THOMAS B. EDSALL IN THE NYT: DEMOCRACY SOWING THE SEEDS FOR ITS OWN (AND OUR) DESTRUCTION!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/19/opinion/democracy-populism-trump.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_up_20171023&nl=upshot&nl_art=5&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1

Edsall writes:

“Will President Trump’s assault on the norms underpinning constitutional democracy permanently alter American political life?

On a daily basis, Trump tests the willingness of the public to accept a president who lies as a matter of routine. So far, Trump has persuaded a large swath of America to swallow what he feeds them.

. . . .

As Sasha Polakow-Suransky, the author of “Go Back to Where You Came From: The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy,” warns in The New York Review of Books:

Liberal democracies are better equipped than authoritarian states to grapple with the inevitable conflicts that arise in diverse societies, including the threat of terrorist violence. But they also contain the seeds of their own destruction: if they fail to deal with these challenges and allow xenophobic populists to hijack the public debate, then the votes of frustrated and disaffected citizens will increasingly go to the anti-immigrant right, societies will become less open, nativist parties will grow more powerful, and racist rhetoric that promotes a narrow and exclusionary sense of national identity will be legitimized.

The threat to democracy posed by the current outbreak of populist nationalism has become a matter of concern for both scholars and ordinary citizens. The central topic at a conference at Yale earlier this month was “How Do Democracies Fall Apart,” and the subject will be taken up again in November at a Stanford conference called “Global Populisms: A Threat to Democracy?

I contacted several of the participants at the Yale gathering and was struck by their anxiety over the future prospects of democratic governance.

One of the most insightful was Adam Przeworski, a political scientist at N.Y.U., who has written, but not yet published, his own analysis of current events under the title “What’s Happening.”

First and foremost, Przeworski stresses,

there is nothing “undemocratic” about the electoral victory of Donald Trump or the rise of anti-establishment parties in Europe.

These parties and candidates, he points out:

Do not advocate replacing elections by some other way of selecting rulers. They are ugly — most people view racism and xenophobia as ugly — but these parties do campaign under the slogan of returning to ‘the people’ the power usurped by elites, which they see as strengthening democracy. In the words of a Trump advertisement, “Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you, the American people.”

In support of Przeworski’s argument, it is clear that the success of the Trump campaign in winning the Republican nomination was the result of a classic democratic insurgency: the Republican electorate’s rejection of its party’s establishment.

The danger in the United States, in Przeworski’s view, is the possibility that the Trump administration will use the power of the presidency to undermine the procedures and institutions essential to the operation of democracy:

That the incumbent administration would intimidate hostile media and create a propaganda machine of its own, that it would politicize the security agencies, that it would harass political opponents, that it would use state power to reward sympathetic private firms, that it would selectively enforce laws, that it would provoke foreign conflicts to monger fear, that it would rig elections.

Przeworski believes that

such a scenario would not be unprecedented. The United States has a long history of waves of political repression: the “Red Scare” of 1917-20, the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II, the McCarthy period, the Nixon presidency.

Along similar lines, Anna Grzymala-Busse, a political scientist at Stanford, replied by email to my inquiry:

My big worry is not simply that formal institutions have been eroded, but that the informal norms that underpin them are even more important and even more fragile. Norms of transparency, conflict of interest, civil discourse, respect for the opposition and freedom of the press, and equal treatment of citizens are all consistently undermined, and without these the formal institutions become brittle.

Trump, in Grzymala-Busse’s assessment, “articulates a classic populist message that we see in Europe: the elite establishment is a collusive cartel uninterested in the problems of ‘the people,’” and, she continued, he has begun to follow the path of European populist leaders:

Much of Trump’s language and actions are also familiar: there is a standard authoritarian populist template, developed in Hungary and faithfully followed in Poland and in Turkey: first, go after the courts, then the media, then the civil society, churches, universities.

The attacks on the courts, media and universities

are not simply the ravings of a lunatic, but an established strategy for undermining democratic oversight and discrediting the opposition.

. . . .

Paul Waldman, writing in The Washington Post on Oct, 17, summed up Trump’s approach to veracity and to reality itself:

Trump takes his own particular combination of ignorance, bluster and malice, and sets it off like a nuclear bomb of misinformation. The fallout spreads throughout the country, and no volume of corrections and fact checks can stop it. It wasn’t even part of a thought-out strategy, just a loathsome impulse that found its way out of the president’s mouth to spread far and wide.

Trump’s recklessness is disturbing enough on its own. But what makes it especially threatening is that much of the public — well beyond the 40 percent of the electorate that has shown itself to be unshakable in its devotion to the president — seems to be slowly accommodating itself to its daily dose of the Trump reality show, accepting the rhetorical violence that Trump inflicts on basic standards of truth as the new normal.”

*********************************************

Read Edsall’s full, much longer, article at the link.

An immigration policy based on xenophobia, racism, and White Nationalism, rather than on any rational, generally accepted socio-economic analysis, is at the heart of the Trump–Bannon-Sessions-Miller attack on America’s democratic institutions.  As I said earlier today, “The Trump Administration, and its ‘fellow travelers’ among GOP politicos and voters, is the biggest threat to our national security and the future of American Democracy.”

PWS

10-22-17

 

 

U.S. IMMIGRATION JUDGES CAN BREATHE EASIER: Judge Richard “Dickie The P” Posner Retires — 7th Cir. Jurist Was Caustic, Unrelenting Critic Of U.S. Immigration Courts!

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-judge-richard-posner-retires-met-20170901-story.html

The Chicago Tribune reports:

“Judge Richard A. Posner, one of the nation’s leading appellate judges, whose acerbic wit attracted an almost cultlike following within legal circles, is retiring after more than three decades with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

Posner, 78, is stepping down effective Saturday, according to a news release Friday afternoon from the 7th Circuit. He was appointed to the court by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and served as its chief judge from 1993 to 2000.

Posner said in a statement he has written more than 3,300 opinions in his time on the bench and is “proud to have promoted a pragmatic approach to judging.” He said he spent his career applying his view that “judicial opinions should be easy to understand and that judges should focus on the right and wrong in every case.”

Posner’s biting and often brilliant written opinions as well as his unrelenting questioning from the bench have made him an icon of the court for years.

 

Known as a conservative at the time of his appointment, Posner’s views skewed more libertarian through the years, and he often came down in favor of more liberal issues such as gay marriage and abortion rights.

Lawyers who regularly appeared before the 7th Circuit knew that when Posner was on a panel they had to be ready for a line of questioning that could come out of left field. The salty judge was known to abruptly cut off lawyers who he thought were off-point, often with a dismissive “No, no, no!” delivered in his trademark nasal tone.”

********************************

Read the full article at the link.

Here’s a classic Posner comment on the U.S. Immigration Courts from a 2016 case,  Chavarria-Reyes v. Lynch:

“POSNER, Circuit Judge, dissenting. This case involves a typical botch by an immigration judge. No surprise: the Immigration Court, though lodged in the Justice Department, is the least competent federal agency, though in fairness it may well owe its dismal status to its severe underfunding by Congress, which has resulted in a shortage of immigration judges that has subjected them to crushing workloads.”

See my prior blog on Chavarria-Reyes:

http://immigrationcourtside.com/2017/01/02/the-u-s-immigration-courts-vision-is-all-about-best-practices-guaranteeing-fairness-and-due-process-7th-circuits-judge-posner-thinks-its-a-farce-blames-congressional-underfunding/

Judge Posner was always provocative, often entertaining, and eminently quotable. While I found some of his commentary on the Immigration Courts and the BIA, and particularly some of his harsh words about individual Immigration Judges, to be “over the top,” his blunt criticism of the failure to provide due process to migrants and his recognition that the DOJ and Congress shared the majority of the responsibility for screwing up the system was spot on.

He was always a “player,” and he will be missed even by those who disagreed with him. I look forward to a “Posner commentary” on the state of due process in the Immigration Courts in the Sessions regime.

PWS

09-03-17

 

 

Opinion: Cato’s Jonathan Blanks On How Trump’s Immigration Policies Endanger Safety & Why “Sanctuary Cities” Are Right To Resist

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/how-enforcing-trumps-immigration-actions-could-hurt-public-safety/2017/02/17/3644da9c-f553-11e6-b9c9-e83fce42fb61_story.html

Blanks writes in the Washington Post:

“Last week, federal immigration officials seized an unauthorized immigrant at an El Paso courthouse where she had been seeking a protective order against an alleged domestic abuser. The judge who oversees the court that issued the protective order expressed dismay that such a seizure took place when the person was seeking protection from violence, and perhaps acting on a tip provided by the alleged abuser himself.

President Trump has said his proposed actions to stiffen immigration enforcement are in the interests of public safety, but seizures such as the one in El Paso and the proposed revitalization of the 287(g) program that deputizes local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law make the public less safe and interfere with local policing priorities.

Certainly, immigration enforcement falls within the federal government’s prerogative, regardless of one’s opinion on current immigration laws. However, that does not make every single enforcement action wise or justifiable. Moreover, the respect for federalism — the recognition of state and local governments’ priorities over the whims of Washington — has long been a mantra of small-government Republicans. Yet, it is hard to think of a larger and more dangerous federal intrusion into local affairs than undermining local law enforcement.

. . . .

The federal government has the authority to enforce its immigration laws, but it should do so with discretion and in a way that aligns with the public trust. Likewise, local law enforcement should be free to protect the communities they serve in line with each community’s best interests. Taking law enforcement actions against people seeking protection is dangerous and irresponsible. Threatening those most vulnerable to crime is anathema to improving public safety.”

******************************

PWS

02/18/17

Danger On The Right Flank: After Just 10 Days, Are The Powerful Koch Bros Already “Trumped Out?” — Trade Wars, Immigrant & Refugee Bashing, Multi-Billion Dollar Walls, Dissing Allies, Kissing Up To Enemies, De-Stabilizing International Order & Ruling By Executive Decree — It’s Not Exactly What The Libertarian-Leaning Bros Wanted From A GOP President!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/kochs-condemn-trumps-immigration-crackdown/2017/01/29/626345d8-e698-11e6-903d-9b11ed7d8d2a_story.html?utm_term=.dff0b12716de

The Washington Post writes:

“INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Charles Koch first likened candidate Donald Trump’s plan to ban Muslim immigrants to something Adolf Hitler would have done in Nazi Germany.

The billionaire industrialist and his chief lieutenants offered a more delicate response this weekend when asked about President Trump’s plan to block immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. They described Trump’s plan as “the wrong approach” that violated its dedication to “free and open societies.”

The criticism comes as the Koch network, among the most powerful conservative groups in the nation, works to strike a delicate balance in the early days of the new administration. The Kochs refused to support Trump’s candidacy last fall, but they now see a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to influence the White House and the Republican-controlled Congress.”

****************************************

President Trump has nothing but outright contempt for Democrats and the majority of voters who opposed his candidacy. And, why wouldn’t he? A group that gets nearly three million more votes than its opponent, yet still can’t win the Presidency, the Senate, the House, or the majority of state governments is the very definition of a “loser.” Indeed, Trump no longer considers the Dems to be the “real” opposition  — he’s conferred that honor on “the media.” Trump has proved that he doesn’t need majority support to take power — all he needs is the right support in the right places.

Yet, there might be trouble in “Trumpadise.” While the Democrats are protesting vociferously in the streets, finally showing the energy and passion missing during the election, but without a hint of dynamic leadership or a discernible plan for reviving their emasculated party, the Koch Bros head a a well-financed, well-organized political machine that could potentially take Trump down if they perceive that he is a threat to their stylized vision of a free, business-oriented, feebly-governed, and highly unequal society.

Notwithstanding their initial consternation, the Kochs haven’t quite “gotten there” yet. After all, Vice President Mike Pence is their “man,” bought and paid for in full. They are still fairly optimistic that Pence and the House and Senate GOP will be able to exercise enough control over Trump to prevent him from turning America into another really bad reality show. But, if they can’t, and the Bros decide that Trump has to go, he could have a more formidable opposition than the media or the Democrats to worry about.

PWS

01/30/17