Donald Trump is ratcheting up his war on American cities, according to the Chicago Tribune, with a deployment of 150 federal agents to Chicago this week. The Department of Homeland Security is sending agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to the city, allegedly to help crack down on violent crime, although under the Constitution, law enforcement is a local and state job. On the other hand, the Framers had no idea how well cracking heads would play with the Republican base in 2020, so the silly ol' Constitution was probably just an oversight.

The Tribune reports that as of yet, no "specific plan on what the agents will be doing — and what their limits would be" has been made public, but it did get confirmation from an anonymous Immigration and Customs Enforcement official in Chicago that the deployment is on the way. HSI is the mostly non-immigration investigatory arm of ICE, usually focused on customs violations, smuggling, human trafficking, and the like; the official told the paper the HSI agents "would not be involved in immigration or deportation matters."

As in Portland, Oregon, the goal seems to be to put on a show of toughness, or to provoke a violent reaction, so Donald Trump can run on a promise of getting tough on crime in cities he wants to portray as out of control because The Blacks live there. It's not like cities are going to vote for him, so why not put them to use? Playing to white fear worked for him in 2016, so he must think enough Americans in enough states can be distracted from how many people are suffering and dying from the pandemic Trump has so badly mismanaged.


Trump said Monday that he simply had to send federal law enforcement to cities with Democratic mayors, because Democrats bad, crime bad, and Joe Biden bad, because Joe Biden Democrat bad crime liberal BAD!

"I'm going to do something — that, I can tell you," Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. "Because we're not going to let New York and Chicago and Philadelphia and Detroit and Baltimore and all of these — Oakland is a mess. We're not going to let this happen in our country. All run by liberal Democrats."

The president portrayed the nation's cities as out of control. "Look at what's going on — all run by Democrats, all run by very liberal Democrats. All run, really, by radical left," Mr. Trump said. He added: "If Biden got in, that would be true for the country. The whole country would go to hell. And we're not going to let it go to hell."

Before the Tribune story even broke Monday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a news conference that Chicago doesn't need the sort of "help" Trump has sent to Portland, thank you very much.

If Trump wants to help, she said, he could boost federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives resources and fully fund prosecutors.

"We don't need federal agents without any insignia taking people off the streets and holding them, I think, unlawfully," Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot also appeared on Joy Reid's new MSNBC show, "The Reidout," Monday evening to make clear she'd do everything she can to keep militarized federal cops out of her city, including going to federal court.

"Our democracy is at stake and I'll be darned if I'm going to let anybody, even if their name is Mr. President, bring those kind of troops to our city and try to take off our residents," Lightfoot said.

The Tribune story notes that while Chicago and Illinois officials aren't too hot on Trump sending the Unidentifiables to bust heads in Chicago, the head of the city's biggest police union sent a letter to Trump Saturday, asking for urgent head-busting assistance.

"I am certain you are aware of the chaos currently affecting our city on a regular basis now," John Catanzara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, wrote in a letter that was posted on the FOP's Facebook page. "I am writing to formally ask you for help from the federal government. Mayor Lightfoot has proved to be a complete failure who is either unwilling or unable to maintain law and order here."

On MSNBC, Lightfoot called Cataranzara "unhinged," which seems accurate enough.

Trump's deployment of tin soldiercops seems inevitable, since he's so far had little success in stopping his slide in the polls. "Chicago" has been a go-to dogwhistle for Republicans for years, and rightwing idiots are always thrilled at the prospect of Getting Tough.

It's also true that Chicago has had higher levels of violent crime including more shootings and murders this year than last, although year-to-year comparisons are lousy indicators of long-term trends, and even with recent spikes in crime in some areas, violent crime nationwide, including Chicago, has dropped dramatically since a peak in the 1990s.

Plus, there's that stupid Constitution. Federal law enforcement can be sent to protect federal property, but (acting) Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf claims that under 40 U.S. Code 1315, he has much broader authority to send federal agents from a variety of departments

"for duty in connection with the protection of property owned or occupied by the federal government and persons on the property," according to the law.

But the federal agents would not be limited to guarding federal property. Under the law, the agents could also conduct investigations of crimes committed against a federal property or federal officer throughout the city, Department of Homeland Security officials have said.

That doesn't sit so well with law professor Stephen I. Vladeck, of the University of Texas at Austin, who told the New York Times

it was not clear how federal agents could occupy the streets of a city that is 99 percent not federal property. "It's of course the prerogative of the federal government to enforce federal law and protect federal property," Mr. Vladeck said. "It is not the job of the federal government to be a general police force for all crimes."

How about it's legal because Trump says it is, and it's an election year, mister smarty-pants law guy? Trump can send federal officers to bust heads wherever they need busting, because Americans aren't scared enough, as the Trump campaign's new ad reminds us.

We feel so bad about killing grandma, we really do. And also for letting the robots steal old people's medicine.

[Chicago Tribune / NYT]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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