The ACLU just published a 50-state Blueprint for Smart Justice, with state-specific recommendations for reducing state prison populations by at least half. It’s time and past time—Minnesota’s prison population grew by a stunning 51 percent from 2000 to 2016. Prisons were already over-full in 2000. The total growth in state imprisonment quintupled between 1980 and 2016. That’s five times as many people in Minnesota prisons in 2016, compared to 1980. Continue reading
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Thursday night, I saw the first news reports from New Zealand. Another terrorist attack on a mosque, then on two mosques. “Dozens” dead, then 49, now 50. Denunciations of the terrorism by government officials, the hunt for the shooter or shooters, the arrest, the manifesto, grief, rage, numbness.
The terrorist who killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand boasted of being a fascist and a white nationalist. He praised U.S. President Donald Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity.” He expressed hatred of immigrants, calling them “invaders,” the same language used by the terrorist in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre. That’s also the language of President Donald Trump, earlier on the day of the shooting, as he vetoed the Congressional action against his border wall national emergency. “People hate the word ‘invasion,’ but that’s what it is,” he said. Continue reading
When our daughter was growing up, in the age of Newt Gingrich, her father and I tried to explain that he was an aberration, that back in the day, Republicans and Democrats usually disagreed but often found ways to work together. We told her that many Republicans cared about the good of the country, that some supported and voted for civil rights bills and the minimum wage. Minnesota had good Republicans, we said. We might not agree with them or vote for them, but they were not corrupt or evil or committed to making the rich richer and the poor poorer.
She did not believe us.
“Where are these mythical good Republicans?” she asked. Continue reading
[CORRECTION 11/23/2018*] The president says America will make $110 billion dollars selling arms to Saudi Arabia, so he will overlook the torture and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi on the orders of the Saudi government. The president says this is putting America First. He lies on both counts. The first lie is that selling out human rights is putting America First. The second lie is the $110 billion: the actual arms deal is only $4 billion.
The president’s position reminds me of an old story:
A man asks a woman if she would be willing to have sex with him for a million dollars. She replies affirmatively. He then asks if she would be willing to have sex with him for ten dollars. “Absolutely not!” she replies indignantly. “What do you think I am?”
“We’ve already established that,” he says. “Now we’re just haggling over price.”
The president’s position is that America is a whore, selling out principles for profits. If the price was right, would he sell bone saws to the torturers?
“America First” betrays America and Americans. Continue reading
Vote as if:
You believe we can build a better world together.
Someone I don’t even know emailed me this week to ask for my voting recommendations. Usually, I get a couple of family and friend calls on Election Day, but this is a first for me. So, here are my voting recommendations. A lot of my information comes from Naomi Kritzer, a writer who does careful research for every election and publishes it in a race-by-race analysis on her blog, Will Tell Stories for Food. Thanks, Naomi!
Top of the ballot this year has become very easy: Continue reading
Today is Citizenship Day. Across the country, thousands of new citizens are swearing allegiance to this country and this dream. Last Tuesday, I saw 875 new citizens sworn in at the St. Paul River Center. They came from 91 countries, but now they are part of one country. More new citizens were sworn in on Thursday in Moorhead, and even more across the country during the past week and today. They all swore to “support and defend the constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
“On Feb. 20, a young woman named Mirian arrived at the Texas border carrying her 18-month-old son. They had fled their home in Honduras through a cloud of tear gas, she told border agents, and needed protection from the political violence there.
“She had hoped she and her son would find refuge together. Instead, the agents ordered her to place her son in the back seat of a government vehicle, she said later in a sworn declaration to a federal court. They both cried as the boy was driven away.”
This New York Times report sounds like something out of Law and Order or some other ripped-from-the-headlines almost-true crime show. Unlike a television show, there’s no happy ending and the forces of the law look like the villains, not the heroes. Continue reading
On April 26, the New York Times reported:
“A top official with the Department of Health and Human Services told members of Congress on Thursday that the agency had lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children it placed with sponsors in the United States, raising concerns they could end up in the hands of human traffickers or be used as laborers by people posing as relatives.”
These children were “unaccompanied minors” who arrived at the border on their own and were placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and then placed with sponsors. Most were from Central America, and were fleeing violence from gangs and drug cartels. Most of the 7,635 unaccompanied minors placed by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) arrived before 2017. Continue reading