Tag Archives: Trump

The Sidestep — Trump’s New National Anthem

No need to worry about anyone taking a knee over Trump’s new national anthem. After witnessing Trump’s humiliation of himself and his country during the Appeasement Summit with Putin in Helsinki and the subsequent pathetic attempts to change what he said there, and his departure from the “non mea culpa” [not my fault] statement written for him by his staff, resulting in a “walk back” of the “walk back,” every coherent person anywhere in the world will acknowledge how perfectly this new anthem fits him.

It’s from the movie The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and is sung by the Texas governor who has been asked what he’s going to do about the Chicken Ranch, a whorehouse thriving in his state and which he had patronized himself on more than one occasion. Here is how it goes (for brevity, only one chorus fully spelled out):

“Fellow Texans, I am proudly standing here to humbly say.
I assure you, and I mean it- Now, who says I don’t speak out as plain as day?
And, fellow Texans, I’m for progress and the flag- long may it fly.
I’m a poor boy, come to greatness. So, it follows that I cannot tell a lie.

Ooh I love to dance a little sidestep, now they see me now they don’t-
I’ve come and gone and, ooh I love to sweep around the wide step,
cut a little swathe and lead the people on.

Now my good friends, it behooves me to be solemn and declare,
I’m for goodness and for profit and for living clean and saying daily prayer.
And now, my good friends, you can sleep nights, I’ll continue to stand tall.
You can trust me, for I promise, I shall keep a watchful eye upon ya’ll…

Ooh I love to dance a little sidestep, now they see me now they don’t-
….

Now, Miss Mona, I don’t know her, though I’ve heard the name, oh yes.
But, of course I’ve no close contact, so what she is doing I can only guess.
And now, Miss Mona, she’s a blemish on the face of that good town.
I am taking certain steps here, someone somewhere’s gonna have to close her down.

Ooh I love to dance a little sidestep, now they see me now they don’t-
….

Ooh I love to dance a little sidestep…

And, ooh I love to sweep around the wide step…

Cut a little swathe and lead the people on.”

https://www.allmusicals.com/lyrics/bestlittlewhorehouseintexasthe/thesidestep.htm

Mueller’s Indictment of Russia Hackers — Updated

In the original post, I reported that paragraph 43(a) of the Mueller Russian hacking indictment stated that a “candidate for the U.S. Congress” asked for, and received, stolen emails from the Russia hackers posing as Gucifer 2.0. The information related to the candidate’s opponent.

There is related news. The Palmer Report has stated that the Congressman in question is likely to be Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL). https://bit.ly/2NPvWVX The basis for the report is that Rod Rosenstein had advised Trump in advance that the Mueller Russian hacking indictments were imminent and had identified to Trump the Congressman referred to in paragraph 43(a). Apparently concerned about the fate of the Congressman, given his involvement in using the stolen materials from the Russia hack, Trump issued a tweet out of the blue while on his overseas trip:

“Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida is one of the finest and most talented people in Congress. Strong on Crime, the Border, Illegal Immigration, the 2nd Amendment, our great Military & Vets, Matt worked tirelessly on helping to get our Massive Tax Cuts. He has my Full Endorsement!”

Why Gaetz? Palmer Report suggests it’s because Gaetz is close to Roger Stone who has admitted that he, Stone, is the unnamed Trump associate mentioned in the indictment. Prior to the disclosure of the indictments, Gaetz was all over the news for months, complaining that the Mueller investigation was biased. No wonder Trump likes him.

Back on June 14 Politico reported that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was among the chorus of Republicans wetting themselves (I said that, not Politico) over the Justice Department’s inspector general report about FBI agent Strozk, saying:

“It is smoking-gun evidence that the Mueller probe is built on a rotten foundation,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), a freshman lawmaker on the House Judiciary Committee who has also earned Trump’s praise for his criticism of the Russia inquiry.”

https://politi.co/2uwkohy

Curiously, though, I can find no indication that Gaetz has had anything to say since the indictments were released and Trump effectively outed him. There is nothing on his official congressional website.

There is some element of speculation in all this but it is mighty curious that Trump would suddenly rush to Gaetz’s defense when no one else but Mueller/Rosenstein knew Gaetz was the Congressman mentioned in the indictment.

So, the plot thickens. And the Republican enablers of Trump’s treasonous conduct continue to berate the investigators.  None of those Republicans can answer the question: if Trump is guilty, what difference does it make that some of the investigators that collected the evidence were opposed to his presidency? Their logic is that it is only important that he’s guilty if he’s exposed by evidence collected by people who have no opinion on whether he is, or even might be, guilty. The thing is that people with no functioning minds are not very good at collecting evidence.

 

 

 

 

 

Mueller’s Indictment of Russia Hackers

I have plowed through the entirety of the indictment, which is full of details about the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Campaign Committee and related bodies. I only have a few observations to offer.

First, the indictment makes clear beyond a doubt both the sophistication of the U.S. intelligence apparatus in discovering these remarkable details about the hacking operation. It also explains in part why the Mueller investigation is taking so long. An extraordinary amount of work must lie behind the allegations in the indictment.

Second, the indictment has no direct bearing on the issue that Trump and his enablers are so obsessed about – to wit, the issue of collusion. As a result, the assertions of the Republican National Committee and other Trump sycophants that it is now “clear” that there was no collusion by the Trump campaign is preposterous on its face. These repeated claims of innocence are candy for his base, but Trump shows every sign of someone deeply guilty of serious crimes.

Third, the indictment contains a remarkable statement in paragraph 43(a). I must have missed the reporting on it. It states that a “candidate for the U.S. Congress” asked for, and received, stolen emails from the Russia hackers posing as Gucifer 2.0. The information related to the candidate’s opponent. The indictment gives no hints whether this was a candidate for the House or the Senate, nor any other potentially identifying details. But, whoever it was, that person must be sweating bullets tonight. And deservedly so.

So, on this Friday the 13th, the scary stuff is over for now. But not for long. I suspect this is just one small part of the muck that Mueller’s people are exploring.

Pulling on the Right Rope – ACLU

We are coming up on a momentous event in the form of the 2018 midterm elections. They offer the real possibility of overturning the Republican control of Congress, and thus ending the subordination of Congress to the president and the return of the checks and balances that were expected by the Founders to prevail indefinitely.

The grand scheme of the Constitution was a tripartite balance of authority and power in which each of the three pillars of the republic — Congress, the Executive and the Judiciary – would interact is a way that prevented any one of the pillars from overpowering the others. The Founders were not, of course, expecting a situation to arise in which a single political party would gain control of all three branches of the federal government and in which the members of that party would place the interests of that party above the welfare of the country. But that’s what we have and it is that which threatens the continued existence of the democracy that makes the United States a country of unequaled achievement.

Of course, the journey of American democracy has not been straight and pure. We fought a bloody Civil War to end slavery, struggled to end Jim Crow, and struggled to establish racial equality and opportunity in education, voting, employment, human relations and all the rest. Then we elected an African American man to be president. Twice. Many of us thought we had, at long last, moved past our past. We were wrong. Trump’s ascendancy has exposed the ugly underbelly of the nation’s bigotry, fear and cruelty. You know the story or you wouldn’t be reading this.

So, what to do? We don’t want to fight another civil war. Obviously, everyone needs to vote and help someone else vote. I have harped on this repeatedly and I won’t repeat it here. Instead, I suggest an additional approach: look at this as an exercise in tug o’war.

On the other end of the rope is the Trump administration. We all await, with hope and apprehension, Special Prosecutor Mueller’s action on the core issue of Trump’s illegitimate election victory as a product of Russian interference in which Trump and his campaign actively conspired. There is also a large body of evidence that Trump has committed multiple “high crimes and misdemeanors” which would support his impeachment and removal from office.

None of that is going to be resolved by November and the pull on the other end of the rope is strong. Many Americans believe that Trump is an ideal executive, disregarding his serial lying, attacks on our allies and sucking up to dictators around the world. They seem to be untroubled by his attachment to Vladimir Putin and his amateurish, schoolyard bullying of private companies and foreign countries.

On our end of the rope, we have … the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU. Think about that name: Civil Liberties Union. Since its inception, preservation of civil liberties and enforcement of the Constitution have been the singular preoccupation of this group. Sometimes the ACLU defended the rights of genuinely and widely unpopular people or groups, but they persisted because they understood that if the rights of one are disregarded, the rights of all could be next. We simply cannot pick and choose who gets protected and who does not.

If you are like me and have at one time or another made a donation to some #RESISTANCE group, you are no doubt being bombarded by requests to sign petitions and, more importantly, to donate more. Many great organizations are doing important work to resist the Trump administration’s fear-based agenda. Common Cause comes to mind. And Everytown for Gun Safety. And many others. The question is: which rope are you going to pull on?

I suppose I am prejudiced in favor of an organization that directly and forcefully challenges the illegal conduct of the administration at every turn and that wins most of its cases. The ACLU has initiated or joined most of the major legal challenges to the Trump administration’s most outrageous acts and policies and has enjoyed amazing success.

The ACLU record is genuinely remarkable. As reported in a major article in the New York Times Magazine on July 8, in the 15 months following the Trump election “victory,” ACLU membership increased by more than four times! A huge increase in funding followed, leading to the hiring of more lawyers for the 54 affiliated offices (1 in each state with 3 in California and one each in Washington, DC and Puerto Rico). But, the article notes, there are 11,000 lawyers in the Justice Department.

Since Trump’s oath of office, the ACLU has initiated 170 Trump-related actions, including 83 lawsuits. The additional resources have enabled ACLU to start two new advocacy organizations: PeoplePower.org and Let People Vote. With the new threat to the independence of the Supreme Court, the ACLU will face even more challenges.

Therefore, I make this appeal: yes, support all political and charitable organizations whose values align with yours, but also make an additional contribution to the ACLU. ACLU enlists the aid of the third and most independent branch of government, the Judiciary, to fight the incompetence and cruelty demonstrated repeatedly by the Trump administration. So far, the administration has accepted judicial decisions as binding. If that changes, we will have entered a new and perhaps final battle for the salvation of the American democracy. Until then, and, hopefully, that day never comes, the ACLU’s direct legal actions may be the last best hope for effectively resisting the Trump administration until we can remove him from office.

 

 

Is a Non-Violent Solution to Trump Feasible?

Another outrage, another march. This time – Families Together. I marched again, from Foley Square in Lower Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge (yes, that one).  We dispersed quietly on the other side of the bridge and took the subway home.

The closest I can come to describing the feel of it is that it was like sitting through a baseball game in August, losing 1-0 at the end and slinking out of the stadium, exhausted and enervated by the heat and the futility and the sense of loss. The crowd was in a mixed mood, with the usual chanting but also some anger in the tone. At the same time everyone was buoyed up, cheering loudly, when cars would pass on the adjacent roadway, horns blasting and fists pumping out of windows in solidarity with the marchers. One or two gave us the finger; favor returned.

More to the point, at one spot on the bridge a young man was handing out slips of paper headed “STOP I.C.E. DEPORTATIONS,” The paper went on, “Starting now, we will be occupying space and interfering with deportations, not with court hearings or release of immigrants.” It includes the hashtag #OccupyICENYC,” among others. The Instagram account of that name, like many other social media sites, is a verbal battleground between those who see ICE as a military-type deportation force “following orders” from the Great Leader (recalling Nazi Germany) and people who appear to be terrified that the United States is being overrun by crazed hordes of lawbreakers and who support most forms of abuse of “lawbreakers,” regardless of their personal situation (fleeing MS-13, for example). Passions over these issues are running high and seem to be escalating as the “Abolish ICE” theme gained a foothold among the protesters and became a major point of counterattack by Trump’s supporters.

I was reminded of a scene from the late 1960s, during one of the largest of the protest marches against the Vietnam War. We were moving along on the National Mall, tens of thousands strong, when there appeared a small group of rough looking young men carrying Viet Cong flags and screaming at the protesters as they ran by “you’ll never end the war that way – come with us!”

The effort to recruit the protesters in a more aggressive posture failed at the time, although throughout the war protest period there were major incidents of violence inspired by the hatred and fear of what the United States was doing in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. For the most part the protesters believed that peaceful resistance was, in the long run, the only effective means of pressuring the government to change course. The conflict and passions ran deep, dividing families, neighbors and congregations.

In the end, the protests, I believe, had a lot to do with changing the “public mind” about the war, helped along by journalists who risked, and sometimes gave, their lives to reveal the lies the government was telling about body counts, strategy and pretty much everything about the war. In the end, the U.S. “strategy” became untenable. The United States, for the first time, was defeated.

The Trump administration, like the Nixon one, has the strong support of perhaps 30 to 40 percent of the voting population. Those people appear not to care that the President of the United States is a serial liar, corrupt to the core. He continues to feed on their ignorance. As Trump and his enablers in Congress and state governments work to strip social and economic support from the population while, like Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, continuing to enrich themselves, Trump’s supporters stick with him because of single issues that are at the core of their belief-systems. Issues like abortion. They are so sure that it is right for the government to intervene in the personal lives of women that they will accept any form of degradation to roll back the right to abortion. Their anger, fear and ignorance are so profound that they do not grasp the significance of the changes Trump is making to our government.

Trump, with his enablers at Fox News, Breitbart and other right-wing fantasy-news shows, continues to escalate the rhetoric, conspiracy theories and outright lies. His tweets are more personal and strident than ever. He attacks and threatens American companies that react unfavorably to his trade policies. He directly threatens long-standing U.S. allies with “you will do as I want or else.” I don’t believe any other president in American history has behaved this way. It sounds more like Adolf Hitler demonizing segments of German society than an elected leader of a democracy.

In discussions with conservative friends over the years, I have asked a hard question but never received a good response: how long do you suppose the American underclasses are going to accept the tilting of the economic and political system against them before they say “enough” and rise to challenge those who are oppressing them? No one seemed ever to believe such a thing is possible here in the United States of America, land of the free and home of the brave.

The usual response was a form of whataboutism that I did not recognize as such at the time: if you work hard, you can get ahead; if not, too bad. My family came here legally so why should we let people who came here illegally become citizens? It’s our country — love it or leave it. And so on. Similar responses to those from Trump supporters. Don’t care what is happening to “them;” they’re not “us,” so to hell with them. Beneath Trump’s adoring masses are racism and xenophobia that we, foolishly, thought had finally been vanquished when Barack Obama was twice elected President.

Let me be clear that I do not believe violence is a workable response to the Trump despotism. My concern is that as Trump’s moral depravity, selfishness and egomania continue to degrade political discourse and threaten democratic institutions, including the right to equal counting of votes in elections, while he conspires with foreign powers hostile to the American way of life, we are going to cross a line of intolerance from which violent responses will seem to many the only viable response remaining. People in the right-wing already are talking of violent responses to any attempt to remove Trump from office, regardless of the evidence against him. ICE is arresting protesters, including elected officials, for purported interference with its deportation program that has, with direction and overt approval from the highest stations in the Trump administration, ripped apart families and shredded the oath of office he took to support the Constitution. Trump has overtly called for government coercive actions against people that will bypass the court system and ignore the clear mandates of the Due Process Clause of the Constitution.

Trump’s history as a corporate mogul is well documented. His behavior has been that of a bully who ordered underlings around at his whim, cheated many people and bankrupted many companies. It is therefore hardly surprising that a man who does not read, has no patience with facts that complicate his personal advancement and who has behaved with astonishing cruelty toward disabled people, women and non-whites, citizen and non-citizen alike, would behave like an ignorant bully in public life, catering only to those who show total obeisance to him. It seems entirely plausible that such a person would stop at nothing, including conspiring with enemies of the United States, to achieve his personal ambitions. It has happened elsewhere, and as many thoughtful scholars have documented, it can happen here.

As Trump’s conduct continues to degrade the office of the President, to undermine relations with important foreign allies, and to threaten the ability of the American political system to hold him accountable, the question lingers:  how long will this go on before desperation takes hold and desperate measures are taken? Even the Women’s March is growing impatient, as shown by this tweet: “Like we’ve been saying: marching is not enough. It’s time for direct action. It’s time to disobey. #WomenDisobey” The tweet referenced an opinion piece in the Guardian to the same effect. https://bit.ly/2KNvN3D

There is no clear answer to my question, I suppose. The question is, as it has always been, too hard. I believe that there is one, and probably only one, ray of hope that can forestall our descent into violent resistance: the elections of 2018. If you have read my posts before, you have no doubt seen my pleas regarding the importance of getting out the vote. As I reflect on our troubled past as a nation, not perfect but far from the worst, it seems to me that the election, the precious irreplaceable right, and obligation, to vote is the only path to salvation as a free democratic country.

In practice, however, it is not enough to just vote. The Trumpers are alarmed and engaged about the threat to their hero and they will be aggressive in voting too. And, of course, there are the numerous, documented cases in which legitimate voters have been rejected for various reasons at polling places around the country, particularly in red states. What is needed, I suggest, is for every voter in contestable precincts to take responsibility to (1) have all eligible members of the family registered to vote in November, (2) create an ironclad plan for how the family will get to the polls, and (3) identify one or more other people who may need help getting to the polls or actually voting and do what is necessary to get them there. Your country, your freedom is at stake here. One-party control of the government must be ended and this is the only way to do it.

For those interested, I have posted photographs from the New York City Families Together March in a separate post below this one.

Has the Police State Arrived?

Most everyone who has seen a World War II movie made before, say, 1980 (guessing) is familiar with the cliché-like scene in which a Nazi soldier demands, “show me your papers” or some variation. In the worst cases the soldier simply puts out his hand in a gesture well-understood that presentation of identification documents was demanded and not optional. That was the portrayal of Germany and conquered countries under the Nazis.

WWII ended in 1945. Now, 63 years later, we have arrived at a similar place. The video here ( https://bit.ly/2JUUFZZ) reported in HuffPost here (https://bit.ly/2t61NJh) shows an armed immigration officer asking passengers boarding a Concord Coach Lines bus whether they are U.S. citizens, followed by a Concord employee confirming (erroneously, per Concord’s tweet at https://bit.ly/2M0PtkK & Facebook post at https://bit.ly/2HWPVxG) that one must be a U.S. citizen to ride the bus. Concord Coach is an interstate passenger bus company.

What is going on here? Bangor is 130 miles from the nearest point in Canada. https://bit.ly/2JXI70o Fortunately, passengers in the video refused to answer, and no one was arrested. We can sympathize with the bus driver, who seemed to have been caught off guard by the patrolling Immigration & Customs Enforcement  officer looking over the boarding passengers. But, as the ACLU points out in the narrative with the video, this ICE interrogation practice is unacceptable.

It has no known demarcation. We are accustomed to answering questions about identity before boarding airplanes in what is a largely routine and orderly, if irritating, process. That process is in place because of the extraordinary threat posed by aircraft in the wrong hands.

Is the government now going to start hunting for aliens in our midst at bus stations and Amtrak stations? Car rental locations? How about bike rental kiosks? Subways? Local bus stops in Arkansas? Are we approaching the point at which the Trump-led government is going to require national identification papers on your person at all times and subject to inspection at any time by ICE or other officers? See https://bit.ly/2FmlvnY for some relevant history here and elsewhere if you think this is hysterical overstatement.

There is no plausible rationale for such government intrusion. No real-world demonstrable threat from illegal immigrants exists to justify this police-state tactic. Lengthy and thorough analyses of available data, which admittedly is not perfect (a problem that cuts both ways and so is really irrelevant), shows that the Trumpian claim that illegal immigrants bring crime to the United States is not supportable. https://wapo.st/2JUM4mT; https://nyti.ms/2GImBPa.

Of course, facts and truth have never had much sway in Trump’s world and his fan base accepts whatever he says simply because he says it. Nevertheless, it is vital to our democracy that we not allow false claims based on safety/security to undermine our basic freedoms. Trump and his advisors would do well to re-read the opening sections of the Declaration of Independence. So should everyone else. See https://bit.ly/2ldSeUj and the other materials cited there. Trump’s attempt to re-introduce Nazi-style measures to America will not be accepted quietly.

Donald Trump & Attorney General Sessions Committing Crimes Against Humanity

Attorney General Jeff Sessions graduated from law school 6 years after I did. While the schools were in different parts of the country, there is no reason to believe that, by virtue of geography or timing, the law taught to him was significantly different than the education I received. I can’t be sure of that, of course. But I am sure that going to law school does not, by itself, make you a better human being. I will explain why below.

Among the well-known graduates of the University of Alabama Law School are Harper Lee (wrote To Kill a Mockingbird); Hugo Black (Associate Justice of U.S. Supreme Court); and Howell Heflin (Democratic Senator who preceded Jeff Sessions and who voted against most progressive legislation but came to realize “we live in a nation that daily is trying to heal the scars that have occurred in the past. We’re trying to heal problems that still show negative and ugly aspects in our world that we live in today, and perhaps racism is one of the great scars and one of the most serious illnesses that we suffer from still today.”)

On the other hand, the notables list of UALS includes George Wallace (as Alabama’s governor, sworn to uphold the law, he defied the school integration ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court); Spencer Bachus (at the center of insider trading scandal under rules that exempt Congress from the prohibitions); and, not least, Roy Moore (defeated Senate candidate for Jeff Sessions’ vacated seat, multiply accused of sexual harassment of underage females and twice evicted from his job as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to comply with federal court decisions).

No doubt there are many other notable UALS graduates on both sides of the divide that separates the two groups I have singled out. The same is certainly true of my law school, which graduated Ted Cruz, Anthony Scaramucci and Mitt Romney, all on the wrong side of the humanity divide.

I use the phrase the “humanity divide” because law school should instill in its students not only a respect for the law and legal institutions operating under a complex federal-state system with a constitution as the overarching legal framework for the whole, but also some sense of what is right, what is fair, what is justice. I do not suggest that “justice” is always obvious; clearly, it is not and we have long strings of conflicting Supreme Court decisions to prove it. Justice is hard sometimes but if you search deeply enough, you can usually find it.

As a people, we have, imperfectly for sure, but generally over time. adopted certain norms of civilized conduct from which we do not permit deviations that deny basic human rights and individual dignity to humans. (We are far behind the curve when it comes to protecting animals, but set that aside for today).

For example, we don’t torture prisoners. It’s not that we’ve never done it. We have, but as a societal norm under most controllable circumstances we don’t accept torture as legitimate. A soldier in combat conditions might torture a prisoner in an effort to get information that could save the lives of his comrades in arms. As a society we don’t approve of that torture but perhaps we can at least understand it in the circumstances. But, we don’t accept that behavior when it occurs in circumstances where imminent threats to safety are not present. Those situations are hard to identify sometimes, but we keep trying.

We don’t summarily execute criminals as a lesson to others. To reverse paraphrase our Attorney General’s position on separating children at the border, we don’t say “if you didn’t want to be shot in the head, you shouldn’t have committed a crime.” We don’t say “if you didn’t want to be drawn and quartered, then disemboweled in front of your family, you shouldn’t have robbed that bank.”

In declaring our country’s independence, our founders declared that we hold as self-evident truths that all men (defined now as humans, not by gender) are created equal and are endowed with inalienable rights, among them Liberty. Over time, in our quest for a “more perfect union,” as you would expect, the standards of what “justice” entails will change, and they have, sometimes dramatically. Recall, for example, that until 1954, it was permissible for schools to segregate students by race on the false premise that they were “separate but equal.” The Supreme Court changed that and, as a country and as a people, it is indisputable, I believe, that we are better off because of it. Men once were permitted to own other people as property. We put an end to that too, at the cost of much blood and sacrifice.

Remember that the second opening clause of the U.S. Constitution says “establish Justice.” We don’t always get it right but we keep trying. We have humanity. We show humanity in our treatment of others, even those found to have committed serious crimes against society. It would be more efficient to eliminate court appeals and just take convicted criminals out back and hang them from a tree. Or burn them at the stake. We don’t do that anymore. We have humanity. We have learned. At least we thought we had.

The Trump administration has shown little humanity since coming to power in 2017. It has departed, deliberately and with malice aforethought, from the moral standards that have governed our progress as a people for more than 200 years in a multitude of situations, none more egregious than the policy and practice of separating children from their parents who bring them across the border without required documents.

The Trump/Sessions deportation policy may, I emphasize may, be legal in some technical sense (I am not an expert in that field), but it is certainly not just. It lacks humanity in any meaningful sense. The practice of separating children, some mere babies, from their parents when they have arrived in the United States, whether illegally or legally seeking asylum, and placing the children in cages with no contact with parents who are in some cases deported without process and without their children, is, by any reasonable standard, inhumane, an offense against decency and against higher values to which we aspire. It is a practice of which the German Nazi Party would have been proud.

Among the many things wrong with the policy is that it conflates what the child did with what the parent did and punishes the child for the parent’s transgressions against U.S. law. Self-evidently, a toddler has no control over the parental decision to attempt entry into the United States without proper documentation. Yet, the children are removed from their parents and sent to “camps,” often hundreds of miles away. There are reports that many are unaccounted for. Whatever the reason behind that, there is simply no excuse for creating or maintaining such a system on the theory that it will teach the parents a lesson.

I believe the Trump/Sessions policy, on its face and as practiced, violates the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments.” In 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court said, ““Protection against disproportionate punishment is the central substantive guarantee of the Eighth Amendment.” Montgomery v Louisiana, 577 U. S. __. Surely locking a child in a cage away from her parents is disproportionate to anything the child did.

The Supreme Court elaborated on the history of imposing mandatory life sentences without parole on person who were juveniles at the time of their capital offense, noting that

Miller v. Alabama, 567 U. S. 420 (2012 … held that mandatory life without parole for juvenile homicide offenders violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on “‘cruel and unusual punishments.’” [citations omitted]

My point is not that the children being wrenched away from their parents on the southern border are being given life sentences. They are, however, being punished for a crime that they, acting on their own, could not have committed in many, if not most, cases. Locking a child in a cage is punishment. Put Donald Trump or Jeff Sessions in a cage and see how fast they agree.

In addition to U.S. law, there are other resources that inform our understanding of what treatment is appropriate, is just, for children of illegal immigrants caught at the border. According to the United Nations,

The International Law Commission was established by the General Assembly, in 1947, to undertake the mandate of the Assembly, under article 13 (1) (a) of the Charter of the United Nations to “initiate studies and make recommendations for the purpose of … encouraging the progressive development of international law and its codification”.

http://legal.un.org/ilc/

Article 17 of the Draft Code of the International Law Commission states:

“A crime of genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: … (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; … (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” [emphasis added]

The Commentary on Article 17 includes this:

“(With regard to subparagraph (e), the phrase “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group”, was drawn from article II, subparagraph (e) of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The forcible transfer of children would have particularly serious consequences for the future viability of a group as such. Although the article does not extend to the transfer of adults, this type of conduct in certain circumstances could constitute a crime against humanity under article 18, subparagraph (g) or a war crime under article 20, subparagraph (a) (vii). Moreover, the forcible transfer of members of a group, particularly when it involves the separation of family members, could also constitute genocide under subparagraph (c). [emphasis added]

Article 18 of the Draft Code of International Law Commission states:

“Crimes against humanity A crime against humanity means any of the following acts, when committed in a systematic manner or on a large scale and instigated or directed by a Government or by any organization or group: … if) Institutionalized discrimination on racial, ethnic or religious grounds involving the violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms and resulting in seriously disadvantaging a part of the population; (g) Arbitrary deportation or forcible transfer of population; (h) Arbitrary imprisonment; (h) Forced disappearance of persons; (i) Rape, enforced prostitution and other forms of sexual abuse; (A) Other inhumane acts which severely damage physical or mental integrity, health or human dignity, such as mutilation and severe bodily harm.” [emphasis added]

I am aware that international lawyers can, as lawyers will, make all manner of arguments about what exactly each word or phrase means and will argue that this draft language is not binding on the United States, and more. Maybe, but I don’t believe they can overcome the fact that this language frames the concept of inhumane treatment, especially of very young children, as understood by civilized people of the world.

In addition, the ACLU has reported that it has

uncovered tens of thousands of pages of evidence documenting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials physically, sexually, and verbally abusing children. The majority of these children are asylum seekers fleeing violence in Mexico and Central America. Some are teenage mothers. Some are escaping gang violence. Some are in need of medical attention. All of them have risked their lives to find safety – and tragically, CBP has shattered that dream for so many.

CBP’s abuses are not only unconscionably inhumane, but they also violate United States law and international human rights law, which give protections to migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers – no matter their country of origin.

The uncovered documents show CBP officials – including Border Patrol agents – committing the following abuses:

  • Threatening children with rape and death
  • Depriving children of food and water and holding them in freezing and unsanitary detention cells
  • Shooting children with Tasers and stun guns
  • Punching a child in the head repeatedly
  • Running over two 17-year-olds with patrol vehicles
  • Subjecting a 16-year-old girl to a search in which they forcefully spread her legs and touched her genitals

The violations are numerous. By law, CBP can’t hold unaccompanied children for longer than 72 hours. Children in CBP custody are entitled to safe facilities, adequate food and water, and proper medical care. And as federal officials, CBP officers are legally required to report all allegations of child abuse to law enforcement, child protective services, or the FBI.

All human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their immigration status – and children, in particular, deserve special protection. The misconduct demonstrated in these records is breathtaking, as is the government’s complete failure to hold officials who abuse their power.

https://action.aclu.org/petition/cbp-stop-abusing-children  [bolding in the original]

Also, read this if you have the stomach for it: https://www.aclu.org/blog/immigrants-rights/ice-and-border-patrol-abuses/ice-cruelty-knows-no-bounds

Who bears the burden of guilt here? Apologies for the length of this, but you really need to grasp the enormity of what is being done to these children and their parents:

In an interview on Tuesday morning with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Attorney General Jeff Sessions doubled down on his defense of the Trump administration’s practice of tearing apart families seeking refuge in the United States, including those seeking asylum. The interview revealed not only Sessions’ lack of basic empathy and compassion but also his willingness to deceive the public in defending this cruel policy.

During the conversation, Hewitt pushed Sessions to consider the implications of separating a child from his or her parent, even asking if Sessions could imagine his own grandchildren being taken from their parents. Yet Sessions would not be moved, opting instead to paint these devastated, vulnerable parents as criminals who are “just coming here because they’d like to make more money.”

Further questioned on the morality of detaining people seeking asylum, Sessions resorted to outright lies. The issue, Sessions explained, is that people are not pursuing asylum in the correct way, by arriving through a U.S. port of entry: “If you come to the country, you should come through … the port of entry and make a claim of asylum.”

Here’s what the Attorney General is not saying: Under its family separation policy, asylum seekers who have followed this exact protocol are still having their children ripped away. It happened to both Ms. L and Mirian G, two mothers who are a part of our class-action lawsuit. Fleeing the Congo, Ms. L, arrived at a port of entry near San Diego with her then 6-year-old daughter to seek asylum. Despite having committed no crime and having followed the correct protocol for seeking asylum, Ms. L and her daughter were detained. Four days later, her daughter was taken from her and sent to a government facility in Chicago. Ms. L was sent to an immigration detention center. The mother and daughter were kept apart by 2,000 miles for more than four months until the ACLU intervened on their behalf. Mirian G., an asylum seeker from Honduras, experienced similar cruelty: After presenting herself at port of entry, Border Patrol agents took away her 18-month-old son. She didn’t see him again for more than two months.

Sessions would have us believe that those who follow the rules will not be subjected to this kind of inhumane treatment, but that’s simply untrue. No one seeking asylum, even those not entering through ports of entry, should be treated like a criminal. But for Sessions to claim that the administration is only separating families who cross the border illegally is just wrong. Our clients did everything by the book and still had their children taken from them.

Sessions also spent much of the conversation attempting to portray the administration’s family separation policy as par for the course. “Every time somebody … gets prosecuted in America for a crime, American citizens, and they go to jail, they’re separated from their children,” Sessions argued. Parents seeking refuge in the United States who are prosecuted for crossing the border someplace other than a port of entry, Sessions’ line of reasoning goes, are simply being treated as any American citizen who is incarcerated.

But since when does the government refuse to reunite a parent and child after someone has served her time?

Crossing the border without proper documentation is a misdemeanor that typically carries the penalty of a few days in jail if you’re prosecuted. What the Attorney General failed to mention is that the government is refusing to give kids back to parents once they have served their time. Our client, Ms. C, experienced this firsthand. After Ms. C, an asylum seeker who was prosecuted for entering the country illegally, served her 25-day criminal misdemeanor sentence, she expected to be reunited with her 14-year-old son who had been cruelly taken from her. Instead, Ms. C was forced to wait more than eight months after serving her sentence before the two were reunited.

It is one thing to defend a morally reprehensible policy, but it is another thing entirely to spew lies in making that defense. On Tuesday Sessions crossed that line.

https://www.aclu.org/blog/immigrants-rights/immigrants-rights-and-detention/jeff-sessions-deceitful-spin-family

What, I ask, do these fools in the Trump administration think the long-term consequences of these practices are going to be? What impact will they have on the attitude of people whose rights are disrespected in this way? How are they likely to think about the United States when they mature? Through these practices, the United States is guaranteeing a new generation of enemies who will see the promise of America as a vast lie perpetrated knowingly by a government that resembles the Nazi regime that took over Germany and overran most of Europe.

I submit that the practices and policies of the Trump administration being enforced by the Attorney General as outlined above are crimes against humanity and may be a form of genocide under international standards. As has been the case elsewhere, in time there will be a reckoning about all of this. The callous indifference and blatant disregard for human rights that is evident in these practices and policies will be returned one day to those that are responsible for it. The maintenance of civilization requires nothing less.

To help bring that about, please support the ACLU. It is using our legal system, the one designed as a bulwark against authoritarianism and the critical pillar of the checks and balances of the Constitution, to help defenseless children against egregious violations of human rights. If the government can get away with doing this to these children, it can do it to anyone. We must #RESIST with every means at our disposal.