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We Asked ICE About the Prank Calls to Their Anti-Immigrant Hotline and They Kind of Lost Their Shit

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On Wednesday morning, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency unveiled an office called VOICE (Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement) dedicated to “the needs of crime victims and their families who have been impacted by crimes committed by removable criminal aliens.”

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sandge
1 day ago
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Well done, people.
Atlanta, GA, USA
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Opinion: What’s happening in the 6th shouldn’t be happening

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(AJC)

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.”

— Obi-Wan Kenobi, “Star Wars”

What’s happening in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District should not be happening.

People are excited, even passionate about a close congressional race. Voters in both major parties are animated by the idea that politics matters, that they themselves might matter, that they can play a meaningful role in their own governance. Something approaching democracy has broken out in the 6th, contentious and splendid, but in the eyes of the political establishment it should not be happening. The structure that they’ve erected to squelch such outbursts has failed, at least temporarily.

Look at the map. Look at prior election results. The boundaries of the 6th were drawn to ensure that only Republicans could compete and win there, just as other districts have been drawn as reservations for Democrats. In 2012, Mitt Romney carried the 6th District by a margin of 23.3 percentage points. In the 2016 general election, Tom Price won re-election by almost 37 points. In ordinary times, and by conscious design, there is no way a Democrat could even hope to compete there.

And yet Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old political neophyte with no name recognition, may yet pull it off.  As Ossoff himself would tell you, he doesn’t deserve the credit for that accomplishment. Instead, the man most responsible for making the 6th competitive is Donald J. Trump. His surprise victory last November has energized Democrats and independents not just in the 6th but around the country. It has also forced at least some Republicans to question whether a party increasingly defined by Trumpian obsessions and behavior is still worthy of their automatic support.

That’s particularly true in the well-educated and affluent 6th, which has a median household income of $83,833, well above the Georgia average of $50,768. These are professional people with good jobs in corporate America, in companies where the sexist, chauvinist antics of our new president would never be tolerated. They operate in a business environment in which diversity, global engagement and transparency are welcome, not treated as threats, in which facts are treated with respect and the notion of a verifiable reality still holds sway.

Under these far from ordinary circumstances, in a special election with no incumbent in the race, the 6th has become somewhat competitive. And yes, that’s in part because of the money contributed to Ossoff in small amounts by Democrats all over the country. “Only $1 in every $20 raised for Democrat Jon Ossoff came from people inside GA-6,” as a tweet last week from the Republican National Committee in Washington reminded us.

Such statements make me smile and shake my head. Washington Republicans, including the RNC, are fully engaged in the 6th, where millions of dollars are being spent on attack ads against Ossoff. How much of that money was raised from people within the district? Shoot, how much came from people of any kind, anywhere? The answer is probably very little, but we cannot know for sure because again, the political establishment has made it almost impossible to discern funding sources for such campaigns. If you, as a citizen, want to give $200 to a candidate, your contribution must be publicly reported. If you’re a billionaire or a corporation wanting to invest $2 million in a particular political cause, the system gives you ways to do so with complete anonymity.

In fact, it’s important to note how rare this outburst of democracy in the 6th really is. Georgia has 14 congressional districts. In five of those districts, the chance of incumbents losing was so abysmally low that nobody of the opposing party even filed to run in last November’s election. Voters in those districts literally had no choice in who was going to represent them in Congress.

In the remaining nine districts, including the 6th, the concept of choice was illusory at best.¹ None of the nine “contested” races was decided by fewer than 20 points; in a state that Trump won by just 5 percentage points, the average margin of victory in “contested” congressional races was 35.5 points. The system is so weighted that even if Ossoff were to pull off the victory, the chances that he could buck the system and win the seat again in 2018 would be pretty slim.

So yes, given all that, what is happening in the 6th District is indeed bordering on the extraordinary. You can take that as a sign of a healthy republic but in fact it’s the opposite. It shouldn’t take the extraordinary to give people a voice, an actual choice. It shouldn’t require a once-in-a-lifetime confluence of unusual events and personalities to render democracy viable again in this one district, in this one election cycle.

But it has.

 

 

 

——————

¹ The situation is even worse in the state Legislature. In the 180-member Georgia House, for example, 149 candidates faced no general-election competition last fall from the supposedly “opposing” party.  Think about that: We like to tell ourselves that we live in a representative democracy, a republic, yet the truth is that almost 83 percent of Georgians did not get to choose who would represent them in Atlanta. It was chosen for them.



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sandge
11 days ago
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Atlanta, GA, USA
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Opinion: Trump’s reaction to reality? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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(AP)

It’s time for Donald Trump to retire his “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan in favor of a slogan that more accurately reflects his presidency. I think his new motto ought to be “Who knew?”

“Who knew health care could be so complicated?” According to Trump, nobody knew. He was the one who discovered it, making him the freakin’ Christopher Columbus of the Land of Complicated Health Care.

And North Korea! Who could know that North Korea is a rogue regime, beyond the control of even China? “After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy” to rein in North Korea, our surprised commander in chief said this week, after a chat with China’s president.

Also, who knew that the Export-Import Bank, the institution that he railed against in the campaign, is actually a valuable institution? “It turns out that, first of all, lots of small companies are really helped,” Trump now says.

And on and on it goes, an endless string of “who knews”?

Who knew that NATO isn’t obsolete after all, but is in fact a “great alliance?”  Who knew that Janet Yellen is a competent chair of the Federal Reserve after all, and maybe ought to be kept on?

Who could have known that Syria’s Bashar al Assad is “evil,” “an animal” and “a butcher?” Really, who could have known such a thing? It’s not as if Assad had a long, well-documented record of such brutality, right? And who knew that beneath his soulful eyes and boyish charm, Vladimir Putin has a dark side?

Who knew the House Republican caucus is a collection of right-wing prima donnas more interested in purity gestures than in the dirty work of governing? Who could know that Michael Flynn is a conspiracy-addled nutcase, or that letting a chaos freak like Steve Bannon into your Oval Office is like hiring a pyromaniac as your fire safety officer?

“Who knew?” They ought to print up tens of thousands of ballcaps with that logo to pass out to his campaign supporters, because the motto applies to them too.

Who knew that the candidate who railed against Wall Street, Goldman Sachs and the economic elites would transform the White House into the Washington chapter of the Goldman Sachs Alumni Association? Not them. Who knew that someone so scornful of overseas military action would soon be treating “my military” as his own personal toy set? Not them.

Who knew that the populist who promised health insurance for everyone would instead try to strip health insurance from 24 million? Who knew that the man who committed to rescuing rural America from the scourge of opiate addiction would turn around and try to eliminate federal funding for drug treatment? Who knew that the man who promised to label China a currency manipulator on Day One of his administration would declare on Day 82 that no it isn’t?

If you didn’t know then, you ought to know now.

 

 



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sandge
14 days ago
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Atlanta, GA, USA
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Identification Chart

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Be careful—it's breeding season, and some of these can be *extremely* defensive of their nests.
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sandge
14 days ago
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Atlanta, GA, USA
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alt_text_bot
15 days ago
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Be careful—it's breeding season, and some of these can be *extremely* defensive of their nests.

Everything Is An Enormous Pain in the Ass

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It’s not just Obamaphones and poor people’s choice of TVs:

It’s that it takes six calls to the insurance company to get routine drugs approved. It’s that there are fees tacked onto everything for seemingly no reason at all. It’s that when you go on the website to make a doctor’s appointment they tell you to call, and the voicemail auto-answering thing tells you to go on the website and then hangs up on you. It’s that you have to swipe or insert or insert and swipe or WHATEVER to pay for stuff. Change your password to something else, but not that password, because we’re not going to tell you what the password requirements are until you’ve screwed them up.

It’s that there are half as many buses as there used to be, for twice as many people, and they don’t clean them as much so the ride to work every morning is gross. It’s that we’re told at every turn that we can’t have nice things, unless we’re super-rich, so most of us have almost-nice things that break constantly and require a roundabout with four customer service reps until we lose it and start screaming at the company on Twitter.

That’s for those of us who can afford to be on Twitter, have things at all, or be consumed with petty shit. The rest of us are sitting at the bus stop, having gotten up an hour early only to find the bus delayed by 30 minutes because it’s snowing, and the bus doesn’t go to the one ADA-compliant stop on the train so we have to roll the damn chair down the middle of the street in the snow because the city doesn’t shovel as much as it used to. Shortage of funds, you know. Can’t salt the sidewalks. Grrr. It’s doing everything the way you’re told — job, home, family — and life STILL being just this hard.

We transfer that anger at corporate bullshit to politicians, and we should, because they’re the ones allowing companies to charge more for doing less and call in the cops when someone says screw that. They’re the ones allocating resources from one place to another, and somehow where the resources end up is never where we think they’re gonna be, and it’s that their misdeeds are presented as happenstance for which there is no redress. Washington “is broken.” Our system “doesn’t work.”

Not that people made it that way and can unmake it, not that actions and laws and regulations and requirements can be made to protect consumers more than producers, but that it’s all fucked up and bullshit, as the kids say. Easier to turn your back on it in disgust. Easier to walk away.

A.




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sandge
17 days ago
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Atlanta, GA, USA
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Baby steps.

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Baby steps.

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sandge
22 days ago
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Atlanta, GA, USA
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MaryEllenCG
23 days ago
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It's me!
Greater Bostonia
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