Indoctrination Runs Amuck in Ohio Schools

There is so much going on in this article that I don’t even know where to start. The people interviewed employed all the necessary conservative buzzwords (minus pedophilia and grooming). Critical Race Theory, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, comprehensive sex educations, pornography in school and transgender counseling—it’s all there.

Also, it appears that conservatism has risen to the level of a religion. As one person interviewed noted that "She would not confirm if she is involved with Protect Ohio Children “because of the personal attacks that are reserved for practicing conservatives.” This coming from a person who lives in a state with a majority Republican State House and Senate alone with a Republican governor.

Akron Beacon Journal Article Image
(Click on image to read the article)

Akron COVID-19 limit on private gatherings allowed to expire by mayor

Of course Mayor Horrigan (or anyone else) won’t push to renew these types of restrictions. We have essentially given up on any coordinated effort to stop the spread of the virus. We have conspiracy theory nuts, plain-old deniers, and people who are tired of not being able to do whatever the hell they want (regardless of the consequences to others). It seems we are—for the moment—all on our own.

Akron COVID-19 limit on private gatherings allowed to expire by mayor:

2020 12 10 at 1 31 PM

Myth vs. Fact

I am continually amazed by the number of people that continue to push a demonstrably false narrative about the separation of families at the border and the Obama administration. It is true that under President Obama kids were separated from their parents, but this was not the de facto policy. Even if the previous administration had somehow engaged (without anyone raising an objection1) in the same activities that we have recently witnessed by this administration, it would not make either of their actions morally justifiable.

Unfortunately, while the basic moral wrongness of the policy seems to matter very little to some people, I thought it would be good to re-post a fact check on the claims made by several “news” sources. The following was put together by Michelle Martin, PhD of Cal State Fullerton2:

Myth vs. Fact

There is so much misinformation out there about the Trump administration’s new “zero tolerance” policy that requires criminal prosecution, which then warrants the separating of parents and children at the border. Before responding to a post defending this policy, please do your research…As a professor at a local Cal State, I research and write about these issues, so here, I’ll make it easier for you:

Myth: This is not a new policy and was practiced under Obama and Clinton – FALSE.

Fact: The policy to separate parents and children is new and was instituted on 4/6/2018. It was the brainchild of John Kelly and Stephen Miller to serve as a deterrent for undocumented immigration, approved by Trump, and adopted by Sessions. Prior administrations detained migrant families, but didn’t have a practice of forcibly separating parents from their children unless the adults were deemed unfit. U.S. Dept of Justice

Myth: This is the only way to deter undocumented immigration – FALSE.

Fact: Annual trends show that arrests for undocumented entry are at a 46 year low, and undocumented crossings dropped in 2007, with a net loss (more people leaving than arriving). Deportations have increased steadily though (spiking in 1996 and more recently), because several laws that were passed since 1996 have made it legally more difficult to gain legal status for people already here, and thus increased their deportations (I address this later under the myth that it’s the Democrats’ fault). What we mostly have now are people crossing the border illegally because they’ve already been hired by a US company, or because they are seeking political asylum. Economic migrants come to this country because our country has kept the demand going. But again, many of these people impacted by Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy appear to be political asylum-seekers. NPR

Myth: Most of the people coming across the border are just trying to take advantage of our country by taking our jobs – FALSE.

Fact: Most of the parents who have been impacted by Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy have presented themselves as political asylum-seekers at a U.S. port-of-entry, from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Rather than processing their claims, they have been taken into custody on the spot and had their children ripped from their arms. The ACLU alleges that this practice violates the Asylum Act, and the UN asserts that it violates the UN Treaty on the State of Refugees, one of the few treaties the US has ratified. This is an illegal act on the part of the United States government, not to mention morally and ethically reprehensible. New York Times

Myth: We’re a country that respects the Rule of Law, and if people break the law, this is what they get – FALSE.

Fact: We are a country that has an above-ground system of immigration and an underground system. Our government (under both parties) has always been aware that US companies recruit workers in the poorest parts of Mexico for cheap labor, and ICE (and its predecessor INS) has looked the other way because this underground economy benefits our country to the tune of billions of dollars annually. Thus, even though the majority of people crossing the border now are asylum-seekers, those who are economic migrants (migrant workers) likely have been recruited here to do jobs Americans will not do. United Press International (UPI)

Myth: The children have to be separated from their parents because there parents must be arrested and it would be cruel to put children in jail with their parents – FALSE.

Fact: First, in the case of economic migrants crossing the border illegally, criminal prosecution has not been the legal norm, and families have been kept together at all cost. Also, crossing the border without documentation is a typically a misdemeanor not requiring arrest, but rather a civil proceeding. Additionally, parents who have been detained have historically been detained with their children in ICE “family residential centers,” again, for civil processing. The Trump administration’s shift in policy is for political purposes only, not legal ones. See p. 18: ACLU obtained legal documents

Myth: We have rampant fraud in our asylum process the proof of which is the significant increase we have in the number of people applying for asylum. FALSE.

Fact: The increase in asylum seekers is a direct result of the increase in civil conflict and violence across the globe. While some people may believe that we shouldn’t allow any refugees into our country because “it’s not our problem,” neither our current asylum law, nor our ideological foundation as a country support such an isolationist approach. There is very little evidence to support Sessions’ claim that abuse of our asylum-seeking policies is rampant. Also, what Sessions failed to mention is that the majority of asylum seekers are from China, not South of the border. Here is a very fair and balanced assessment of his statements: Politifact

Myth: The Democrats caused this, “it’s their law.” FALSE.

Fact: Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats caused this [my emphasis], the Trump administration did (although the Republicans could fix this today, and have refused). I believe what this myth refers to is the passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which were both passed under Clinton in 1996. These laws essentially made unauthorized entry into the US a crime (typically a misdemeanor for first-time offenders), but under both Republicans and Democrats, these cases were handled through civil deportation proceedings, not a criminal proceeding, which did not require separation. And again, even in cases where detainment was required, families were always kept together in family residential centers, unless the parents were deemed unfit (as mentioned above). Thus, Trump’s assertion that he hates this policy but has no choice but to separate the parents from their children, because the Democrats “gave us this law” is false and nothing more than propaganda designed to compel negotiation on bad policy. Independent.UK

Myth: The parents and children will be reunited shortly, once the parents’ court cases are finalized. FALSE.

Fact: Criminal court is a vastly different beast than civil court proceedings. Also, the children are being processed as unaccompanied minors (“unaccompanied alien children”), which typically means they are sent into the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS). Under normal circumstances when a child enters the country without his or her parent, ORR attempts to locate a family member within a few weeks, and the child is then released to a family member, or if a family member cannot be located, the child is placed in a residential center (anywhere in the country), or in some cases, foster care. Prior to Trump’s new policy, ORR was operating at 95% capacity, and they simply cannot effectively manage the influx of 2000 children, some as young as 4 months. Also, keep in mind, these are not unaccompanied minor children, they have parents. There is great legal ambiguity on how and even whether the parents will get their children back because we are in uncharted territory right now. According to the ACLU lawsuit (see below), there is currently no easy vehicle for reuniting parents with their children. Additionally, according to a May 2018 report, numerous cases of verbal, physical and sexual abuse were found to have occurred in these residential centers. ACLU obtained documents

Myth: This policy is legal. LIKELY FALSE.

Fact: The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration on 5/6/18, and a recent court ruling denied the government’s motion to dismiss the suit. The judge deciding the case stated that the Trump Administration policy is “brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency.” The case is moving forward because it was deemed to have legal merit. Bloomberg

  1. I find it difficult to believe that Fox News or some other outlet would not have immediately raised a red flag if this type of policy had been employed under Obama. Of course, the fact that Jeff Sessions actually had to announce the change in policy pretty much indicates that it wasn’t the policy. ↩︎

  2. Dr. Martin’s bio (abridged) “Michelle Martin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), where she teaches social welfare policy courses. Her current research interests are focused on international social work, including how migrant communities use social media to express virtual transnational identity, trauma narratives, migration experiences, and diaspora contributions to post-conflict peace processes.” ↩︎

Trump Lies (about the dairy tariffs)

One of the things that has irritated me about the news coverage of the Trump administration is the lack of journalistic fact checking. I don’t mean the type of fact checking that asks “Can we confirm that so-and-so said x?”, but the fact checking that asks “Was what so-and-so said true?”. It’s the kind of journalistic research that I used to see when Tim Russert hosted Meet the Press:

Russert: “Senator do you believe that military action is warranted against Freedonia in light of its aggression—in the form of cheesy puns and cringey one-liners—towards Wakanda?

Senator: “No, Tim, I’ve never advocated military action for cheesy puns and cringey one-liners.

Russert: “But, Senator in 2009, you criticized President Obama for not calling for military action for just these reasons.”

[Cut away to screen with quote from Senator]

Quote: “…it is reprehensible that this president would not immediately call for military action for Zamunda’s use of cheesy puns and cringey one-liner against Equatorial Kundu”.

Russert: “Senator…?”

For the last week or so, Trump has claimed that Canada has been engaging in unfair trade practices with the U.S. The claim that has been made over and over again is that Canada has been imposing a 270% tariff on U.S. dairy imports. Yet, nowhere have I seen a critical examination of this number by major news outlets. Is Canada imposing what—on the face of it—is a crazy high tariff? If they are engaging in protectionist practices, then maybe Trump is right to claim that the U.S. is not being treated fairly by its neighbour to the north.

Not surprisingly, the claims coming from the White House are at best distortions, and at worst outright lies. Unfortunately, it was not the media that examined Trump’s claims, but the non-partisan1 Brookings Institute report that investigated the claims. As they concluded:

In the end, either the President isn’t aware of all the facts about Canadian dairy tariffs and how they could have been ended had his administration stuck with the TPP, or like his misuse of trade deficit statistics to justify import restrictions, he is using another poor justification for offending one of our closest allies.

I highly recommend reading the entire report, but in the absence of a full reading here is a summary of the findings:

  1. In 2017, Americans sold $792 million in dairy products to Canada, while Canadians sold $149 million in dairy products to the U.S., creating a tidy trade surplus for the U.S. of nearly $650 million.
  2. Canada only imposes high tariffs on imports above the quota, not on all the dairy products U.S. producers sell to them.
  3. Canada’s tariffs on U.S. dairy products are based in part on the value of U.S. quotas and tariffs. This practice is the kind of reciprocity that the President claims he wants in all U.S. trade deals—but on dairy trade between the U.S. and Canada, it’s already happening.
  4. Until Canada announced its retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. after the Administration imposed tariffs on their aluminum and steel exports to us, Canada’s average trade-weighted tariffs were 0.8 percent, half the 1.6 percent trade weighted average for the U.S.
  5. Canada had already agreed to give up both dairy import quotas and almost all dairy tariffs as part of its commitments under the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Thus, the only reason import restrictions on dairy products are even an issue is because the U.S. withdrew from the TPP.(A Trumped-up charge against Canadian dairy tariffs)

While there seems to be a reticence on the part of the media to call Trump a liar, there is more than ample justification to do so. He has alienated one of our largest trading partners and strongest allies for cheap political points. This kind of behaviour can’t continue to go unchecked. Hopefully, mainstream journalists will do more than just report what is said, and do a little fact checking as well.2

  1. “A Measure of Media Bias” (PDF). The Quarterly Journal of Economics (4). November 2005. This study which looked at the Brookings Institute noted that both Democrats and Republicans were equally likely to reference the studies and reports coming out of this organization. ↩︎

  2. Apparently some journalist like Chuck Todd along with some foreign press outlets have become less complacent about their fact checking. ↩︎

Voice of the People DACA Response

Voice of the People response piece sent to the Akron Beacon Journal

In the September 10, 2017 edition of the Akron Beacon Journal, Doug Brown puts forth some “suggestions” for adult Dreamers who are currently being protected by DACA. Unfortunately, Mr. Brown’s letter is replete with poor reasoning and not a few factual errors.

In his letter, Mr. Brown states that it is “Heartbreaking to think of kids being deported for crimes committed by their parents” while at the same time reminding us not to forget “that the parents did commit crimes by illegally entering the United States”. It seems clear that Mr. Brown is conflating the wrong done by the parents, as if it was a wrong done by the children. He doubles down on this dubious reasoning when he notes that “they chose to come here, albeit illegally”. Given the average age of the Dreamers was six when they arrived, it is doubtful any of them “chose” to come here.

In addition to misplacing the blame and punishing Dreamers for actions beyond their control, he also appears to have a distorted view of the Dreamers themselves. While he calls for them to serve in the armed forces as a path to citizenship, he seems oblivious to the fact that Dreamers have served and are currently serving in the armed forces. He also is unaware that Dreamers do speak our language, have attended our schools, and learned our history. The “heartbreaking” part of deporting these kids/young adults is that they are for all intents and purposes Americans potentially being forced to a country that is now alien to them.

Furthermore, Mr. Brown wants to make sure that Dreamers are fully committed to the only country they have ever known, by renouncing any other citizenship. Yet it is unclear why Dreamers should have to do this, as 1) the oath of allegiance naturalized citizens must take already includes the phrase “renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen.” and, paradoxically, 2) the U.S. State Department does not require naturalized citizens to renounce any other citizenship they may have.

Finally, Mr. Brown mentions how the Christian side of him seeks to help others (presumably the Dreamers), but only if they are willing to “give back to their country of choice” by doing as he did and serve in the military. I did not realize that one’s Christian Here again, I am not sure how the U.S. was the country of choice for the Dreamers as they had no say in coming here. That being said, Christ was pretty clear about what one’s duty is to others, and it has nothing to do with compulsory military service: ’For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; (Matthew 25:35).