GEORGE WILL: Government By the Sinister – How Anti-American Hacks Like Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, and Jeff Sessions Have Taken Power In The Age Of Trump!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/sinister-figures-lurk-around-our-careless-president/2017/10/13/09c9448c-af6e-11e7-be94-fabb0f1e9ffb_story.html

Will writes in today’s Washington Post:

“With eyes wide open, Mike Pence eagerly auditioned for the role as Donald Trump’s poodle. Now comfortably leashed, he deserves the degradations that he seems too sycophantic to recognize as such. He did Trump’s adolescent bidding with last Sunday’s preplanned virtue pageant of scripted indignation — his flight from the predictable sight of players kneeling during the national anthem at a football game. No unblinkered observer can still cling to the hope that Pence has the inclination, never mind the capacity, to restrain, never mind educate, the man who elevated him to his current glory. Pence is a reminder that no one can have sustained transactions with Trump without becoming too soiled for subsequent scrubbing.

A man who interviewed for the position Pence captured, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), is making amends for saying supportive things about Trump. In 2016, for example, he said he was “repulsed” by people trying to transform the Republican National Convention from a merely ratifying body into a deliberative body for the purpose of preventing what has come to pass. Until recently, Corker, an admirable man and talented legislator, has been, like many other people, prevented by his normality from fathoming Trump’s abnormality. Now Corker says what could have been said two years ago about Trump’s unfitness.

The axiom that “Hell is truth seen too late” is mistaken; damnation deservedly comes to those who tardily speak truth that has long been patent. Perhaps there shall be a bedraggled parade of repentant Republicans resembling those supine American communists who, after Stalin imposed totalitarianism, spawned the gulag, engineered the Ukraine famine, launched the Great Terror and orchestrated the show trials, were theatrically disillusioned by his collaboration with Hitler: You, sir, have gone too far.

Trump’s energy, unleavened by intellect and untethered to principle, serves only his sovereign instinct to pander to those who adore him as much as he does. Unshakably smitten, they are impervious to the Everest of evidence that he disdains them as a basket of gullibles. He understands that his unremitting coarseness satisfies their unpolitical agenda of smashing crockery, even though his self-indulgent floundering precludes fulfillment of the promises he flippantly made to assuage their sense of being disdained. He gives his gullibles not governance by tantrum, but tantrum as governance.

With Trump turning and turning in a widening gyre, his crusade to make America great again is increasingly dominated by people who explicitly repudiate America’s premises. The faux nationalists of the “alt-right” and their fellow travelers such as Stephen K. Bannon, although fixated on protecting the United States from imported goods, have imported the blood-and-soil ethno-tribalism that stains the continental European right. In “Answering the Alt-Right” in National Affairs quarterly, Ramon Lopez, a University of Chicago PhD candidate in political philosophy, demonstrates how Trump’s election has brought back to the public stage ideas that a post-Lincoln America had slowly but determinedly expunged. They were rejected because they are incompatible with an open society that takes its bearing from the Declaration of Independence’s doctrine of natural rights.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on Oct. 8 called the White House “an adult day care center” after President Trump criticized him on Twitter. The president hit back on Oct. 10, calling the senator “Liddle’ Bob Corker.” (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde/Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

With their version of the identity politics practiced by progressives, alt-right theorists hold that the tribalism to which people are prone should not be transcended but celebrated. As Lopez explains, the alt-right sees society as inevitably “a zero-sum contest among fundamentally competing identity groups.” Hence the alt-right is explicitly an alternative to Lincoln’s affirmation of the Founders’ vision. They saw America as cohesive because of a shared creed. The alt-right must regard Lincoln as not merely mistaken but absurd in describing America as a creedal nation dedicated to a “proposition.” The alt-right insists that real nationhood requires cultural homogeneity rooted in durable ethnic identities. This is the alt-right’s alternative foundation for the nation Lincoln said was founded on the principle that all people are, by nature, equal.

Trump is, of course, innocent of this (or any other) systemic thinking. However, within the ambit of his vast, brutish carelessness are some people with sinister agendas and anti-constitutional impulses. Stephen Miller, Bannon’s White House residue and Trump’s enfant terrible,recently said that “in sending our [tax reform] proposal to the tax-writing committees, we will include instructions to ensure all low- and middle-income households are protected.” So, Congress will be instructed by Trump’s 32-year-old acolyte who also says the president’s national security powers “will not be questioned.” We await the response of congressional Republicans, who did so little to stop Trump’s ascent and then so much to normalize him.”

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Leave it to Trump and his White Nationalist gang to have me agreeing with George Will, something that rarely happened in the pre-Trump era. But, the folks who perpetrated this mess are our fellow citizens who voted for Trump notwithstanding his clearly established philosophy of sowing and pandering to hate, incompetence, and his glaring unsuitability for any public office. And, too many of those “core supporters” are still out there, coarsely and ignorantly screaming their approval for an Administration that is destroying America, and endangering the lives, rights, and human dignity of many of their fellow Americans, one day at a time.

PWS

10-15-17

“Warren Buffett on Immigration Reform: Buffett feels that immigrants (including undocumented ones) have been and continue to be a key part of our prosperity — not a part of the problem.“

https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/09/29/warren-buffett-on-immigration-reform.aspx

Matthew Frankel reports for The Motley Fool:

“Immigration reform has been a hot-button issue long before President Trump pledged to build a wall along our border. And while there’s certainly an argument to be made that we need to do a better job of controlling illegal immigration, there’s also a strong case to be made that immigrants are a big driving force behind America’s growth — past, present, and future.

Warren Buffett has been very outspoken in recent years about America and its amazing economic story. Not only does Buffett feel that immigrants have led us to where we are today, but he also thinks that immigrants are an essential component of our country’s future success.

Here’s what Warren Buffett thinks of immigrants
In a nutshell, Buffett feels that immigrants (including undocumented ones) have been and continue to be a key part of our prosperity — not a part of the problem. “This country has been blessed by immigrants,” Buffett said in February at Columbia University. “You can take them from any country you want, and they’ve come here and they found something that unleashed the potential that the place that they left did not, and we’re the product of it.”

Referring to Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard, both of whom were immigrants themselves, Buffett said, “If it hadn’t been for those two immigrants, who knows whether we’d be sitting in this room.”

In his most recent letter to Berkshire Hathaway’s (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B) shareholders, Buffett specifically mentioned immigrants as one of the major components of America’s success story. “From a standing start 240 years ago — a span of time less than triple my days on earth — Americans have combined human ingenuity, a market system, a tide of talented and ambitious immigrants, and the rule of law to deliver abundance beyond any dreams of our forefathers.”

On a pathway to citizenship
Buffett is an outspoken Democrat who actively campaigned for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential race. So it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Buffett doesn’t want to deport millions of illegal immigrants who are currently in the United States.

In a 2015 interview with Fox Business, Buffett said

People should be able to earn citizenship who are here. You know, I do not think we should deport millions of people. So, I think we should have a real path to citizenship.

Buffett was then asked specifically about the DREAM Act and its 800,000 minors who are in the country illegally and now face an uncertain future after the end of DACA, from the perspective of a successful American businessman. Buffett replied:

It is a question of being a human being not really a businessman. Immigrants came, our forefathers came as immigrants, they got here anyway they could. And who knows what I would have done if I were in some terrible situation in a country and wanted to come here…a great percentage of them are good citizens. I would have a path to citizenship for them, I would not send them back.

 

On immigration policy and reform
As we all know, the immigration debate has been going on for a long time. And Buffett’s stance hasn’t changed much over the past several years. In a 2013 interview with ABC’s This Week, Buffett said:

I think we should have a more logical immigration policy. It would mean we would attract a lot of people, but we would attract the people we want to attract in particular — in terms of education, tens or hundreds of thousands of people. We enhance their talents and have them stick around here.

Buffett went on to say that any reform package should “certainly offer [undocumented immigrants] the chance to become citizens,” and one main reason for doing so would be to deepen the talent pool of the labor force.

Buffett’s stance on immigration in a nutshell
Warren Buffett believes that allowing immigrants who are already in the country to stay and pursue citizenship is not only the right thing to do, but is essential to America’s continued economic prosperity. Buffett certainly sees the need for immigration reform, as most Americans of all political affiliations do, but wants to encourage and simplify the legal pathways to immigration.”

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Buffet speaks simple truth: Immigrants, both documented and undocumented are not threats, but rather are a necessary ingredient for America’s greatness. We need to bring law-abiding undocumented individuals into our society in some type of legal, work authorized status. We also need substantial across the board increases in legal immigration, so that in the future the immigrants we need can come through the legal system (or wait in a realistic line) rather than coming through an underground system and working and living in the shadows.

The lies, misrepresentations, and false narratives being peddled by Trump, Sessions, Bannon, Miller, Kobach, Cotton, Perdue, King, Goodlatte, Labrador, the so called “Freedom” Caucus, and the rest of their White Nationalist restrictionist cronies are a path to national disaster. Removing existing non-criminal migrants who happen to be working here in undocumented status is a colossal waste of limited Government resources that actually hurts our country in numerous ways.

Time to stand up against the restrictionist, White Nationalist, xenophobic, anti-American blather. Demand that your Congressional representatives back sane, humane immigration reform that takes care of those already here and recognizes their great contributions while appropriately and significantly expanding future legal immigration opportunities so that we don’t keep repreating our mistakes over and over.

Let’s be honest about it. If the time, money, and resources that the U.S. Government is currently spending on the counterproductive aspects of immigration enforcement and inhumane immigration detention were shifted into constructive areas, there would be no “disaster relief crisis” in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands right now, and we’d have more money to spend on heath care, job training and retraining, infrastructure, addressing the opioid crisis, and many more legitimate national priorities!

PWS

09-30-17

AWARD-WINNING NBC INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER JODIE FLEISCHER & THE “I-TEAM” TACKLE THE MAN-MADE DISASTER IN OUR UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION COURTS — Including A Clip Of Her Interview With Me — MUST SEE TV, MONDAY, SEPT. 25, ON THE 6 PM SEGMENT OF NBC4 NEWS!

Those of you who have seen Jodie in action know that she is a brilliant, hard-hitting, no holds barred investigative journalist who always gets to the bottom of her story — no matter how little some public officials want the truth to come out! She and her all-star investigative team, including Senior Investigative Platform Manager Rick Yarborough and Photojournalist Editor Stephen Jones, are relentless.

Using her contacts throughout the nation, Jodie shows you what our Government has been trying to hide for years — the ridiculous backlogs and impending failure of one of our nation’s largest, perhaps the largest, Federal Court system! I was stunned and amazed by the amount of technical knowledge and feeling about the human side of this needless national tragedy that Jodie brought to her interview with me.

The judges and staff of the Immigration Court work hard. That’s always been true. But, that has not helped many of the vulnerable individuals caught up in the morass and not always finding the justice that our laws promise them. Similarly, it does not serve the true needs of DHS enforcement to have results determined by the number of pending cases in a particular court, many of which should have long ago been settled by the responsible exercise of prosecutorial discretion as they would have been in almost any other high volume court system in America.

What has happened to the United States Immigration Courts under the control of the U.S.Department of Justice is a sad tale of bureaucratic incompetence, intransigence, inbreeding, improper influence by enforcement authorities, and inability to provide the independent judiciary that can deliver on the court’s forgotten promise of “guaranteeing fairness and due process for all.” This has combined with a disturbing lack of Congressional oversight and reform. How can we clean up this tragic “train wreck” that threatens to topple the entire Federal Court System and to undermine our nation’s Constitution and our ideals?

Over three quarters of U.S counties now have residents in the Immigration Court system! But, even if you aren’t one of them, or a relative, friend, neighbor, employer, teacher, student, employee, patient, customer, or fellow parishioner of one of them, this mess affects you as an American. If this is the way we treat the most vulnerable among us, what’s going to save you when your precious rights are challenged in a U.S. justice system that has lost sight of justice?

Tune in Monday night to find out more about one of “America’s Most Underreported Crises.” Those interested should be able to “live stream” NBC4 News at 6 with the NBC4 app. I assume it will also be available online in the NBC4 app archives under “Investigative Reporting” once the piece has aired.

PWS

09-23-17

UPDATE:

Part II Of Jodie’s Report, which specifically examines the Baltimore and Arlington Immigration Courts, will air at 11:15 PM tonight.

CHILD PREZ REVERTS TO FORM — Underscores Unfitness For Office By Throwing Spitballs At Hillary!

After a short spell during which Trump unexpectedly demonstrated something resembling Presidential qualities by cutting a budget deal with the Dems and showing an openness to working with Dems and responsible Repubs on a legislative solution for DACA, our “6-Year-Old-In-Chief” let his lack of Presidential qualities hang out again by “re-tweeting” a fake video of him hitting Hillary in the back with a golf ball. Trump is an embarrassment to America.

Here’s the CNN report from Jeremy Diamond:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/17/politics/trump-tweet-clinton/index.html

“(CNN)President Donald Trump retweeted an edited video Sunday morning that showed him swinging a golf club and appearing to hit his former presidential campaign rival Hillary Clinton with a golf ball.

The animated GIF image Trump retweeted spliced together footage of Trump taking a swing on a golf course with footage of Clinton tripping and falling as she boarded a plane in 2011 as secretary of state. The footage is edited to make it appear as though Clinton is hit in the back with a golf ball before her fall.
The tweet revealed a President still reverting to his old social media habits, namely, those likely to earn him quick criticism, less than two months after retired Gen. John Kelly took over as White House chief of staff.
While Kelly has not sought to stop Trump from tweeting, he has encouraged the President to allow him to vet the tweets before posting them — a request Trump has sometimes acquiesced to.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday about the President’s tweet and whether Kelly was aware of it.
A spokesperson for Hillary Clinton declined to comment on the tweet.
Former Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub, who repeatedly criticized the administration about potential conflicts of interest before resigning in July, slammed Trump for the retweet and said he reported it to Twitter for violating the social media platform’s rules of conduct.
“The President of the United States just retweeted a video vignette that imagines him assaulting his political rival. The man is unfit,” tweeted Shaub, who joined the ethics office as a staff attorney early during the George W. Bush administration and was appointed as the office’s director by President Barack Obama.
The tweet, which came as Trump prepares to head to New York for a critical round of powerhouse diplomacy with world leaders at the United Nations, followed a week during which Clinton reemerged in the spotlight as she promoted her new book, “What Happened,” about the 2016 campaign, reviving her fiercest criticisms of Trump and his supporters and reigniting the debate about her stunning, unanticipated loss.
Trump slammed Clinton over her new book earlier this week too, tweeting that she “blames everybody (and every thing) but herself for her election loss.”
Trump’s Sunday morning Twitter post was one of more than a half-dozen supporters’ tweets the President retweeted Sunday before 8:30 a.m.
Those other tweets included an image predicting Trump would win every state for reelection in 2020, another showing Trump hauling US companies that have outsourced manufacturing abroad and a tweet claiming that “only true Americans can see that president Trump is making America great.”
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Read the complete report at the link.
The Emperor never had any clothes (common sense, intelligence, or decency) to begin with! A sad commentary on those who voted for this clown!🤡
 We’re all “living under the Big Top!”🎪🤹‍♂️
PWS
09-16-17

OPTIMISTS’ CORNER: Thinking Ahead To A Post-Trump World! — WashPost Book Review: “One Nation after Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported” by E.J. Dionne, Jr., Norman J. Ornstein, and Thomas E. Mann!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/imaginative-optimism-about-life-in-america-after-trump/2017/09/15/b8b3cc00-94c6-11e7-8754-d478688d23b4_story.html?utm_term=.b261a1306421

Reviewer Beverly Gage writes:

President Trump is not forever. At some point in the not-too-distant future, he will no longer be president, and it will be time to asdamage and begin the recovery process. We don’t know when this will happen: this year or next, in 2021 or 2025. And we don’t know how it will occur: impeachment, resignation, being voted out of office or simply finishing out two terms. But it will happen, and the people in the best position to take advantage of that moment will be those who are already thinking about where we ought to go next. [Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem.] That is the imaginative task behind “One Nation After Trump,” a dense but good-spirited and thoroughly readable exercise in envisioning a better America. The book is a team effort by three well-respected Beltway thinkers: the liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr., the American Enterprise Institute’s more conservative Norman J. Ornstein and Ornstein’s longtime co-author Thomas E. Mann, of the Brookings Institution. Their bipartisan — or, perhaps, tripartisan — work seems intended to send the rest of us a message: It’s time to find some common ground before obstructionism, demagoguery, fake news and racial resentment become the dominant features of our national politics. They call upon the old but good Latin phrase “E pluribus unum” to express those aspirations. “Out of many,” they hope, Americans can still find a way to act as “one.” The book begins with an assessment of the 2016 election, asking how on earth we ended up with our reality-star “Normless President.” Its emphasis is less on Trump, however, than on the long-term structural and cultural changes that made his election possible. The authors have no patience for a “both sides” argument about the degradation of our political culture. They lay the blame firmly within the Republican Party, where a process of “radicalization” that began in the 1980s has now resulted in a “Jurassic Park”-style disaster, with the creators of that change unable to control their own monster. “One Nation After Trump,” by E.J. Dionne Jr. and Norman Ornstein (St. Martin’s Press) While Republicans in general — and conservatives in particular — come in for censure, the authors also stress how seemingly neutral aspects of our political system have conspired in recent years to produce an ominous trend toward undemocratic “minority rule.” The electoral college is perhaps the most obvious example; in two out of the past five presidential elections, the popular-vote winner lost the electoral count. Add to this partisan gerrymandering and the two-senators-per-state rule, and we begin to see a national government that does not fully reflect the will of the national majority. In 2012, the authors note, Democrats won 50.5 percent of the major-party votes in House elections but only 46.2 percent of the seats. And such statistics only begin to capture the scope of the challenge. The same structures that weight votes heavily toward rural and Republican areas also discourage voting in the first place, forever reminding individual voters that they don’t matter unless they live in a few key swing states or congressional districts. So what is to be done? If the book’s first half focuses on the sorry state of things today, the second half focuses on how to not make the same mistakes in the future. The authors claim to be genuinely — if tentatively — hopeful about what Trump’s election may ultimately yield for American civic life. “We believe that the popular mobilization and national soul-searching he has aroused could be the occasion for an era of democratic renewal,” they write. But that will happen only if Trump’s opponents across the political spectrum come up with “a hopeful and unifying alternative.” The authors present an impressive list of policy ideas designed to do just that and perhaps even to dispel some of Trump’s allure within the MAGA base. They make a distinction between the “legitimate” (read: economic) grievances of Trump voters and the illegitimate expression of those grievances in the politics of racial and nativist resentment. They chastise Democrats for paying insufficient attention to the real pain of working-class voters, sidelined for decades by deindustrialization and now by an incomplete recovery from the financial crisis. But they insist — rightly — that any attempt to address those problems cannot come at the expense of other social justice movements. Many of their proposals are at once ambitious and reasonable, attempts to make the government work better for its citizens and to deliver a measure of economic justice to those left behind. They group these ideas into a Charter for American Working Families, including a GI Bill for American Workers, designed to revive the all-but-dying dream of economic mobility, and a Contract for American Social Responsibility, aimed at getting corporations to take their public obligations seriously. “Warm feelings are not the same as coherent policies,” they warn. At the same time, they can’t help but dream that the two need not be mutually exclusive. It is hard to object to much about these plans, with their emphasis on fairness and comity and partisan goodwill. And yet there is something incongruous about the authors’ belief that good policy, judiciously presented, will yield the desired political transformation. As the authors note, one of the more depressing lessons of the 2016 election was that policy simply didn’t matter much. Nobody, including his own voters, thought Trump had much policy expertise. On the campaign trail, however, his abuse of wonks and elites and bureaucrats seemed to work in his favor.”

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Read Gage’s complete review, with original and much better formatting, at the link.

I’ve made the point before that those of us who believe in the goodness of America and the strength of a nation based on diversity of backgrounds, cultures, and talents, that is, the majority of Americans, have somehow found ourselves in the unhappy position of being governed by a President and a Party that largely represent the disonent views of a (often unjustifiably) “disgruntled minority” that does not share that vision. There is actually plenty of room for that minority to peacefully coexist and prosper in the majority worldview; but little room for the more humane and tolerant views of the majority in this minority’s crabbed and too often largely self-centered worldview.

Somehow, over time, that has to change for our country to continue to move forward and accomplish great things for ourselves and, perhaps even more important, for others throughout the world. And, there will always be plenty of room for that “disonent minority” regardless of how long it take them to, or if they ever do, “see the light.”

PWS

09-16-17

 

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

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

Edward-Isaac Devore writes in Politico:

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

None of it is working.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Read the complete article at the link.

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

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

PWS

09-13-17

TAL KOPAN AT CNN: WE’LL SOON LEARN IF THERE IS ANY LIMIT TO THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S BAD IMMIGRATION POLICIES: Hundreds Of Thousands Of U.S. Workers & Families In “TPS” Status Anxiously Await Word Of Their Fate!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/11/politics/next-daca-tps-temporary-protected-status/index.html

Tal reports

“To qualify for protections from El Salvador, recipients must have lived in the United States since 2001, and for Honduras, it’s 1998, meaning any revocation of the program would upend lives built in the United States for nearly 20 years.
Lawmakers have been pressing the Trump administration to preserve temporary protected status for the countries whose deadlines for redesignation are coming up soon, citing the communities that would be harmed. At a meeting in July with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly indicated he could end Haiti’s status but hadn’t made a decision on Central America.
In addition to the humanitarian concerns, supporters of the program point to analyses that show an economic impact from revoking it.
“If El Salvador terminates, literally 260,000 eligible workers will fall out of the workforce at the stroke of midnight on whatever day that happens,” Rodriguez said.
An analysis by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, which advocates for pro-immigration policies, found that deporting all the immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti who have temporary protected status would cost $3.1 billion and take away $6.9 billion in contributions to Social Security and Medicare and $45.2 billion to the gross domestic product over a decade. Turnover costs for their employers would total nearly $1 billion.
“There’s different elements to the concern,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from California. “First, in the case of people who’ve been here a considerable period of time, people become members of their community, and so … a couple decades later, you own businesses, you have families, you have grandchildren, you’re kind of part of our situation here.”
Lofgren said the designated countries often remain in dire straits, and sending people back to them would be “unwise.”
The program is one of the issues that Congress needs to tackle as part of immigration reform because insisting on keeping recipients’ status temporary becomes untenable, she said.
“There should be some rational way to transition people who have been here for a long time, and in the case of these people, they’ve been here in legal status, who because of the length of their stay have basically become valued members of our community,” Lofgren said. “That’s a matter of a change of immigration law.”
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Read Tal’s complete article at the link.
Terminating TPS would further de-stabbilize the U.S. Immigration Court system because many, probably the majority of TPS recipients have court cases that were “administratively closed” and therefore taken off that Court’s docket (currently totalling more than 610,000 cases with some hearings already scheduled four or more years in the future). Merely the preliminary act of “moving to re-calendar” the TPS cases all at once could crash the court system, given its current non-automated, largely manual, paper intensive procedures and lack of any e-filing.
If hundreds of thousands of individuals were returned to El Salvador it would likely de-stabllize the country and lead to collapse and internal chaos. Additionally, loss of “remittances” sent to El Salvador by legally working TPS individuals in the U.S. would almost certainly send the El Salvadoran economy into a tailspin. For that reason, a prior plan during the Clinton Administration for a phase-out of Salvadoran TPS led to panicked entreaties from the Salvadoran Government to the Administration to leave the TPS program in place.
From my perspective as an Immigration Judge, TPS was one of the “smartest” programs ever. It allowed many deserving individuals with difficult asylum cases that would have taken many hours of hearing time to be removed from the court docket with minimal work for the Immigration Court and our overburdened staff. Even “de novo review” of a TPS denial could ordinarily be accomplished in a 30 minute “short block” of hearing time rather than a 3-hour “full block” hearing.
TPS combined efficient adjudication by USCIS with needed work authorization for American families, while “demurring” on the more difficult questions of green card status or a path to citizenship. It also had an effective  enforcement mechanism. Those relatively few TPS individuals who committed a felony or two or more misdemeanors were arrested, placed in detention, stripped of status, and in most cases removed from the U.S. promptly under the policies placed in effect by the Obama Administration.
PWS
09-11-17

NYT: MASHA GESSEN: “Immigrants Shouldn’t Have to Be ‘Talented’ to Be Welcome”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/opinion/daca-immigrants-economic-contributions.html?&moduleDetail=section-news-1&action=click&contentCollection=Opinion®ion=Footer&module=MoreInSection&version=WhatsNext&contentID=WhatsNext&pgtype=article

Gessen writes:

“But what’s wrong with the decision to discontinue DACA is that people — not workers — will be deported. Lives — not careers — will be shattered. The problem is that it’s inhumane. As long as politicians consider it necessary to qualify the victims as “hardworking” or “talented,” they fail to stand up to the administration’s fundamentally hateful immigration agenda.

The reform package backed by Mr. Trump last month also claims to pursue economic aims. Neither Democrats nor Republicans — nor critics in the news media — have taken issue with this underlying premise: They have largely argued that the package proposes the wrong means for reaching economic ends. The plan would limit immigration to the young, highly educated and highly qualified. It would effectively stop immigrants from being able to bring family members to the United States. If an immigrant is but a cog in the economic machine, then what do parents, grown children and siblings matter? The logic is dehumanizing but hardly new or unique to the Republican Party. Mr. Sanders’s campaign plank argued for preserving family-based visas in the following terms: “Family is integral to a worker’s pursuit of happiness and economic productivity.”

Mr. Sanders’s platform made the barest mention of refugees. Mrs. Clinton’s published program made none. Mr. Trump, of course, wanted to drastically reduce the already small number of refugees that the United States accepts.

Refugees don’t fall into the economic logic of immigration. The argument for accepting refugees is not that they are good — for the economy, or for the country’s ability to meet its international obligations, or even because they are good people — but that America is good. This is where the sleight of hand of turning stories of immigrant success into the story of America becomes dangerous. It’s not immigrants’ economic contribution that makes America proud; it’s its adherence to the words inscribed inside the base of the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor/your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” — from the Emma Lazarus poem that the White House adviser Stephen Miller waved away last month during a news conference on immigration reform.

The controversy following Mr. Miller’s comments focused on the poem. But the argument for refugees is less poetic than it is pragmatic. As Arendt wrote in that essay, “the outlawing of the Jewish people in Europe has been followed closely by the outlawing of most European nations.” This was just a first step, Arendt wrote: “The comity of European peoples went to pieces when, and because, it allowed its weakest member to be excluded and persecuted.”

If immigration is debated only in terms of whether it benefits the economy, politicians begin to divide people into two categories: “valuable” and “illegal.” When countries make people illegal, the world comes apart. When we agree to talk about people as cogs, we lose our humanity.”

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Read the complete op-ed at the link.

I generally agree with Gessen: we should save as many lives as possible, at least of folks who are not coming to harm us. We have approximately 11 million individuals living outside the law now; the results have been overwhelmingly a boon both for our country and the individuals. This suggests that we could and should have been admitting hundreds of thousands of additional legal immigrants annually. Yes, there probably is an outer limit. But, we’re nowhere near it, and haven’t seriously and realistically discussed it during my lifetime.

Leaving aside refugees and others in immediate danger, the market influences the flow to a much greater extent than most critics will admit. If there are no jobs and no opportunities, individuals who have a choice will stop coming or go elsewhere. Indeed, I noticed that during recession, some who were already here departed voluntarily, believing that with money they had made in the US, and dwindling opportunities here, they would be better off somewhere else. Moreover, by no means does everyone want to come to the US.

A normalized immigration system would allow us to do better screening of prospective immigrants. Also, if there were reasonable waiting lists for immigration, most individuals would choose to come within the system, rather than outside it. But, when legal immigration is an impossibility, or waiting lists stretch out for a decade for more, the incentive for legal immigration evaporates.

More legal immigration coming through a regularized system would also allow for better security screening, more effective border control, and a much more focused and efficient use of immigration enforcement  resources. There would be a better chance that those coming outside the system would actually be “bad guys” whom we should remove, rather than construction workers, maids, gardeners, refugees of various types, and family members whose apprehension and removal does not serve the national interest.

We  actually have a much more “robust”and expansive immigration system in reality than “on paper.” But, with our overly restrictive legal immigration laws, we have blown our chance to regulate and regularize the inevitable flow of migrants. More restrictions and more arbitrary enforcement in the false name of “rule of law” will not give us control. But, it will be expensive, dehumanizing, and ultimately against our real national interests.

Yes, immigration restrictionists don’t want to face up to the truth about migration. They will continue to push their false and alarmist narratives. But, at some point, the rest of us will do better to act on humane and realistic principles, rather than on fear and loathing.

PWS

09-07-17

TRUMP & PUTIN USE THE SAME BOGUS TACTIC TO CHANGE THE DIALOGUE: “Whataboutism”

http://wapo.st/2fPY0v

Dan Zak writes in the Washington Post:

“What about antifa? What about free speech? What about the guy who shot Steve Scalise? What about the mosque in Minnesota that got bombed? What about North Korea? What about murders in Chicago? What about Ivanka at the G-20? What about Vince Foster? If white pride is bad, then what about gay pride? What about the stock market? What about those 33,000 deleted emails? What about Hitler? What about the Crusades? What about the asteroid that may one day kill us all? What about Benghazi?

What about what about what about.

We’ve gotten very good at what-abouting.

The president has led the way.

His campaign may or may not have conspired with Moscow, but President Trump has routinely employed a durable old Soviet propaganda tactic. Tuesday’s bonkers news conference in New York was Trump’s latest act of “whataboutism,” the practice of short-circuiting an argument by asserting moral equivalency between two things that aren’t necessarily comparable. In this case, the president wondered whether the removal of a statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville — where white supremacists clashed this weekend with counterprotesters — would lead to the teardown of others.

Donald Trump’s news conference on Tuesday offered a crash course in whataboutism. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Robert E. Lee? What about George Washington?

“George Washington was a slave owner,” Trump said to journalists in the lobby of his corporate headquarters. “Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson?”

Using the literal “what about” construction, Trump then went on to blame “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville.

“What about the ‘alt-left’ that came charging at the, as you say, the ‘alt-right’?” the president said. “Do they have any semblance of guilt?”

For a nanosecond, especially to an uncritical listener, this stab at logic might seem interesting, even thought-provoking, and that’s why it’s a useful political tool. Whataboutism appears to broaden context, to offer a counterpoint, when really it’s diverting blame, muddying the waters and confusing the hell out of rational listeners.

“Not only does it help to deflect your original argument but it also throws you off balance,” says Alexey Kovalev, an independent Russian journalist, on the phone from Moscow. “You’re expecting to be in a civilized argument that doesn’t use cheap tricks like that. You are playing chess and your opponent — while making a lousy move — he just punches you on the nose.”

Vladi­mir Putin has made a national sport of what-abouting. In 2014, when a journalist challenged him on his annexation of Crimea, Putin brought up the U.S. annexation of Texas. The American invasion of Iraq is constantly what-abouted on state television, to excuse all kinds of Russian behavior.

In Edward Snowden, “Russia has found the ultimate whataboutism mascot,” the Atlantic’s Olga Khazan wrote in 2013. “By granting him asylum, Russia casts itself, even if momentarily, as a defender of human rights, and the U.S. as the oppressor.”

The term was first coined as “whataboutery” and “the whatabouts,” in stories about the Irish Republican Army in the 1970s, according to linguist Ben Zimmer. But the practice goes back to the chilly depths of the Cold War.

“An old joke 50 years ago was that if you went to a Stalinist and criticized the Soviet slave-labor camps, the Stalinist would say, ‘Well what about the lynchings in the American South?’” philosopher Noam Chomsky once said.”

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Read the entire article at the link.

Trump is an expert on this; most of us “bite” at least some of the time. He’s also a master practitioner of the “big lie” — a technique used by Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler, among others.

PWS

08-19-17

FORMER SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD IN THE GUARDIAN: TRUMP’s WHITE SUPREMACISM IS PART OF THE GOP AGENDA!

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/19/republican-party-white-supremacists-charlottesville

Feingold writes:

“It takes approximately 30 seconds to send a tweet. A half hour to draft and release a statement. And the shelf life of both is only marginally longer. We should not commend Republican party elected officials who claim outrage on social media at Trump’s remarks, often without daring to mention his name. The phony claimed outrage becomes dangerous if it convinces anyone that there is a distinction between Trump’s abhorrent comments and the Republican Party agenda.

The lesson from Charlottesville is not how dangerous the neo-Nazis are. It is the unmasking of the Republican party leadership. In the wake of last weekend’s horror and tragedy, let us finally, finally rip off the veneer that Trump’s affinity for white supremacy is distinct from the Republican agenda of voter suppression, renewed mass incarceration and the expulsion of immigrants.

There is a direct link between Trump’s comments this week and those policies, so where is the outrage about the latter? Where are the Republican leaders denouncing voter suppression as racist, un-American and dangerous? Where are the Republican leaders who are willing to call out the wink (and the direct endorsement) from President Trump to the white supremacists and acknowledge their own party’s record and stance on issues important to people of color as the real problem for our country?

Republicans on the voter suppression commission are enabling Trump’s agenda and that of the white Nazi militia
Words mean nothing if the Republican agenda doesn’t change. Governors and state legislatures were so quick to embrace people of color in order to avoid the impression, they too share Trump’s supreme affinity for the white race. But if they don’t stand up for them they are not indirectly, but directly enabling the agenda of those same racists that Republican members were so quick to condemn via Twitter.

Gerrymandering, strict voter ID laws, felon disenfranchisement are all aimed at one outcome: a voting class that is predominantly white, and in turn majority Republican.

 

The white supremacist chant of, “you will not replace us,” could easily and accurately be the slogan for these Republican politicians. Their policies will achieve the same racial outcome as Jim Crow – the disenfranchisement and marginalization of people of color.

It is a sad day when more CEOs take action by leaving and shutting down Trump’s Strategy and Policy Forum, and Manufacturing Council, than elected officials take action leaving Trump’s “election integrity” commission.

Businessman are acting more responsive to their customers than politicians are to their voters. At the end of the day, which presidential council is more dangerous? Which most embodies the exact ideology that Trump spewed on Monday? A group of businessmen coming together to talk jobs or a group of elected officials coming together to disenfranchise voters of color?

Anyone still sitting on the voter suppression commission is enabling Trump’s agenda and that of the white Nazi militia that stormed Charlottesville to celebrate a time when the law enforced white supremacy.

If Republican lawmakers want to distinguish themselves from Trump’s comments, they need to do more than type out 144 characters on their phone. They need to take a hard look at their party’s agenda.”

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Read the full article at the link.

I’ve noticed the clear pattern going back to the beginning of the campaign: Trump says or does something totally outrageous; GOP leaders disassociate themselves and claim it doesn’t represent the “real” GOP (whatever that might be); shortly thereafter the same folks go back to supporting Trump and the GOP agenda directed at insuring White control. Nobody switches party, resigns in protest, or tells voters how incompetent and dangerous Trump is. Indeed, these guys are scared silly that they will actually turn off Trump’s White Nationalist base that insures them power even though it’s been many years since they racked up a majority of the popular vote in a national election. Trump then goes on to the next outrage, and the process repeats itself.

Someday, the majority of American voters might actually get a Government that represents their interests rather than those of a White Nationalist minority. But, not any time soon if the GOP can prevent it. So far, they are doing a bang up job of it.

PWS

08-19-17

 

 

 

 

CIVIL RIGHTS: Sessions Discovers America’s REAL Civil Rights Crisis — Insufficient White Privilege — Every White Kid Should Have Have Preferred Admission (How Else Do You Think Trump & Some Of His Cronies Got Into Good Schools?) — Gonzo Wants To Use Taxpayer $$$ To Turn Civil Rights Laws Against Blacks & Other Minorities!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/01/us/politics/trump-affirmative-action-universities.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Charlie Savage reports for the NY Times:

“WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, according to a document obtained by The New York Times.

The document, an internal announcement to the civil rights division, seeks current lawyers interested in working for a new project on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”

The announcement suggests that the project will be run out of the division’s front office, where the Trump administration’s political appointees work, rather than its Educational Opportunities Section, which is run by career civil servants and normally handles work involving schools and universities.

The document does not explicitly identify whom the Justice Department considers at risk of discrimination because of affirmative action admissions policies. But the phrasing it uses, “intentional race-based discrimination,” cuts to the heart of programs designed to bring more minority students to university campuses.

Supporters and critics of the project said it was clearly targeting admissions programs that can give members of generally disadvantaged groups, like black and Latino students, an edge over other applicants with comparable or higher test scores.

The project is another sign that the civil rights division is taking on a conservative tilt under President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. It follows other changes in Justice Department policy on voting rights, gay rights and police reforms.

. . . .

The pending start of the affirmative action project — division lawyers who want to work on it must submit their résumés by Aug. 9, the announcement said — joins a series of changes involving civil rights law since Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

In a lawsuit challenging Texas’ strict voter identification law, the Justice Department switched its position, dropping the claim that the law was intentionally discriminatory and later declaring that the law had been fixed. Mr. Sessions has also made clear he is not interested in using consent decrees to impose reforms on troubled police departments and has initiated a sweeping review of existing agreements.

Last week, the Justice Department, without being asked, filed a brief in a private employment discrimination lawsuit. It urged an appeals court not to interpret the ban on sex-based discrimination in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as covering sexual orientation. The Obama administration had shied from taking a stand on that question.

Vanita Gupta, who ran the civil rights division in the Obama administration’s second term and is now president of the liberal Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, noted that the briefs in the Texas voter identification and gay-rights cases were signed only by Trump administration political appointees, not career officials, just as the affirmative action project will apparently be run directly by the division’s front office.

“The fact that the position is in the political front office, and not in the career section that enforces antidiscrimination laws for education, suggests that this person will be carrying out an agenda aimed at undermining diversity in higher education without needing to say it,” Ms. Gupta said.

The civil rights division has been a recurring culture-war battleground as it passed between Democratic and Republican administrations.”

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Wow! Talk about waste, fraud, and abuse by political officials at the DOJ! Oh, GAO, where art thou when the country needs you? Assuming that any minorities can still vote by the time Sessions and Trump get through — a big if — they might want to consider turning out for candidates who will support the “original intent” of Civil Rights laws, rather than perverting them to further entrench  the White (Largely Male) GOP Establishment.

PWS

08-02-17

COLBERT I. KING IN WASHPOST OP-ED: “Americans put Trump in the Oval Office. What does that say about the country?”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/americans-put-trump-in-the-oval-office-what-does-that-say-about-americans/2017/07/14/e6dd8996-67e8-11e7-a1d7-9a32c91c6f40_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.490e8d0e535b

King writes:

“The vaudeville show that’s running at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue didn’t book itself into the White House. Nearly 63 million Americans sent that burlesque comedy with headliner Donald Trump to Washington. That 66 million other voters thought otherwise is beside the point. Trump didn’t anoint himself president. Millions put him in office.

What does that tell us about the country?

Was hatred of President Barack Obama, fear of Hillary Clinton, outrage over America’s perceived direction enough to transfer the reins to Trump?

It’s not as if the Trump on display in the Oval Office is not the same Trump we saw on the campaign trail or on reality TV or out and about touting his businesses. He was, by any yardstick, the most unqualified presidential nominee in modern history.

Trump didn’t seize the presidency by deception. For months on end, he was out there for all voters to see, measure and judge. Some of us did offer our preelection assessments, based upon his campaign, well before time came to cast ballots.

In my view, Trump showed himself to be one who could be neither out-demagogued nor out-nastied.

Well in advance of the vote, the country heard Trump’s vile insults and claims: Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists; Obama wasn’t born in the United States and was an illegitimate president.

 

And his attacks on people. Megyn Kelly: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” Jews: “The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): “He’s not a war hero . . . I like people that weren’t captured.” My journalist colleague Serge Kovaleski, who has limited mobility in his arms: “Now the poor guy, you ought to see this guy,” Trump said, before contorting his arms in an apparent impersonation.

Trump the candidate showed himself to be an ignorant, undisciplined, ranting bully who exaggerated and lied without shame. A man who wore a tough-guy masculinity but was actually a coward, who picked on women, demeaned minorities and was thoroughly lacking in human decency.

Trump’s character defects were on full display well before the polls opened.

President Trump’s behavior in the White House has been equally as disgusting and beneath the dignity of that high office.

And now our nation’s capital is being wrenched apart by the Trump-Russia scandal and congressional and federal investigations into the Kremlin’s intrusion in the election.

The country can’t claim not to have seen this coming.”

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Read King’s full op-ed at the link.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the Trump fiasco is that although he might be “historically unpopular,” his support in the polls has remained steady at around 35% – 40%. That means that at least 1/3 of Americans are willing to accept incompetence, dishonesty, bias, racism, xenophobia, intentional cruelty and divisiveness, nepotism, bullying, anti-intellectualism, scientific ignorance, undermining national security, and misogyny as the “new norms” in America. It essentially means that a substantial number of our fellow Americans have put themselves out of reach of rational political dialogue. That’s going to make America “tough to govern” no matter who wins the next round of elections.

PWS

07-15-17

NYT: CONFEDERACY OF LIARS!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/11/opinion/donald-trump-jr-russian-lawyer.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170711&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=0&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

Today’s NY Times Editorial:

“At a critical juncture in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign last year, his son Donald Trump Jr. met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer who promised to share political dirt on Hillary Clinton. Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, and Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and a key strategist, also attended.

The June 9, 2016, meeting is of obvious interest to Robert Mueller III, the Justice Department special counsel investigating the Trump team’s potential involvement in Russia’s effort to influence the presidential election. In two clumsy statements over the weekend, the younger Mr. Trump on Saturday said the meeting was related to Russia’s freezing of an adoption program popular with Americans. When confronted a day later with a Times story citing authoritative sources that Ms. Veselnitskaya had promised damaging material on Mrs. Clinton, he said that the information she supplied was essentially meaningless and merely a “pretext” for discussing the adoption issue.

On the face of it, this seemed a clear though perhaps unintended admission by Donald Trump Jr. that he had gone into the meeting expecting damaging information, and the episode is clearly grist for Mr. Mueller’s mill. As is a report Monday night by The Times that the president’s son had received an email saying Ms. Veselnitskaya’s information came from Moscow. But his shifty statements are also further evidence of how freely his father and the people around the president contort the truth. Only six months in, President Trump has compiled a record of dishonesty — ranging from casual misstatements to flat-out lies — without precedent in the modern presidency. Equally disheartening is his team’s willingness to share in his mendacity.

On Sunday, before Donald Trump Jr. acknowledged that there was a Clinton-related aspect to the meeting, Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, was on Fox News suggesting that the Veselnitskaya episode was “a big nothingburger” for the Trump campaign.

If a culture of dishonesty takes root in an administration, how can Americans believe anything its officials say? Take, for instance, the matter of whether President Vladimir Putin of Russia personally directed Moscow’s hacking of the 2016 presidential election. In statements dating from his first days in office until the eve of his meeting with Mr. Putin in Germany last week, when he said “nobody really knows,” Mr. Trump has deflected and sought to discredit his own intelligence agencies’ finding that Moscow, at Mr. Putin’s direction, tried to disrupt the election to help him win. Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, said after the American and Russian presidents met in Hamburg that they “had a very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject” and that Mr. Trump had “pressed” Mr. Putin on the issue. Later, Mr. Trump made much the same claim on Twitter. The Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, had quite a different version of the facts, suggesting that Mr. Trump had characterized the hacking controversy as a “campaign” against Russia in which “not a single fact has been produced.” So whom should Americans believe? In a more credible administration, who would ever ask?

On Monday, Donald Trump Jr. hired a lawyer, while maintaining on Twitter that he’d been forthright in answering questions about the meeting last year. Meanwhile, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy press secretary, blew more smoke: The “only thing I see inappropriate” about the meeting, she said, is that it was leaked to the media.”

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Not only are they congenital liars, but they aren’t even very good at it!

PWS

07-11-17

NADA BAKOS IN WASHPOST OUTLOOK: Trump Tweets Threaten Our National Security!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/president-trumps-twitter-feed-is-a-gold-mine-for-foreign-spies/2017/06/23/e3e3b0b0-5764-11e7-a204-ad706461fa4f_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-b%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.f1a2ff55b798

Bakos writes:

“Every time President Trump tweets, journalists and Twitter followers attempt to analyze what he means. Intelligence agencies around the world do, too: They’re trying to determine what vulnerabilities the president of the United States may have. And he’s giving them a lot to work with.

Trump’s Twitter feed is a gold mine for every foreign intelligence agency. Usually, intelligence officers’ efforts to collect information on world leaders are methodical, painstaking and often covert. CIA operatives have risked their lives to learn about foreign leaders so the United States could devise strategies to counter our adversaries. With Trump, though, secret operations are not necessary to understand what’s on his mind: The president’s unfiltered thoughts are available night and day, broadcast to his 32.7 million Twitter followers immediately and without much obvious mediation by diplomats, strategists or handlers.

Intelligence agencies try to answer these main questions when looking at a rival head of state: Who is he as a person? What type of leader is he? How does that compare to what he strives to be or presents himself as? What can we expect from him? And how can we use this insight to our advantage?

 

At the CIA, I tracked and analyzed terrorists and other U.S. enemies, including North Korea. But we never had such a rich source of raw intelligence about a world leader, and we certainly never had the opportunity that our adversaries (and our allies) have now — to get a real-time glimpse of a major world leader’s preoccupations, personality quirks and habits of mind. If we had, it would have given us significant advantages in our dealings with them.

. . . .

Analysts would also be likely to use technology to perform content analysis on the president’s tweets in the aggregate. Intelligence agencies can employ a more robust version than the open-source projects that news organizations have used, because they can marry Trump’s tweets with information they collect through intercepts and other means. Software could look for patterns in speech or word categories representing confidence related to policy, whether Trump is considering opposing points of view and if he harbors uncertainty toward any subject. Computers can perform metadata analysis to build timelines and compare Trump’s Twitter feed with his known public schedule, creating a database of when and where he tweets and what else he’s doing at the time. Anything that provides a digital footprint adds context to the analysis.

Trump says it’s the press’s fault that he uses Twitter as much as he does. His aides clearly want him to stop, but the president just as clearly wants and needs to be heard unfiltered. Fortunately for him, the platform lets him speak directly to his supporters whenever he chooses. Unfortunately for the rest of us, they aren’t the only ones listening.”

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Read the entire article about how our President’s reckless behavior and childish lack of self-restraint endangers America. And, this doesn’t even get into his inviting Russian diplomats into the White House, handing over classified information, or ignoring the seriousness of the Russian’s attempts to interfere with our last election.

Yeah, I know that according to recent reports, the Obama Administration badly flubbed the Russian election investigation. Big time! But, Trump is President now, and he seems determined to sweep the Kremlin’s attack on our fundamental institutions under the rug rather than getting to the bottom of it and taking effective steps to prevent its repetition.

PWS

06-25-48

RELIGION: Gary Silverman In Financial Times: How White Evangelicals Traded The Mercy & Hope Of Jesus Christ For The False “Profit” Donald Trump!

https://www.ft.com/content/b41d0ee6-1e96-11e7-b7d3-163f5a7f229c

Silverman writes:

“Trump’s efforts to reach evangelicals during the campaign were marred by technical difficulties. After an appearance at Liberty University in Virginia, which was founded by Falwell, Trump was lampooned for quoting from a section of the Bible he called “Two Corinthians”, rather than “Second Corinthians”, as would customarily be done. Ultimately, Liberty University split over Trump. Its current president, Jerry Falwell Jr, endorsed his candidacy. But Mark DeMoss, a member of the university’s board of trustees and a former chief of staff for the elder Falwell, objected and resigned as a trustee. In a Washington Post interview last year, DeMoss described Trump’s rhetoric as antithetical to Christian values.

“Donald Trump is the only candidate who has dealt almost exclusively in the politics of personal insult,” DeMoss said. “The bullying tactics of personal insult have no defence — and certainly not for anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ. That’s what’s disturbing to so many people. It’s not [the] Christ-like behaviour that Liberty has spent 40 years promoting with its students.”

Nonetheless, Trump was backed by 81 per cent of white voters who identified themselves as evangelical Christians, more than recent Republican candidates such as Mitt Romney and John McCain, according to the Pew Research Center, and more even than George W Bush, whose strategist Karl Rove made wooing them a priority of the campaign. Analysts say Trump made evangelicals an offer that they could not refuse. Unlike his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton — who was both disliked by conservatives and uncompromising in her support of a woman’s right to choose — Trump pledged to appoint an anti-abortion justice to fill the vacancy on a Supreme Court that was split between conservatives and liberals.

The white evangelical flight to Trump has caused “deep heartbreak” for “evangelicals of colour” who see him as a bigot, says Jim Wallis, a progressive evangelical leader in Washington. “It’s the most painful divide I have seen in the churches since the beginning of the civil rights movement.”

. . . .

But that’s not the way things look at the house on a hill in Auburn, Alabama, where Wayne Flynt lives with his wife of 55 years, Dorothy. As evangelical Christianity has grown more successful in the political realm, Flynt fears that it has been reduced to a sum of its slogans. Lost in the transition, he says, is the traditional evangelical standard for sizing up candidates — “personal moral character”, which includes such criteria as marital fidelity, church attendance and kindness.

“No one I know of would argue that Donald Trump inculcates moral character,” Flynt says. “What has happened to American Christianity is there is this afterglow of what a candidate is supposed to represent. It’s no longer moral character. It’s policy positions on things that bother evangelicals.”

Flynt says evangelical Christians are mainly mobilising against the sins they either do not want to commit (homosexual acts) or cannot commit (undergoing an abortion, in the case of men). They turn a blind eye toward temptations such as adultery and divorce that interest them. In 2010, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution calling the rising incidence of divorce among its members a “scandal”. A Pew Research Center study in 2015 found that evangelical Protestants in the US were more likely to be divorced or separated than Catholics, Jews, Muslims or atheists.

“Jesus says four times in four different places: do not divorce,” Flynt says. “Does divorce bother evangelicals? No, absolutely not. Does adultery bother evangelicals? No, not really, because if so they wouldn’t have voted for Donald Trump. So what bothers them? Abortion and same-sex marriage. Beyond that, there’s no longer an agenda.”

Flynt, who left the Southern Baptist Convention in 1979 to protest its turn to the right, notes ruefully that his former denomination has lost members for nine years in a row.

Into this religious void, he believes, stepped Trump, an unabashed materialist and hedonist — “What is right to Donald Trump is what gives him pleasure,” Flynt says — who thinks that he alone can make America great again.

“To be sure, every politician has some element of narcissism, but he has perfected narcissism, he has made it the supreme element of his life, and not only that, evangelicals have responded in an almost messianic way that he is the saviour, which makes him feel really good because he does believe he is the saviour,” Flynt says. “It is kind of curious evangelicals would not be offended by this. I am as an American Christian. I’m offended because I already thought following Jesus was going to make us great again.”

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Whatever happened to the Christian message of humanity, humility, faith, self-sacrifice, generosity to all, mercy, forgiveness, understanding, peace, elevating the spiritual over the material, and grace? I hear those things from Pope Francis (although I’m not a Catholic). But, not from Trump and his zealots. Go figure!

PWS

06-25-17