Arlo Guthrie’s Thanksgiving Laugh at Fascism

A personal reflection in tribute to Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”

* * * *
A friend and I were chatting about our different Thanksgiving Day plans one recent Thanksgiving and he asked me if I had ever been to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City. (I almost marched in it one year, by accident of all things, but that is an anecdote for a different post.)

“Well, I just hope,” he said, “that no one tries any terrorism down there today, but if they do,” and here he looked like someone who perhaps hoped that “someone” would indeed “try terrorism down there” because he added, “If they do, I hope we go ahead and use our nuclear weapons the way they were meant to be used. Just go over there and flatten that whole place.”

Quietly infuriated, I found for myself something else to do somewhere else at our gathering. I hate that I do not ask the question, “Why would you think that?” of some of my acquaintances more often or at all, but I know that such a question is seen as confrontational more than a provocative expression of a hope that our nation uses nuclear weapons if and when it is attacked is seen as confrontational.

I did not ask where this place that he seemed to want to “flatten” is. I did not think I needed to inquire. Some of my neighbors walk around with the fear-hope that a horrible act of terrorism is a given in our country’s near future and that it will be, obviously, the act of someone from a part of the world whose foreign-ness (to them) is the only thing they care to know about. They, my neighbors, want to be angered so much that they already can smell the blood that they want the youth of our nation to spill.

They want to be angry perhaps more than they are angry.
Read More

Of Presidents and Emperors

Former constitutional scholar Alan Dershowitz posited on Fox News on November 25 that the “president’s not the king; the president’s far more powerful than the king. The president has the power that kings have never had.”

This is not an argument the former scholar offered for any previous occupant of the White House in Alan Dershowitz’s long life, so one wonders what renders this an argument worth pursuing on Fox News or anywhere that is not a mere public park with wooden crates available to stand on and bellow from. But he did so anyway.

The United States of America has three coequal branches of government to run its operations; our constitutional arguments usually concern which branch ought to run which operation. Our executive branch is one of those three, and we have not been ruled by a king or an emperor for a very long time. America’s last emperor died in 1880, after all, and we have not had a monarch since (or since 1776). (1880? Needle scratches on record as the music stops.)

When Emperor Norton I died in San Francisco in 1880 he left no offspring and no claimants to his (our) throne. We have been a republic ever since, although Alan Dershowitz seems to think that the current executive in the White House has the most legitimate claim to the American throne since Joshua Norton, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, last occupied it.

Come to think of it, Mr. Dershowitz may be onto something when he asks us to compare the current occupant of the White House and Emperor Norton I.
Read More

My Posts about Raif Badawi & Saudi Arabia

Raif Badawi is always in imminent danger of his punishment being resumed. He still awaits 950 lashes with a whip. Saudi Arabia’s thought-police know that any news about a prisoner can be one more form of punishment for his family. Raif Badawi is always in imminent danger. The mental torture never ceases.

When his story grows more prominent, as it has since the arrest of his sister, Samar Badawi, on July 30, 2018, that torture only becomes sharper. It becomes exquisitely more difficult to find hope.

For Raif—and for his lawyer and brother-in-law Waleed Abulkhair, who is also in prison in Saudi Arabia in a gross violation of his own human rights—and for their two brilliant and courageous wives, Ensaf Haidar and Samar Badawi, today is another challenging day. Each one is. Each day, news or none, is spent weighing the choice between daring to dream of freedom or to not expend energy in the risky business of dreaming.

Saudi Arabia arrested and imprisoned Samar Badawi on July 30, possible charges and location unknown as of this writing.

This post lists the articles I wrote over the last three-plus years about Raif Badawi, a young writer whom Saudi Arabia has punished for his essays, and whose story is finally an international matter this week in a conflict between Saudi Arabia and Canada. I will file a more current post tomorrow.

Read More

ICE Arrests Green Card Holder; Community Responds

UPDATED, April 29: When a GoFundMe page was established to help the family of Joel and Jessica Guerrero of New Paltz, New York, some 400 people donated $16,165 to the family of Joel and Jessica Guerrero within days. The community grew from immediate neighbors and family to the rest of the nation and beyond borders. When we remember that we are all cousins, the world shrinks in happy ways.

The fundraiser was closed at the start of April, but Joel remains in federal custody, detained by ICE. A petition on Change.org to free Joel has attracted almost 1000 signatures and many more are needed: “Please Stand With Joel & Jessica Guerrero.”

My column from March 5, 2017, with some corrections (thank you, Jessica Guerrero):
Read More

Breaking a Family Apart

When Will We Know?”—an ongoing series

NEW PALTZ, NEW YORK: Joel Guerrero, a New Paltz, New York, resident arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at his biannual check-in with ICE on March 1, is being held at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in Kearney, New Jersey.

ICE arrested Guerrero at his appointment on the grounds that Joel had once missed a court date—in 2011. He was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana at that time. Because of that conviction, under the rules for immigrants, Guerrero was mandated to check in with ICE two times a year, which is a rule he complied with. Guerrero legally immigrated from the Dominican Republic two decades ago and has his green card. He has kept his papers up-to-date.

Guerrero has attended every court date since that missed one, but ICE yesterday put a deportation order in effect for the single court appearance that he missed five years ago, nonetheless.

He was accompanied on his regularly scheduled appointment in New York City with ICE by his wife Jessica, a U.S. citizen and New Paltz native who is six months pregnant with their first child.
Read More

The New DOJ: Protect the Violent from Their Victims

When Will We Know?”—an ongoing series

* * * *

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.—Title IX

The new U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) thinks that the larger problem in society is not the scourge of rape and sexual assault but the reporting of it. The authors of a new, leaked, memo from the Department of Justice appear the think that the quickest way to reduce sexual violence is to report it less.

A Justice Department draft memorandum that proposes “recommendations on the interpretation and enforcement of Title IX” was leaked on February 20 by one of the many online accounts of government employees who have “gone rogue” and are hard at work sharing with the world all the changes that have been introduced since the new presidential administration took the reins of power. Three days later, the document was confirmed to me as legitimate by a source.

The Twitter account that published the document, @ALT_USCIS, is operated by insiders who claim to be employed at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, and it has been a reliable source for information about the “ICE Raids” that took place the last three weeks and quite a few other things.

The thrust of the leaked draft memo is to change operational procedures in our nation’s schools and law enforcement from what has been a history of protecting victims of sexual assault to a new standard in which those accused of sexual assault are to be protected.
Read More

New DHS Policies, Predicted Weeks Ago

When Will We Know?”—an ongoing series

* * * *
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today released two memos from Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly that explain how the department will detain and prosecute undocumented immigrants and criminal immigrants. For any readers who follow the “rogue” Citizenship and Immigration Service Twitter account @ALT_USCIS, the publication of the memos—and details inside them—comes eleven days after that account supplied those details. (CNN and other news outlets reported the existence of the memos two days ago.)

There are many online accounts of government employees (including at least two accounts whose writers claim to be inside the White House itself) who have “gone rogue” and are hard at work sharing with the world all the changes that have been introduced since the new presidential administration took the reins of power. @ALT_USCIS is a must-read account as of right now. If journalism is the first draft of history, this Twitter account is supplying the previews.
Read More

A New Interpretation of Title IX?

UPDATE, February 24: A source in the federal government confirmed to this website last night that the leaked memo from the Department of Justice that is discussed below is legitimate.

* * * *

When Will We Know?”—an ongoing series

* * * *

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.—Title IX

A U.S. Department of Justice draft memorandum that proposes “recommendations on the interpretation and enforcement of Title IX” was leaked today by one of the many online accounts of government employees who have “gone rogue” and are hard at work sharing with the world all the changes that have been introduced since the new presidential administration took the reins of power.

The Twitter account that published the document three hours ago, @ALT_USCIS, is operated by insiders who claim to be employed at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, and has been a reliable source for information about the “ICE Raids” that took place the last two weeks. That reliability is the reason I am sharing the documents here.

The main thrust of the leaked draft memo is to change operational procedures in our nation’s schools and law enforcement from what has been a history of protecting victims of sexual assault to a new standard in which those accused of sexual assault are to be protected.
Read More