporting that they were sexually assaulted during their trip through Mexico….

The families that the Trump administration has focused on separating make up an increasingly high proportion of the migrants who reach the U.S. border. Previously, many migrants would seek to reach the United States by hiking through the desert undetected. But in recent years, families have begun crossing the border and waiting for a Border Patrol agent, or showing up at ports of entry, to ask for asylum. Before the Trump administration’s recent immigration crackdown, these families would be then taken to a family detention center, where they would have to pass a “credible fear” interview to be released—that is, prove that they have a real fear of returning to their home countries. At least 77 percent of the families pass this hurdle and are released with an ankle monitor or after paying a bond. They can then begin their cases in immigration courts.

The Trump administration is looking to shake up this system. Under the current policy and the June 20th executive order, the administration is pushing to detain families together for months, if not years, while their cases are processed. …

Finally and despite the administration’s claims to the contrary, the numbers of Central Americans arriving at the border are not near the all-time highs, and there is no infestation or invasion of MS-13.

What the data shows instead is something far less dramatic: men, women, families, and children who are arriving to seek safety and the basic American dream of a better life.

 

Liberté, Égalité, et Fraternité