Better Angels

The other day I noticed that the liberal-ish press had suddenly become obsessed with civility and had begun hectoring us to listen to our better angels — to “play nice” with the Deplorables. Someone denied a cheeseburger to a White House spokeswoman who lies for a living, defending the cruelest of policies. And you’d have thought the end of civilization was near.

On the importance of maintaining “good form” both CNN and FOX News were in total agreement: “Fox Business host Trish Regan defended CNN’s Jim Acosta on Tuesday, calling verbal attacks on the reporter at a Trump rally are ‘not only bad manners, it’s bad form,’ while calling out both sides for a total lack of civility.”

Lots of people noticed the break from reality and bizarre lack of perspective. Philosopher Robert Paul Wolff (author of “The Poverty of Liberalism”) wrote, “The norms of public political discourse vary considerably from country to country, and even from neighborhood to neighborhood within a country. The British Parliament is much more raucous than the American Congress, and I will not even talk about the Israeli Knesset. Only in the world of the Washington elite does being denied service at a restaurant appear to be a violation of sacred norms calling for serious discussion of the foundations of democratic society. […] But whatever the local norms of civility may be, it can always be asked under what conditions it is right, even required, to violate them as part of a political protest.”

On December 12th, 1964 Malcom X spoke at the Oxford Union Club in England and, with a sly wink to Barry Goldwater, talked about “the necessity, sometimes, of extremism, in defense of liberty, why it is no vice, and why moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. […] I doubt that anyone will deny that extremism, in defense of liberty, the liberty of any human being, is a value. Anytime anyone is enslaved, or in any way deprived of his liberty, if that person is a human being, as far as I am concerned he is justified to resort to whatever methods necessary to bring about his liberty again.” Earlier that year Malcom X gave his Ballot or the Bullet speech at King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit, reminding listeners of the incivility and extremism of the American Revolution. Turns out, for much of American history dissent usually trumps decorum.

Media Matters observed that the “right-wing media are criticizing Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) after she encouraged people to publicly protest Trump administration officials who are complicit in the atrocious family separation policy at the U.S border. But the ‘civility’ these outlets are touting has been absent in their many vicious past attacks on Waters.”

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting took the liberal-ish press to task for its preoccupation with manners and distaste for speaking truth to power. FAIR pointed out that the Washington Post had run “three articles between Sunday, June 24, and Monday, June 25, calling for ‘civility’ and criticizing those who interfered with the dining experiences of Trump administration officials.”

In a Bloomberg News editorial, Jonathan Bernstein wrote, “Civility Is Important in a Democracy. So Is Dissent.” Bernstein observed: “In these times, however, it’s a joke to focus on incivility by Democrats even as the Republican president routinely says things that are as bad as or worse than the attacks of the most irresponsible Democratic no-name precinct chair.” In an unusual footnote, Bernstein reminded readers that when it comes to civility in a democracy, “of course incivility wasn’t the most important problem with U.S. democracy; indeed, restrictions on the franchise and full citizenship were so severe that there’s a good case to be made that it wasn’t a real democracy until at least 1965.” Whatever temporary gains we’ve made were made in the street.

Finally, Nation writer Sarah Leonard spoke my mind with her article, “Against Civility: You can’t fight injustice with decorum.” Among Leonard’s excellent points: “Throughout history, activists have seldom won battles against injustice by asking politely. […] The people being targeted [for protest] are adults living and working in a democratic society; facing consequences for their actions, as conservatives would agree, is what grown-ups should all do. […] To cling to civility is to allow the powerful to commit crimes, as long as they do so with a smile and a handshake.”

If we are truly listening to our better angels, they’ve been whispering — “#resist.”

Advertisements

Our answer to hate

This my last appeal for citizens to advocate for protections for immigrant families in the 2019 budget. Originally proposed as Budget Amendment #1147 by Senator James Eldridge, these protections have been incorporated into Senate Bill S.2530 and are now in conference with the House. Call your State House Representative to ask them to support immigrant family protections. What’s happening in Washington should terrify and motivate state House Democrats to support such protections. This should be our answer to hate.

Here’s why the protections are so important

The Supreme Court just ruled in favor of Trump’s Muslim Ban. An ACLU petition asks Congress to pass legislation to block racist exclusions like this. While a ban is not the same thing as a registry, we don’t yet know how Trump’s Muslim Ban will affect citizens of the Muslim-majority countries who live in Massachusetts, whether CPB, ICE, or DHS will ask the Commonwealth to help track these Muslim neighbors — or if the occasional law enforcement official might have personal motivations to share data with ICE without authorization.

  • Protections for immigrant families in the 2019 budget bar the Commonwealth from cooperating with such registries.

Trump’s deportation machine is abusing families and children in shockingly cruel ways. Elizabeth Warren has a lengthy report on her visit to a McAllen, Texas Border Patrol facility where she was horrified by the treatment of incarcerated children. A report issued recently describes racially-motivated abuses of detainees in ICE facilities, including the Bristol County House of Correction. Last week it was reported that the Boston Public Schools took it upon themselves to share data with ICE, and on the Cape high school students were reported to ICE by guidance counselors for supposed gang affiliations simply because they spoke Spanish. This insanity must end. Let police deal with real criminals and end vigilantism.

  • Protections for immigrant families in the 2019 budget prevent state officials from being used as federal agents. Only the Massachusetts Department of Corrections will be able to fulfill some of these federal immigration functions.

Customs and Border Patrol is stopping vehicles on parts of I-93 and demanding that passengers produce proof of citizenship. Warrantless stops with requests for “papers!” is creepy and totalitarian enough without state and local police being enlisted in violations of the Fourth Amendment. Even with the 100-mile border “loophole,” many of these stops are unconstitutional. Let’s affirm that, at least in Massachusetts, a “nation of laws” requires warrants and probable cause to stop people.

  • Protections for immigrant families in the 2019 budget define strict rules under which police officers can ask about immigration status and require training on the law for all officers.

Read about these provisions yourself. Despite malicious misinformation, these provisions do not prevent police from arresting real criminals. They do make Massachusetts a lot safer for everyone and strengthen Constitutional protections many of us can still remember once having.

Call your State House Representative to ask them to support protections for immigrant families in the 2019 budget.

Civility

As we rapidly slide into authoritarianism led by a racist vulgarian, the press has oddly become fixated on not the danger to our democracy but on civility and balance. To hear some tell it, we have too much democracy. No, we hear a lot lately, the threat to America is bad manners.

The mainstream media considers it “uncivil” to lob hardballs at a politician or shout “non-responsive!” at his evasive answers. Instead, it steers a safe, middle course, avoiding “controversial” phrases and judgments. The “split-screen” showing both sides of an issue is a fixture of the media, whether in the Op-Ed section of a newspaper or on your favorite cable news show.

Civility is why “nationalist” is the style guide’s choice for Richard Spencer — instead of the more accurate “white supremacist” or “neo-Nazi.” If a Congressman uses the N-word it will be reported as a “racially-charged remark” and not as a “racist” epithet. When reporting climate change there must be “balance” to the 99% of scientists who regard it as fact. Civility means fairness and fairness requires false balance. So readers are obliged to hear from petrochemical lobbyists to provide indispensable new insights into a nonexistent “debate.”

Recently the press began worrying that Sarah Huckabee Sanders was denied a cheeseburger at a Virginia restaurant. The liberal press fretted — is this the end of civility? The Washington Post warned in its best Mom voice, “Let the Trump team eat in peace.” Al Jazeera worried that liberal vexation at a mendacious fundamentalist White House spokeswoman reflected “growing concern about political tribalism” in the United States.

When U.S. Representative Maxine Waters suggested challenging Trump administration figures in public, Politico headed for the bomb shelter: “Waters scares Democrats with call for all-out war on Trump.” House minority leader Nancy Pelosi rebuked Waters, calling for “unity” — even though a recent CNN poll showed that 42 percent of Americans want Trump to be impeached — including a very unified 77 percent of Democrats.

The liberal reticence to vigorously challenge Trump seems based on fears of ridiculous things Trumpistas might say. In a piece entitled “The Left Loses its Cool,” Politico quoted Florida’s GOP Attorney General Pam Bondi: “When you’re violent and cursing and screaming and blocking me from walking into a movie, there’s something wrong,” she said. “The next people are going to come with guns. That’s what’s going to happen.” For Trump supporters having an unpleasant lunch is worse than ICE throwing children into cages or dying because somebody took your healthcare away. Nonsense like this often goes unchallenged.

While the president was busy signing, un-signing, and re-signing executive orders on family separations, the press seemed far less intererested in discovering why sitting U.S. Senators were denied entry to DHS detention facilities. When immigration attorney David Leopold appeared on CNN and pointed the finger for the White House’s inhuman family separation policies at “white nationalist, Stephen Miller,” host Kate Bolduan cut him off: “I don’t know if you want to go as far as to — I mean, let’s not — I just did an entire segment about civility here. I don’t know if you want to call Stephen Miller a white nationalist.”

Thus “civility” ended what could have shed some light on the issue of family separations. Leopold was on the right track: to really understand White House immigration policies you first have to understand its White Supremacists. Yet while the mainstream media pulls its punches, censors guests, and cuts off lines of inquiry, FOX and Sinclair, right-wing radio and conservative papers throughout the country dispense with such niceties and play hardball.

“When they go low, we go high,” Michelle Obama told Democrats shortly before the 2016 election. This was a sweet sentiment. But during that same campaign Donald Trump mocked a disabled journalist and called Mexicans rapists and criminals. This became the new standard of civility. Last March Trump tweeted that Maxine Waters was a “very low IQ individual.” The Tweet was reported but Waters largely had to defend herself in the press.

The stakes have never been higher. We ought to worry less about civility and more about democracy. If we really want to salvage what’s left of it we need to take the gloves off and aggressively confront injustice and untruth.

That goes for both liberals and for a very timid and diminished Fourth Estate.

This is a moral issue

Dear Friends, once again I am forwarding information on how you can support Budget Amendment #1147, which offers four important protections to Massachusetts immigrants in the face of inhuman and immoral federal policies. There are many political issues where constituents and legislators may agree to disagree on details and nuance. This is not one of them. This is a moral issue where your legislator will either demonstrate s/he has human compassion and will bravely do the right thing. Or not.


Dear Safe Communities endorsers and supporters:

The momentum is building. The horrific situation at the border has put the plight of immigrant families at the top of the news, and mobilized people who don’t normally take to the streets for immigrant rights. We have a lot of people on our side – and we need to mobilize them to support our campaign. Please share this widely across your networks!

Over the weekend, we asked you to ask your networks to email Speaker DeLeo, Chairman Sánchez and your own Representatives highlighting the family separations crisis and urging them to act to protect immigrant families in Massachusetts. Here’s our agenda for this week:

  1. Keep those emails coming – but during business hours, let’s focus on phone calls! We’re targeting Speaker DeLeo (617-722-2500) and individual Reps (find yours at http://malegislature.gov/search/findmylegislator). See scripts at the end of this email.
  2. If you’re on Facebook and/or Twitter, keep hitting the Speaker, Chairman Sánchez and your legislators with calls to action. Sample posts are at the end of this email.
  3. After two very successful, back-to-back protests at the State House last week, we want to turn up the heat even more with another demonstration THIS WEDNESDAY. We’re meeting on the State House steps at 12:30 pm and going in together at 1 pm to make some noise outside the House Chamber.

We’re lining up several speakers, with a focus on immigrants who can speak from experience, and we’re hoping for a big, visible crowd (we already have 200+ RSVPs). The message: In the face of horrific federal actions, Massachusetts MUST act ASAP to protect immigrant families! The Senate passed a budget amendment with 4 basic protections from the Safe Communities Act. House, now it’s YOUR turn. Step up and show you have moral courage and principles!

Sign up here, share on your FB feed and/or Twitter, and bring colorful signs! We’ll be making some for printing, but homemade are best! Remember to make it through security, they can’t have any sticks on them, and you have to be able to stuff them in a folder or backpack, or roll them up.

  1. Also on Wednesday: Lobby Day #3. We need representatives of organizations to join us for another lobby day from 11 am to 1 pm. (You can join the rally after!) Meet at 11 am in Room 109 for materials and lobbying targets (2 right turns after security at Beacon Street entrance). If you are unaffiliated with an organization, team up with others who are, or visit your own Rep! RSVP to Charlotte Boghossian at cboghossian@charlesgroupconsulting.com with subject line: SCA Lobby Day June 20.
  2. Next full coalition call is THIS FRIDAY, 1 pm. Use the Conference Line: (218) 895-6184, passcode: 6472#.

One last thing: We’ve heard from some of you about the messaging advice provided in Saturday’s email. To be clear, the Safe Communities Act – and our support for comprehensive legislation to protect immigrants in Massachusetts – is what brings us all together. That is what we want, and we have many legislators who support us.

But right now, our campaign has a narrower focus: to pass the 4 SCA provisions that the Senate adopted in the FY2019 budget. For legislators who are on the fence, and for Speaker DeLeo and Chairman Sánchez, passing the whole SCA, in the budget or separately, this year is a non-starter. For them, our messaging advice emphasizes that this is a compromise. This is the absolute least that you can do for immigrant families.

We’re a broad and diverse coalition, and each of us will formulate our message in our own way. But that’s why we recommended what we did.

Thanks to all of you for everything you’re doing to make it absolutely unbearable for the House to sit on their hands! Hey, even Charlie Baker had to backtrack today, embarrassed to be helping out at the border.

See you at the State House!

On behalf of the SCA Steering Committee,

– Amy & Marion

Sample call script for your Rep:

Hi, my name is ____ and I live in [city/town]. I’m calling because I’m shocked and heartbroken by what’s happening to immigrant families – not just at the border, but in Massachusetts. The Trump administration is tearing parents and children apart just to send a message, and I think that’s immoral.

I want to know what Rep. [ name ] is doing about it. I know you haven’t passed the Safe Communities Act, and even though the Senate included basic protections for immigrants in the 2019 state budget, the House seems to be dragging its feet, and we’re almost out of time.

Will you commit to fighting to ensure those immigrant protections make it into the final budget? I’m counting on you. Thank you!

Sample call script for Speaker DeLeo:

Hi, my name is ____ and I live in [city/town]. I’m calling because I’m shocked and heartbroken by what’s happening to immigrant families – not just at the border, but in Massachusetts. The Trump administration is tearing parents and children apart just to send a message, and I think that’s immoral.

I want to know what the House is going to do about this. I called my Rep, but I know that any decision is really up to leadership. I know you haven’t passed the Safe Communities Act, and even though the Senate included basic protections for immigrants in the 2019 state budget, the House seems to be dragging its feet.

We’re almost out of time. Will you commit to including those immigrant protections in the final budget? The people of Massachusetts are counting on you. Thank you!

Sample tweets and Facebook posts:

Note: For Facebook posts, just omit the handles and hashtags (you can use #FamiliesNotFear on FB too, but hashtags are more of a Twitter thing). All of these can be directed at @SpeakerDeLeo and @Jeffrey_Sanchez too (tag 1, 2 or both + your Rep at once).

Immigrant families are being torn apart, and Mass. sheriffs are helping??? @YourRepsHandle put a stop to this ASAP! Make sure FY2019 state budget includes basic protections for immigrants! #FamiliesNotFear https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2018/06/14/modest-immigration-reforms-mass-could-send-powerful-message/wnGpYDUZ6w1gy8iZ9QUPcL/story.html

Then they came for the #immigrants… and Massachusetts did NOTHING? @YourRepsHandle it’s well past time to protect our families! Include basic provisions from #SafeCommunitiesAct in the FY2019 budget!

Families aren’t just being torn apart at the border – @ICEgov does it in Mass. communities every day. @YourRepsHandle, will you pledge to protect immigrants in the FY2019 budget? #FamiliesNotFear
[ this one goes really well with the ACLU video below ]

Some more helpful links to include in emails and post on social media:

Or check out the @MIRACoalition feed on Twitter for lots of material on family separations, or @ProgressiveMass for lots of call-to-action posts.

Children deserve rights everywhere

Suddenly a few Republicans are demonstrating that they actually have souls. Franklin Graham, Laura Bush and even Melania Trump are among those who have recently spoken out against separating children from their parents at the border.

Another insidious form of child abuse has taken place for decades in Palestinian occupied territories, where Israel routinely rounds up and imprisons hundreds of children each year. I am forwarding an appeal from Jeff Klein, of Mass Peace Action, asking Congress to support the McCollum Bill, which so far has only two Massachusetts Congressional sponsors. I have written about Betty McCollum’s legislation before. Please read Jeff’s letter and then contact Congressional Reps. Richard Neal, Niki Tsongas, Joseph Kennedy III, Katherine Clark, Michael Capuano, Stephen Lynch, and Bill Keating, to let them know they need to be on the right side of this issue. They need to be better friends to children than to a government that just last month slaughtered hundreds of demonstrators.


STAND UP AGAINST THE ABUSE OF PALESTINIAN CHILDREN

Dear Activist,

When many Americans and their elected officials are protesting the mistreatment of immigrant minors at our southern border, it is time to renew our demand that Members of Congress also speak up to protect Palestinian children.

When we sent out our earlier alert on the McCollum Bill, Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act, H.R. 4391, only one member of the Massachusetts delegation, Rep. Jim McGovern CD2), had co-sponsored the resolution. Since then, CD6 Rep Seth Moulton has joined him in supporting the bill. But other members of our delegation have not yet taken a stand against the abuse of Palestinian children. This is unacceptable.

There are two things you can do.

  1. CALL YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS to ask that they co-sponsor the McCollum Bill.  Do it again even if you have called before. (And please thank Reps. McGovern and Moulton for their co-sponsorship.)

This is Rep. McCollum’s explanation of the bill:

“Given that the Israeli government receives billions of dollars in assistance from the United States, Congress must work to ensure that American taxpayer dollars never support the Israeli military’s detention or abuse of Palestinian children. Congresswoman McCollum’s legislation, the Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act, requires that the Secretary of State certify that American funds do not support Israel’s military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children.”

  1. ASK THAT THEIR OFFICES ATTEND A BRIEFING JUNE 25 on H.R. 4391 and the situation for Palestinian children after the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem.  You can use the No Way To Treat a Child campaign tool to send an email asking Members of Congress to send a representative to the briefing. If you are in contact with a relevant Congressional staffer, also please phone them directly.

Each year the Israeli military arrests and prosecutes around 700 Palestinian children. Last year alone, more than fourteen Palestinian boys and girls under the age of 18 were shot dead by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip — and many more were wounded – using resources provided by our own government. We cannot allow this situation to continue.

For Massachusetts Peace Action and its New Day for Israel and Palestine organizing project.

Jeff Klein, Convener, MAPA Palestine/Israel Working Group

Please sign the letter today!

A NEW DAY is a network sponsored by Massachusetts Peace Action.

PLEASE SIGN UP for regular “A NEW DAY” Action Alerts if you have not already done so and please reach out to your contacts to have them sign up for by emailing A-NEW-DAY@masspeaceaction.org (and please note your Congressional District).

(NEW DAY members will receive a limited number of action-oriented emails)

Massachusetts Peace Action
11 Garden St., Cambridge, MA 02138
617-354-2169
info@masspeaceaction.org
Follow us on Facebook or Twitter

 

Read it yourself

Two-thirds of the Senate voted to add Amendment #1147 to the FY2019 budget, which will shortly go to a House vote as part of the reconciliation process. The usual suspects — Sheriff Tom Hodgson and his friends from FAIR and the Mass Fiscal Alliance — have resorted to lying about the amendment’s provisions. But there is nothing in the amendment preventing officers of the law from doing their jobs.

Massachusetts voters should be paying attention to how House representatives vote. The public is not as dumb as opponents of the amendment think it is. Anyone can read the text of the amendment. Let your House representative know you’ve done so.

Budget Amendment ID: FY2019-S4-1147

EPS 1147

Definitions

Messrs. Eldridge and Lewis, Ms. L’Italien, Mr. Brownsberger, Ms. Friedman, Ms. Jehlen, Messrs. Hinds and Barrett, Ms. Chang-Diaz, Mr. Crighton, Ms. Creem, Messrs. DiDomenico, Boncore, Welch, Cyr and Lesser, Ms. O’Connor Ives and Mr. Collins moved that the proposed new text be amended by adding the following:

SECTION XX. Chapter 147 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following section:-

Section 63. (a) As used in this section, the following words shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly requires otherwise:

“Civil immigration detainer request”, any request by a federal immigration officer authorized under 8 C.F.R. section 287.7 or by any other authorized party, including any request made using federal form I-247A, I-247D or I-247N, asking a non-federal law enforcement agency, officer or employee to maintain custody of a person once that person is released from local custody or to notify the United States Department of Homeland Security of the person’s release.

“Law enforcement agency”, any state, municipal, college or university police department, sheriff’s department, correctional facility, prosecutorial office, court, or program of one or more of the foregoing entities, or any other non-federal entity in the commonwealth charged with the enforcement of laws or the custody of detained persons.

“United States Department of Homeland Security”, the United States Department of Homeland Security and its component agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, Customs and Border Protection, and any other federal agency charged with the enforcement of immigration laws.

Police only inquire about immigration status when the law requires it

(b) No officer or employee of a law enforcement agency, while acting under color of law, shall inquire about the immigration status of an individual unless such inquiry is required by federal or state law; provided that a judge or magistrate may make such inquiries as are necessary to adjudicate matters within their jurisdiction.

Police will be trained on the requirements of this law

(c) All law enforcement agencies in the commonwealth shall, within 12 months of passage of this act, incorporate information regarding lawful and unlawful inquiries about immigration status into their regular introductory and in-service training programs. If a law enforcement agency receives a complaint or report that an officer or employee has inquired about an individual’s immigration status when such inquiry is not required by law, the agency shall investigate and take appropriate disciplinary or other action.

A detained person must be provided a copy of his detainer

(d) If a law enforcement agency has in its custody a person who is the subject of a civil immigration detainer request or a non-judicial warrant, the agency shall promptly provide the person, and his or her attorney if the person is represented by an attorney, with a copy of such detainer request or non-judicial warrant, and any other documentation the agency possesses pertaining to the person’s immigration case.

DHS interviews require consent and preserve the right to an attorney

(e) An interview between a United States Department of Homeland Security agent and a person in the custody of a law enforcement agency conducted for immigration enforcement purposes shall take place only if the person in custody has given consent to the interview by signing a consent form that explains the purpose of the interview, that the interview is voluntary, and that the person may decline to be interviewed or may choose to be interviewed only with an attorney present. The consent form shall be prepared by the office of the attorney general and made available to law enforcement agencies in English and other languages commonly spoken in Massachusetts. The office of the attorney general may work with interested not-for-profit organizations to prepare translations of the written consent form. The law enforcement agency shall make best efforts to provide a consent form that is in a language that the person understands, and to provide interpretation if needed, to obtain the person’s informed consent.

(f) If the person in custody indicates that he or she wishes to have an attorney present for the interview, the law enforcement agency shall allow him or her to contact such attorney, and in the case that no attorney can be present, the interview shall not take place; provided, however, that the law enforcement agency shall not be responsible for the payment of the person’s attorney’s fees and expenses.

State employees may not be used as federal immigration officers

SECTION XX. Chapter 126 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following section:-

Section 40. Agreements to Enforce Federal Law.

No officer or employee of any agency, executive office, department, board, commission, bureau, division or authority of the commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof, with the exception of the department of correction, shall perform the functions of an immigration officer, whether pursuant to 8 U.S.C. section 1357(g) or any other law, regulation, or policy, whether formal or informal. Any agreements inconsistent with this section are null and void.

No cooperation with a federal “Muslim” or other registry

SECTION XX. Chapter 30 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following section:-

Section 66. (a) Under no circumstances shall the commonwealth, any political subdivision thereof, or any employee or agent of the commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions, establish any operation or program that requires, or has the effect of causing, persons to register or check in based in whole or in part on their religion, national origin, nationality, citizenship, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or age, or maintain any records system, government file or database for the purpose of registering persons based in whole or in part on those categories.

(b) In the event that any federal government operation or program requires, or has the effect of causing, persons to register or check in based in whole or in part on their religion, national origin, nationality, citizenship, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or age, including but not limited to any such operation or program created pursuant to 8 United States Code, sections 1302(a) and 1303(a):

(1) no resources of the commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof shall be expended in the enforcement or implementation of such registry or check-in program;

(2) no employee or agent of the commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions shall access, or seek to access, any information maintained pursuant to such registry or check-in program; and

(3) no employee or agent of the commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions shall provide or disclose or offer to provide or disclose information to, or respond to a request for information from, such registry or check-in program.

(c) This section shall not apply to any government operation or program that: (1) merely collects and compiles data about nationals of a foreign country entering or exiting the United States; or (2) issues visas, grants United States citizenship, confers an immigration benefit, or temporarily or permanently protects noncitizens from removal.

(d) Nothing in this section shall prohibit or restrain the commonwealth, any political subdivision thereof, or any employee or agent of the commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions, from sending to, or receiving from, any local, state, or federal agency, information regarding citizenship or immigration status, consistent with Section 1373 of Title 8 of the United States Code.

Dreaming of Camelot

Both Conservatives and Liberals are awash in nostalgia for days long gone. Trump Republicans long for the good old days when men were men and women and Blacks and Hispanics and gays and foreigners knew their place. Centrist Democrats dream of the glory days of Obama and Camelot. Or what might have been with Hillary.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is pouring money into entrepreneurs, ex-prosecutors, ex-security establishment, and ex-military for Congressional races that don’t challenge Democratic incumbents. Even in “safe” Congressional races, Democratic candidates still like to play up their national security bona fides, for example as Alexandra Chandler is doing in MA-03, or incumbent Bill Keating does at every opportunity in MA-09.

In a recent piece in Blue Mass Group, Chandler penned an essay that spelled out her vision for the proper use of American power. She didn’t challenge the misuse of that power, only that more of it should be in Congressional hands. Otherwise, Chandler argued for a return to a “rules-based international order,” return of a Cold War footing regarding Russia, strengthening of military and intelligence alliances, and defending spy agencies (even after learning of rogue torture, surveillance and rendition programs).

Like many Democrats, Chandler makes excuses for Israel’s murders of Gazan demonstrators while still managing to blame Hamas (“I am confident that given different orders and rules of engagement — for instance, not to use live ammunition and to use numerous specialized riot and border control tools at their disposal — they could have protected themselves, and the security of the Israeli-Gaza border, notwithstanding Hamas-directed provocateurs among the protestors.”) Chandler strongly touts her national security resume but has little to say about criminal justice or immigration reform. And not a shred of criticism of the super-predatory capitalism we experience in the 21st Century.

Chandler is the perfect example of Democratic nostalgia for the good old days when NATO and the G7, the IMF, the World Bank, and Western institutions and alliances could put the screws to Russia while still pursuing their own colonial interests. The good old days when America (together with allies who couldn’t say “no”) would throw around their weight with a higher class of people running the show. In this nostalgic Democratic daydream, as long as well-spoken men and women (not reincarnated P. T. Barnums like Trump) have the codes to nuclear footballs and are the ones spying on the citizenry for their own good, the world is in good hands. But Democrats forget that the Kennedys, Johnsons, Clintons, and Obamas were also frightening stewards of American military, surveillance, nuclear, and economic power.

Someone sent me a link to a piece from the Cato Institute perfectly titled “A World Imagined.” Libertarians are not clear-eyed critics of Capitalism but they do seem to have 20-20 vision when it comes to the defects of Neoliberalism. In this piece the author shows why we should not be so quick to embrace a lopsided world order long loved by Republicans and Democrats alike. The author argues convincingly that Trump’s polices and authoritarian inclinations are simple-minded exaggerations of the old realpolitik long practiced by Kissinger, Albright, Cheney, Bush, Kerry, Clinton, and their friends in the national security establishment. They embrace a world order based on American Exceptionalism, a world run by white men of privilege, with foreign and domestic policies ultimately resting on authoritarianism, austerity, and privilege. Trump’s only innovation is exulting in a widespread view that a master race deserves to run the world and make the country great again.

The other night I was watching “The Good Shepherd.” You might say it’s a movie about privileged white men keeping each other’s secrets — until they decide to betray one another. Matt Damon plays Edward Wilson, a Yale undergraduate inducted into the “Skull and Bones” society, who then becomes an OSS operative and later a CIA director. Wilson has a lot of blood on his hands — and not just for the Bay of Pigs but for sins much closer to home. Make some popcorn. The movie’s decent, if perhaps a bit too long.

At one point Wilson visits a mobster named Joseph Palmi (played by Joe Pesci), who controls criminal enterprises in Cuba. His character is based loosely on Sam Giancana and Santo Traficante, who Kennedy enlisted for the Bay of Pigs. Palmi agrees to help Wilson. At one point there is this exchange:

Joseph Palmi: Let me ask you something… we Italians, we got our families, and we got the church; the Irish, they have the homeland; the Jews their tradition; even the niggers, they got their music. What about you people, Mr. Carlson, what do you have?
Edward Wilson: The United States of America. The rest of you are just visiting.

The movie, of course, is fiction. But the scene nevertheless holds a very real truth. We shouldn’t become too nostalgic for the Kennedy years or the post-war “rules-based international order” and its domestic reflection in a segregated nation. The America of 1961 and an administration some still wistfully call “Camelot” bore all too many similarities to Trump’s America of 2018.