SURPRISE: GONZO LIES! — MISREPRESENTS DOJ’S CRIME STATS!

http://www.newsweek.com/jeff-sessions-crime-statistics-misrepresented-747409

Josh Saul reports for Newsweek:

“While delivering a speech in Baltimore on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions misrepresented Department of Justice statistics in claiming there had been a 13 percent spike in the violent crime rate. The report he was citing clearly said there had been no measurable change.

Sessions started his speech on one of his favorite themes: what he sees as a troubling increase in violent crime. He noted the high rates of rape and murder in Baltimore, and reminded the audience that on the day he was sworn in, President Donald Trump ordered him to reduce crime in America.

“Violent crime is up in many places across the country,” Sessions said. “Last week, the department released its annual National Crime Victimization Survey. It shows that the rate of Americans victimized by violent crime is up more than 13 percent.”

That 13 percent figure comes from comparing the rates of violent crime in 2015 (18.6 victimizations per 1,000 people) to rates in 2016 (21.1 per 1,000).

But the report for the 2016 National Crime Victimization Survey says on its first page that the 2016 data aren’t comparable to those for past years. And among the geographical areas that can be accurately compared, there was no increase in violent crime between 2015 and 2016.
That’s because the Bureau of Justice Statistics, an agency within the Justice Department, in 2016 changed the counties and cities it surveys in order to better reflect U.S. Census data. And because the new areas included in the 2016 survey had higher rates of violent crime than the areas they replaced, any comparison between the two years would show an artificial increase in the violent crime rate.

“The National Crime Victimization Survey sample went through a routine redesign in 2016, which resulted in the 2016 data not being comparable to data from prior years,” the survey released last week states on its first page. “Among counties that remained in sample from the previous design, there was no measurable change in the rates of violent, serious violent, or property crime from 2015 to 2016.”

Grace Kena, one of the BJS statisticians who wrote the report on the 2016 National Crime Victim Survey, reiterated that it isn’t appropriate to compare the two years.

“It’s apples and oranges,” Kena told Newsweek of the violent crime rate in the two surveys. “The only comparison that can be made is there was no change, statistically speaking, in violent crime rates.… In those counties that remained in the survey, the rate between those two years was stable.”

The National Crime Victim surveys focus on a representative sample of Americans aged 12 and older. The surveys are different from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program, which is based on the number of crimes reported by local law enforcement agencies.

A Justice Department spokesman said the 13 percent figure Sessions used in Baltimore was accurate given the violent crime numbers per 1,000 people in 2015 and 2016.

“The survey shows an increase in the violent crime victimization rate both in the counties that remained in the sample and between the outgoing 2015 sampled counties and the new 2016 sampled counties,” spokesman Ian Prior told Newsweek in an email.

“The survey confirms what we’ve seen in the FBI’s uniform crime report, which finds an increase in violent crime and an increase in murders over the last two years. These trends are troubling, and this administration is committed to reversing them and making our neighborhoods and communities safer.”

Both Trump and Sessions have been accused at times of misusing crime statistics to achieve political goals like building a border wall or passing strict immigration and “tough on crime” policies.

“The murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years, right? Did you know that? Forty-seven years,” Trump said during a White House roundtable with local sheriffs in February. (Politifact rated that statement as “False” and noted the murder rate was much higher in the early 1990s.)

In a Washington Post opinion piece in September titled, “Sessions’s big lie on crime,” conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin highlighted a new study that contradicted the Trump administration’s argument that the U.S. was in the midst of a crime wave.

“Sessions is entitled, within legal and constitutional limits, to change enforcement policies for the federal government,” Rubin wrote. “He should not, however, use a blatant lie to justify such moves.”

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This is getting tiresome. We shouldn’t normalize intentional misrepresentations and incredible, facially ridiculous explanations from our nation’s top lawyer in support of his anti-American White Nationalist agenda!

Gonzo is a racist, a White Nationalist, a homophobe, xenophobe, bully, and congenital liar. Even with Franken gone, it’s time for Democrats to demand an investigation by the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General.

Unless that investigation provides a plausible justification for Gonzo’s facially dishonest conduct, he should be removed from the office for which he is so spectacularly unqualified. Someone should also notify the Alabama Bar so that they can commence the process for revoking his license to practice law.

Then, the Democrats should prevail on two of their more moderate GOP colleagues to block the appointment of any more political hacks to the job. The DOJ deserves a qualified lawyer of integrity for its leader.

Dreamers, TPSers, and the overwhelming majority of so-called undocumented individuals are making positive contributions to America every day. Gonzo, not so much.

PWS

12-12-17

START YOUR WEDNESDAY WITH SOME UPLIFTING BREAKING NEWS – IT’S A GREAT DAY FOR THE USA: 1) Alabama Comes Through For U.S. By Electing Democrat Doug Jones To US Senate; 2) Aaron Rodgers Cleared To Return To Pack & Will Start Against The Carolina Panthers on Sunday! –- “Ayatollah Roy” Will Not Be Bringing His Agenda Of Bigotry, Hate, & Un-American Views & His Total Scumbag Persona To Washington – One Of America’s Favorite — & Most Fun To Watch – Sports Stars Will Return To “Primetime!”

First, we can all thank Senator Elect Doug Jones and the voters of Alabama for saving America from the horrible spectacle and damage that would have been caused by the election of the heinous bigot, liar, slanderer, racist, homophobe, xenophobe, theocrat of a false religion, coward, scofflaw, and apparent sexual predator Roy Moore. Jones’s election is a striking rebuke to that other sleazy, corrupt, dishonest, bigoted unrepentant sexual predator in America, Trump. And, by narrowing the GOP advantage in the Senate to a razor-thin 51-49, it raises the possibility that the Democrats with the help of just two responsible Republicans could block substantial parts of Trump’s and the GOP’s insane “War on America” and protect us from some of Trump’s worst excesses.

How ironic that White Nationalist and “Jim Crow relic” Attorney General Jeff “Gonzo Apocalyopto” Sessions is being replaced by a by a competent and decent person who believes in American democracy and governing for the “common good” rather than as an out of touch ideologue with a strong anti-American, anti-Diversity, hate promoting agenda.

It’s also ironic that Jones has done the GOP a favor by relieving them of the lengthy circus of both expelling him from their party and ultimately removing him from the Senate. Anything short of that would have been a continuing embarrassment for the party. Quite contrary to Trump’s outrageous statements in support of the Ayatollah, any vote that a party wins because of support of a total scumbag like Moore damages that party as well as our country. (It does, however, raise in my mind the question of when they are going to expel the anti-American, racist, bigot Steve King from their party. There is no room in any major party for the likes of King.)

Hats off to the African-American community in Alabama who were not deterred by the Sessions/GOP voter suppression anti-Civil Rights initiatives and showed up in the numbers required to make a difference in the election. After being shut out of their fair share of political power in Alabama for over 300 years, African-Americans are finally in a position to make their voices and feelings heard in the U.S. Senate.

Also, hats off to GOP Southern Senators Richard Shelby of Alabama and Tim Scott of South Carolina for standing up and “Just Saying No” to the Moore nonsense. As pointed out by Shelby, Alabama could do better than Ayatollah Roy (not a very high hurdle), and they now have in the person of Doug Jones.

Hopefully, Jones will over time find a way to “win over” most of those misguided souls who voted for Ayatollah Roy notwithstanding the very credible evidence of sexual misconduct with minors in his past, his arrogant “not credible” defense, the clear lies that he told in attempting to smear those who came forward, and his scofflaw, anti-American views. What a jerk!

Here’s the Washington Post’s editorial on Jones’s stunning upset:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/thank-you-alabama/2017/12/12/176388de-df64-11e7-bbd0-9dfb2e37492a_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-d%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.4ea2f1920de1

“THANK YOU, Alabama.

In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alabama, seemingly confirming every negative stereotype about the Deep South state, the shame would have been national. Instead, Alabama voters chose Democrat Doug Jones to represent them until 2021.

Mr. Jones is not in perfect sync with many Alabama voters on some issues, most notably abortion. But he is an honorable man with an admirable record of public service who ran a respectful campaign. His behavior suggests he will serve with decency and care in the Senate. He should make his state proud. None of these fine things could have been said of Mr. Moore. It is beyond heartening that Alabamians refused to overlook or forgive Mr. Moore’s misshapen character.

Mr. Jones’s victory shows that, while partisanship might be extreme, it still has limits. Even in deep-red Alabama, enough voters refused to succumb to lies about how negative stories on Mr. Moore were merely fake news cooked up by a hostile media.

Americans do not send senators to Washington merely to vote mechanically on a few hot-button issues, but to exercise judgment when cameras are not rolling, on issues that are important but not headline-grabbing. Good lawmakers also protect the nation’s democratic institutions, preserve the independence of their branch of government and work with people with whom they disagree. It takes character to fulfill these responsibilities. Mr. Jones seems ready to do such work. Mr. Moore did not.

Mr. Jones’s victory also suggests that the nation’s recent awakening on sexual harassment and assault is spreading across the country. Enough Alabamians believed the women.

If Americans should feel grateful to Alabama voters, so should the Republican Party, much of which debased itself by following President Trump into the gutter of support for Mr. Moore. Its majority in the Senate will be slightly narrower, but the dignity of the Senate GOP caucus will be at least partially salvaged. Alabama voters spared the Senate Ethics Committee the dilemma of how to handle a senator who was clearly unfit but who nevertheless won a popular election. Instead of inviting controversy and chaos, they elected Mr. Jones, a man who deserves the honor.

Thanks to Alabama, Americans can wake up Wednesday morning feeling hopeful about the decency and dignity of their democracy.”

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On to the other big story, Aaron Rodgers (“AR”). AR’s recovery from a broken collarbone which required surgery, two plates, and 13 screws is about as amazing as Jones’s victory.

AR is a smart player, tough guy, and great competitor. It’s certainly possible that he will be able to lead the Pack (currently 7-6 and “on the outside looking in” for a playoff spot) to a sweep of the final three games and a possible playoff birth. But, certainly no “slam dunk!”

The O line will have to do a perfect job of protecting AR. He will have to suppress his tendency to run with the football when nobody is open and the Pack needs a first down.

If the Pack should lose to the Panthers on Sunday, they will have to make a decision on whether to play AR in the final two games. A defeat would pretty much end any realistic hope of the playoffs this year. So, it might make sense to let backup Brett Hundley (3-4 as a starter in AR’s absence) start the last two games. On the other hand, being the competitor that he is, AR will want to play.

Congrats to AR on his return, good luck, and stay tuned.

Here’s a report from the Green Bay Press Gazette on AR’s return:

http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/sports/nfl/packers/2017/12/12/silence-prevails-packers-ponder-aaron-rodgers-decision/943774001/

“The news catapults the Packers’ playoff chances from a pipe dream to a legitimate possibility with three games remaining. Conventional wisdom says the Packers must win all three — at Carolina, vs. Minnesota and at Detroit — to have a chance at a wild card in the top-heavy NFC. Accomplishing that feat with Brett Hundley at quarterback was unlikely after he won just three games in seven starts; but with Rodgers the odds shift dramatically.

Beginning Wednesday, Rodgers will have three days of practice to prepare for his first game since Oct. 15, when a hit from Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr resulted in a broken right collarbone. Rodgers underwent surgery in California to stabilize the fracture, and the Packers ultimately placed him on injured reserve. He returned to practice on a limited basis Dec. 2 and spent the last two weeks running the scout team, dazzling his teammates each day.

His initial return meant nothing, though, if Rodgers could not be medically cleared. He underwent a series of scans Monday to reveal the progress of his collarbone, and the interpretations of those scans by team physician Patrick McKenzie, several outside specialists and general manager Ted Thompson would determine whether the risk of further injury would be worth the reward of having Rodgers for a potential playoff run.

For a while it appeared bleak. Monday came and went with nothing but party-line comments by coach Mike McCarthy, who reiterated during a news conference that any decision on Rodgers’ future would be made by medical professionals. That Rodgers spun the football during pregame at Heinz Field or zinged passes in the Don Hutson Center was irrelevant, just as his assistant coaching efforts in Cleveland did nothing but reinforce his passion.

With Tuesday morning came additional silence, and social media wondered if the lengthy delay lessened Rodgers’ chances of returning. But the results of his scans were sent to specialists around the country, in multiple time zones, and the coordination of gathering various opinions certainly influenced the timeline. It’s quite possible that Rodgers’ surgeon in California, who at this point is unidentified, had a large say in the discussion.

If nothing else, the painstaking deliberation surrounding Rodgers’ health captures the importance of franchise quarterbacks, and in particular elite franchise quarterbacks. In breadth alone the discussion might have stretched to a dozen people: McKenzie, Thompson, McCarthy, the doctor who performed surgery, several outside experts and, of course, Rodgers himself. The crew needed 36 hours to probe the conundrum from various angles.

Everything started, of course, with the fairly black-and-white question of whether Rodgers’ collarbone had calcified since two plates and 13 screws were inserted to stabilize the fracture eight weeks ago. Enough time had passed for the bone to heal significantly, though perhaps not entirely, and therein lies the gray area for whoever reviewed the scans. How sturdy must his collarbone be to withstand the punishment of 300-pound defensive linemen or hard-charging linebackers?

There were also football questions that clouded the equation. At 7-6, the Packers must win out to have a realistic shot at the playoffs — and even then, they could fall short. Why risk Rodgers’ throwing shoulder when the Packers don’t control their postseason destiny? Surely that question irked the conscience of Thompson, whose conservative disposition is well-documented in Green Bay.

One has to wonder if the two-day uncertainty weighed on Hundley as well. With Sunday’s win over the Browns came the cleansing exhale of accomplishing his primary job: keeping the Packers in playoff contention until Rodgers was eligible to return. He achieved that feat with consecutive overtime victories that cast light on his moxie.

But narrow escapes against the Browns and Buccaneers bear little resemblance to the challenge of the next three weeks. To beat the Panthers (9-4), Vikings (10-3) and Lions (7-6) — two of which are on the road — the Packers will need reinforcements.

As it turns out, that’s just what the doctor ordered.”

Not often these days that we get to wake up to good news. Go Doug, go AR, go Pack, go America!

PWS

12/13/17

LAUREN & TAL @ CNN: Dreamer Relief Still Appears Likely, But Maybe Not This Year! — Pressure Shifts To Dems!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/12/politics/democrats-daca-shutdown-plan/index.html

Lauren Fox & Tal Kopan report for CCN;

“For Democrats, a tough choice on DACA
By: Lauren Fox and Tal Kopan, CNN
With just two weeks until Congress is expected to leave town, the fate of roughly 700,000 young immigrants still hangs in the balance.
And, it could be up to Senate Democrats now to decide whether they will make protections for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients a condition of their support for a must-pass spending bill or punt the issue to next year when they still have months to work it out.
There’s a whole host of issues that must be dealt with by the end of the year including reauthorizing a spying program, funding disaster relief and paying for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which has all sparked questions about whether Democrats will insist DACA also be included in that list of year-end spending priorities.
“There’s no reason it can’t get done, but there’s a lot that needs to be done in the next 10 days,” Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, a member of the Senate Democrats’ leadership, said about DACA on Monday evening. “We have the CHIP re-authorization, we need the budget numbers, we have to have some decisions on a number of things.”
Asked if Democrats would reject a spending bill that punted DACA to January, independent Maine Sen. Angus King, who caucuses with the Democrats, said, “I can’t answer that.”
Republican leaders have thrown cold water on the idea that a DACA deal could get attached to a year-end spending package, leading to questions about whether Democrats — under pressure from their base — would shut down the government over a program that doesn’t begin to expire fully until March. Activists and some Democratic members point out that the must-pass spending deadline could be the party’s best opportunity to exert pressure on Republicans who don’t want a government shutdown to occur when they control all levers of government.
“That’s a complex question that’s not amenable to a simple answer. There’s a whole lot of things that are not resolved right now. Republicans control the whole government — House, Senate and White House. We are what, 69, 70 days past CHIP authorization. I’ve got folks pressing every day on wildfire relief, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico … CHIP and Dreamers,” said Sen. Chris Coons of Deleware, a Democrat. “I think we ought to be able to fix all of that, and if it takes another week or two to resolve all of those, I think folks will forgive us. But I don’t think we should go home or close out the year without a clear path to resolving it.”
Most Democrats in the Senate say they are optimistic that an immigration bill will be passed by the end of the year or close to it and that they’ll never be forced to decide between funding the government or giving certainty to DACA recipients. But, with fewer than two weeks until Congress faces its spending deadline and no real, concrete compromise on DACA at this point, it’s unclear how Democrats will proceed if they are faced with no solutions for young immigrants.
“There’s still some negotiations going on between some Democrats and some Republicans about how to get this done,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire. “I’m hopeful that will produce a positive outcome.”
Talks have circled for months on a fix to DACA, but sticking points remain. Working groups and bipartisan negotiations have formed and faltered in both chambers, with some continuing under the radar even as leadership focuses on bigger picture issues like tax reform and spending cap negotiations. On the House side, rank-and-file members in the Problem Solvers Caucus are trying to reach a bipartisan compromise, while Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois continues to negotiate with a range of Republicans interested in a deal on the Senate side.
Pressure has been increasing on leadership from both sides as the end of the year looms. Democrats on the left, especially Congressional Hispanic Caucus members in the House, have pushed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California to hold firm on wanting something by the end of the year. Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez said it would be a “betrayal” to push the fight until January, and just last week Pelosi pledged to not go home for the year without a fix.
Moderate Republicans have also sought to push their leadership for a fix by the end of the year, with nearly three dozen House Republicans urging House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to come up with a solution by then. But on the other side, conservatives like the House Freedom Caucus have also threatened a political price if Ryan were to attach a deal to a spending package.
In private, Democratic staff have been concerned about being able to reach a compromise by the end of the year, and whether Republicans will cave in the face of a potential shutdown, potentially forcing Democrats’ hand. Still, at least one Senate Democratic aide on Monday remained optimistic, saying back room talks were making more progress than public posturing might indicate.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, who has been working on a DACA deal, said he wouldn’t negotiate publicly about what Democrats will do if a deal isn’t reached by the end of the year, but that his group continues to work.
“It should have been done five months ago,” the Vermont Democrat said.
Throughout the entire process, President Donald Trump has remained the mystery. Lawmakers know that his blessing could allow a deal to happen rapidly — while his public opposition to a deal could prove its death knell. The President had spoken favorably in September about DACA recipients and pushed Congress to reach a deal, but in recent weeks ne has taken to hardline rhetoric on illegal immigration and blaming Democrats for crime.
Republicans — who do support a fix to DACA — say that it’s still an open question whether a deal will come together by the holiday, but that no matter what, they hope to see Republicans and Democrats come together to keep the government funded.
“I support marrying up DACA reform to border security and a break in chain migration on the spending bill,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina. “I support that. I’m not going to shut down the government over it.”

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

What’s going to happen with DACA was a major area of concern on the Spanish language radio programs I did in Richmond, VA last Friday. As I said on radio, I remain “cautiously optimistic” on an eventual legislative solution for “Dreamers.” But, probably not before the end of this year. Stay tuned! And many thanks to Tal & Lauren for staying “on top” of this story which is so important for so many!

PWS

12-12-17

THIRD WORLD AMERICA! – THE ATTACK OF THE SWAMP RATS! — Under Trump’s GOP, Americans Now Correctly View White House As The Most Corrupt Institution — But, Who Are The Fools Who Voted These Immoral Jokers Into Control?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2017/12/12/report-americans-view-trump-white-house-as-the-most-corrupt-government-institution/

Josh Rogin reports in the Washington Post:

“Almost half of Americans believe that corruption is pervasive in the White House under President Trump, a sharp increase over last year, according to a new survey. Americans now see Trump and his top officials as the most corrupt public officials in government, despite his campaign pledge to drain the swamp.

A new report out Tuesday compiled by Transparency International, the leading nonprofit organization tracking corruption worldwide, shows Americans have significantly lost faith that their government is ably fighting corruption, compared to last year. Overall, Washington-based government institutions are viewed by Americans are more corrupt than those outside the Beltway, the report found. But the Trump White House tops the list.

According to the group’s 2017 U.S. Corruption Barometer, 44 percent of respondents said that most or all of the officials in the office of the president are corrupt, up from 38 percent at the end of Obama’s second term.

Members of Congress are seen as the second most corrupt group of government officials of the nine categories in the survey, with 38 percent of Americans viewing them as mostly or all corrupt. After that, Americans perceive corruption as pervasive in non-White House government officials, business executives, local officials and business leaders in decreasing proportions. Only 16 percent of respondents viewed judges and magistrates as mostly or all corrupt, according to the data.

Meanwhile, 69 percent of respondents said the U.S. government is fighting corruption “fairly badly” or “very badly,” up from 51 percent in 2016. More than half of respondents said people don’t report corruption due to fear of retaliation.

Transparency International defines corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.” Key issues within that definition include the influence of wealthy individuals over government, “pay for play” politics, revolving doors between government and corporate entities and the abuse of the financial system by elites.

The perception of Trump and his top officials as being corrupt is easy to understand. Trump and his family have scores of well-documented conflicts of interest they have dealt with in an opaque manner. Meanwhile, Trump’s failure to divest fully from his businesses, combined with his failure to release his tax returns, has fueled suspicions.

The phone survey, performed by the company Efficience3, included interviews of 1,005 randomly selected Americans in October and November. The data were weighted to be demographically representative of all American adults by age, race, gender, urbanization, social grade and ethnicity.

Zoe Reiter, Transparency International’s U.S. representative, said that the study was meant to form a basis for understanding how government is failing to uphold high anti-corruption standards and provide a call to action for Americans to respond. She pointed out that 74 percent of respondents said they believed ordinary people still can make a difference.

“The good news is a majority of Americans feel empowered to fight corruption,” she said. “Since our elected officials are failing to deliver, we need to figure out a way to push them much harder to take these issues more seriously.”

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Read the rest of the article at the link.

There is some disconnect here, because some of the folks who now are concerned about corruption voted for Trump and the GOP, despite more than ample public evidence of his endemic dishonesty, congenital lying, incompetence, and general immorality. Garbage in — garbage out!

But, the answer to the problem is still pretty obvious:

  • Vote Trump and his corrupt cronies out of office;
  • Dismantle the current version of the GOP, which has become an “aider and abettor” of corruption, greed, immorality, and bad government.

Yes, we could and should have a viable two-party system. But, no major party should include horrible immoral individuals like Donald Trump, “Ayatollah Roy,” Steve King, Stephen Miller, or Steve Bannon whose views are deeply Anti-American and threatening to our continued existence as a nation and to the entire free world!

PWS

12-12-17

 

EXPOSED! — AILA’S JOHNSON SHOWS HOW “GONZO” INTENTIONALLY MISUSES DATA TO CREATE A FALSE ANTI-ASYLUM, ANTI-LAWYER NARRATIVE TO CONCEAL THE REAL GLARING PROBLEM DRIVING US IMMIGRATION COURT BACKLOGS — AIMLESS DOCKET RESHUFFLING (“ADR”) DRIVEN BY POLITICOS ATTEMPTING TO STACK THE COURT SYSTEM AGAINST DUE PROCESS AND TILT IT IN FAVOR OF DHS/ADMINISTRATION ENFORCEMENT INITIATIVES!!!!!!! — SURPRISE — By Far The Biggest Increase In Continuances Comes From DHS & EOIR Itself!

http://www.aila.org/advo-media/press-releases/2017/ag-sessions-cites-flawed-facts-imm-court-system

From AILA Executive Director Ben Johnson:

“Once again, the Attorney General cites flawed facts to castigate the immigration bar for the significant case backlog and inefficiencies in our immigration court system,” said Benjamin Johnson, AILA Executive Director. “He blames immigration attorneys for seeking case continuances, disregarding the fact that continuances are also routinely requested by counsel for the government, or are issued unilaterally by the court for administrative reasons. In fact, although the report cited by the Attorney General indicates an 18% increase in continuances requested by respondents, that same report found a 54% increase in continuances requested by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and a 33% increase in ‘Operational-related’ continuances. That said, continuances are often a necessary means to ensure due process is afforded in removal proceedings. The number one reason a continuance is requested by a respondent is to find counsel. Other reasons include securing and authenticating documentary evidence from foreign countries, or to locating critical witnesses. And when the government refuses to share information from a client’s immigration file and instead makes them go through the lengthy process of a Freedom of Information/Privacy Act request, a continuance is often a client’s only lifeline to justice. For the AG to blame immigration lawyers for imagined trespasses is both malicious and wrong. We will not let that misinformation pass without setting the record straight.

“The immigration court backlog is a function of years and years of government spending on enforcement without a commensurate investment in court resources. Our nation would be better served if the immigration courts were an independent judiciary, free from the auspices of the Department of Justice, where every immigrant has access to counsel. Immigration court is not small claims court or traffic court; each decision has the potential to tear apart families or keep them together, to destroy businesses or build our economy, to send someone back to certain death, or bring hope for a new and better life. Immigration judges should make those decisions with all information at hand, without any undue influence or arbitrary case completion requirements. That is a goal we can all work toward.”

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Sure matches my observations from the latter part of my career at the U.S. immigration Court in Arlington, VA!

Probably 75% of the cases on my “Non-Detained Docket” were there NOT at the request of a respondent or his or her attorney. No, they were “mass transferred and continued” to my docket unilaterally by EOIR to fulfill “Border Priorities” established by the DOJ during the Obama Administration as an adjunct to changing DHS Enforcement priorities.

And, these weren’t “short continuances” to find a lawyer or prepare an application as might be requested by a respondent or a private bar lawyer. NO, these were “Merits Hearing” cases that had often been set for late 2016 or 2017 hearings before one of my colleagues, only to be “continued” by EOIR to my docket for dates many additional years in the future. Indeed, many of these cases were unilaterally removed by EOIR from “Individual Dockets” and “orbited” to my “Master Calendars” (arraignments) years in the future — indeed years after I would be retired. That’s because my docket was already completely full for several years when this chapter of ADR started.

And the same was true for my colleague Judge Lawrence O. Burman. Indeed, at the time I retired, Judge Burman and I were the ONLY judges hearing “nonpriority, non-detained cases” — even though those cases were BY FAR the majority of cases on the Arlington Court Docket. And, to make things worse, my “replacement” retired at the end of 2016 thus resulting in a whole new “round” of ADR. 

Talk about ADR driven by incompetent administration and improper political meddling from the DOJ. And, from everything “Gonzo” has said and I have heard about what’s happening at EOIR, such impropriety has become “normalized” under the Trump Administration.

No court system can run efficiently and fairly when the perceived interests of one of the parties are elevated over fairness, Due Process, equal justice, and reaching correct decisions under the law. No court system can run efficiently and fairly when control over day-to-day dockets is stripped from the local US Immigration Judges and Court Administrators and hijacked by officials in Washington and Falls Church driven by political performance objectives  not by practical knowledge and day-to-day considerations of how to construct and run a docket for maximum fairness and efficiency under local conditions (the most important of which is the an adequate number of pro bono lawyers to represent respondents).

NO OTHER MAJOR COURT SYSTEM IN AMERICA OPERATES THE WAY EOIR DOES! THAT SHOULD TELL US SOMETHING!

So, why is “Gonzo Apocalypto” being allowed to get away with misrepresenting the facts and intentionally running the Immigration Court system for the perceived benefit of one of the parties and against the interests of the other? There is a simple term for such conduct: Ethical Misconduct. Usually, it results in the loss or suspension of the offender’s license to practice law. Why is Gonzo above accountability?

PWS

12-12-17

WASHINGTON POST: GONZO’S IMMIGRATION COURT “REFORMS” WILL CREATE “KANGAROO COURTS!” —Recent “moves to evaluate judges based on the speed with which they handle dockets that typically exceed 2,000 cases, rather than on fair adjudication, is a recipe for assembly-line injustice.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-deportation-tough-talk-hurts-law-abiding-immigrants/2017/12/10/9a87524a-a93b-11e7-850e-2bdd1236be5d_story.html

The Post Editorial Board writes:

“The broader dysfunction in America’s immigration system remains largely unchanged. Federal immigration courts are grappling with a backlog of some 600,000 cases, an epic logjam. The administration wants to more than double the number of the 300 or so immigration judges, but that will take time. And its recent moves to evaluate judges based on the speed with which they handle dockets that typically exceed 2,000 cases, rather than on fair adjudication, is a recipe for assembly-line injustice.

Mr. Trump’s campaign bluster on deportation was detached from reality. He said he’d quickly deport 2 million or 3 million criminal illegal immigrants, but unless he’s counting parking scofflaws and jaywalkers, he won’t find that many “bad hombres” on the loose. In fact, legal and illegal immigrants are much less likely to end up in jail than U.S. citizens, according to a study by the Cato Institute.

The president’s sound and fury on deportation signify little. He has intensified arrests, disrupting settled and productive lives, families and communities — but to what end? Only an overhaul of America’s broken immigration system offers the prospect of a more lasting fix.”

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Read the full article at the link.

The Post also points out the damage caused by Trump’s racist “bad hombres” rabble rousing and the largely bogus nature of the Administration’s claims to be removing “dangerous criminals.” No, the latter would require some professionalism and real law enforcement skills. Those characteristics are non-existent among Trump Politicos and seem to be in disturbingly short supply at DHS. To crib from Alabama GOP Senator Richard Shelby’s statement about “Ayatollah Roy:” Certainly DHS can do better than Tom Homan.

And certainly America can do better than a US Immigration Court run by White Nationalist Attorney General Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions. Gonzo’s warped concept of Constitutional Due Process is limited to insuring that he himself is represented by competent counsel as he forgets, misrepresents, misleads, mis-construes, and falsifies his way through the halls of justice.

Jeff Sessions does not represent America or American justice. The majority of American voters who did not want the Trump debacle in the first place still have the power to use the system to eventually restore decency, reasonableness, compassion, and integrity to American Government and to send the “Trump White Nationalist carpetbaggers” packing. The only question is whether or not we are up to the task!

PWS

12-12-17

 

THE TRUMP/SESSIONS XENOPHOBIC ANTI-REFUGEE BIAS THREATENS TO DESTROY EVERY ASPECT OF AMERICAN SOCIETY, INCLUDING OUR STAR CHEFS & OUR IMMIGRATION-INSPIRED CRUSINE!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/in-praise-of-refugee-chefs-they-came-from-syria-but-they-represent-an-american-ideal/2017/12/06/64e7c4be-c400-11e7-aae0-cb18a8c29c65_story.html

Marin Cogan reports for the Washington Post:

“On a Thursday morning in June, near the end of Ramadan, Majed Abdulraheem arrives for work at Union Kitchen. The brightly lit, shared commercial kitchen space in Northeast Washington is filled with chef’s tables, pastry racks and the bustling of a dozen cooks building fledgling businesses. It’s Chef Majed’s second time at work today. Fasting makes the daytime heat of the kitchen too hard to manage, and so he was in the kitchen preparing orders late last night, into the early morning.

Abdulraheem, 29, works at Foodhini, a meal delivery service that employs immigrant chefs in Washington. The start-up was founded by Noobtsaa Philip Vang, a child of refugees from Laos, who discovered, after arriving from Minnesota to Georgetown three years ago to get his MBA, that he was missing the Hmong cuisine he grew up with. “I was really craving some of my mom’s food,” says Vang, “and I was thinking I wanted to find a grandma or auntie that was living in the neighborhood somewhere and just buy some of their food.”

He started mulling his own family’s immigration story: When his mom came to the United States, she had limited English skills, and finding work was difficult. His dad sometimes worked multiple jobs, sleeping in his car between shifts, to make sure the family had enough money to survive. What his mother did have, which might have been marketable if only she’d had the resources, was incredible skill as a chef. “There’s got to be a way to create opportunities for people like my mom,” he thought.

Abdulraheem is one of Foodhini’s first chefs. On its website, he offers a menu of his own design: bamiatan, a dish of crisp mini okra sauteed in garlic and topped with cilantro; mutabbal, an eggplant-tahini dip similar to baba ghanouj; and kebab hindi, meatballs cooked in a spiced tomato stew. Like Vang, his love for food and for family are inextricably intertwined: Many of the items on Abdulraheem’s menu are dishes his mother used to make for him when he was a kid growing up in a small town in southern Syria. Even after attending culinary school in Syria, and after years of working in restaurants, he still considers her, his original teacher, to be the better chef.

“You have to love cooking to be good at it,” Abdulraheem tells me through an interpreter. He is preparing the vegetables for fattoush, a staple salad of lettuce, tomato and crunchy pita chips. He stacks long leaves of romaine lettuce, one on top of the other, slicing them crosswise into small confetti ribbons as he talks, before perfectly dicing tomatoes. He cuts huge lemons in half, just once, and squeezes the juice out of them effortlessly. It’s a simple dish but one he loves to make, because it’s both universal and endlessly customizable. “I’m making fattoush, my wife will make fattoush, you can make fattoush,” he says. “But each time it will come out a little bit different, because it’s a reflection of you.”


Majed Abdulraheem and wife Walaa Jadallah at their home in Riverdale Park, Md. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

When Abdulraheem arrived here in 2016, he became part of a long history of immigrants — often refugees — who reached the United States and began making food. You can find this tradition in Eden Center, the Northern Virginia strip mall packed with pho restaurants and pan-Asian groceries, built up by Vietnamese refugees in the 1980s. You can see it in the popular Ethiopian restaurants on U Street; in the restaurants of Peter Chang, who fled Washington’s Chinese Embassy in 2003 and acquired one of the most loyal followings of any chef in America; or in the Thai and Indian restaurants in large cities and small towns across the country.

. . . .

What Abdulraheem and other refugee chefs bring when they come to America has implications beyond the kitchen. Cooking the dishes — sharing the foods of their home country — is a way of ensuring “that identity and heritage are not lost just because the homeland is,” says Poopa Dweck, author of the book “Aromas of Aleppo: The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews.” They are “documenting history, in some way, for the next generation.”

It’s this diversity — the richness of so many cuisines and cultures, brought from all over the world — that makes American food so outstanding. At the moment, however, that tradition is under threat. The Trump administration has dedicated a lot of energy to barring Syrian refugees like Abdulraheem from coming into the country, while waging a multifront campaign against undocumented immigrants from Latin America. Continuing on this path would have a profound impact — not just on our food, but on our national identity.

It can be hard to explain to people who view immigration as a threat just what we stand to lose when we turn away from this ideal. Maybe a grand argument about American values isn’t the best place to begin. Maybe it’s best to start smaller, somewhere closer to home — somewhere like the dinner table.


Abdulraheem’s kebab hindi (meatballs cooked in a spiced tomato stew). (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

There are things that Majed Abdulraheem doesn’t usually talk about when he’s at work chopping vegetables. But they’re on his mind a lot: How, on his last visit to his parents’ home in 2013, they begged him not to return to his apartment in Damascus but to flee Syria across the border to Jordan instead. How he did as his parents asked. And how he never got to see his father, who became ill during his exile, before he died.

. . . .

The culinary education of refugee chefs is unusual. It is at once cosmopolitan — thanks to the fusing of different influences during the chef’s travels — and narrowly defined by both physical barriers and the limitations of circumstance. The journeys of refugee chefs often spark creativity, born of necessity. The education, just like the migration, is sui generis. Just like America.”

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Read the complete article at the above link.

The irony is certainly not lost on me. Refugees overcome great obstacles to contribute to America’s greatness; immigrants (including, yes, those without legal status) help us prosper as a society; guys like Trump and Sessions are corrosive negative influences who contribute little of positive value and do great damage to our country, our society, and our collective future every day they hold power, despite having having been given every chance to make positive contributions.

America’s continued greatness, and perhaps our ultimate survival as a nation, depends on whether we can use the legal system and the ballot box to remove corrosive influences like Trump, Sessions, and their ill-intentioned cronies from office before they can completely destroy our country.

PWS

12-10-17

PREVENTABLE HUMAN DISASTER: THE WANTON CRUELTY, WASTEFULNESS, & TOTAL STUPIDITY OF THE TRUMP/SESSIONS “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM PORTRAYED IN GRAPHIC HUMAN TERMS — The Damage To America Of Mistreating Our Families & Our Citizen Youth Will Long Outlive The Misguided Officials Carrying It Out!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/classic-apps/deported-divided-how-a-moms-return-to-el-salvador-tore-her-family-in-two/2017/12/08/70f81724-9a37-11e7-87fc-c3f7ee4035c9_story.html

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

Bermudez works all the time, so Cruz Mendez cares for Steve from afar. She calls the babysitter after school to make sure he arrived safely. She checks on his health insurance and his dental appointments.

Steve no longer asks when the family will be together.

In Falls Church, Cruz Mendez was an independent woman with a salary and dreams for the future. Now she sits inside the little gray house. Bermudez cannot afford to send her money for college, so she has set those plans aside.

Over the phone, he urges her to have faith that they will be together again.

She still wears her wedding ring, and he still wears his.

 

Bermudez works all the time, so Cruz Mendez cares for Steve from afar. She calls the babysitter after school to make sure he arrived safely. She checks on his health insurance and his dental appointments.

Steve no longer asks when the family will be together.

In Falls Church, Cruz Mendez was an independent woman with a salary and dreams for the future. Now she sits inside the little gray house. Bermudez cannot afford to send her money for college, so she has set those plans aside.

Over the phone, he urges her to have faith that they will be together again.

She still wears her wedding ring, and he still wears his.

Bermudez works all the time, so Cruz Mendez cares for Steve from afar. She calls the babysitter after school to make sure he arrived safely. She checks on his health insurance and his dental appointments.

Steve no longer asks when the family will be together.

In Falls Church, Cruz Mendez was an independent woman with a salary and dreams for the future. Now she sits inside the little gray house. Bermudez cannot afford to send her money for college, so she has set those plans aside.

Over the phone, he urges her to have faith that they will be together again.

She still wears her wedding ring, and he still wears his.

Maria Sacchetti reports in the Washington Post:

“Cruz Mendez, 30, made this trip in reverse when she was 18 years old, skipping her high school graduation to flee a neighborhood man who had harassed her in San Salvador. She was detained at the U.S.-Mexico border, released and allowed to join her brother in Virginia. Two months later, an immigration judge in Texas ordered her deported. Cruz Mendez says she never knew about the hearing.

In Fairfax, she was crowned beauty queen at a local Salvadoran festival and met Rene Bermudez, a hazel-eyed laborer who worked construction.

Steve was born in 2007, Danyca in 2012.

Late in 2013, police stopped Cruz Mendez for failing to turn on the lights on her minivan and charged her with driving without a license, an arrest that alerted federal agents to her old deportation order.

While President Barack Obama deported high numbers of undocumented immigrants during parts of his tenure, parents of American citizens with little to no criminal record were not priorities for expulsion. So officials released Cruz Mendez with orders to stay out of trouble and check in with them once a year.

But under President Trump, who campaigned on a promise to crack down on illegal immigration, anyone here without papers can be expelled.

Interior deportations — of people already living in the United States, as opposed to those caught crossing the border — have risen 37 percent since Trump took office. Deportation arrests of non-criminals such as Cruz Mendez — many, like her, with children who were born in this country and are U.S. citizens — surged past 31,000 from inauguration to the end of September, triple the same period last year.

On the May morning when she was scheduled for her yearly check-in, Cruz Mendez lingered in the apartment, which she’d decorated with family photographs, Danyca’s art projects and Steve’s citizen-of-the-month award from elementary school.

She considered the possibility of skipping the check-in, aware of other longtime immigrants who had been deported after similar appointments. But she could not fathom life as a fugitive. Worried, Bermudez warned her that she was going to be late.

“Why are you trying to turn me over so fast?” Cruz Mendez snapped in Spanish.

She eventually walked into the immigration agency’s Fairfax office, accompanied by advocates and loved ones. Agents took her into custody as her supporters shouted.

For a month, her husband and lawyers fought to free her. Steve tried, too, writing letters to Immigration and Customs Enforcement that were full of pleas and questions.

“Plz don’t deport my mom,” one of the letters said.

Who will take me to the doctor, the dentist? Who will take care of me and my sister? Who will I live with?

It didn’t work. On June 14, they sent her back. Bermudez and the kids filled a giant cardboard box with her dresses and shoes, pots and pans, and placed it by the front door, waiting for a courier to take it away.

Steve Bermudez, 10, wrote immigration officials in May to ask them not to deport his mother. For a month, Cruz Mendez’s husband and lawyers fought to free her and stop the deportation. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Steve looks out the window of the bedroom he used in his mother’s childhood home in El Salvador. The sign advertises fruit and vegetables his family sells. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
‘How can I go?’
Deportations can shatter a family or a marriage. In one study of the aftermath of six immigration raids, family income dropped an average of 70 percent. Another study, of U.S.-born Latino children, found that those whose parents had been detained or deported experienced significantly higher post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms than their peers.

“That child’s more likely to be poor. They’re more likely to be depend on public benefits,” said Randy Capps, U.S. research director for the Migration Policy Institute. “And then psychologically, you just don’t know. There could be an immediate impact; it could be a long time before that psychological impact shows up.”

In the Falls Church apartment, Steve and Danyca cried all the time after Cruz Mendez was deported. No one wanted to eat.

. . . .

Bermudez works all the time, so Cruz Mendez cares for Steve from afar. She calls the babysitter after school to make sure he arrived safely. She checks on his health insurance and his dental appointments.

Steve no longer asks when the family will be together.

In Falls Church, Cruz Mendez was an independent woman with a salary and dreams for the future. Now she sits inside the little gray house. Bermudez cannot afford to send her money for college, so she has set those plans aside.

Over the phone, he urges her to have faith that they will be together again.

She still wears her wedding ring, and he still wears his.“

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

Read Maria’s entire story of this grotesque failure of responsible government, common sense, and human decency at the link!

THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS FUTURE

What kind of country abuses its youth  — our hope for the future —  this way? What kind of county wastes its human capital and potential in this manner? What kind of country empowers leaders who are intentionally cruel, immoral, dishonest, and stupid? What kind of country intentionally turns valued friends and positive contributors into potential disgruntled enemies?

This is the way that a once great nation transforms itself into an “overstuffed banana republic!”

But, it’s not yet too late to change the grim vision of “Christmas Future” being promoted by Trump, Sessions, Kelly, Homan, Bannon, Miller, and their cronies. We can resist the horrible policies of the Trump Administration in the courts of law and the courts of public opinion! Ultimately, totally unqualified officials like Trump, Sessions, and their White Nationalist cronies — who are plotting the end of America as we know it — can be defeated at the ballot box and removed from office.

But, there will come a “point of no return” when the damage done by these corrupt individuals and their enablers (both willing and unwitting) cannot be undone! Are we as smart, human, and capable of leaving behind selfishness and embracing decency and human kindness as Ebineezer Scrooge? Or will the Ghost prove to be the Prophet in this version of the Christmas Carol?

PWS

12-09-17

SUPREMES APPEAR TO BE TILTING TOWARD TRUMP! — DREAMERS STIFFED BY HIGH COURT!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/08/politics/supreme-court-daca-ruling-immigration-california/index.html

Ariane de Vogue reports for CNN::

“(CNN) A divided Supreme Court agreed 5-4 on Friday to temporarily put on hold a lower court order requiring the government to turn over documents related to its decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The program is an Obama-era policy that defers deportation for some undocumented youth who had been brought to the United States as children.
The Supreme Court’s order is a setback for challengers, including California and the regents of the University of California, who contend that the Trump administration violated federal law when it abruptly decided to rescind the program. The challengers had sought the documents to bolster their case, pending in California.

Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by the three other liberal justices, dissented from the court’s order. Stressing that the lower court has still not heard the merits of the case, Breyer criticized the majority for intervening “in this kind of discovery-related dispute.”
He said the matter should be left with the lower courts, which are in a better position “to understand whether a particular discovery order is over-burdensome. ”
“This court,” Beyer wrote, is “poorly positioned to second-guess district courts’ determinations in this area.”
The high court’s action is a win for government lawyers, who argued in court papers that the “district court’s orders mandating discovery and expansion of the administrative record were in excess of the district court’s authority.”
They're united in friendship but divided by DACA
They’re united in friendship but divided by DACA
In a statement, a Justice Department spokesman praised the Supreme Court’s order.
“The Department of Homeland Security acted within its lawful authority in deciding to wind down DACA in an orderly manner, and the Justice Department believes the courts will ultimately agree,” said spokesman Devin O’Malley.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra responded: “What is the Trump administration trying so hard to hide?
“The administration owes the American people a real explanation for its decision to upend the lives of 800,000 Dreamers, stripping them of their ability to work and study, stirring fear, and threatening our economy,” Becerra said. “We’ll keep fighting in court for Dreamers, particularly the 1-in-4 DACA grantees who call California home.”
The district judge had filed a statement with the justices arguing that the government’s petition “leaves the incorrect impression that the district court endorsed unfettered discovery,” he said.
Judge William Alsup of the US District Court for the Northern District of California argued that his request was “limited, narrowly directed, and reasonable.”
The challengers have until Wednesday to respond to the ruling. The district court is set to hear arguments December 20 on whether the case should be dismissed altogether.”

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

To date, lower Federal Courts generally have been willing to hold the Trump Administration accountable for its immigration policies. But, the Supremes seem to agree with the Administration that Trump, Sessions, & co. can do as they please in the immigration area without providing anything other than fairly cosmetic explanations.

Dreamers apparently will have to look to Congress for  any help in staying.

PWS

12-08-17

 

THE DAILY INTELLIGENCER: AMERICA’S “TOADY IN WAITING”

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/12/mike-pence-first-toady.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily Intelligencer – December 6, 2017&utm_term=Subscription List – Daily Intelligencer (1 Year)

Ed Kilgore reports for The Daily Intelligencer in NY Maggie:

“Most reactions to McKay Coppins’s vast new profile of Vice-President Mike Pence have focused on an October 2016 incident wherein the then-candidate for veep offered to replace Donald Trump at the top of the ticket in the wake of the Access Hollywood revelations, which for a moment looked likely to bring the mogul down.

But the far more enduring picture Coppins paints is very different: Mike Pence as a man who decided early on in his relationship with Trump that no one could look in the mirror at night and see a browner nose.

In Pence, Trump has found an obedient deputy whose willingness to suffer indignity and humiliation at the pleasure of the president appears boundless. When Trump comes under fire for describing white nationalists as “very fine people,” Pence is there to assure the world that he is actually a man of great decency. When Trump needs someone to fly across the country to an NFL game so he can walk out in protest of national-anthem kneelers, Pence heads for Air Force Two.

This willingness to serve as First Toady was evident in Pence’s initial interview — on a Trump golf course — as a potential running mate:

Pence had called Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump adviser, whom he’d known for years, and asked for her advice on how to handle the meeting. Conway had told him to talk about “stuff outside of politics,” and suggested he show his eagerness to learn from the billionaire. “I knew they would enjoy each other’s company,” Conway told me, adding, “Mike Pence is someone whose faith allows him to subvert his ego to the greater good.”

True to form, Pence spent much of their time on the course kissing Trump’s ring. You’re going to be the next president of the United States, he said. It would be the honor of a lifetime to serve you. Afterward, he made a point of gushing to the press about Trump’s golf game. “He beat me like a drum,” Pence confessed, to Trump’s delight.

This set the pattern for Pence, notwithstanding anything he might have contemplated during the brief but intense hours after the Access Hollywoodrevelations.

What makes Coppins’s take on Pence especially valuable is his understanding that sucking up to Trump was entirely in keeping with the Hoosier governor’s sense that God was working through the unlikely medium of the heathenish demagogue to lift up Pence and his godly agenda to the heights of power. Just as it has been forgotten that the Access Hollywood tapes nearly brought Trump down, it has rarely been understood outside Indiana that Pence was down and possibly out when Trump reached out to him to join his ticket.

The very fact that he is standing behind a lectern bearing the vice-presidential seal is, one could argue, a loaves-and-fishes-level miracle. Just a year earlier, he was an embattled small-state governor with underwater approval ratings, dismal reelection prospects, and a national reputation in tatters.

Pence’s apparent demise, moreover, came after his careful plans to position himself to run for president in 2016 went awry via his clumsy handling of a signature “religious liberty” bill and a fatal underestimation of the resulting backlash from the business community.

All of a sudden, he was lifted from this slough of despond and placed a heartbeat away from total power thanks to his ability to, as Kellyanne Conway put it, “subvert his ego” in the presence of his deliverer, whose own ego has no limits. He clearly has not forgotten this lesson of an ambition fed by self-abasement rather than self-promotion. And according to Coppins, he even has a theological justification for blind loyalty to Trump:

Marc Short, a longtime adviser to Pence and a fellow Christian, told me that the vice president believes strongly in a scriptural concept evangelicals call “servant leadership.” The idea is rooted in the Gospels, where Jesus models humility by washing his disciples’ feet and teaches, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.”

Usually the idea is to be the “slave” of one’s followers and of the less fortunate, not the slave of the billionaire POTUS, but Pence has the “humility” part down pat.

Pence’s presumed reward in this redemption story could, of course, extend beyond the power he exercises as one of the more influential vice-presidents in history, and as Trump’s designated mediator with the Christian right and with those Republican elected officials who aren’t themselves in the great man’s retinue. He would be the obvious successor to Trump in 2024, when he will still be a relatively youthful 65 — whether or not Trump wins a second term in 2020. And in the meantime, as in the panic-stricken hours after the Access Hollywood tapes were released, Republicans will look to Pence as a reassuring and unifying figure whenever Trump’s presidency is endangered, whether it’s by the Mueller investigation or his own erratic conduct.

Pence has indeed come a long way since he was airlifted out of what was probably a losing gubernatorial race to the role of worshipful sidekick to Donald Trump. And he’s earned his actual and potential power via a habit of slavish loyalty that he may consider godly, but others find infernally corrupt if effective.”

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

I’ve called Pence a sycophant. But, sycophant, toady, you get the picture: spineless, and when you get beyond the disgustingly un-Christian and un-Jesus brand of intolerant religious zealotry that Pence passes off for Christianity (thus giving Christians a “bad name”) you get a guy that no thoughtful American should want for President.  Doesn’t, of course, mean that he won’t be President; just that he shouldn’t be.

Now, there is a school of thought around “The Swamp” that “Mikey the Toady” is “going down” along with The Trumpster in “Russiagate,” leaving us with the “Weaselly  Badger” Paul Ryan as President. Before you get too excited about that prospect, however, best to read the following article to understand that in addition to being a spineless coward who isn’t as smart as he and his backers think he is, Ryan is a “Joint Venture” (50-50 ownership for you non-corporate types) of the National Rifle Association and the Koch Brothers. Yeah, I know that this is a “fake news” satirical piece by none other than the New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz. Sadly, however, it contains more accuracy than a standard White House press briefing by Sarah Huckabee Sanders (a disturbingly low standard to be sure — where oh where is “Spicey” when we need him?). In the end, he could turn out to be just as damaging to America and the world as Trump and Pence.

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/koch-brothers-and-nra-reach-timeshare-agreement-over-ownership-of-paul-ryan

“WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a unique accord, the billionaire Koch brothers and the National Rifle Association have reached a timeshare agreement over the ownership of House Speaker Paul Ryan, representatives of both parties have confirmed.

Speaking on behalf of the Kochs, Charles Koch said that he contacted the N.R.A.’s executive director, Wayne LaPierre, with the timeshare proposal “so that we could all get the maximum enjoyment out of owning Paul.”

The arrangement is intended to minimize conflicts between the Kochs and the gun group that have arisen in the past when both co-owners have wanted to use Ryan at the same time, Koch said.

“I said to Wayne, ‘This is craziness,’ ” he said. “ ‘Let’s work something out where you get Paul half the year, and we’ll take him the other half.’ ”

Under the timeshare deal, the Kochs will have the exclusive use of Ryan during the months when tax cuts and environmental deregulation are put to a vote, while the N.R.A. will have him for the months when gun legislation is to be defeated.

Additionally, each co-owner is responsible for insuring that Ryan is well maintained and in good condition when the other’s period of using him commences.

Koch indicated that, if the timeshare agreement is a success, the two parties are likely to work out a similar deal for their longtime joint ownership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.”

So, what’s a self-respecting country to do? The answer is actually pretty obvious. Stop putting Republicans in elective office. No, that won’t cure all the country’s ills; indeed, just repairing the damage already done by this Administration could take decades.

But, at least we’ll have some folks in office who are working for the common good and trying to solve the nation’s and the world’s problems (yes, amazingly, they are interrelated) rather than actively making them worse every day. And, that would be a start!

PWS

121-08-17

WASHINGTON POST – “GOOD STUFF” ABOUT THE “REAL AMERICA” FROM LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Immigrants reflect what makes America great


A newly naturalized citizen holds an American flag during at the Atlanta office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in 2016. (Kevin D. Liles/For the Washington Post)
December 6
I applaud the strong statement in The Post’s Dec. 4 editorial “An attack on America.” I agree that the “president’s immigration policies are neither an embrace of legality nor in the national interest.”

This past year, I suffered a mild stroke, and through the swift actions of staff at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, I have thankfully recovered. The staff helped me cope and persist. The cultural diversity of the staff reflected the America I cherish. We are already great because of the gifts such people bring to our shores. Everyone in our country deserves the care I received, not just those of us who are privileged.

I am deeply appreciative to all who administered compassionate care with skill and consistency at that hospital and who represent the many sons and daughters of immigrants to whom we should be thankful — not only those who work in our fields, construction sites, kitchens and bathrooms but also those in the corridors and labs in our hospitals and by the bedside of a frightened patient.

I write this letter also on behalf of the hundreds of immigrants who fill the pews each week in the National Capital Presbytery, where I am a moderator, and who remind us of their gifts and deeply religious and faithful commitment to the well-being of all.

William Plitt, Arlington

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

Yup, I had the same thoughts about the nice folks who took care of my Dad during his years in a retirement home and the great surgeon who repaired my broken ankle in Maine this summer.

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

The ‘dreamers’ emergency


A woman holds up a sign outside the U.S. Capitol in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on Tuesday in Washington. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)
December 6
Regarding Paul Kane’s Dec. 3 @PKCapitol column, “Republicans savor a win that could be swept aside by shutdown negotiations”:Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said there is no need for action on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program because it is not a crisis or an emergency. Really, is that his management style?Maybe that’s why Congress can come up with money for hurricane recovery but not to help people to move out of houses that flood repeatedly. Still, it seems that about 690,000 people not knowing what is going to happen to them in three months is at least as much of an emergency as the need for a deficit-financed tax cut for a nation with a booming economy and a $20 trillion debt.

Mike Zasadil, Silver Spring

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

It’s all about priorities, Mike. For the GOP, greed, selfishness, and rewarding the rich are where it’s at. Human needs and the rest of the populace, not so much. It’s not going to change until those of us who believe differently throw the GOP out of power at the ballot box.

PWS

12-08-17

FOURTH CIRCUIT JOINS 9TH, 2d, & 6TH IN REVERSING BIA’S OVERLY RESTRICTIVE READING OF ASYLUM ELIGIBILITY – ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE OF A PRE-EXISTING CLAIM CAN BE A “CHANGED CIRCUMSTANCE” JUSTIFYING “LATE” ASYLUM FILING! — ZAMBRANO V. SESSIONS (PUBLISHED)!

4th Cir on changed circumstances-1yr

Zambrano v. Sessions, 4th Cir., 12-05-17 (published)

PANEL: KEENAN and WYNN, Circuit Judges, and John A. GIBNEY, Jr., United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, sitting by designation.

OPINION BY: Judge Gibney

KEY QUOTE:

“This Court agrees with the logic of the Ninth, Second, and Sixth circuits. New facts that provide additional support for a pre-existing asylum claim can constitute a changed circumstance. These facts may include circumstances that show an intensification of a preexisting threat of persecution or new instances of persecution of the same kind suffered in the past. The Court remands to the BIA and leaves the determination of whether the facts on record constitute changed circumstances which materially affect the petitioner’s eligibility for asylum to the BIA’s sound discretion.

III.
The BIA erred when it categorically held that additional proof of an existing claim

does not establish changed circumstances. Accordingly, we grant the petition for review, vacate the BIA’s order, and remand the case to the BIA for further consideration in light of this opinion.”

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

This is a very important decision for asylum applicants in the Fourth Circuit, as this situation arises frequently in Immigration Court.

With three well-reasoned Circuit decisions already in the books, why is the BIA holding out for a discredited rationale? How many individuals who weren’t fortunate enough to have Ben Winograd or an equally talented lawyer argue for them in the Court of Appeals have already been wrongfully removed under the BIA’s discredited rationale? Where’s the BIA precedent adopting this rationale and making it binding on IJ’s nationwide before more individuals are wrongfully removed? How is this “through teamwork and innovation being the world’s best administrative tribunal guaranteeing fairness and due process for all?”

The answer to the latter question is sadly obvious. While the BIA’s problems predated his tenure, the attitude of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as demonstrated in his recent pronouncement on so-called “Immigration Court efficiency” elevates “false efficiency,” speed, and cranking out removals above fundamental fairness and Due Process. Why have an elaborate administrative court system that doesn’t put Due Process first and foremost as “real” (non-captive) courts generally do? Why not just send all removal cases to U.S. District Judges and Magistrate Judges who make Due Process and fairness “job one” and aren’t preoccupied with “jacking up” removal statistics to please political bosses?

And, I’d like to see how far the DHS/Sessions’s (they are pretty much the same these days) boneheaded, arrogant, unrealistic, and wasteful “no PD” policy would get in a “real” court system where widespread, reasonable, and prudent use of PD by prosecutors is understood and accepted as an essential part of fairness, efficiency, and responsible use of publicly-funded judicial resources. Indeed, in some of my past “off the record” conversations with Article III Judges, they were absolutely flabbergasted to discover the unwillingness of DHS to meaningfully exercise “PD” in the pre-Obama era and to learn that at DHS the “cops,” rather than the prosecutors were responsible for setting PD policies!

PWS

12-08-17

 

ATTN “COURTSIDERS” – HEAR ME “LIVE” ON RADIO IN RICHMOND, VA, THE INTERNET, AND FACEBOOK TOMORROW, FRIDAY, DEC. 8, 2017!

I’ll be on two local radio shows hosted by Richmond Attorney Pablo Fantl tomorrow.

Both are am radio stations, and are available online.  They also will broadcast on Facebook Live, and will be available in the archives afterwards.  I will post links on immigrationcourtside.com once the recordings are available.

From 11:30-12:30     Radio Poder 1380 am   http://www.wbtk.com/

From 1:00-2:00         Maxima 1320 am          https://maxima1320.com/

These are programs directed at informing the Hispanic community in Richmond. Although I’m not bilingual, Pablo has promised excellent interpretation services. And, gosh knows, I’m pretty used to being translated into many languages from my days on the immigration bench.

Hope you’ll “tune in!”

PWS

12-07-17

 

 

BATTLE OF THE PUNDITS: RAPPAPORT V. LITHWICK – NOLAN SAYS “If the Supreme Court allows the courts to continue to do this to Trump, they will interfere with any national security decision he makes that impacts a country with a large Muslim population, regardless of the circumstances.” – DAHLIA SAYS “Thousands of people will be harmed for no reason other than Donald Trump dislikes Muslim countries and crafted a nearly legal theory to achieve his ban after two abject failures.” – YOU DECIDE!

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/363473-with-travel-ban-scotus-can-correct-lower-courts-anti-trump-bias

Nolan writes in The Hill:

“According to Eric Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, the lower U.S. courts have created a “Trump exception” to settled law on presidential powers with their travel ban decisions. They have ignored the Supreme Court’s admonition that courts may not “look behind” a “facially legitimate” reason for an executive order, which in these cases was a national security interest in stricter vetting.

Trump appealed to the Supreme Court, but his case became moot when he replaced the temporary travel ban with a permanent program with the Presidential Proclamation he issued on September 24, 2017, “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats.”

When fourth and ninth circuit courts enjoined implementation of his proclamation, he went back to the Supreme Court. On December 4, 2017, the Court ordered stays of the fourth circuit and the ninth circuit injunctions.

The Court did not state its basis for granting Trump’s stay request in either decision, but stays are not granted for meritless cases. I expect Trump to prevail on the merits of his case.

. . . .

He [Judge Derick Watson of the USDC in Hawaii] goes on to say that nevertheless “any reasonable, objective observer would conclude … that the stated secular purpose of the Executive Order is, at the very least, ‘secondary to a religious objective’ of temporarily suspending the entry of Muslims.” This “assessment rests on the specific historical record,” which “focuses on the president’s statements about a ‘Muslim ban,’” including on the campaign trail.

If the Supreme Court allows the courts to continue to do this to Trump, they will interfere with any national security decision he makes that impacts a country with a large Muslim population, regardless of the circumstances.”

Go on over to The Hill at the link to read Nolan’s complete article! I note that Nolan’s article is also posted on SCOTUSDaily. Here’s the link:

SCOTUSDaily pdf

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

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2017/12/the-new-travel-is-an-abomination-why-have-we-stopped-caring.html

Meanwhile, Dahlia Lithwick writes in Slate:

“Way, way back in February, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit heard oral arguments in State of Washington v. Trump, the first iteration of the first appeal of the first attempt at Donald Trump’s travel ban. This version was a hastily executed implementation of the president’s promise to create a Muslim ban, signed on Jan. 27, just a week after Trump took office.

America was riveted, listening eagerly to arguments broadcast without images and parsing—or trying to parse—complicated appellate questions about standing, and justiciability, and religious animus. As the court ultimately found—before this first version was pulled from commission and replaced with a new one—Trump’s ban trampled over all sorts of due process rights.

Almost a year later, a different panel of the 9th Circuit heard on Wednesday a different oral argument, about a third iteration of a Trump executive order limiting immigration from some majority-Muslim countries. This one, though, was offered without the glare of national media and by seemingly worn-out advocates. More than anything, the argument was reminiscent of one of those old-timey dance marathons, in which weary partners pushed one another around a high school gymnasium in the futile hope that anything might still matter.

Wednesday’s effort made the second argument about the very same issuesfrom May seem positively zippy (May? Remember May??). But here we are in December, and the travel ban has been sanitized and then sanitized again. The current version, announced in September, targets 150 million travelers from Muslim-majority countries Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, as well as the non–Muslim majority outlier North Korea along with some Venezuelan government officials. It was promptly blocked by judges before it went into effect, and on Monday the Supreme Court allowed it to go forward for the time being, warning the appeals courts that they had better rule quickly.So here in December, it is now being defended by seemingly competent counsel, despite the fact that—if one noticed such things anymore—the president was tweeting Muslim revenge porn only a week ago.

. . . .

We should all possibly care about travel ban 3.0 and its cretinous defenders a whole lot more than we apparently do, simply because it’s permanent, it’s nearly as bad as the original, and the Supreme Court appears inclined to tolerate it. Thousands of people will be harmed for no reason other than Donald Trump dislikes Muslim countries and crafted a nearly legal theory to achieve his ban after two abject failures.

A fortiori, for the record, means an argument made with greater reason or more convincing force. Who knew that something so grotesquely cynical and cruel as this travel ban could become a fortiori, just from sheer wariness, repetition, and fatigue?”

Read the rest of Dahlia’s article over at Slate at the above link.

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

Clearly, “different strokes for different folks!” But, we all have a stake in this one way or the other!

Interestingly, Nolan and Dahlia appear to agree on one thing: the Supremes (or at least a majority of them, excluding Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg who dissented from the dissolution of the stay) have signaled that they are ready to “greenlight” Trump’s “Travel Ban 3.0.” In other words, if Trump is exceeding “political and societal norms” (which many of us think he is) ultimately it will be up to the political branches of Government and the voters, not the courts, to rein him in.

PWS

12-07-17

WHEN AL FRANKEN RESIGNS . . .

Please remember that immigrationcourtside.com was one of the first, if not the first, to call for him to go!

https://wp.me/p8eeJm-1Ij

(“Tuning in” to my prior blog on Franken at this link will also give you a great opportunity to review some of the endless intellectual dishonesty of Attorney General Jeff ”Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions!)

Franken could and should have saved himself, his victims, his party, his Congress, and the public from unnecessary, distracting melodrama and trauma by doing “the right thing” right off the bat.

When will Democrats finally stop shooting themselves in the foot by acting like Republicans when caught red-handed in inappropriate and indefensible situations? Yeah, we live in the age of Trump and the spineless, captive, immoral GOP.

But, if Dems want to offer a “better alternative,” they need to start acting like it. Neither the Franken nor the Conyers debacles are encouraging signs. But, give Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), and other Democratic women Senators lots of credit for getting the ball rolling in the right direction, after the so-called “men” in their party failed.

PWS

12-06-17