Open Thread: Sixty Pounds of Something in A Forty-Pound Sack

Nope, sounds to me like Mr. Trump may just have ingested sixty pounds of something stronger than Jeff Sessions’ “demon weed”…


President Trump
told reporters on Air Force One on Wednesday that his proposed border wall would have to be “transparent” to prevent Americans from being struck and killed by 60-pound sacks of drugs tossed over from the Mexican side.

“One of the things with the wall is you need transparency. You have to be able to see through it,” Trump said. He continued:

In other words, if you can’t see through that wall — so it could be a steel wall with openings, but you have to have openings because you have to see what’s on the other side of the wall.

And I’ll give you an example. As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over. As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall.

Trump acknowledges that the scenario he paints is somewhat “crazy,” but there is a kernel of truth to it. For decades, drug smugglers have employed an arsenal of sometimes cartoonish tactics — from tricycles to narco-subs to drone delivery — to ferry their wares north of the border.

One such tool is the drug catapult — or more accurately, the drug trebuchet: a medieval-era device capable of slinging heavy objects, typically marijuana bales, across hundreds of yards…

SUNY-Albany homeland security expert Brandon Behlendorf told Wired this week that it’s nearly impossible to design a wall tall or “transparent” enough to stop a well-built trebuchet.

“They’re launching drugs not five feet from the wall, or 10 feet from the wall, where a transparent wall would help,” Behlendorf said. “They’re launching it 100 feet over the wall, 150 feet over the wall. No amount of transparency is going to help you in that context.”…



Blabbermouth Trump Blabs Out More Classified Info

Remember a long time ago when blabbermouth Trump invited the Russians who jacked our election into the Oval Office and blabbed about “code-word” intel? Yeah, that was last week.

Then this week, he made matters worse by confirming that the source of the intel was Israel while scolding the media about saying he said it was Israel, which they had not said. God, what a dumbass.

As a result, Israeli officials are allegedly changing the way they share classified info with the US. They say their cooperation with the US is “unprecedented,” but they would say that since we dump bales of cash on them every year. But common sense says they’ll give blabbermouth less to blab about if they don’t want more sources torched.

Now US sources — probably via Trump and his entourage again, because we know he’s a blabbermouth — caught UK officials by surprise by prematurely releasing info on the Manchester bombing. Via the Guardian:

American officials in Washington briefed US journalists early on Tuesday about the number of dead, confirming that it was a suicide bombing and – hours later – the name of the killer. The UK had not been planning to release the name on Tuesday.

The UK’s reluctance to identify the assailant was evident because it took hours after his name was circulating in the US media before Greater Manchester police confirmed it.

One of the basic tenets of intelligence sharing is that other agencies do not disclose it. The problem is that those intelligence agencies, whether American or French, pass it up to their presidents, prime ministers and departmental ministers. In the past, that secrecy was respected.

After the leaks, it could be tempting for UK police and intelligence services to stop sharing sensitive information, although Britain relies heavily on the US sharing its intelligence and benefits from intelligence, especially on counter-terrorism, from European colleagues such as France and Germany.

And now someone from the Filipino government at the Trump White House* released a transcript of a call between Trump and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, a nutcase who ordered the extrajudicial killing of thousands of Filipinos in that country’s “war on drugs” [NYT]. And guess what? Not only does Trump squee like a prepubescent girl at a Bieber concert about Duterte’s bloodthirsty antics, he reveals yet more classified information! Excerpts from the transcript:

TRUMP: l just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem. Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.

DUTERTE: Thank you, Mr President. This is the scourge of my nation now and have to do something to preserve the Filipino nation.

TRUMP: I understand that and fully understand that and I think we had a previous president who did not understand that, but I understand that and we have spoken about this before.

DUTERTE: Yes, I know that. Thank you. Yes.

Does Trump really admire Duterte’s murderous war on drugs? I doubt it. I’d bet money Trump has shoveled thousands of dollars up his own nostrils. But Duterte treated President Obama disrespectfully, so Trump thinks he’s a swell guy.

Now, on to the part where Trump spilled more secrets:

TRUMP: So how is everyone doing, how is the Philippines doing? [Jesus God! — Ed.]

DUTERTE: We are doing fine, Mr. President, but in the ASEAN summit, every member state was really nervous about the situation in the Korean peninsula, but we would like to tell you that we support you and keep on the pressure because as long as those rockets and warheads are in the hands of Kim Jong Un we will never be safe, as there’s no telling what will happen next.

TRUMP: What’s your opinion of (Kim), Rodrigo? Are we dealing with someone who is stable or not stable?

DUTERTE: He is not stable, Mr. President, as he keeps on smiling when he explodes a rocket. He even has gone against China, which is the last country he should rebuke. But it seems from his face — he is laughing always and there is a dangerous toy in his hands which could create so much agony and suffering for all mankind.

TRUMP: Well, he has got the powder but he doesn’t have the delivery system. All his rockets are crashing. That’s the good news. But eventually when he gets that delivery system… What do you think about China? Does China have power over him?

DUTERTE: Yes, at the end of the day, the last card, the ace has to be with China. It’s only China. He is playing with his bombs, his toys and from the looks of it, his mind is not working well and he might just go crazy one moment. China should make a last ditch effort to tell him to lay off. China will play a very important role there.

TRUMP: We have a lot of firepower over there. We have two submarines — the best in the world — not that we want to use them at all. I’ve never seen anything like they are but we don’t have to use this but he could be crazy so we will see what happens.

So basically, two lunatics are discussing the stability of a third lunatic, but only one of the lunatics is blabbing state secrets such as the location of submarines, and he’s our dumb fucking President Lunatic.

Can you imagine this buffoon keeping an operation like the bin Laden raid under wraps? Trump’s big fat mouth is going to get a lot of people killed. It’s only a matter of time.

*Thanks to all three dozen who emailed about this correction!



AG Jeff Sessions: The 21st Century Klan Grand Wizard Issues a Decree

NAZI garden gnome and all around evil prick Jeff Sessions has put out some truly awful guidance today:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned the sweeping criminal charging policy of former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and directed his federal prosecutors Thursday to charge defendants with the most serious, provable crimes carrying the most severe penalties.

In a speech Friday, Sessions said the move was meant to ensure that prosecutors would be “un-handcuffed and not micromanaged from Washington” as they worked to bring the most significant cases possible.

“We are returning to the enforcement of the laws as passed by Congress, plain and simple,” Sessions said. “If you are a drug trafficker, we will not look the other way, we will not be willfully blind to your misconduct.”

The Holder memo, issued in August 2013, instructed his prosecutors to avoid charging certain defendants with drug offenses that would trigger long mandatory minimum sentences. Defendants who met a set of criteria such as not belonging to a large-scale drug trafficking organization, gang or cartel, qualified for lesser charges — and in turn less prison time — under Holder’s policy.

The reason for this is quite simple. He’s racist as fuck. Don’t confuse evil and racist with stupid, there is a reason he is doing this:

Harsh drug laws are clearly an important factor in the persistent racial and ethnic disparities observed in state prisons. For drug crimes disparities are especially severe, due largely to the fact that blacks are nearly four times as likely as whites to be arrested for drug offenses and 2.5 times as likely to be arrested for drug possession.29) This is despite the evidence that whites and blacks use drugs at roughly the same rate. From 1995 to 2005, African Americans comprised approximately 13 percent of drug users but 36% of drug arrests and 46% of those convicted for drug offenses.30)

Disparities are evident at the initial point of contact with police, especially through policies that target specific areas and/or people. A popular example of this is “stop, question, and frisk.” Broad discretion allowed to law enforcement can aggravate disparities. Though police stops alone are unlikely to result in a conviction that would lead to a prison sentence, the presence of a criminal record is associated with the decision to incarcerate for subsequent offenses, a sequence of events that disadvantages African Americans. Jeffrey Fagan’s work in this area found that police officers’ selection of who to stop in New York City’s high-profile policing program was dictated more by racial composition of the neighborhood than by actual crime in the area.31) The process of stopping, questioning and frisking individuals based on little more than suspicion (or on nebulous terms such as “furtive behavior,” which were the justification for many stops) has led to unnecessary criminal records for thousands. New York’s policy was ruled unconstitutional in 2013 with a court ruling in Floyd v. City of New York.

You can’t as easily get away with lynching anymore, so this is the next best thing for this stain on humanity. It’s that simple.



Attorney-General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions Can Do Many Dirty Jobs At Once


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The Depraved Leprechaun, busy with the tasks Lord Smallgloves hired him for…

And he’s gonna use the Nixon Administration’s favorite shortcut to guarantee a full supply of “dangerous repeat offenders”…


Read more



“Dangerous permanent trend”

With elfin racist Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III installed as AG earlier today, the so-called president rolled out a series of new executive orders. Via The Hill:

“I’m signing three executive actions today designed to restore safety in America,” Trump said in the Oval Office after swearing in Jeff Sessions as attorney general.

It’s unclear what any of the actions would do precisely, and the White House did not immediately provide copies of what Trump had signed.

Trump said he is directing the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security “to undertake all necessary and lawful action to break the back of the criminal cartels that have spread across our nation and are destroying the blood of our youth.”

Another action, Trump said, establishes a Justice Department task force aimed at reducing violent crime and orders the agency to develop a plan to stop crimes against law enforcement officers.

“We have a crime problem,” said Sessions. “I wish the rise that we’re seeing in crime in America today were some sort of aberration or blip,” he continued, calling it a “dangerous permanent trend that places the health and safety of the American people at risk.”

Emphasis mine. There’s a dangerous trend that threatens the nation, alright — a pattern of behavior in which amoral assholes lie to gullible and ignorant people, playing to their worst fears and worst qualities, and are rewarded with power. I don’t think the trend is necessarily permanent, but we seem to be approaching its high-water mark.

These orders sound like a Reichstag in search of a fire. Given the lies about the crime rate and the unreconstructed knob Trump put in charge of the Justice Dept., I think we can guess where this is heading.



Open Thread: Massachusetts Potholeheads

Must… resist… Andrew Sullivan… joke…

I’m finally seeing anti-Prop 4 commercials during the local tv news — a full week after early voting started in this state. Those ads are both sanctimonious and dishonest, and if I hadn’t already voted in favor, their will nobody think of the children!!! puling would’ve strongly influenced me to do so. (The pro-legalization people have been running extremely discreet ads for the last month or so, and they didn’t feel the need to lie.) I haven’t even been around marijuana since the mid-1980s, but the current “medical use is okay, as long as you’re a white person with enough money, but no way will we allow our nice neighborhoods to be defiled by pot shops or the human detritus they attract” patchwork goes beyond farce into tragedy.

Our (Repub) governor, Boston’s (Dem) mayor, and Cardinal O’Malley (still a force, here in the Commonwealth) have all come out against the proposal, arguing that it will enable filthy cartels to further target ‘the most vulnerable neighborhoods,’ while simultaneously claiming that nobody gets arrested for possession these days anyways. (Technically, adults can only be fined if they’re busted carrying less than an ounce, but ‘possession with intent to distribute’ is still a valuable loophole for law enforcement officers looking to keep Those People in their place.)

Of course, the real make-or-break state for full national legalization is California… although I find it somehow endearing that Maine apparently hopes to replace its decaying pulpwood industry with an even more renewable plant product…



Lines On the Map: The Human Geography of the US’s Southern Border

ghmap

(Map 1: US Borders Prior to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo*)

With all the discussion, both in the current election cycle and year in and year out, about immigration to the US, as well as how to secure the US’s southern border, what often gets ignored is how the US got its southern border. Specifically the human geography of the southwestern US and their relationship to its border. After the conclusion of the Mexican War, in February 1848, the US and Mexico completed the negotiation of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo did several things, but among them it moved the US’s southern and western borders to roughly where they are now. Basically we moved the line on the map. As was, and still is, the case when borders are drawn the people living on either side of the old and/or new borders do not always pay a lot of attention to that border in their daily lives. This can be seen in kinship maps of various parts of the world where borders were drawn, often by people far from where the borders were or would be, that subdivided or bisected members of kinship groups into separate states regardless of the reality on the ground. You can see this on ethnic maps throughout Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and other parts of the world.

This is also the reality with the US’s southern border. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo officially moved the lines on the map, but the day to day experience – the pattern of human settlement and the human geography of the region did not really change. Sure, more of what we now call non-Hispanic whites moved into New Mexico and west Texas and Arizona and Southern California, but the overall human geography – the people, places, and things that make up that pattern of human settlement didn’t change all that much. If you look at the pattern of settlement, based on 2010 Census data, you’ll see that where Hispanics and Latinos were living in the southern US hasn’t changed a lot. The highest density areas are still in the southwest.

hispanic

(Map 2: Hispanic or Latino Population of the US**)

You’ll notice that on both the map prepared for the negotiations of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Rural Health Information’s map of Hispanic or Latino population of the US based on the 2010 Census that the area that the US would get from Mexico in 1848 is still where the largest percentage of the Hispanic or Latino population of the US live. This doesn’t count south Florida, which has a different historic pattern of Hispanic settlement. What the patterns of settlement shown on the maps show us is that the border was moved on the map, but the pattern of settlement remained largely unchanged.

And off and on for almost a hundred years that border was open. People went back and forth for familial reasons, for economic reasons, for social reasons, and for political reasons (don’t forget the Mormon exodus to Mexico in the late 19th Century and their return to the US in the early 20th Century). At different times throughout the 20th Century there have been attempts to seal the southern border for security reasons, which were sometimes/often conflated with xenophobia and anti-immigration sentiment. There were also attempts by the Mexican government to police their northern border to prevent (accused) criminals from crossing into the US illegally to escape justice. And all of these, over the course of a decade in the 1940s into the 1950s culminated with Operation Wetback – the last, named operation to deal with the issue at that point in time. These efforts to regulate the southern border also included guest worker programs, like the early 1940s Bracero Program. In the 1980s the Reagan Administration pushed the Immigration and Reform Act of 1986 that included a pathway to citizenship. Later, in the 1990s, there was Operation Gatekeeper, the Clinton Administration attempt to secure the southern border. And there was also the disastrous impact of NAFTA and the war on drugs on Mexico’s economy, driving millions north in search of work to support themselves and their relatives at home. And through it all the pattern of settlement in the southwestern US has not changed very much. Until this reality – that the border may have been moved in 1848, but not the demographics of the population – is acknowledged in the debate on what to do with the migration across the US’s southern border, then it will not be possible to formulate feasible, acceptable, and suitable policies for immigration into the US across the southern border and how to best regulate and regularize it.

* Map found here.

** Map found here.