CIVIL RIGHTS: Sessions Discovers America’s REAL Civil Rights Crisis — Insufficient White Privilege — Every White Kid Should Have Have Preferred Admission (How Else Do You Think Trump & Some Of His Cronies Got Into Good Schools?) — Gonzo Wants To Use Taxpayer $$$ To Turn Civil Rights Laws Against Blacks & Other Minorities!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/01/us/politics/trump-affirmative-action-universities.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Charlie Savage reports for the NY Times:

“WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, according to a document obtained by The New York Times.

The document, an internal announcement to the civil rights division, seeks current lawyers interested in working for a new project on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”

The announcement suggests that the project will be run out of the division’s front office, where the Trump administration’s political appointees work, rather than its Educational Opportunities Section, which is run by career civil servants and normally handles work involving schools and universities.

The document does not explicitly identify whom the Justice Department considers at risk of discrimination because of affirmative action admissions policies. But the phrasing it uses, “intentional race-based discrimination,” cuts to the heart of programs designed to bring more minority students to university campuses.

Supporters and critics of the project said it was clearly targeting admissions programs that can give members of generally disadvantaged groups, like black and Latino students, an edge over other applicants with comparable or higher test scores.

The project is another sign that the civil rights division is taking on a conservative tilt under President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. It follows other changes in Justice Department policy on voting rights, gay rights and police reforms.

. . . .

The pending start of the affirmative action project — division lawyers who want to work on it must submit their résumés by Aug. 9, the announcement said — joins a series of changes involving civil rights law since Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

In a lawsuit challenging Texas’ strict voter identification law, the Justice Department switched its position, dropping the claim that the law was intentionally discriminatory and later declaring that the law had been fixed. Mr. Sessions has also made clear he is not interested in using consent decrees to impose reforms on troubled police departments and has initiated a sweeping review of existing agreements.

Last week, the Justice Department, without being asked, filed a brief in a private employment discrimination lawsuit. It urged an appeals court not to interpret the ban on sex-based discrimination in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as covering sexual orientation. The Obama administration had shied from taking a stand on that question.

Vanita Gupta, who ran the civil rights division in the Obama administration’s second term and is now president of the liberal Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, noted that the briefs in the Texas voter identification and gay-rights cases were signed only by Trump administration political appointees, not career officials, just as the affirmative action project will apparently be run directly by the division’s front office.

“The fact that the position is in the political front office, and not in the career section that enforces antidiscrimination laws for education, suggests that this person will be carrying out an agenda aimed at undermining diversity in higher education without needing to say it,” Ms. Gupta said.

The civil rights division has been a recurring culture-war battleground as it passed between Democratic and Republican administrations.”

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Wow! Talk about waste, fraud, and abuse by political officials at the DOJ! Oh, GAO, where art thou when the country needs you? Assuming that any minorities can still vote by the time Sessions and Trump get through — a big if — they might want to consider turning out for candidates who will support the “original intent” of Civil Rights laws, rather than perverting them to further entrench  the White (Largely Male) GOP Establishment.

PWS

08-02-17

ILYA SOMIN IN WASHPOST: Sessions’s Gonzo Attack On America’s Cities Is Unconstitutional!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/07/27/jeff-sessions-attack-on-sanctuary-cities-is-also-an-assault-on-federalism-and-separation-of-powers/?utm_term=.dadc10264ba1

Somin, a Professor of Law at George Mason, writes:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced a new Justice Department policy seeking to pull federal grants from “sanctuary cities” – jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with some federal efforts to deport undocumented immigrants. Much like President Trump’s earlier executive order targeting sanctuary cities, which was blocked by a federal court decision, the Justice Department’s new policy is unconstitutional. If allowed to proceed, it would create a dangerous precedent for both federalism and separation of powers.

. . . .

The major constitutional problem with all three requirements is exactly the same as the main flaw in the earlier order: Longstanding Supreme Court precedent indicates that only Congress can impose conditions on grants given to states and localities, and that those conditions must be “unambiguously” stated in the text of the law “so that the States can knowingly decide whether or not to accept those funds.” Neither compliance with Section 1373 nor the other two conditions the DOJ seeks to impose are included in the authorizing legislation for the Byrne grants. Sessions and Trump may be at odds on other issues right now. But they are united in their desire to make up new grant conditions and impose them on states and localities after the fact.”

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Read the entire article at the link.

Sessions is a “Constitutional relativist.” One day he’s for states’s rights to deny minorities the vote or to shoot or beat them to a pulp in law enforcement operations. The next day, he’s for the Feds interfering with local law enforcement’s ability to work with the entire community (not just the white guys) to enforce local laws. The only consistency in Sessions’s positions: the White Nationalist agenda. Look for the worst outcome for folks of color or non-Christians and that’s where you will find Sessions and his minions. Every time.

PWS

07-27-17

UNDER STRESS, A.G. JEFF “GONZO APOCALYPTO” SESSIONS REACTS AS USUAL — BY ASSAULTING THE RIGHTS AND DIGNITY OF MINORITIES — Orders DOJ To Deny That LGBT Community Gets Civil Rights Protections! — We Shouldn’t Let Trump’s Improper Attack Turn Sessions Into A Constitutional Hero — He’s Not!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/justice-gay-civil-rights-act_us_5979422de4b02a4ebb72e45d

Nick Visser reports in HuffPost:

“The Department of Justice argued in a legal brief on Wednesday that the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 offers no protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation, a position advocacy groups condemned as “shameful” and “politically driven.”

DOJ lawyers, arguing under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in which they said the department did not believe the law ― which bans discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin ― applied to lesbian and gay people. The brief was filed as part of a lawsuit filed by a now-deceased skydiving instructor, Donald Zarda, who said he was fired for his sexual orientation. His lawyers contend the dismissal violated of the act’s Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination.

“The sole question here is whether, as a matter of law, Title VII reaches sexual orientation discrimination,” the Justice Department brief says. “It does not, as has been settled for decades. Any efforts to amend Title VII’s scope should be directed to Congress rather than the courts.” It adds: “The essential element of sex discrimination under Title VII is that employees of one sex must be treated worse than similarly situated employees of the other sex, and sexual orientation discrimination simply does not have that effect.”

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Read the full report at the link.

One of many unfortunate aspects of Trump’s churlish, unprovoked, dumb, and downright nasty attack on Sessions is that it makes the A.G. look like a hero for merely doing what any other public servant would be required to do under the circumstances.

This should not deflect attention from Sessions’s truly reprehensible record as AG. In a short time in office, he has undermined civil rights, voting rights, minority protections, protections from unconstitutional policing, due process and rationality in immigration enforcement, LGBT rights, community law enforcement efforts, forensic science, prosecutorial discretion, private property rights in civil forfeitures, and prison reform. I’m probably leaving some out. And, while doing it he has advanced a false White Nationalist agenda about immigrants and migrants (indeed, his agenda targets just about all Americans except straight, white, GOP males).

Sessions’s tenure at the U.S. Justice Department has been an unmitigated disaster from a Constitutional, due process, and institutional standpoint. That he is now being bullied and publicly shamed and humiliated by the totally unqualified President whom he supported and helped put in Office should not in any way detract from his abysmal record as a public servant. And, let’s not forget that despite his supposed recusal, Sessions could barely wait to help give Trump some cover for the firing of James Comey.  Just happened to blow up in his face when Trump himself made it clear that Sessions and his Deputy Rod Rosenstein had tried to take a dive for the “team.” (Something folks should also keep in mind before falsely idolizing  Rosenstein. What kind of guy would sign on to being “Gonzo Apocalypto’s” Deputy in the first place.)

Indeed, in most ways, Sessions is merely receiving the type of boorish cowardly treatment at Trump’s own hands that he (Sessions) was and still is happy to abet and assist by implementing Trump’s gonzo White Nationalist agenda of destroying our Constitutuonal system and the rule of law. Sessions’s own cowardly attacks on the transgender and LGBT communities are illustrated by his latest actions. Not an ounce of  humanity or decency in the man. For that, and all of the other ways he has tried to undermine the American system during his many years in Washington, he deserves to be charged with full responsibility in the pages of history.

PWS

07-27-17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JAMELLE BOUIE IN SLATE: Trump’s Hypocritical “Defense Of Western Values” Is Really About White Nationalism!

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/07/the_white_nationalist_roots_of_donald_trump_s_warsaw_speech.html

Bouie writes:

“Thus far, Donald Trump has governed as a typical Republican president, with the usual suite of tax cuts, deregulation, and conservative nominees for the federal bench. The difference is that unlike his predecessors, Trump isn’t rooted in the tenets of conservativism. Indeed, as a man of id and impulse, it’s hard to say he’s rooted in anything. To the extent that he does have an ideology, it’s a white American chauvinism and its attendant nativism and racism. It was the core of his “birther” crusade against Barack Obama—the claim that for reasons of blood and heritage, Obama couldn’t be legitimate—and the pitch behind his campaign for president. Trump would restore American greatness by erasing the racial legacy of Obama’s presidency: the Hispanic immigration, the Muslim refugees, the black protesters.

Jamelle BouieJAMELLE BOUIE

Jamelle Bouie is Slates chief political correspondent.

This is the reason Trump’s campaign attracted, and his administration employs, men like Jeff Sessions, Stephen Bannon, and Stephen Miller. Sessions, a staunch opponent of federal civil rights enforcement and proponent of radical immigration restriction. Miller, his protégé, whose young career is marked by the same contempt for racial pluralism. Bannon, an entrepreneur with intellectual pretensions whose literary touchstones include virulently racist propaganda, and who brought that sensibility to Breitbart, a news website where “black crime” was a vertical and writers churn out stories on dangerous Muslims. Each shares a vision of a (white) America under siege from Hispanic immigration to the South and Islam to the East. All three are influential in the Trump White House as strategists and propagandists, taking the president’s impulses and molding them into a coherent perspective.

That is the key context for President Trump’s recent remarks in Warsaw, Poland, where he made a defense of “Western civilization.” He praised Poland’s resilience in the face of Nazi aggression and Soviet domination (and stayed quiet on Nazi collaboration within Poland), and celebrated the nation as a beacon of Western values. “A strong Poland is a blessing to the nations of Europe, and they know that. A strong Europe is a blessing to the West and to the world.” (It should be said that U.S. allies in Western Europe are less enthusiastic about the current right-wing Polish government.) From here, Trump presented the West as an empire under siege: “We have to say there are dire threats to our security and to our way of life. You see what’s happening out there. They are threats. We will confront them. We will win.”

Although marked by Trump’s characteristic bombast, much of this was in line with past presidential rhetoric, especially during the Cold War when American presidents routinely engaged in this kind of clash of civilizations rhetoric. (It is unclear, though, if previous presidents would have endorsed a narrative that erases victims of Polish anti-Semitism.)

But this isn’t the Cold War. The Soviet Union no longer exists. For Trump then, what are these “dire threats”? The chief one is “radical Islamic terrorism” exported by groups like ISIS. But he doesn’t end there. For Trump, these threats are broader than particular groups or organizations; they are internal as well as external.

“We must work together to confront forces, whether they come from inside or out, from the South or the East, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith, and tradition that make us who we are,” said Trump. “If left unchecked, these forces will undermine our courage, sap our spirit, and weaken our will to defend ourselves and our societies.”

Not content to leave his message understated, Trump hammered home this idea in a subsequent line. “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” said the president, before posing a series of questions: “Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”

In the context of terrorism specifically, a deadly threat but not an existential one, this is overheated. But it’s clear Trump has something else in mind: immigration. He’s analogizing Muslim migration to a superpower-directed struggle for ideological conquest. It’s why he mentions “borders,” why he speaks of threats from “the South”—the origin point of Hispanic immigrants to the United States and Muslim refugees to Europe—and why he warns of internal danger.

This isn’t a casual turn. In these lines, you hear the influence of Bannon and Miller. The repeated references to Western civilization, defined in cultural and religious terms, recall Bannon’s 2014 presentation to a Vatican conference, in which he praised the “forefathers” of the West for keeping “Islam out of the world.” Likewise, the prosaic warning that unnamed “forces” will sap the West of its will to defend itself recalls Bannon’s frequent references to the Camp of the Saints, an obscure French novel from 1973 that depicts a weak and tolerant Europe unable to defend itself from a flotilla of impoverished Indians depicted as grotesque savages and led by a man who eats human feces.

For as much as parts of Trump’s speech fit comfortably in a larger tradition of presidential rhetoric, these passages are clear allusions to ideas and ideologies with wide currency on the white nationalist right.

Defenders of the Warsaw speech call this reading “hysterical,” denying any ties between Trump’s rhetoric in Poland and white nationalism. But to deny this interpretation of the speech, one has to ignore the substance of Trump’s campaign, the beliefs of his key advisers, and the context of Poland itself and its anti-immigrant, ultranationalist leadership. One has to ignore the ties between Bannon, Miller, and actual white nationalists, and disregard the active circulation of those ideas within the administration. And one has to pretend that there isn’t a larger intellectual heritage that stretches back to the early 20thcentury, the peak of American nativism, when white supremacist thinkers like Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard penned works with language that wouldn’t feel out of place in Trump’s address.

“Unless we set our house in order, the doom will sooner or later overtake us all. And that would mean that the race obviously endowed with he greatest creative ability, the race which had achieved most in the past and which gave the richer promise for the future, had passed away, carrying with it to the grave those potencies upon which the realization of man’s highest hopes depends,” wrote Stoddard in his 1920 book The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy. Compare this to the crest of Trump’s remarks in Warsaw, which follows his warning of internal threat and his praise of Western civilization:

What we have, what we inherited from our—and you know this better than anybody, and you see it today with this incredible group of people—what we’ve inherited from our ancestors has never existed to this extent before. And if we fail to preserve it, it will never, ever exist again.

Those lines fit comfortably into a long history of white nationalist rhetoric. They in no way resemble Ronald Reagan’s words in Berlin or John Kennedy’s speeches in defense of the “free world.”

To read those previous presidential speeches is to see what makes Trump distinctive. Kennedy and Reagan defined “the West” in ideological terms—a world of free elections and free markets. It’s an inclusive view; presumably, any country that adopts these institutions enters that community of nations. For Trump, “the West” is defined by ties of culture and religion. It’s why a government that disdains democratic institutions, like Poland’s, can still stand as a vanguard of Western civilization, and why Muslim immigration is a chief threat to the integrity of Europe. What makes this racial is its relationship to Trump’s other rhetoric. If Western civilization is defined by religion and culture, then Mexico—with its Catholic heritage and historic ties to European monarchies—is unquestionably an outpost of “the West.” But for Trump and his advisers, it too is a threat to the Western order.

Donald Trump went to Europe and, in keeping with his campaign and influences, gave a speech with clear links to white nationalist thought. To pretend otherwise, to ignore the context of this address—to place Trump in a vacuum of history and politics, divorced from his own persona—is, at best, to cross the line into willful ignorance.”

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Trump has clearly shown himself to be a person of no values whatsoever. Although his xenophobic, white nationalist/racist agenda appears to be little more that political opportunism — parroting concepts developed by Sessions, Bannon, Miller & company — that doesn’t make it any less problematic — or dangerous.

PWS

07-07-17

 

FORMER DEPUTY AG SALLY YATES SLAMS SESSIONS’S “GONZO APOCALYPTO” PLAN TO TURN AMERICA INTO “INCARCERATION NATION!”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sally-yates-jeff-sessions_us_594eb52ee4b02734df2ac45b

According to this article from HuffPost:

“Sessions has long been a staunch conservative on crime. He once supported legislation in his home state of Alabama that would have required the death penalty for a second drug trafficking conviction, including for marijuana, which is now legalized in a number of states. Before the 2016 election, there was bipartisan agreement from groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Koch Industries, and on Capitol Hill about the need to pursue criminal justice reform. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to advance it.

Yates defended the work of Obama’s Justice Department, saying by allowing prosecutors to use their discretion on sentencing for low-level offenses, officials could dedicate resources to prosecuting the most dangerous individuals.

“Under Smart on Crime, the Justice Department took a more targeted approach, reserving the harshest of those penalties for the most violent and significant drug traffickers and encouraging prosecutors to use their discretion not to seek mandatory minimum sentences for lower-level, nonviolent offenders,” she wrote. “While there is always room to debate the most effective approach to criminal justice, that debate should be based on facts, not fear.”

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Fear and loathing are, of course, key ingredients of the “Gonzo Apocalypto Program.” Let’s see, in Tudor England they publicly hanged, mostly poor, folks for minor crimes; traitors were drawn and quartered; and the upper classes were beheaded for political, offenses, real or imagined. So, given the obvious deterrent effect, crime should have largely disappeared from the Anglo-Saxon heritage. No real historical record that even the most grisly and gruesome punishments had any real deterrent effect, not to mention that justice was often more or less arbitrary and imposed by an entrenched upper class. But, learning from history, or even knowing much about it, is hardly a Trump Administration specialty.

And, the opposite of “Smart” on Crime would be . . . ?

PWS

06-26-17

Immigrants Bridge The Gap With Local Communities — “The Haters Are Always Wrong, And The Haters Will Eventually Lose.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/working-to-build-bridges-between-immigrants-and-their-new-communities/2017/06/23/03c1bb1a-4d2a-11e7-a186-60c031eab644_story.html?utm_term=.2bcde1762b2f

Steven V. Roberts writes in a WashPost op-ed:

“These are all good examples that will, hopefully, ease the “cultural anxiety” Noorani writes about. But he shies away from discussing a key dimension of Trump’s appeal: racism. “A significant portion of the American electorate felt their country had been taken away,” he writes, but he doesn’t complete the thought. Taken away by whom? Let’s be honest. Many of those voters believe that their country has been overrun by dark-skinned, foreign-language-speaking aliens.

While it is wildly unfair to call all Trump supporters racists, it is equally inaccurate to ignore that the president deliberately inflamed racist impulses to win the election.

 

Moreover, Noorani lacks a larger perspective. Trump is a very American figure. Anti-immigrant fears didn’t start with globalization and weren’t “triggered” by the election of Barack Obama. Throughout our history, spasms of nativist hostility have erupted against each new group arriving on our shores: Germans and Jews, Irish and Italians, Japanese and Chinese.

Hispanics and Muslims are now the objects of this animosity, and the language directed against them is the same that’s been used to demonize newcomers for more than two centuries: This group will degrade our culture and alter our identity. But today’s targets can take comfort from the clear lessons of history.

Immigrants do change our culture — for the better. They reenergize and revitalize our civic spirit. The haters are always wrong, and the haters will eventually lose. Tiwana and Noorani himself prove that truth.

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Read the entire op-ed at the link.

Trump and his supporters might be on the right side of the political equation at this point in time, but they are squarely on the wrong side of history. Before joining up with the Trump Team, folks ought to think about being remembered by their grandchildren and great grandchildren in the same way that we think about such notorious racists as Alabama Governor George Wallace, Georgia Governor Lester “Pickax” Maddox, and Arkansas Governor Orvil Faubis, or those who engineered and championed such abominations as the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Even iconic American historical figures like President Woodrow Wilson and Gen. Robert E. Lee have recently had their racism and support for racist causes eventually catch up with them and tarnish their reputations. In the long run, the cause of intolerance, fear, and bias promoted by Trump, Pence, and today’s GOP will look pretty bad. Yeah, we’ll all be gone by then. But, our descendants and history will remember where we stood.

PWS

06-25-17

RELIGION: Gary Silverman In Financial Times: How White Evangelicals Traded The Mercy & Hope Of Jesus Christ For The False “Profit” Donald Trump!

https://www.ft.com/content/b41d0ee6-1e96-11e7-b7d3-163f5a7f229c

Silverman writes:

“Trump’s efforts to reach evangelicals during the campaign were marred by technical difficulties. After an appearance at Liberty University in Virginia, which was founded by Falwell, Trump was lampooned for quoting from a section of the Bible he called “Two Corinthians”, rather than “Second Corinthians”, as would customarily be done. Ultimately, Liberty University split over Trump. Its current president, Jerry Falwell Jr, endorsed his candidacy. But Mark DeMoss, a member of the university’s board of trustees and a former chief of staff for the elder Falwell, objected and resigned as a trustee. In a Washington Post interview last year, DeMoss described Trump’s rhetoric as antithetical to Christian values.

“Donald Trump is the only candidate who has dealt almost exclusively in the politics of personal insult,” DeMoss said. “The bullying tactics of personal insult have no defence — and certainly not for anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ. That’s what’s disturbing to so many people. It’s not [the] Christ-like behaviour that Liberty has spent 40 years promoting with its students.”

Nonetheless, Trump was backed by 81 per cent of white voters who identified themselves as evangelical Christians, more than recent Republican candidates such as Mitt Romney and John McCain, according to the Pew Research Center, and more even than George W Bush, whose strategist Karl Rove made wooing them a priority of the campaign. Analysts say Trump made evangelicals an offer that they could not refuse. Unlike his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton — who was both disliked by conservatives and uncompromising in her support of a woman’s right to choose — Trump pledged to appoint an anti-abortion justice to fill the vacancy on a Supreme Court that was split between conservatives and liberals.

The white evangelical flight to Trump has caused “deep heartbreak” for “evangelicals of colour” who see him as a bigot, says Jim Wallis, a progressive evangelical leader in Washington. “It’s the most painful divide I have seen in the churches since the beginning of the civil rights movement.”

. . . .

But that’s not the way things look at the house on a hill in Auburn, Alabama, where Wayne Flynt lives with his wife of 55 years, Dorothy. As evangelical Christianity has grown more successful in the political realm, Flynt fears that it has been reduced to a sum of its slogans. Lost in the transition, he says, is the traditional evangelical standard for sizing up candidates — “personal moral character”, which includes such criteria as marital fidelity, church attendance and kindness.

“No one I know of would argue that Donald Trump inculcates moral character,” Flynt says. “What has happened to American Christianity is there is this afterglow of what a candidate is supposed to represent. It’s no longer moral character. It’s policy positions on things that bother evangelicals.”

Flynt says evangelical Christians are mainly mobilising against the sins they either do not want to commit (homosexual acts) or cannot commit (undergoing an abortion, in the case of men). They turn a blind eye toward temptations such as adultery and divorce that interest them. In 2010, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution calling the rising incidence of divorce among its members a “scandal”. A Pew Research Center study in 2015 found that evangelical Protestants in the US were more likely to be divorced or separated than Catholics, Jews, Muslims or atheists.

“Jesus says four times in four different places: do not divorce,” Flynt says. “Does divorce bother evangelicals? No, absolutely not. Does adultery bother evangelicals? No, not really, because if so they wouldn’t have voted for Donald Trump. So what bothers them? Abortion and same-sex marriage. Beyond that, there’s no longer an agenda.”

Flynt, who left the Southern Baptist Convention in 1979 to protest its turn to the right, notes ruefully that his former denomination has lost members for nine years in a row.

Into this religious void, he believes, stepped Trump, an unabashed materialist and hedonist — “What is right to Donald Trump is what gives him pleasure,” Flynt says — who thinks that he alone can make America great again.

“To be sure, every politician has some element of narcissism, but he has perfected narcissism, he has made it the supreme element of his life, and not only that, evangelicals have responded in an almost messianic way that he is the saviour, which makes him feel really good because he does believe he is the saviour,” Flynt says. “It is kind of curious evangelicals would not be offended by this. I am as an American Christian. I’m offended because I already thought following Jesus was going to make us great again.”

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Whatever happened to the Christian message of humanity, humility, faith, self-sacrifice, generosity to all, mercy, forgiveness, understanding, peace, elevating the spiritual over the material, and grace? I hear those things from Pope Francis (although I’m not a Catholic). But, not from Trump and his zealots. Go figure!

PWS

06-25-17

Welcome To Jeff Sessions’s America — In 1957 Sessions Was 10 Years Old And His White Christian Fellow Alabamans Were Busy Perverting The “Rule Of Law” To Deny Their African American Fellow Citizens Constitutional Rights, Fundamental Justice, & Human Dignity!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-white-cop-dies-and-a-young-black-man-spends-years-in-jail-for-a-crime-he-didnt-do/2017/06/16/d771059e-4706-11e7-a196-a1bb629f64cb_story.html?hpid=hp_regional-hp-cards_rhp-card-arts%3Ahomepage%2Fcard&utm_term=.a94b2ba61075

Colbert I. king writes in the Washington Post:

“How is it possible in a country that prides itself on having a Bill of Rights, expresses reverence for due process and touts equal protection that a 17-year-old can be arrested, put on trial and sentenced to death, and then spend 13 years being shuttled among death row cellblocks in disgusting jails and prisons with his case under appeal, all for a crime he didn’t commit?

The answer contains some simple prerequisites: He had to be black, live in the Jim Crow South and be accused of committing, as one deputy sheriff put it, a “supreme offense, on the same level of a white woman being raped by a black man” — that is, the murder of a white police officer.

Teenager Caliph Washington, a native of Bessemer, Ala., was on the receiving end of all three conditions. And as such, Washington became a sure-fire candidate to suffer the kind of tyrannical law enforcement and rotten jurisprudence that Southern justice reserved for blacks of any age.

In “He Calls Me by Lightning,” S. Jonathan Bass, a professor at Alabama’s Samford University and a son of Bessemer parents, resurrects the life of Washington, who died in 2001 finally out of prison — but with charges still hanging over his head.

 

Bass, however, does more than tell Washington’s tale, as Washington’s widow, Christine, had asked him to do in a phone call. Bass dives deeply into the Bessemer society of 1957 where Washington was accused of shooting white police officer James “Cowboy” Clark on an empty dead-end street near a row of run-down houses on unpaved Exeter Alley.

Bessemer-style justice cannot be known, let alone understood, however, without learning about that neo-hardscrabble town 13 miles southwest of Birmingham.

Bessemer served as home to a sizable black majority, an entrenched white power structure and an all-white police department, consisting at the time of a “ragtag crew of poorly paid, ill-trained, and hot-tempered individuals” who earned less than Bessemer’s street and sanitation workers.

Bessemer was a town with its own quaint racial customs, such as forcing black men to “walk in the middle of the downtown streets, not on the sidewalks, after dark — presumably to keep them from any close contact with white women.”

 

Bessemer was a town where in 1944 the police forced black prisoners to participate in an Independence Day watermelon run. White citizens reportedly cheered as firefighters blasted the inmates with high-pressure hoses to make the race more challenging. Winners, it is said, received reduced sentences and the watermelons.

It was in that town that Caliph Washington was born in 1939, the same year of my birth in Washington, D.C.

Bessemer’s racial climate was no different the year Washington was accused of killing Cowboy Clark. The town’s prevailing attitude on race was captured at the time in a pamphlet distributed by a segregationist group, the Bessemer Citizens’ Council. Black Christians, the white citizens’ council said, should remain content with being “our brothers in Christ without also wanting to become our brothers-in-law.”

If ever there was a place to not get caught “driving while black” — which is what Washington was doing on that fateful night in July 1957 — it was Bessemer. And that night’s hazard appeared in the form of Clark and his partner, Thurman Avery, who were cruising the streets in their patrol car looking for whiskey bootleggers.”

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Read the rest of King’s op-ed at the link.

So, when you hear Sessions and his White Nationalist buddies like Bannon, Miller, Kobach, and Pence extolling the virtues of a small Federal Government (except for the migrant-bashing mechanisms) state control of voting, civil rights, police conduct, gender fairness, environmental regulations, labor relations, filling the prisons with maximum sentences, a new war on drugs, etc., it’s just clever code for “let’s make sure that white-dominated state and local governments can keep blacks, hispanics, immigrants, Muslims, and other minorities from achieving power, equality, and a fair share of the pie.” After all, if you believe, as these guys do, that true democracy can be a bad thing if it means diversity and power sharing, then you’re going to abuse the legal and political systems any way you can to maintain your hold on power.

And, of course, right-wing pontificating about the “rule of law” means  nothing other than selective application of some laws to the disadvantage of minorities, immigrants, and often women. You can see how selective Sessions’s commitment to the rule of law is when he withdraws DOJ participation in voting rights cases in the face of strong evidence of racial gerrymandering, withdraws support from protections for LGBT individuals, supports imprisonment in substandard prisons, targets legal marijuana, and “green lights” troubled police departments to prioritize aggressive law enforcement over the protection of minority citizens’ rights. Ethics laws, in particular, seems to be far removed from the Sessions/Trump concept of “Rule of Law.” And, sadly, this is only the beginning of the Trump Administration’s assault on our Constitution, our fundamental values, and the “real” “Rule of Law.”

PWS

06-18-17

Sessions Likely To Take Heat For Role In Comey Firing After Recusal!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/12/politics/jack-reed-attorney-general-jeff-sessions-cnntv/index.html

CNN reports:

“(CNN)A Democratic senator who will question Attorney General Jeff Sessions at tomorrow’s Senate intelligence committee hearing wants to know why he was involved in the decision to fire former FBI director James Comey after he had recused himself from the Russia investigation.

“I think it’s important to establish why he was involved in the dismissal of Director Comey since he had recused from, apparently, all matters related to the Russia investigation, and (President Donald Trump) himself has indicated that he, indeed, based his dismissal of Comey on the Russia Investigation,” Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed said on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.” “The attorney general’s involvement is highly questionable, to be blunt, and I think those questions will be raised.”
The White House initially cited memos from Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommending Comey’s firing over his handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe as the reason for his dismissal, and did not mention the Russia investigation. Trump later said in an interview with NBC News’s Lester Holt that he was going to fire Comey “regardless of the recommendation” and that he was thinking of the investigations into Russian involvement in the 2016 election when he decided to let the FBI director go.
Sessions will answer lawmakers’ questions on those matters Tuesday at the hearing. Reed said he expects Sessions to be asked if he was aware that Trump was factoring Comey’s handling of the Russia investigation in his decision to fire Comey. And, if Sessions was aware of the President’s rationale, Reed said he expects that senators will ask why he did not remove himself from discussions about Comey.
Asked if he thinks Sessions will answer these questions, Reed said, “I don’t know frankly. I would hope that he would answer the questions.”

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Sessions is a pretty slippery character with a conveniently bad memory for some things (like who the Russian Ambassador is, what he looks like, and what the question was). But, he is a lawyer, so I wouldn’t expect the Committee to get anything except platitudes from him (like at his Comformation hearings where he obscured his White Nationalist philosophy and his predetermined plans to undermime civil rights, tank sentencing reform, and “go gonzo” on immigration enforcement).

PWS

06-12-17

HISTORY: Paul Fanlund In Madison Cap Times: How We Got From Nixon To Trump!

http://host.madison.com/ct/opinion/column/paul_fanlund/paul-fanlund-so-why-can-t-america-just-be-good/article_e8734a95-ed8b-5544-a32f-f5ee791264a3.html#tncms-source=behavioral

Fanlund writes in an op-ed:

“When Roger Ailes died, essays about him ranged from adoring to vilifying. As creator of Fox News, he was perhaps the nation’s most influential political messenger — or propagandist — of the past 50 years.

One aspect of any honest obituary, of course, was his misogyny. Ailes was finally forced out at Fox in 2016 after years of sexual harassing women employees. His 17-year-old son threatened his father’s accusers at the funeral, warning mourners that he wanted “all the people who betrayed my father to know that I’m coming after them, and hell is coming with me.”

But what I found most interesting in immersing myself in analyses of Ailes’ life was how little his craft had to do with liberal versus conservative ideology.

Rather, Ailes was perhaps the master of the dark art of inventing and relentlessly reinforcing hateful caricatures of political opponents — in his case, people of color, bureaucrats, university professors and, of course, the media.

His brilliant execution of that art culminated in Donald Trump.

Ailes, as is widely known, learned from Richard Nixon, for whom he worked as a young television consultant. Nixon launched his political career much earlier by championing “forgotten Americans,” lunch-pail-toting working men whose fortunes, in Nixon’s telling, were stymied by taxes and regulations imposed upon them by far-away elites.

The rest, as they say, is history. Nixon appealed to his “silent majority” to stand against anti-war and civil rights protesters. Democrats opened the floodgates to Republican demagoguery by advancing civil rights. The GOP today has broadened its pool of villains to include Latino and Muslim immigrants.

The 1980s brought jolly Ronald Reagan with his fantastical stories about welfare queens, followed by George H.W. Bush’s law and order and patriotism themes, and so on.

“Individual issues would come and go — acid, amnesty and abortion in 1972, and immigration, political correctness and transgender bathrooms in 2016 — but the attacks on liberals as elite, out of touch and protective of the ‘wrong people’ came from the same playbook,” wrote David Greenberg, a Rutgers professor of history and journalism, in a New York Times op-ed on Ailes.

OK, but why does it always work?

Why are so many — especially older, white, middle-class people — so susceptible to this toxic narrative when it is clear that the trickle-down GOP policies that follow do them so little good?

Maybe, I theorize, it has something to do with how we were all taught.

I’ve talked with many friends about the flag-waving jingoism of our pre-college education, in which our nation was portrayed as perfect, our leaders without fault.

My formal education began when Dwight Eisenhower was president, an era of unfettered national pride. We were a paragon of liberty and justice and never fought in unjust wars. It was as if someone decided that American children could not process the slightest balance or shade of gray.

In this frame, Andrew Jackson was, as Trump likes to say, a glorious “swashbuckler” like himself, not a president who drove Native Americans from their homes, killing thousands in the process. Nor were we ever taught that Jackson, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other forefathers owned slaves.

It seems the goal was always to convey “American exceptionalism,” or, more bluntly, reinforce a cultish sense of American superiority.”

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Fanlund’s entire op-ed, at the above link, is well worth a read!

Lots of folks don’t like it when we put US history in perspective. For example, during the “glory days” of my childhood in the 1950’s millions of African Americans throughout the nation, and particularly in the South, were deprived of the basic rights of US citizenship. This was notwithstanding the clear dictates of the 14th Amendment, which had been added nearly a century earlier.

The US and many state governments merely decided not to enforce the law of the land. So much for all of the “rule of law” and “nation of laws” malarkey purveyed by right wingers today.

Indeed, many southern states enacted discriminatory laws that were directly contrary to the 14th Amendment. And, amazingly, for the majority of the 19th and 20th Centuries, courts of law at all levels were complicit in enforcing these unconstitutional laws and ignoring the14th Amendment!

PWS

05-26-17

MARJORIE COHN IN HUFFPOST: Destroying American Justice From The Inside — The “Gonzo-Apocalypto Era” Takes Hold At The USDOJ!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeff-sessions-department-of-injustice_us_590dd80ee4b0f711807244f1

Cohn writes:

“Motivated by his deep-seated biases and those of President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pursuing a draconian agenda on voting rights, immigration, crime, policing, the drug war, federal sentencing and the privatization of prisons.

Sessions, now head of the Department of Justice, which is charged with enforcing the Voting Rights Act, once called the act “intrusive.” In 2013, after the Supreme Court issued a decision in “Shelby County v. Holder” that struck down the section of the act that established a formula for preclearance of jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination, Sessions called it “a good day for the South.”

Sessions and Trump tout the existence of what the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School calls a “phantom crime wave.” While this administration scaremongers about high crime rates, in reality, national crime and murder rates are at a near-historic low: 50 percent less than they were at their peak in 1991.

Trump’s campaign mantra was “law and order,” a euphemism for tolerating excessive force by police officers, often against people of color. Trump speaks of “American carnage” in the cities and a “war” on the police. His bogus rhetoric is aimed at Black Lives Matter, which arose in response to increasing numbers of police shootings, particularly of nonwhites.

The president depicts police reform measures as “anti-law enforcement” and Sessions is fully on board with this framing. In 2015, when he was a senator, Sessions said that police reform movements endanger public safety and hinder police work.

Sessions opposes consent decrees, which are court-enforced agreements aimed at eliminating racial profiling and excessive force by police in agencies that demonstrate “a pattern or practice” of violating civil rights. Sessions says the federal government should not be “dictating to local police how to do their jobs” (except when it comes to immigration enforcement, that is).

Amnesty International warns that Trump and Sessions’ “law and order” rhetoric could lead to higher levels of mass incarceration, long sentences and prolonged solitary confinement.

. . . .

Trump and Sessions are not disappointing the white nationalists who favor using immigration policy as a wedge to further their “alt-right” program.

Kevin de León, President pro Tempore of the California State Senate, noted, “It has become abundantly clear” that Sessions and Trump “are basing their law enforcement policies on principles of white supremacy ― not American values.”

From January to mid-March of this year, immigration arrests have increased by 33 percent. Since Trump’s inauguration, the number of arrests of immigrants with no criminal records has doubled. Roughly half of the 675 arrested in early February raids had either driving convictions or no criminal record at all, according to data obtained by The Washington Post.

Sessions drastically increased penalties for illegal reentry into the United States and ordered immigration officials to charge undocumented immigrants with higher-penalty crimes.

Although Sessions’ heavy-handed actions are based on Trump’s spurious claim that immigrants disproportionately murder and rape US citizens, studies have shown that immigrants actually commit fewer crimes than citizens.

Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are arresting immigrants who come to the courthouse. This egregious practice motivated California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye to complain in a letter to the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security that ICE agents “appear to be stalking undocumented immigrants in our courthouses to make arrests.”

Terrorizing immigrants with frightful measures discourages immigrant witnesses from reporting crimes, and discourages victims from seeking legal measures and services that are meant to protect their own safety and well-being.

By March, the Los Angeles Police Department had seen a 25 percent drop in the number of Latinos reporting sexual assault and a 10 percent decrease in Latinos’ reports of domestic violence. By early April, there was a 42.8 percent drop in the number of Latinos who reported rapes to the Houston Police Department. And a health care center in Los Angeles reported a 20 percent decrease in food stamp enrollments and a 54 percent drop in enrollments for Medicaid.

The Trump administration has been arresting ― even deporting ― “Dreamers” who relied on Barack Obama’s assurances they would be protected if they came out of the shadows and provided their personal information to ICE. Dreamer Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez is a registrant in Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and was the first DACA recipient to be deported. Bojorquez, who is now in Mexico, is suing the US federal government.

On January 25, 2017, Trump signed an executive order to halt federal funding to municipal governments that don’t facilitate federal immigration enforcement. Trump’s order is aimed at “sanctuary cities” that protect immigrants from deportation.

In March, Sessions threatened officials in nine jurisdictions with losing their 2016 grants if they failed to certify by June 30 that they were in compliance with a law that forbids local authorities from forcing officials to withhold information about immigration status from federal authorities.

But the majority of sanctuary policies do not cover information sharing. Most address how to handle “detainers,” where federal immigration officials request that state or local authorities continue to detain people who are eligible for release. Courts have said jurisdictions cannot be forced to honor those detainers.

Trump’s January 25 order is blocked, for now. US District Judge William H. Orrick III issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that forbids the federal government from withholding funds from municipal governments that don’t fully cooperate with immigration agents.

Orrick also ruled the federal government can’t legally force counties to hold undocumented people beyond their release dates. The judge concluded Trump’s order likely violates due process, the separation of powers doctrine, and the 10th Amendment, which prevents federal interference with state and local self-government. Only Congress can limit spending, Orrick wrote.

This is Trump’s third executive order halted by federal courts. His first and second Muslim bans are now pending in the 9th and 4th Circuit Courts of Appeals.

. . . .

After Trump nominated Sessions for attorney general, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Illinois) stated, “No senator has fought harder against the hopes and aspirations of Latinos, immigrants and people of color than Sen. Sessions.”

Indeed, no one is worse equipped to lead the Department of Justice. Sessions’ racism is prominently on display in every action he has taken during his short tenure in Trump’s cabinet.

It is critical that “we the people” continue to resist, in every way we can, the Trump-Sessions pattern and practice of injustice.

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her books include The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse; Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law; and Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. Follow her on Twitter. Copyright Truthout. Reprinted with permission.”

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Read the entire article over on HuffPost.

So much damage in so little time. And, I’m sure the worst is yet to come. Most impressive in a depressingly negative way! Senators Liz Warren, Cory Booker, and others were right!

PWS

05-07-17

HUFFPOST “SHOCKER:” Jeff Sessions Is A Hypocrite! — Home State Of Alabama More Dangerous Than Most “Sanctuary Cities!”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-hypocrisy-behind-jeff-sessions-crackdown-on-new_us_58fba934e4b086ce589811b0

Cody Lyon reports:

“I live in the biggest sanctuary municipality of them all―New York City―a place that celebrates its diversity, a melting pot of countless cultures where hard- working immigrants and their children can climb the educational and economic ladder. And it’s incredibly safe for a city its size, especially when compared to the rest of the country. The fact is, I feel five times more safe here than in most of Session’s home state, Alabama, which also happens to be where I grew up and visit often. Although Alabama’s biggest city, Birmingham, is going through an exciting economic and cultural rebirth, there are pockets of nasty violent crime that statistically make New York City look like Mayberry in comparison.

And, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Alabama had the third-highest rate of death by guns in the United States (behind Alaska, Montana and Louisiana). Nonetheless, Alabama’s affection for guns runs deep. State leaders in Montgomery just passed a bill eliminating the requirement for a permit from a county sheriff to carry a concealed handgun.

The bloodshed in Session’s own backyard didn’t stop him from citing Chicago’s spike in gun violence or a gang-bust in the Bay Area, and then he launched into a rant about New York City and the danger it faces from immigrants and transnational gangs.

“New York City continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city’s ‘soft on crime’ stance,” said the DOJ statement.

New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio wasted no time hitting back on the “soft stance” quip. He wrote in the New York Daily News Saturday that “New York City’s record on public safety is nothing less than stunning. This is a city of 8.5 million people. We host around 60 million visitors a year. Yet, we continue to beat our own records on driving down crime.”

New York City has seen crime fall for the past quarter-century. “Last year was the safest in this city’s modern, recorded history. Last year, we had the fewest shootings,” wrote the mayor.

New York City has been doing something right. In 1990, more than 2,300 people were murdered here. By 2016, that number had dropped to 355. Since 1993 overall crime in this city has fallen 73 percent according to NYPD.

Meanwhile, in cities such as Memphis, population 600,000, there were 228 murders in 2016; in St. Louis, a town of just over 300,000, 188 murders in 2016. And, in mine and Jeff Sessions’ beloved native home state sits Birmingham, a city with barely more than 200,000 people which saw 104 people murdered in 2016.

Sanctuary cities do not permit municipal funds or resources to be applied in furtherance of enforcement of federal immigration laws―at least on paper. These cities normally do not permit police or municipal employees to inquire about one’s immigration status.

Truth be told, U.S. citizens are more likely to commit a violent crime than immigrants. Numerous studies have confirmed this. Jeff Sessions is promoting biased and xenophobic illogic. People like Sessions and President Trump are experts at exploiting fear and ignorance.

There is a also a deep scent of hypocrisy wafting from the Trump administration justice department. If Jeff Sessions and other Trump administration officials truly wanted to take a bite of crime, they would focus their energies on the abject poverty, isolationism, and the social, educational as well as economic inequity infecting many of our cities and rural areas. These are places where poverty equals hopelessness and hopelessness is a state where survival at any cost is the reality. Violent crime festers in communities and conditions like that. I’d argue that Jeff Sessions should consider New York City’s remarkable decline in violence as something to aspire to. Perhaps he could pay the city a visit, and learn a thing or two that could be implemented in places like Alabama.”

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Perhaps it’s time for Sessions to “can” the “Gonzo-Apocalypto” act, learn from the many things that so-called “sanctuary cities” are doing right, and concentrate on “getting his own house” in order in Alabama and other GOP-dominated southern states that consistently rank among the worst, and most dangerous, places to live in the U.S.

PWS

04-23-17