NEWSWEEK: How The Trump Administration’s Wrong-Headed Policies Threaten To Turn Silicon Valley Into The “Next Detroit!”

http://www.newsweek.com/2017/09/29/donald-trumps-policies-could-turn-silicon-valley-another-detroit-667662.html

Kevin Maney reports:

D“The end of the 1960s turned out to be Detroit’s apex. In the early 1970s, dubious U.S. economic and foreign policy led to disaster when the Middle East OPEC nations initiated an oil embargo. Gas became scarce and expensive, and Detroit was caught focusing on the wrong products—ostentatious gas-guzzlers—at the wrong time, giving Japanese makers of small cars an opening in the U.S. market. Pulitzer Prize–winning auto historian Joseph White wrote about two fateful mistakes that made things worse. First, “Detroit underestimated the competition,” he said. The likes of Toyota and Honda had become much more adept than industry executives realized. Second, the U.S. companies “handled failure better than success.” Detroit’s decades of triumph set up the hubris, waste and bad practices that came to haunt it.

From there, it was a short trip to loss of market leadership, layoffs, plant closings and a city that fell into a desperate decline.Think that could never happen to Silicon Valley? Like 1970s Detroit, Silicon Valley seems to be handling success rather badly. Look at the twisted mess at Uber and the culture wars tearing at Google’s guts. Insanely high valuations of private companies are starting to look like a perilous pyramid scheme Bernie Madoff might admire. High costs and ever-worsening congestion are making the San Francisco Bay Area nearly unlivable for all but the superrich. At the same time, much of U.S. tech is underestimating the competition, particularly from China and the European Union.Making it all worse, the Trump administration seems to be doing everything it can to help shove Silicon Valley off its pedestal. Trump’s policies on trade, immigration and investment are giving competing nations openings to steal important chunks of Silicon Valley’s global leadership, lure away talent and divert capital to other rising tech centers—even France. (You know, the country President George W. Bush once said doesn’t even “have a word for entrepreneur .”)

Related: Is the Silicon Valley Bubble about to Pop?The Silicon Valley tech industry isn’t going to suddenly crumble and vanish. Detroit’s auto industry didn’t disappear either. But there’s a clear demarcation point in the early 1970s, when Detroit’s worldwide hegemony ended. The CEOs, founders and wizards of Silicon Valley would be misguided to think they’re immune from any similar stumble off their pedestal.

. . . .

Most damaging of all may be the policies of the Trump administration, which has been implementing or proposing one policy after another that puts the industry at a competitive disadvantage.Earlier this year, the president initiated a review of H-1B visas for foreign workers, which tech companies rely on to bring in talent. More recently, the Trump administration delayed —and may kill—the International Entrepreneur Rule, which would make it easier for foreign company founders to bring their startups to the U.S. “At a time when countries around the world are doing all they can to attract and retain talented individuals to come to their shores to build and grow innovative companies, the Trump administration is signaling its intent to do the exact opposite,” said Bobby Franklin, president and CEO of the National Venture Capital Association.And in early September, Trump said he will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has allowed undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to stay. Now, they may be deported. Some are valuable employees of tech companies. Microsoft pledged to pay the legal expenses of any employees who face deportation as DACA ends. Microsoft President Brad Smith called Trump’s decision “a big step back for our entire country,” and the industry worries that it will further discourage talented foreigners from coming to the U.S.Other countries have started pursuing international talent like sharks circling surfers at dusk. “I myself hope that many of these engineers will come to China to work for us,” said Robin Li, CEO of Chinese tech giant Baidu. Canada’s minister of innovation, Navdeep Bains, launched a recruitment program, saying, “We want to be open to people.” French President Emmanuel Macron announced that tech talent can “find in France a second homeland.”Even more detrimental to U.S. tech are two other Trump decisions: pulling out of the Paris climate accord and dumping the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement on trade with Asia.”

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Read the rest of the story at the link.

 

Government by the arrogant, ignorant, incompetent, biased, and unqualified has its downsides! It’s something that we’re all going to learn over the next four years, assuming that Trump doesn’t get us into a world-ending nuclear war before then. Perhaps one of the stupidest consequences of some very stupid policies: one of the main beneficiaries is likely to be China, one of our biggest tech competitors, and unlike Canada, also a potential hostile military threat! Trump and his cronies are dangers to our national security!

PWS

09-21-17

 

 

 

 

DEMS ARE “PIPE DREAMING” IF THEY BELIEVE THAT TRUMP’S SUPPOSEDLY HISTORICALLY LOW POLL NUMBERS WILL ADD UP TO DEM VICTORY AT POLLS — Without Any Charismatic Leader Or Hugely Popular Program, Dems Appear Slated To Wander In The Wilderness Until Trump Destroys The Entire Country!

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/13/teflon-trump-democrats-messaging-242607

Edward-Isaac Devore writes in Politico:

“Democrats tried attacking Donald Trump as unfit for the presidency. They’ve made the case that he’s ineffective, pointing to his failure to sign a single major piece of legislation into law after eight months in the job. They’ve argued that Trump is using the presidency to enrich himself and that his campaign was in cahoots with Russia.

None of it is working.

 

Data from a range of focus groups and internal polls in swing states paint a difficult picture for the Democratic Party heading into the 2018 midterms and 2020 presidential election. It suggests that Democrats are naive if they believe Trump’s historically low approval numbers mean a landslide is coming. The party is defending 10 Senate seats in states that Trump won and needs to flip 24 House seats to take control of that chamber.

The research, conducted by private firms and for Democratic campaign arms, is rarely made public but was described to POLITICO in interviews with a dozen top operatives who’ve been analyzing the results coming in.

“If that’s the attitude that’s driving the Democratic Party, we’re going to drive right into the ocean,” said Anson Kaye, a strategist at media firm GMMB who worked on the Obama and Clinton campaigns and is in conversations with potential clients for next year.

Worse news, they worry: Many of the ideas party leaders have latched onto in an attempt to appeal to their lost voters — free college tuition, raising the minimum wage to $15, even Medicare for all — test poorly among voters outside the base. The people in these polls and focus groups tend to see those proposals as empty promises, at best.

Pollsters are shocked by how many voters describe themselves as “exhausted” by the constant chaos surrounding Trump, and they find that there’s strong support for a Congress that provides a check on him rather than voting for his agenda most of the time. But he is still viewed as an outsider shaking up the system, which people in the various surveys say they like, and which Democrats don’t stack up well against.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Don’t forget that Trump has seldom “polled well” except among his base. He never really crossed the 50% mark in any credible polls (assuming that any polls were in fact credible, something cast into doubt by the 2016 Election) even on Election Day. But, that hasn’t stopped him from becoming President and won’t necessarily stop him from being a 2-term President.

If nothing else, Trump has proved that a fanatic base, properly distributed across the U.S., can allow him to exploit the peculiarities of the US system to win elections without ever being “the people’s choice.” According to this article, there is little reason to believe that voters will hold either Trump or the GOP accountable for their lackluster performance at governing. Indeed, it’s entirely possible that the GOP will wake up the morning after the November 2018 Elections with even bigger majorities in the House and Senate.

PWS

09-13-17

PETULA DVORAK IN WASHPOST: DISHONEST LEADERS SOW “FALSE FEARS” WHILE IGNORING REAL THREATS!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/what-happens-when-a-presidency-runs-on-fakefears-real-fears-are-ignored/2017/09/07/83ead004-93d1-11e7-8754-d478688d23b4_story.html

Dvorak writes:

Fake fear is our new leader.

Washington’s new ruling class is not governing with compassion, common sense, measured research, knowledge of history or the future. Theirs is a doctrine of fake fears. And these same people also have a problem with things we should actually be afraid of.

Let me explain.

Fake Fear: The “bad hombres” President Donald Trump talked about during the campaign last year begot this week’s DACA repeal thing. Trump wants us to be afraid of these immigrants, and he’s ready to trash the lives of more than 800,000 Americans looking for a path to legal residency by killing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The truth is that these immigrants, brought here as children by their parents, “have lower incarceration rates than native-born Americans of the same age and education level,” according to a report issued last week by the nonpartisan CATO Institute.

Real Fear: Hurricanes. You know them — from Katrina to Harvey to Irma — millions of people and billions of dollars tell you hurricanes devastate lives, cities and industries.

But Trump refuses to fear them. Earlier this year, he proposed a budget that slashed about $667 million for the disaster preparedness programs run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That budget also proposed $6 billion in cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which helps rebuild homes and hospitals.

The fake fear administration also killed a post-Katrina rule requiring building projects eligible for federal funding to take such measures as elevating structures in flood zones away from the reach of rising water before they get government cash. And they did this just in time for hurricane season.

But hey, the $108 billion in damage and the 1,800 lives lost in Hurricane Katrina must not mean much when it your moral compass is fake fear.

Fake fear: The apparent crime wave that Attorney General Jeff Sessions keeps warning Americans about.

“We have a crime problem,” Sessions said in February. “I wish the rise that we are seeing in crime in America today were some sort of aberration or a blip. My best judgment, having been involved in criminal law enforcement for many years, is that this is a dangerous, permanent trend that places the health and safety of the American people at risk.”

But the facts say otherwise.

This year is on pace to have the second-lowest violent crime rate of any year since 1990, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice this week that analyzed statistics from the nation’s 30 largest cities.

Real fear: Though we’ve seen more and more horrifying videos of civilians being shot by police officers, we still have little comprehensive data that shows how often this happens and how agencies can prevent these tragedies.

“What we really need to know is how many times police shoot people, not just how many of those people die,” David A. Klinger, a criminal justice professor at the University of Missouri in St. Louis who studies police use of force, told The Washington Post earlier this summer.

The Post began compiling this information in 2015, relying on local news, social media and our own reporting.

This is a real fear for real people. This is true whether you’re a black man, such as beloved cafeteria worker Philando Castile, who was doing nothing wrong when he was killed in Minnesota last year by a nervous police officer. And it’s true if you’re a white woman, like nurse Alex Wubbels, who was seen in a viral video last week being roughed up and arrested by a Utah detective for simply doing her job. The fake fear people seem to have little interest in addressing this problem.

The FBI’s weak, self-reporting system that has been the only way to track this was called “embarrassing and ridiculous” by fired FBI director James B. Comey.

Fake fear: Muslims in America. Trump’s attempts at a travel ban, fulfilling his campaign promise of a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” have reinforced a growing and misplaced Islamophobia throughout our country. We’ve seen the fake-fear sentiment in workplaces, in small-town councils trying to mess with mosques that have been peaceful and unnoticed for years, and I even saw it one of my sons’ sports teams this summer.

The truth is, from 2008 to 2016, right-wing extremists carried out twice as many terrorist attacks on U.S. soil than Islamist extremists, according to a recent report from The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund and The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal.

Real Fear: White supremacists in America. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a joint intelligence bulletin that said white supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 … more than any other domestic extremist movement.”

They issued this statement just a couple months before the protests in Charlottesville, where an avowed Nazi sympathizer was arrested after a car drove into a crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. There is no mistaking that was real.

We deserve real care and real concern from our leaders when it comes to real fears. There’s no shortage of them.

Let’s start by calling out #FakeFears when we see them. Washington is full of those these days, too.

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Dvorak succinctly captures what White Nationalist governance and propaganda is all about: fear, loathing, lies. Too cowardly to address real problems because that might offend the “White Nationalist base” that put and keeps them in power.

PWS

09-08-17

IN HARVEY’S WAKE: GONZO’S ANTI-DREAMER POLICIES LIKELY TO CAUSE MORE LASTING DAMAGE TO HOUSTON THAN STORM: Homes & Businesses Can Be Rebuilt — Ruined Lives, Dashed Dreams, & Destroyed Trust Can’t: “how suffering can needlessly be inflicted!”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/07/opinion/daca-trump-hurricane-harvey-.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region%C2%AEion=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region

Lacy M. Johnson writes in the NY Times:

“HOUSTON — As the floodwaters rose in my west Houston neighborhood after Hurricane Harvey landed, my husband and many of our neighbors pulled boats through waist-high water, knocked on doors and plucked people from their submerged houses. They rescued elderly couples, young roommates, families who do not speak English. There was no checking of IDs, no debate on whether a life was worth saving.

All across the city, as catastrophic flooding threatened to drown us, regular people risked their lives to help others. Alonso Guillen, a radio host and D.J. who lived in Lufkin, Tex., two hours from Houston, brought a boat and a group of friends here to join in those efforts. He was on that boat, saving people he had never met before, when it capsized last Wednesday and he drowned. Alonso Guillen died a hero, if not an American citizen. He was a Dreamer, a beneficiary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and like the nearly 141,000 other Dreamers in Texas, he followed the requirements of the program — to stay in school or be gainfully employed — and had never been convicted of a crime. More than that, Texas was his home.

Around the time Alonso Guillen was buried in Lufkin, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced President Trump’s decision to cancel the DACA program, saying that “enforcing the law saves lives, protects communities and taxpayers, and prevents human suffering.” Instead, what the announcement shows is how suffering can needlessly be inflicted.

The end of DACA means that hundreds of thousands of people nationwide will lose their eligibility to work. As many as 80,000 Dreamers in the greater Houston area alone could be deported to countries where they have no relationships, where they do not even speak the language. It is the disaster of this decision — more than the hurricane — that threatens to tear our city apart.

. . . .

Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the choice to end DACA “the compassionate thing.” But this decision doesn’t look like any kind of compassion I’ve seen in Houston, where everyone I know has chosen to open their homes to strangers, to feed them, clothe them, raise money for the restoration of their homes. Even people whose own houses were destroyed are helping others in the ways they can.

. . . .

The conversation about what comes next, how to rebuild and how to engineer a more equitable city, is a long one and is now only beginning. Tomorrow, some of us will choose to prepare meals, to join a work crew, to deliver donations on a flatbed truck. We’re planning to fight like hell for every single one of our Dreamers — to keep them where they are already home.”

Lacy M. Johnson is the author of “The Other Side: A Memoir” and the forthcoming essay collection “The Reckonings.”

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Hurricanes are “acts of God” (aggravated by anti-science politicians and unwise, greed-driven choices in urban development). But, empowering White Nationalist restrictionists and their gonzo views and policies on immigration is purely a man-made disaster that can be reversed at the ballot box.  (That’s why White Nationalist Kris Kobach and his Voter Suppression Commission is working so hard to restrict suffrage!)

PWS

09-08-17

 

OUR BETTER ANGELS: The Gibson Report For 09-05-17 & “A Message For Dreamers”

“We are here for you.

We are inspired by you.

We know you belong here.

We share your dream.

We will fight alongside you.”

—- From The Gibson Report

The Gibson Report 09-05-17

Here are this week’s headlines:

Memorandum on Rescission Of Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

 

Effective immediately, the Department:

  • Will adjudicate—on an individual, case-by-case basis—properly filed pending DACA initial requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents that have been accepted by the Department as of the date of this memorandum.
  • Will reject all DACA initial requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents filed after the date of this memorandum.
  • Will adjudicate—on an individual, case by case basis—properly filed pending DACA renewal requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents from current beneficiaries that have been accepted by the Department as of the date of this memorandum, and from current beneficiaries whose benefits will expire between the date of this memorandum and March 5, 2018 that have been accepted by the Department as of October 5, 2017.
  • Will reject all DACA renewal requests and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents filed outside of the parameters specified above.
  • Will not terminate the grants of previously issued deferred action or revoke Employment Authorization Documents solely based on the directives in this memorandum for the remaining duration of their validity periods.
  • Will not approve any new Form I-131 applications for advance parole under standards associated with the DACA program, although it will generally honor the stated validity period for previously approved applications for advance parole. Notwithstanding the continued validity of advance parole approvals previously granted, CBP will—of course—retain the authority it has always had and exercised in determining the admissibility of any person presenting at the border and the eligibility of such persons for parole. Further, USCIS will—of course—retain the authority to revoke or terminate an advance parole document at any time.
  • Will administratively close all pending Form I-131 applications for advance parole filed under standards associated with the DACA program, and will refund all associated fees.
  • Will continue to exercise its discretionary authority to terminate or deny deferred action at any time when immigration officials determine termination or denial of deferred action is appropriate.

 

Trump administration announces end of immigration protection program for ‘dreamers’

WaPo: “The Trump administration announced Tuesday it would begin to unwind an Obama-era program that allows younger undocumented immigrants to live in the country without fear of deportation, calling the program unconstitutional but offering a partial delay to give Congress a chance to address the issue…The Department of Homeland Security said it would no longer accept new applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which has provided renewable, two-year work permits to nearly 800,000 dreamers. The agency said those currently enrolled in DACA will be able to continue working until their permits expire; those whose permits expire by March 5, 2018, will be permitted to apply for two-year renewals as long as they do so by Oct. 5.”

 

From NYIC:

  • The Mayor will have some type of press conference at 5, after which there will be a rally/civil disobedience starting at City Hall. Text “NYIC” to 864-237 for updates. The NYIC will also email updates and put them on our social media.
  • Immigrant ARC is working with MOIA for a large scale event. More details coming soon.
  • If you are an Immigrant ARC member and develop materials etc. that can be shared, please send them my way and I will upload them into the databank.
  • We will be uploading flyers for events, etc onto the nyic calendar (link on our front page).

 

TOP UPDATES

 

Article: Immigration Agency May Be Expanding Anti-Fraud Program

Posted 8/31/2017

Bloomberg reports that immigration attorneys are seeing what could be an expansion of a USCIS effort to root out fraud in the immigration system. It’s “clear” the agency is looking for fraud across all visa categories, AILA Treasurer Allen Orr said.

AILA Doc. No. 17083138

 

Article: Federal Judge Blocks Texas Ban on Sanctuary Cities in Blow for Trump

Posted 8/31/2017

The Guardian reports that a federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction that blocks key parts of Texas’s ban on sanctuary cities, two days before the law was scheduled to go into effect. AILA moved its 2018 conference out of the Dallas area in protest at SB 4.

AILA Doc. No. 17083140

 

CALLS TO ACTION

 

DACA Rally – The Mayor will have some type of press conference at 5, after which there will be a rally/civil disobedience starting at City Hall. Text “NYIC” to 864-237 for updates.

 

NYIC SIJS Request: As a follow up to ongoing conversations that have come out of our liaison meetings and other conversations with the local USCIS office, they have asked me to put together a list of A numbers of over 18 year old SIJS cases that have been pending with no movement or decision so that they can get more information from the NBC. If you have cases like that could you let me know. I would love to get this to them in mid-September so that they have the information by our next liaison meeting.

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In times like these, all of us on the “right side of history” —  who have reflected on things like the causes of World War I and World War II, the horrors of Communism, Jim Crow Laws, the failure of the American Legal System to stand up to racism during most of the century following the Civil War, and the costs of “science deniers” —  need to stick together and work as a team to resist and ultimately defeat the forces of darkness and evil that have taken over our Government, our country, and are now threatening the future and safety of our world. They can’t be allowed to prevail with their ignorant, yet disturbingly arrogant, messages and actions of hate, disdain, racism, and selfishness.

Time for the “good hombres” to stand up and be counted in opposition to the “bad hombres!”

PWS

09-05-17

 

JEFFREY SACHS ON CNN: GOVERNMENT BY “ABBOTT & COSTELLO” — In Texas, It’s All Bigger, Including The Jerks!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/29/opinions/hurricane-harvey-abbott-needs-to-resign-sachs/index.html

Sachs writes:

“(CNN)It’s important to politicize Hurricane Harvey. Not politics in the sense of political parties, or politics to win elections. Politics to protect America.

The priority in the next hours and days is to save lives and reduce suffering, without hesitation and without question of costs or politics. But then must come the reckoning.

Once the immediate crisis ends, the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, should resign with an apology to his state and his country. Then the Texas delegation in Congress should make a public confession. They have lied to their constituents for too long, expecting the rest of America to keep bailing them out.
The reason is this. Texas politics aims to bring profits to the oil and gas industry, but it does this at high cost and dire threat to Texas residents and the American people.
Hurricane Harvey was a foreseeable disaster. Indeed, a massive hurricane strike on Houston, followed by massive flooding, was widely anticipated.
But Houston is an oil town, and the American oil industry has been enemy No. 1 of climate truth and climate preparedness. Most oil companies and Texas politicians see nothing, say nothing, do nothing. Even worse, they hide the truth, and then beg for help as needed. Gov. Abbott has played this game one disaster too many.

Abbott, for example, was the governor to sign a new law in 2015 that prevents cities and municipalities in Texas from setting their own regulations that might rein in oil and gas drilling activities. On his watch, Texas supported withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.
Over many years, he has raked in millions in campaign contributions from the oil industry, including in his former role as Texas attorney general, where he sued the Environmental Protection Agency repeatedly over rules designed to curb carbon emissions.
And the state, under Abbott’s direction, has taken no significant steps toward flood protection, despite the recognized risks of a mega-hurricane and flood.
The problem is not about his crisis management this week. I can’t judge that. It’s about his long-standing relentless opposition to environmental protection, including his blind eye to global warming and the grave dangers it poses.
The Texas Tribune and ProPublica published a 2016 award-winning report on “Hell or High Water,” explaining why Houston is a “sitting duck for the next big hurricane.” In 2015, Inside Climate News wrote that “as weather extremes like flooding batter Texas, its refusal to prepare for an even more volatile climate leaves residents at risk, experts say.”
On June 16 of this year, citing the city’s widening concrete sprawl and deaths from flooding in recent years, the UK Guardian wrote that “Houston fears climate change will cause catastrophic flooding: It’s not if, it’s when.”

. . . .

So, what has been the policy response in Houston and Texas more generally in terms of prevention, resilience, and preparedness? Almost nothing until disaster hits. Then the response is to ask for federal bailouts.
In other words, Texas is the moral hazard state.
Here is what has not happened: There has been little or no effort at zoning protection to keep development clear of floodplains; little or no offshore and onshore infrastructure for flood protection; no discernible heed paid to the scientific evidence and indeed the growing practical experience of catastrophic flood risks; and of course, relentless, pervasive climate change denial, the mother’s milk of Texas politics.
So, here’s the deal. Those of us elsewhere in the US also suffering from flooding and other disasters from warming temperatures, rising sea levels, and more intense storms (such as New Yorkers who are still rebuilding from 2012 Hurricane Sandy) want truth from Texas politicians and the oil industry.
We are bearing the costs of your lies. We are tired of it. More importantly, we are in pain and solidarity with the good people of Houston who are losing lives, homes, and livelihoods because of your lies.
Why Harvey's devastation is so severe
Why Harvey’s devastation is so severe
Gov. Abbott, we would like to bid you a political adieu. Perhaps you can devote your time to rebuilding Houston and taking night classes in climate science. Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, you will soon be asking us for money to help Texas.
My answer will be yes, if you stop spewing lies about climate dangers, agree to put US and Texas policy under the guidance of climate science, back measures to lower carbon emissions and stay in the Paris Climate Agreement. Then, of course, let’s help your constituents to rebuild.
And to ExxonMobil, Chevron, Koch Industries, ConocoPhillips, Halliburton, and other oil giants doing your business in Texas: You put up the first $25 billion in Houston disaster relief. Call it compensation for your emissions. Tell the truth about growing climate threats. Then, as citizens seeking the common good, we will match your stake.”

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The “common good” is something that never crosses the collective so-called “minds” of Texas’s corrupt GOP pols. They are all bought and paid for by “Big Oil” and other fat cats. And, they are busy picking on Blacks, Hispanics, refugees, migrants, children, the poor, gays, Muslims, Dreamers, etc.

So, not for the first time, it’s for the rest of us taxpayers to bail out Texas. (But, don’t think that will earn the support of hypocrites like Cruz & Co. the next time we might be in need — they are cruel, ignorant, and selfish because — well, because they can be and get away with it). Fortunately for Texas, some of us still do have the common good in mind.

PWS

08-30-17

 

THERE IS A REAL THREAT TO OUR NATIONAL SECURITY — AND IT’S GOT NOTHING TO DO WITH GRANDPARENTS, MEXICAN WORKERS, OR CENTRAL AMERICAN REFUGEES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-behavior-is-the-biggest-threat-to-us-national-security/2017/07/09/a5d3a842-64a8-11e7-8eb5-cbccc2e7bfbf_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-b%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.6a555fb6107b

Lawrence H. Summers writes in a WashPost op-ed:

“Confusing civility with comity is a grave mistake in human or international relations. Yes, the Group of 20 summit issued a common communique after the leaders’ meeting. Some see this as an indication that some normality is being restored in international relations between the United States and other countries. The truth is that at no previous G-20 did the possibility occur to anyone that a common statement might not be agreed to by all participants.

Rather than considering agreement on a communique as an achievement, it is more honest and accurate to see its content as a confirmation of the breakdown of international order that many have feared since Donald Trump’s election. And the president’s behavior in and around the summit was unsettling to U.S. allies and confirmed the fears of those who believe that his conduct is currently the greatest threat to American national security.

The existence of the G-20 as an annual forum arose out of a common belief of major nations in a global community with common interests in peace, mutual security, prosperity and economic integration, and the containment of global threats, even as there was competition among nations in the security and economic realms. The idea that the United States should lead in the development of international community has been a central tenet of American foreign policy since the end of World War II. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the aspiration to international community has been an aspiration to global community.

All of this is troubling enough. The elephant in the room, however, is the president’s character and likely behavior in the difficult times that come during any presidential term. Biographer Robert Caro has observed that power may or may not corrupt but it always reveals. Trump has yet to experience a period of economic difficulty or international economic crisis. He has not yet had to make a major military decision in a time of crisis. Yet his behavior has been, to put it mildly, erratic.

. . . .

A corporate chief executive whose public behavior was as erratic as Trump’s would already have been replaced. The standard for democratically elected officials is appropriately different. But one cannot look at the past months and rule out the possibility of even more aberrant behavior in the future. The president’s Cabinet and his political allies in Congress should never forget that the oaths they swore were not to the defense of the president but to the defense of the Constitution.”

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The Administration’s fear-mongering, xenophobia, insulting rhetoric, environmental destruction, and sometimes outright racism is a smokescreen to divert attention from the real threat to American’s national security — Donald Trump, some of his right wing extremest supporters, and the “fellow travelers” in Congress otherwise known as the GOP.

PWS

07-09-17

 

 

 

CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS OFFERS SAGE ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION! — Who Knew The Chief Is A Bob Dylan Fan?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/the-best-thing-chief-justice-roberts-wrote-this-term-wasnt-a-supreme-court-opinion/2017/07/02/b80a5afa-5e6e-11e7-9fc6-c7ef4bc58d13_story.html?hpid=hp_regional-hp-cards_rhp-card-politics:homepage/card&utm_term=.e2bd08831f97

Robert Barnes reports in the Washington Post:

“It was the ninth-grade commencement address for the Cardigan Mountain School, an elite boarding school for boys grades six through nine. Sitting up front under a large white tent as John Glover Roberts Jr. took the stage was graduating student John Glover Roberts III.

. . . .

Roberts’s commencement address was not publicized in advance, but it was recorded by the school, uploaded to YouTube and is slowly gaining attention. Several readers emailed the link to me. One person wrote, “I’m a Democrat and I can’t stand the guy’s views, but I was in tears.”

There is nothing about the Supreme Court or the law in the short speech, although each graduating Cougar received an autographed, pocket-size Constitution along with his certificate.

Instead, the address was personal, understated and popular probably because it touched on universal themes, such as a parent’s worry about whether he or she is making the right decisions for their child.

Driving through the gates after leaving a student at Cardigan, Roberts said, parents travel a “trail of tears” to an “emptier and lonelier house.”

Roberts is considered one of the Supreme Court’s better writers, and his public addresses show a quick wit and professional timing. He first asked the Cardigan students to turn and applaud their parents and others who had guided them.

He joked that he would later be able to report that his speech was “interrupted by applause.”

Success, he reminded them, comes to those who are unafraid to fail. “And if you did fail, you got up and tried again. And if you failed again, you got up and tried again. And if you failed again — it might be time to think about doing something else.”

Roberts said commencement addresses customarily wish graduates success. He thought it better for them to experience challenges.

“From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly,” Roberts said, “so that you will come to learn the value of justice.”

Betrayal “will teach you the importance of loyalty.” Loneliness will instruct people not to “take friends for granted.” Pain will cause someone “to learn compassion.”

“I wish you bad luck — again, from time to time — so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life,” Roberts said. “And understand that your success is not completely deserved, and that the failure of others is not completely deserved, either.”

A commencement speech is supposed to offer “grand advice,” Roberts said, so his first was to recognize the exalted perch from which they started — a school with a 4-to-1 student-teacher ratio, where students dine in jackets and ties, and tuition and board cost about $55,000.

Through his son, Roberts had come to know many of the students, he said, and “I know you are good guys.”

“But you are also privileged young men, and if you weren’t privileged when you came here, you’re privileged now because you have been here,” Roberts said. “My advice is: Don’t act like it.”

He urged them, at their next school, to introduce themselves to the people “raking the leaves, shoveling the snow or emptying the trash.” Learn their names, smile and call them by name. “The worst thing that will happen is you will become known as the young man who smiles and says hello,” he said.

Another thing:

“You’ve been at a school with just boys. Most of you will be going to a school with girls,” Roberts said.

Long pause.

“I have no advice for you.”

In his speech, Roberts quoted Socrates and, not surprisingly, he ended it with the words of “the great American philosopher, Bob Dylan.”

Roberts has quoted Dylan in judicial opinions, and he’s not alone. The New York Times a few years ago noted a study that found Dylan the most-quoted songwriter in judicial opinions, and said Roberts had “opened the floodgates” by quoting the Bard of Minnesota in a 2008 dissent.

The song he quoted at the commencement speech was “Forever Young.” Roberts is an unusual parent. Now 62, he and Jane married rather late in life. Their contemporaries are welcoming grandchildren, while they have two high-schoolers, Jack and his sister Josephine.

“May you build a ladder to the stars

And climb on every rung

May you stay forever young.”

The wishes expressed by Dylan for his son, Jesse, are “beautiful, they’re timeless, they’re universal,” Roberts said.

But the phrase that gives the song its title and refrain — forever young — is unrealistic, the chief justice said. It can’t come true.

“That wish is a parent’s lament,” he said.”

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Read the full report at the link.

I agree with some of the Chief Justice’s opinions, others not so much. Gosh, I have to wonder why all of his jurisprudence doesn’t show the same empathy, humor, understanding of the “underdog,” and acknowledgement of the role of privilege in our society (which is often mistaken for “pure merit” by the “privileged”) as demonstrated by this speech. Just look at the number of GOP politicians and even judges today who use their privileged positions to “dump on” the less fortunate rather than compassionately addressing their problems. At the same time, many of these same individuals use their their own privileged positions to further enrich the privileged and further empower the powerful at the expense of the rest of society. Go figure.

PWS

07-05-17

 

SESSIONS FAILS IN BID TO BE NAMED “CABINET’S WORST” — FINISHES IN DEAD HEAT FOR RUNNER-UP WITH EPA’S PRUITT — DE VOS JUST “TOO BAD TO LOSE!”

Sports fans, I thought I had this one pegged for sure! Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions was an early favorite in the NY Times/Gail Collins Reader’s Poll Competition for “Worst Cabinet Member.”  And, to be honest, I didn’t see any way he could blow this one (after all, it’s not like having to remember whether you met the Russian Ambassador a few months ago) despite the undeniably fierce and well-unqualified competition. But, in the end, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wouldn’t be denied; she “out-worsted” the field. I have to admit that I had underestimated her worst characteristics (although not by much). Still, as pointed out below, timing could have hurt Sessions’s bid.

Collins reports:

“It was a hard-fought race, people. But the results of our Worst Trump Cabinet Member reader poll are in.

And the winner is — Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos!

With a near tie for second place between Scott Pruitt of the Environmental Protection Agency and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “It’s hard to be worse than Sessions or Pruitt. But DeVos deals with … children,” wrote a Michigan reader.

DeVos really hates public schools — something you don’t find often in a secretary of education. Her goal seems to be replacing them with charter schools, none of which will need much oversight because, you know, the choice thing.

Many readers noted that our secretary of education does not seem to be … all that bright. (“DeVos is a solid choice based on irony alone.”)

But I can’t help thinking Sessions might have taken the prize if his appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee had gone on just a little longer. He clearly wowed viewers with his alleged inability to remember things. (“Wins by a Pinocchio.”) Some were taken by his resemblance to a bad hobbit or gremlin (“malevolent pixie”). But others simply found Sessions … bad. (“He is detestable and should have little tiny horns on the back of his head.”)

. . . .

Let’s be extremely clear that this was not a scientific survey. In fact, it was pretty hard to get any count at all since many readers couldn’t resist the temptation to take the easy route and pick all of the above. (“I’ve seen better cabinets at Ikea.”) Or to name five. Or to complain that selecting one Worst was too hard. (“Trying to pick a winner from this bunch is like trying to knit a sweater with wet spaghetti.”)

It’s not that everyone was negative — there were a few kind words for James Mattis, the secretary of defense, and some mixed reviews on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. But a lot of folks still seem to be in a state of trauma over that big meeting President Trump called last week, in which the cabinet members tried to one-up each other in the fulsomeness of their praise for their commander in chief. (“That cabinet meeting looked like one of those cheap TV ads you see where people praise a tomato slicer. …”)

Unfortunately, we couldn’t count the Worst Cabinet Member votes that were given to somebody who wasn’t actually in the cabinet. Donald Trump cannot get the prize. Nor can Jared or Ivanka or Omarosa. Also we cannot name Eric Trump’s wedding planner, even though she has just been named to one of the top jobs in the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

One reader was unnerved by rumors that Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, after having finished wrecking his state’s economy, is now in line for a federal job and asked if he could be nominated Worst in advance.

Special tip of the hat to readers who chose Rick Perry. I have to admit I didn’t even mention him when I wrote the column proposing the Worst vote-off. But a number nominated him, generally pointing to the fact that when Perry took the job, he was unaware that the Department of Energy’s main responsibility was tending the nation’s nuclear arsenal, not traveling the world to boost the sale of American oil and gas.

Just as balloting came to a close, Perry gave an interview on CNBC in which he downplayed carbon dioxide’s role in global warming, explaining that “most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in.”

This is a man who just keeps on campaigning. Plus, as one correspondent noted, if Perry ever won the Worst award “his acceptance speech would be epic.”

We saw a lot of votes for Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services, for his heroic efforts to ruin national health care and the social safety net. And Ben Carson got a surprising amount of support, considering that we barely ever hear about him doing anything. One reader was apparently won over by the painting the secretary of housing and urban development has in his home, showing Jesus with his arm around Ben Carson.

But DeVos is definitely our Worst Cabinet winner. For now. Do you think we should do this every few months? And what should the award look like? Anything’s possible. After all, we’ve got another three and a half years.”

You can read Collin’s entire piece (I “shorted” the coverage of Scott Pruitt) at this link: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/22/opinion/betsy-devos-trump-worst-cabinet-member.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170622&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=1&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1

If Trump doesn’t fire him or force him to resign first, I think Gonzo has a realistic shot at destroying the entire U.S. legal system that it has taken us more than 200 years to build and putting half our population in privately run prisons or detention centers to boot. Now, that would have to make him the hands-down “winner!”

PWS

06-22-17

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

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

Colbert I. king writes in the Washington Post:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

06-18-17

H-1B NONIMMIGRANTS: A Needed Visa In Need Of Reform — It’s Essential For Our Economy, But It’s Wrong When US Workers Are Displaced & Degraded — A Plea For Reform By One Who Has Benefitted From The System But Sees The Abuses!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/04/us/understanding-the-h-1b-visa/index.html

Moni Bassu writes in CNN:

“Palmer and other H-1B reformers want accountability.
They say US companies must be required to document their searches to fill positions with American workers. Employers must pay prevailing wages and be prevented from subcontracting or outsourcing H-1B jobs.
Reform advocates are pushing for a system of government enforcement and oversight of the H-1B regulations, not one that is reliant on whistleblowers to expose abuse.
Technology is here to stay. And it is changing at warp speed. The demand for smart talent is not going away. That’s why even the biggest critics of H-1B are the most ardent backers of reform, not elimination.
What I hear them saying is the system ought to work the way it used to, when my father obtained an H-1 visa. He was hired for a job he was uniquely qualified for, and he was compensated with a decent wage.
No one wants to see Americans lose their jobs unfairly, and if my father were still alive, I know he’d be troubled by what I learned about the current H-1B program.
I also know he would be heartened to see that some of the most ardent backers of visa reform are Indian Americans. After all, we are the ones who have most reaped the rewards of H-1B.”
**********************************************
The full article, which gives actual examples of both the benefits and the abuses of the H-1B program is a “must read.” Get it at the link.
Several thoughts. I was very critical, and still am, of House Immigration Subcommittee GOP Members for starting off with controversial, “in your face,” and unneeded enforcement-only bills. See http://wp.me/p8eeJm-Qw
Why not instead start with something bipartisan that would be good for America, like H-1B reform. Chairman Grassley in the Senate has expressed strong interest in reforming the H-1B category to eliminate abuses. And, it appears that most major U.S. employers who use H-1Bs also see the need for reform to preserve and improve the program.
Additionally, things like investment visa “EB-5” reform also appear likely to attract support from both sides of the aisle in both houses.
A second thought, why don’t U.S. companies, particularly those started or run by immigrants, which use H-1Bs start the reforms now. “Reverse” the process. Use highly talented H-1B workers to train U.S. workers, particularly in places where the economic rebound has not yet reached, for whatever reason.
For example, in a recent blog dealt with the situation in the small city of Gillette, WY. http://wp.me/p8eeJm-UY  The folks seemed nice, optimistic, and interested in a brighter future for their community. But, with or without Trump and his environment-busting policies, coal mining as a way of life is on the way out. I can’t imagine that too many of the younger generation are hanging around places like Gillette.
Why not go in and establish some tech centers using H-1Bs as trainers. Sure, working on a computer in an office isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I get that. But, it is something that can be done from anywhere.
And, the costs of doing business, at least initially, are likely to be less in a place like Gillette. Increased economic activity brings with it other needs: buildings, houses, markets, auto dealers, repair shops, HVAC technicians, public servants, schools, teachers, etc. So, there could be something for everyone, even those who don’t want to work at a desk all day.
Maybe, it’s time for those who want immigration reform to stop talking and whining and start doing. Things that demonstrably work and help folks out build their own bases of support. That’s better than trying to convince folks with statistics and pie charts!
PWS
06-05-17

America’s Parallel Universe: Out There In Wyoming, Coal Is Back, Trump Is King, & The Skies Are Not Cloudy All Day (Or, More Accurately, “My Sky Is Blue And My Water Is Clean”) — As For The Rest Of The World Who Might Like To Live Above Water Or Breathe Clean Air? — Just Not On The Radar Screen!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-trump-country-a-new-feeling-optimism/2017/06/01/7a0053da-3403-11e7-b373-418f6849a004_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_optimism-710pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.48ba05840b4e

Robert Samuels reports from Gillette, WYO for the Washington Post:

“In Gillette and surrounding Campbell County, people were beginning to feel the comeback they voted for. Unemployment has dropped by more than a third since March 2016, from 8.9 percent to 5.1 percent. Coal companies are rehiring workers, if only on contract or for temporary jobs. More people are splurging for birthday parties at the Prime Rib and buying a second scoop at the Ice Cream Cafe.

Maybe it was President Trump. Much was surely because of the market, after a colder winter led to increases in coal use and production. But in times when corporate profits are mixed with politics, it was difficult for people here to see the difference.

“I’m back to work,” Gorton said. “It’s real. Did Trump do it all? I don’t think so. But America voted in a man who was for our jobs.”

In a divided nation, optimism had bloomed here in a part of the country united in purpose and in support of the president. Close to 90 percent voted for the same presidential candidate, and 94 percent of the population is the same race. And everyone has some connection to the same industry. They felt optimistic about the tangible effects of the Trump economy, which favors fossil fuels, and the theoretical ones, which favor how they see themselves. Once on the fringes, their jobs had become the centerpiece of Trump’s American mythology.

. . . .

“We once powered the nation,” Gorton said. “But you got the feeling that things are not quite the same and that political forces are encroaching on your livelihood. It’s like they are willing to take away your town.”

Now the fear of what might be taken away was carried by someone else. There was another side of this American story, a tenser and more terrifying one, where immigrant families worried about deportation raids and ­liberals marched with witty ­placards to protest the “war on science.”

Far beyond the borders of this isolated town, many Americans were gripped by the latest evidence of the president’s coziness with the Russians, and wondered why the white working and middle classes hadn’t abandoned their increasingly unpopular president. In that America, the early optimism about Trump was fading. A Quinnipiac poll released last month said that 52 percent of Americans were pessimistic about the country’s direction, 20 percent higher than when Trump was inaugurated. And Friday’s anemic employment report, showing the country gained only 138,000 jobs in May, provided little consolation.

Gorton found it difficult to reconcile those two polarized feelings; it seemed that either you had to believe in the country’s pending prosperity or its impending doom.

“I know there are people who are scared about where the country is headed, but before I was scared,” Gorton said. “Either they’re dreaming, or I’m dreaming.”

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

The question is, once Trump and his cronies are done with their policies of hate, disrespect, and divisiveness, will anyone ever be able to put the pieces of America together again?

Seems like folks on both sides of the aisle should have been able to get together and solve the problems of the nice people of Gillette without reigniting an essentially dying industry that, in the long run, is neither economically viable nor environmentally desirable. When the world fries, I doubt that God will exempt Wyoming from the consequences. Those skies could get cloudy some day. And, by that time, the Trump crowd will be long gone.

PWS

06-03-17