WALL OF WORDS! – MANY SAY TRUMP’S HARD-LINE, ANTI-IMMIGRANT RHETORIC, ANTI-REFUGEE MOVES, & RANDOM INTERIOR ENFORCEMENT HAVE ALREADY DRAMATICALLY STEMMED THE FLOW OF UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS – THE “CLIMATE OF FEAR” WORKS! — So, Who Needs “The Wall” Or Thousands of New Agents?

http://www.newsweek.com/forget-border-wall-how-trump-has-shaped-immigration-without-it-713608

Nicole Rodriguez writes in Newsweek:

“Who needs a wall?

Less than a year into his presidency, Donald Trump is moving swiftly to reshape the nation’s immigration system in more concrete ways, curtailing illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border and sending a chill throughout Central America.

In a stark reversal from the Obama era, the administration has ramped up round-ups of undocumented immigrants regardless of age or criminal history, expanded detention space and stepped up workplace raids. Officials have also restricted the number of refugees allowed into the country while pushing to speed the deportation cases of hundreds of thousands of immigrants awaiting legal decisions.

Taken together, the policy changes have put the border wall debate on the backburner, advocates on both sides of the issue said.

“Expanded border barriers—whether you call them walls or something else—are not priority,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. that supports tighter controls on immigration.

RTSXKERA worker chats with residents at a newly built section of the U.S.-Mexico border fence at Sunland Park, U.S. opposite the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico January 26, 2017. JOSE LUIS GONZALEZ/REUTERS

“There’s no question the president has changed the tone of the debate and that caused a huge drop in illegal crossings,” Krikorian told Newsweek.

To be sure, the border wall has been bogged down by political obstacles, including the fact that Congress has not appropriated funds to build it. But the shifting sentiment is striking given how central the border wall was to Trump’s political support in last year’s presidential campaign. Its mere mention was an applause line at rallies and Trump himself said it was key to stemming the flow of illegal immigration.

But since his January inauguration, apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border have dipped, according to the most recent data from Customs and Border Protection. Agents apprehended 31,582 undocumented immigrants at the border in January, compared to 22,293 in August, the latest available data. April saw the year’s low, with just 11,125 apprehensions.

Adam Isacson, director for defense oversight at The Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights advocacy organization, said news of the administration’s actions is spreading through Central America and discouraging crossings. At the same time, a climate of fear in the United States is gripping undocumented immigrant communities.

“People are avoiding going outside to get their groceries. They have friends to come and do that for them,” Isacson said. “They’re missing a lot of work when they learn that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is in the area and kids are not going to school as much. There’s real fear there.”

Indeed, the immigration overhaul has come so fast that the ranks of federal immigration judges are pushing back on some elements. At issue are the administration’s plans to impose “numeric perfomance standards” on judges deciding deportation cases.

The White House has said the quotas are necessary to help reduce a backlog of more than 600,000 cases, but judges say the standards will hamstring their ability to decide complex, life-and-death cases.

“[It’s] completely at odds with the kind of independence a judge needs,” Dana Leigh Marks, a spokesperson for the National Association of Immigration Judges and a federal immigration judge for more than 30 years, told Newsweek.”

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

Read the complete article at the link.

Nolan Rappaport reminds me that he predicted that cutting off the “home free magnet” in the interior would have a dramatic deterrent effect on illegal migration.

On the other hand, it remains to be seen whether having a system that relies on largely random enforcement to spread a climate of fear and loathing among a community of generally law-abiding, productive migrants, intertwined with citizens and legal residents, who are part of our communities is something that we’ll ultimately be proud of as a nation.

PWS

11-26-17

SMOKESCREEN: WHILE TRUMP & ALT-RIGHT RAIL ABOUT TRAVEL BAN & FEDERAL JUDGES, TRUTH IS THAT TRAVEL BAN HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH TERRORIST ATTACK!

http://www.newsweek.com/trump-travel-ban-new-york-attack-sayfullo-saipov-698239

Connor Gaffey reports for Newsweek:

“For many of Trump’s supporters on social media, the attack, reportedly carried out by 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant Sayfullo Saipov, is further evidence of the need for the president’s travel ban to become law.

Trump has on three occasions tried to pass restrictions blocking or limiting immigration to the United States from certain countries: The latest iteration imposes restrictions on citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and on government officials from Venezuela. But in each instance, judges have ordered last-minute freezes on the travel bans coming into effect.

Some accused “liberal judges” of putting political correctness ahead of U.S. national security.

. . . .

But to those calling for the travel ban to be implemented, many pointed out that it would not have stopped the suspected attacker: Uzbekistan has not been included on any version of Trump’s proposed travel ban.

. . . .”

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

Read the complete article at the link.

These guys seem more interested in dividing Americans and dissing immigrants and Federal Judges than they do in making America safer.

PWS

11-01-17

GONZO’S WORLD: Jeff Sessions Is The New Jim Crow – Public Officials Using Bogus “Rule Of Law” and False “Christian Values” To Advance An Agenda of Hate, Bigotry, Intolerance, and Resentment Is (Sadly) Nothing New In America – The Main Difference: African-Americans Aren’t Gonzo’s Only Targets! — LGBTQ Americans Last Week, Hispanic Asylum Seekers This Week, Who’s Next: Latino Communities, Minority Voters, Dreamers, Children, Women, Muslims, Democrats, Obama, Poor People, Property Owners, Marihuana Farmers, The Sick & Disabled? – The Majority of Americans Are Somewhere On Gonzo’s “Hit List!” – When Will It Be YOUR Turn? — Who Will Defend YOUR Rights Against Gonzo’s Nasty Crusade Of “Injustice At Justice?”

http://www.newsweek.com/sessions-deals-another-blow-lgbt-community-684572

Marci A. Hamilton writes in Newsweek:

“I never expected to speak the phrase: “As Mississippi goes, so goes the federal government.” But when it comes to demeaning and disempowering LGBT, it is now apropos.

The self-righteous drive to make others suffer for not living Evangelical beliefs appears to be unstoppable with Trump in power and with Sessions as his henchman for civil rights. They are taking their cues from the Deep South and particularly Mississippi.

Mississippi is the national leader on religiously-motivated discrimination against LGBT and generating divisiveness on these issues, as I discussed here.

Mississippi continues to aspire to fomenting the most discrimination against LGBT with HB 1523, which explicitly permits business owners to refuse service to LGBT for religious reasons. The trial court correctly held that it was unconstitutional and issued a preliminary injunction.

In June, the Fifth Circuit let the law go into effect, holding that the challengers lacked standing. On further review, the Fifth Circuit refused to vacate the ruling, which let the law stand. Now perhaps it goes to the Supreme Court.

Its sponsors put it into place so that Evangelicals can legally exclude LGBT from the marketplace. They say it’s about their “religious liberty,” by which they mean not the right to observe their own practices, but rather their supposed right to judge and condemn others before doing business with them.

The whole anti-LGBT project is so unbelievably hypocritical: they aren’t fighting to bar liars, adulterers, rapists, or pedophiles from their businesses, all of whom who violate plain biblical commands.

GettyImages-646266774Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice on February 28, 2017 in Washington, D.C. ZACH GIBSON/GETTY

What they are engineering is lives without having to associate with “those people.” One can only hope that good, old-fashioned profit motives enrich those businesses that provide service to LGBT and put out of business those who prefer the Jim Crow life.

Trump Administration Follows Mississippi’s Lead

Now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has piled onto this administration’s obsession with humiliating and harming transgender Americans here and here with a new document interpreting federal law to require accommodation of those in the government who believe LGBT are sinful.

That’s right, the drive is to accommodate the ones who cannot tolerate those who aren’t like them. This is all about deconstructing the LGBT civil rights the Obama administration put into place as discussed here and here.

For good measure, the administration is also rolling back protections intended to ensure LGBT are not discriminated against in long-term care facilities. (The administration also went after women’s rights to contraception as fellow columnist Joanna Grossman explains, again an issue where it is in lock step with Evangelical lobbyists.)

Where Did This Intolerance Come From?

The push to inflict exclusion and suffering on LGBT for religious reasons owes its origins to the working out of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in American culture. Whether you have read Hegel or Calvin, this is what happens when you put into place a “right” that has no natural limit.

The religious lobbyists, including knowing conservatives and some truly naïve liberals, backed this benighted law in 1993. It was declared unconstitutional in 1997 in Boerne v. Flores, because it was so far removed from anything that the First Amendment had ever required .

What was unleashed with this federal statute, which morphed into state laws and later federal law, was a theory that the default position for religious liberty should be that a religious believer has a right to overcome any law that burdens religiously-motivated conduct.

Many laws exist to protect the vulnerable. When religious believers seize a “right” to trump the law, they in effect hurt the vulnerable. That is true here.

This power grab—particularly by religious organizations who believe in imprinting their beliefs on the culture—paved the way for the depraved arguments now being made for “religious liberty” that amount to exclusion and harm to an entire category of citizens defined solely by their sexual orientation. They have falsely claimed the mantle of victimhood while making victims of others.

The powerful choose the labels and the vulnerable suffer. If you have not seen this power maneuver elsewhere in history or in the Trump Administration’s dealings with race, you are not paying attention.

Marci A. Hamilton is the Fox Professor of Practice and Fox Family Pavilion Resident Senior Fellow in the Program for Research on Religion in the Fox Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania; the founder, CEO, and Academic Director of the nonprofit think tank to prevent child abuse and neglect, CHILD USA, and author of God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty and Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children. She also runs two active websites covering her areas of expertise, the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, www.RFRAperils.com, and statutes of limitations for child sex abuse, www.sol-reform.com.”

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While the Evangelical right wages a bogus war against the non-existent “Sharia law in America,” the real threat to our freedoms, our Constitution, and the rule of law is posed by these very same right wingers. Led by folks like Gonzo who have moved from the “wacko fringe” to positions of power, they are forcing their false interpretation of Christianity down the throats of the rest of us who don’t share their “Gospel of Hate & Intolerance.”

From a theological standpoint (after all, it is Sunday), Jesus’s ministry was not to the rich, powerful, rulers, or Pharisees enforcing the Jewish Law; no, Jesus’s ministry was one of love, compassion, forgiveness, and eternal hope  for the outsiders, the outcasts, the poor, and the “rejected” of Jewish and Roman society. If Jesus were among us today, he would much more likely be found “rubbing shoulders” and preaching to the gay community or the undocumented than he would wandering the halls of Jeff Sessions’s Department of (In)Justice.

 

PWS

10-15-17

 

NEWSWEEK REPORTS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PLANNING MASSIVE ASSAULT ON RIGHTS OF UNDOCUMENTED TEENS ADMITTED UNDER THE WILBERFORCE ANTI-TRAFFICKING ACT!

http://www.newsweek.com/trump-administration-weighs-deporting-thousands-unaccompanied-child-migrants-668778

Graham Lanktree reports:

“The Trump administration is drafting a new policy to quickly deport more than 150,000 child migrants from Central America who arrived alone in the U.S. illegally, creating a new class of undocumented migrants.

The Department of Justice and Homeland Security is drawing up a policy proposal in a series of memos, according to two sources with knowledge of the internal debate who spoke to the Miami Herald.

As it stands, the plan would allow for teens and children who arrived in the U.S. illegally by themselves to be put on a fast track to deportation when they turn 18. Most of these children have traveled thousands of miles alone from Central American countries, including Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, to escape violence and poverty.

The policy wouldn’t allow the teens to plead their case before an immigration judge.

The discussions follow controversy within the government about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, a program implemented by Barack Obama, which protects children brought to the country illegally by their parents from deportation.

Speaking about the new policy plans, a former U.S. Justice Department official told the Herald, “The concern is that most people at DOJ know this will likely be viewed as illegal and do not want to have to defend this in court if they can avoid it.”

Current law “doesn’t give the administration a lot of flexibility with how to deal with unaccompanied children,” said a U.S. official familiar with the internal debate about the policy. “This administration still has its hands somewhat tied with what it can do with that population,” that person said.

. . . .

The new policy around unaccompanied children is part of the Attorney General’s efforts to avoid creating a another protected group of illegal immigrants like those under DACA, the Herald’s sources said.

The arrival of unaccompanied children and families from Central America peaked in 2014. In the year between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says it encountered 67,339 unaccompanied children.

At the height of the influx in June 2014, 27,000 people, including unaccompanied children and families, crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. Three months later the number dropped below 5,000 following crackdowns by the U.S. and Mexico governments.

More than 150,000 children have been referred by Homeland Security to the Office of Refugee Resettlement since that time. The program cares for unaccompanied children after they are caught at the border by officials and either places them in shelters, with sponsors, or relatives in the U.S.

About 63 percent and 73 percent of the unaccompanied youth who arrive at the border are between 15 and 17 years old, making a large group of those who are in the U.S vulnerable to deportation if the administration moves ahead with the policy.

“For a growing population of migrants deported from Mexico and the United States to Central America, the conditions upon return typically are worse than when they left, setting up a revolving-door cycle of migration, deportation, and remigration,” according to the nonprofit Migration Policy Institute. The group advocates better programs to reintegrate those who are deported to their home country.

If the Trump administration decides to move ahead with the policy proposal it will it will likely meet similar opposition to Trump’s travel ban on people coming to the U.S. from six Muslim-majority nations. Elements of the ban have been blocked by federal courts and a legal case against the policy will be heard in the U.S. Supreme Court this fall.

The new policy on unaccompanied minors could be blocked by the courts almost immediately, said Leon Fresco, the former head of the Office of Immigration Litigation at the Justice Department during the Obama administration.

The question is, Fresco said, “whether the administration wants to add this to the travel ban, sanctuary cities, Byrne Jag grants, and DACA repeal to the issues they would want the Supreme Court to have to decide this year.”

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

Read the complete report at the link.

These kids clearly are entitled to full and fair hearings before U.S. Immigration Judges with full rights of appeal. So, whatever Gonzo Apocalypto has up his sleeve must be clearly illegal.

DOJ career lawyers probably realize that their law licenses, and perhaps their individual freedom, could be at stake for participating in such an illegal operation. It would be nice to think that Sessions could also be held accountable under the law. But, as a high-ranking Government official, he’s likely to escape liability under the current Supreme Court rulings. Besides, Trump (or Pence) would probably pardon him anyway in the tradition of his fellow racist xenophobe “Racist Joe.”

PWS

09-21-17

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

NEWSWEEK: Gonzo Apocalypto’s Next Targets: The 1st Amendment & Reporters — Truth-Challenged Press Conference Assails “Leakers!”

http://www.newsweek.com/sessions-leaks-trump-fired-fake-news-media-cnn-mueller-comey-obama-golf-646838?spMailingID=2132659&spUserID=MzQ4OTU2OTQxNTES1&spJobID=850160461&spReportId=ODUwMTYwNDYxS0

Jeff Stein reports:

“Another day, another Donald Trump show. The president was absent from the elaborate press conference that Attorney General Jeff sessions held at the Justice Department on Friday to showcase the administration’s intent to crack down on leaks.

But his looming presence was palpable. The president reportedly often watches and critiques the TV performance of his officials.

“This culture of leaking must stop,” Sessions said, echoing Trump’s increasingly bitter tweets.

Flanking Sessions were Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the Director of National Intelligence, Daniel Coats and William Evanina, head of the little-known National Counterintelligence and Security Center.

“Conspicuously absent,” The Washington Post noted, “were representatives for the FBI, which generally investigates leaks.” Rosenstein said the new FBI Director, Christopher Wray, wasn’t there because he had just started his job this week.

Unlikely. Wray’s office is just a short walk across Pennsylvania Avenue from the Justice Department. If Wray were unavailable, plenty of other top FBI officials certainly were. Under a president obsessed with how his officials come across on television, the exclusion of them seemed deliberate.

. . . . .

The tableau presented by Sessions, who is struggling to hold on to his job after weeks of withering criticism from Trump for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, seemed designed to suggest to the president’s political base that other, more trusted security agencies would play a prominent role in the leak investigation.

Not going to happen. As opposed to what the TV pictures might suggest, U.S. intelligence agencies are barred from criminal investigations of leaks (although they conduct their own internal probes).  

“Only the FBI has jurisdiction to conduct that type of investigation,” Robert L. Dietz, who has held senior legal positions at the CIA, NSA, the National Geo-Spatial Agency and the Defense Department, tells Newsweek. “Indeed, the entire intel establishment has no authority over leaks.”

. . . .

Historically, critics of leak investigations, including government officials, have called them “a fool’s errand.” They can often lead right back to the offices of the White House or cabinet official who demanded them.

But Sessions added a dark element to his Friday announcement, suggesting he might start issuing subpoenas to reporters. The secret monitoring of media organizations could well accompany such investigations, history shows.

Press freedom organizations denounced the idea. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said it would “strongly oppose” a revision of Obama administration guidelines generally prohibiting such subpoenas. It also announced it had set up a toll-free hotline for reporters to call for legal advice if they got a subpoena.

Most leaks involving controversial Trump administration policies and its in-fighting and chaos have not included classified information. But some national security officials, both Democrats and Republicans, said Thursday they were shocked by the leaks of complete transcripts of Trump’s private telephone conversations with the president of Mexico and prime minister of Australia. Both transcripts revealed Trump saying things in stark contrast to his public positions. He had denounced previous reports characterizing the calls—accurately, as it turned out—as “fake news.” Sessions indicated he was going to get to the bottom of who leaked the transcripts.

But far from being investigated and punished, whistleblowers should be recognized as playing an important role in a democracy, says Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington, D.C. nongovernmental organization. Leak probes, she said, can stumble onto rightful efforts to expose crimes by government officials.

“Whistleblowers are the nation’s first line of defense against fraud, waste, abuse and illegality within the federal government,” Brian told The Washington Post. “The last thing this administration wants to do is to deter whistleblowing in an effort to stymie leaks.”

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

Notable that Sessions’s so-called “press conference” (is it really a “press conference” if you don’t take questions from the press?) was actually a performance aimed at reassuring President Trump that he was “on message” after being accused (falsely) by the President of being “weak on leaks.”

There is one major disclosure of classified information that should concern all Americans: Trump’s cavalier offering of sensitive documents to the Russians, who are not our friends or allies. Other than that, most of the “leaked” information consists of what NBC’s Chuck Todd would call “water cooler stuff” that more likely than not was “leaked” by members of Trump’s own “inner circle” as part of the never ending “palace intrigues” and “power struggles” surrounding the West Wing. While it’s easy to understand why truth could be embarrassing to Trump and his minions, its not by any means a threat to national security. No, the biggest REAL thereat to our national security remains President Trump himself.

PWS

08-07-17

POLITICO: HOW DEEP IN THE DOJ BULLPEN WOULD TRUMP HAVE TO GO TO FIRE MUELLER? — Sessions, Rosenstein, Brand Likely “Toast,” But Others Down the Line Might Also Balk At Carrying Out Order! — NEWSWEEK SAYS FIRING MUELLER WOULD MEAN “PRESIDENT PENCE!”

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/16/donald-trump-justice-department-succession-plan-239652?cid=apn

Annie Karni writes in Politico:

“An abstract, in-case-of-emergency-break-glass executive order drafted by the Trump administration in March may become real-world applicable as the president, raging publicly at his Justice Department, mulls firing special counsel Robert Mueller.

Since taking office, the Trump administration has twice rewritten an executive order that outlines the order of succession at the Justice Department — once after President Donald Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to defend his travel ban, and then again two months later. The executive order outlines a list of who would be elevated to the position of acting attorney general if the person up the food chain recuses himself, resigns, gets fired or is no longer in a position to serve.

In the past, former Justice Department officials and legal experts said, the order of succession is no more than an academic exercise — a chain of command applicable only in the event of an attack or crisis when government officials are killed and it is not clear who should be in charge.

But Trump and the Russia investigation that is tightening around him have changed the game.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has already recused himself from overseeing the investigation into possible collusion between Trump campaign aides and Russian operatives, after it was revealed that he failed to disclose meetings with the Russian ambassador during the campaign. And Trump started his morning on Friday by appearing to take a public shot at his deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who has increasingly become the target of his impulsive anger.

“I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt,” the president tweeted.

The Justice Department said in a statement on Friday that there are no current plans for a recusal, but Rosenstein has said in the past that he would back away from overseeing Mueller’s investigation if his role in the ouster of former FBI Director James Comey becomes a conflict.

That has legal experts closely examining the dry executive order to figure out who might be next up to bat, or, as Democratic lawyers and consultants view it, who might serve as Trump’s next sacrificial lamb.

“We know Rachel Brand is the next victim,” said Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the editor-in-chief of Lawfare, referring to the former George W. Bush official who was recently confirmed as associate attorney general, the third-highest position in the Justice Department.

“For those of us who have high confidence in Rachel — the more confidence you have in someone in this role, the less long you think they’ll last,” said Wittes, who said he considers Brand a friend. “That does put a very high premium on the question of who is next.”

That question, however, has become more complicated because the Trump administration has been slow to fill government positions and get those officials confirmed. Typically, the solicitor general would be next in line after the associate attorney general, followed by the list of five assistant U.S. attorneys, the order of which would be determined by the attorney general. But none of those individuals have been confirmed by the Senate, and they would be unable to serve as acting attorney general without Senate confirmation.

Because of that, the executive order comes into play — one that puts next in line after Brand the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Dana Boente. Boente, a career federal prosecutor and an appointee of former President Barack Obama, was tapped last April to serve as the interim head of the Justice Department’s national security division, which oversees the FBI’s Russia investigation.

Boente, who was briefly thrust into the no. 2 spot at the Justice Department after Yates was fired, was also tasked with phoning Preet Bharara, then U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, to deliver the unexpected news that he was fired. At the time, Boente also vowed to defend Trump’s travel ban in the future.

Boente is followed, on the succession list, by the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, John Stuart Bruce; and the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, John Parker. Both are career prosecutors who are serving in their posts on an interim basis, until a presidential appointment is made. But they would not need to be Senate confirmed to take over.”

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

Read Karni’s full article at the link. Meanwhile, over at Newsweek, Graham Lanktree speculates that Trump’s outside legal team is building a case against Mueller. But, that case appears to be totally bogus, a rather blatant attempt to obstruct and pervert justice, in the best (or worst) traditions of Richard Nixon. Many believe that the firing of Mueller would lead to the fall of Trump (either by impeachment or forced resignation) and the ushering in of President Mike Pence.

Here’s the link to the Newsweek article:

http://www.newsweek.com/pence-will-soon-be-president-if-trump-fires-mueller-says-bush-lawyer-626987?spMailingID=1969868&spUserID=MzQ4OTU2OTQxNTES1&spJobID=810837063&spReportId=ODEwODM3MDYzS0

And, here’s an excerpt from Lanktree’s report:

“Vice President Mike Pence will soon lead the U.S. if President Donald Trump fires Russia investigation special counsel Robert Mueller, a Bush administration ethics lawyer said Saturday.

Trump’s legal team and surrogates are “building a case for firing Mueller,” wrote Richard Painter in a tweet after he appeared on Fox News Saturday. Painter was President George W. Bush’s chief White House ethics lawyer from 2005 to 2007.

“If that happens Mike Pence will soon become the 46th President,” Painter wrote. “Trump surrogates are making up Mueller ‘conflicts’ to justify firing him. That will be yet more obstruction of justice if it happens.”

. . . .

Friends of Trump said earlier this week that the president is considering firing Mueller. If that happens, legal scholars say, it would likely prompt the resignations of senior Department of Justice staff, reprisals from Congress, and resignation of White House staff. Painter argues that it could lead to impeachment.

“Mueller is absolutely not compromised by his professional relationship with Comey,” said Painter on Saturday. “This is just an effort to undermine the credibility of the special counsel.”

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Stay tuned. Almost everyone except Trump and his “outside advisers” believes that firing Mueller would be suicidal. But, Trump appears to be unhinged and often doesn’t let rationality or prudence enter into his decision making. He’s managed to survive many self-destructive acts that would have spelled the end of the line for any other politician. But, this one might well bring him down.

PWS

06-18-17

 

 

Despite Softer Tone, Not Everyone “Sold” On Trump’s Vision, Particularly As It Relates to Immigration!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-policies-joint-session_us_58b6e282e4b0780bac2f010b?

Igor Bobic , Amanda Terkel , Kate Sheppard write in HuffPost:

“Yet many key assertions Trump made were patently false. America is neither crime-infested nor still mired in a recession, as he portrayed. Moreover, some of his bold rhetoric on issues like the environment, immigration, civil rights, women’s rights and child care are directly undercut by the policies he has pursued or promised to pursue since taking office on Jan. 20.

Immigration Reform
Trump welcomed the idea of compromise on immigration reform, calling on Democrats and Republicans to “work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades.” Prior to the speech, he even told reporters that he wanted a bill that could grant legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

Despite his call for compromise, however, Trump has directed his administration to enforce the nation’s immigration laws more aggressively. The policy, which he dubbed a “military operation,” has given immigration officials the freedom to target not only serious criminals, as Trump has promised, but also undocumented immigrants with misdemeanors and some with no criminal history at all. And he still has plans to build a “great” wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, which Democrats and even some Republicans in Congress strongly oppose.

“At one point, he mentioned that he was targeting and criminalizing immigrants, but at the same time, he’s saying we need to unite?” asked Roque Pech, a beneficiary of former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which grants temporary deportation relief to certain young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

Pech, who attended the event as a guest of Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-Calif.), said Trump’s immigration talk made no sense: “I felt like multiple times he was contradicting himself. That was one of the clearer examples.”

Matthew Cooper, writing in Newsweek, was also blunt in his assessment:

“Yet no one listening to the nearly hour-long address would think Trump had mellowed his nationalist agenda. His decision to create an office at the Justice Department focused on crime caused by illegal immigrants elicited groans from Democrats in the chamber. Just as President Barack Obama once held up DREAMers—immigrants who arrived illegally as children and went on to lead productive lives—Trump pointed to families gathered in the House of Representatives who had lost family members to crimes perpetrated by undocumented immigrants. Trump showed no signs of softening his stance on immigration, save for not invoking his usual promise to have Mexico pay for the wall. If anything he went further, by suggesting that the current immigration system should be overhauled and based on “merit,” however that’s defined. Despite news reports earlier on Tuesday that he might be open to some kind of immigration reform allowing 11 million undocumented migrants to stay in the U.S., there was no indication of that kind of softening in his address. Instead he invoked the frightening image of immigrants driving down wages and raising havoc. “Lawless chaos,” he called it. The solution, he said: “We must restore integrity and the rule of law to our borders.” By applauding Jamiel Shaw, the African-American man whose son was killed by an undocumented immigrant, Trump made his case for getting tough on the border and did so in a way that would help insulate him against charges of racism.”

http://www.newsweek.com/trump-congress-speech-immigration-paul-ryan-obamacare-trade-crime-562365

And, according to the Washington Post’s “Fact Checkers,” Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, striking a more “Presidential tone,” Trump continues to pile up erroneous statements at an impressive rate:

“An address to Congress is such an important speech that presidents generally are careful not to stretch the truth. The “16 words” in George W. Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address that falsely claimed Iraq’s Saddam Hussein sought uranium from Africa led to significant turmoil in the administration, including the criminal conviction of a top aide.

President Trump’s maiden address to Congress was notable because it was filled with numerous inaccuracies. In fact, many of the president’s false claims are old favorites that he trots out on a regular, almost daily basis. Here’s a roundup of 13 of the more notable claims, in the order in which the president made them.

. . . .

“We’ve defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open, for anyone to cross — and for drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate.”

The data are mixed on the amount of drugs coming through the borders. The amount of marijuana seized at the border continues to decline — probably a reflection of drug use in the United States, as more states legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use. In fiscal 2016, 1.3 million pounds of marijuana were seized, down from 1.5 million the year before, and lower than the peak of nearly 4 million pounds in 2009, according to Customs and Border Protection data. The amount of cocaine seized at the borders overall in fiscal 2016 (5,473 pounds) was roughly half the amount seized the previous year (11,220 pounds).

But the amount of heroin and methamphetamine seized has increased in recent years. In fiscal year 2016, CBP seized 9,062 pounds of heroin (compared to 8,282 in fiscal 2015) and 8,224 pounds of methamphetamine (compared to 6,443 pounds in fiscal 2015).

Meanwhile, illegal immigration flows across the Southern border in fiscal 2015 were at the lowest levels since 1972, except for in 2011. The apprehensions in fiscal 2016 (408,870) exceeded fiscal 2015 (331,333), but still indicate an overall decline since their peak in 2000 (1.6 million).

. . . .

“As we speak, we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens. Bad ones are going out as I speak and as I have promised throughout the campaign.”

Trump is referring to the recent arrests of undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes, or the “bad ones.” Trump takes credit for fulfilling his campaign promise of cracking down on illegal immigration, but these arrests are routine. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has always targeted dangerous criminals in enforcement priorities. The recent arrests, however, did include people who would not have fallen under narrowed enforcement priorities under Obama.

Still, 25 percent of the arrests that grabbed headlines in early February were of people who had lesser charges and noncriminal convictions. According to anecdotes of recent arrests, undocumented people with traffic violations were subject to arrest. They are not the “bad ones,” such as drug dealers or gang members, that he describes.

“By finally enforcing our immigration laws we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions and billions of dollars and make our communities safer for everyone.”

Trump exaggerates the impact of illegal immigration on crime, taxpayer money and jobs.

Extensive research shows noncitizens are not more prone to criminality than U.S.-born citizens. The vast majority of unauthorized immigrants are not criminal aliens or aggravated felons.

Trump appears to reference the cost of illegal immigration from the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which supports lower levels of legal and illegal immigration. According to the group, the annual cost of illegal immigration at the federal, state and local levels amounted to about $113 billion as of 2013.
The scene as President Trump delivers his first address to a joint session of Congress
View Photos The president returned to familiar themes from his campaign in his speech to Congress, promising to reduce regulations and taxes, combat terrorism, crack down on illegal immigration and replace the Affordable Care Act.
But this calculation makes assumptions that are not necessarily tied to illegal immigration, like enrollment in English proficiency classes. The enrollment number doesn’t tell you anything about the actual citizenship status of students (i.e., they could be native-born children of undocumented immigrants, raised in a non-English-speaking home).
In general, economists have found that immigration overall results in a net positive to the U.S. economy. There are slight negative effects, which are felt most strongly by less-educated and low-skilled workers. Illegal immigration, in particular, tends to affect less-educated and low-skilled American workers the most — groups disproportionately consisting of black men and recently arrived less-educated legal immigrants.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights 2010 report found that illegal immigration has tended to depress wages and employment particularly for black men. But factors other than illegal immigration contribute to black unemployment, the report found, including the high school dropout rate and low job-retention rates.

. . . .

“Jamiel’s 17-year-old son was viciously murdered by an illegal immigrant gang member, who had just been released from prison. Jamiel Shaw Jr. was an incredible young man, with unlimited potential who was getting ready to go to college where he would have excelled as a great quarterback. But he never got the chance. His father, who is in the audience tonight, has become a good friend of mine.”

Trump likes to use anecdotes as evidence for associating violent crimes with illegal immigration, telling stories of victims of homicide by undocumented immigrants. He brought family members of those killed by illegal immigrants as his guests for Tuesday night’s speech. He often talks about the death of Jamiel Shaw Jr., a 17-year-old football star who was killed in 2008 by a gang member who was in the country illegally.

Clearly, stories like this exist. But the vast majority of unauthorized immigrants do not fit Trump’s description of aggravated felons, whose crimes include murder. U.S. Sentencing Commission data show homicides are a small percentage of the crimes committed by noncitizens, whether they are in the United States illegally or not.

The Congressional Research Service found that the vast majority of unauthorized immigrants do not fit in the category of aggravated felons, whose crimes include murder, drug trafficking or illegal trafficking of firearms.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/02/28/fact-checking-president-trumps-address-to-congress/?utm_term=.dc2c2a6b69c0&wpisrc=nl_daily202&wpmm=1

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PWS

03/02/17

Newsweek: Bannon Wants “American Gulag” — Will Anyone Have The Guts To Stop Him?

http://www.newsweek.com/steve-bannon-fever-dream-american-gulag-551472

Jeff Stein writes in this week’s Newsweek:

“Imagine: Miles upon miles of new concrete jails stretching across the scrub-brush horizons of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, with millions of people incarcerated in orange jumpsuits and awaiting deportation.

Such is the fevered vision of a little-noticed segment of President Donald Trump’s sulfurous executive order on border security and immigration enforcement security. Section 5 of the January 25 order calls for the “immediate” construction of detention facilities and allocation of personnel and legal resources “to detain aliens at or near the land border with Mexico” and process them for deportation. But another, much overlooked, order signed the same day spells out, in ominous terms, who will go.

Trump promised a week after the November elections that he would expel or imprison some 2 million or 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions—a number that exists mainly in his imagination. (Only about 820,000 undocumented immigrants currently have a criminal record, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. Many of those have traffic infractions and other misdemeanors.)

Still, the spectre of new, pop-up jails housing hundreds of thousands of people is as powerful a fright-dream for liberals as it is a triumph for the president’s “America first” Svengali, Steve Bannon. But, like the fuzzy Trump order dropping the gate on travelers from seven Muslim-majority states, the deportation measure presents so many fiscal and legal restraints that is also looks suspiciously like just another act of ideological showboating from the rumpled White House strategy chief.

“I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed to the writer Ronald Radosh at a party at his Capitol Hill townhouse in November 2013. “Lenin,” he said of the Russian revolutionary, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

The executive orders were “not issued as result of any recommendation or threat assessment made by DHS to the White House,” Department of Homeland Security officials conceded in a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill Wednesday, according to a statement from Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill. They were all Bannon-style revolutionary theater.

. . . .

Expect DHS to start advertising for bids from private prison operators, a much-maligned industry that was collapsing in the latter years of the Obama administration. Two of the largest, GEO Group Inc. and CoreCivic Inc., are already seeing windfalls from their second chance at life: Their stock prices have nearly doubled since the election.

All of which recalls another Leninist idea that Bannon may have forgotten: Prisons are universities for revolution.”

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Stein’s article confirms what many of us had suspected all along — these draconian and unnecessary measures were were “’not issued as result of any recommendation or threat assessment made by DHS to the White House.’” No, they were part of a pre-hatched anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim program cooked up by Bannon and others in the White House to “make good” on Trump’s campaign promises (regardless of whether the measures were necessary of sensible).

But they will be a boon for two important U.S. industries: the private prison industry and the legal industry, as both sides “lawyer up” for a long-term, avoidable, and wasteful fight. Who needs foreign enemies when the Administration is so determined to wage warfare against a large number of our own citizens and residents who disagree with his ill-considered and ill-timed policies?

Stein’s full article (well worth the read) is at the link.

PWS

02/03/17