Old Age Word Play
INTERESTING STUFF – 30 June 2019

The Unimaginable Becomes Real at U.S-Mexico Border

For 15 years, Time Goes By has reported on and contemplated aspects of age and ageing, expanding that topic two years ago to include a terminal diagnosis, something that afflicts elders in greater numbers than other age groups.

A month or two ago, I strayed from that topic for one day to give us a chance to talk about the horror that is the executive branch of the U.S. government. I've lost count of how many times I have thought Trump et al could do no worse. I was wrong.

According to a variety of sources, our government is currently keeping hundreds of children – infants, some of them – in cages without adequate food or water and without soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and showers. For days. To sleep, the children lie on concrete floors in their own filth covered only by alumfoil blankets.

This is so far beyond the pale, I think we who are old enough to remember and who know a concentration camp when we see one, need to have a say.

In case you missed it on the news this past week, this is a clip from a hearing in which a Department of Justice lawyer, Sarah Fabian, tries to argue that toothbrushes and soap are not required to be provided to detainees:

(It is worth noting that one of the judges at that hearing, A. Wallace Tashima, an American-born (1934) Japanese, spent World War II with his family in Poston War Relocation Center in Arizona. I suspect he has a reasonably good idea of what a concentration camp is.)

Earlier this week, a father and his two-year-old daughter were drowned while trying to cross the Rio Grande River into the U.S. Here is a video with the story of what happened:

Is it possible not to weep watching that video? Every day when Trump unleashes another sadistic horror, is it possible not to weep?

When you're in your comfortable home, small or large, having showered, put on clean clothing and now sit reading news on your tablet, laptop or desktop maybe while drinking coffee or tea, is it possible not to weep?

There is a reason the federal government does not allow cameras, cell phones and, most of the time, reporters themselves inside the buildings and tents that hold these children in unspeakable conditions.

A week ago in The New Yorker magazine, Russian-American journalist, Masha Gessen, made note of Representative Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez's (OAC) tweet reference to the facilities holding these children as “concentration camps.”

Uproar ensued at the expense of OAC but she stood her ground. The next day, according to Gessen's New Yorker story, OAC tweeted that

”Andrea Pitzer, a historian of concentration camps, was quoted making the same assertion: that the United States has created a 'concentration camp system.' Pitzer argued that 'mass detention of civilians without a trial' was what made the camps concentration camps.”

What followed, for days, were editorials and op-eds on the subject of calling these detention centers “concentration camps” followed by more attacks and counter-attacks.

In her New Yorker piece, Masha Gessen has some interesting things to say about this:

”Ocasio-Cortez and her opponents agree that the term 'concentration camp' refers to something so horrible as to be unimaginable. (For this reason, mounting a defense of Ocasio-Cortez’s position by explaining that not all concentration camps were death camps misses the point.)

“It is the choice between thinking that whatever is happening in reality is, by definition, acceptable, and thinking that some actual events in our current reality are fundamentally incompatible with our concept of ourselves — not just as Americans but as human beings — and therefore unimaginable.

"The latter position is immeasurably more difficult to hold — not so much because it is contentious and politically risky, as attacks on Ocasio-Cortez continue to demonstrate, but because it is cognitively strenuous. It makes one’s brain implode. It will always be a minority position.”

“Never again” is now.



Comments

I imagine it is difficult for anyone clinging to a positive self-image to accept that this is who we are and this is what we do. It makes me sad because I served alongside people who sacrificed themselves in the belief that we were better than this.

Makes one wonder what the American Red Cross can/can not do in this deplorable situation. Isn't there something in their rule book that will allow them to provide humanitarian aid?

Is there any other worldwide organization that has diplomatic immunity that can step in warding off any outside political influence?

These kids and adults are treated worse than what we expect of our Prisoners of War (POWs).

Everyone: Take a moment and read the articles of the Geneva Convention.

Regardless of which side of the fence you reside - This NOT the America I fought for the rights of "freedom and equality for all". This has to change.

I am tired of you liberals defending the people who are invading our country. The people who bring these children to our borders are responsible for that they have created. To blame Trump or anyone for the illegal acts to this invaders is beyond insane. Keep drinking the kool aid, it will be of no benefit to you. For a woman who is dying of cancer to constantly beat the drum of her far left political opinions is a total waste of the time she has left on this earth.

We have not seen the worst.

I disagree with Jaguar's post...it is not a waste of time for Ronnie to address this horrible situation. It is her choice and no one has a right to judge another...although most of us do judge others.
Ronnie, thank you for writing about this. It is important that we don’t forget about innocent children dying, whatever one thinks about where they came from.

I think everyone should start calling them "Trump's Concentration Camps". Let's let this be his legacy.

I am not a Red Cross spokesperson; however, if I may speak to Yellowstone's comment, the American Red Cross - locally and nationally - is providing humanitarian assistance where it can in partnership with other non-government organizations and the Mexican Red Cross. The International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) oversees refugee support. They can't go where they aren't invited.

Yes, we are supporting concentration camps with our tax dollars. Shameful! Thankfully, in contrast to the camps of the Holocaust, they are not extermination camps, but I dare say that the human beings we have incarcerated would describe their experiences as a holocaust. It will take a long time for our nation to recover any kind of moral standing with our erstwhile allies. Weep, indeed!

I would like more information from Jaguar [interesting name]. Who does he think these "invaders" really are and why does he think these people are really invading the United States? Does he think Ronnie is only "a woman with cancer" and why does he think she has no right to state her opinion regarding anything on her own site? Did he laugh and clap when he saw that father and daughter laying in the river? Could he actually laugh?! If he is tired of liberals I wouldn't think he wouldn't be wanting to hang around this site - I suspect there are a lot of us crawling around here.
I weep for the U.S. and I weep for people like The Jaguar too.

You are so correct, Ronni. "Never again" is happening now. How sad that as a nation we are doing nothing to remedy this. We can't or won't come up with reasonable and revised immigration laws. But in the meantime, to treat fellow human beings (no matter where they come from) so inhumanely is disgraceful and will scar this country for years to come. Our privilege in this country seems to buffer us from the suffering and dangerous lives lived by so many. We also forget that were it not for the immigration of our ancestors, we would not live our privileged lives in this country.

How can anyone think it is a "liberal" notion to provide soap to someone? Or to change the soiled diapers of babies? Despite the denial on the part of many humans, I believe we are all one on this planet. There is no other home for us. We don't care for others, and we don't care for this planet. This will be the demise we have earned.

It’s still a free country at least for now for many. Free speech must be protected absent shouting fire, preaching venomous lies about “others” deemed worthless and dispensable. That said, Jaguar’s comment I find distasteful even despicable. I am especially incensed that Ronni whose blog we are privileged to read and comment on is judged and deemed “misguided” for her humanity and compassionate cry to note and recoil at the horrors this administration (accomplices, willing partners, kool-aid drinkers included) has been increasingly perpetrating toward the most vulnerable victims of disastrous policies, dictators, and circumstances. We must neither normalize, excuse, nor minimize or look away as the basest among us are destroying desperate people seeking the most basic needs: safety, security, and the means to feed their families.

I disagree with Jaguar too. The people who come to the US border do so out of desperation, in most cases. They are not to blame for wanting a better life for them and their children, and Trump most certainly is to blame for the conditions in which they are kept.

It is unconscionable!!

Such distress and suffering! What makes it acceptable? My prayers are that people will protest and also that this will end. America has lost all respect by the wider global community. How can you justify keeping children in such conditions. I am ashamed to say that I am an American.

It never ends: The Washington Post reports today:

"Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said on CNN on Thursday night that a widely circulated photograph of a migrant father and his 23-month-old daughter who drowned on the banks of the Rio Grande was tragic, but that it was the father’s fault they died — and not the fault of U.S. asylum policy requiring migrants to wait in Mexico.

"Cuccinelli, an immigration hard-liner nominated this month by President Trump to lead the federal agency that oversees legal immigration, including asylum..."

I am appalled at Jaguar's comments. When it becomes about being humanitarian we are not liberals or conservatives. The response to the tragic scenario at our borders should reflect who we are as human beings, and this administrations actions are an embarrassment and the whole world is watching.
The families fleeing Central America are doing so because of violence and poverty. There is a process for how to deal with asylum seekers lawfully which Trump is ignoring. Having these "concentration camps" for profit is disgusting.
I am an immigrant from Mexico brought here by parents who were looking for a better life. We each have a story, and unless you are a Native American, you are also an immigrant.
The attack on Ronni is unwarranted. Jaguar is free to voice an opinion but I found his comments disrespectful. How Ronni spends her final months or years are her business and the majority of us who read this blog support her 100%.

Makes me wonder where Cuccinelli's family came from originally. Did they arrive from - maybe Sicily - with a handwritten invitation?

Looking on the current administration's policies and actions I am reminded of a quote from Joseph Heller's Catch - 22 “It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.”

I am struck by Deb Greant's comment above quoting Joseph Heller. As we struggle for a better future (even us old timers), let's look of character, including our own. It's an old fashioned virtue.

I believe Jaguar is watching too much Fox News.

I always read the Comments to Ronni's posts - I benefit from them, I learn, I tend also to agree with what is said in the comments. Of course, I start with Ronni, read her words, then head to the comments.

It is a lovely routine. It starts my day off right.

The experience I had this morning, however, was different. You'd think I was used to the overabundance of ignorant and nasty [and occasionally even benighted] comments that I read every day, either quotes from our Leader or from others who echo him.

But this time? I actually had a physical reaction. I felt startled, then ill. For a moment, I thought I had stumbled on the wrong blog. Whatever happened to Time Goes By? To the Comments??

I read, re-read those words that Jaguar spewed out. I was startled, and then increasingly infuriated. It was as if the safe space I am in when I read Ronni and her commenters had suddenly been invaded by words that, to my mind, damage, kill.

I had seen the photo of Valeria and her father on the front page of the New York Times earlier that morning. I had wept and agonized over it. The more I looked at it, the more I saw -- like Valeria's little arm placed protectively around her father's shoulder.

And I wept - for the sheer agony of it all. And for the horror that seems to be taking over this country.

And then I made the mistake of reading that unexpected and entirely unnecessary comment. Not a comment, really - a tirade, a hate-filled rant. full not only of trump-language, but also of advice! -- I think that part offended me most of all.

Jaguar - whoever you are -- whether male or female [I had assumed the latter] -- dwell on your words. Re-think them. Imagine this child as your own. Imagine the desperation of her father -- not to forget the absolute agony that her mother had to experience, since she had to witness it all.

The worst thing about - say, trump's rants and ugly language, or the outburst of Jaguar who sounds like nothing but a mesmerized member of trump's mob - is that he [or she] lacks all sense of empathy.

And without empathy, we are lost.

Ruth-Ellen

Response to Jaguar- It is absolutely legal for people to come to the border and request asylum. It is up to us to decide if they qualify.
Usually, they are admitted and then wait for their case to be decided as they reside inside the US.
As we are overwhelmed right now the government has received permission to have the seekers remain in Mexico. Even thoughit is still our responsibility to be sure they are treated humanely as we would want to be treated. We should also be required to supply sufficient judges and other immigration personnel to process these cases as quickly as possible. The father (and daughter) who drowned made a poor decision but this decision was influenced by the poor conditions at the border. We bear at least some responsibility for these tragic deaths.

I can't help but wonder if Jaguar considers his ancestors "invaders"? After all, they and many others came without permission. They were fleeing terrible conditions in their countries - and they sure weren't the "best and brightest" They just showed up and we took them in.

Why is this situation any different?

I wouldn't be surprised if France repossessed the Statue of Liberty. I don't think we deserve it any more.

The assumption that the person commenting here as "Jaguar" is a male is interesting. The feelings and thoughts he/she expressed are not limited to either gender. As much as I would like to believe that the gender to which I belong is more compassionate, I have met, and read comments by, women who say things as equally negative and ignorant.

Two years ago I was in the Rio Grande Valley for a few days. I grew up in Texas and had gone back for a visit and trip with a friend with whom I had grown up and been close to for more than 60 years. This friend has been the source of what I consider true and reliable information about the situation at the border. Her church has made several trips to the area to deliver donated items and provide services to private organizations there which help those seeking asylum.

When we were there in the fall of 2017, things had not gotten nearly as bad as they are now. It's almost impossible to believe how much worse things have gotten since then. However, even two years ago it was chilling to experience the hovering of helicopters, the search lights, the constant presence of border control vehicles and patrols.

We were there for a festival at the National Butterfly Center, which is threatened with the destruction of much of that property and habitat that has been conserved to support butterflies, birds and other wildlife in the area.
The Center has sued the federal government, but they are unlikely to prevail. The beauty and joy we experienced was tempered at the same time by the dark atmosphere created by what was happening to people in that area.

One of the side trips into the field during the festival included a boat trip on the Rio Grande. After just a few minutes out, we saw two males with back packs attempting the swim across from Mexico. One looked as though he was doing well and could probably make it, but one turned back. Father and son? brothers? friends? It was impossible to know, and we will never know the outcome for them, but there are boats and officers all over, and most people trying to make it across are apprehended. I had taken my camera out and was taking a picture of the officers and patrol vehicles and boats, and was admonished to put it away--that the patrols watch for such things and will confiscate your property and can take you in for questioning if they see you taking pictures at the border. I stealthily took a couple more quickly and then put it away.

While there were enough ominous feelings at that time, things have gotten so much worse since then. On their church trips my friend and the others have only visited and helped at a privately run shelter supported largely by the faith community. On her longest trip a few months ago, there were far more people than the shelter could accommodate. It was set up for those who had been apprehended by ICE, but given dates to appear and set free, and there were adults and children of all ages. At that shelter, people are fed, given clean clothes and showers, some basic legal advice and a card which reads "I do not speak English," which they are advised to keep with them at all times. Then after no more than one night, they are sent on their way, regardless of resources or plans, language barriers, etc. Apparently the shelter is no longer even able to do some of this, as the numbers have grown too large. My friend's stories about the children, especially the young adolescent males were very sad and she was having a hard time processing all she had seen.

Words cannot adequately express her descriptions of things. It's at least as bad as what we have been hearing, but I can only imagine how much greater the horror is for those going through it, and those trying to help. During the debates this week, I was hoping to get a glimpse of how we might get beyond this, perhaps even resolve this crisis, but it was very difficult. There are so many things competing for our attention and resources and the system that has led to this has become so entrenched. And, alas, the people running who I think might have the truest hearts and best intentions are probably unlikely to prevail in the 2020 contest. I keep asking myself how this happened, but I'm finding no answers other than a president who is truly a sociopath and unable to relate to other people.

Ronni’s Blog Ronni’s rule she can post whatever she wants and does not need the scolding Jaguar posted which was rude and over the top. This has been a place for polite discourse even when disagreeing not a place for personal attack.
What a country will do to harm children is what a country will do to the disabled, the weak, and the aged. So a blog about how children are treated by the Border Patrol and ICE is entirely appropriate and only the tip of the iceberg. How are the men, women, aged and infirm treated when they apply for asylum? I’ll tell you they are shunted off to die in the desert or the Rio Grande.
I’m sick at heart about what this nation has become. We need to demand that this nation again becomes what we promised on the Statue of Liberty.

Just imagine what it must be like to be Jaguar! To be so filled with hate that you must go out of your way to denounce a "woman who is dying of cancer" (as if that could begin to describe Ronni!) for writing about a human tragedy that is being committed in our country, in our names. I have just come upon a quote by the great Rabbi Hershel "We are not all guilty but we are all responsible." As one who feels both heartbroken and responsible I struggle each day with the letters and the calls and the other small things we all do to express our anguish - even though they are so far from enough. And I am filled with appreciation for all of your posts that so eloquently express my own feelings As for jaguar, he/she is more to be pitied than censured. To be trapped inside a mind without sense, a heart without mercy is a dire lot. Ann

The picture was heartbreaking. But what made me convulse with sobs was another picture that popped up in my Twitter feed with the words "Don't you dare look away!" Of the young father and his smiling, LIVE baby, with a big bow in her hair. A picture almost identical to the ones I cherish of my grandson Alex and his beautiful baby girl, Harley. My grandson wants his daughter to have a good life. That's what the young man who tried to bring his daughter here, who wanted to ask for asylum, wanted too. Instead they are dead.

As for Jaguar, where is your humanity??

Apologies for the misspelling in my post. The rabbi I quote is Abraham Joshua Heschel. Ann

My goodness, it is overwhelmingly heartening to read here that for the one hate-filled and venomous comment posted here, there are countless ones with expressions of kindness, empathy, and compassion. I am glad to read them, but we must all do more and commit to speak out with our vote in every single election to remove these hate and fear-mongering bigots from power before they can do more harm.

This incarceration of the young has to end.

Who cares if commenters are bleedin' heart libs or right wing asses -- it's gotta stop but I'm afraid our comments … are just comments and unless the courts intercede … well, we're blowin' air or we are just typin'! I hope someone who has to power to stop it will do so as soon as possible.

Do not waste your breath on someone as pathetic as this Jaguar person. He/she could simply be a troll or some really young person with no experience with anyone who has ever been particularly kind or loving and no experience with some who is fatally ill.

I only pity someone like this who is so empty of humanity and void of any capacity for empathy. Such an empty meaningless life.

Ronni and most all the commenters on her blogs are fine examples of caring intelligent people that make the world a better place.

Dreadful things are being done because our country is being reactive and unthinking rather than reflective. If we had a sane immigration policy, these poor children and their parents would not be suffering like this. At least Trump is not adding to his hypocrisy by claiming that we are making the world safe for democracy - he is open about his greed, ignorance, and arrogance.

Kushner's machinations are also extremely dangerous to any ideas we have about being free in this country. Saudi Arabia is, in my opinion, a malignancy in the community of nations, a cess pit of perversion, cruelty, and hatred, and the reality that Kushner et al are dealing with them - and the Russians - is just the tip of the iceberg of corruption that exists.

People carry on about "socialists" and say we should rely on the forces of competition to regulate our economy and our social behavior. The only problem with that is that the super wealthy and international corporations collude with corrupt governments to run things the way they want them, and they don't want competition. People also carry on about Christians being infinitely superior to Muslims, and white people being better than people of color, and men being better than women, and so on and so on ad nauseam.

We elected a sociopath. We did it. Our neighbors, relatives, teachers, ministers, and officials did it. He is a reflection of us. We really need to take a hard look at our society, but we won't, because we are selfish and self-satisfied and don't want to be disturbed. Drowned Central Americans are the least of it. God only knows what Kushner and Trump's backers are dreaming up. I'm really glad I won't be alive much longer because my country disgusts me.

Anything I could say has already been said. We're living in Trumpistan now! Barring impeachment, the best we can hope for is that EVERY anti-tRump voter will be motivated to vote in 2020. We must win back our national identity and bid a permanent farewell to the most corrupt, inhumane administration this country has ever seen. I won't live long enough to see the damage repaired, but I hope to see the recovery begin.

I think "Jaguar" is just one more Trump underling paid to put a scare into influential blogs. Softening us up for their police state. It's sure to come if they steal one more election.

How come no one is talking about the election mechanics? How safe and foolproof are the voting machines? How many systems are being rigged right now by the Republicans?

Mary Symmes....PERFECT comment
Another Mary😊

I commend you, Ronni, for not eliminating Jaguar's comment. It’s important that the other side is heard. Too often we listen to, read, or watch only media which espouses our own views and feel rather smug when everyone seems to be in agreement. We must understand why those who are supporting that man feel the way they do. I’m not talking about the bigots but about the everyday folks who think he’s doing the right thing, even if it means turning a blind eye to his more negative aspects. So it’s important that political representatives figure out how to speak to those people, and convince them that they’re concerns are heard and valid.
Our generation has been so fortunate to live through a time of relative peace and prosperity. Let’s try our best to continue that for the upcoming generations.

Several posters are right. Jaguar is most likely just a troll. They crawl out from under some rock, post some inflammatory message and then crawl away.

You can usually tell it’s a troll as they either disappear or respond with more insults. Not in the least interested in dialogue.

Best response is to ignore or delete the post(s). Trolls get pissed when ignored so that is the best response. Do not even reference or acknowledge the post.

My 2cents

There are a large number of careful, intelligent people who think that in fact "we" did not elect Trump, and that we owe his installation in the White House to Putin's interference. As for Jaguar, we have no idea where this whoever is coming from. Somewhere uncomfortable, evidently.

On a very much lighter note, re that wonderful clip of slo-mo-shaking dogs, the dog just after the Shelty looks ike a Bouvier to me, very near to my heart, since I've had one big boy and now a big girl. Wonderful dogs. And not given to torturing newcomers, either.

I just now read this Friday blog I just can’t understand anyone not being absolutely heartbroken n offended by such a lack of empathy as Jaguar ! Ronni you mean soo much to us all n I’m very offended by his words. How can he live with himself or herself ? Where are our clergy ? Why isn’t anything being done about these horrible conditions. Congress Senate House members. Where are you Do something these poor children are sleeping on concrete floors with aluminum blankets to cover with. Have you no heart. God help us all. God bless you Ronni for speaking up.

Where are the citizens who care about American children? Where are the citizens who care about the constitution or the rule of law ? Where are the citizens who care about parents being responsible for keeping their children out of harm's way? Where are the citizens who believe in entering the United States of America legally?

This post and the responses prove the point made by many conservative pundits, who say that, "if a person has differing political opinions than liberals, that person ceases to be a human being." Unfortunately for you liberals, there were 64,000,000 in 2016, who disagreed with your liberal views, who believe that they have taken our country back from the brink of disaster, just as you believe 4 more years of the current administrator be a disaster for you. Liberals need to understand America will remain great, with or without a left wing liberal administration.

I enjoyed this site until the Ronni turned it into a crying socialist democratic ranting site

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