Daniel Denvir

We're All Being Used: No, It's Not Immoral to Use Illegal Drugs

A New York Times op-ed by Mario Berlanga, a recent graduate of the Stanford Graduate School of Business from Mexico, made the argument that using illegal drugs is immoral because it funds cartels’ bloody rampage south of the border. It’s a straightforward point he makes — but also entirely wrong.

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Actually, Many Trump Voters Are in One Basket and It's Both Racist and Economically Frustrated

What Hillary Clinton said may have been politically unwise but was also obviously true: Many Donald Trump supporters are motivated by racism.

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Heroin Prohibition Is Killing the People It's Supposed to Save - It's Time to Legalize and Regulate

A drug normally used to tranquilize livestock and elephants is now being ingested by human users to disastrous ends and may have contributed to a recent spate of overdoses in Cincinnati. It’s a powerful opioid called carfentanil, and is only the latest such drug with a funny name to burst onto the national scene: Fentanyl now rivals heroin as a leading cause of overdose deaths, and another drug called Opana fueled an HIV epidemic in Indiana. But as the opioid crisis cuts its widening swath across the country, an important fact often remains invisible: Heroin prohibition is driving the problem, not fixing it.

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Private Prisons Are Not the Problem: Why Mass Incarceration Is the Real Issue

The generally horrible state of the world entices people to blow small pieces of good news entirely out of proportion. Such was the case last week, when the Department of Justice announced that it would phase out the use of private prisons to hold federal inmates. Contrary to popular belief, however, private prisons play a very small role in American mass incarceration, as Vox’s Dara Lind explained in a corrective tweet.

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Hillary Clinton Is Tossing a Lifeline to Down-Ballot GOPers, but Is Pulling Punches Against Conservatism a Smart Idea?

Donald Trump has made this election, like everything else, about Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton, happily skewering him as he blows up his campaign with ruinous attacks on fellow Republicans and myriad others, has zero problems with this. But critics on the left do, because by playing it safe Clinton is sending troubling if unsurprising signals about the agenda she will set as president, and also missing a historic opportunity to crush the Republican Party in a moment of acute vulnerability. Instead of aggressively making the case that Trump represents the worst of Republican greed and bigotry, she is inviting their leaders and donors to join her campaign en masse.

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Republicans Want to Disavow the Trump Monster They Created Because It Is Devouring Them Alive

Insulting the parents of a soldier killed in action because they are Muslim is unacceptable, Republicans are forced to concede.

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Enough With the Spectacle: How About We Just Ban All Assault Weapons Instead?

“They know that we will not bring a bill that takes away a person’s constitutionally guaranteed rights…without due process,” said Paul Ryan, dismissing the recently terminated Democratic sit-in for legislation that would bar those on government terror watch lists from purchasing guns as a “publicity stunt.”

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'Cruel and Unjust': The Drug War Snares an Immigrant for Pot, Breaking a Virginia Family in Two

In September 2011, Melissa Lawrence was seven-and-a-half months pregnant and working as a waitress when she got the call. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had detained her partner, Garfield Kenault Lawrence. That he had arrived at age 11 and was a lawful permanent resident didn’t matter because Kenault had been convicted of small-time marijuana offenses. In January 2013, he was deported to Jamaica after more than a year in detention.

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Welcome to the Nightmare Election: Why Clinton vs. Trump Is Going to Be About One Thing - Fear

And so it begins: Hillary Clinton vaguely entreats voters to cast aside color-coded maps and “get on the American team” as her allies make “a furious round of calls to top Bush family donors to try to convince them that she represents their values better than Donald Trump.” Meanwhile, Trump publicly scarfs down a taco bowl and exclaims that he “loves Hispanics,” insulting Mexican food with the same vigor he has insulted Mexican people. This election is going to be horrible.

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Donald Trump's Idiot Guide to Foreign Policy: The GOP Frontrunner Has No Idea How the World Actually Works

Over the past several months, Donald Trump has famously said a lot of nasty things about Mexican immigrants. What’s less often noted is that he thinks the Mexican government is run by the world’s most hyper-competent  supervillains. The upshot is that only Trump has the wherewithal to beat them.

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Bernie Sanders: How the Political & Media Elite are Trying to Set Him Up to Fail

David Muir, setting up the first in an endless stream of questions about terrorism in Saturday evening’s Democratic primary debate, of which he was moderator, reminded Americans that it was “just six days before Christmas, as we all know in this country. It’s typically a joyful time, as it is this year, as well. But it’s also an anxious time.”

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How Trump Gets Away With His 9/11 Lies

Anyone who has paid notice to the GOP primary over the past several weeks has no doubt heard Donald Trump make the following dubious claim: that, on September 11, 2001, he viewed television news footage of thousands of New Jersey Arabs cheering the attacks of the World Trade Center.

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The Republican Party Is Now America's Largest Hate Group

The Republican Party has put down the dogwhistle and picked up a megaphone.

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One Governor's Horrifying Proposal for Treating Heroin Addicts Will Surprise You

Confronting an opioid crisis that has already claimed hundreds of Massachusetts lives this year, Gov. Charlie Baker has proposed legislation that would allow doctors and other medical professionals to hold addicts against their will for three days. Critics warn that the measure lacks evidence to support it, would violate civil liberties, and could even scare users away from seeking needed medical attention.

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Prosecutors Fight to Undermine Modest Justice Reform So They Can Continue Appalling and Coercive Plea Bargaining

Federal prosecutors are fighting a rearguard action to defeat criminal justice reform legislation in Congress, warning that modestly dialing back harsh mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders would hinder their campaign against drugs amidst a heroin crisis.

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There Really Is a War on Christmas -- It's Being Fought by Brave Atheists in the Heartland

The Times Square billboard is not shy about its war on Christmas: “Keep the merry, dump the myth,” it reads, juxtaposing an image of jolly St. Nick with one of Christ’s agony on the cross. Sponsored by Cranford, N.J.-based American Atheists, the sign is funded in significant part by small-town nonbelievers nationwide.

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Right-Wing Campaign to Privatize Public Ed Takes Hold in Pennsylvania

A nationwide movement to promote school vouchers, funded by a coterie of wealthy corporate and Wall Street donors, has once again made Pennsylvania a battleground state in the fight over privatizing education. Voter turnout in the April 24 primary is expected to be low, and national media attention has moved on now that Rick Santorum has dropped his presidential bid. But voucher proponents have so far spent more than $1 million on an election season generally defined by low-budget state legislative races.

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GOP Race-Baiting Masks Class Warfare

This story originally appeared at Salon.

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How Unions Helped Bring Economic Justice to Black Workers

Police attacked a crowd of striking black sanitation workers in Memphis on February 23 1968, 43 years ago this Wednesday. It was low-pay and dangerous work, and they suffered abusive white supervisors. Two workers had been crushed to death that January. The City Council refused to recognize the collective bargaining rights of the workers, who had joined the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Their picket signs read “I Am a Man.”

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Join the Nation-Wide Rally This Saturday to Save the American Dream

More than two dozen progressive groups are organizing a Rally to Save the American Dream in solidarity with Wisconsin unions in all fifty state capitols this Saturday at noon. MoveOn, SEIU, AFSCME, True Majority, People for the American Way, the Working Families Party, Jobs with Justice, the Sierra Club, and Media Matters have all signed on to the call and are mobilizing their members to hit the streets.

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4 Things Our Government Should Stop Wasting Money On

A Tea Party-infused GOP is calling for major cuts to federal spending. But for most Republicans, the newfound concern with deficits is demonstrably cynical. Just look at the deafening silence from the Right that greeted the $1.2 trillion (and growing) deficit that President Bush ran up. Conservative fearmongering is mostly an excuse to plunder the safety net. “The idea that somehow we’re going to be Greece is just flat out silly,” says Dean Baker, an economist at the Center for Economic Policy Research. “Basically, it’s a cheap scare tactic to force austerity.”

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Is American Higher Ed Screwed? Conservatives Try to Privatize College As Tuition Soars

As in most corners of American life, crisis is the new normal in academia. Investment returns to university endowments have plummeted, state aid is being cut, and critical federal stimulus dollars are running out. Tuition is up, enrollment is being capped, positions are being eliminated, and universities are increasingly relying on part-time adjunct faculty that shuttle from campus to campus in an effort to cobble together a paycheck.

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Latin America Reflects on the Other 9/11

35 years ago on September 11th, 28 years before Al-Qaeda fighters crashed hijacked passenger planes into the World Trade Center's two towers, the Nixon Administration helped orchestrate a right wing military coup against democratically elected Chilean President Salvador Allende. As troops under the command of General Augusto Pinochet approached the presidential palace, Allende gave a farewell radio address to the nation and then shot himself in the head, refusing the military's offer of "safe passage."

Today in Chile, thousands across the country gathered, as they do every year, to remember that day.

A recent New York Times article discusses how many people in the Middle East believe that the U.S. government must have been behind the attacks on New York and Washington seven years ago. They don't believe that a guy hanging out in Afghanistan could get by the ostensibly foolproof security of the world's most powerful nation. While I think that it is certain that, for better or for worse, a group of Muslim fundamentalists carried out the attack, I also think that it worthwhile to consider about how 9/11 has turned into a contested symbol, a symbol that remains the point of departure for a long running political and military disaster.

The dominant image in the U.S., the one articulated by Bush and co-ideologues in the attack's aftermath, was that a great nation was attacked by horrible people who hated this great nation for everything that made it great. This sense of exceptionalism and ahistoricism, that our tragedy is qualitatively "unique," has buttressed eight years of cultural chauvinism and war that ranks as extreme even in the context of a rather checkered history of U.S. foreign policy.

The global propagation of this 9/11 image has caused some distress in Latin America and other parts of the world. In claiming that 9/11 was a unique tragedy, we belittle the tragedies of others. In claiming that 9/11 was a crime against an innocent nation, we render our support for brutal dictatorships in Latin America and other parts of the world invisible.

September elevenths took place on other dates throughout Latin America: Guatemala (June 27, 1954), Argentina (March 24, 1976) and the dirty wars in Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador of the 1980s, to name some prominent examples.

In Chile, too, September 11th is a complicated symbol and an enduring political legacy. President Michelle Bachelet, whose father was tortured to death by the regime, today inaugurated a President Salvador Allende White Room in the presidential palace, La Moneda. The room, an exact replica from September 1973, will be a permanent reminder of what a small part of Chile looked like on the day democracy was overthrown.

But it will take more than a yearly ceremony to exorcise Chile's ghosts. The coup destroyed a dream of a democratic and socialist Chile. The "transition to democracy" that began 18 years ago was forged on the Right's conditions: a binomial electoral system that excludes the Left (akin to the U.S. two party system), a neoliberal economic system that favors private education, the privatization of natural resources, and so on.

According to Chilean professor Álvaro Cuadra, "September 11th has not ended in our country. It is present in every line of the constitution...In the Chile of today, there is peace neither for the dead nor for the living."

35 years later, the U.S. army occupies the countries of two toppled governments. Of course, neither the Taliban or Saddam's regime was progressive or democratic. Regardless, the pain and death inflicted is on some basic level the same, inflicted by a country with an unfortunate combination of limited geographical awareness and boundless military imagination.

Could September 11th instead be an opportunity to reflect upon the suffering and perseverance that unites us as humans? Putting aside the taunts such a suggestion would provoke from Bill O'Reilly and the like, wouldn't such a remembrance be a more human tribute to the dead, more human that having your name embroidered on an American Flag of Heroes?

We should not interpret overseas reminders of the existence of "other September elevenths" as insensitivity to the 2,974 people who died in the twin towers -- most of who were, unlike our government, innocent. Instead, we should take this opportunity to reflect on the need for a more just foreign policy and a world where no one has to suffer through burning buildings or torture chambers.