TRUMP GOP INTENTIONALLY TORTURES DREAMERS – MESSING WITH AMERICA’S FUTURE FOR NO GOOD REASON!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/01/why-the-trump-administrations-daca-policy-is-indefensible.html

Eric Levitz writes for NY Maggie:

“There are a lot more undocumented immigrants in the United States than our government can possibly deport (without increasing the size and scope of immigration enforcement beyond even the Trump administration’s wildest dreams). At present, U.S. immigration courts are so severely backlogged, deportations actually went down during Trump’s first year in office, even as the number of immigration arrests dramatically increased.

This context requires the White House to set priorities for enforcing immigration law. Until Congress increases the relevant resources, the Executive branch cannot significantly increase deportations with its policy changes — it can only change the composition of the deportee population. The Obama administration decided that it made little sense to use the government’s limited resources on expelling Dreamers (law-abiding, gainfully-employed undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children). And on Tuesday, Trump’s Department of Homeland Security reached the same conclusion.

“It’s not going to be a priority of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to prioritize their removal. I’ve said that before. That’s not the policy of DHS,” DHS head Kirstjen Nielsen told CBS This Morning. “If you are a DACA that’s compliant with your registration, meaning you haven’t committed a crime, you, in fact, are registered, you’re not priority of enforcement for ICE should the program end.”

This statement is not surprising. It would be bizarre if Homeland Security did prioritize deporting a category of immigrants that is, by definition, compliant with all (non-immigration) laws, and making productive contributions to society. And the significance of Nielson’s remarks are unclear. There is a big difference between deprioritizing Dreamers, and instructing immigration enforcement agents to leave them alone. Many Dreamers shared their personal information and immigration status with the government when applying for protection from deportation under the Obama administration. If ICE isn’t explicitly prohibited from using that data to make quick-and-easy arrests of undocumented individuals, some agents could take that initiative.

Regardless, Nielsen’s statement betrays the fundamental incoherence of the Trump administration’s policy on Dreamers. Like its predecessor, the Trump White House (officially) believes that Dreamers should not be prioritized for deportation; unlike the Obama administration, it does not believe that the Executive branch should make it easier for Dreamers to contribute to the legitimate economy while they’re here.

Trump has never actually made a policy argument for this position. When the administration ended Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — which had provided Dreamers with formal protection from deportation and renewable work permits — it claimed to do so on legal grounds: Whatever the merits of the policy, it was simply unconstitutional for the Executive branch to implement such a program without congressional approval.

The problem with that argument, as a federal judge recently noticed, is that “deferred action has been blessed by both the the Supreme Court and Congress as a means to exercise enforcement discretion” and embraced by presidents of both parties for decades. Further, the specific features of DACA, such as work permits, are explicitly allowedunder current law. (Notably, in other contexts, the Trump administration has shown little reluctance to assert the Executive branch’s immense discretion over immigration policy.)

The Trump administration says it does not want to deport Dreamers. A large body of law — and now, a federal court ruling — says that it has the power to unilaterally give Dreamers formal protection from deportation. And yet, Trump refuses to exercise that authority. Thus, his ostensible position is that Dreamers should be allowed to stay in the U.S. — but should be kept in a perpetual state of anxiety, and prevented from securing legal employment — until Congress agrees to pass a long-list of controversial reforms to the immigration system.

In this light, Trump’s DACA policy is not (as Jeff Sessions once suggested) an act of deference to the limits of executive authority. Rather, it is a gross abuse of that discretion: The administration revoked the legal status of 700,000 people, not because it thinks this is defensible as a policy, but solely as a means of coercing Congress into passing legislation that it otherwise would not.”

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The Trumpsters are holding the Dreamers “hostage” for a White Nationalist, restrictionist, racist immigration agenda that would be bad for American in every imaginable way.

Levitz also “gets” two things that others sometimes miss: 1) that Trump is actually “over a barrel” because he can’t really remove the Dreamers — just drive them underground and make their lives miserable and less productive (and deprive us of tax revenues) by taking away their work authorization; and 2) the legal underpinnings for DACA are much stronger than Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions would ever admit.

The GOP White Nationalists have created a fake “immigration crisis” that any other Administration with an ounce of human decency, good lawyering, and common sense could and would have avoided. And, all of this is a colossal waste of taxpayer money! “Throw the bums out” at the ballot box!

PWS

01-17-18

ANDREW SULLIVAN IN NY MAGGIE: Congrats, Vladimir, On A Spectacular First Year In Our White House! – You Achieved More Toward The Destruction of Liberal Western Democracy Than All Of Your Soviet Predecessors Put Together!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/12/andrew-sullivan-putins-first-year-in-the-white-house.html

Sullivan writes:

“What are we to make of Vladimir Putin’s first year in the White House? How has he done?

I’m only slightly kidding. Or rather I’m just channeling a CNN interview earlier this week with James Clapper, former director of National Intelligence. Here’s what Clapper said: “I think this past weekend is illustrative of what a great case officer Vladimir Putin is. He knows how to handle an asset, and that’s what he’s doing with the president […] You have to remember Putin’s background. He’s a KGB officer. That’s what they do. They recruit assets. And I think some of that experience and instincts of Putin has come into play here in his managing of a pretty important account for him, if I could use that term, with our president.”

Clapper clarified his statement by saying he was being figurative, rather than literal. So let’s just ask a figurative question, shall we? How successful has the Kremlin’s figurative investment been this past year? Pretty damn impressive.

Look first at Putin’s domestic goals. His core concern, as with any despot, is the legitimacy of his pseudo-democratic autocracy – which means, in turn, discrediting the very different features of the liberal democracies of the West. And in this, he must be scarcely able to believe his luck. After decades of the West’s championing of liberal democracy, the American president has spent his first year attacking it. Trump has exhibited contempt for a free press, describing the bulk of Western journalism as “fake news,” words that have gladdened the hearts of dictators across the planet. He has minimized Putin’s assassination of critical journalists, saying that America has no moral standing to criticize. He has treated the judiciary either as instruments of loyalty — hence his packing of the federal bench — or as pests to be slandered or dismissed. He prefers total loyalty from law-enforcement officials to the actual rule of law. For good measure, Trump has legitimized Putin’s core model of governance — that of a benevolent cult hero of the nation, shored up by religious reactionaries — by plagiarizing it. As for the other critical aspect of Putinism — the looting of the treasury by oligarchs — I give you the latest tax bill. It even carves out special goodies for real-estate investors.

Then there is Russia’s permanent interest in deepening the racial and partisan divides in America — the better to force the United States to be more concerned with internal strife than with foreign affairs. On this, Putin’s success is even more impressive. What better propaganda could the Kremlin get than the Charlottesville horrors, the racial divide crippling the NFL, or the candidacy of Roy Moore? In the Cold War, the Kremlin constantly cited America’s racial strife as proof that, whatever its democratic pretensions, the country was still a bastion of white supremacy. Now, much of American academia and an entire rising generation agree with what the Soviets long argued. As for the stability and legitimacy of liberal capitalism, Putin could scarcely do better than the GOP tax proposal. When economic inequality is at record highs, undermining the social compact that undergirds capitalism, the GOP is making things far worse. It would also add well over a trillion dollars to the U.S. debt. Trump is not just looting the Treasury for himself and his buddies, he is looting the younger generation as well.

Internationally, Putin has had an even bigger year. One of his central goals — the disintegration of the European Union and the entire concept of the West — has been advanced by Washington in ways never seen before. Trump backed Brexit, breaking the U.K. away from its European partners; he supported Marine Le Pen in France for the same reason; and he has routinely lambasted Merkel, whose power is now hanging by a thread. He chose Poland, where an authoritarian party is busy dismantling judicial independence, as the site for his major foreign-policy address. He has permanently undermined the core Article 5 commitment that an attack on one NATO country is an attack on all of them, by being the first U.S. president to equivocate on it. America has also broken with its European allies by withdrawing from the Paris Accords on climate, threatening the Iran nuclear deal, and backing the ethno-nationalist extremists who now run Israel on the status of Jerusalem. Last week, the U.S. found itself utterly isolated at the U.N. on the question, and openly threatening all its allies with payback. In the Middle East, Russia has never been stronger — it is now the key player in the future of Syria, while Putin’s naked annexation of Crimea and sections of eastern Ukraine remains in place, unmentioned by the White House.

What more could Putin ask for? Well, he could hope that his grotesque attack on the last U.S. election would lead to no serious effort to prevent it happening again. And lo, an American president has emphatically refused to lift a finger to defend the Constitution he is duty bound to protect. There’s been no attempt by the White House to protect the integrity of our elections — just a constant disdain for those who worry about them, and a general, somewhat egregious, complacency.

No American president in history has ever given Russia so much in so short a time. Congrats, Vladimir. You’ve achieved what no Soviet dictator ever managed to. Your asset in the White House, figurative or not, has given more than all the British and American traitors in the history of the Cold War.”

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The Trump Administration is a clear and present danger to the safety and security of the United States of America.

PWS

12-24-17

 

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

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

Ed Kilgore reports for The Daily Intelligencer in NY Maggie:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

121-08-17

GONZO’S WORLD: Gonzo Smugly Mocks The “Rule Of Law” — But Will Mueller Get The Last Laugh?

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/11/jeff-sessions-has-got-jokes.html

Christian Farias reports in NY Maggie:

“Since taking office as Donald Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions hasn’t missed a chance to remind the public that the North Star of his Department of Justice is the rule of law. Eliminating protections for Dreamers and exposing them to deportation; threatening to pull federal funding from sanctuary cities that refuse to do the administration’s bidding on immigration; asserting in court that gay workers aren’t protected by the letter of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; siding with a religious baker who declined to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple wishing to marry — all actions demanded by fidelity to the the rule of law.

Because the rule of law matters to Sessions, he decided to make it the centerpiece of his Friday remarks at the annual national lawyers’ gathering of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal brain trust that helped Trump handpick Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. About the president’s own disdain for the rule of law and so-called judges who rule against him, the group has largely turned a blind eye. Instead, they celebrate the parade of originalist judges he’s sent to the federal bench. For conservative legal thinkers, this covers a multitude of sins. “Attendees this year have an ebullience I haven’t seen before,” Ariane de Vogue, a longtime Supreme Court correspondent, observed on Twitter. The Federalist Society’s chairman, for his part, is already plotting how to turn the judicial map red.

Chalk it up to the electricity in the air, all this winning, that Sessions, after an introduction by Edwin Meese, his predecessor at the Justice Department during the Reagan administration, suddenly decided the rule of law was a joke. “Is Ambassador Kislyak in the room?” Sessions asked of the lawyerly audience, which greeted the question with laughter. “Before I get started here, any Russians? Anybody been to Russia? Got a cousin in Russia or something?” The audience was loving it. Meese was rolling.

Sessions must have thought of the Russia bit on the spot, as it wasn’t in his prepared remarks. There’s a reason he may have found the whole thing hilarious right there and then: He delivered the line at none other than the Mayflower Hotel, the same location where he and Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador, had an encounter during the presidential campaign that went undisclosed during his confirmation hearing. Sessions’s own shifting recollections and denials about his contacts with Russian officials in later Senate testimony are hard to keep up with. For all we know, he may have lied to Congress. Suffice it to say, the extent of those contacts played a significant role in Sessions’s recusal from all things Russia, a move that blindsided Trump and infuriated him. With a loyalist out of the way, it fell to Rod Rosenstein, Sessions’s deputy, to appoint Robert Mueller to lead the criminal and counterintelligence probes into the Kremlin’s disruption of last year’s election. Sessions came this close to resigning over Mueller’s appointment.

None of this is a laughing matter. That Sessions had the presence of mind to crack a joke about it makes a mockery of his self-professed commitment to the rule of law. The rule of law isn’t just rescinding Obama-era rules or steering the federal government toward more conservative outcomes. The rule of law, fragile as it is, is also a set of unwritten norms that stay the same no matter who’s in power — such as the nation’s top law-enforcement officer recognizing that he should not make light of an investigation in which he himself is implicated and may have committed perjury. One in which his own Justice Department has active, ongoing prosecutions of campaign officials that he once worked with. Sessions treating this as a joke undermines keepers of the constitutional order — Congress, the Executive branch, and now the courts — who are taking it very seriously.

“Recusals happen all the time throughout the Department of Justice … just because we follow the rules. That furthers confidence in justice,” Sessions declared near the end of his Federalist Society speech. Now that’s a good one. Desiree Fairooz, the activist who laughed at Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearing and was prosecuted by his Justice Department over it, would be forgiven if she heard that zinger and laughed again.

Mueller, for his part, has his sights on another uproarious matter: ABC News reported Sunday that the special counsel is looking into the Justice Department’s role in the firing of James Comey. Sessions may have a hard time laughing that one off.”

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Sessions, who lives on and for the “wrong side of history and human decency,” should go down as the most lawless Attorney General since John Mitchell. Indeed, I think he has the potential to surpass Mitchell in terms of contempt for the American system, for the majority of Americans, and for the rule of law. Having lived through the “Watergate Era,” that’s saying something!

PWS

11-20-17

GONZO’S WORLD: Sessions Gives Congress The “Scarface Treatment” Again — Then He Jokes About Russia — Will Mueller Eventually Wipe The Smirk Off Gonzo’s Face?

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/11/jeff-sessions-has-a-strangely-selective-memory.html

Eric Levitz writes in NY Maggie:

“Jeff Sessions’s memory works in mysterious ways. He has “no clear recollection” of the March 2016 meeting where George Papadopoulos offered to set up a meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin — but the attorney general does remember shooting down the campaign aide’s unseemly suggestion.

Or, so Sessions tells the House Judiciary Committee.

In October, Sessions testified to the Senate that he did not have any “continuing exchange of information” with Russian operatives — and that he wasn’t “aware of anyone else [on the Trump campaign] that did.” Weeks later, Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed

“Papadopoulos’s confession to the crime of lying to the FBI. In that written statement, the former Trump campaign national security adviser claimed that he had told Sessions about “connections” he had that “could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin” in March of last year. In his testimony before Congress Tuesday, Sessions tried to account for this apparent discrepancy.

“I do now recall the March 2016 meeting at Trump Hotel that Mr. Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said at that meeting,” Sessions explained. “After reading his account, and to the best of my recollection, I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government, or any other foreign government, for that matter.”

Later, Sessions said more firmly, “At the meeting, I pushed back.”

So, the attorney general has no clear memory of the meeting, but has a vivid recollection of behaving admirably during it.

This isn’t the first time that Sessions’s memories of last year have failed him. In January, the attorney general testified to the Senate that he had not “been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day.” Months later, the Washington Post revealed that Sessions had met with the Russian ambassador to the United States multiple times during the 2016 campaign. Sessions responded to these revelations by insisting that he’d met with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in his capacity as U.S. senator (not as a Trump surrogate), and that they did not discuss the 2016 election. Sessions later conceded that it was “possible” that Trump’s positions on U.S.-Russia relations came up in his discussions with Kislyak.

Some Democrats have suggested that Sessions’s multiple false statements to Congress this year were conscious lies. The former senator responded to such charges with indignation Tuesday.

“My answers have not changed,” Sessions said. “I have always told the truth, and I have answered every question as I understood them and to the best of my recollection, as I will continue to do today … I will not accept and reject accusations that I have ever lied under oath. That is a lie.”

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Meanwhile, speaking to a friendly audience over at the Heritage Foundation, Gonzo treated the Russia investigation as a joke. Mary Papenfuss reports for HuffPost:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions had lawyers rolling in the aisles with a surprising string of Russian quips at the start of a speech he gave Friday.

Sessions was the keynote speaker at the National Lawyers Convention at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel hosted by the conservative Federalist Society.

He thanked the applauding crowd for welcoming him. Then, smiling mischievously, he added: “But I just was thinking, you know, I should ― I want to ask you. Is  Ambassador Kislyak in the room? Before I get started ― any Russians?” As the laughs grew louder, he continued: “Anybody been to Russia? Got a cousin in Russia?” The audience roared.

The jarring jokes came just three days after Sessions was pressed in Congress on apparent discrepancies in his previous testimony about Trump associates’ meetings with Russians during the 2016 campaign.

Sergey Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., met with several members of Donald Trump’s campaign during the Republican National Convention, Kislyak and some Trump associates have revealed. Kislyak was widely believed a top spy recruiter.

Kislyak has said he discussed Trump’s policy positions during the campaign with Sessions, an early Trump supporter who was an Alabama senator at the time, The Washington Post reported.

But during his confirmation hearings to become attorney general ― before the Post report ― Sessions said he “never met with or had any conversations with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election.”

Sessions later recused himself from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the U.S. election.

Critics were stunned by Sessions’ attitude in the lawyers’ speech.

Sessions “still doesn’t get it” — he’s “in trouble,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) told Wolf Blitzer later on CNN.

“He’s not in trouble where he happened to be in places where there are Russians,” said Lieu, a member of the House Judiciary Committee who grilled Sessions this week. “He is in trouble because he had a nearly hour-long meeting with Ambassador Kislyak — also a spy — and then he failed to disclose the existence of that meeting under oath to the U.S. Senate. That’s why Jeff Sessions is in trouble.”

Blitzer noted that Kislyak “now says he spoke with so many Trump officials it would take him more than 20 minutes to name them all.”

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sessions-russian-lawyers_us_5a0fb5dee4b045cf43718e96?ncid=APPLENEWS00001

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PWS
11-19-17

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

 

 

THE WORLD HAS MORE REFUGEES THAN AT ANY TIME SINCE WWII; REFUGEES NEED THE U.S. TO SAVE THEM & WE NEED REFUGEES’ ENERGY, BRAVERY, & TALENTS! — THE RESPONSE OF WHITE NATIONALISTS LIKE MILLER & SESSIONS IS TO RECOMMEND CUTTING REFUGEE ADMISSIONS TO AN ALL-TIME LOW OF 15,000! — Don’t Let These Racist Xenophobes Get Away With It!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/09/trump-considers-cutting-refugee-cap-to-lowest-in-decades.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Intelligencer%20-%20September%2013%2C%202017&utm_term=Subscription%20List%20-%20Daily%20Intelligencer%20%281%20Year%29

Adam K. Raymond reports in New York Magazine:

“In 2016, the last year of President Obama’s administration, the U.S. accepted 85,000 refugees and set a goal of bumping that number up to 110,00 this year. Those plans changed with President Trump’s so-called travel ban, which set the refugee limit at 50,000 for 2016. Now, the administration is considering setting that number even lower for 2018, despite the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

The President has until October 1 to set a refugee ceiling and, the Times reports, there’s a debate raging in the White House about whether the number should be reduced to numbers not seen in decades. Leading the arguments against cutting the totals is Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller, an immigration hawk and ally of Steve Bannon and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Miller has reportedly produced cutting the number all the way to 15,000. The Department of Homeland Security has proposed its own cut to 40,000.

The Times explains their purported thinking:

 

Two administration officials said those pushing for a lower number are citing the need to strengthen the process of vetting applicants for refugee status to prevent would-be terrorists from entering the country. Two others said another factor is a cold-eyed assessment of the money and resources that would be needed to resettle larger amounts of refugees at a time when federal immigration authorities already face a years long backlog of hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers.
This reasoning doesn’t align with the facts. Refugees are far more likely to be victims of politically motivated attacks than perpetrators. Limiting refugees does not keep America safer because refugees are not dangerous. It’s difficult not to see nativism as the motive behind pretending that they are: fear makes it easier to convince people that suffering people should be excluded from the United States. As for the cost concerns, the GOP’s feigned fiscal prudence should never be taken seriously.

By setting the refugee cap at 50,000 this year, Trump has already pushed the number lower than it’s been in decades. In the 37 years since the Refugee Act of 1980 gave the president a role in setting the cap, it hasn’t slipped lower than the 67,000 President Reagan set in 1987.

Cutting the refugee ceiling would leave tens of thousands of vulnerable people out in the cold, the International Rescue Committee said in a report last month. The humanitarian organization advocates for a ceiling no lower than 75,000 people. “An admissions level of at least 75,000 is a critical signal to the world that the United States remains a safe haven for those fleeing persecution, terror and ideologies antithetical to American democratic values,” the report says. “Anything less would be to turn our backs on the United States’ humanitarian tradition and global leadership.”

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Under the last three Administrations, the US has made an absolute muddle out of two ill-advised wars and Middle East policies in general. The idea that guys like Trump, Tillerson, Miller, Bannon, Sessions, and even “the Generals” can come up with a constructive solution borders on the ludicrous. Nope. They going to to fight the 21st Century version of the “100 Years War” with similar results.

If there is a solution out there that will help achieve stability and provide a durable solution to the terrorist threats, it’s more likely going to be coming from one of today’s refugees who have a better idea of what’s actually going on and how we might become part of the solution rather than making the problems worse.

Refugees represent America’s hope. The Sessions-Miller-Bannon cabal represents America’s darkest side — one that threatens to drag us all into the abyss of their dark, distorted, and fundamentally anti-American world view.

PWS

09-13-17

 

 

OPTIMISTS’ CORNER: Five Reasons Why DACA Legislation Could Pass!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/09/5-reasons-why-a-dreamer-bill-could-really-happen.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Intelligencer%20-%20September%208%2C%202017&utm_term=Subscription%20List%20-%20Daily%20Intelligencer%20%281%20Year%29

Jonathan Chait writes in The Intellingencer as reprinted in New York Maggie:

“Not just a dream? Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
“If they pass a straight-up Dream amnesty,” says Mark Krikorian, an anti-immigration activist, “they will go into the elections having failed to repeal Obamacare but having passed amnesty.” When you put it like that, it sounds crazy, doesn’t it? And indeed it would seem bizarre for Donald Trump’s sole legislative achievement to be the negation of his central campaign theme. But in recent days, the implausible has become suddenly plausible.

1. Trump doesn’t really care about restrictionism. The president has many prejudices but almost no actual policy commitments. He rode anti-immigrant sentiment to the presidency, but his use of the theme was largely instrumental. Trump has alternated his nativist lurches with professions of sympathy for the Dreamers. “I have a love for these people and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly,” Trump said recently. “And I can tell you, speaking to members of Congress, they want to be able to do something and do it right. And really, we have no choice.”

2. He’s in a bipartisanship groove. The president cares more about positive feedback and good press than anything else. His bipartisan deal to lift the debt ceiling for three months might have been substantively contentless, but he liked the response from the media. As a creature of impulse, he will probably want to tap the bar for another pleasure hit.

 

3. The cult of personality protects him. Previous efforts to protect the Dreamers have all fallen prey to conservative revolts. But the Trump imprimatur has unique power to give Republicans political cover. A glimpse of the strange dynamic came into view when Trump cut his debt-ceiling agreement with Democrats over the objections of the GOP leadership, and enraged conservatives took out their anger on … Paul Ryan.

Trump catered to his base by tapping into primal ethno-nationalist resentment. Having proven his tribal loyalty, he is perfectly positioned, should he choose, to bring along his base. A large segment of the party-messaging apparatus seems prepared to follow along. “Nobody wants to kick a bunch of kids out of the country, right?” Rush Limbaugh said Tuesday. “I don’t care if they’re budding little Al Capones. People just don’t want to do it … There needs to be a price, and it would be a great thing, couple this, say, with building the wall. I mean, you do all-in on border enforcement.”

4. The bill will materialize. There is almost certainly a majority in both chambers for a Dreamer bill. The trick is getting the bill to the floor. When Ryan ran for the Speakership, in 2015, he promised he would not bring immigration legislation to the floor unless it commanded a majority of his own party.

What might do the trick, however, is attaching DACA — Deferred Action of Child Arrivals — to an unrelated bill. There will be at least two measures to increase the debt ceiling. Those bills, crucially, will rely heavily on Democratic votes, since a large portion of the Republican base refuses to vote to increase the debt ceiling. This essentially circumvents the informal requirement that the GOP only brings up bills that most Republicans support, opening the door for passing something mostly with Democratic votes.

“There’s no way,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas says of a DACA vote. “We will take that up. I’m confident. But there’s no way that it will stand alone.” But it’s not standing alone any more.

5. Ambiguity is their friend. The ability of both sides to claim a deal does different things is the classic lubricant of any political negotiation. In this case, the grounds for ambiguity are obvious. Trump has made the symbolism of the wall a political fetish, and Democrats oppose it on similar grounds. The way around this standoff is to tie DACA to border-security measures that Trump can call a “wall” and Democrats can call “not a wall.”

After all, Democrats have previously supported border-security measures like increased drone surveillance and added fencing. What is the conceptual distinction between a fence and a wall? Not much.

The safest bet, of course, is that nothing happens, because that is almost always the safest bet in modern Washington. But the window of possibility has opened quickly. All of a sudden, helping the Dreamers is not just a dream.”

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Let’s keep our fingers crossed.  It would be nice.

One potential problem is that Trump doesn’t appear to have any immigration expertise in his Administration that’s not part of the restrictionist White Nationlist cabal. He’d probably have to get down to the career level at USCIS to find someone to work on the legal details of a Dreamer bill.

Clearly, White Nationalist restrictionists like Sessions and Miller would have to be screened out of any bipartisan process. And, Chief of Staff Kelly showed little or no appreciation for promoting constructive legal immigration programs during his short DHS tenure. Indeed, he appearss to have overridden sound internal advice and counsel and suppressed evidence in supporting the Sessions-Bannon-Trump disingenuous “Travel Bans.” That’s the trouble with a politically biased Administration that neither appreciates nor has the ability to work with experts in the career civil service.

PWS

09-09-17

 

 

Israel & The Middle East Are A Powder Keg — The Obvious Solution — Send A 30-Something Relative With Neither Expertise Nor Diplomatic Experience To Straighten Things Out — Nepotism Is Not Just An Ethical Problem (For A Prez Who Can’t Spell Ethics), But A Danger To The World’s Security!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/06/jared-kushners-road-from-jerusalem-to-nowhere.html

Jonah Shepp reports in New York Magazine:

“President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner spent the better part of last week in the Middle East, meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in an attempt to relaunch U.S.-brokered peace talks. Shockingly, the trip was not a great success.

Kushner, who has carved out a foreign-policy portfolio for himself at the White House despite having no relevant experience, arrived in Jerusalem on Wednesday. Accompanied by Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, he began his trip with an apparently friendly meeting with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and a visit to the the family of Hadas Malka, a 23-year-old border police officer who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian attacker in East Jerusalem the previous Friday.

. . . .

Perhaps fortunately, Kushner will likely be busy in the near future defending himself in the developing investigation into his communications with Russian officials and bank executives, as well as his personal finances and business dealings. But it should go without saying that anyone dogged by such questions should under no circumstances be running foreign policy on behalf of the United States government. If Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis can’t convince Trump to stop listening to his wunderkind adviser, that’s a big problem.

Maybe Trump thinks Kushner has some special insight into the Middle East on account of his Jewish heritage, or maybe Kushner just fancies himself a budding statesman and convinced his doting father-in-law to let him play action-hero diplomat in the most volatile region of the world. In any case, Trump’s willingness to hand his daughter and son-in-law the keys to the government whenever they want to drive it constitutes a level of reckless, corrupt nepotism the likes of which this country has rarely seen.”

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“Amateur Night at the Bijou” continues, with YOUR security at stake.

PWS

06-28-17