MA Family Institute wants discrimination back

Massachusetts added gender identity to the list of reasons people can’t be discriminated against in 2016. That’s very upsetting to some people so they’re trying to get it overturned by ballot:

A November ballot question asking voters whether to keep or repeal the state’s 2016 antidiscrimination law is expected to be the first statewide referendum on transgender rights, taking the national temperature on a fiery hot social issue.

Leading the repeal effort are conservative and religious activists and some of the same groups that tried unsuccessfully for years to prevent or stop same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. Their Keep MA Safe campaign — whose website features the bathroom video — suggests that the rights afforded by the state’s antidiscrimination law are infringing upon others’ privacy and potentially endangering women and children.

“A man can enter a woman’s space at any time, without any proof of any sort of medical or psychological condition, merely based on his internal sense of self if he says he identifies as a woman,” said Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute.

I have no problem with transgender people being in the same bathroom as me.  I’d be much more worried if Beckwith was in a stall next to me, he seems overly conscious of exactly who is in the bathroom with him.

The centennial of the MBTA

2018 is the hundredth year anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act:

The 1918 law was enacted after several species of common birds became extinct; the Audubon Society and other organizations named 2018 the year of the bird in honor of the MBTA’s centennial.

And this is how the Trump administration celebrates it:

In an opinion issued Wednesday to federal wildlife police who enforce the rule, the Interior Department said “the take [killing] of birds resulting from an activity is not prohibited by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act when the underlying purpose of that activity is not to take birds.” For example, the guidance said, a person who destroys a structure such as a barn knowing that it is full of baby owls in nests is not liable for killing them. “All that is relevant is that the landowner undertook an action that did not have the killing of barn owls as its purpose,” the opinion said.

So an oil company can leave an oil waste pit uncovered and not be punished even if it kills thousands of birds per year. I guess this better be the year of the bird, because if the Trump administration has anything to say about it there won’t be nearly as many birds in the future.

Trump’s America

In this story by Propublica and the Philadelphia Inquirer you can see how Trump’s anti-immigration policies work. Here’s one great example:

Peralta is short and stout, with a shy, ready smile for whomever crosses his path.

That morning, it was two federal agents named Joe Vankos and Chad Noel. They were on a mission to capture a 29-year-old convicted cocaine dealer from Mexico.

Instead, they stumbled across and arrested Peralta. Though regional ICE agents had picked up bystanders in the past, they were not supposed to. But in a new era where every undocumented immigrant is a potential target, Peralta was one of the first “collaterals” to be taken into custody.  And one of the most defenseless.

It should have been immediately apparent that Peralta, who has difficulty speaking, had serious cognitive disabilities. A neuropsychologist who later examined him wrote in an assessment for the court that Peralta cannot read, write, or identify colors and that he is not competent to give informed consent “or to understand any but the simplest instructions, requests or commands.”

Yet ICE maintained in its arrest report that Peralta not only willfully engaged with Vankos but confessed his undocumented status, stated he was 46, and claimed he had a child in Florida.

Peralta, however, is childless and does not know his age, his pro bono lawyer, Craig Shagin, said. He was abandoned as a youth in rural Pennsylvania and has for decades made ends meet as an apple picker, pumpkin harvester, and construction worker in the Gettysburg area.

And the article notes:

  • Took advantage of state and local officials’ willingness to conduct their own informal immigration investigations, call ICE and detain immigrants for hours until federal agents arrived — despite the questionable legality of these practices.
  • Occasionally stepped over the legal line themselves, according to interviews, sworn affidavits, and court filings, by trespassing, conducting warrantless searches, engaging in racial profiling, fabricating evidence, and even soliciting a bribe.

I’m assuming that all those people who respond to these stories with retorts like ‘what part of illegal don’t you understand’ think these officials should all be in jail. Because otherwise they would just be Xenophobes, which is certainly not true. Right?

The Second Amendment causes illegal immigration

This is an interesting proposition for conservatives:

It’s estimated that some two hundred thousand American guns are smuggled across the southern border each year. The region that’s been hit the hardest is Central America, where gun laws are relatively strict yet homicide rates are among the highest on earth. Gang wars, massive state corruption, and murderous criminal syndicates are to blame for the violence, but American firepower facilitates it. “Unlike other forms of contraband, American weapons don’t just pass through Central America but engulf it in storms of violence,” Mark Ungar, a political-science professor at Brooklyn College and an expert in the region’s gun violence, told me. This violence, in turn, has fuelled a refugee crisis. Since 2014, more than a hundred and fifty thousand unaccompanied immigrant children from countries in the region have fled to the U.S. seeking some form of asylum.

If you don’t like people from Central America trying to get into the US, you need to cut down on gun sales. US guns are the cause of much of the violence:

Seventy per cent of guns recovered by authorities in Mexico, for instance, were originally sold in the U.S.—most of them in Texas, California, and Arizona, according to a Government Accountability Office report. Forty-nine per cent of weapons recovered in El Salvador came from the U.S., compared to forty-six per cent in Honduras and twenty-nine per cent in Guatemala.

So, gangs in Central America make money by selling drugs to the US and then use the money to buy guns in the US. It sounds like the US is directly at fault and needs to take responsibility. I’m sure Republicans will be all over that–haha, sorry I made a funny.

More political correctness

For some reason, career employees in the federal government don’t much like President Trump:

Trump’s frequent attacks on the “deep state” have engendered deep distrust between career and political employees, pushing many long-time civil servants toward the exits and raising the possibility of a government-wide brain drain.

And while some workers, such as Border Patrol agents, are feeling newly empowered under Trump, morale at other agencies is so low that some employees said they were suffering from increased anxiety and depression that has complicated their personal relationships and even led to heavier drinking.

Several career employees said they were keeping their heads down and ignoring possible avenues for promotions because they have little interest in being subjected to the political infighting that has taken hold in many agencies.

And it all comes back to classic political correctness:

“From their point of view, they didn’t want to be surprised by finding out that we were looking at subject ‘X,’” he said. “When I pushed back and said we can’t do that, we don’t know what we’ll be publishing three years from now because we haven’t done the science yet, they’d say, ‘Well what are you hiding?’”

Last year, a team at the National Archives and Records Administration was told by senior NARA officials that it couldn’t put on a program that would have examined the historic context of immigration to the United States because it might attract “unwanted attention” to the Trump administration and put the agency’s funding in jeopardy, according to a NARA employee. “This was a year after we were able to host Black Panthers and a founder of Black Lives Matter,” the employee said. A NARA spokesperson did not comment.

Trump is anti-immigrant

The Republican party has long argued that it isn’t against immigrants just illegal immigrants. No one told President Trump (bold added):

Current rules penalize immigrants who receive cash welfare payments, considering them a ‘‘public charge.’’ But the proposed changes from the Department of Homeland Security would widen the government’s definition of benefits to include the widely used Earned Income Tax Credit as well as health insurance subsidies and other ‘‘non-cash public benefits.’’

Immigrants and their families facing a short-term crisis could potentially have to forgo help to avoid jeopardizing their US residency status. The proposal would also require more immigrants to post cash bonds if they have a higher probability of needing or accepting public benefits. The minimum bond amount would be $10,000, according to the DHS proposal, but the amount could be set higher if an applicant is deemed at greater risk of neediness.

DHS officials say the proposal is not finalized. But the overhaul is part of the Trump administration’s broader effort to curb legal immigration to the United States, and groups favoring a more restrictive approach have long insisted that immigrants are a drag on federal budgets and a siphon on American prosperity.

The March for our Lives

Hundreds of thousands of students and others marched and rallied today for sensible gun control. I went to the one in Boston, where there were at least 50 thousand:

Thousands marched in many cities around the country and the world. The estimates are as high as 800,000 in DC, 150,000 in NY, 30000 in Atlanta, 20000 in Parkland Florida, 15000 in Houston, 6000 in Kansas City, and on and on.

President Trump was, of course, not in DC but golfing. Maybe that’s because the estimated crowd size was bigger than at his inauguration.

Trump displayed his usual cowardice:

Trump, for one, was nowhere within earshot of the march and student speeches, having spent Saturday at his golf club in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Scores of people had lined his motorcade’s usual path, which has been well-traveled by the president as he shuttles between his Mar-a-Lago estate and the Trump International Golf Club during weekend visits. They held signs excoriating the NRA and supporting an assault weapons ban.

But returning to Mar-a-Lago from the golf club on Saturday afternoon, Trump’s motorcade took a longer route than usual, crossing a different bridge into Palm Beach and then driving down Ocean Boulevard. There were striking views of the blue water and palatial estates, but no protesters could be spotted.

You can show your support for gun control by going to the March for Our Lives website.

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