Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Thursday, June 01, 2017

Another little bit of progress bites the dust

by digby

I wrote about one of the sad effects of Trump's take-over for Salon this morning:

Back in early 2015 it looked as though America might be on the verge of a rare moment in recent times, when leaders of both parties might come together to pass an important bipartisan reform. Over several years both right and left had reached a consensus that the draconian mandatory minimum sentencing laws passed in the 1980s and 1990s had been overzealous and counterproductive. Politicians on both sides of the aisle were actually working together to eliminate many such sentences on the federal level, especially after data gathered in states like Texas and Georgia made clear that doing so could save governments money and reduce crime rates.

Even Texas Sen. Ted Cruz memorably spoke to the issue on the Senate floor:

Today, far too many young men—and in particular African-American young men . . . find themselves subject to sentences of many decades for relatively minor, nonviolent drug infractions. We should not live in a world of “Les Misérables,” where a young man finds his entire future taken away by excessive mandatory minimums

Mandatory minimum laws were mostly aimed at drug-related crimes and came about in a burst of emotional reactions to tabloid-style stories in the 1980s. Early in that decade the crack cocaine epidemic had everyone spooked, largely because opportunistic politicians stoked the story for political gain. The case that many people still remember is that of 22-year-old college basketball star Len Bias, who died of a cocaine-induced heart attack just two days after being drafted by the Boston Celtics. Facing a big midterm election, the Democratic Congress saw the public outcry as an opportunity to quickly push through the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986.

On the 20-year anniversary of Bias’ death in 2006, Eric E. Sterling and Julie Stewart wrote in the Washington Post about the effects of this ill-considered act of political opportunism:
One result was the innocuous-sounding Narcotics Penalties and Enforcement Act, which became the first element of the enormous Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, hurried to the floor a little over two months after Bias’s death. But the effect of the penalties and enforcement legislation was to put back into federal law the kind of clumsy mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses that had been done away with 16 years before. And there they remain, 20 years and several hundred thousand defendants later.
The federal prison population exploded from 36,000 in 1986 to nearly 200,000 in 2016, costing the government billions of dollars and finally leading members of both parties to realize that reform was long overdue.

And then immigration panic hit. An unknown college professor named Dave Brat unseated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a 2014 Republican primary, and that was the canary in the coal mine. Fueled largely by talk radio and the emerging “alt-right” white nationalism of Breitbart News, Brat ran on a hardcore anti-immigration platform — in a suburban Virginia district with relatively few immigrants — and the GOP realized the issue was potent.

By 2015 the Republican majority had embarked on a new crusade: the Establishing Mandatory Minimums for Illegal Reentry Act of 2015, also known as “Kate’s Law.” It would impose a mandatory five-year minimum sentence on immigrants who illegally reenter the country after having been deported. The legislation was named after Kate Steinle, a 32-year-old woman who was shot and killed by an undocumented Mexican immigrant, Francisco Sánchez, in July of 2015 in San Francisco. (The shooting itself was likely a tragic accident.) Sánchez had been deported five times before and was wanted for a sixth deportation. “Kate’s Law” is often mentioned in the same breath as efforts to ban sanctuary cities like San Francisco.

The idea was proposed by Steinle’s parents and taken up by Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly who made it his personal crusade. Naturally, the man who so eloquently spoke out against mandatory minimums just the year before, Ted Cruz, jumped at the opportunity to co-sponsor the bill. The House passed the bill but Republicans couldn’t break the filibuster in either 2015 or 2016. The right-wing press was fit to be tied about that, as well as about the GOP’s apparent unwillingness or inability to do away with sanctuary cities.

Here’s how Breitbart described the problem:
Sanctuary cities pose a great threat to American communities already overrun by Third Worlders and their descendants and a vast network of lawlessness sprawls across the country. As many as 11 to 30 million illegal aliens, largely but not exclusively originating from the most violent and backwards nations on Earth, are currently squatting on U.S. territory.
By that time the presidential campaign was in high gear, with immigration at the top of the frontrunner’s agenda. Donald Trump endorsed Kate’s Law immediately, evoking “beautiful Kate” at all his rallies and promising to end sanctuary cities on his first day in office.

He didn’t do that. But Trump and his allies haven’t given up. The administration is working every angle to pressure cities to give up their sanctuary status. And the following tweet from May 6 shows Steve Bannon’s “white board” says “pass Kate’s Law” prominently listed under “immigration.”


Rabbi Shmuley

With @SteveBannon in the White House on #israelindependenceday. Steve is a great, stalwart friend of the Jewish State
2:06 PM - 2 May 2017

Twitter Ads info and privacy

According to the Washington Times, while introducing the law in the new congress in January, Rep. Steve King of Iowa said, “Parents should never experience the heartbreak of burying their child, but the Obama administration’s commitment to lawless immigration policy has made that tragedy the new normal.”

This is nonsense, of course. It’s a tragic fact of American life that too many parents have to bury their children due to violent crime — but immigrants are far less likely to commit violent crimes far fewer of them than native-born citizens.

Kate’s Law has been hung up in the Senate, but according to the Hill, just as the mandatory minimum sentences were tucked into the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, the provisions of Kate’s Law are now attached to a border security bill that includes new money for prisons, detention centers and border agents. Whether Republicans can overcome the filibuster this time, with Trump in the White House eager to sign it, is perhaps even less likely than it was before.

But regardless of what happens with Kate’s Law or sanctuary cities, all of this immigration hysteria has completely blown up all that hard-won bipartisan effort to reform the criminal justice system. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to embark on a new “crime war” that will make the crusades of the 1980s look tame by comparison, and it appears we may end up making this already terrible situation even worse.