Dreamers and DACA Factsheet

Dreamers are undocumented immigrants brought to the United States by their parents when they were children. At worst, they’re victims of their parent’s actions not their own.

It is not true that Dreamers are criminals and are involved in criminal acts. One element of a crime is Mens Rea (Criminal Intent). Since these people were brought here by their parents they cannot be charged or convicted of illegal entry into the country.

There are over 800,000 Dreamers. These are people who came out from under the shadow and took advantage of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) implemented by President Obama in 2012. It is a federal government program that allows Dreamers the temporary right to live, study and work in America. Those applying are vetted for any criminal history or threat to national security and must be students or have completed school or military service. If they pass vetting, action to deport them is deferred for two years, with a chance to renew, and they become eligible for basics like a driving license, college enrollment or a work permit.

During his campaign Donald Trump met with Dreamers two years ago and stated on the record “You convinced me.” He agreed they were brought here and since they were vetted and cleared of criminal wrong-doing and continued to follow the rules established under DACA they should be allowed to remain in the country.

When Trump broke his promise to the Dreamers and cancelled DACA, new applications were no longer accepted. As a result those in the program, their legal status (such as to work and attend college) will begin expiring in March 2018. Trump stated he wanted Congress to pass legislation allowing a new channel for temporary or permanent legal immigration status. He stated he supported such legislation by Congress to protect the Dreamers

Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress stated support of presenting legislation to protect the Dreamers. However the Democrats have been unable to get Republicans who control Congress to allow legislation to be debated and voted on for approval.

83% of the nation support Congress passing legislation to protect the Dreamers and not deport them. Only 13% of the nation believes Dreamers should be deported.  In fact a majority of Republicans agree that Dreamers who abide by the rules established under DACA should remain in the country and not be deported as promised.

Several bipartisan bills have been developed to protect the Dreamers. Trump even expressed support for one. However, after getting backlash from racists within his base and immigration hardliners like Tom Cotton, David Perdue and his own Chief of Staff John Kelly Trump reversed his public support to protect the Dreamers.

The current Government Shutdown is primarily due to Congress failing to keep it’s promise to the nation to legislate protection for the Dreamers. It is noted that the Ninth Circuit Court has stayed Trump’s rescission of DACA. Because protection for the Dreamers wasn’t part of the Continuing Resolution, Democrats refused to all cloture in the Senate to pass the CR. Democratic Senators were under pressure from their constituents to include Republicans and Independents to push the issue of protecting the Dreamers.

In much the same was as disinformation over important issues was created in Russia and spread in the United States by gullible if not racist conservatives during the 2016 election (Fake News), information is now circulating that Dreamers are involved in criminal activity in the United States to include rape and murder and have been throughout their stay here. No evidence backs up this outlandish claim. Remember, all 800,000 Dreamers have been and continue to be vetted for criminal activity. If they are found to violate the provisions established by DACA they are rightfully deported.

To summarize, as children these immigrants were brought to this country by their parents to no fault of their own. As they grew up they had no documentation saying they could stay or work in this country and lived under the shadows. Because the Republican Congress wouldn’t act on Comprehensive Immigration Reform (mostly because of pressure from racists in their base) President Obama did what was within his rights to implement DACA via Executive Order to allow these immigrants, providing they remained law abiding, to stay and work in this country until such time as they could establish citizenship. It was the right and moral thing to do and it worked. Trump stated he didn’t like the Executive Order process by Obama and rescinded DACA, but called for Congress to protect the Dreamers via legislation he would sign. During this past year, despite it being a major campaign issue, neither Trump nor the Republican controlled Congress has debated Comprehensive Immigration Legislation that would include a wall and protection for the Dreamers. The racist voices in the GOP base have been too loud and Speaker Ryan, Majority Leader McConnell, and President Trump have been too cowardly or complicit in their base’s bigotry to seriously address this issue as promised.

This is not the fault of the Dreamers or those who stand with them, it’s the fault of bigots and those afraid to stand up to them.


Continuing to live with Type 1 Diabetes

Yes I know, isn’t this a political blog? Well I want to talk about something while I’m thinking about it and there is (as always) a political aspect to it as there is everything in life these days (sadly). One disclaimer, though diabetic, I’m not an expert nor do I speak for the American Diabetes Association or the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (both of whom I donate to regularly). What follows are my personal experiences and views of the condition.

In 1971, shortly after my tenth birthday I wasn’t feeling too well. I tired quickly, I was always thirsty, I was always needing to go to the bathroom, and I was getting less attentive and focused in school. Remember, this was long before WebMD and the internet. Nobody knew what was wrong and parents in those days rarely called, let alone took their kids to the doctor for every problem that occurred.

One day I really wasn’t feeling good. I was throwing up and was in pain. I got to stay home from school and my oldest brother was taking care of me. Like all good older brothers, for lunch he went out and got me my favorite snack at the time, Hostess Ding Dongs. Later that night I was in terrible pain and woke my parents. While on the way to the hospital I lost consciousness and have no memory of what happened later that night. According to my mother, upon arriving at the emergency room, I began to scream out incoherent things and was thrashing about. The intern at the time told my parents that it was obvious I was undergoing some psychotic episode and was about to sedate me. Another doctor who was there at the time noticed a sickly sweet aroma coming from my mouth. He stopped the intern, ran some tests and found my blood sugar and ketones were off the chart, I was diabetic. I soon lapsed into a diabetic coma.

Little was commonly known about diabetes in those days. Even today many don’t really understand it. Most don’t know there’s a difference between Type 1 and Type 2. Both have a genetic component to it but Type 1 (commonly known as juvenile onset diabetes) involves the pancreas shutting down completely in production of insulin, the hormone the body needs to break down sugars in the body to fuel it. You don’t need to be a child to get type 1, you can get it as an adult like Mary Tyler Moore did. The more common Type 2 diabetes essentially involves the body still producing insulin, but can’t handle it properly. In many cases Type 2 diabetes can be controlled by diet. Both conditions have severe complications involving blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, neuropathy, amputations, etc. There is no cure or reversal of Type 1 diabetes. You get it, you have it until the day you die and controlling it involves daily injections (or infusion) of insulin. Type 2 diabetes can still require use of insulin injections/infusions but often can be treated via various oral medications.

As a ten-year-old, I had a huge sweet tooth. I loved candy especially chocolate. On one hand I actually thought that giving myself insulin injections daily was cool and I would freak my friends out telling them about it. Protocol for me those days was taking one injection of U-80 Lente Insulin, which was extracted and made from pork pancreases. It was only in the 1980’s that human genetic insulin came on the market. Testing in those days involved dipping a test strip in urine to see how much sugar your body was throwing off. Not very accurate in any sense of the word. Today they have glucometers that test your actual blood sugar to aid in determining how much insulin is needed to deal with background sugar and cover the carbs you’re about to consume. Insulin pumps keep a regular flow of insulin (basal) for background sugars and immediate infusion of insulin (bolus) for meals. Not perfect but much more accurate than injections once a day.

I was not a poster child for diabetes control. I took my morning shot of Lente, rarely checked my urine sugar levels and ate processed sugary treats and snacks and drank regular Pepsi like nothing was wrong. The only saving grace I suppose was that I was always active. I burned a lot of the sugars off. However upon reflection and as I understand today, this routine probably had my A1c very high (something not regularly tested in those days) and also made me prone to “insulin shock” where there’s too much insulin in the body for the sugar there. Insulin shock can leave someone appearing inebriated if not insane. It impacts the mind. Thinking back to those days I probably had multiple shocks and friends or acquaintances simply thought I was crazy up through my teens and twenties (if not still today). So throughout my teens and twenties I wasn’t injecting the proper amount of insulin for my needs, ate all the wrong foods and consumed too much alcohol when with my friends. You could say I was living in denial of my condition and you would be correct.

When I turned 25 I went to work for the Adult Probation Department as a probation officer. Few knew I was diabetic because I wasn’t sharing that information out of privacy and upon learning when I signed up for health insurance I was told I wouldn’t be covered at all for six months due to my “pre-existing condition”. I honestly felt discriminated against and unlike most minorities I could simply hide who and what I was by just saying nothing. Problem was, as noted above, I would regularly succumb to episodes of insulin shock on the job. The logical assumption from many co-workers and defendants for that matter was that I was drunk, on drugs or insane. Eventually I had to make disclosures to save my job. The catch-22 of the time was this was before the Americans with Disability Act. They could have terminated me immediately because I was diabetic.

Eventually I began to take better control (though not perfect) of my diabetes. Though still on injections I started to have a better sense when insulin shock was coming and I began carrying hard candy to get my blood sugar back up. My job performance became more stable and I was eventually promoted to supervisor. However as I grew older it became more difficult to sense insulin shock coming. Fortunately technology came to the rescue. In addition to the aforementioned insulin pump that better delivers insulin to the body, they came up with a pump that monitors your blood sugar in real time. Though not perfect, it’s been able to sense my blood sugar dropping and simply stop infusing insulin and giving me an audible warning to check my blood sugar.

I’ve been on the pump with glucose monitoring for about five years now. Just under 18 months ago I retired from Adult Probation after 30 years on the job, the last 18 years as a supervisor. During my time with Adult Probation I believe I’ve served the community by assisting probationers in adjusting their lives to becoming productive and for those who wouldn’t, getting them off the streets. I’ve assisted victims of crime in getting their restitution paid. I’ve trained many Probation officers who continue to serve the community, some now in management themselves. Had I not lived or had I never been hired or even fired for my condition, I would’ve never been able to make this contribution.

Now you can say that were it not for me, somebody else would’ve stepped in and done what I did. That’s true. In a sense none of us are indispensable. However when you begin to look at people in that way, where do we draw the line? Further, when do we formally begin to determine the level of “dispensability” of people and remove them from the equation?

I’m now retired, still relatively young and I’m about to volunteer my time working with newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetics in adjusting to their condition and life change. However I understand that even coming from a diabetic himself, individuals accept these things on their own personal terms and understanding. I may or may not be able to assist them in a positive manner, but it won’t be for lack of trying.

Now here’s where the politics come in. Diabetes is merely one of many chronic medical conditions we face in this country and the world. The United States lags behind the rest of the developed world in addressing these health conditions and those who suffer from them. As of 2015 there are 30.3 million Americans with Diabetes, 23.1 million who’ve been diagnosed and 7.2 who have not been formally diagnosed. Of these, 1.25 million American Adults and Children have Type 1 diabetes. For myself with insurance, I pay over $600.00 a month for insulin pump supplies, insulin, test strips to control my condition and remain productive. I’m very active still. I run marathons, I exercise nearly daily, I’m volunteering my time to aid my community, and I’m not a slouch.

Under our current Republican lead government, a movement is on to place corporate profits over everything. Medical costs are ever increasing for a myriad of reasons, insurance companies lose profits paying out to those in need of those medical services. To maintain profits for the insurance companies, exclusions for pre-existing conditions or possibly increasing premiums for them or the copays for various medications or medical devices is being looked at and implemented into law to reduce the impact of the ACA (Obamacare). Regulations designed to protect and assist those with medical disabilities are on the table to be removed by a government who despise anything called “regulation” and vowing to remove them to assist the private market and their profit margins. In doing this, we will all suffer as a nation.

Majority of diabetics are Type 2, which though still genetic in underling cause, is exasperated by poor education, poor diets, and use of high fructose corn syrup in just about every snack food these days, issues that some government regulations and/or public education services could address and alleviate thus reducing the numbers of those who end up suffering. But Republicans oppose such efforts while also opposing assisting those who are then afflicted by this condition.

It’s not just diabetes. It’s asthma, heart disease, blindness, cancer, mental health, a whole myriad of medical conditions affecting Americans of all heritage, socio-economic background, religion, party and political ideology. To ignore the needs of these Americans is to betray Americans in need. You can’t allow a government to operate on an ideological premise that people are dispensable; for if that’s true, well I know of a lazy, overweight, elderly man with clear signs of dementia who sees himself as indispensable while eating all the wrong foods, not exercising and not taking the time to learn about or treat his condition. Maybe we need to start there.


Russian Active Measures Continue

What are “Russian Active Measures”? The most succinct definition I’ve found comes from this article from Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-russia-successfully-interfered-with-the-2016-elections-2018-1

“Active measures are asymmetric political actions meant to influence an adversary — the art of having your enemy think what you want him to think.

Active Measures include propaganda, media manipulation, disinformation, deception, use of forgery, funding of extremist and opposition groups, spreading conspiracy theories and rumor, cyber-attacks, espionage and even assassination.”

According to this article and other research this isn’t anything new. It’s been going on for decades because Russia sees political warfare as important as military warfare. To use such measures to undermine a nation’s government, sew distrust among the populace only aids the Kremlin by weakening any actions from foreign powers like those in Europe and the United States and permitting Russians to have greater influence in their mission to get what they want.

It is agreed by our intelligent services along with those of our allies that Russia was very much involved in active measures, especially on social media during the 2016 campaign. Malcom Nance has a great book about it. It is also true that it continues and as the Mueller Investigation continues, we are seeing, and we can expect more Russian style disinformation to make its way on social media like Facebook and Twitter to anger, confuse, frustrate the general population in an attempt to get public opinion running against Mueller and our own intelligence services and law enforcement who are about to bring their findings to Court and Congress. It is interesting to note that the only two politicians in the world who affirmatively say there was no Russian Interference in our election in 2016 are Donald J. Trump and Vladimir Putin. Although Republicans in Congress have been less than cooperative in the investigation and prosecution of the Russian interference, they all agree that it happened. They just want those who discovered it prosecuted instead like Christopher Steele.

Both the House and Senate passed new sanctions against Russia for their interference, Trump signed it but won’t act upon it as required by law. The office in the State Department that would establish and execute the new sanctions was shut down by Rex Tillerson. It would appear to the casual observer that Trump and his team are aiding and abetting Russian Active Measures against the United States.

So what are we to do with a Republican Congress that won’t exercise its Constitutional mandate to hold the executive branch in check? Well in addition to contacting your representatives and senators demanding they make America First and hold Russia and her accomplices to account, we must stop helping Russia spread the disinformation.

Yes, we are the ones helping them. How you ask? Simple, by engaging with Pro Trump trolls on Twitter and Facebook. The Russian bots and trolls are easy to spot. Usually they have some common avatar or no avatar at all, very generic bio or none at all, few follows despite accounts that were created years ago, on Twitter they have timelines that are almost exclusively @mentions to others insulting them and usually all in caps, and of course, links to far-fetched stories backing a narrative to their liking but lacking anything in reality. When you engage these people you spread their disinformation on your established timeline and to your followers. You give the disinformation a legitimate timeline to infect and confuse others. You give credibility where none is merited.

Now although we like to think all of these accounts are paid trolls or bots some are legitimate Trump supporters. However they are gullible to believe the disinformation created by Russian Intel and pose as much of a danger of Russian Active Measures as any paid troll or bot. They may have thousands of follows, but they’re still agents of Russian disinformation and engaging them only spreads the disinformation.

If you want to use your social media account to get America “woke” about Trump and the GOP then do so with links to established and credible news agencies, considered & accurate commentary and of course good humor to keep things lively. However, despite the temptation to “show off” trolls and win a battle of wits, ignore them. For one thing, you can’t beat a troll, bot or ideologue on social media. If you engage them, they won’t concede you anything and will claim victory just by you responding, especially if you respond in kind. On twitter I always advise people to ignore, mute or block then move on. You’ll find these folks will not bother you on your timeline if you don’t engage them at all. They will find someone they can have a conversation with instead and in doing so, spread their disinformation. That is why all of us must get everyone on the same page to thwart Russian Active Measures on Twitter and Facebook, everyone must ignore them and move on.

Why Does Trump Merit Evangelical Support?

What is Evangelicalism? For lack of a better source I went to Wikipedia and got this definition:

“Evangelicalism, Evangelical Christianity, or Evangelical Protestantism is a worldwide, trans denominational movement within Protestant Christianity, maintaining that the essence of the gospel consists in the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ’s atonement.”

I then Googled to find out what Evangelicals believe that set them apart from ordinary Christians. I got this from NewsMax (Keep in mind NewsMax is a conservative source of information that is favored by Evangelicals):

1)      They point to a specific point in time where they were “born again” and place personal trust in Jesus Christ for salvation.

2)      They believe the Bible is God’s inspired Word to mankind, perfect in truth in the original text. It is the final authority in all matters of doctrine and faith and above all human authority.

3)      They believe in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, through his death and resurrection, is the only source of salvation and forgiveness of sins. Salvation is through faith alone.

4)      They are strongly motivated to share the Gospel either one-on-one or through organized missions.

5)      They believe in the rapture where they will be caught up with Christ before the tribulation leaving non-believers to remain on Earth to suffer.

Now theologian have, can and will analyze and debate the views of Evangelicals in terms of Christian faith, history, text etc. but that is not the point of this blog post. Above is a quick summation of who these people are and I want to explore why this group supports Donald Trump with such ferocity.

Though not actually specified in the Bible per se, a 4th century monk Evagrius Ponticus listed 8 “evil thoughts” in Greek that were antithetical to the righteous views of Christianity. They were a counterpart to a list of 7 virtues to live by to be righteous. In AD 590 Pope Gregory revised the 8 sins to a list of 7 and have been an integral part of Christianity ever since and is also part of doctrine for the evangelical movement. The seven deadly sins are:

1)      Lust

2)      Gluttony

3)      Greed

4)      Sloth

5)      Wrath

6)      Envy

7)      Pride

The seven virtues are:

1)      Kindness

2)      Temperance

3)      Charity

4)      Chastity

5)      Humility

6)      Diligence

7)      Patience

Now let’s apply these lists to the history and behaviors we all know about Donald J. Trump. Donald is a three time married man who had admitted adulterous affairs while married to the wives he later divorced. He’s bragged on tape while married to his third wife Melania his attempts to have sex with a TV personality and how women will let famous people do anything to include grabbing them by the pussy (Access Hollywood Tape). He’s told Howard Stern that as the owner of the Miss Teen Beauty Pageant he was able to just walk in on naked contestants. In his first year in office he sexually harassed Hope Hicks resulting in her leaving the Oval Office (Fire and Fury) He has no problem showing the world he like to eat fast food and get extra deserts. His history in business personifies greed and harming those who get in the way of his efforts to make more money via use of eminent domain and lawsuits. He’s also know for bilking business partners and employees. He’s declared bankruptcy numerous times. He has a famous temper that continues to flare up in the White House against any slight from anyone not showing him loyalty. He is obsessed with the success of Barack Obama and continues to try to denigrate him in response to his continued popularity. Finally he takes pride, but not in his actual work, the work of others demanding praise for what he’s accomplished even though he’s accomplished very little positive in his first year.

Now as for the seven virtues, those things one can do to mitigate or cure the seven deadly sins, few who work with him closely, if any ever report anything about Trump where he’s exhibited Kindness, Temperance, Charity, Chastity, Humility, Diligence and Patience. In fact it’s reported weekly by White House staff and other observers that he’s quite simply mean, unforgiving of others, unable to control his behaviors, boastful of his power, lazy in his work and easily bored and frustrated with work in the White House.

Prior to running for President Trump actually supported the one issue that evangelicals oppose most vehemently, abortion. Then suddenly after his announcement he was opposed to it. He took up the mantel of being a good Christian citing how the Bible is his favorite book after his own “The Art of the Deal” that in reality he never wrote. Despite the Bible being his favorite book, he’s still unable to cite any specific verse when asked. He famously referred to the “Two Corinthians” at one event. It is clear to the casual adviser that Trump’s campaign staff told him that courting the Evangelical Vote, people who regularly and “religiously” vote in all elections could give him an edge in the election. So he used techniques noted in “The Art of the Deal” to con, er win these people over and he has.

So he’s won over rank and file evangelicals. However he’s done so with the assistance of their leadership. Now one would expect the Pastors who claim leadership of the movement would know the Bible cover to cover and though may discount references to the Seven Deadly Sins and Seven Virtues as not specified in the Bible, are familiar with the actual teaching of Jesus Christ to include the Beatitudes. What has Trump done to show he’s following the teachings of Christ? Seriously I’m asking because I’ve read the Bible cover to cover on several occasions and though an agnostic, like Jefferson I believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ whether he was the son of God or not or even if he ever really existed. The teachings of Christ are the basis of humanity, the love of your fellow human being and a warning against those who put personal pride and wealth above the needs of the people.

However, evangelicals who say they also believe in the rapture praise Donald Trump as one of their own and lambaste other evangelicals and/or Christians who don’t. Robert Jeffress is among these people enthralled with Trump. He lambasted Mitt Romney as being part of a false religion. Well I ask evangelical pastors like Jeffress who say they believe in the Bible, Revelations and the Second Coming: How can you support a man like Donald J. Trump whose history and current actions and views are antithetical to the teachings of Christ as written in the Bible? It’s almost as if Donald J. Trump is Anti-Christ? So with that being the case and again going to the Book of Revelations and the mythology involved in the Rapture and Tribulation, how are all of you not the “False Prophets” noted who would lead believers astray to confuse them and get them to worship the Anti-Christ?

Donald Trump is no Christian and never was. He’s certainly no evangelical by the definition they give themselves. Donald Trump is a liar and con man. That continues to be indisputable by honest men and women around the world and to support this man as a Christian is simply lying to yourself unless you’re not really a Christian yourself.

Thus endeth the lesson.

Go in peace my children and support those who are truly Christ-like not self-serving greedy Republicans.