Jill Richardson – Informed Comment https://www.juancole.com Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion Sat, 06 Mar 2021 06:35:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.16 The Scientists made the Vaccines; Now can we Get Americans to Take them? https://www.juancole.com/2020/12/scientists-vaccines-americans.html Wed, 30 Dec 2020 05:01:36 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=195233 ( Otherwords.org ) – With the new COVID-19 vaccine available, Dr. Anthony Fauci says Americans can begin to achieve herd immunity by next summer. Herd immunity occurs when so many people are immune to the virus that it can’t spread, because an infected person won’t have anyone left to spread it to.

Yet as of November, four in ten Americans said they definitely or probably won’t get the vaccine (although about half of that group said they would consider it once a vaccine became available and they could get more information about it).

Why, after living in quarantine for nine months while the economy and our mental health crashes around us, after over 300,000 Americans are dead, is getting the vaccine even a question?

There are two ways to approach this question. The first is to dismiss it: Call vaccine skeptics derogatory names, post memes on social media about how stupid they are, and make rules requiring the vaccine.

The second way to approach the question is to try to understand vaccine skepticism in order to address Americans’ concerns.

Sociologist Jennifer Reich tied vaccine refusal to messages that treat health like a personal project, in which consumers must exercise their own discretion, and a culture of individualism in a world where there is not enough of anything to go around — jobs, money, health care, etc.

In this view, everyone must look out for themselves so they can get ahead, and that’s more important than doing your part to achieve herd immunity for our collective wellbeing.

Reich’s research on anti-vaxxers comes from before the current pandemic. She studied parents who refused to vaccinate their children for preventable diseases like measles. But it’s still worth considering in this new context. Reich believes it is unsurprising that some people do treat vaccines like a consumer choice and disregard that when they decline a vaccine, they endanger others too.

Another take on COVID vaccine refusal comes from Zakiya Whatley and Titilayo Shodiya, who are both women of color with PhDs in natural sciences. They focus on Black, Latinx, and indigenous communities, who often distrust doctors. Their suspicion is not unfounded, given how much racism in medicine has harmed people of color, historically and in the present.

Scientists hold the power to define what is true and what is not in a way that non-scientists do not. Consider the power relations within medicine: When a patient goes to the doctor because they are ill, the doctor assesses their symptoms, makes a diagnosis, and prescribes a treatment.

Scientists determine what is recognized as a diagnosis and which treatments are available. Powerful financial interests (like pharmaceutical and insurance companies) play a major role too. The patient’s power is more limited: they can look up their symptoms on WebMD, accept or refuse the treatment prescribed, or go to a different doctor.

Sometimes lay people react to being on the less powerful end of the relationship by simply refusing to believe scientists. They might resist by embracing conspiracy theories or “barstool biology” that uses the language of science but not the scientific method.

Natural scientists have done their part by creating vaccines that are safe and highly effective. To get people to take the vaccine, we need social science. We must learn how to rebuild trust with people who have lost it. And we will do that by listening to them and understanding them, not by calling them stupid.

OtherWords columnist Jill Richardson is pursuing a PhD in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This op-ed was distributed by OtherWords.org.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus video added by Informed Comment:

Yahoo Finance: ” Coronavirus vaccine: Helping dispel myths about the coronavirus vaccine”

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Time to Value our New Americans: Trump Spent 4 Years Telling Monstrous Lies about Immigrants https://www.juancole.com/2020/12/americans-monstrous-immigrants.html Sun, 20 Dec 2020 05:02:00 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=195077 ( Otherwords.org ) – New data confirms what’s been true all along: Trump built his brand selling fear-mongering lies about immigrants and crime. By | December 16, 2020

As Donald Trump leaves office, it’s worth remembering how he first launched his campaign: by calling immigrants “murderers” and “rapists.”

This was outrageous then. And there’s more evidence now that it was, of course, false.

A new study finds that “undocumented immigrants have considerably lower crime rates than native-born citizens and legal immigrants across a range of criminal offenses, including violent, property, drug, and traffic crimes.”

The study concludes that there’s “no evidence that undocumented criminality has become more prevalent in recent years across any crime category.” Previous studies found no evidence to support Trump’s claim, but now we have better data than ever before.

Put another way, Trump was telling a dangerous lie.

Sociologists Michael Light, Jingying He, and Jason Robey used crime and immigration data from Texas from 2012 to 2018 to find that “relative to undocumented immigrants, U.S.-born citizens are over 2 times more likely to be arrested for violent crimes, 2.5 times more likely to be arrested for drug crimes, and over 4 times more likely to be arrested for property crimes.”

Unfounded accusations of criminality are a longstanding tool of racism and other forms of bigotry across a range of social categories.

When anti-LGBTQ activist Anita Bryant wanted to discriminate against gays and lesbians in the 1970s, she claimed we molest children. More recently, when transphobic people wanted to ban trans women from women’s bathrooms, they falsely claimed that trans women would rape cisgender women in bathrooms.

Consider how much anti-Black racists justified their actions in the name of “protecting white women” from Black men. In 1955, a white woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham, wrongly claimed that a 14-year-old Black boy, Emmett Till, grabbed her and threatened her. White men lynched Till in retaliation. More than half a century later, Donham revealed that her accusations were false.

In 1989, the Central Park Five — five Black and Latino boys between the ages of 14 and 16 — were wrongly convicted and imprisoned for raping a white woman. They didn’t do it. In 2002, someone else confessed and DNA evidence confirmed it. (Trump, who took out full-page ads calling for their execution then, never apologized.)

Racism and bigotry are about power and status. Yet instead of openly admitting that some groups simply want power over others, most bigots find reasons that sound plausible to the uninformed — even if the reasons are completely untrue. Bigotry is much easier to market if it can masquerade as fighting crime.

It wasn’t just Trump himself. During the Trump administration, officials like the U.S. solicitor general argued before the Supreme Court that undocumented immigrants are disproportionately likely to commit crime. Data: None. Claims: False.

As Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”

So when you hear a claim that a particular group of marginalized people are criminals, question it. What is the evidence for the claim? What is the evidence against the claim? Why is the person making the claim, and how will they benefit if people believe them?

If someone cites research, who performed the research, and who funded it? Do the funders have a financial stake in the research findings? Was it published in a peer-reviewed journal? Is the data publicly available for others to replicate the findings?

In this case, the research debunking this racist lie was government-funded, peer-reviewed in a major journal, and the data is available to the public.

Hearing that particular group of people poses a threat to your safety can be frightening. But because such claims have been used throughout history to spread bigotry against marginalized groups, they should always be fact-checked.

In this case, the evidence is clear. Trump stoked anti-immigrant sentiment in the name of fighting crime, and his claims were baseless and false. The lie should end with his presidency.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus video added by Informed Comment:

Democracy Now! “Rights Groups Demand Biden Reverse Trump Immigration Changes as COVID Surges in ICE Jails”

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The Worst Possible Leader in a Pandemic: Trump’s Authoritarianism is all about Him https://www.juancole.com/2020/07/possible-pandemic-authoritarianism.html Sat, 25 Jul 2020 04:03:53 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=192205

Even if he’s wearing a mask now, he’s still trying to conceal data, silence experts, and block funding.

( Otherwords.org ) – The Trump administration is apparently undertaking its latest effort to make 2020 more of a Kafkaesque nightmare than it already is. Yes, we’ve got murder hornets and a swarm of flying ants that can be seen from space over in Ireland, but maybe the scariest plague of the year is the president.

Since the start of the pandemic, Trump’s only concern has been his poll numbers. He wants to go back to the reality we left behind in 2019: an open economy and no mass casualties from a novel virus.

We can’t do that, so he’s done his best to pretend: downplaying the pandemic, falsely claiming his administration has it under control, urging a quick economic reopening, and inaccurately claiming the economy is strong anyway.

When he can’t pretend everything is fine, he blames the Chinese. But China is not responsible for Trump’s botched response to the pandemic.

Now the Trump administration is actively interfering with the pandemic response.

Hospitals have been instructed to send COVID data to a central database in Washington, bypassing the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The information will no longer be accessible to the public, raising concern that the data is being hidden for political reasons and the lack of transparency will make it easier for the administration to mislead the public.

The administration is also blocking CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield from testifying before Congress about the safety of reopening schools. They are attempting to block GOP senators from allocating billions of dollars to the CDC, Pentagon, and State Department for pandemic response. And the administration even opposes sending billions to states for testing and contact tracing.

Trump’s message to states has largely been “you’re on your own,” declining a national leadership role and placing responsibility for handling the pandemic on the states. He’s also suggested that governors should “treat him well” to receive federal aid, using the pandemic as a bargaining chip to silence dissent from governors who disagree with him.

Earlier in the pandemic, when personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies were limited, the federal government was even seizing PPE shipments.

In normal times, I would say the president should not be abdicating his leadership responsibility on the pandemic response. Under this president, I think we’re all better off if he and his political appointees interfere as little as possible and let more capable people do their jobs.

Despite his recent conversion to mask wearing, Trump’s authoritarianism is ill-suited to a pandemic. You cannot lower mortality rates by claiming the pandemic is under control and trying to force schools and businesses to reopen, regardless of the risk to workers. You can’t prevent the economy from tanking by insisting that it’s fine.

Trump’s top concern appears to be his own approval ratings, not our national welfare. He seems to believe his denial will be enough to save the economy — a plan that will fail and cause further mass casualties along the way.

The administration has created a terrible situation. All of our choices between our health and our economy are tough, and no choices will fully protect us. More than 140,000 people have died, and our economy is a mess.

We need to govern with facts instead of fantasy. If Trump can’t handle the job, he should get out of the way.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

The Young Turks: “Trump Restarts Coronavirus Press Briefings”

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Sadistic or Crazy? Trump is cutting Food Stamps in the Midst of Pandemic Depression https://www.juancole.com/2020/05/sadistic-pandemic-depression.html Sat, 30 May 2020 04:01:02 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=191192 ( Otherwords.org ) – Tens of millions of us are out of work. Why on earth is Trump trying to cut food aid?

In some ways, this horrible pandemic has brought out the best in humanity.

Where I live, neighbors are helping neighbors. A friend who cleans houses for a living says about half of her clients are no longer having their homes cleaned, but they are still paying her. I hate what’s happening right now, but I love that so many of us are helping each other.

And then there’s the Trump administration, which appears to be taking things the other way.

Before the pandemic, Trump wanted to cut people off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — also known as SNAP, or food stamps. And during the pandemic, he still does.

In case you hadn’t noticed, 100,000 Americans are dead. More than 36 million lost their jobs. I’m spending an extra year in school because employers have hiring freezes, and I’m afraid that when I graduate with more than $100,000 in student loan debt, it won’t be much better.

People who argue against the social safety net complain about free riders. If everyone could just get freebies from the government, why would they work?

Having been on food stamps myself, that’s nonsense. As a single person, I’d have to make less than $1,276 per month in order to qualify. That’s an income of $15,312 per year. When I qualified, about seven years ago, I got $70 per month in benefits.

No rational person would choose to earn less than $15,312 a year to get $70 of free food each month. Nobody. You do the math.

Right now, especially, we are in an extraordinary time. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, and millions more have to risk their health in order to work because they can’t afford not to.

Families still need to pay rent, pay mortgages and other loans, buy food, and so on. The choices the government makes now will not just affect who lives and who dies. They will also affect how quickly we are able to recover.

Trump has talked about prioritizing the economy from the beginning. The economy is made up of people. Our economy is the aggregate of all of us working, earning money, and paying for what we need to live. When consumers and businesses falter, it’s up to the government to do what’s needed to keep the economy from going off the rails.

Put another way: now is not the time to cut food stamps.

Helping out people at the bottom is good for two reasons: first, because they need help the most. And second, because they will spend the money they receive and put it right back into the economy.

Every five dollars spent on food stamps generates $9 in economic activity. When families buy food at grocery stores, their money is distributed throughout the entire supply chain — to farmers, processors, distributors, truckers, warehouses, marketers, and the grocery store itself.

Food stamps are not just a matter of compassion, though compassion is more important than ever right now. They’re also smart economic policy.

It’s not that the government is not spending. They’ve given massive handouts to large corporations and wealthy individuals. Why do we have enough money to give handouts to billionaires but we can’t help hungry people eat?

Via Otherwords.org

Featured Photo: Shutterstock.

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Why Mike Pence is the Worst Choice to Lead a Coronavirus Response https://www.juancole.com/2020/03/choice-coronavirus-response.html Sat, 07 Mar 2020 05:02:58 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=189517 ( Otherwords.org ) -The former Indiana governor presided over the state’s worst ever HIV outbreak. His ignorance made it worse.

A year after Trump took office, Saturday Night Live did a sketch called “What Even Matters Anymore?

Game show host Jessica Chastain read a list of outrageous things Trump has done and asked, “Does it even matter anymore?” Each time, the contestants thought it should, but they were wrong.

For instance, the president had an affair with a porn star while his wife was pregnant and then had his lawyer pay her hush money. Does it matter? No, the host countered, nothing even matters anymore.

Here’s a new one: A novel virus, COVID-19, spreads around the world and Trump appoints Mike Pence to lead the U.S. response. That’s the same Pence who allowed the worst HIV outbreak in Indiana history to spread unchecked while he was governor.

Does it even matter anymore?

The outbreak was tied to intravenous drug use. Experts recommended a needle-exchange program to reduce the risk of diseases such as Hepatitis C and HIV.

Pence not only opposed needle exchanges — he also made it more difficult to even test for HIV. As a member of Congress in 2011, he voted to cut public funding for Planned Parenthood. Two years later, when Pence was governor, the Planned Parenthood clinic in Scott County, Indiana was forced to close due to public funding cuts.

Scott County turned out to be the epicenter of the outbreak. And that Planned Parenthood clinic was the only HIV testing center in the county.

The first HIV case in the outbreak was diagnosed in November 2014. The state waited another two months until 17 more people were diagnosed to begin an investigation.

Experts recommended a needle exchange program to stop new infections. Pence refused, because (after praying about it) he said he thought they enabled drug use, even though studies show they reduce disease transmission and do not increase drug use.

Pence waited yet another two months, until late March 2015, to declare a public health emergency. Only then did he allow a temporary, 30-day needle exchange in Scott County.

In May, Pence finally signed a law allowing other counties in Indiana to establish temporary needle exchange programs in cases of public health emergencies. They got no state financial support. And by that point, the outbreak had already reached its peak.

Furthermore, Pence undercut his own actions by signing a second bill on the same day. The second bill made possession of a syringe intended for drug use a felony with a prison sentence (it had previously only been a misdemeanor), potentially deterring people from using needle exchanges.

In fact, the Scott County needle exchange established in April 2015 had some initial trouble from police officers confiscating syringes from those distributing them for the program.

Pence’s refusal to put public health infrastructure in place in the first place — and then waiting months to act after an outbreak was first identified — allowed 215 people to contract HIV when it could have been limited to a fraction as many.

So…. placing an ideologue with a proven track record of botching a response to a disease outbreak in charge of handling a global pandemic? Requiring scientists and experts to clear any statements with Pence before communicating them to the public?

And all this from the same Pence who also once penned an op-ed assuring people that “smoking doesn’t kill”?

Does it even matter anymore?

The Trump administration seems to be dealing with COVID-19 more as a PR issue than a public health one. Like always, Trump is more interested in his approval ratings than the well-being of the American people.

This time around, mistakes will result in people needlessly dying. Yes, it does still matter, and we need an administration that acts like it does.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus video added by Informed Comment:

The Young Turks: “Mike Pence Attempts To Fix Trump’s Coronavirus Gaffes”

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How the Education Department Is Ripping Off Defrauded Students https://www.juancole.com/2019/12/education-department-defrauded.html Thu, 26 Dec 2019 05:01:27 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=188103 By Jill Richardson | –

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is back in the news on a topic close to my heart: student loans.

It’s close to my heart because I’m six years into a PhD program and six figures in debt right now. While my life has been immeasurably enriched by my education, I’m not taking on this amount of debt simply because I love learning.

Like anyone, I’m doing it because I need a job.

My student loans were a calculation of risk vs. reward: I took on this debt because I believed doing so would result in eventually finding a secure, well-paying job that would allow me to pay it back and then some. Just the learning, or even the degree alone, will not be worth it unless my degree leads me to a job.

That’s the calculation students make when they take out student loans. Education is a ticket to many salaried, middle class jobs, yet higher education is financially out of reach for many without loans.

Sociologist Sara Goldrick-Rab has documented many ways in which our existing financial aid system does not adequately serve the needs of low-income students — because it was created based on assumptions true of wealthier students only.

For example, typical aid calculations assume that parents will contribute to their children’s education, and children won’t be working to contribute to their parents’ household income.

Some students take out loans but don’t finish their degree — and they are left in debt with nothing to show for it. These are not lazy students. They are often working one or more jobs, sometimes raising children, and trying to go to college while living in poverty. Attempting to attend college leaves them worse off than if they had not tried at all.

The latest news concerns students who took out loans to attend now-defunct for-profit colleges, and they too are in debt with nothing to show for it.

Even if the students attended classes, did their homework, and got good grades, the credits they earned at those colleges are worthless to employers. The schools defrauded the students, promising that the credits and degrees they would award had a value they did not.

Under the Obama administration, the government was going to give these students full loan forgiveness, based on a provision in the law that allows it in such cases.

But under DeVos, the Department of Education covered up the finding that the students’ credits were worthless and they qualified for loan forgiveness. DeVos argued that the students’ degrees still had some value, and they should therefore pay back some of their debt.

The current debacle is part of a larger problem. The larger problem is a job market in which wages haven’t kept pace with inflation or productivity and many jobs are low wage, short term, unstable, or lacking in benefits.

Salaried, middle class jobs generally require a college degree, and college degrees are impossibly expensive, creating a catch-22 for those born into poverty who want to work their way into the middle class.

Loans are the Band-Aid we use to make college educations more accessible without addressing structural problems in the job market or the cost of college.

Unfortunately, it’s the most vulnerable students who pay the price when this system doesn’t work. And it’s even worse when the government sides with the for-profit frauds who bilked them.

Since the students were defrauded, and there’s a legal provision to forgive their debt, the government should do so. It may not fix the larger problem, but at least it provides justice to victims who deserve it.

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

Rep. Ilhan Omar Challenges Betsy DeVos on Private School Fraud & Student Loans

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Can Trump’s Systemic Racism be Explained? https://www.juancole.com/2019/11/trumps-systemic-explained.html Sun, 24 Nov 2019 05:03:33 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=187530 (Otherwords.org) – Racism means a lot more than using slurs or feeling hatred. Yet even in these narrow terms, Trump fits the bill. By | November 20, 2019

“Is Trump a racist?” I have two answers to that question.

First, most white Americans misunderstand racism solely as intentional beliefs held by individual racists who hate people on the basis of race. For example, at times the media has focused on whether or not they could prove Trump had ever used the N-word, as if that alone would be the measure of whether or not he is a racist.

Sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva says that this “misses the fact” that racism is “a part of the social structure of society. Hence, we all participate in it — and we participate in it whether we like it or not, in conscious and unconscious ways, and in passive as well as active ways.”

This latter definition, the one accepted by sociologists and race scholars, takes a bit of getting used to, particularly if you are a white person who abhors racism.

I try to frame it for my students as follows: This nation was founded by people of European descent who stole land from — and committed a genocidal campaign against — the indigenous people on this continent. Then they enslaved Africans and their descendants for more than 200 years.

Segregation only became fully illegal in 1968. Anyone over the age of 51 was alive while segregation was still legal. We as a nation are still grappling with the legacy of our past, working toward justice for all — and we aren’t there yet.

None of us alive today asked to be born into a racist society — and yet, here we all are. It’s impossible to grow up in that society without participating in the status quo and absorbing at least some prejudices, even if they are only subconscious ones.

In short, learning about race means getting comfortable with the idea that our society itself is effectively racist, even for white folks who don’t actively feel that hatred themselves.

My second answer about whether or not Trump is a racist is: yes. And not just in the “everyone’s a racist” sense of the word.

For example, during the run up to the 2016 election, white nationalists supported Donald Trump because they felt like he would represent their interests and values best. Former Klan leader David Duke openly supported Trump, and still does.

Now, a trove of leaked emails show that Trump’s senior adviser Stephen Miller is “clearly immersed in white nationalist ideology.”

If Trump appeals to white nationalists and appoints white nationalists to senior positions in his administration, does that mean he holds racist views himself? Probably — but does it even matter? Whatever he privately believes, he’s allowed white nationalists to infiltrate senior levels of government, and they are influencing national policy.

In a more recent talk at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Bonilla-Silva analyzed Trump’s use of language to show how he speaks in terms of “us” and “them,” in which “us” refers to white Americans and “them” refers to people of color. And he routinely refers to immigrant “infestations,” using language most people reserve for insects and rodents they intend to exterminate. (Yet he’s not against all immigrants: he likes to marry the white ones.)

Although Trump often defends his immigration policies in terms of national security or economic concerns, the facts show that immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than native born citizens and, as one study put it, “immigration has an overall positive impact on the long-run economic growth in the U.S.”

In short, Trump’s language, his choice of senior officials in his administration, and his popularity among white nationalists show that he holds racist views. It’s those views — and not national security or economic factors — that are behind his policies.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus video added by Informed Comment:

The Young Turks: “Trump Gets Racist On DACA”

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Trump’s Assault on the Constitution: Politics as World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. https://www.juancole.com/2019/10/constitution-wrestling-entertainment.html Thu, 03 Oct 2019 04:04:04 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=186668 (Otherwords.org ) -Either our system is going to break, or Trump’s finally going to fail. It’s an exhausting drama.

Does Trump understand democracy? I’m really asking.

His approach to politics is combative — kill-or-be-killed. If you hit him, he will hit you back harder, no matter what the rules of the game are.

That might be a great strategy in a WWE ring. It’s less good in life.

Trump gives demeaning and sometimes racist (“Pocahontas”) nicknames to political opponents. He never apologizes, even when he has been caught admitting to sexual misconduct with women (and been accused of plenty more by a host of women) or making fun of a disabled person.

He appears to believe you are either the winner or the loser, and he must be the winner. His only strategy has been brute force. And he doesn’t seek out solutions in which all parties win.

This approach has been very destructive on the policy front. But it’s not clear whether it’s going to work for him in the long term.

He kicked off his reign with a host of executive orders attempting to strong-arm the government into bending to his will while bypassing Congress. He silences climate scientists. He appointed Betsey DeVos.

After being investigated for collusion with Russia, he appears to have attempted to pressure Ukraine into digging up dirt on his political opponent in the next election.

And now we find out that he pressured the prime minister of Australia to help his attorney general, William Barr,discredit the Mueller investigation.

Does he not understand how the government works? He seems to be missing some key lessons about the Constitution, Congress, and oversight.

I am not suggesting that it would be better if he enacted his platform of climate denial and opposing immigration through more shrewd, yet Constitutional means. I would like to see more compromise, moderation, and humaneness in how this administration operates.

I don’t wish for him to be more competent at achieving an agenda I believe is harmful. However, I am somewhat baffled at why the sitting president of the United States repeatedly attempts to circumvent democracy even after getting politically dragged for it.

Perhaps that’s because, up to a certain point, it’s working. The man’s still president. He’s getting at least some of his agenda accomplished, even if it’s only in the form of stalling progress on fighting climate change and other forms of throwing wrenches into anything he doesn’t like.

And he gets to meet world leaders and feel very important. (Reportedly the clever ones have figured that making him feel important is a useful tactic for manipulating him.)

He still gets crowds of adoring fans at rallies — even if the host city’s government simultaneously publishes a statement opposing him.

Donald Trump’s presidency feels like a test to push the limits of our Constitution, to find its weaknesses, and see if it truly protects the liberties and principles it was designed to protect.

Personally, I’m ready to be done waiting with baited breath to see if the Constitution holds up to these assaults. It would be less exhausting to trust that we had a leader who believed in it.

Via Otherwords.org

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At Height of Hurricane Disaster Season, Trump moves $100 mn. from FEMA to Jailing Immigrants https://www.juancole.com/2019/09/hurricane-disaster-immigrants.html Sat, 07 Sep 2019 04:08:18 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=186193 (Otherwords.org) – The Trump administration is moving money away from disaster relief to lock up more immigrants.

Donald Trump discusses immigration as if the benefits of residence in the U.S. are a pie. When immigrants get more, the people who were already here get less.

In general, that’s not true. When immigrants come here, they don’t just take some jobs (often low-wage jobs U.S. citizens don’t want), they also create new jobs. They need housing, transportation, food, and clothes, and they buy all of those things, creating more jobs for other people in this country.

However, in one way, Trump is turning his viewpoint into a self-fulfilling prophecy: He’s using our finite government funds to pay for incarcerating immigrants in detention facilities, which means he’s shifting that money away from other uses that could benefit the American people.

In that sense, it’s not immigrants who are taking from us. It’s Trump.

For example, disaster relief. Trump’s using over $100 million in federal disaster aid money to pay for detention centers for immigrants — even as hurricane season gets underway.

Does that worry him? Apparently not.

When asked about Hurricane Dorian, which was then a category 5 storm nearing the Atlantic coast, Trump actually said: “I’m not sure I’ve ever even heard of a category 5.” He said the same thing last year about Hurricane Michael. And the same thing again the year before, about Hurricane Irma.

Hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural disasters are threats that definitely harm Americans. Historically, we as a nation take care of one another by appropriating some of our tax dollars for federal disaster relief.

Nobody plans to be the victim of a natural disaster, and we can’t predict which communities will be hit by them. We can prepare for them as a nation so that when they happen, we are as ready as we can be, and we have the resources to deal with the aftermath.

While we can’t control whether or not we get hit by hurricanes or tornadoes, we can control whether we invest in being prepared — or whether we waste that money instead on locking up immigrants in taxpayer-funded detention facilities.

We don’t need to do that.

When we take money from disaster relief and use it to imprison people who pose no safety threat to the American people, we are also harming the victims of natural disasters who need aid they won’t receive.

By moving money within the Department of Homeland Security from other areas (the Coast Guard, FEMA, etc.) to pay for beds in detention centers for people who have crossed the border illegally but represent no safety threat to this country, the Trump administration could leave America open to other types of threats instead.

Rather than spending tax dollars needed for actual threats to national security on detaining immigrants, we need comprehensive and humane immigration reform that keeps families together. Then we can use our money on what we actually need, like disaster relief.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus video added by Informed Comment:

CBS News: “Trump administration diverting funds away from FEMA”

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