Columbine: 20 years

It never gets easier. It’s difficult to realize these beautiful children might now have children of their own. Maybe one of them would have run for office or become the scientist who solved climate change.

It was awful when it happened, so close to home. What I didn’t realize was it was going to keep happening….

 








The Coup Will Be Televised

This just in:

President Trump will support a sweeping budget and border compromise and declare a national emergency at the same time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday.

McConnell has already signaled he’ll support Trump’s move.

Until its members prove otherwise, the Republican Party is all-in on government by executive fiat, better known as a dictatorship. We appear to be at gut-check time for American democracy.

I’m sure I and/or other FPers will be posting more as events advance. I can say for my part I’ve never feared more for our polity.

PS:  Alternate image:

Image: The Downfall of the Dictators is Assured British propaganda poster betw. 1939 and 1945.

Alternate image: Painting of the USS Dictator — a monitor at war with America’s home-grown traitors in 1864 and 1865








In Remembrance of Fred Korematsu

100 years ago today, Fred Korematsu was born in Oakland, California. After being turned down for military service in 1940 for health related reasons he lost several jobs due to his Japanese heritage after Pearl Harbor was attacked. He underwent plastic surgery in order to pass as Latinx so he could work. Finally, Korematsu went into hiding to evade the internment camps. He was arrested in San Leandro and jailed in San Francisco. It was there that he was approached by the ACLU and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today is Fred Korematsu Day in a number of states:

Several states celebrate Fred Korematsu Day on January 30, Korematsu’s birthday. Established in 2011, the “Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties & the Constitution” honors the legacy of Korematsu, who resisted Japanese American incarceration during World War II. He was one of three who legally challenged imprisonment, all the way to the Supreme Court.

The issuance of Executive Order 9066 in February 1942 allowed for the removal of any persons from Western coastal areas. Although EO9066 did not specifically target Japanese Americans, it paved the way for the forcible removal of those of Japanese descent from their homes and into camps. In March, “Civilian Exclusion Orders” were posted for all those of Japanese ancestry in Washington, Oregon, California, and southern Arizona. The majority of those of Japanese descent in the US lived in these areas and two-thirds were native-born citizens of the United States. When faced with having to report to an assembly center, Oakland, California-born Fred Korematsu chose a different path. Korematsu, a 23-year old welder, stayed in Oakland with his Italian American girlfriend. He even had minor plastic surgery on his eyes and changed his name in an attempt to avoid recognition.

For those interested, there are more resources at The Fred Korematsu Institute.

It is especially important to remember Korematsu, as well as what he and other Japanese-Americans went through given the current travel ban, attempts to change immigration law and end asylum by executive order, and build a wall solely because the president’s advisors needed a way to make sure he’d talk about immigration while campaigning and because the idea of immigrants, legal or undocumented, makes Stephen Miller feel icky.

From The Washington Post:

Long ago, Fred Korematsu was arrested in San Leandro, Calif., his home town, for defying an executive order that led to the expulsion or imprisonment of more than 100,000 Japanese Americans after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.

He later went to the Supreme Court to fight it, much as others now oppose President Trump’s executive order barring people from seven mostly majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States. Korematsu lost in 1944 and, although his criminal conviction was vacated in 1983, the case was not overturned.

Until Tuesday.

More than 30 years after Korematsu challenged, for the second time, what is widely considered one of the most unjust government actions in U.S. history, the country watched another legal battle conclude this morning, when the Supreme Court issued its decision in Trump v. Hawaii. The court upheld Trump’s travel ban and overturned Korematsu’s case.

The irony is that Korematsu’s vindication came as the Supreme Court actualized his worst fear by “racially profiling of a group because they looked like the enemy,” according to Fred Korematsu’s daughter, Karen.

“The Korematsu court presumed people were dangerous because they were of Japanese descent. Today, it is because they are from a particular country,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, who is dean of the University of California at Berkeley Law School and once called the Supreme Court’s ruling against Korematsu “one of the worst decisions in history.” Neither assumption, he said, is rooted in equal protection of the law.

“In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote, ‘Korematsu was gravely wrong the day it was decided.’ I think a future court will one day say [today’s decision] was a huge mistake,” Chemerinsky said.

“Korematsu may be overruled, but it’s not to be celebrated,” said Karen Korematsu. “Unfortunately with this decision, we are continuing to repeat history.”

For months, Karen Korematsu heard echoes of her father’s old warnings in the way Trump’s order cast suspicion on an entire class of people, and the way its defenders in court made claim to national security without citing any evidence against the people the order affected.

She was reminded that during the campaign, Trump promised a broader ban on Muslim foreigners — as well as a registry of Muslims living in the United States.

She was reminded that one of his top backers cited her father’s case as legal precedent for such things.

“Racial profiling was wrong in 1942 and racial profiling and religious profiling is wrong in 2018,” Karen Korematsu lamented. “The Supreme Court traded one injustice for another 74 years later.”

Much more at the link.

Korematsu was sent to the Central Utah War Relocation Camp in Topaz, Utah.

(Topaz Internment Camp Historic Marker)

(Topaz Internment Camp)

Never again must mean never again!

Open thread.








Pay Or Die

It turns out that some of the Sackler family were pressing hard to get more people addicted to the opioids Purdue Pharma was selling, even as they were trying to avoid media coverage for their drug connections and donating to museums, which should now be removing the Sackler name from their halls.

But that’s only secondarily what this post is about. It turns out that manufacturers of insulin, which many people need to stay alive, have been gaming the system to make things more profitable for them and much more inconvenient for patients and doctors. But what’s human suffering compared to profit, hey Ray Sackler?

The exorbitant prices confound patients and doctors alike since insulin is nearly a century old now. The pricing is all the more infuriating when one considers that the discoverers of insulin sold the patent for $1 each to ensure that the medication would be affordable. Today the three main manufacturers of insulin are facing a lawsuit accusing them of deceptive pricing schemes, but it could be years before this yields any changes.

There are several reasons that insulin is so expensive. It is a biologic drug, meaning that it’s produced in living cells, which is a difficult manufacturing process. The bigger issue, however, is that companies tweak their formulations so they can get new patents, instead of working to create cheaper generic versions. This keeps insulin firmly in brand-name territory, with prices to match.

This is why we need a different healthcare system. I’m not well enough informed to know whether it’s single payer or Medicare for All, or something else. But this profiting off human suffering has to end.

Open thread.








Christmas in the American Gulag

Matthew 2:16-18

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more.”

The Book of Trump:

An 8-year-old boy from Guatemala died in United States custody early Christmas Day, according to the United States Customs and Border Protection.

The boy died just after midnight on Tuesday at a hospital in Alamogordo, N.M.

Moral leadership:

In a Christmas morning question-and-answer session with reporters, President Trump touted his administration’s immigration policies and demanded further funding for a border wall. While he castigated migrants, the president did not bring up the boy’s death hours earlier.

I’m not going to belabor the obvious: we all know that America is led by monsters, and that it falls to us to do what we can, large or small, to beat them back.

Yeats’ “The Second Coming” has become almost a cliché, but its early lines, read as I choose to do now, are less a report than a challenge:

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

I don’t know if I’m the best (Narr: he’s not), but I hold this conviction absolutely: American concentration camps are evil.  And I feel my intensity rising: the House is just the beginning.

And with that, cherish those you love today — and my apologies for harshing the mellow of the season.

Images:  Peter Paul Rubens, The Massacre of the Innocents, 1612.

Jerg Ratgeb, Flight into Egypt, between 1515-1521.