Concentration Camps Exist in America

AOC has recently taken a lot of heat after calling the detention centers at the border concentration camps.  Critics from both sides of the aisle say that the use of the term is extreme and makes a very unfair comparison to the death camps of Auschwitz.  So, is it an unfair comparison? In my view, the answer is no.

These detention centers are detaining people seeking asylum and taking their children.  The kids are forced to endure cold temperatures, lights on around the clock, filthy conditions, inadequate food and water with little to no contact with lawyers or relatives.  This is torture.  The US is torturing innocent children.  

Children are forced to care for toddlers/infants and pack limited supplies for incoming separated kids.  Illness is common due to overcrowding, moldy bathrooms and spoiled food. Kids have no diapers, soap, toothpaste or clean clothes.  Guards wear face masks to protect themselves from the unsanitary conditions.  Concerned US citizens have tried to donate supplies to the suffering children only to be turned away.  

This is all horrible, but is it a concentration camp?  Well, let’s start with the definition:

A place where large numbers of people, especially political prisoners or members of persecuted minorities, are deliberately imprisoned, for reasons of state security, exploitation or punishment,  in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities, sometimes to provide forced labor or to await mass execution. Persons are placed in such camps often on the basis of identification with a particular ethnic or political group rather than as individuals and without benefit either of indictment or fair trial

Now, here are all the examples that prove that this situation at the border is in fact America running concentration camps. 

A place where large numbers of people are held in a relatively small area? Check.

The Homeland Security inspector general has found “dangerous overcrowding” at a CPB facility in El Paso, Texas.900 people were found in this facility when the capacity is only 125!  People were forced to be in standing-room-only conditions for weeks!  Can you imagine? We don’t treat our dogs like this.. 

Cells designed for 35 occupants are holding 155 people.  80,000 people are currently in custody with more coming everyday.  The requests for more detention space made by Border Patrol get denied by the government, the agencies continue to detain noncriminals and there’s constant miscommunication between HHS, CPB, DHS and ICE causing many to be held longer than legally allowed.  Unbelievable.

The detained are often members of a persecuted minority?  Check.

Trump, Fox News and some employees of border agencies constantly dehumanize these asylum seekers.  There are countless examples of Trump trashing immigrants on his twitter.  We all watch him call them animals, rapists, bad hombres along with language like people crossing the border is like an infestation of our country.  There’s no question that he doesn’t care one bit about the well being of the people at the border.

Fox News recently had a segment that argued that these kids aren’t our kids trying to downplay what is happening to human beings at the hands of this government.  Seriously? A kid is a kid no matter where they are from! Innocent little souls that have no choice in this matter whatsoever.  The only reason they say these things is to make migrants seems like human or less valuable so Trump supporters will support these horrible policies.  Sadly, this strategy seems highly effective.

Right wing websites and media take every opportunity they can to paint immigrants in a terrible light.  We’ve all seen it. Accusations of migrants carrying deadly disease into the country, taking our jobs, mooching off the system, murdering innocent women and the like.  Viral videos zoom around social media of people yelling go back to your country or chanting build a wall at people of color.  It’s so discouraging to see.

There are many examples of border agents and other employees of the government treating people under their care with cruelty.  Remember the audio of the agent making fun of the crying children after their parents were removed?  Or how about the agent that mowed down a man with a government truck?  Text message exchanges between agents reveal a disturbing culture among the people charged with caring for migrants.  “Fucking beaners”, “guats” and “subhuman shit” are just a few terms that are commonly used. 

Wow… these are the people we are trusting to care for immigrants?  It makes me sick.

People are detained for reasons of state security, exploitation or punishment?  Check.

The Trump Administration is constantly citing national security as a justification for ‘cracking down’ on migrants.

  • State Security: Do I even need to explain?  How many times have we heard that Trump is the only guy that wants to keep Americans safe from rapists (except if it’s him), drugs, MS-13 and the rest?  Close the border then! Keep America safe!  It’s the entire premise behind building that wall.
  • Exploitation: There are numerous reports of sexual abuse and assault within these facilities.  People in power preying on those that have no protection, no support and no way to get justice is the definition of exploitation in my view.  Based on the culture among the agents highlighted in my last point, I assume there are agents that detain vulnerable potential victims or work to hide their misconduct.
  • Punishment:  Jeff Sessions said that zero tolerance would be used as a deterrent.  In other words, if you cross the border you will be punished. Also, as highlighted in the latest IG report, agents routinely punish people by withholding rec time, segregating them from others and using restraints without holding the required hearings before punishments are used.

Detained with inadequate facilities?  Check.

The Office of Inspector General found “immediate risks or egregious violations of detention standards at facilities.”  They did unannounced inspections at 4 facilities.  Here is what they found:

  • Spoiled, moldy and expired food in kitchens
  • Thawing meat with no indication of how long it had been sitting out
  • “At Essex, the food handling in general was so substandard that ICE and facility leadership had the kitchen manager replaced during our inspection”
  • Raw chicken leaked blood all over refrigerator
  • Outdoor space unavailable at 2 facilities (no fresh air or direct sunlight)
  • Bathrooms in poor condition
    • Mold in walls, ceiling, vents, mirrors and shower stalls
    • Peeling paint on walls, floors and showers
    • Unusable toilets
  • Improper sizes of clothing given and never replaced (3X and 4X only)
  • No underwear in stock
  • No shampoo or lotion given
  • Required detainees to purchase toiletries at commissary

And this inspection didn’t include the Texas facility that all those lawyers went to!  In addition to the IG’s findings, there have been multiple reports of no showers, no beds, no blankets, no diapers, no clothes, no soap, no toothbrushes, served frozen food, inadequate water, no contact with the outside, no medical care and no idea what is going on.  

Detainees sometimes provide forced labor?  Check.

The children are caring for the toddlers/infants.

Any parent knows how much work it is to care for infants and toddlers.  Most days I can’t wait to get in bed after spending the day with my two little ones.  Caring for children is hard even when you have diapers, beds, food, activities, tv and everything else.  My love I feel for my own children also helps get me through the hardest moments. I’m capable, 33 years old and have all the support I need.  Child rearing still breaks me fairly regularly.

Now, imagine a 7 or 8 year old child being forced to care for a child that they don’t know, that is sick, hungry, sleep deprived, dirty, relieving themselves with no diaper, snot stained clothing, confused, clingy and crying all the time with little to no adult support.  Even the strongest of adults couldn’t deal with this situation.  Lawyers interviewing the children reported some children falling asleep during the interview due to exhaustion from caring for one another.  Forced labor happening right before our eyes. 

People detained without proper indictment or fair trial?  Check.

Do asylum seekers and people detained by ICE get their day in court?  Eventually, but the average stay for asylum seekers in a detention facility is 102 days. Then, they wait another 577 days for their case to reach an immigration court. So, all this happens before a judicial proceeding:

  • Immediately detained 
  • The children are removed 
  • Remain in custody for 102 days where they must endure conditions akin to torture
  • Released with little support and perhaps an ankle bracelet
  • Track down their children without help from the government
  • Attempt to repair the trauma inflicted on themselves and their children (if they were able to find them)
  • Live in fear of ICE for roughly two years while waiting for the courts
  • Endure citizens/President treating you like subhuman for roughly two years
  • Can’t legally work

Plus, how fair are these court proceedings?  I’ve seen clips of two year olds facing the judge by themselves!  I’ve read of agents giving ultimatums to parents forcing them to sign their own deportation documents to get their children back before they are able to face a judge.  The government destroys families and makes it impossible for them to advocate for themselves.  This isn’t what America is supposed to be.

By definition, concentration camps are alive and well in America.  This should make every person in this country outraged and uncomfortable.  Don’t look away. The course of this nation is in our hands.  Stay informed, keep the pressure on and most importantly cast a vote against Trump in the next election.  It may be the only thing we can do for these little ones now.

I’m a Democrat. Here’s Why

The new year has caused me to be very self reflective. What are my strengths and weaknesses as a parent, wife and friend. All the normal resolutions bump around in my head. Cook more, eat healthy, read to the kids more, keep the house cleaner, etc. It is a familiar routine. There has been one major difference with this new year though. Last year I launched the blog. I have spent half of the year in a new, and often uncomfortable, place. Putting my political views ‘out there’ definitely threw a wrench in things! I struggled to cope with hateful comments and unsolicited sexually explicit pictures. I felt weighed down by the workload, pressure from my self imposed deadlines and constantly behind on the other duties of my life. I went through months of self doubt after opposing arguments made their way through my social media accounts on a near daily basis. Because of this, I spent many hours examining my own positions. Why do I feel the way I do? This was the question on my mind as I was reading through the Declaration of Independence recently. There’s a section in it that we all are quite familiar with:


“…all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”


After months of introspection, this line jumped off the page for me. This single line, and my firm belief in it, can explain the roots of my progressive views. First of all, the definition of unalienable must be understood. Unalienable, nowadays inalienable, means unable to be taken away or given away by a possessor. So, unalienable rights cannot be taken/given away. The rights that are specifically listed are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In my mind, the industries that impact these three rights, that cannot to be taken/given away, should not be for- profit.

Life: It’s time for universal healthcare

The right to life is directly impacted by the healthcare system. Every living and breathing human should be able to get the healthcare they need regardless of age, condition, financial position, housing status or any other factor if life is truly an unalienable right. Insurance companies, personal finances and employment status dictates an Americans right to life as it stands currently.

Liberty: No for-profit prisons

Prisons or immigrant detention facilities shouldn’t be financial goldmines for anyone. This only incentivizes longer sentences and more detainees directly impacting the unalienable right to liberty. The prison system and society don’t integrate former inmates back into regular life efficiently causing people to continually end up back in prison. If we treated liberty as the unalienable right that it is we would focus more on rethinking how we treat our incarcerated community to help ensure liberty is restored and sustained.

Pursuit of Happiness: Public education from PreK – Secondary Education

The pursuit of happiness is all about retaining the ability to change your circumstances. Education is vital in this pursuit and should be available to all from preschool through secondary education. As it stands now, banks and universities decide who gets to try, therefore deciding who gets the unalienable right to pursue happiness. There should be a public education option at every level of education to ensure that every American has equal opportunity to change their station.

These things, driven by empathy, are what forms my basic ideology. This is why I find myself on the left side of the political spectrum. Some call these ideas radical. I call them bold and ambitious. Having a healthy, educated population is an investment that is worth all the time and money that would have to be spent to make it a reality. 2019 will be full of surprises I’m sure. Hopefully some bold, ambitious policies will be one of them.

What’s All the Fuss About Anyway?

I keep hearing the same questions lately about the family separations at the border. Why so much energy now? Didn’t Obama do the same thing? Isn’t it just the Trump haters looking for anything and everything that he is doing wrong? There seems to be plenty of confusion about this sensitive and divisive issue, but one that concerns many. Politicians and pundits like to muddy the water surrounding issues like this for whatever reasons suit them best at the time. It’s hard to cut through the noise. Here’s a few things that might clear it up.

  • No immigration laws have changed. A zero-tolerance policy was put it place.

There’s a big difference between a law and a policy. A law is a system of rules that are enforceable by a government. A policy is the method in which a law is enforced. For example, the speed limits are set by the law. We all know that you can drive 5 or 10 over the speed limit without getting pulled over. I’ve heard stories of people getting out of tickets just by explaining to the officer what’s going on, although that has never happened to me, ha! That is because the policy in place is that the police officer can use his/her discretion in this situation. It would be well within the rights of the sheriff to enforce a zero-tolerance policy for speeding requiring all officers to ticket and prosecute every person that exceeds the speed limit, even by 1 mph.

This decision would have huge consequences even though there was no change to the law.

  • Jails would fill up
  • Courts would be overrun with cases
  • There would be no room for impounded cars
  • Children would be separated from parents
  • Police resources would have to be reallocated to patrolling the streets with more scrutiny.

It doesn’t take a vote to change a policy. Policies are changed by the person running an agency. That is why when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a ‘zero-tolerance policy on criminal illegal entry’ it created a crisis at the border. Officers at the border were no longer able to use their own discretion on the misdemeanor charge of crossing the border.

All people, regardless of reason, were detained, child removed, and charged with a crime creating the bottleneck issue I illustrated above. Where do we detain all these people? How do we get them through the already stressed immigration court? How do we pay for it? Is it worth allocating all these resources to a fragment of the overall immigration problem? They have since pulled back the zero-tolerance policy.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/attorney-general-announces-zero-tolerance-policy-criminal-illegal-entry

In past administrations, prosecutions were reserved for repeat offenders, criminals returning to US after deportation or people suspected of human trafficking. Officers were able to use their own judgement to decide what to do with people crossing the border. If it was decided that someone was going to be criminally prosecuted and they had children with them, they would be separated. At the end of 2017 there were just over 7000 kids in the care of Health and Human Services, many of which were minors that crossed the border without parents. In the span of 5 weeks over 2200 children were added to that count as a result of the zero-tolerance policy. Reports came out that said the government was anticipating 30,000 by the end of summer. I believe this number, along with reports of cruel treatment of the migrants, is part of what caused the national outrage.

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/392751-us-may-be-holding-30000-migrant-children-by-august-report

https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/southwest-border-unaccompanied-children/fy-2014

Push factors are things that would cause a person to leave their country of origin. Some of the push factors causing people from Central America to come to the border are gang violence, poverty and drought. Pull factors are things that would draw people to the US. One major pull factor is migrants are able to stay in the US until they see their day in court. That can take over 650 days. The US is going to have to work with the governments of El Salvador and others if there is any chance of stopping the migration northward. In the meantime, we need comprehensive reform which could include many more immigration judges to help move cases through the courts more quickly.

https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/increased-central-american-migration-united-states-may-prove-enduring-phenomenon

The protest on Saturday was about stopping the inhumane treatment of people at the border. It isn’t worth further traumatizing people who have already decided making this journey is better than what they left behind. There are many things we can do to reform the immigration system. Holding people captive shouldn’t be one of them. I marched on Saturday because I believe we should take an empathetic approach to immigration reform rather than an ‘us vs them’ mentality.

Who Should I Vote For?

I have found myself being asked this question frequently from friends, family and people throughout my social media.  It’s a tough question. It’s a personal question. In all reality, it’s a question that only the person asking knows. Every vote that is cast should be based on the values of the voter.  Values can be vastly different for every person. The Trump presidency highlights that fact for us everyday. So, who do you vote for? Follow these 5 steps to figure it out.     

Step 1:  Determine your values

This seems like a very simple task.  It’s easy to think of things like ‘be a good person’ or ‘do the right thing’.  Take some time to think about it just a little deeper. What makes a person good?   How do you decide the right thing? All of us have guiding principles swimming around inside of us that help govern our decision making.  It’s not always easy to pin down what they are specifically. Here are mine:

  • Integrity – be honest and trustworthy
  • Inclusiveness – people’s differences don’t disqualify them from being loved, experiencing friendship, receiving respect and living a dignified life
  • Empathy/Compassion – understand everyone isn’t dealt the same hand, see from others perspectives
  • Team-oriented – other people’s successes matter as much as your own
  • Justice – everyone deserves fair and thoughtful treatment, be willing to stand for what is right

Write them down.  Not only will this help guide your voting choices, it may help you make decisions more confidently in general.

Step 2:  Prioritize which issues are most important to you 

There isn’t going to be a magic candidate that agrees with you on every single issue. (Lucky you if there is!)  Take some time to figure out what issues have the greatest impact on your life and put them in order of importance.  Remember to think about what is important to you.  It’s very easy to let yourself become swayed by what you think other people’s important issues are.  This list is about you and your family. Here’s mine:

  1. Access to healthcare 
  2. Robust public education system that addresses all areas of learning – academic, emotional, physical, social and cognitive development – regardless of the ability, social class, income, zip code of every student

Mine looks like a short list, but I believe these two issues touch every aspect of society.  Investing heavily in these two areas would alleviate much of the human suffering that Americans experience.  It could have a huge positive impact on the trajectory of people’s lives. I also believe deeply that when everyone does better, everyone does better.  It’s such a redundant phrase , but it makes perfect sense!


As some of you may have noticed, I did not include ‘capable of beating Donald Trump’ on my list.  Obviously, beating Donald Trump is very important. The truth of the matter is we don’t know who can beat Donald Trump.  We don’t even know if we are going to have an election that is free of interference. I have found for myself that if I dwell too much on these subjects I find myself considering my values less and less.  It isn’t a citizen’s job to be a political pundit, a pollster or a fortune teller. Worrying about fundraising, media coverage, organization on the ground, how to debate Trump and how to navigate the political winds are jobs for the candidates and their staff.  We, the people, are supposed to cling to our values, use our best judgment and cast our vote. The more we give in to the notion that the most important thing is to beat Trump, the more we are succumbing to fear. If everyone votes on the values they stand for, I believe we will beat Trump.


 

Step 3:  Take your issues of importance and apply your values

Ok, access to healthcare is my number one issue, but how do I decide what I think the ideal healthcare system would be?  This is where the application of your personal values come into play. This process is something I call ‘running it through the value filter.’  (I know, I know, my autism is showing!)

  • Integrity – not necessarily applicable in this case
  • Inclusiveness – Should people’s differences disqualify them from receiving the healthcare they need? It shouldn’t.  Does a dignified life include receiving the healthcare that you need? Yes.
  • Empathy/Compassion – Should a child born with [insert illness here] be denied the care they need to be successful because of the circumstances of their parents? No.  Is there any situation in which a person’s life circumstances should disqualify them from receiving the healthcare they need? No. I believe that you can never know someone else’s situation fully.  Every person has the inalienable right to life and denying access to healthcare for any reason infringes on that right.
  • Team-oriented – Does society function better if we have a population that is as healthy as possible? Yes.
  • Justice – Can a healthcare system function in a fair and thoughtful manner if income, job status, quality of insurance and profits are taken into consideration when delivering services? Absolutely not.

After my own personal analysis, I can determine that a healthcare system that fits into the parameters of my values would be nonprofit industry that grants access to all people regardless of income, job status, personal history or any other factor.  

Step 4:  Compare your vision to that of every candidate

Remember, it’s not your job as a citizen to work out how to implement policy, deal with the federal budget or manhandle members of Congress.  It’s your job to understand what you believe the best path forward for your family is. That’s it. It’s the candidate’s job to take the vision and make it a reality. 

Take your vision and compare it to those of the candidates. Go to each of their websites and look at their positions. Most of them have really user friendly, easy to read policy sections.  When you are clear about what you’re looking for it doesn’t take long to make a decision about who is best for you.  

Step 5:  Cast your vote

This is by far the most important step!  Voting blue in a red state can feel intimidating.  Living in a household that is split politically can make it especially stressful.  Remember, your vote is personal. You don’t have to tell anybody about your choice if you don’t want to.  You can do this!  

 This election is going to have incredible consequences.  All of us are going to have different ideas about the best path forward or the best strategy to defeat Donald Trump.  We are all going to support our candidates passionately throughout this primary season. My hope is that we can all remember what we all have in common.  Donald Trump is the antithesis of the values that we share. My hope is that whoever emerges as the nominee that we will continue to make our voices heard, continue to work together and rally strongly behind the person that is tasked with defeating him.   

Absolute Loyalty is Destroying America

Congressman acting as though they are employees or loyal servants to the president is not the way America should be.  It just isn’t. Doing whatever it takes to stay in power is not what the framers had in mind. What they are supposed to do, among many other things, is a) represent the people b) protect the United States from enemies foreign and domestic and c) serve as a check on the executive branch.  They are failing spectacularly at executing these duties!

Some prime examples of Congressman that epitomize absolute loyalty are:

I could go on and on.  I’m tired of watching them ignore testimony/evidence that the president is actively trying to impact our 2020 election and just looking for any tiny hole they can exploit.  I’m tired of watching them continue to push ‘false narratives’ when they know full well that they aren’t true.  I’m sickened by how mean and vindictive they are, not only the witnesses that came in to testify, but to the Chairman and everyone else that doesn’t agree with them.  Claiming there’s no evidence and then defending the White House for withholding evidence is nonsensical. The constant whataboutism is driving me mad! Arguing that we should let the election decide is crazy because Trump is actively trying impact the results of that election.  Of course, there’s no end to this is sight.    

This is clearly all about power.

Impeachment is about presidential behavior/action, but the behavior/actions of our Congressman are just as consequential in this moment.  Willful ignorance has become par for the course and it’s not because they don’t know better. It’s because they are fearful that if they break from the president they will lose their seat in Congress.  It’s as simple as that. They don’t care about the people, America’s values or protecting our elections. They care about staying in power.  

Just think about how quickly defenses of Trump have evolved:
  • It was a perfect call
  • No quid pro quo
  • Not a corrupt quid pro quo
  • This happens all the time
  • Trump didn’t know
  • Whistleblower complaint is hearsay, inaccurate, politically biased, deep state, etc
  • Process is bad
  • Democrats are out to get Trump
  • Ukraine didn’t know about the held up aid
  • Ukraine didn’t comply with requests
  • The media made it all up
  • Ukraine has the server

This was over the course of just a few weeks!  These are not principled people. Changing their view/argument changes as quickly as the political winds.  Retaining power and relevance is the main objective. This is not what public service is supposed to look like.  Not at all. 

Just a reminder, you work for the people.   

Some might argue that these people are representing their constituents.  Many polls show that in the swing states there isn’t a lot of support for impeachment.  Now, politicians use polls very selectively. We all know that because polling for gun control is just about the only issue that most people agree on.  We also know that is ignored on a constant basis. However, impeachment polls are watched incessantly and always cited by people defending the president.  I would argue that Reps/Senators should take most polls with a grain of salt.  

Most people do not have time to: 

  • Study every issue 
  • Take time to think about the implications for society 
  • Talk to/question experts in the field
  • Receive classified information
  • Field calls from fellow constituents
  • Fully immerse themselves in public service
  • Hold regular town halls
  • Employ staff devoted to reading all relevant studies, becoming experts in public policy 

I believe the people’s job is to elect principled people they believe with do all of the things listed above, come to thoughtful, reasonable conclusions and make decisions with their constituents in mind.  It is not the job of the people to do all the things listed above. By casting our vote, we are ‘hiring’ and paying a representative to devote themselves to these things. Electing a person is giving the people’s consent to use their best judgment when it comes to policy making.  So, I find it really frustrating when elected officials base their decisions solely on polling. Also, have you ever been polled? Yeah, me neither.

Now is the time to protect us from enemies foreign and domestic.

Matters of national security and foreign policy should crush all political calculations in a perfect world.  It should be, as Fiona Hill would say, ‘nonpartizan’ (I just loved how she pronounced that!). Both Marie Yovanovitch and Fiona spoke extensively about the importance of putting US national security above our partisan whims.  There are enemies that are at work that the US needs protection from. Here are a few that they, and all the witnesses, testified about: 

Russia:
  • Actively trying to impact 2020 election 
  • Propagating the conspiracy theory that Ukraine was actually behind the 2016 hack on the DNC undermining American trust in our law enforcement/intelligence community/government institutions 
  • Occupying 7% of Ukrainian sovereign territory violating international law 
  • Currently engaged in a hot war with Ukraine
Rudy Giuliani:
  • Working with corrupt Ukrainians to dig up dirt on American citizens
  • Smearing a sitting ambassador to the point of removal
  • Putting financial interests ahead of US interests
  • Conducting shadow foreign policy undermining the official State Department policy
  • Working closely with now indicted Americans to help further his interests
Donald Trump:
  • Directed Americans to work with Rudy
  • Asked President Zelensky to investigate Crowdstrike and the Bidens
  • Ordered security assistance to be withheld from Ukraine
  • Canceled Pence’s trip to inauguration
  • Withheld White House meeting
  • Stayed in contact with Sondland to get updates on pressure campaign
  • Removed ambassador fighting corruption
  • Blocked all testimony/documents from State Department/Executive Branch 
Other key Americans:
  • Mike Pence
  • Gordon Sondland
  • Mike Pompeo
  • Mick Mulvaney
  • Rick Perry
  • Kurt Volker
  • Donald Trump Jr.

These are just the foreign and domestic enemies that we know about.  Instead of looking at the facts of the case, Republicans are muddying the waters, blaming the Democrats, blaming the Obama administration, the whistleblower and anyone else they can think of.  They are supposed to be protecting our country. They are supposed to be upholding the rule of law. Instead, power and prestige are the only things that they care about. Protecting the president is the only thing they are willing to do. 

Republicans in Congress, you have the power you lust after. Use it.  

Honestly, I find it super embarrassing that these Republican Congressmen are letting the president bully them into submission.  They have just as much power as he does. The constitution says so! There have been numerous reports about Republicans admitting what an obstacle this president is and how much they dislike him so I don’t understand why they don’t take this opportunity to rid themselves of him.  Why don’t they get together with their buddies at Fox News and begin a campaign to remove this guy?  Surely one of them would love to take his place. 

Here’s my advice for you Republicans which, to me, seems so obvious if you want to continue your disgusting corruption:
  • Demand all witnesses testify 
  • demand the documents 
  • demand Trump put forth evidence that exonerates him
  • Start calling out Trump’s lies  
  • Use the damning evidence to create a path for one of you to take the presidency in 2020  
  • Use the evidence to change public sentiment through the Fox News machine
  • Hold up one of your own as being the hero for America
  • Portray your party as the one that protected US
  • Staff ‘smart’ criminals instead of amateurs to help you shake down foreign governments
  • Highlight all your cronies that helped oust a corrupt president
  • Win the election 
  • Appoint said cronies to all cabinet positions
  • Act respectable in front of cameras
  • Stop mean tweeting
  • Continue your corruption with the blessing of the American people 

For people who care about power so much I’m shocked that they don’t use the power that they possess to deploy a plan like this.  Their cowardice is shocking, even in this Trump Era we find ourselves living through. Use your power you fight so hard to keep.  Check this president. The assumption that the only path to survival is defending Trump might be a false one.

It’s up to us.  

Elections matter.  If the Democrats didn’t take the House in 2018, the American public would have no idea the level of corruption of this administration.  It’s obvious that many of our elected officials have abandoned their duties. We must not do the same. The rest of us must focus on doing our duty as citizens. 

Electing candidates that represent our values, use thoughtful reasoning to make decisions and care about society as a whole is absolutely critical in our endeavor to protect America.  We must win this election, but we are not going to do it by tearing each other down. The Republicans want us to do that. Let’s work hard over the next year to inspire nonvoters to register, rally behind our Democratic candidate and to show our neighbors what Democratic values are all about. 

The Whistleblower Story: What is going on?

This whistleblower story has captured my full attention and my curiosity like no story since Jeffery Epstein.  Here are just a few details:

  • A complaint deemed “credible and urgent” by the IG
  • DNI’s refusal to share it with Congress 
  • Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee accusing leaders of breaking the law
  • A letter that states Executive Branch involvement
  • Hearings scheduled
  • A promise made to a foreign leader

There are so many moving parts! The trouble with a story like this is it loses its impact if someone doesn’t know a lot about how the government works.  Who are the players? Who answers to who? Let’s clear things up a little.

What is the whistleblower law? 

The Intelligence Community Whistleblowers’ Protection Act (ICWPA) establishing a pathway for people working in the intelligence agency to file a complaint without disclosing classified information to the public. Here are some details to know:

  1. Whistleblower files complaint with Intelligence Community Inspector General (IG)
  2. IG has 14 days to determine whether the complaint is of ‘urgent concern’ and is credible
  3. IG hands the full complaint along with his determination over to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) 
  4. DNI then hands the complaint over to the House Intelligence Committee with any comments he chooses to add within 7 days of receiving.
  5. House Intelligence Committee resolves the issue

It seems as though the first 3 steps were followed with regard to this whistleblower.  Step 4 is when it starts to get fishy.  

What is an inspector general? (IC IG – Michael Atkinson)

Michael Atkinson, current IG for the intel community, is due to testify to Congress today

An IG is an internal watchdog that functions kind of like an HR department or internal affairs department at a police department.  There are 72 IG offices in the federal government. Their job is to carry out audits and investigations to promote efficiency and to prevent/detect fraud or abuse within a department.

What is the Director of National Intelligence? (DNI – Joseph Maguire)

Joseph Maguire, current acting DNI, has refused to hand over complaint deemed urgent

The DNI is a position that was created after the September 11th when it was determined that there needs to be more coordination between the 17 intelligence agencies. It oversees all intelligence agencies including the CIA and NSA.  This position directly reports to the President of the United States.

Joseph Maguire, acting DNI, received the complaint and issued a letter to Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, telling him he’s not handing it over.  Schiff’s response,

“The DNI acknowledged that this involves someone apparently outside of the authority of the DNI. Someone above the DNI — there aren’t that many in that category. And they also suggested that there may be privilege issues here, which means that it would have to involve communications of the President or people around him.”

It has since come out that the complaint involves a ‘promise’ President Trump made to a foreign leader.

What is the House Intelligence Committee? (Chairman Adam Schiff D – California)

Adam Schiff, Chairman of House Intel Committee, demands full complaint be handed over.

The House Intel Committee (HPSCI) is a group of elected members of the House of Representatives that are in charge of overseeing the 17 intelligence agencies.  The leader, or Chairmen of the committee, decides what issues to investigate, when to issue subpoenas and when to hold people accountable. The Committee is a mix of Democrats and Republicans.  The Chairman will always be a member of the majority party. 

Adam Schiff has issued a subpoena for the DNI to hand over all related materials with respect to the complaint that was made.  It seems as though no one is going to comply with it.

Keeping the details straight about how the government is suppose to work will help as more details come out.  This complaint is yet another example of how Trump can’t be trusted and has no business being President.  Everyone please register to vote and let’s get him out of there in 2020!

BMRS Debate Breakdown with Blacksite Pod

Debate and Racism Apocalypse Special!

GOOD MORNING BALTIMORE! Blacksite Podcast loves you. Donald Trump says many more racist things. The Democrats Debate. And in local news – Salt Lake city mayoral race, Utah might get Medicaid expansion, and United Utah wants term limits. Sarah Bourne of Blue Mom Red State guests on this week’s episode of… BLACKSITE PODCAST!

Listen now!

 

 

Medicare-for-All Would Help Reduce Gun Violence

Here it is, the gun debate.  I put guns and abortion in the same political category for two reasons.  1) People are so entrenched on either side of each issue that compromise seems near impossible.  2) I believe a Medicare4All healthcare system would drastically lower both abortion rates and gun violence without having to fight over the changing laws on either issue.  Let me explain.   

There are people in our society that should not have guns.  

I think we can all agree on that.  To name a few:

  • Stephen Paddock (Las Vegas Concert) – Killed 58
  • Omar Saddiqui Mateen (Pulse Club) – Killed 49
  • Sueng-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech) – Killed 32
  • Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook) – Killed 27
  • Devin Patrick Kelly (Sutherland Springs church) – Killed 25
  • George Hennard (Killeen,Texas) – Killed 23

And, of course, the list can go on and on.  El Paso, Parkland, Dayton, Aurora, etc…  

A huge republican talking point is that it’s a mental health issue, not a gun issue.  Yes, part of the issue is that mentally unhealthy people have full access to guns. Let’s get the guns out of their hands!  How do we do that?  

The only way to know if someone isn’t healthy enough to carry a weapon is to make sure every person is getting the mental health care that they need.  Access to counselors, medicine and a regular doctor will not only improve the lives of so many people, but it would root out the people that shouldn’t have weapons.  Otherwise, the only way we know that someone shouldn’t have a weapon is after a crime has already been committed.  

It’s not just mass shooters we need to be worried about.

This goes deeper than just mass shootings.  Deaths by suicide have increased in my home state among young people and the leading method used is firearms.  Suicide has touched my own family multiple times throughout the years. Medicare4All would help alleviate pressure from a person in a few ways:

  • No coverage loss if fired/change jobs
  • No extra cost for an emergency hospital stay
  • Access to counseling
  • Access to medication

I believe that relieving pressure, addressing the root causes for the suicidal thoughts and removing weapons are three things that can help reduce deaths by suicide.  Again, the only way we can know if someone is suffering mentally is if every person has access to the healthcare they need. The system we currently have makes it so the only way for us to know is when it’s too late.  

(I have learned over the past 3 years that feeling suicidal is much more common than I once thought.  If you, or someone you know, are feeling suicidal please click here to learn more about what to do.)    

Medicare4All would help alleviate human suffering.

I can’t help but believe that shootings in America are directly related to the amount of undue human suffering happening in this country.  Too many people experience:

  • Poverty 
  • An economy that creates permanent winners/losers
  • Limited access to a well paying job 
  • An oppressive healthcare industry
  • Hard work with little pay off
  • Predatory loan companies
  • Predatory credit card companies
  • Unfair/inadequate school system
  • A ‘Keep up with the Jones’ social environment
  • An explosive political climate 
  • Limited ability to live a dignified middle class life
  • Rigged playing field

Politicians exploit these very real anxieties felt by many Americans to stoke racism, anti-immigrant sentiments and hate among us causing more violence.  They portray programs designed to help every citizen as ‘evil socialism.’ They encourage people to be fearful of one another. The narrative that gun ownership is the only way to protect yourself from criminals and an oppressive government has become such an ingrained way of thinking it makes a gun debate useless.  

Here in Utah I hear all the time, ‘let’s take care of our own before we take care of others coming in.’  I say let’s do it! Let’s get healthcare to all human beings in this country and get people operating at their best.  Let’s relieve the pain that our people are feeling to help reduce anxiety, depression, stress, suicide, hate, racism and gun violence.  

Death isn’t the only negative impact of guns.

Mass shootings make the news, but gun violence is so much more than that.  There are plenty of situations that don’t end in death that aren’t good for society.  People using guns irresponsibly to intimidate or invoke fear in others.  You can find example after example of firearms being misused to attempt to control people’s behavior, oppress a spouse or vandalized property.  

This is why healthcare for all is not the only solution to solving the gun violence epidemic.  We need universal background checks and red flag laws. These basic laws, which have majority support among the public, coupled with Medicare4All would help ensure that people who shouldn’t have guns can’t access them.  

We need to elect leaders that want to solve these problems instead of keeping them alive to use as political footballs for their own personal gain.  People that actually view elected positions as a job that serves the public, not just themselves. We need the voting public to cast a vote in every election going forward.  We’ve got to get big money out of campaigns and back rooms in Washington to get the government working for the people. 

Gun violence can’t be solved with one approach.  Medicare4All and gun control laws are just the beginning.  We’ve got to fully fund the CDC to research the issue, repeal the Dickey amendment and the Tiahrt amendment.  As we push for big institutional change, other problems will present and we must have an active electorate willing to take them on.  It’s possible! We can do this 🙂

 

He’s Going Down Swinging

The debate is over. Trump is a racist.  ‘Go back to your country’ is a racist statement.  There is no way to argue otherwise.  Although I am shocked, these tweets aren’t surprising.  He says racist stuff all the time.  The difference here is bluntness.  No sugar coating, no way to misinterpret.  The tweet is so explicitly racist that any CEO would lose their job in 10 seconds over it yet he remains the leader of the free world.

Why did he do it?

The timing here seems extremely suspicious to me for a couple of reasons.  Sure, Fox News ran a few segments about ‘The Squad’ roughly 20 minutes before the tweet storm, but they run segments about them daily.  That couldn’t have been the only factor in my view.

The Democratic squabble between Pelosi and AOC has been headline news which is great for him.  He could have just sat back and let the media run with it. He could have said the party is imploding, called a few names while still making these 4 congresswomen the face of the party.

Instead, he made statements so obviously racist it bumped all other stories to page two.  The White House manufacturing event turned into a circus as he escalated his attacks on these women.  All this gives the Democratic caucus a chance to put their dirty laundry back inside and stand united.  So I ask again, why would he do this? 

Trump is the King of Distraction 

He had to have known the kind of blow back he would receive which might actually be the point.  I think it’s no coincidence Trump did this just days before the bail hearing for Jeffrey Epstein.  He threw a shiny object in the opposite direction so the details of this case wouldn’t lead the hours of every cable news channel. 

His connection to this case is inevitable which might actually be his undoing.  I predict he is going to say a bunch of heinous things to keep the people off his scent.  Because after all, being a racist is a lot more acceptable than being a child rapist.

Thursday is Epstein’s bail hearing.  I expect this week will be particularly painful for many in this country as we watch this president go down swinging.