POLITICS: According To The Polls & Mainstream Media, Trump Is Historically Unpopular & The GOP Can’t Govern — But, That’s News To Actual Voters Who Continue To Prefer The GOP To Dems!

Upset, schmupset, the four consecutive House races that Dems have lost in the “Trump” era are exactly the types of elections they are going to have to consistently win to retake power. Yes, it’s an improvement for our system when there are more competitive races, and it’s good for Dems that they are actually taking races in “GOP Territory” seriously.

But, in Georgia, the Democratic Candidate John Ossoff actually ran behind Hillary Clinton who narrowly lost the District to Trump. There was no GOP incumbent, and now-Rep. Karen Handel actually beat Ossoff by a very comfortable margin of almost 4 points.

I keep saying it. The strategy of counting on Trump to self-destruct, the inability of the GOP to govern, and criticism of the GOP’s “help the rich, stiff everyone else” agenda isn’t working any better in the post-election era than it did for Hillary. The Dems are leaderless, programless, and all too often clueless. Until that changes, the reign of Trump and one-party government in America is likely to continue, notwithstanding the polls and the media.

And, speaking of polls and the media, remember their performance in predicting the mood of America and the results of the 2016 election. Not much has changed.

PWS

06-21-17

WashPost: Trump Now Appears To Have Made Himself Possible Target Of Russia Probe!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/special-counsel-is-investigating-trump-for-possible-obstruction-of-justice/2017/06/14/9ce02506-5131-11e7-b064-828ba60fbb98_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_trumpmueller625pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.16b2d1da2136

“The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.

The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said.

Trump had received private assurances from then-FBI Director James B. Comey starting in January that he was not personally under investigation. Officials say that changed shortly after Comey’s firing.

Five people briefed on the requests, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said that Daniel Coats, the current director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, and Rogers’s recently departed deputy, Richard Ledgett, agreed to be interviewed by Mueller’s investigators as early as this week. The investigation has been cloaked in secrecy, and it is unclear how many others have been questioned by the FBI.”

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

Read the complete article at the link.

Predictably, Trump will be outraged by the “leakers.” But, his problems are totally self-created. And, they are only going to get worse if he can’t stop talking and tweeting about it. Don’t know where this is eventually going. I do know, however, that it isn’t going away any time soon.

PWS

06-14-17

 

SESSIONS SUMMARY: Irritated, Indignant, Not Very Informative! — Selective Memory On Display!

Of the many summaries floating around the internet, I found this one from “Will Drabold at Mic” to be the most useful:

Navigating Trump’s America — Special Jeff Sessions Edition — Tuesday, June 13, 2017
YOUR DAILY READ ON HOW THE
COUNTRY IS CHANGING UNDER DONALD TRUMP.
By Will Drabold at Mic.

 

Today’s question: Will Jeff Sessions’ testimony come to haunt him? Or did he hold up well under the spotlight? Email us at trumpsamerica@mic.com and join us for $1 a month to discuss this in our Facebook group.

 

Please respond to this email with your thoughts. You can read this in your browser here. And if someone forwarded this to you, do the right thing: Subscribe here.

 

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions was defensive during his hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. Sessions was adamant he — and the Trump campaign — had zero collusion with Russia. This special edition of Navigating Trump’s America recaps Sessions’ hearing and what comes next.

Read a blow-by-blow of the hearing here.

 

6 takeaways from Jeff Sessions’ Senate testimony

1. The attorney general gave conflicting answers about his reported meetings with the Russian ambassador.

 

The attorney general said he “did not have any private meetings, nor do I recall any conversations with any Russian officials” at an event for the president’s first major speech on foreign policy last year at a Washington, D.C., hotel. During questioning, Sessions’ tone grew shiftier.

 

Further, Sessions said he could not “recall” any meetings with Russian officials that have not been disclosed, nor did he have memory of conversations with other people tied to Russia.

 

This matters because Sessions, who was under oath, could later be grilled on this waffling by investigators running the Russia inquiry. Sessions seemingly acknowledged the need to give himself an out from that line of questioning, saying he cannot guarantee his recollection of events is correct.

 

2. Sessions said James Comey was fired because of how he handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

 

Sessions said Comey’s decision to publicly recommend not seeking charges in the email investigation was a “breathtaking usurpation of the responsibility of the attorney general.”

 

That doubled down on what Sessions put in his signed letter, but it contradicted Trump’s comment after Comey’s firing that the Russia investigation factored into the firing. Sessions said Tuesday that Trump’s words speak for themselves and he could not discuss more than the letter.

 

The attorney general shared his belief that it did not violate his recusal from the Russia investigation to be involved in firing Comey, something Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said did not “pass the smell test.” The attorney general was adamant it was his job, despite the recusal, to choose the leadership of the FBI.

 

3. The attorney general emphatically denied he had any involvement in allegations related to Russia.

 

Perhaps Sessions’ most sweeping statement came during his opening, when he said, “I have never met with or had any conversation with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States.”

 

The attorney general added that he did not recall anyone trying to influence him in his role with the Trump campaign.

 

4. The attorney general would not comment on whether he talked to Trump about firing Comey and whether the Russia investigation was part of the conversation about the firing.

 

“I am not stonewalling,” Sessions said in response to an accusation he was covering up conversations with the president.

 

Sessions repeatedly cited Justice Department regulations that he said bar him from discussing conversations he had with Trump. “I’m protecting the president’s constitutional right,” he said, by not discussing private conversations with Trump. “I think your silence speaks volumes,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).

 

5. Sessions said he effectively recused himself from the Russia investigation the day after he was confirmed by the Senate.

 

Sessions said he has never had a briefing about the role of Russian interference in the U.S. election. The attorney general added that his recusal was made because of department regulations, not because he felt he could be a subject of the investigation.

 

“I recused myself that day,” Sessions said of the day after he was confirmed. “I never received any information about the campaign.”

 

6. The tone of the attorney general’s testimony was noticeably defensive.

 

“This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me,” Sessions said, raising his voice as he defended himself. Sessions called it an “appalling and detestable lie” to suggest he colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

 

The attorney general criticized anyone suggesting he has ties to Russia, saying there is no evidence he or fellow Trump supporters colluded with Russia.

 

A note on Sessions’ dodges:

 

Throughout the hearing, Sessions repeatedly dodged questions by claiming the president’s right to executive privilege. There’s just one problem: The president never invoked executive privilege, and the legal basis for Sessions’ dodges is questionable.

 

Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-N.C.) asked Sessions to work with the White House to identify which questions the attorney general refused to answer on Tuesday could be addressed later on, in writing.

 

So where does the Russia investigation stand now?

 

Sessions had little to say about the investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 election given his recusal from the inquiry. But there was news outside the hearing about the investigation.

 

After reports surfaced that Trump was considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller, the president did not answer questions from reporters on Tuesday about whether he was considering firing Mueller. Republican senators said that decision is not within Trump’s jurisdiction. Watch this space.

 

Senators were not eager to speak with reporters after the hearing. Mic could only connect with Sen. Marco Rubio, who said Sessions was forthcoming and answered questions. Neither Burr nor Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) offered public comment, as they did following Comey’s testimony. Journalists were told all other senators, and Sessions, had left the building within 30 minutes of the hearing wrapping.

 

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To me, there sure seems to be something fishy about the whole Comey firing. Why would the “new bosses” fire someone for something that happened well in the past and during a time that they were not even in charge of the DOJ? Why would they do it without waiting for the pending Inspector General report? Why wouldn’t they at least have given Comey, a well-respected figure in law enforcement, a chance to explain his side of the story? Why would they fabricate stories about “poor morale” in the FBI which certainly don’t seem to be borne out? It appears that while not universally beloved (who is, except for our “Supreme Leader?”) Comey generally was well-respected and trusted by the line agents. And, most important, why wouldn’t they carefully have considered whether or not Comey’s firing would impede the FBI’s most important pending investigation: into Russian interference with our elections?

That the Russians actively attempted to compromise our election process, the cornerstone of our democracy, is undisputed! Yet nobody, and I mean nobody, in the Trump Administration seems at all concerned about the national security aspect of it. And, notwithstanding the cosmetically bipartisan efforts, it’s clear that the GOP in Congress just wants the whole topic to go away. They plainly couldn’t care less about what Russia does to screw with our system unless they start losing some elections. While Trump gins up bogus national security concerns about a few Muslim countries that don’t send us very many migrants anyway, the real national security threat to America, Trump’s policies and his lackadaisical/permissive attitudes toward Russia are swept under the rug.

As for the “Mueller rumors,” just “send in the clowns.” Oh, no need, “they’re already here.”🤡

PWS

06-14-17

Still Not Sure We Need U.S. Immigration Court Reform? Read This Explosive New OIG Report — While “Rome Was Burning” In The Immigration Courts, EOIR Senior Exec Was Busy Fiddling Around Hiring Pals, Soliciting Sexual Favors, Taking Kickbacks On Contracts, Lying To Investigators, & Retaliating Against Honest Employees!

INVESTIGATIVE SUMMARY

Findings Concerning Improper Hiring Practices, Inappropriate Interactions with Subordinates and a Contractor, and False Statements by a Senior Executive with the
Executive Office for Immigration Review

The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) initiated an investigation of a senior executive with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) based on information it received from DOJ that the official engaged in inappropriate hiring practices, used non‐public information to benefit friends, solicited and accepted gifts from subordinates, maintained inappropriate relationships with subordinates, and participated in an inappropriate quid pro quo scheme with a contract company.

The OIG found that the executive engaged in improper hiring practices when, on seven separate occasions, the executive disregarded merit system principles to hire close friends and associates as DOJ employees or DOJ contract personnel over applicants with superior qualifications for the positions. The OIG also found that the executive initiated and approved the promotion of a friend before the individual was eligible for promotion, nominated a friend for a monetary award without sufficient justification, and promoted a friend who lacked qualifications for the position. The OIG further found that the executive disclosed to friends and acquaintances non‐public information about job opportunities on a pending DOJ contract, and advocated for increasing contractor salaries in support of friends. The OIG found that this conduct violated federal statutes, federal regulations, and DOJ policy.

In addition, the OIG found that the executive maintained an inappropriate personal relationship with a subordinate, and solicited and accepted gifts and donations from subordinates, in violation of federal statutes and regulations, and DOJ policy. The OIG investigation further concluded that the executive engaged in an inappropriate scheme with a DOJ contractor in which the executive sought employment and training from the contractor for personal friends in exchange for the executive actively participating in the creation and awarding of a purchase agreement of substantial monetary value to the contractor, in violation of federal statutes and regulations.

Lastly, the OIG found that the executive lacked candor and provided false statements to the OIG in relation to the executive’s conduct in the above‐described matters, in violation of federal statute and regulation. Prosecution of the executive was declined.

The OIG has completed its investigation and provided this report to EOIR for appropriate action. The OIG also referred to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel its findings that the executive retaliated against employees who refused to hire the executive’s friends.

Posted to oig.justice.gov on June 6, 2017

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The “experiment” with trying to run a major court system as an agency of the USDOJ is over. It has failed! Is Jeff Sessions going to straighten this mess out? No way! In addition to being less than candid under oath during his Senate Confirmation hearing (or perjuring himself in the view of many), the Comey testimony certainly made it appear that Sessions either was under active investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller or soon would be under such investigation.

And, it’s by no means just Sessions. Every Attorney General since Janet Reno has contributed significantly to the downward spiral in the U.S. Immigration Courts (including the BIA). Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who helped push Immigration Court backlogs to incredible new heights with poor hiring practices and politically motivated enforcement priorities, also came out of the Comey hearing looking like someone who put political loyalty before integrity. For the record, she has denied Comey’s charges. But, then so have Trump & Sessions. Not very good company, I’m afraid. And, don’t forget that the whole mess with the announcement on the Hillary Clinton investigation started because Lynch had the incredibly poor judgement to meet with Bill Clinton during the heat of his wife’s Presidential campaign.

This OIG Report comes on the heels of a GAO Report that pointed out a number of chronic management problems in EOIR, including the ridiculous 2-year hiring cycle for U.S. Immigration Judges. The GAO also discussed options for restructuring the Immigration courts as an independent agency, although the report did not make a specific recommendation on that subject. Here’s a link to my blog on the GAO report: http://wp.me/p8eeJm-Uh

 

PWS

06-10-17

NYT Sunday Maggie: The “Deportation Resistance” In Trump’s America — Re-energized Or Outgunned? — The “country woke up in Arizona!”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/magazine/is-it-possible-to-resist-deportation-in-trumps-america.html?em_pos=medium&emc=edit_ma_20170525&nl=magazine&nl_art=1&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

Marcela Valdes writes:

“On Monday, Feb. 6, two days before Guadalupe García Aguilar made headlines as the first person deported under President Donald Trump’s new executive orders on immigration, she and her family drove to the modest stucco offices of Puente, an organization that represents undocumented immigrants. It was a postcard day: warm and dry, hovering around 70 degrees, the kind of winter afternoon that had long ago turned Phoenix into a magnet for American retirees and the younger, mostly Latin American immigrants who mulch their gardens and build their homes.
García Aguilar and her family — her husband and two children — squeezed together with four Puente staff members into the cramped little office that the group uses for private consultations. Carlos Garcia, Puente’s executive director, had bought a fresh pack of cigarettes right before the talk; he needed nicotine to carry him through the discomfort of telling García Aguilar that she would almost certainly be deported on Wednesday. Until that moment, she and her family had not wanted to believe that the executive orders Trump signed on Jan. 25 had made her expulsion a priority. She had been living in the United States for 22 years, since she was 14 years old; she was the mother of two American citizens; she had missed being eligible for DACA by just a few months. Suddenly, none of that counted anymore.
García Aguilar’s troubles with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began in 2008, after police raided Golfland Sunsplash, the amusement park in Mesa, Ariz., where she worked. She spent three months in jail and three months in detention. (ICE booked her under the last name “García de Rayos.”) In 2013, an immigration court ordered her removal. Yet under pressure from Puente, which ultimately filed a class-action lawsuit contending that Maricopa County’s work-site raids were unconstitutional, ICE allowed García Aguilar (and dozens of others) to remain in Arizona under what is known as an order of supervision. ICE could stay her removal because the Obama administration’s guidelines for the agency specified terrorists and violent criminals as priorities for deportation. But Trump’s January orders effectively vacated those guidelines; one order specifically instructed that “aliens ordered removed from the United States are promptly removed.” García Aguilar, who had a felony for using a fabricated Social Security number, was unlikely to be spared.
Orders of supervision are similar to parole; undocumented immigrants who have them must appear before ICE officers periodically for “check-ins.” García Aguilar’s next check-in was scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 8. She had three options, Garcia explained. She could appear as usual and hope for the best. She could try to hide. Or she could put up a fight, either from a place of sanctuary or by appearing for her check-in amid media coverage that Puente would organize on her behalf. Whatever she decided, he said, she would be wise to spend Tuesday preparing for separation from her children.
The family was devastated. García Aguilar left the meeting red-faced with tears.
The next day a dozen activists gathered at Puente to strategize for García Aguilar’s case. After reviewing the logistics for the usual public maneuvers — Facebook post, news release, online petition, sidewalk rally, Twitter hashtag, phone campaign — they debated the pros and cons of using civil disobedience. In the final years of the Obama administration, activists in Arizona had come to rely on “C.D.,” as they called it, to make their dissatisfaction known. Puente members had blocked roads and chained themselves in front of the entrance to Phoenix’s Fourth Avenue Jail. Yet Francisca Porchas, one of Puente’s organizers, worried about setting an unrealistic precedent with its membership. “For Lupita we go cray-cray and then everyone expects that,” she said. What would they do if Puente members wanted them to risk arrest every time one of them had a check-in?
Ernesto Lopez argued that they needed to take advantage of this rare opportunity. A week earlier, thousands of people had swarmed airports around the country to protest the executive order barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations. “There’s been a lot of conversation about the ban, but for everything else it’s dead,” Lopez said. “Nobody is talking about people getting deported. In a couple of months, it won’t be possible to get that media attention.”
Garcia wasn’t sure a rally for García Aguilar would work. “We’re literally in survival mode,” Garcia told me that week. It was too early to tell how ICE would behave under Trump, but they were braced for the worst. Nobody had a long-term plan yet. Even as he and his staff moved to organize the news conference, his mind kept running through the possibilities: Would it help García Aguilar stay with her family? Would it snowball into an airport-style protest? Would it cause ICE to double down on her deportation? He decided it was worth trying.
Shortly before noon on Wednesday, García Aguilar and her lawyer, Ray Ybarra Maldonado, entered ICE’s field office as supporters chanted “No está sola!” (You are not alone!) behind her. Telemundo, Univision and ABC shot footage. Supporters posted their own videos on Twitter and Facebook. ICE security warily eyed the scene. An hour later, Ybarra Maldonado exited ICE alone. García Aguilar had been taken into custody. All around the tree-shaded patio adjacent to ICE’s building, Puente members teared up, imagining the same dark future for themselves. Ybarra Maldonado filed a stay of deportation, and Porchas told everyone to come back later for a candlelight vigil.
That night a handful of protesters tried to block several vans as they sped from the building’s side exit. More protesters came running from an ICE decoy bus that had initially distracted those attending the vigil out front. Manuel Saldaña, an Army veteran who did two tours in Afghanistan, planted himself on the ground next to one van’s front tire, wrapping his arms and legs around the wheel. The driver looked incredulous; if he moved the van forward now, he would break one of Saldaña’s legs. Peering through the van windows with cellphone flashlights, protesters found García Aguilar sitting in handcuffs. The crowd doubled in size. “Those shifty [expletive],” Ybarra Maldonado said as he stared at the van. ICE, he said, had never notified him that her stay of deportation had been denied.
Four hours later, García Aguilar was gone. After the Phoenix Police arrested seven people and dispersed the crowd, ICE took her to Nogales, Mexico. By then images of García Aguilar and the protest were already all over television and social media. She and her children became celebrities within the immigrant rights movement. Carlos Garcia, who was with her in Nogales, told me that Mexican officials stalked her hotel, hoping to snag a photo. “Everyone wanted to be the one to help her,” he said. “Everyone wanted a piece.” Later that month, her children — Jacqueline, 14, and Angel, 16 — sat in the audience of Trump’s first address to Congress, guests of two Democratic representatives from Arizona, Raúl Grijalva and Ruben Gallego.
During the Obama years, most immigrant rights organizations focused on big, idealistic legislation: the Dream Act and comprehensive immigration reform, neither of which ever made it through Congress. But Puente kept its focus on front-line battles against police-ICE collaboration. For Garcia, who was undocumented until a stepfather adopted him at 16, the most important thing is simply to contest all deportations, without exception. He estimates that Puente has had a hand in stopping about 300 deportations in Arizona since 2012.
Ever since Arizona passed Senate Bill 1070, one of the toughest anti-undocumented bills ever signed into law, the state has been known for pioneering the kind of draconian tactics that the Trump administration is now turning into federal policy. But if Arizona has been a testing ground for the nativist agenda, it has also been an incubator for resistance to it. Among the state’s many immigrant rights groups, Puente stands out as the most seasoned and most confrontational. In the weeks and months following Election Day 2016 — as progressive groups suddenly found themselves on defense, struggling to figure out how to handle America’s new political landscape — Garcia was inundated with calls for advice. He flew around the country for training sessions with field organizers, strategy meetings with lawyers and policy experts and an off-the-record round table with Senators Dick Durbin and Bernie Sanders in Washington. A soft-spoken man with a stoic demeanor and a long, black ponytail, Garcia was also stunned by Trump’s victory. But organizers in Phoenix had one clear advantage. “All the scary things that folks are talking about,” he told me, “we’ve seen before.” On Nov. 9, he likes to say, the country woke up in Arizona.”

. . . .

On May 3, the day Arreola was to have been deported, Arreola and Andiola gathered with friends, family and supporters for a prayer breakfast at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Phoenix, which had offered to house Arreola if she chose sanctuary. Pastor James Pennington had been active in the fight for gay rights. The patio of First Congregational was decorated with several flags, including a rainbow flag, an Arizona state flag and an American flag. Inside the church, members of Puente and former members of ADAC formed a circle with several non-Hispanics who had only recently allied themselves with the undocumented. Standing together they recited Psalm 30 in Spanish:

Te ensalzaré, oh Señor, porque me has elevado, y no has permitido que mis enemigos se rían de mi.

I’ll praise you, Lord, because you’ve lifted me up. You haven’t let my enemies laugh at me.

Yet their enemies remained hard at work. A week later, Marco Tulio Coss Ponce, who had been living in Arizona under an order of supervision since 2013, appeared at ICE’s field office in Phoenix with his lawyer, Ravindar Arora, for a check-in. ICE officers, Arora said, knew that Coss Ponce was about to file an application for asylum — several of his relatives had been recently killed or threatened by the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico — and they had assured Arora several times that Coss Ponce would not be removed. They said he simply needed to wear an ankle monitor to make sure he didn’t disappear. The fitting was delayed several times until finally Arora had to leave to argue a case in court. After he departed, ICE officers handcuffed Coss Ponce and put him in a van, alone. Three hours later, he was in Nogales.”

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Read the entire, very lengthy but worthwhile, article at the link.

Wow, can’t help but think “what if” all the energy, emotion, and activity on both sides of the immigration issue were re-directed at working together to “make America greater,” rather than engaging in a dangerous, counterproductive “grown up” game of hide and seek aimed at intimidating and removing productive members of American society who aren’t causing anyone any particular harm!

I’ve got some bad news for “the enforcers.” The U.S. families of most of the deportees aren’t going anywhere. And, there will be a steep price to pay in future generations for intentionally alienating some of America’s “best and brightest,” and our hope for the future as a nation.

Actions have consequences. Hate and disrespect aren’t quickly forgotten. Witness that even today, more than a century after the event, we’re still struggling as a nation with the misguided and hateful cause that created the short-lived “Confederate States of America,” killed hundreds of thousands of Americans of all races, and ruined millions of lives.

Something to think about on Memorial Day.

PWS

05-29-17

POLITICS: Dems Fail Again To Make A Dent — GOP Wins Montana House Seat N/W/S Candidate’s Pending Assault Charge!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/25/us/montana-special-election.html?emc=edit_nn_20170526&nl=morning-briefing&nlid=79213886&te=1

The NY Times reports:

“BOZEMAN, Mont. — Greg Gianforte, a wealthy Montana Republican who was charged with assaulting a reporter on Wednesday, nonetheless won the state’s lone seat in the House of Representatives on Thursday, according to The Associated Press, in a special election held up as a test of the country’s political climate.

Mr. Gianforte, 56, was widely seen as a favorite to win against Rob Quist, a Democrat and country music singer. But he seemed to imperil his own candidacy in the final hours of the race after he manhandled a journalist for The Guardian.

Addressing the altercation for the first time late Thursday night, Mr. Gianforte apologized to the Guardian reporter, Ben Jacobs, by name, acknowledged he “made a mistake” and vowed to the state’s voters that he would not embarrass them again.

“You deserve a congressman who stays out of the limelight and just gets the job done,” he said to a group of supporters at a hotel in Bozeman, who repeatedly yelled out that they forgave him.

Voters here shrugged off the episode and handed Republicans a convincing victory. Mr. Gianforte took slightly more than 50 percent of the vote to about 44 percent for Mr. Quist. (President Trump won Montana by about 20 percentage points.) Mr. Gianforte’s success underscored the limitations of the Democrats’ strategy of highlighting the House’s health insurance overhaul and relying on liberal anger toward the president, at least in red-leaning states.”

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Forget all the Trump hoopla, public opinion polls, marches, demonstrations, town halls,  court cases, Russia, and the GOP’s cruelty, deception, and proven inability to govern. None of it appears to make any difference to the folks who count: voters!

There is no reason to believe that if the national election were held today, the results would be any different from November 2016: a GOP win at all levels.

Dems need 1) some dynamic leadership (sorely lacking since the departure of Obama from the national scene), and 2) a program that appeals to voters, at least some of whom pulled the lever for Trump.

The 2016 mistake was running a campaign based almost entirely on the strategy that Trump and the GOP would “self-destruct.” Didn’t work then, and it’s not working now.

How are Democrats, in the few areas of the country they control, improving things for the majority of folks, where the GOP isn’t? How could this be extended to “red areas?” How can immigrants actually create better economic opportunities for folks in red states and rural areas? Democrats need real life results, not just “wonkie” charts, statistics, and articles. How are Democrats going to get the message to folks who get their news from Fox, Breitbart, and their local GOP Representative’s newsletter?

Unless somebody is thinking creatively about the foregoing issues, it’s going to be a long four (or eight) years for Democrats and our country.

PWS

05-26-16

 

 

Fox, Breitbart, and

 

POLITICS: GOP Senate’s “Stealth Plan” To Strip Health Care From Millions While Enriching Fat Cats Exposed!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/opinion/health-care-bill-senate.html?emc=edit_ty_20170523&nl=opinion-today&nlid=79213886&te=1&_r=0

David Leonhardt writes in a NY Times op-ed:

“While the rest of the country has been transfixed by Trumpian chaos, members of the Senate have spent the last two weeks talking about taking health insurance from millions of Americans.

There is an alarmingly large chance that they’ll decide to do so. But if they do, they will almost certainly rely on a political sleight of hand to disguise their bill’s damage. Understanding that sleight of hand — and calling attention to it — offers the best hope for defeating the bill.

The effort to take health insurance from the middle class and poor and funnel the savings into tax cuts for the rich is a little like mold. It grows best in the dark.

That’s why Republican leaders in the House handled their bill as they did. They did not hold a single hearing, because they knew that attention would have been devastating.

Just imagine a hearing featuring the leaders of these groups, every one of which opposes the House bill: the American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, American Hospital Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, American Lung Association, March of Dimes and AARP.
The House also passed its final bill without waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to estimate how many Americans would lose insurance. The C.B.O. will release that analysis tomorrow afternoon. There is no precedent, outside of wartime, for passing a bill this important in such haste.

After the House did, many observers assumed the bill was too flawed to have much chance in the Senate. Republican senators, aware of the bill’s unpopularity, were careful to say publicly that they would start fresh. But the early signs suggest that Mitch McConnell and his Republican caucus are actually mimicking the House approach.

Think of it as the Upton strategy, and I’ll explain the name in a minute.”

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

Yet, the voters keep putting these guys in office. Unless you are part of the tiny percentage of over-privileged, rich elite in America, you’re voting against not only our country’s best interests, but your own!

Amazingly, however, the Democrats have failed to come up with an effective strategy to capitalize on this. And, to date, I’m not sure I’ve heard any compelling arguments as to how and why Democrats will do better in the next election.

Yeah, Trump and his cohorts have problems galore. But, highlighting/relying on that was Hillary’s primary strategy in 2016. And, it failed! Big time! What positive plan do Democrats have for making America better for everyone (including most Trump supporters)?

PWS

05-23-17

 

WashPost: Another View — Former AG Bill Barr Says Comey Firing Is All Good!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/former-attorney-general-trump-made-the-right-call-on-comey/2017/05/12/0e858436-372d-11e7-b4ee-434b6d506b37_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-b%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.cac253d3cd55

Barr writes in an op-ed:

William Barr was U.S. attorney general from 1991 to 1993.

“Having served as both attorney general and deputy attorney general in the Justice Department, I had responsibility for supervising the FBI, working on virtually a daily basis with its senior leadership. From that experience I came to understand how fortunate we are as a nation to have in the FBI the finest law-enforcement organization in the world — one that is thoroughly professional and free of partisanship. I offer this perspective on President Trump’s removal of FBI Director James B. Comey.

Comey is an extraordinarily gifted man who has contributed much during his many years of public service. Unfortunately, beginning in July, when he announced the outcome of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, he crossed a line that is fundamental to the allocation of authority in the Justice Department.

While the FBI carries out investigative work, the responsibility for supervising, directing and ultimately determining the resolution of investigations is solely the province of the Justice Department’s prosecutors. With an investigation as sensitive as the one involving Clinton, the ultimate decision-making is reserved to the attorney general or, when the attorney general is recused, the deputy attorney general. By unilaterally announcing his conclusions regarding how the matter should be resolved, Comey arrogated the attorney general’s authority to himself

It is true, as I pointed out in a Post op-ed in October, that Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, after her tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton, had left a vacuum by neither formally recusing herself nor exercising supervision over the case. But the remedy for that was for Comey to present his factual findings to the deputy attorney general, not to exercise the prosecutorial power himself on a matter of such grave importance.

Until Comey’s testimony last week, I had assumed that Lynch had authorized Comey to act unilaterally. It is now clear that the department’s leadership was sandbagged. I know of no former senior Justice Department official — Democrat or Republican — who does not view Comey’s conduct in July to have been a grave usurpation of authority.

. . . .

It is telling that none of the president’s critics are challenging the decision on the merits. None argue that Comey’s performance warranted keeping him on as director. Instead, they are attacking the president’s motives, claiming the president acted to neuter the investigation into Russia’s role in the election.

The notion that the integrity of this investigation depends on Comey’s presence just does not hold water. Contrary to the critics’ talking points, Comey was not “in charge” of the investigation.

. . . .

According to news reports, the investigation is in full swing, with the Justice Department using a grand jury to subpoena relevant information, indicating a degree of thoroughness not evident in the investigation into Clinton’s email server. Comey’s removal simply has no relevance to the integrity of the Russian investigation as it moves ahead.”

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Read Barr’s entire op-ed at the link.

So, according to Barr, that the Administration lied about the real reasons for firing Comey, the Russia investigation, should be of no concern to us. We should be reassured because the investigation is proceeding under the direction of DOJ underlings, who owe their continued employment to Jeff Sessions and report to DAG Rod “The Dupe” Rosenstein, who helped the White House provide a “non-Russian” rationale for the firing, which Trump later repudiated. And, we should believe that the Director of the FBI was not “in charge” of the Bureau’s most significant and high-profile investigation. So then, it doesn’t make any difference who Trump picks for the next Director because he (or she) will just be a figurehead, having no responsibility  for the work of subordinates.

Wow! Why have an FBI Director at all, if you believe Barr. Maybe you buy Barr’s reasoning, but I don’t. In fact, I find his entire argument highly disingenuous.

PWS

05-13-17

LA TIMES: Trump’s Hard Line Immigration Positions Fueled His Election, But Could Cause His Downfall — Restrictionists On The Wrong Side Of Public Opinion (& History) — Will “Counter-Mobilization” Match Restrictionists’ Energy & Organization At Election Time?

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-klinker-immigration-election-20170417-story.html

Philip Klinkner writes in an op-ed:

“Ever since he announced his presidential campaign in July 2015, Donald Trump has made opposition to immigration central to his political strategy — and pundits have debated whether this strategy was effective. He won, of course, but did he win despite his aggressive rhetoric, or because of it?

Data from the recently released American National Election Study has finally provided an answer: Immigration was central to the election, and hostility toward immigrants animated Trump voters.

Comparing the results of the 2012 and 2016 ANES surveys shows that Trump increased his vote over Mitt Romney’s on a number of immigration-related issues. In 2012 and 2016, the ANES asked respondents their feelings toward immigrants in the country illegally. Respondents could rate them anywhere between 100 (most positive) or 0 (most negative). Among those with positive views (above 50), there was no change between 2012 and 2016, with Romney and Trump each receiving 22% of the vote. Among those who had negative views, however, Trump did better than Romney, capturing 60% of the vote compared with only 55% for Romney.

Attitudes toward immigrants in the country illegally speak to why some voters switched parties between 2012 and 2016. Among those who voted in both elections but didn’t switch their vote, the average rating of immigrants in the country illegally was 42. Among those who switched from Romney to Hillary Clinton, it was 41. But those who switched their vote from President Obama to Trump were much more negative, with an average rating of only 32.

However, Trump’s support wasn’t limited to just those who oppose immigrants residing in the country illegally — he also picked up votes among those who want to limit all immigration to the United States. In 2012, Romney received 58% of the vote among those who said they think that “the number of immigrants from foreign countries who are permitted to come to the United States” should be decreased. In 2016, Trump got 74% of the vote among those who held this view.

Overall, immigration represented one of the biggest divides between Trump and Clinton voters. Among Trump voters, 67% endorsed building a southern border wall and 47% of them favored it a great deal. In contrast, 77% of Clinton voters opposed building a wall and 67 % strongly opposed it.

. . . .

Trump won in 2016 by mobilizing the minority of Americans with anti-immigration views — but only because he avoided an offsetting counter-mobilization by the majority of Americans with pro-immigration views. Now that he is president and his immigration views can’t be dismissed as mere campaign rhetoric, that counter-mobilization may finally be manifesting itself.

Widespread protests against Trump’s executive order barring individuals from several Muslim countries, congressional skepticism about the effectiveness and cost of Trump’s proposed wall, and increased awareness of the negative effect that his policies are having on U.S. businesses, schools and families suggest a growing backlash. Should that backlash develop and sustain itself, the immigration views that helped Trump in 2016 might prove to be his undoing.”

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I’ve commented that notwithstanding Trump’s outrageous statements about immigrants, and the racist, white nationalist tinge to many of his supporters’ rallies, the passion and organization of the opposition that has appeared since the inauguration seems to greatly exceed that displayed by Hillary supporters during the election, when it probably would have made a material difference in the outcome.

And, yes, racism does appear to have been a significant factor driving a portion of the Trump electorate. See this article by Thomas Wood in the Washington Post “Racism motivated Trump voters more than authoritarianism” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/04/17/racism-motivated-trump-voters-more-than-authoritarianism-or-income-inequality/?utm_term=.9942049017ca.

PWS

04-17-17

POLITICS: WASHPOST OPINION: DANA MILBANK: Party Of Putin? — GOP Seems Remarkably Unconcerned About Russian Meddling In Our Election!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/republicans-more-concerned-with-partisanship-than-russian-meddling/2017/03/20/040d66d2-0dba-11e7-9d5a-a83e627dc120_story.html?utm_term=.5ff6291b591

Milbank writes:

“This would be a good time to do something about the red menace of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Instead, we’re talking about the Red Raiders of Texas Tech.

FBI Director James B. Comey, testifying Monday about his agency’s investigation into Russia’s attempt to tilt the 2016 election to Donald Trump, explained why it was “a fairly easy judgment” that Trump was Putin’s favored candidate: “Putin hated Secretary Clinton so much that the flip side of that coin was he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much.”

But Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.), a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee, was having none of it. “Yeah, that logic might work on Saturday afternoon when my wife’s Red Raiders are playing the Texas Longhorns.” Conaway doubted such reasoning “all the rest of the time.”
So, Putin wanted Hillary Clinton to lose but didn’t want Trump? Maybe he was for Gary Johnson?

Comey tried to be patient. “Whoever the Red Raiders are playing, you want the Red Raiders to win,” he explained. “By definition, you want their opponent to lose.”
Conaway was fourth and long. He scrambled to formulate another question, then punted: “Well, let me finish up then.”

Comey’s testimony confirmed what was widely suspected: The FBI is investigating whether the president’s campaign colluded with a powerful American adversary in an attempt to swing the election. But instead of being shaken from complacency and uniting to make sure this never happens again, the Republican majority on the House Intelligence Committee mounted a reflexive defense of Trump.

The partisan response made it plain that there will be no serious congressional investigation of the Russia election outrage, nor any major repercussions for Russia. We were attacked by Russia — about this there is no doubt — and we’re too paralyzed by politics to respond.

Trump, whose claim that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower was dismissed by Comey on Monday, continued to fire his weapons of mass distraction Monday morning, tweeting about ties between Clinton and Russia and claiming “the real story” is who leaked classified information.
This is to be expected from Trump. The disheartening part was that most Republicans on the panel, which is supposed to investigate Trump, instead slavishly echoed his excuses.”

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The transformation of the GOP is an interesting experience for baby boomers like me who grew up in the 1950s when the GOP saw a “Red under every bed.”

But, times have changed. Although Putin is a KGB vet and seems to remain wedded to their brutal methods of eliminating opposition, suppressing dissent, and “messing with the heads of the West,” some folks seem to be too busy fretting about the imagined threat to our national security from Syrian refugee children to want any serious inquiry or accounting for what Putin and the Russians are up to in the U.S.

PWS

03/21/17

Immigrationcourtside Politics: The View From The Heartland — Guest Columnist CDR Thomas W. Felhofer (USN-Ret.): “Legitimacy, Inter Alia”

My long-time friend, fellow Badger, and fellow Lawrentian, retired U.S. Navy CDR Thomas W. Felhofer shares his views on recent political events from what he calls “fly-over country:”

Rep John Lewis of Georgia called President Trump “illegitimate” and refused to attend the inauguration because, Lewis says, the Russians helped Trump get elected. How did perpetual winner Trump pull this one off?

Well, he didn’t. Wikileaks exposed email that indicated Team Clinton was fed debate questions beforehand, and that they had conspired with the DNC to torpedo Sen Sanders’ campaign. Our government was pretty sure that the info was originally hacked by the Ruskies, but there was no indication that they pressured Wikileaks to get a truly definitive answer as to the source.

But who cares what the source was? Suppose it was a DNC traitor or a RNC researcher rather than a foreign government. Would that have made a difference? The point is, the leak wasn’t a nasty smear, the throwing of mud, misinformation–none of that! It was the truth coming out! God bless those whistle-blowers and government transparency enthusiasts, right? Did Trump do something underhanded to steal the election? No! Did HRC do something underhanded causing her to lose the election? Could be. She cheated to get an unfair advantage!

But all this tempest, so far as I’m concerned, belongs in a teapot. The notion that political operatives (and candidates) are are doing dirty tricks for political gain is pretty much widely accepted, even expected, by the electorate. I doubt if these revelations changed more than a couple hundred votes.

So let’s get back to “illegitimate,” the most overused political buzzword since “gravitas.” As the leaked email proved, Team Clinton conspired to sabotage Sanders’ campaign. Wouldn’t that make HRC an “illegitimate” Democrat presidential nominee? Also, why is the Left so anxious to pin the term “illegitimate” on Trump? No matter what adjective people want to hang on the President, can he not still sign or veto bills, nominate justices, set policy, command the military, etc.?

By the way, hacking is part of daily life. My personal credit card has been hacked three times in the last 20 years. It seems that a month rarely passes without a major batch of Big Box customer info being lost into cyberspace. And it’s an open secret that we and almost every other major country use computers to spy on each other. As Hillary can certainly tell you (by now), if you want to keep your actions secret, either delete them permanently before the subpoena comes, or, better yet, don’t put them on the computer in the first place.

And so far as Rep Lewis goes, well, I kind of feel sorry for him. Think of all that lobster and prime rib he missed by not attending the party. But at least he made his point, which was that. . . . . .

Thomas W. Felhofer, CDR (USN-Ret.)

CDR Thomas W. Felhofer is a retired U.S. Postmaster and a U.S. Navy Veteran.  He received his B.A. from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, and his M.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Oshko.h  He lives in Northeastern Wisconsin.

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I’ll have to think about this one.  Too late tonight, my brain (what’s left of it) is frozen.

PWS

01/27/17