Dec 28 2017

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

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Chiraag Bains: Sessions Says to Courts: Go Ahead, Jail People Because They’re Poor

Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions retracted an Obama-era guidance to state courts that was meant to end debtors’ prisons, which throw people who are too poor to pay fines into jail. This practice is blatantly unconstitutional, and the guidance had helped jump-start reform around the country. Its withdrawal is the latest sign that the federal government is retreating from protecting civil rights for the most vulnerable among us.

The Justice Department helped shine a light on the harms of fine and fees when it investigated Ferguson, Mo., three years ago after the killing of the teenager Michael Brown by a police officer. As one of the lawyers on that case, I saw firsthand the damage that the city had wrought on its black community.

Ferguson used its criminal justice system as a for-profit enterprise, extracting millions from its poorest citizens. Internal emails revealed the head of finance directing policing strategy to maximize revenue rather than ensure public safety. Officers told us they were pressured to issue as many tickets as possible.

Carl P:ope: Ripping Families Apart: American Greatness?

Cruel and revolting are the two words that stick with me as I revisit in my mind the Trump administration proposal to separate infants and young children from their parents when those parents apply for asylum at the U.S. border. We don’t typically separate children this age from their parents even if their parents are being tried for serious crimes – but those seeking refugee status are not even suspected of breaking U.S. law. (They could not have done so since they have not even entered the U.S., and do so only in federal custody. This is, almost by definition, the most law abiding group of individuals you could target.) They would be separated from their children precisely because, instead of fleeing across the U.S. border illegally, they complied with U.S. law and formally applied for asylum, a right guaranteed to them by international law under procedures established by U.S. law.

The Trump administration doesn’t like this right, and disagrees with the current procedures – and it now debating whether to punish refugees who behave legally, as a means of frightening them from seeking asylum regardless of the persecution they may face. Indeed, it has already, on a limited scale, begun separating children form their parents after those parents applied for asylum. Officials admit that they are trying to intimidate others from exercising their rights by threatening them with the loss of their children.

Jim Hightower: America’s Farmworkers Face Poverty, Neglect, and Now Deportation

Every decade or so, America’s mass media are surprised to discover that migrant farmworkers are being miserably paid and despicably treated by the industry that profits from their labor.

Stories run, the public is outraged, assorted officials pledge action, then… nothing changes.

Several news reports recently have re-documented that the shameful abuse of these hard-working, hard-traveling families continues.

A Los Angeles Times report revealed that, even if they receive the legal minimum wage, many farm laborers earn less than $17,500 a year because of the low pay and the seasonal nature of their work. Moreover, they are often “housed” in shacks, old chicken coops, shipping containers, and squalid motels.

This year, though, multibillion-dollar agribusiness interests from Florida to California are uniting in a push for new assistance — not for workers, but themselves.

While they backed Trump for president, many are now expressing shock that he may actually try to fulfill his campaign promise to cut off the flow of undocumented immigrants to their fields.

Cas Mudde: ‘Trumpism’ is ingrained in white America. When he goes, it will remain

The author Tom Wolfe once wrote: “The dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States and yet lands only in Europe.” He was reflecting a consensus, shared by public and scholars alike, that far right politics is a European phenomenon, at odds with “American values”. It is a conviction so deeply held that it has left the US blind to reality.

Any example of far-right politics is explained away as exceptional, not representative of the “real” America, from “lone wolf” terrorists such as the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh to the rise of Trumpism. [..]

This “externalisation” of the far right was at its height during the 2016 presidential campaign, in which Trump was portrayed as a political anomaly who had hijacked the Republican party. Conservatives and mainstream Republicans argued that he didn’t really represent what was at heart a moderate conservative party. They found much support among liberals, most notably Hillary Clinton, who focused much of her campaign on “moderate Republicans”.

However, for years surveys have shown that strong authoritarian, nativist and populist positions command pluralities, if not majorities, among Republican supporters. Positions on crime, immigration and Islam have hardened rather than weakened, while conspiracy theories that were at the fringes of the militia movement in the 1990s are now widespread.