Migrant Camps—Oh, Yes We Are

The US already has migrant camps and refugee holding facilities, and, the numbers of camps and people in those camps increases every day. And, our government is creating MANY of these camps either directly (immigrant detention) or indirectly (failure to deal with homeless issues).  This includes ALL people living in the streets or in camps or in homeless shelters. That is, not just people legally or illegally coming into the US from other countries, but, also our own citizens who are jobless or underemployed,

Homeless in DC

Homeless in DC

and, homeless. In many places in the United States, the homeless population is growing, a HUD December 13, 2017 report gave the number of homeless in the US as 553,000. In LA alone there are 58,000 homeless (LA Times, 2/25/18). In New York City the number of people that are homeless or living in shelters is 76,000. Not counting those living in shelters or the homeless in the suburbs, DC’s homeless population is just short of 7,000 (Washington Post, 5/8/2018). [Incarceration for poor people who can’t make bond or poor people incarcerated for long years for non-violent drug related crimes is another post on another day.]of the homes

Thousands in Puerto Rico are still without power or water or access to other community safety resources. They live in conditions that have NOT been fully improved or repaired all these months after Hurricane Maria.  There is little news and very few headlines about Puerto Rico and yet people still suffer and effectively live in camps or houses without roofs.

Yesterday, trump said that, “”The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility … you look at what’s happening in Europe and you look at what’s happening in other places we can’t allow that to happen in the United States – not on my watch.” (MSNBC broadcast of trump speech)

Well, we already are a country of migrant camps and refugee holding facilities. Sadly, most of the disenfranchised are US citizens, a half million Americans. Most wealthy people who spend their leisure time at country clubs may not actually see the homeless or their camps and  so may not be aware that 40,000 of the homeless are American veterans! (Military Times, Dec 6, 2017).

Homeless in Birmingham

Homeless in Birmingham

And, I posit that we don’t have more “migrant” camps because we have hundreds of prison camps holding adults and children. ICE has over 200 “camps” in America holding 30,000 plus men, women, and children…some without medical care, almost all without access to advice or legal representation. Texas holds 15,852, California 6,527, Arizona 3,869, Georgia 3,717, Louisiana 3,143…200 camps in all. (https://www.freedomforimmigrants.org/detention-statistics) THIRTY THOUSAND!

And the GOP, the party to which I belonged for 41 years…it’s pretty much gone. Taken over by trumpists like Steven Miller (who so reminds me of German zealots from 80 years ago). Is America becoming fascist? I read an interesting article yesterday that addressed that very question entitled, “It’s Happening Here Because Americans Can’t Admit it’s Happening Here.” The author goes through a logic process that is reasonable but describes the typical American as “in active denial,” that is, scowl on his face, defensively crossed arms, separation from the group, and more.

The author goes on to say, camps in America where ethnic groups are concentrated are being built and babies are being forcibly separated from their families the same as they were in Nazi Germany, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, and more. The Asians know, they’ve seen Pol Pot, Mao, and more. “Not here,” says the scowling American looking down his nose at Black Lives Matter, Immigration demonstrations, Peoples Climate, and, more. Well, I think it is happening here and I think the scowlers and arm crossers and deniers are sadly wrong. I think the power of the dollar is slowly replacing the power of the vote and letting the country slide into something other than a democracy.

I believe we can preserve the American way of life. We have to look the scowling, denier cynic in the eye and demonstrate to him that he is a valued part of America, but, he will not be so valued under a fascist state which by supporting trump he will receive. We need to open a dialogue with that scowling face to list the issues, list the possible solutions, link the positives, and

Homeless Camp, Fairfax County, VA

Homeless Camp, Fairfax County, VA

take action to fix and talk and fix and talk. I believe that trump is bad for America and that his cronies may be even worse: Pence, Miller, Bannon, Pruitt, Conway, Huckabee Sanders, etc. But hating them, trash talking them, targeting them for ranting abuse really doesn’t do any good. The solutions are living next door, and down the street, and in the communities. Talk to people. Vote! Get them to think about living in a place where individual freedom is a matter of whim of the despot in charge and not the American way.

And one last thing, the Democratic Party is living in a different century. They are not coming up with strong programs or people but rather same-O, same-O. They completely missed the Bernie message. They completely missed America’s view on Hillary.  They are absolutely missing the anti-trump message. The anti-trump rhetoric may win during the mid-term but IMHO will not do a thing in 2020. Somebody in the DNC needs to get their shit together.

 

 

 

 

 

Homeless in Denver

Homeless in Denver

Homeless in Birmingham

Homeless in Birmingham

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“Stop Swallowing This BS…Go Look For Yourself”

This is what a friend said in response to my post on June 16. Another friend posted a video from the Media Research Center (MRC), a locally based conservative organization whose stated mission is to expose and neutralize the media it considers liberal. I watched the MRC video.  And, I very seriously considered the comment that I should be there and thought about how not being there might influence and hamper my thought processes. I have a couple of observations regarding the express and implied comments. I truly do appreciate the respectful feedback. I am sincerely trying to look at these issues in whole instead of through a single channel or a narrow human lens.

First, would my vision or version of what’s happening on the border be clearer were I there? Of course. Well, maybe. I say maybe because I would only be able to see things from one place. To have a more complete picture, I would have to rely on other’s views because this very intense human drama is happening in many places. Those views would reach me through a variety of “channels,” such as word-of-mouth or electronically or through print. I assume that through whatever “channel” I used, that channel would have filters or bias or some sort of “tilt” toward something and we all know that talking about something with sizzle is more exciting and generates more revenue than just straight fact reporting.

Please remember, my post yesterday was a prayer for those families that were separated from their children and also for those people who were following orders to remove children of all ages from their parents. This was a prayer about human suffering.

But, I wasn’t “there.” Where did I harvest my facts? Well, indirectly from DHS, but admittedly for this story, through an Associated Press release. On June 8, a Reuters story described how nearly 1,800 families have been separated from their children in April and May of this year. As a supporting fact, the articles states, “A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official testified last month to Congress that between May 6 and May 19, 658 children were separated from 638 parents because of the stepped-up prosecutions. That brings the total of officially acknowledged separations to more than 2,400, though that does not include recent weeks or the period from March 1 to May 6.”  I conclude that even though I am not “there,” that the separation is happening. Currently, most of my “political news” actually comes from CSPAN where I can watch DHS administrators and others answer questions from congress. From watching CSPAN, I understand that some 14 “Centers” are being used to hold the children until a place is found for them or someone claims them.

In response to the media blitz, MRC reminds us that the rules during the Obama administration were the same and that exactly the same things happened under Obama. I don’t know if that’s true, I will take them at their word and say that, tragically, those things happened then, too. But because Obama did the same thing does NOT make doing that thing okay. In fact, that should incentivize Americans to find a way to solve this problem. Holding these children hostage so that congress will vote for trump’s wall is inhuman…

Why cannot congress get off its ass and look at these issues with a solution in mind?? Well, perhaps because we let them.

And for both my liberal and conservative friends…if you reduce your information channels down to only those that agree with your current opinion and you “retweet” or repost or consume only those, you narrow your human and spiritual potential.

Life is often foggy.

Fog on Local Lake

Fog on Local Lake

 

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Children Put In Camps

I’m relatively astounded, although I know I shouldn’t be since this type of thing has been done before by Americans. Of course I ache for the children who’ve been taken from their parents, separated from their siblings, and put in what are probably terrifyingly lonely and dangerous places…

Most of the time their parents came here to ask for asylum because family members are being killed in their native countries and they had few places to go…and they chose America. I know that Sessions says DHS behavior is condoned by the Bible…I think that’s shameful, but, then I’m not as learned a scholar as he.

I wonder, if you are one of the DHS people who arrests the adults and then takes their children away…how do you go home at night and look your children in the eye? I think they must also be suffering.

I will say a prayer not only for the families ripped apart, but for the Americans being forced to psychologically torture children and put them in CAMPS! This is not a political thing…this is a human play for power. I pray for those who support this travesty because they think it might save their vision of a “America” which quite frankly is not my vision.

The shot below is an abandoned prison in Lorton, VA. The shot reminds me of the terror those kids must be going through. I can’t imagine.

Lorton Prison

Lorton Prison

 

 

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Human Suffering

Yesterday I took a trip to Richmond, VA, where I listened to two stories about life. The stories were very different and were a lot to process.  I haven’t written anything on this blog for three months, I did not want to contribute to the cacophony of words which has devolved into a contest of bitterness and hate.

My trip yesterday helped me to understand a little more about the origins of our national division. In the morning, I listened to a VA scholar extol the virtues of Robert E. Lee and explain that Lee’s country was actually Virginia, hence the Confederacy, which justified all that he’d done. There were more words in his very academia-oriented talk but that’s my Readers Digest version. And, he notes, because Lee was a noble southern hero, the monument pictured below was a fitting memorial to him. The memorial was built in 1890. Slavery was not the reason Lee fought, the speaker said, rather his reason was Virginia.  And other Confederate leaders were much like him. The speaker told us these statues were not put up because of Jim Crow activities, the timing was completely coincidental. I looked at the statue…I thought of the 360,000+ AMERICAN troops that had died because of him and others like him. And then I thought of the 258,000 southern troops that had died under his command. More Americans died in the Civil War than died in World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam combined. Imagine the families they left behind.

That afternoon, I listened to the stories of African people who were snatched from their families and villages and then put on ships in tiny spaces, into a disorienting chaos of bodies crammed together: sweating, breathing, urinating, defecating in a space smaller than your bathtub… And, then the voyage ends and they are dropped off into horrible, dehumanizing conditions in Richmond at the Manchester Docks. Chained together, auctioned as chattel, treated as property, like a sofa or chair, or cow. I am reading Barracoon: The Story of The Last Black Cargo by Zora Neale Hurston and so my imagination was running in overdrive.

I was reminded at the end of the day, that these stories were about many things, but mostly, they were about human suffering. How true. I think the Civil War was an event that America has not recovered from psychologically, philosophically, or politically. Sadly, some people see this division as an opportunity to exploit emotions which continues the cycle of suffering. Slavery was in America since the birth of the nation and was a critical component of the economic development of our nation when it was young. The horror and terror of enslavement and the divisions in our country’s soul sparked the human tragedy of the war and the national acrimony in the century and half since it ended. I pray we find a healing path.

Robert E Lee Statue, Richmond VA

Robert E Lee Statue, Richmond VA

 

Fisherman on the site of the former Manchester Docks, Richmond, VA

Fisherman on the site of the former Manchester Docks, Richmond, VA

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Congress Is Broken!

For way too long Congress has abrogated its responsibilities to its constituents, the Constitution, and this country. I’m of the mind that the original intent of our forefathers was that Congress would make laws and the executive branch would carry them out and do other things to care for the country as required by the law or that might arise from carrying out those laws. That is NOT working. The executive branch has slowly gained the edge on the other two branches either through executive orders or clandestine operations. This isn’t a Republican or Democratic thing, it’s a thing that many presidents have done for their own benefit, and none more than donald trump. (I’m guessing that he went to all cash in his stock holding sometime last week, but we’ll never know.)

Trade wars are bad… No one will come out a winner. But, perhaps a real Trade War won’t happen, I mean, why should China retaliate? We want their materials and we will pay for them. Who is going to go without their iPhone?  I’m not an expert and so I’m sure my friends who are trumpist fan-boys will cry “Bullshit!” But here’s the short term impact…things are going to cost Americans more money. A tariff is a thing that gets added on to the price of a good. So if an iPhone “costs” $900 now, when you add a tariff that cost will go up. Another example is Boeing. That huge aerospace manufacturing company buys a lot of raw material from China, those airplanes will probably now cost more…who knows whether Boeing will be able to pass on those increases to their airline customers, but if they do, the airlines will pass those costs on to us, the flying public. And so, trump says…we will build our own stuff, and we may do so, but not at the cost that they do in China. So those high prices will remain, even if and because making steel in America is more expensive than it is in China. And how long would the rebuilding of a steel industry take? And what about the environment which I am sure will be pummeled during a steel industry sprint. But what if trump changes his mind? The new plants will then be as empty as the old.

Posit this: What if  China stopped buying from us and start buying from the new Pacific Rim treaty organization, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)? China is a huge market for U.S. products and I’m sure that is what the trumpists are hoping will drive China to cooperate. Not sure what the definition of “cooperate” is but if the Chines do cooperate, will trump get rid of the tariffs? That won’t help the steel workers. But what if the Chinese begin to target their products for sale in CPTPP countries and perhaps make America irrelevant in Pacific Rim trade.

Now I want to be the first to say that the claim trump makes about the theft of Intellectual Property (IP) is grounded in truth and it’s not a new thing. All you have to do is look at Russian and Chinese military aircraft which look stunningly like U.S. aircraft. And software…wow, you can buy unlicensed/illegal copies of some of the most expensive software in the world for less than $20 in India and China. And internet technology…like everything the U.S. has been cloned in China. So why doesn’t our government standup to help industry remain secure. Theses are out and out thefts from superb U.S. companies, stolen. But, for some reason our government has never really taken the bull by the horns for internet security. For instance, identities are stolen everyday and yet THAT SEEMS TO BE OKAY with industry and the government. The banks and credit unions reimburse us for any lost funds in credit card system hacks and few, if any, are prosecuted. Millions and millions of records are stolen each year and we classify this as “cost of doing business.”  A complete abrogation of responsibilities from the executive branch as well as congress. Theft of our data is just wrong but industry won’t or can’t stop it and government is no help. So now…these thefts are justification for tariffs. Bullshit.

Congress is Broken

Congress is Broken

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