Asylum seekers

Jewish refugees turned away

Asylum seekers
In June of 1939 a group of European refugees arrived at the port of Miami aboard the German liner St. Louis. There were almost one thousand people on the ship, most of them Jews trying to escape the Nazi violence that had driven them from their homes. They were denied entry. A number of them ended up back in Europe and were sent to the death camps. America, which bills itself as a generous and compassionate country, has a mixed record of welcoming people who are fleeing tyranny. It seems that if those fleeing oppression fit the model of the dominant culture, the doors open a lot easier for entry then they do for people with the “wrong” religion, the “wrong” color, or the “wrong” language.
Right now the focus is on a large group of migrants who are marching through Mexico toward our southern border. The president has called this an “invasion” and has sent elements of the U.S. military to the U.S./Mexican border to stop them. Whipping up a climate of fear, he has framed this migration as a threat to national security. And this description plays especially well with his political base.
We ought to ask how this group of people, in large measure made up of women and young children, is a threat to American security. Are they armed? Will they storm the border and overwhelm any attempt to stop them. Are they all gang members? Will our military fire on them?
People with any sense of reality know the answers to these questions and will see this for what it is – a manufactured crisis that is being used for political ends. The word invasion seems hardly the proper description for a group of poor people fleeing the murderous region of Central America. El Salvador has the highest homicide rate in the entire world. Law and order has largely broken down. Gangs rule the cities. Honduras isn’t far behind averaging 20 homicides a day.
Illegal immigration is certainly a problem. There is no denying that. Obviously we can’t take all of the people who want to come here. And their might indeed be some bad people in that caravan. We need an orderly process that can screen those who might intend to do us harm from the great majority of whom just want a better life. The sad fact is that both our political parties continue to refuse to craft a solution to the issue, using immigrants as a means of scoring political points. Meanwhile those who are desperate to escape horrible conditions in their own countries have few options. Stay and die or take a long shot to get to the United States.
At a time like this, we should remember people like those Jews aboard the St. Louis who were refused entry and left to a dark fate by a callous nation. We should see clearly that where once America was seen around the world as a beacon of hope and compassion, under this current administration our country has become instead, a place of hate and intolerance. The current leadership goads its supporters to see immigrants as eroding the cultural values and norms of this country. It’s the same fear that has stigmatized every ethnic group that wanted to come to America. On the eve of the mid-term election we should ask ourselves – is this who we are? Is this what we want our country to be? And we should think about our own families and why they came here, all the while realizing the truth that a nation, like a tree, becomes stronger when it is grafted with new stock.



Trump HumpImpeachment is not the answer
By Jim Coogan

As we get closer to the 2018 mid-term elections, many Democrats are hoping to make congressional gains that could stymie president Trump’s agenda. While that may be an understandable goal on their part, the thought that control of Congress could be an avenue to impeach and remove Trump is a bad idea.
Article I of the U.S. Constitution stipulates that civil officers of the United States, including the president, may be removed from office for “high crimes and/or misdemeanors.” It’s a two-stage judicial process where the House of Representatives by simple majority proposes formal charges and then things move to the Senate where a two thirds majority determines guilt or non-guilt. It’s been used sparingly. Only two presidents have been indicted for crimes that allegedly fit these categories. Andrew Johnson and William Clinton were impeached and found not guilty of the charges. Richard Nixon would have been impeached but he resigned from the presidency before the House could bring formal charges against him.
Impeachment is a bad idea because it will, as it clearly has in the past, end up as a purely partisan exercise. In Andrew Johnson’s case it was the still raw political edges still remaining from the recently ended Civil War that saw the effort to remove the 17th president. Johnson, a Democrat, was seen by the Radical Republicans as being too soft on the defeated states of the Confederacy. In Clinton’s case, it was because he lied about the Monica Lewinsky affair and the insurgent Republicans under Newt Gingrich saw an opening to dump a president from the opposing party.
In today’s bitterly divided American political landscape, any call for impeachment by the Democrats would be viewed by Trump loyalists as an end-around move by the party out of power to overturn the legitimate election of a president. It is a fact that a large number of American voters who are already suspicious about anything that comes out of Washington, would feel that they were cheated by a corrupt system. It would lead to chaos and further the social and political instability that we are already experiencing.
Even if the Democrats flipped the House of Representatives in November and regained power in that chamber, it would be a grave mistake to use their majority to introduce articles of impeachment. Even if that could be accomplished, getting two thirds of the Senate to find the president guilty would be impossible. Meanwhile we would have many Americans believing that all of the hysteria about a so-called “Deep State” is true.
Another factor that Democrats should consider is that just floating the idea of impeachment will become a rallying point for the Republican base. And they will work all the harder in mobilizing their supporters to prevent the anti-Trump forces from making congressional gains. In the end, talk of impeachment will just be a distraction from the real issues Democrats should be campaigning about. If it keeps up, our embattled chief executive will become a sympathetic figure. And that’s the last thing Democrats should want to happen.

Shaking an evil hand

Trump shakes with N.Korean diplomat

One has to wonder what the parents of Otto Warmbier, the 22 year old student who was brutally beaten to the point of death in North Korea, thought when they saw a U.S. President today shaking hands with a representative of the government that did it. The diplomat, reportedly very close to dictator Kim Jong Un, was given the royal treatment in Washington as our president pushes the time line for a Singapore summit meeting. Never mind that most foreign policy experts rate North Korea as the most oppressive regime in the world, on a par with Soviet Russia under Stalin. This the same day that tariffs were slapped on Canada for “unfair trade policies.”
For those who may have forgotten, Warmbier took a poster off the wall in his hotel and ended up serving 18 months of hard labor, during which time his teeth were knocked out and his brain bashed to the point where he could not recover when belatedly released. But I guess the North Korean diplomat rated a hug and handshake from our current chief executive who apparently sees our neighbor to the north as more of a threat to us than a brutal regime that executes dissenters while starving the people it enslaves. There was blood on at least one pair of hands here.