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

WARNING: THIS IS SATIRE FROM THE BOROWITZ REPORT IN THE NEW YORKER: “Kim Jong Un Fears That G.O.P. Tax Bill Makes His Plan to Destroy U.S. Redundant!”

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/kim-jong-un-fears-that-gop-tax-bill-makes-his-plan-to-destroy-us-redundant

Andy writes:

“PYONGYANG (The Borowitz Report)—Kim Jong Un is concerned that his long-standing plan to destroy the United States has been made totally irrelevant by the Republican tax bill moving through the Senate, a source close to the North Korean dictator said on Friday.
The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Kim fears that his scheme to turn the United States into an uninhabitable hellhole has been to a large extent upstaged by a similar proposal from congressional Republicans.
“You have to understand, destroying America is something that Kim and his family have been plotting for decades,” the source said. “To see the Republicans swoop in at the last second and basically steal that idea—it’s got to hurt.”
According to the source, Kim has been watching C-span non-stop, praying that the Republicans’ plan to end life as Americans know it might come undone at the last moment, but he is “not getting his hopes up.”
“After having such a wonderful missile test, he should be on top of the world this week,” the source said. “Instead, he’s afraid that all his hard work has been for nothing. He now understands why so many Americans despise the Republicans.”

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Getting harder to tell the difference between satire and reality these days. And, Borowitz probably could have substituted “President Xi,” “President Putin,” or for that matter the “Leader of ISIS” for “Un.”

The point is that weave done this to ourselves. A completely preventable disaster, but not one that will be easily repaired, if ever.

PWS

12-02-17

“THIRD WORLD AMERICA” — GOP ON THE VERGE OF “DECONSTRUCTING” GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC SERVICES, HEALTH, & EDUCATION AT ALL LEVELS TO HAND OUT FAVORS TO THE RICH — PARTY OF “REVERSE ROBIN HOOD” ABOUT TO “SCORE A BIG ONE“ FOR THE ALREADY OVERPRIVILEGED AT THE EXPENSE OF EVERYONE ELSE! –“This tax bill is a grand deception,” said Arnold Hiatt, the former chief executive of Stride Rite, which makes children’s shoes. “It hurts the most vulnerable, and hurts health care and education, which are essential for a healthy economy.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/29/business/republican-tax-cut.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

“Economists and tax experts are overwhelmingly skeptical that the bills in the House and Senate can generate meaningful job growth and economic expansion. Many view the legislation not as a product of genuine deliberation, but as a transfer of wealth to corporations and affluent individuals — both generous purveyors of campaign contributions. By 2027, people making $40,000 to $50,000 would pay a combined $5.3 billion more in taxes, while the group earning $1 million or more would get a $5.8 billion cut, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office.

“When you put all these pieces together, what you’re left with is we are squandering a giant sum of money,” said Edward D. Kleinbard, a former chief of staff at the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation who teaches law at the University of Southern California. “It’s not aimed at growth. It is not aimed at the middle class. It is at every turn carefully engineered to deliver a kiss to the donor class.”

In a recent University of Chicago survey of 38 prominent economistsacross the ideological spectrum, only one said the proposed tax cuts would yield substantial economic growth. Unanimously, the economists said the tax cuts would add to the long-term federal debt burden, now estimated at more than $20 trillion.

If the package does have a guiding philosophy, it is a return to trickle-down economics, an enduring story line in which the wealthy are supposed to spend and invest their tax breaks, creating jobs and commercial opportunities for everyone else.

As President Ronald Reagan slashed taxes in the 1980s, he argued that citizens, not bureaucrats, should decide how to spend their money. President George W. Bush bestowed enormous tax cuts on the affluent.

But the trickle-down story has yet to achieve its promised happy ending. Only the beginning reliably transpires, the part where wealthy people get relief. The spoils of resulting economic growth have largely been monopolized by those with the highest incomes. Pay for most American workers has been stagnant since the mid-1970s, after the rising costs of housing, health care and other basics are factored in.

Nonetheless, Republicans are staging a trickle-down revival.

“Either it’s a religious belief, a belief where no amount of evidence would change that, or they are using the argument cynically and they just want more money for themselves,” the economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate, said.

Mr. Stiglitz has long warned of the perils of growing inequality while deriding tax-cutting inclinations. Yet even those who have favored lighter tax burdens are critical of the current proposals.

In the late 1970s, Bruce Bartlett developed what would become the locus of the Reagan tax cuts while working for Representative Jack Kemp, a conservative Republican from New York. Those cuts helped cushion the pain from sharp increases in interest rates by the Federal Reserve, Mr. Bartlett maintains. But Reagan was lowering the highest tax rate on individuals from 70 percent down to 28 percent by 1986.

“What they have here is a big tax cut for the rich paid for with random increases in taxes for various constituencies,” Mr. Bartlett said. “It’s ridiculous. And it’s telling that they are ramming this through without any debate. All of the empirical evidence goes against the tax cut.”

 

The meat of the package is a permanent lowering of the corporate tax rate, to 20 percent from 35 percent, which business leaders have long wanted. Proponents assert that this would prompt multinational companies to expand operations in the United States.

“We’ve been bleeding corporate headquarters and production for a long time,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and now president of the American Action Forum, a nonprofit that promotes smaller government.

But recent history suggests that when corporations get tax relief, they find abundant uses for money that do not involve paying higher wages. They give dividends to shareholders and stock options to executives. They stash earnings in tax havens.

In 2004, Congress invited American corporations to bring home overseas earnings at a sharply reduced rate, pitching it as a means of bolstering investment. But the corporations spent as much as 90 percent of their windfall buying back their shares, according to Bureau of Economic Analysis research.

If Congress bestows fresh relief on major businesses, signs suggest a similar result. Many companies are enjoying record profits. Those in the Fortune 500 had $2.6 trillion salted away overseas as of last year.

“In our boardroom, the number-one thing we’re talking about is not taxes,” said Jeremy Stoppelman, chief executive of Yelp, the online review platform. “Having a strong middle class out there spending money is what’s most important for our business.”

If the tax bill widens inequality, local communities will likely find themselves with fewer resources to aim at helping struggling people.

A key feature of the Senate bill is the elimination of a federal deduction for state and local taxes. Conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation and American Legislative Exchange Council have sought to end the deduction as a means of reining in government spending.

In high-tax states like California, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — where electorates have historically shown a willingness to finance ample safety-net programs — the measure could change the political calculus. It would magnify the costs to taxpayers, pressuring states to stay lean or risk the wrath of voters.

Some see in this tilt a reworking of basic principles that have prevailed in American life for generations.

. . . .

Since the 1930s, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt created Social Security, unemployment benefits and other pillars of the safety net to combat the Great Depression, crises have been tempered by some measure of government support. Recent decades have brought cuts to social services, but the impact of the current bill could be especially consequential.

“This is a repudiation of the social contract that Franklin Roosevelt announced at the New Deal,” Joseph J. Ellis, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian, said of trimming benefits for lower- and middle-income families to finance bigger rewards for the wealthy. Health coverage would shrink under the Republican plan while multimillion-dollar estates would not have to pay a penny in taxes.

The tax cut package, for instance, could trigger rules mandating cuts to Medicare, the government health care program for seniors, the Congressional Budget Office warned. Some 13 million people could lose health care via the elimination of a key plank of Obamacare. Insurance premiums are also expected to rise by 10 percent.

“This tax bill is a grand deception,” said Arnold Hiatt, the former chief executive of Stride Rite, which makes children’s shoes. “It hurts the most vulnerable, and hurts health care and education, which are essential for a healthy economy.”

The proposals break from seven decades’ worth of federal efforts to broaden access to higher education.

Since World War II, the guiding sense has been that “it is government’s responsibility to provide higher education for all those who can benefit from it,” said David Nasaw, a historian at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. That idea was behind the G.I. Bill, which helped generations of veterans pay for college and training.

The House bill includes provisions that would end the deductibility of tuition waivers for graduate students and repeal the deduction for interest paid on student loans. Both chambers’ bills would tax investment earnings from university endowments.

The endowment tax, in particular, threatens the ability of low-income students to pursue college and graduate studies, said Ron Haskins, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Proceeds from endowments subsidize students from lower-income families, while allowing students across the board to graduate with less debt.

“When the time of reckoning comes to fix huge deficits, social safety-net programs will be first on the chopping block,” Julian E. Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, said.

“It’s very far-reaching,” he added, “but there hasn’t been much of a debate.”

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

Read the complete, revealing but disturbing, article at the link. We’re ultimately going to look more like a (at least temporarily) well-to-do “Banana Republic” with the rich on top and in power; everyone else scrambling; lots of excess guns and ammo; and a lower standard of living for average folks to support the privileged power class. And, the GOP has managed to pull all of this off at the ballot box and without any true debate or public accounting, relying on the overall inability of the electorate to figure out that they are being fleeced by their own representatives. Pretty impressive!

PWS

11-30-17

HOT FROM TAL @ CNN: GOP REPS TO PRESS RYAN ON DACA RESOLUTION – REJECT TRUMP/GOODLATTE RESTRICITONIST CONDITIONS!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/30/politics/republican-daca-letter/index.html

TAL reports:

“Republicans prepping letter to Ryan urging DACA fix

By: Tal Kopan, CNN

Dozens of House Republicans are preparing a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan urging a fix for young undocumented immigrants by the end of the year, adding pressure to high-stakes government funding discussions that could hinge on such a deal, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

The letter, organized by Virginia Rep. Scott Taylor, already has signatories numbering in the 20s, according to a source familiar with the letter, and could reach into the 30s by the time it is sent. Taylor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, revealed the work on the letter in a pen-and-pad session with reporters Thursday on Capitol Hill.

Two other GOP sources confirmed the letter’s development to CNN.

Grisham characterized the letter as “telling Ryan, ‘You’ve got to fix this. You’ve got nine days. What is your plan, what is your path?'”

The “nine days” refers to the December 8 deadline to fund the government. Democrats have said if Republicans need their votes to pass a government funding bill, which they have in the past, then they need to resolve the situation for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which President Donald Trump is ending by the end of the year.

Some Republicans, including Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, have said any DACA deal should not be included in year-end spending legislation. They have not ruled out, though, the possibility of timing a vote on a DACA deal with one on spending legislation.

Grisham referenced a Democratic-led discharge petition to force a vote on one legislative proposal, the Dream Act, which two Republicans have signed and which needs only 22 more members to support it to force a vote on the floor, though the letter does not threaten that its signatories will back the bill, according to one of the sources.

The letter’s signatories include members who have long pushed for a DACA fix and some who have been less vocal.

According to one of the GOP sources, the letter tells Ryan that the group would like DACA resolved this year and warns that while they agree a legislative solution should include border security, it should not contain measures sought by members like Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte and the White House. Some of those measures include cuts or changes to overall legal immigration, mandatory workforce verification and hardline enforcement measures.

The letter has come together quickly, just this week, and is being teed up for release Friday.”

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

At least some modest reason for optimism on the “DACA Front.” It’s also refreshing and encouraging to learn that there are a significant number of responsible Republican legislators who don’t necessarily “by into” the false narrative being peddled by Trump, Goodlatte, Perdue, Cotton, Sessions, Miller and other GOP restrictionists about the need to “offset” the Dreamers or decrease (the worst possible course of action) legal immigration avenues into the United States.

 

PWS

11-30-17

PAUL KRUGMAN IN THE NYT: GOP IRATE AT BEING CALLED OUR ON ITS BIG TIME TAX LIES! – The “Anti-Robin –Hood” Party Is In Full Attack Mode! – Screw Everyone Else To Hand Out More Bennies To The Super Rich!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/20/opinion/lies-incoherence-and-rage-on-tax-cuts.html

Krugman writes:

“One thing you can count on in 21st-century U.S. politics is that Republicans will lie about taxes. They did it under George W. Bush, they did it under Barack Obama and they’re still doing it under Donald Trump.

Yet this time is different. It’s not just that the lies have gotten even more brazen. There’s now a combination of incoherence and rage that we, or at least I, haven’t seen before. These days, they can’t even seem to get their fake story straight — and they literally start yelling obscenities when someone tries to point out the facts.

G.O.P. lies about taxes generally involve two issues: who is hurt or helped by tax changes, and what these changes will do to the budget.

Thus, when George W. Bush cut taxes in 2001 and 2003, he and his party repeatedly insisted that the tax cuts were primarily for the middle class. In fact, while there were some middle-class tax breaks in the package, such as an increase in the child tax credit, these were dwarfed by cuts in tax rates on high incomes, reduced taxes on dividends and repeal of the estate tax. Over all, the richest 1 percent saw a much larger increase in after-tax income than middle-class families did.

At the same time, the Bush administration used a series of gimmicks to hide the true fiscal cost of the plan, such as delaying the implementation of some tax cuts while pretending that others would expire when the actual intention was to make them permanent.

When Obama took office, these tricks were simply flipped on their head. Republicans insisted, falsely, that Obama had imposed a “massive tax increase” on the middle class; in fact, for the most part he actually cut middle-class taxes. Meanwhile, they insisted that the surge in the budget deficit caused by the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis was permanent, and ridiculed the Obama administration’s claims that deficits would fall sharply once crisis spending ended and tax receipts recovered; in fact, that’s exactly what happened.

So what’s different this time? As in the Bush years, Republicans are claiming to be offering a middle-class tax cut. But where Bush truly was cutting taxes on the middle class, just much less than he was on the wealthy, current Republican plans would raise those taxes on many lower- and middle-income families, even as they go down for the wealthy. (Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, claims that only “million-dollar earners”would see tax increases. This is the opposite of the truth.

Oh, and a memo to journalists: If you play it safe by reporting this as “Democrats say” that middle-class taxes will go up, you’re misleading your readers: Those estimates come from the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s own nonpartisan scorekeeper.

How can Republicans like Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, pretend to be helping the middle class? It depends crucially on a new kind of budget gimmick: Both the House and Senate tax-cut bills do contain some middle-class tax breaks — but only for the first few years. Then they expire.

Take one of Ryan’s favorite examples, a family with two children and earning $59,000 a year. That family would indeed get a tax break next year. But the break would rapidly dwindle and turn into a tax increase by 2024.

The Republican response is to claim that these tax breaks wouldn’t really expire, that Congress would eventually renew them. That’s quite doubtful — and even if true, it means that the tax plans would add much more to the national debt than the G.O.P. admits. Which brings me to the whole budget deficit issue.

Not long ago, leading Republicans claimed to be deeply concerned about budget deficits. Only fools and centrists took the Republicans seriously. Still, the abrupt shift to nonchalance about adding trillions to the debt in order to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy is causing a bit of whiplash even among cynics. How do they justify the shift?

Well, they don’t seem to have settled on a story. Mnuchin keeps asserting that tax cuts will pay for themselves, going so far as to claim (falsely) that Treasury has released a study showing this. Mick Mulvaney, the budget director, cheerfully acknowledges that they’re using gimmicks to pass a bill that permanently cuts taxes on corporations, and not to worry. Whatever works, it seems.

So we’re really looking at an unprecedented level of dishonesty here. But what happens when you try to explain what’s going on? When Senator Sherrod Brown tried to point out, correctly, that the Senate G.O.P.’s tax bill heavily favors the rich, Senator Orrin Hatch exploded, calling it “bull crap” and asserting that he grew up poor (which is relevant why, exactly?).

Sorry, but this isn’t the righteous anger of a man falsely accused of wrongdoing. It’s the rage con men always exhibit when caught out in their con.

But what’s the con about? The very incoherence of the arguments Republicans are making for their plans shows that it’s not about helping the economy, let alone ordinary families. It really is about making the rich richer, at everyone else’s expense. If this be bull crap, make the most of it.”

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As usual, the GOP counts heavily on voters being too biased or gullible to figure out that they are being fleeced. And, to date, they have been correct. So, why stop a “winning strategy” even if it is based on lies, demonstrably bogus assumptions, and other “cons?”

PWS

11-21-17

GONZO’S WORLD: FRANK RICH @ NY MAGGIE THINKS GONZO COULD FOLLOW JOHN MITCHELL’S FOOTSTEPS ALL THE WAY TO JAIL: “He’s an awful attorney general but he’s arguably an even worse liar.” — I Think It’s Time for Senator Al Franken (D-MN) To Step Down!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/11/frank-rich-the-gop-cant-handle-moore-problems.html

Rich writes:

“Last month, Jeff Sessions testified that he was not aware of anyone in the Trump campaign who had been in contact with Russia. Though press accounts have appeared to prove him wrong, yesterday he told the House Judiciary Committee that he “had no recollection” of the meeting, and has “always told the truth.” Will he face consequences for changing his story?

The second most-scandal-ridden presidency in American history, Richard Nixon’s, also had an attorney general, John Mitchell, who had played a major role in his boss’s presidential campaign. He ended up in prison. Sessions seems determined to head to the same destination. He has been repeatedly caught lying to Congress about his and others’ contacts with the Russians, and his only defense has been to strike a sanctimonious tone of self-martyrdom, to repeat or enhance the original lies, and to accuse his inquisitors of rank injustice. He’s an awful attorney general but he’s arguably an even worse liar. It was especially choice to hear him testify last week that he had completely forgotten about attending a meeting with Trump where George Papadopoulos talked about his Russian connections; he just couldn’t stop himself from embroidering the lie further by adding he did remember a single aspect of it after all — a supposedly exculpatory moment when he pushed back on Papadopoulos’s suggestion of a Trump-Putin meeting. This stuff is not going to go over well with the special counsel.

The most unexpected twist in last week’s hearing, by the way, came when Sessions, for the moment at least, firmly shut down Trump’s idea of appointing a new special counsel to investigate the Clintons. What brought that on? A cynic might ask if he is already trying to butter up the jury pool in Washington.”

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Read Rich’s full column, where he also covers Ayatollah Roy, Ivanka, and Donnie Jr., at the link.

As I have noted before, as a former trial and appellate judge, I find Gonzo totally incredible by the standards applied to witnesses in immigration cases. I also find his bristling self-righteous indignation that anyone would dare call him on his obvious lack of candor to be disgusting hypocrisy, even by Gonzo standards. But, testifying incredibly, even under oath, does not necessarily amount to perjury under the law.

I have no particular desire to see Gonzo end his career in jail. But, there are plenty of reasons why he should no longer be the Attorney General of the U.S. Right wing talk radio would be a good fit for him.

Gonzo might also benefit from the good fortune to have one of his chief Senate critics/accusers Senator Al Franken (D-MN) in some pretty “deep doodo” himself. Indeed, given that the woman who raised Franken’s past sexual harassment has pictures, witnesses, and Franken himself doesn’t deny or attempt to justify the incident, why would he put her, himself, the Senate, the Democratic Party, and the country through a useless investigation? What is there to “investigate?” We know what happened; in light of it, Franken needs to do the right thing and step down. This isn’t SNL. And, the Democrats can’t afford a major sexual scandal in the Senate right now.

PWS

11-16-17

 

 

“AYATOLLAH ROY” APPARENTLY CAUGHT WITH HIS PANTS DOWN (LITERALLY) AS GOP REMAINS LARGELY IN DENIAL!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/people/dana-milbank

Dana Milbank in the Washington Post:

“So President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and fellow Republicans think Roy Moore, the GOP Senate nominee from Alabama, should quit his Senate run only “if these allegations are true.”

If true? Four women, on the record in The Post, say Moore, when he was in his 30s, tried to date them as teens, and one of the women says he had sexual contact with her when she was 14 and he was 32. Perhaps Republicans expect video and DNA evidence from 1979 magically to emerge, or a confession by Moore? (He denies the allegations.) More likely they are just dodging so that they can stick with Moore and keep the seat Republican — even if it means having an alleged pedophile join their caucus.

By comparison, there was more integrity in the defense of Moore offered by Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler, who told the Washington Examiner that, even if true, “there’s just nothing immoral or illegal here.” Indeed there’s biblical precedent for Moore’s alleged behavior.

“Take Joseph and Mary,” Zeigler said. “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”

 

Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat!

Let us take seriously Zeigler’s justification, which is consistent with Moore’s view that “God’s laws are always superior to man’s laws,” and the Bible stands above the Constitution and other piddling laws of man. It is true that the Bible does not say “thou shalt not strip to thine tighty whities and kiss a 14-year-old and touch her through her bra and underpants.” The Bible also does not specifically prohibit colluding with the Russians, accepting emoluments, money laundering or conspiracy against the United States. So Moore, and for that matter President Trump and his administration, has nothing to worry about.

But if we are to accept the Bible literally as the legal standard (and not, say, age-of-consent laws), we will also have to accept as legal certain other activities in 21st-century America, including:

Sacrificing as a burnt offering your young son (Genesis 22:2) or your daughter, if she comes out of the doors of your house to meet you (Judges 11:30-1, 34-5).

 

Having rebellious children stoned to death by all the men of the city (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).

Purchasing slaves (Leviticus 25:44-46), selling your daughter as a slave (Exodus 21:7-8) and making sure they submit to their masters, even cruel ones (1 Peter 2:18).

Executing pagan priests on their own altars and burning their bones (2 Kings 23:20-25).

Cutting off the hand of a woman if she grabs the penis of a man who is fighting with her husband (Deuteronomy 25:11-12).

. . . .

There’s no allegation of sexual intercourse, he said, and “Roy Moore fell in love with one of the younger women.” That would be his wife, Kayla, who Zeigler says is 14 years his junior and whom he was dating around that time.

You don’t need a judge and jury, Republicans, to determine that there was something icky going on or that there is something dangerous in having as a senator a man who places God’s law over man’s — and then interprets God’s laws to suit himself.“

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

Read the full op-ed at the above link.

Let’s see, “Ayatollah Roy” by his own proud statements is a:

  • Bigot
  • Homophobe
  • Racist
  • Xenophobe
  • Scofflaw
  • Theocrat

He’d love to strip everyone who disagrees with him of their rights while denying their humanity and full citizenship.

In plain terms, “Ayatollah Roy” is total perversion of everything it truly means to be an American living under our Constitution. So, does it really make much difference if he’s also a sexual pervert? Perversion seems to make no difference to the so-called voters in the “GOP Caliphite of Alabama.” Their truly despicable past is prologue. So, there is little reason to believe that the latest Moore disgrace will make any difference to such out of touch and tone deaf folks.

PWS

11-10-17

SEATTLE TIMES: THE CRUELTY OF TRUMP’S “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT FINALLY SINKS IN – EVEN IN “TRUMP COUNTRY!”

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/northwest/fear-regrets-as-pacific-county-residents-go-missing-amid-immigration-crackdown-police-chief-neighbors-kind-of-in-shock-after-immigration-arrests-in-pacific-county-immigration-crack/

Nina Shapiro reports for the Seattle Times:

“LONG BEACH, Pacific County — Named after a character in a cowboy book, Police Chief Flint Wright describes himself as pretty conservative.

A portrait of Ronald Reagan hangs in his office, along with photos of John Wayne, and his father and grandfather on horses — capturing the rural lifestyle of Pacific County, which curves around Willapa Bay in the state’s southwest corner.

He doesn’t talk about it much, but he voted for Donald Trump, helping Pacific County go with the Republican presidential candidate for the first time in decades. Among other things, he liked Trump’s promise to secure the borders. Economic migrants are not a problem in his mind — he’s seen how hard they work — but he wondered, “who’s coming with them?” Terrorists, he feared.

Then came the July arrest of Mario Rodriguez by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“I was kind of in shock, to be blunt with you,” Wright said.

Rodriguez, whose visa had expired, had lived in the area for more than a dozen years. He had worked in bilingual education and periodically tipped police to trouble spots.

Mario Rodriguez, detained by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement after his visa expired, has lived in the area for more than a dozen years and worked in bilingual education. He is now out on bond as his case goes through immigration court. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)
Mario Rodriguez, detained by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement after his visa expired, has lived in the area for more than a dozen years and worked in bilingual education. He is now out on bond as his case goes through immigration court. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)
 

“He was real pro-law enforcement,” the police chief said. “Shoot, anybody would like to have him as a neighbor.”

Trump, on the campaign, had talked about kicking out Mexican “drug dealers, criminals, rapists.” And that’s the kind of immigration crackdown a lot of people here were expecting.

“Yeah, we don’t want that element,” Wright said. But Rodriguez? The police chief couldn’t believe sending him back to Mexico would do anybody any good.

That kind of shock is reverberating throughout the county as Trump’s toughened immigration policy hits home. ICE has arrested at least 28 people in the county this year, according to numbers provided to the Sheriff’s Office.

While that’s just a small share of the roughly 3,100 ICE arrests overseen by its regional office in Seattle — which covers Washington, Oregon and Alaska — it represents a pronounced upward trajectory. Last year, ICE reported eight Pacific County arrests to the sheriff and for a long stretch of years before that, zero.

In a county of small, close-knit communities — Long Beach, population 1,400, is one of the largest — it’s noticed when someone goes missing. The number is magnified by those who have moved, gone into hiding or followed family after a deportation. People have lost neighbors, schools have lost students and businesses have lost employees.

. . . .

Shellfish farmers face many uncertainties, Sheldon explained.

The weather is a big one, periodically disrupting work on the water.

ICE is the new big storm, blowing in periodically to take essential workers.

Boats, working in the seafood industry, travel on Willapa Bay. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

“One minute they’re here. Another minute they’re not,” Sheldon said. “It’s not like there’s any warning.”

She and other employers say they get required paperwork for every worker — though documents might be fake — and don’t know who is illegally here.

“It’s been a huge impact,” said Kathleen Nisbet-Moncy, vice president of the Willapa-Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association, of ICE’s arrests. Many of the area’s two dozen companies are small businesses. Losing key employees is a big deal. One, she said, lost a worker of 25 years.

And the industry already faced a labor shortage.

Workers need to have an understanding of tides; they carry tide tables like Bibles, arranging their days accordingly. Some operate boats. Others shuck oysters or process fish, not easy when done quickly.

Paid by volume, they sometimes work seven day weeks, or days that take in both early-morning and late-night tides cycles.

“Don’t you want people to work?” Sheldon asked. “Why don’t we say you can’t sell cigarettes to illegal immigrants?”

She was joking. But things didn’t make sense to her.

It was hurting her business. So many people have been arrested or moved that she can no longer fill empty positions. She has had scale back orders and turn away customers.

“Tell him I say hi”

In Long Beach Culbertson Park, as after-school football practice got started, 10-year-old Danner Walters broke into tears.

He was on the sidelines talking about his friend Joel. A week before, Joel left for Mexico with his mom and siblings to rejoin his dad, who had been deported months before.

“We’ve been best friends since kindergarten,” Danner said.

. . . .”

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

Read the complete, much lengthier, article, at the link.

Too bad folks don’t think through all of the implications before they pull the lever for immoral and irrational candidates like Trump and the GOP restrictionists. Truth is what the restrictionists don’t want you to hear or think about: the vast majority of the allegedly 11 million undocumented individuals here are law-abiding, productive members of the American community, doing jobs that help, rather than hurt, American workers, doing them exceptionally well, and raising or being part of part of “mixed families” with citizens, immigrants, and undocumented individuals all mixed together.

Removing them is a senseless and cruel waste of time and money. The only reasons for doing it have to do with racial and cultural bias — that’s why guys like Trump, Sessions, Bannon, and Miller have to come up with bogus economic and law enforcement rationales in an attempt to “rationalize” basically irrational policies.

Actually, the number of undocumented individuals in the United States is a boon to our country, our economy, and our culture. It shows that we remain a vibrant nation, and that we should have been admitting hundreds of thousands of additional legal immigrants annually. That’s why GOP proposals to restrict legal immigration are so wrong-headed.

Because we failed to do what we should have, the system basically “self corrected” largely by the operation of free market forces, but with some adverse effects like the use of smugglers, the exploitation of the undocumented, and the colossal amount of money wasted by “dumb” immigration enforcement and detention over many Administrations and Congresses.

But, it’s not too late to get it right by legalizing the productive, law-abiding individuals already here and expanding our legal immigration system to realistic levels that are more consistent with our needs as a nation. That will reduce or eliminate the “job magnet” and cut the business for smugglers without vast expenditures of law enforcement funds.

PWS

11-09-17

GONZO’S WORLD: Senators Frustrated By Gonzo’s Inability To Get His Story Straight – How Many Chances Will He Get To “Correct and Clarify” His Testimony?

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/top-senate-judiciary-committee-democrat-wants-jeff-sessions-to-clarify-russia-testimony_us_59ff27f3e4b0baea26324570

Jessica Schulberg reports for HuffPost:

“WASHINGTON ― The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee said on Sunday she wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to testify again before the panel to clarify past claims that he was unaware of any communication between members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian officials.

Sessions has already testified before the committee twice under oath ― during his confirmation hearing in January and during a routine oversight hearing last month ― that he was unaware of communications between the Trump team and Russia. But according to recently unsealed court documents, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos spoke multiple times with Russians about setting up a meeting between then-presidential candidate Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. And Papadopoulos, according to the documents. described his efforts during a meeting on March 31, 2016, that included Trump and Sessions.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said on CNN she plans to discuss summoning Sessions back before the Judiciary Committee with the panel’s chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). She declined to say whether she believed Sessions intentionally misled the committee in the past ― but said the attorney general should focus on getting his facts straight.

“Maybe he has a faulty memory. So, there are a lot of excuses one can make.” Feinstein said. “But at this stage, he’s got to narrow his recollections. When he comes before the committee again, he has to be precise, and it has to be accurate,” she said.

. . . .

“I don’t think he told me the truth,” Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) told ABC late last week. “I think that on different occasions he either has a terrible memory or he is deliberately not telling me the truth.”

Lawmakers’ frustration with Sessions may be gaining bipartisan traction.

“This is getting a bit old with Jeff Sessions,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Sunday. “He probably should come back and answer the question, yet again, ‘Did you know anything about an effort by the Trump campaign to meet with Russia?’”

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

Read the complete article at the link.

Wow, the irony is rich! Gonzo never misses a chance to “pop off” with some misleading story being spread by White Nationalist/restrictionist groups about how vulnerable immigrants struggling to vindicate their legal rights (and often to save their lives) and the lawyers trying to represent them are “abusing the system.” But, he abuses the time and processes of the U.S. Senate, where he used to sit. He’s obviously disdainful of his former colleagues, since he doesn’t even bother to check the accuracy of what he says under oath. Like many “arrogant overprivileged White Guys,” he just doesn’t believe that the rules actually apply to him. Just like his “Supreme Leader,” Trump!   

PWS

11-05-17          

WASHPOST: TRUMP’S ANTI-IMMIGRANT WHITE NATIONALIST HYSTERIA & UNJUSTIFIED ATTACKS ON OTHERS DIMINISHES OUR COUNTRY AND MAKES US LESS SAFE!

Three Editorials in today’s Washington Post emphasize the extremely counterproductive nature of Trump’s response to the NY terrorist attack.

First, on his inappropriate attempt to blame immigrants for the incident:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-response-to-the-new-york-attack-was-downright-dispiriting/2017/11/01/00558930-bf43-11e7-8444-a0d4f04b89eb_story.html?utm_term=.133a8ef49c1b

“IN LOWER MANHATTAN on Tuesday, not far from the memorial to the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, eight people were killed and 12 injured when a man espousing fidelity to the Islamic State drove a rented pickup down a busy bike path along the Hudson River. “It was gruesome. It was grisly. It was surreal,” one witness said of bicyclists and pedestrians being mowed down. The attack on innocent people enjoying a fine autumn day was a chilling reminder of the persistent threat posed to the United States by Islamist extremists — and their ingenuity in finding ways to commit murder.

Some small comfort can be taken in the fact that in the 16 years since the fall of the twin towers, improvements in protecting the homeland and fighting terrorism abroad have lessened the terrorists’ strength to strike and improved our ability to respond. The quick actions of police and other first responders during Tuesday’s tragedy should be applauded. So must the resilience and strength of the people of New York City, who made clear they will not be cowed by fear.

Far less inspiring — indeed, downright dispiriting — was the reaction of President Trump. In a series of tweets that apparently were informed (a word we use loosely) by his viewing of “Fox & Friends,” Mr. Trump went on a harangue about immigration and attacked Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). On Wednesday, Mr. Trump signaled he might upend the judicial process by declaring the suspected attacker an enemy combatant to be shipped off to the Guantanamo Bay prison; federal terrorism charges filed against him later in the day likely would foreclose that from happening. Note that the White House wouldn’t discuss gun control after last month’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, on the grounds that it would politicize a tragedy, but it had no problem launching partisan attacks following a terrorist strike that ought to unify all Americans. Note also, as The Post’s Philip Bump pointed out, that Mr. Trump is quick to jump to conclusions when there are incidents involving immigrants but is far more circumspect when nonimmigrants are involved.

What’s really needed from the Trump administration is not blame-shifting but a serious attempt to investigate and learn from this latest attack. Were others involved or aware of the alleged plans dating back a year that went into the attack? Are authorities right in their initial assessment that the suspect became “radicalized domestically” while living in the United States? Were signals missed when he appeared on the radar of law enforcement in connection with the investigations of other suspects? The 29-year-old, authorities said, allegedly “followed almost exactly to a T” instructions that the Islamic State has put out on its social-media channels on how to carry out attacks. So what can be done to detect and deter other would-be followers?

Among those killed Tuesday were five Argentines who were part of a group of school friends who traveled to New York to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation. It was their dream trip to a city known for being open and generous and diverse. Those are the traits that make America great; to undermine them in response to Tuesday’s attack only plays into the hands of terrorists.”

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

Second, the Editorial Board responds to Trump’s attempt to blame Senator Chuck Schumer of New York for the attack:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/for-trump-new-yorks-tragedy-means-a-new-attack-on-immigration/2017/11/01/8ffa0940-bf38-11e7-97d9-bdab5a0ab381_story.html?utm_term=.ead2a22ecd7d

“PRESIDENT TRUMP, ever prone to seek out scapegoats, fastened on a new target in the wake of the terrorist attack in New York: the state’s senior Democratic senator, along with a 27-year-old visa program that offers applicants from dozens of countries a shot at immigrating to the United States.

Mr. Trump singled out Sen. Charles E. Schumer, who, in 1990, sponsored the diversity visa program, through which the alleged attacker in New York, Sayfullo Saipov, is reported to have immigrated to the United States from his native Uzbekistan. In a tweet, the president derided the program as “a Chuck Schumer beauty.”

Never mind that Mr. Schumer’s legislation establishing the program attracted bipartisan support; or that it was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, a Republican; or even that Mr. Schumer himself unsuccessfully bargained to end the program, in 2013, in return for a bill granting legal residence to millions of undocumented immigrants already in the United States. Neither the facts nor the normal political imperative to avoid partisanship in the wake of a terrorist attack appeared to move Mr. Trump.

His tweet made it appear that his overriding interest in an assault allegedly backed by the Islamic State is to use it to assail immigration — in this instance, a legal program whose beneficiaries represent a speck in the overall number of immigrants. Managed by the State Department since 1995, the program now grants up to 50,000 visas annually, via a random lottery, to citizens of dozens of countries who would otherwise be mostly overlooked in the annual influx of green-card recipients. In recent years, many of the winners have been from Africa and Eastern Europe.

Having reaped political advantage as a candidate in vilifying illegal immigrants, Mr. Trump has set his sights in office on legal migrants, including refugees, from a handful of mostly Muslim countries, whom he’d like Americans to see as an undifferentiated mass of potentially violent interlopers. Gradually, he is chipping away at what was once a national consensus that immigrants are a critical source of vitality, invention and international appeal.

Like almost any immigration program, the diversity visa lottery is imperfect and susceptible to abuse. The fortunate winners, who represent less than 1 percent of those who have applied annually in recent years, are not uniformly equipped to thrive in this country; many lack an education beyond high school. As Mr. Saipov may turn out to prove, even the extensive vetting required of all who immigrate through the program does not provide an ironclad guarantee that it is impervious to applicants who might seek to harm the United States.

The lottery program might be improved. Still, the fact that more than 11 million people applied for it in fiscal 2016 reflects the magnetic appeal the United States continues to exert around the world. Satisfying a small fraction of that demand, through the lottery or some other legal means, is a powerful tool of public diplomacy in countries whose citizens might otherwise have no hope of coming here.”

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

Third, Jennifer Rubin (“JRUBE”) comments on Trump’s “mindless,” totally inappropriate, attack on our justice system (in other words, on our Constitution):

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/11/02/trumps-mindless-insult-to-the-american-judicial-system/?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-b%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.6be7fbcdabb0

“Asked about the suspect Wednesday, President Trump called him an “animal.” Prompted to say whether he thought Saipov should be sent to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Trump said, sure, he’d consider it. Later, at Wednesday’s White House press briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said flatly that the White House considered the suspect an “enemy combatant.”

The president also said yesterday that the American justice system (presumably including his own Justice Department) is a “joke” and a “laughingstock.” He further opined, “We also have to come up with punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now,” Trump said. (Terrorists are subject to the death penalty, so it’s unclear what he had in mind.) “They’ll go through court for years … We need quick justice, and we need strong justice,” he said.

Thankfully, the Justice Department, like the Pentagon, has learned when to ignore Trump. On Wednesday, Saipov was charged in federal court. By Thursday morning, Trump was backing off his support for sending Saipov to Guantanamo. Once again, the ignorant president shot from the hip and had to creep back to reality.

Just how harmful were Trump’s statements? It is reprehensible for the president to defame our justice system, which is not a “joke” nor a “laughingstock” but the envy of the world. Moreover, in the terrorist context, it has proved remarkably efficient in trying and convicting terrorists, and then handing out maximum punishments. The surviving Boston Marathon bombing defendant was convicted in just this way and sentenced to death.

. . . .

Based on today’s tweet, we were right to assume that neither Trump nor Sanders had any idea what he/she was talking about (always a good assumption). We will watch with pride as American justice takes its course — and with horror as Trump continues to wreck havoc from the Oval Office.”

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

Having spent a professional lifetime working on immigration and refugee issues, I can confirm that Trump and his GOP “restrictionist cronies” like Sessions, Miller, and Bannon have managed to transform what used to be “a national consensus that immigrants [and particularly refugees] are a critical source of vitality, invention and international appeal” into a highly partisan and racially-charged attack on the national origins and futures of some of our most productive citizens and residents — those who far more than Trump or his cronies are likely to help us in building a better, safer future for all Americans.

Having worked on all sides of our U.S. Justice System, served as an administrative judge on the trial and appellate levels for more than 21 years, listened to and/or read thousands of accounts of what made people leave their “home countries,” and studied in detail the reasons why some failing countries are “senders” of talented migrants and others, like the U.S., are fortunate enough to be on the “receiving” end, I can say unequivocally that the fairness of our justice system and the overall honsety and integrity of civil servants in the U.S. Government are the primary differences between the “sending” and “receiving” countries, like ours.

As I have observed before, Trump and his cronies are launching what is basically a “Third-World autocratic attack” on our Constitution and our democratic institutions. If they succeed, the immigration “problem” might eventually be “solved” because nobody will want to come here any more. How many people risked their lives trying to get into the former Soviet Union?
Donald Trump, his cronies, and his enablers are and will remain a much greater threat to our safety and Constitutional institutions than any foreign terrorist could ever be. We ignore his dangerous and fundamentally un-American rants at our own peril!
PWS
11-02-17

 

THE XENOPHOBIC WHITE NATIONALISM OF TRUMP, SESSIONS, & THE GOP RESTRICTIONISTS COULD WELL LEAVE AGING BABY BOOMERS WITHOUT NEEDED HEALTH CARE ASSISTANCE!

https://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2017/10/25/immigrants-caretaker-workforce-000556

Ted Hesson reports for Politico:

“One of the biggest future crises in U.S. health care is about to collide with the hottest political issue of the Trump era: immigration.

As the largest generation in American history – the baby boom – heads into retirement and old age, most of those aging boomers will need someone to help take care of them for at least some portion of their twilight years. Demand for home health aides is expected to outstrip the growth for nearly all other jobs in coming decades, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting the number of home health aide positions will increase 38 percent by 2024. That puts it among the top five fastest-growing U.S. occupations.

So who’s going to do it? The question is one of the biggest uncertainties looming over not only the health care, but the labor market overall. Health policy experts have been raising the alarm for some time: No matter how you look at it, the United States is going to need a lot more caretakers and home health aides. And we’re going to need them soon.

Right now, immigrant workers fill a significant share of the formal and informal caretaker workforce. In health care overall, immigrants (both legal and undocumented) make up roughly 17 percent of workers, on par with their representation in the broader labor force. When it comes to home health care, however, that figure is considerably higher: about 24 percent, according to the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute.

There’s a reason foreign-born workers take so many home health jobs: they’re low-paid, low-skilled and increasingly plentiful. Barriers to entry are low; a high school degree is not usually a requirement and neither is previous work experience. Much caretaking comes from family members, of course. But with families getting smaller, more Americans living alone and chronic diseases growing more complex, a lot of that care in the future will need to come from professionals.

 

The job also isn’t easy. Home health aides can be tasked with bathing and feeding clients, cleaning the person’s house, driving them to doctor’s appointments and even helping with trips to the bathroom. It’s one of those occupations that comes to mind “when people say that immigrants do the jobs that Americans don’t want to do,” notes Patricia Cortés, an assistant professor of markets, public policy and law at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.

Bianca Frogner, an associate professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said the low barriers to entry make it a natural fit for immigrants who are new to the U.S. workforce. “It’s easy to get into and they’re in high demand,” she said.

This is where politics comes in: The current move to curb immigration threatens to cut off the main supply of potential new workers to care for aging Americans.

Illegal immigration isn’t the issue. The home health care immigrant workforce is vastly legal. The Pew Research Center found that just 4 percent of nursing, psychiatric and home health aides are in the country without legal status, based on an average from 2005 to 2014. Some home health aide positions require certification, which may drive down the ranks of undocumented immigrants in those positions.

The question for the health care system is what will happen to the flow of legal immigrants. Trump and immigration hawks in Congress have endorsed a bill that would cut legal immigration in half over a decade. The bill would also refocus the immigration system to prize better-educated and more highly skilled immigrants — potentially choking off the supply of lower-skilled workers who are the likeliest candidates to fill the home health aide jobs of the future.

In theory, native-born Americans could take some of those jobs, but there are reasons to assume they won’t.

. . . .

The strange thing about home health care work is that immigrants don’t appear to drive down wages, as happens in some other fields. If anything, they tend to push wages higher. Naturalized citizens who worked as nursing, psychiatric and home health aides earned 22 percent more than their U.S.-born counterparts, according to 2015 American Community Survey data analyzed by the University of Washington Center for Health Workforce Studies.

Lindsay Lowell of Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of International Migration, said the wage phenomenon and the fact that the work is a natural fit for new immigrants make it a no-brainer: Immigrants are our best caretaking option for the foreseeable future. “You put all that together,” Lowell said, “and I think it’s a good thing.”

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

Read the complete article at the link.

In a sane system led by competent individuals with the common good in mind, this would be a “no brainer.”  Legalize the existing undocumented workforce to provide some “upward and sideways” mobility to staff these jobs in the short run, while expanding legal immigration opportunities for these positions in the future. More legal immigration would also contribute to the tax coffers and add needed workers to the Social Security contribution base. Moreover, it would conserve considerable Government funds now being squandered on counterproductive immigration enforcement and unnecessary detention, as well as relieving the pressure on the overwhelmed Immigration Courts. That, in turn, would free up enforcement resources to concentrate on removing serious criminals and shutting down international smuggling cartels.

However, when policy is driven by bias, prejudice, and irrationality, as with guys like Trump, Sessions, Bannon, Miller, and the “RAISE Act Bunch” the results are a lose – lose.

PWS

10-28-17

 

 

 

 

 

 

COLBERT I. KING IN WASHPOST: Time To Retire Speaker Paul Ryan & The Other “Trump Enablers!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/judgment-day-for-trump-may-come-sooner-than-you-think/2017/10/27/99fc3960-ba95-11e7-be94-fabb0f1e9ffb_story.html

King writes:

“Preparation begins now. Tend to the basics: Get registered, get others registered, and get educated on how to vote because voter suppression is running amok, especially in the South. Get information about the elections and the candidates. And don’t pass up any contest.

State legislature and gubernatorial races are just as important as elected jobs in Washington. And don’t buy the argument that your vote doesn’t count if you happen to live in a voting area where your party is outnumbered.

Vote anyway, even if you cast a ballot for none of the above. That vote speaks volumes to the one who loses it.

Keep that thought in mind when entering the voting booth in state legislature contests and House and Senate races. Those GOP officeholders are key to Trump’s base. Through their votes and, at times, their inaction, they are keeping him in business and his agenda alive.

 

Upcoming elections should be a referendum on Trump.

Face it: Stripped and unadorned, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) is, politically, a Donald Trump.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.)? Think Donald Trump.

Look no further than the likes of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.) and Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) to find a political likeness of Donald Trump on the ballot.

The December Alabama ballot doesn’t carry Trump’s name, but consider Senate GOP nominee Roy Moore as a stand-in for the president. That ought to be reason enough for the 26 percent of Alabama residents who are black to flock to the polls.

Likewise, a Trump proxy is running for Republican governor of Virginia this year under the name Ed Gillespie.

In the 2018 Senate races, Trump doubles can be found with Republicans Ted Cruz in Texas and Roger Wicker in Mississippi. The three, as opponents of progressive government policies, are closer than two pages in a book.

 

Want to speak back to Trump and tell him how you feel? Get out and vote in places such as Alabama, Virginia, California, Wisconsin, Texas and Mississippi, where Trump surrogates are on the ballot. Let the president know you are out there.

The midterm 2018 elections can be Judgment Day for Trump. And dress rehearsal for 2020.

Fume and fuss, talk back to the television, kick the can, call Trump names, vent to your heart’s content. All that changes nothing. Also probably ruins your health.

What can make a difference? The ballot. Vote, vote, vote.”

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Read the entire op-ed at the link.

The road back to national power begins at the local level!

PWS

10-28-17

HON. JEFFREY CHASE: A.G. IS IGNORANT & BIASED — SESSIONS TRIES TO BLAME EVERYBODY BUT TRUE CULPRITS FOR ASYLUM BACKLOGS!

https://www.jeffreyschase.com/blog/2017/10/26/in-response-sessions-claims-regarding-asylum-fraud

Jeffrey writes:

“In a recent address at EOIR headquarters, Attorney General Jeff Sessions blamed the immigration courts’ present backlog of over 600,000 cases on asylum fraud. In order to lend support to his claim, Sessions conveniently omitted some important facts.

First, Sessions somehow failed to mention that after gaining majority control in the 2010 midterm elections, Republicans in Congress forced a hiring freeze, followed by a “sequester” requiring government-wide budget cuts. EOIR was not able to hire immigration judges or other support staff, while suffering personnel departures. In 2015 testimony to Congress by EOIR’s then director, the late Juan Osuna attributed much of the 101 percent increase in the immigration court’s backlog over the preceding five years to the hiring freeze. Furthermore, the sequester’s budget cuts rendered EOIR unable to replace obsolete computer servers, which resulted in a total system failure in 2014 which wreaked havoc on the courts for more than 5 weeks. These Republican-created problems coincided with the 2014 surge along the southern border of legitimate refugees fleeing increased violence in the Northern Triangle region of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The 2014 violence was followed by a 70 percent increase in the murder rate in El Salvador the following year, which, according to a January 2016 article in The Guardian, made it the most dangerous peacetime country in the world.

EOIR publishes a statistical yearbook each year; the most recent is for fiscal year 2016. The report divides asylum claims into affirmative and defensive categories. Defensive applications are filed by individuals who find themselves in removal proceedings facing deportation from the U.S. Some are detained; some are not represented by attorneys. The majority of these individuals are eligible to apply for only one form of relief: asylum. Given the fact that most people in removal proceedings would like to remain in the U.S. and avoid deportation, it is not surprising that a number of these individuals file applications for the only form of relief that might keep them here, even if the likelihood of success is a longshot. Nevertheless, in FY 2016, 31 percent (i.e. nearly a third) of these defensive claims for asylum were granted by immigration judges, according to EOIR’s own numbers.

The second category of asylum applicants listed in EOIR’s annual report consists of affirmative applicants. These are individuals who are not detained or in imminent danger of deportation. Nevertheless, these individuals decided to come forward and apply for asylum, bringing themselves to the attention of DHS and risking deportation should their claims be denied. In FY 2016, EOIR reported that 83 percent of such claims were granted by immigration judges. It should be noted that affirmative applicants are first interviewed by asylum officers with USCIS, a component of DHS. DHS grants asylum to those applicants it deems approvable, and refers the rest to EOIR. So if the cases granted by DHS are added to the EOIR numbers, the grant rate is actually higher.

In removal proceedings, asylum applications are contested by DHS trial attorneys, who nearly always subject asylum applicants to detailed cross-examination.. DHS attorneys may send evidence submitted by asylum applicants for consular investigation in the country of origin, or for forensics examination to determine if there is evidence of fabrication or alteration. The DHS attorneys may also check other databases for evidence that may conflict with the information provided in the asylum application. DHS may offer any results that might indicate fraud into evidence. Sessions falsely claims that “there is no way to reasonably investigate the claims of an asylum applicant in their own country;” in my 12 years as an immigration judge, I was presented with the results of many such in-country consular investigations. I also commonly received reports and heard testimony from forensics examiners employed by DHS.

In addition, in response to reports of fraud, Congress included provisions in the 2005 REAL ID Act that gave immigration judges greater authority to find that asylum applicants lacked credibility. The legislation also made it more difficult to establish asylum eligibility by requiring that one of the five statutorily protected grounds (i.e. race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion) be “one central reason” for the feared persecution. Also, the BIA has spent the last 11 years issuing precedent decisions that increase the difficulty of establishing asylum eligibility.

And in spite of all of the above, immigration judges last year found more than 8 of 10 affirmative asylum applicants to be legitimate. The IJs granting these claims are employees of the Attorney General’s own Department of Justice. Immigration Judges are appointed by the Attorney General, and come from a variety of backgrounds. Many previously worked on the enforcement side; many are Republican appointees. Sessions claims that “vague, insubstantial, and subjective claims have swamped our system.” If true, how are more than 80 percent being granted by judges that he and his predecessors appointed?

So then where is the evidence of widespread asylum fraud supporting Sessions’ assertion? What support does he provide in claiming that “any adjudicatory system with a grant rate of nearly 90 percent is inherently flawed?” Why would that be true of the applicants in question chose to come forward and apply for asylum; their claims were screened and prepared by competent attorneys; and where the immigration laws contain significant penalties for filing fraudulent claims, including a lifetime bar on any and all immigration benefits?

About three years ago, while I was the country conditions expert for EOIR, I was one of a number of EOIR employees invited by DHS to attend a training session on country conditions in the Northern Triangle region of El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras. The presenters described horrific conditions in the lawless Northern Triangle, in which murders occur with impunity, boys as young as 7 years old are recruited for gang membership, 11 year old girls are raped, and their fathers killed if they try to intervene. The presenters concluded that in spite of the danger, parents are making very informed decisions in paying to have their children smuggled north under dangerous conditions, considering the horrible conditions at home. Remember, this was not a program put on by Amnesty International; this was DHS training its asylum officers. I enlisted one of the presenters to repeat his presentation for the immigration judges at their training conference the following year. Is Sessions somehow unaware of this information when he portrays such claims as fraudulent?

In support of his fraud claim, Sessions stated that many who were found to have a credible fear of persecution and paroled into the U.S. did not subsequently apply for asylum. However, he neglected to mention that many of those parolees are unaccompanied children. He also did not mention that many parolees cannot afford attorneys, and that pro bono groups’ limited resources are completely overwhelmed by the number of asylum seekers, and that those dedicated pro bono programs who have attempted creative approaches such as providing limited pro bono assistance to pro se applicants have been hampered by EOIR itself, which issued a “cease and desist” letter to at least one such program, the highly regarded Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

Sessions referenced a 2014 investigation resulting in the arrest of 8 attorneys for engaging in asylum fraud. There are thousands of immigration attorneys in the United States. The overwhelming majority are honest, hardworking and highly respectful of our laws. Since departing the government I been inspired by the seriousness with which private immigration attorneys treat asylum matters. When attorneys speak of a client being granted asylum, they nearly always describe years of preparation, a lengthy hearing, well-researched legal theories, and loads of supporting evidence, often including expert witnesses. These are not half-hour hearings; they are exhausting, contested matters that can last many hours. The attorneys engaged in such work should be applauded for their efforts. And I can’t express enough admiration for the hundreds of immigration judges who, in spite of the pressure created by a daunting workload and biased remarks by the Attorney General they report to, nevertheless continue to afford due process and render fair and impartial judgement on those appearing before them.

Copyright 2017 Jeffrey S. Chase. All rights reserved.”

Reprinted with permission.

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Right on Jeffrey!  Thanks for your incisive commentary and analysis!

Gonzo’s extensive record of lies, omissions, intentional distortions, bias, and willful ignorance make him unqualified for any position of public trust, let alone the chief legal official of the US! The inappropriateness of placing such an individual in charge of the US Immigration Courts is simply jaw dropping!

Sen. Liz Warren was right! Our country and our entire system of justice are suffering because a majority of her colleagues “tuned her out!” Speaking truth to power is seldom easy.

PWS

10-26-17

DAVID LEONHARDT IN THE NY TIMES: THE PARTY OF BIGOTRY, INTOLERANCE, ANTI-AMERICANISM, & “AYATOLLAH ROY” FINDS ITS GROOVE!

Here’s a link to the “Complete Leonhardt” for today, from which the following is excerpted:
https://www.nytimes.com/newsletters/2017/10/25/opinion-today?nlid=79213886

 

“This morning’s headlines are about Jeff Flake, but I find myself thinking about Roy Moore. Right now, it seems that the Republican Party has room for Moore but not Flake.

Flake, of course, is the Republican senator and Trump critic who announced yesterday that he wouldn’t run for re-election, because he thought that winning would require giving in to Trumpism. “It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end,” he said on the Senate floor.

Moore is the former judge who recently won the Republican nomination for a Senate seat in Alabama. He is also a demagogue who has called homosexuality “evil” and “so heinous” and who engaged in a discussion, on video, about whether it should be “punished by death.”

After Flake’s speech, his Senate colleagues applauded and honored him. But applause is easy. The more important question is: What are those same senators doing about Moore — a man who, unlike President Trump, can still be prevented from taking high office?

They are endorsing him, that’s what.

Mike Lee of Utah has praised Moore’s “tested reputation of integrity.” Rand Paul of Kentucky has lauded Moore for “defending and standing up for the Constitution.” Ted Cruz, just a couple of hours before Flake’s speech, released a full-throated endorsement of Moore that celebrated his “lifelong passion for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”

Yes, you heard that correctly: They are praising the integrity and Constitutional commitment of a man who refused to take a stand against whether gay and lesbian Americans should be executed.

Moore was also removed from the Alabama Supreme Court for violating judicial ethics. He has said that Muslims should not be allowed in Congress and suggested that 9/11 was the result of this country’s godlessness. (If you want to read the full comments yourself, you can do so via CNNTime and The Hill.)

So far, only one Republican senator has spoken out against Moore, according to Politico. His name is Jeff Flake. “When we disagree with something so fundamental,” he said last month, “we ought to stand up and say, ‘That’s not right, that’s not our party, that is not us.’”

I leave you with a longer excerpt from Flake’s prepared remarks yesterday than you’re likely to find in most news stories:

“Acting on conscience and principle is the manner in which we express our moral selves, and as such, loyalty to conscience and principle should supersede loyalty to any man or party. We can all be forgiven for failing in that measure from time to time. I certainly put myself at the top of the list of those who fall short in that regard. I am holier-than-none.

“But too often, we rush not to salvage principle but to forgive and excuse our failures so that we might accommodate them and go right on failing — until the accommodation itself becomes our principle.

“In that way and over time, we can justify almost any behavior and sacrifice almost any principle. I’m afraid that this is where we now find ourselves.”

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS — SENS “BOBBY THE CORK” & “THE FLAKESTER” VOTE TRUMP PARTY LINE TO SCREW AMERICAN CONSUMERS FOR THE BENEFIT OF BIG BANKS! — It’s One Thing To Give Speeches & Interviews While Fleeing DC, Quite Another To Actually Cast Votes & Take Real Actions To Oppose The Trump/GOP Program To Loot America For The Benefit Of The Rich & Powerful!

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/senate-class-action-arbitration-big-banks_us_59f00188e4b0b7e63265c47e?s1r

Nick Visser reports for HuffPost:

“Senate Republicans on Tuesday voted to overturn a new regulation that would have allowed class-action lawsuits against big banks and credit card companies. The vote effectively handed Wall Street another win as the Trump administration seeks to dismantle former President Barack Obama’s legacy.
A 50-50 tie was broken by Vice President Mike Pence to overturn a measure crafted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that limited forced arbitration clauses in the fine print of financial contracts. Such clauses prohibited people who signed up for a new account at a bank to launch a class-action lawsuit against that institution for unfair business practices, requiring them to enter into private arbitration in which banks are far more likely to get their way.
Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who have amped up their criticism of the White House in recent months, including Flake’s announcement Tuesday that he would not run for re-election, all voted to overturn the measure.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and John Kennedy (La.) were the only two Republicans to vote for the measure. Every Democrat voted to protect the CFPB regulation. It now heads to the office of President Donald Trump, who is expected to quickly sign it.
The CFPB’s ban on such arbitration clauses, set to take effect in 2019, would have given power to individual consumers and likely would have forced big banks to change their business practices.”

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Read the rest of the story at the link.

Hollow men, hollow words. Too little too late. These Dudes were happy to support a known unstable liar, bully, racist, mysognist, and all around charlatan and his anti-American agenda — until they weren’t. I’ll get on the bandwagon as soon as they start working with the Democrats to save America from the Trump agenda.

I also note that just a few months ago these Dudes voted to confirm Jeff Sessions and other totally unqualified Trump Cabinet members, thus expanding and deepening “The Swamp.”

PWS

10-25-17