Art and artists most definitely have a place in answering wrongs, great or small, and everything in between. Andrew Ellis Johnson has a searing piece up at Hyperallergic. It’s well worth seeing and reading.
These are my recollections of a life behind the iron curtain. I do not aim to give perfect and objective evaluation of anything, but to share my personal experiences and memories. It will explain why I just cannot get misty eyed over some ideas on the political left and why I loathe many ideas on the right.
In the Czechoslovak Socialist republic everyone had a right to work. That is, everyone was entitled to be employed and make wages that guaranteed you shall be able to live off of them.
That sounds good on paper, but it did not work out so well in praxis.
First problem was that whilst there was some possibility of improving your income through work if you were a good worker and happened to be paid not per hour but per manufactured piece (or mined tonnage etc.), this was very strongly discouraged. The norms were still being evaluated and re-evaluated so if people worked too hard and earned too much, they would be re-adjusted so their income falls. This has led to peer pressure against too “hardworking” people to keep their heads down and not exceed the norms too much. Some minimal income was guaranteed, wo why work too much? If you do, you will have to keep working hard but you will not get more, so why bother? That was the general consensus among the populace. Nobody feared unemployment or not making enough money, and everyone knew that their chances at making more are abysmal, so people generally skived off of work left right and center. In trying not to get anyone too rich, the regime only succeeded to keep everyone poor (with exceptions, on that later).
Since It was not possible to keep an eye on everyone everywhere, the supervisors often did not even try. Greater care was taken to make the numbers look good on paper than to do good work, since it was easier. There were of course companies and individuals that did a good job. Some such companies were kept as the forefront for the regime and occasionally some random worker who exceeded the plan was paraded around as a PR stunt. I saw a discussion with one such worker on TV towards the end of the regime where the reality of this state of affairs was mentioned – that a lot of produced pieces was junk that once written into the glowing reports went not to the shops, but on the scrap pile. This was huge problem that has caused a lot of economical damage to the regime and has led to significant waste of resources.
Another problem was that it actively discouraged improvement and development. In the town where I live there was a small factory that has manufactured computer monitors. Our class was one day on an excursion in there and one moment stuck in mind. It was when the foreman was showing us a piece of new equipment, an automatic soldering table that was capable of soldering all components on a circuit board in one go in a bath of molten tin. He said “but we cannot use it too much, because otherwise we would not have work for all the women in soldering department”. To which our teacher, a bit zealous communist, replied with a sneer “but some capitalist would lave to have it so they could lay off those women”. The foreman looked baffled and not to pleased with this comment, but did not reply. As a child I could not put my finger on exactly where the problem lies with this reasoning, but it felt wrong. We were taught that advances in technology are a good thing, and making work for people easier is a good thing, but here people had to do manually work in an environment full of poisonous fumes even though the work could be done by a machine? It did not feel right. Well we need to keep those buggy whips manufacturers employed…
From that stems the fourth problem. A lot of work done was “work for work’s sake”. Not only was employment guaranteed, but unemployment was illegal. In order to achieve the nearly 100% employment, even with a lot of people skiving off and not working their best as a rule, there was an awful lot of busy but ultimately pointless jobs around. I remember how my brother finished his machinist’s education and went all giddy to his first job. He was actually looking forward to it. He came home all downcast and disappointed after his first day – he was given a stack of notebooks, a pencil and a ruler and he had to draw lines in the notebooks. Completely pointless task, but the factory – coincidentally the same one as in previous example – just did not have anything better for him to do.
Fourth problem was the widespread corruption. Most jobs that required higher education (like a physician, or a teacher) were assigned centrally so that availability of some services is evenly distributed. Not a completely bad idea since distributing these works purely on market basis means that countryside is without schools and doctors. However the implementation was deeply problematic, since party membership and family histories were a part of the consideration for who gets assigned where. So the countryside was sometimes stuck with teachers or doctors who were sent there as a form of punishment for not being subservient to the regime enough – and that was better option than those being sent there for mediocrity or incompetence. And the good spots were reserved for the competent – and, more importantly, the well-connected.
All in all this has led to the regime not progressing economically too much and average people were not particularly well-off. It tried to hide this behind the iron curtain, but some people did manage to visit western countries and word of mouth spread their experiences. And when the iron curtain fell, we could go and see for our selves the reality.
A few weeks ago I had a visitor at my lab from our other plant in Germany. We did not have too much work to do at that time so after i have shown him around we had some time to chat about this and that.
One of the things that transpired was that he is married to a woman who is of US American / German descend. He said her Texan grandfather took it rather badly and commented it along the lines “I was fighting against Nazis in war, and my daughter and granddaughter both married one.”.
I looked at him after this and asked the first question that popped in my mind: “Is your grandfather in law per chance a Republican and did he vote for Trump?” To which his answer was yes on both accounts.
I was astounded at this blatant display of a lack of self-awareness.
I mean, it is not uncommon to hear something similar in CZ. Even some of my close friends sometimes ask me – and only half-jokingly – if I still work “for Nazis” or in “Naziland”. Even I said such things. The German nation will in minds of many Czechs never ever get rid of the black stain the horrors of the WW2 have made on its reputation, not to mention previous thousands of years of mutual enmity between Slavic and Germanic nations and the two hundreds years long attempts at Germanization of Czechs. History cannot be denied or ignored, and its consequences do and will reach far into the future.
There is still also a lot of anti-slavic prejudice (not only) in Germany to this day. When Czech Republic entered in the EU, there was a lot of people near the borders who feared the influx of uncouth Czechs that would lead to a massive rise in crime-rate and stealing of jobs from proper Germans. Which of course did not happen.
It is therefore understandable that some Czechs view Germans as a whole with distrust and dislike, even though not justifying the over broad use of the term “Nazi” for anyone from Germany.
The current rise in nationalism spurred by anti-muslim sentiments, both in EU and in USA, seems to have led to a peculiar situation demonstrated by the Texan grandfather in law of my colleague’s. A lot of people seem to be putting an unqualified equal sign between the words “Nazi” (or “fascist”) and “German” in their minds whilst completely forgetting – or perhaps never even knowing – what this originally was about. And so subsequently they are voting for de-facto Nazis, who spout nazi rhetoric and try to propagate nazi policies, the whole package – unbridled racism and white supremacy, yearning for a golden age that never was, scapegoating and dehumanizing whole ethnic groups, wishing for concentration camps, firing squads and wars to beat opponents into submission (even the “traditional family values” and homophobia are in that package). All the while saying that “Nazis are bad” and thinking themselves opposing Nazis and nazism.
Yes, I know, one could quibble about whether the term Nazi really does fit Trump and the Republican party. One could discuss the minutiae endlessly and talk over differences in definitions and perspectives. There are differences. However I would argue that the term does indeed fit Republicans in general and Trump in particular much, much better than it does a typical German in these days, who most likely would feel ashamed and sorry for what Nazis have done and would despise them.
Lets not forget that not all (not even most) Germans are Nazis and not all Nazis are German. Lets not forget that first victims of first Nazis were Germans – German Jews, German communists, German mentally ill and handicapped and many just ordinary decent Germans. Using the term Nazi as a generic sneer against Germans is morphing into a form of bigotry of its own, an a dangerous one at that. Because as it usually is with such things, it shifts the focus from bad things people do on people who are perceived as bad whatever they do*.
These are my recollections of a life behind the iron curtain. I do not aim to give perfect and objective evaluation of anything, but to share my personal experiences and memories. It will explain why I just cannot get misty eyed over some ideas on the political left and why I loathe many ideas on the right.
I was born towards the end of summer, which effectively means I was almost a year younger than many of other kids who were supposed to go to school that year. This has led to concerns whether I will be mentally mature enough to cope so I was brought in for preliminary evaluation in the spring prior to my first school year. I do not remember almost anything of it, only that it was a pleasant conversation with some old lady whom I did not know.
After I was deemed eligible, the education started. It was pretty normal as an education anywhere else at that time. Children sitting in rows in cheap, uncomfortable chairs behind small tables. Teacher standing in front of the class talking. Don’t talk unless asked, raise your hand if you want to say something or ask.
The regime had somewhat ambiguous attitude to education. On one hand it has recognized that knowledge is empowering and completely ignorant and uneducated populace is useless. Therefore eight years of elementary school were compulsory and the regime took pride in nearly universal literacy and numeracy.
On the other hand it has also recognized that educated and well-informed people are harder to control because they have that unpredictable tendency to be critical of the information presented to them and reach their own conclusion. which has proven correct, since the velvet revolution was initiated by massive student protests.
So the higher education was theoretically available to anyone who was capable, but there were caveats that had nothing to do with capability and everything to do with how much one was perceived to be a threat.
Ever since childhood I was recognized as a university material. I was top of the class and despite year-long health problems that impeded me significantly for a few years I did not need to repeat classes. My father was a member of the communist party and of Peoples Militia, and he was working class. This was considered a good thing in my yearly evaluations and was always mentioned together with my good notes. However one of my uncles was a political dissident who has emigrated to USA and was in the employ of US government. This was considered a bad thing although I was never told this and I only learned about this later on. Further, by a twist of destiny, my father, the communist, was the only one from the family who remained on good terms with his dissident brother. So there was always a big question mark about my future education and whether I will be allowed to pursue either my love of science or my passion for painting.
The regime seems to have had some sort of poorly thought out and poorly formulated concept of hereditary sin. Children and even grandchildren of aristocrats or bourgeois or anyone really even remotely related to dissidents were treated as a threat and were put under close scrutiny. As I grew older I learned about this and I have tried to understand it but I never did. It did not make any logical sense to deny someone higher education just because their grandfather was a bourgeois factory owner. They are not factory owner, they live in this wonderful socialist country where everyone is equal just like everyone else. They did not do anything wrong, their grandfather did. Where is the logic in this?
That way I learned there is another iron curtain in addition to the corporeal one in the forests. An invisible social barrier creating a tangled maze nearly impossible to navigate, because the rules were never clear and were subject to the whims of the powers that be. There was only one sure way to higher education, and that was being a relative of a high party affiliate. Everyone else could be denied for reasons they will never fully learn.
Luckily for me when I was a the end of elementary school, the regime fell and the Iron Curtain was torn down. And with it fell the artificial barriers that might prevent me from getting adequate education. There were other barriers still and new ones emerged, but that is a different story.
These are my recollections of a life behind the iron curtains. I do not aim to give perfect and objective evaluation of anything, but to share my personal experiences and memories. It will explain why I just cannot get misty eyed over some ideas on the political left and why I loathe many ideas on the right.
Kids are kids everywhere, at least when they are not dying from malnutrition. In at least somewhat functioning society they like to play, run around and nag their parents with incessant questions about the mundane as well as the profound. “Mom, why is the grass green? Mom, why does rain fall down? Mom, what is a whore?”
Children in eastern bloc behind the iron curtains were not different. We liked to play and chat, and we did so whenever possible. But one thing that many children from that time shared, some more, some less was fear.
Fear of nuclear annihilation.
Later in life I learned that people in the West were afraid of those evil aggressive USSR commies who wanted to wipe them out and were held in check only by superior military power of magnificent NATO. Well, on our side of the border it was those trigger happy evil capitalists led by evil imperialist USA who were held in check by superior military power of magnificent Warsaw Pact. And in reality both sides committed war crimes and atrocities, there were no angels in the hot spots of the cold war.
Adults might have had their doubts and objections regarding the veracity of all this fear mongering, but for kids it was definitively all real. The regular “fallout drills” at school, regular alarm drills, signs how to react in case of nuclear attack hanging in every office. Once we were playing with my cousins in the garden and we heard a noise from the sky we did not know. What instantly gripped us was the fear that these are the nuclear missiles heading for Prague. Where I live this feeling was exacerbated by the very real presence of the iron curtains.
From every window of my house I see across the border to Germany. If I were to walk in a straight line in any direction from my property, I will end up in Germany within a day’s walk. Going mushroom hunting was allowed only in certain directions and certain areas of the forest were taboo. Big signs “Caution, State Border Ahead” everywhere. I still remember that one of the signs was riddled with bullet holes. The only time in my life I have seen a real thing riddled with bullets
And the curtains themselves…
Due to the signs and restrictions on movement, they were not usually seen in person and I never touched them. Mostly I knew they are there, somewhere in the forests. But the train track was driving very close o them, so whenever we were riding train to visit the inland, I could see them from the window.
Three meters high, double fence of razor wire. Roundup sprayed shooting corridors. And a macadam road for easy military access.
To a child, that was a terrifying sight. I loathe to see such structures being build again.
We’re going to go back in time a bit, to an article Simon Moya-Smith wrote in January this year. He’ll help you out with Columbus apologists. Happy Indigenous Peoples Day!
Glaring contradictions. Stupid fucking lies, and good ol’ American bullshit.
Yes, folks today we are talking U.S. history, and there’s nothing more politically correct than American History. It’s RIFE with soft language to spare the feelings of fuckers who desperately want to believe their homesteading great-grand-pappy wasn’t a murdering, raping, thief.
OK. So today let’s hit on the numbskullery surrounding Columbus Day. “Why in January?” you ask. Well because Colorado State House Representative Joseph Salazar, a democrat, is currently working to repeal the foul thing from the state’s list of recognized holidays. And lately he has received an onslaught of hate mail from dipshits who don’t seem to understand the seemingly elusive concept of logic and facts.
Recently, Rep. Salazar has been forwarding me these messages, and they range from fucking hilarious to seriously fucking delusional. They’re more on the seriously fucking delusional side, though.
So, I thought I’d share with you some responses you can use against the common, hackneyed pro-Columbus Day arguments you will surely continue to encounter for as long as you engage the willfully blind. Feel free to share the following with your friends or family, or maybe just that fucker who sits at the end of the bar incessantly defending the bullshit American narrative as written. (Remember: The American narrative HATES to be fact-checked. So fact-check that goddamn thing any time you can.)
Okey dokey, here’s what you can say to those dullards spewing trite claims and arguments about Columbus and Columbus Day, and let us start with the most common and least accurate:
#PhilandoCastile was shot in cold blood. The world watched it LIVE. What will it take for the justice system to value Black lives?
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) June 16, 2017
Rep. Barbara Lee: #Philando Castile was shot in cold blood. The world watched it LIVE. What will it take for the justice system to value Black lives?
Do not go looking at the comments, unless you feel like spilling your stomach.
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) June 16, 2017
Be A King: This is why there’s the cry & movement, #BlackLivesMatter. It’s not anti-all lives mattering. It’s anti-#PhilandoCastile’s not mattering.
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) June 16, 2017
Shaun King: I must remind you that #PhilandoCastile never even broke a law. He wasn’t speeding. He was racially profiled and pulled over for being Black.
I live in a country where cops can kill me & go home for dinner. But if we don't stand for the nat'l anthem it's a problem. #PhilandoCastile
— Ox (@NYEverything) June 16, 2017
Ox: I live in a country where cops can kill me & go home for dinner. But if we don’t stand for the nat’l anthem it’s a problem.
Via Raw Story.
John K. Bush, one of Trump’s federal judicial nominees, found himself in the position of having defend previous blog posts, which cited heavily from WorldNetDaily, the batshit christian conservative’s “news” source. Bush is a profound birther, and rabidly anti-choice. In spite of all this, he will most likely end up confirmed, unless some rethuglicans root around and find both a brain and a conscience.
Given Bush’s prolific history as a political blogger, those opinions were on full display during his confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
Birtherism came up after Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) noted a blog post where Bush relied heavily on World Net Daily, a conservative site famous for touting conspiracy theories such as the birther libel against President Obama. In the post — which bears the grammatically-dubious title “‘Brother’s Keeper’ — As In, Keep That Anti-Obama Reporter In Jail!” — Bush touted a World Net Daily story claiming that one of the publication’s reporters was being held by immigration officials in Kenya after the reporter went there to investigate Obama’s Kenyan half-brother.
In any event, Bush felt that he needed to distance himself from the birther website he once cited, telling Franken that “I was certainly not intending to endorse any views of another group, as far as birtherism goes,” when he wrote this particular blog post.
Questionable citations aside, many of Bush’s other blog posts stated much more directly how the judicial nominee views the world. In one post in particular, for example, Bush claimed that “the two greatest tragedies in our country” are “slavery and abortion.”
After Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asked Bush if he still held this view, Bush attempted to paint his views on Roe v. Wade as relatively innocuous. “I believe that [Roe] is a tragedy,” he said, “in the sense that it divided our country.”
Later in the hearing, however, Bush revealed that he either does not believe that all divisive decisions are tragic, or that he has a very poor command of American history.
“Wouldn’t you characterize Brown v. Board of Education,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) asked Bush, as “a case that divided our country?” In response, Bush first pled ignorance, then gave an historically-inaccurate answer.
“I wasn’t alive at the time of Brown,” Bush said. “But I don’t think it did.”
Well. There’s a heaping dose of flaming stupid. I didn’t exist at the time of Brown either, but I’m certainly aware of it, and aware of the massive divisiveness it caused, ripples of which abound to this day. You would have to be somewhere in the realm of complete dedication to ignorance to claim unawareness in this regard, especially if your career in life is that of a fucking judge. Fucking Idiot does not even begin to cover this.
In fairness, Bush’s ignorance of American civil rights history, while certainly not an optimal trait in a judge, might not prevent him from performing the core responsibilities of an appellate jurist. Typically, judges spend far more time parsing statutory language and consulting legal precedents than they do digging into political history.
But Bush is not like most people named to the federal bench. In a 2009 panel hosted by the conservative Federalist Society — an organization which has played a major role in selecting Trump’s judicial nominees — Bush aligned himself with originalism, the belief that the only valid way to interpret the Constitution is to apply its text in the way those words were originally understood at the time they were drafted.
Whatever the virtues or demerits of originalism as an interpretive method, it only works if the judges applying it have a deep command of history and the skills necessary to sort good historical arguments from bad ones. After all, how can someone figure out the original meaning of a text if they don’t understand the historical and political context that brought that text into being?
The fact that Bush knows so little about one of the most famous judicial decisions in American history does not suggest that he is up to this task.
I’d say that’s quite the understatement. The reality? Bush is yet another toady who will do whatever the Tiny Tyrant wants, regardless of law.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the law in its fast-tracked approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a U.S. District Court Judge in Washington D.C. has ruled. Judge James Boasberg said the Corps did not consider key components of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in granting the Lake Oahe easement under the Missouri River when directed to do so by President Donald Trump shortly after his swearing-in.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, with the Cheyenne River Sioux as interveners, had challenged the approval on the grounds that adequate environmental study had not been conducted. Boasberg agreed on many points, though he did not rule on whether the pipeline should remain operational. It has been carrying oil since June 1.
“Although the Corps substantially complied with NEPA in many areas, the Court agrees that it did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial,” Boasberg said in his 91-page decision. “To remedy those violations, the Corps will have to reconsider those sections of its environmental analysis upon remand by the Court. Whether Dakota Access must cease pipeline operations during that remand presents a separate question of the appropriate remedy, which will be the subject of further briefing.”
A status conference will be held next week, according to the environmental law firm EarthJustice, which is representing the tribes in this case. Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline’s builders, did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
“This is a major victory for the Tribe and we commend the courts for upholding the law and doing the right thing,” said Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II in a statement. “The previous administration painstakingly considered the impacts of this pipeline and
PresidentTrump hastily dismissed these careful environmental considerations in favor of political and personal interests. We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue political influence, and will ask the Court to shut down pipeline operations immediately. ”
Where there’s the smallest good news, there’s always bad news, and in this case, it comes in the form of Zinke:
“I think, talking to tribes, they’re very happy,” Zinke said of his proposal, adding that he “talked to all parties, and they’re pretty happy and willing to work with us.”
But this is not so, according to tribal representatives. In a June 12 press call hosted by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), the vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch said the tribe’s leaders have “maintained a consistent position that they support the monument designation.
“If there is any happiness,” Branch said,” it’s probably that the monument remains intact as of now.
“I think [the ‘happy’ characterization] is probably just a characterization coming from Trump,” Branch added.
Natalie Landreth, a lawyer with the Native American Rights Fund who represents the Hopi, Zuni and Ute Mountain Ute Tribes on Bears Ears issues, said during the Udall call that the proclamation that set up Bears Ears as a national monument had already formed a structure in which five tribes, known as the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, work together to co-manage the monument.
“It’s unclear exactly what the secretary is suggesting, so until we know more details about what he’s talking about, it’s difficult to have a view on it,” Landreth said. “Our initial reaction on behalf of the three tribes we represent is that this was really a cynical effort to distract Indian country from the devastating blow of reducing the size of the monument.”
Landreth said that some of her impacted tribal clients told her as of June 12 that Zinke had not been in touch with them on this matter.
“We don’t know who he’s talking to and what they may have said,” Landreth said.
A federal judge in Florida has granted bail to a self-professed neo-Nazi who was taken into custody last month by police who discovered bomb-making materials, weapons and ammo in the his Tampa apartment, reports Fox 13.
Federal Judge Thomas McCoun granted bond for 21-year-old Brandon Russell on Friday, stating there was no clear and convincing evidence “the defendant represents a threat to any person or community.”
According to the police who took Russell into custody, they discovered the weapons and materials used for making bombs in Russell’s garage and that he had a framed picture of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh on his dresser. Police also state they discovered Nazi and white supremacist literature on Russell’s computer.
Investigators report that Russell, a member of the Florida National Guard, admitted that he is a Nazi sympathizer and that he previously had created explosives.
Arthurs fingered Russell, saying he posted on white supremacist websites that he planned to blow up buildings and kill people.
Russell is charged with creating explosive devices and was released over the objection of prosecutors.
Jesus Fuck. I, uh, sputters. I just don’t have words. Apparently, domestic terrorists have gone from “not worth paying attention to” to “just fine and dandy!” Probably said he was a christian or something.
Via Raw Story.
Oceti Sakowin Camp. © C. Ford, all rights reserved.
There’s a petition, and yes, I know people get petition tired, but please click on over and sign this one, to remove the murder-minded and incompetent Kirchmeier from his position as Sheriff of Morton County. Kirchmeier took a brutal stance from the beginning, and as some of you will recall from the Standing Rock posts, he spread misinformation and outright lies from the beginning, and never stopped telling lies, either. He used all the climate justice warriors as an excuse to spend outrageous amounts of money on military equipment, so he could play a latter day Custer, obviously hoping for better results. In the end, his unholy alliance with the oil companies worked out just fine for him, giving him equipment to oppress and harm, all while lining his pockets. Please help out by adding your name to the petition.
Remove Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, of the Morton County Sheriff’s Office.
The Department of Justice is now insisting that lawyers helping immigrants shut down, and stop offering their services, because helping people, well, that’s a bad thing to do. This all hangs on a technicality, but one which is being exploited by the DOJ to remove legal help which is already scant on the ground for immigration matters. Immigrants do not have the right to legal representation here, which means that legal teams reaching out and offering help are doing it on their own time and dime. This is a devastating attack, yet another one which undermines one of those supposedly great pillars of America. It’s also outright white nationalism.
While the country has been fixated on President Trump’s firings, leaks and outbursts involving the Department of Justice, that agency has itself been stealthily attacking our democracy by telling good lawyers to stop representing people. Four weeks ago, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP)—a respected nonprofit in Seattle that represents immigrants in deportation proceedings—received a “cease and desist” letter from the DOJ threatening disciplinary action. The letter demanded that NWIRP drop representation of its clients and close down its asylum advisory program. The reason: a technicality, perversely applied. NWIRP is accused of breaking a rule that was put in place to protect people from lawyers or “notarios” who take their money and then drop their case.
Last week, NWIRP filed a lawsuit to defend itself against the DoJ’s order. What’s at stake extends far beyond NWIRP and the 5,000 people it serves every year. The outcome of this legal battle will profoundly impact access to legal representation for the tens of thousands of immigrants who apply for asylum in the United States every year and the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants whose cases are currently in front of an immigration judge.
Before I explain more, let’s step back for the context: You have no right to counsel in immigration proceedings. If you are not a citizen—or if the government merely alleges you aren’t—you can be taken from your home, jailed, and permanently deported without ever seeing a lawyer. This is perfectly legal. It happened to more than a million people under the Obama administration, which vastly expanded the machinery of deportation. (If you want this to be an “Obama was good, Trump is bad” story, sorry to disappoint.)
When lawyers rushed to airports this winter to protect our friends, our neighbors, and our Constitution, people cheered. The Trump administration took offense, and now those lawyers are in their cross hairs. The president is taking a sledgehammer to the pillars of our government: the FBI, the Justice Department, the federal courts. America, we are under attack.