NFL PLAYERS, OWNER, COACHES STAND UP AGAINST RACIST IN CHIEF!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2017/09/24/jaguars-owner-joins-players-during-anthem-protest-in-first-game-since-trumps-nfl-remarks/

The Washington Post reports about today’s first NFL game in London:

“Less than three hours after President Trump called on NFL owners to suspend or fire players who protest during the national anthem, the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars — the first teams to play on Sunday — linked arms or took a knee during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the teams 9:30 a.m. EDT kickoff in London’s Wembley Stadium.

Ravens Coach John Harbaugh joined his players, linking arms, and Ravens Hall of Famer Ray Lewis took a knee. Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, who had contributed $1 million to the Trump inauguration, locked arms with his players in what is believed to be the first visible participation in relation to anthem protests by a league owner.”

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Read the full report on the link.

Our President is a racist. Decent folks should band together and stand up against him. The entire state of Alabama should be hanging its head in shame as should the GOP which enabled and continues to enable this type of destructive conduct by an unqualified President.

And our racist, homophobic Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his White Nationalist agenda are a key part of dividing our country, whipping up bogus racial paranoia, and making a mockery of our justice system. Liz was right!

Meanwhile, star NFL QBs Tom Brady (Patriots) and Aaron Rodgers (Packers) posted their own messages of “unity” with their teammates.

http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/news/tom-brady-instagram-aaron-rodgers-nfl-player-protests-unity-brotherhood-donald-trump/49cy9zprfs21gqjtwraqth6e

Oh yeah, after the anthem, the Packers came from behind to beat the Cincinnati Bengals 27-24 in OT!🏈🏈
PWS

09-24-17

TRUMP DECLARES WAR ON AFRICAN-AMERICAN ATHLETES — DISSES CURRY, NFL, NBA, LEBRON JAMES REACTS! — Packers & Other NFL Teams Push Back Against President’s Appeals To Racism & Disrespect For Constitution!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/23/politics/donald-trump-nfl-nba/index.html

Chris Cillizza writes on CNN:

“On one level, this is classic Trump. He feels as though he is being disrespected — whether by NFL players not standing for the national anthem or by Curry saying if it was up to him, the Golden State Warriors would not visit the White House. (The Warriors, in a statement Saturday afternoon, said they would come to Washington and do events to promote diversity and inclusiveness rather than meet with Trump.)
They hit him, so he hit back.
But, there’s something far more pernicious here. Both the NFL and the NBA are sports in which the vast majority of the players are black and the vast majority of owners are white. In the NFL, there are 0 black owners of the 32 teams. In the NBA, Michael Jordan is the lone black owner of a team.
Consider that in the context of what Trump said both Friday night and Saturday.
In Alabama, Trump called the players who refuse to stand for the anthem “sons of bitches” and insisted that any owner worth his or her salt should fire them immediately.
That got a lot of attention — and rightly so. But it’s what Trump said next that’s really telling. “Total disrespect of our heritage, a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” he said — adding for emphasis: “Everything that we stand for.”
Notice the use of “our heritage” and “we” in those two sentences above.
But wait, there’s more. In both his Curry tweet and his two NFL tweets, Trump expressed frustration that these lucky athletes felt the need to be ungrateful.
Trump noted the “great honor” of going to the White House and the “privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL.” You should just be thankful for what you have and not be making any trouble, Trump is telling these players.
Here’s the thing: Even if we lived in a color-blind society, that would be a dangerous sentiment. After all, freedom of expression is right there in the First Amendment. And our brave soldiers didn’t fight and die so that everyone stood during the national anthem. They fought so people could have the right to make a choice about whether or not they wanted to stand. That’s the whole damn point of the First Amendment.
The thing is: We don’t live in a color-blind society. Slavery sits at the founding roots of America. The goal of racial equality remains a goal, not an achievement. To pretend otherwise is to willfully blind yourself to hundreds years of history.
Even more context darkens the picture for Trump. He played at racially coded language throughout his presidential campaign. He also displayed a stunningly simplistic view of the black community.
“You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed — what the hell do you have to lose?” Trump said of African-Americans in a speech to a largely white audience in Michigan during the campaign. When NBA star Dwyane Wade’s cousin was shot in Chicago, Trump tweeted: “Dwayne Wade’s cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago. Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!”” He took an inordinate amount of time to condemn former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. And so on.
As President, Trump has done little too ease concerns about his racial views — and, in fact, has heightened them. His handling of the Charlottesville, Virginia, protests — in which white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched in protest of the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee — was particularly alarming.
Even as the protests turned violent — one woman was killed — Trump claimed that there were violent factions “on many sides” to be blamed. Days later, he doubled down on that false premise; “I watched those very closely, much more closely than you people watched it,” Trump said. “And you have — you had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent, and nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now.”
Although his administration tried desperately to move on from his remarks, it was made clear recently that Trump meant exactly what he said. The day after meeting at the White House with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott — the lone black Republican in the Senate — Trump was quick to note that he had been right in his initial comments after Charlottesville.
“I think especially in light of the advent of Antifa, if you look at what’s going on there, you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also, and essentially that’s what I said,” Trump told reporters.
And now, this.
I’ve long believed that Trump is simply saying whatever comes to mind, that there is no broader strategy to his comments. But it’s impossible to conclude that after Charlottesville, Trump is totally ignorant of the racial context in which his remarks on the NFL and NBA land. No one is that oblivious.
When, given all the water under the bridge — both in terms of our country’s history and the more narrow history of Trump’s campaign — you make comments about how the athletes in predominantly black pro sports leagues should just be happy with what they have and not complain, you aren’t doing it by accident. You really believe it.
Play football or basketball so we can be entertained, Trump seems to be telling these athletes. No one wants to hear your lack of gratitude for what you’ve been given.
There’s so many things wrong with that view.
First of all, no one gave these players anything. They worked for it.
Second, just because you are a professional athlete doesn’t mean you don’t get to be a citizen, too. We don’t tell accountants, for example, that they can’t express their opinions on politics and the culture more broadly, right? So why should we be in the business of telling professional athletes? And would Trump feel the same way if the majority of those protesting the anthem were white?
Trump defenders will note that Trump didn’t name names — other than Curry — when he blasted professional athletes. That “we” are adding color to it, not him.

But that doesn’t fly. As I noted above, both the NFL and NBA are majority black. And those refusing to stand during the national anthem are, with one exception, also all black.
Trump knows this. He is an avid consumer of TV and culture. Which means that he is purposely playing at and with racial animus here. That is a dark thing to do as the leader of the United States. And something he deserves to be condemned for.”

As reported in the Green Bay Press Gazette, Packer President/CEO Mark Murphy issued the following statement:

The full statement from Murphy:

“It’s unfortunate that the President decided to use his immense platform to make divisive and offensive statements about our players and the NFL. We strongly believe that players are leaders in our communities and positive influences. They have achieved their positions through tremendous work and dedication and should be celebrated for their success and positive impact.

“We believe it is important to support any of our players who choose to peacefully express themselves with the hope of change for good. As Americans, we are fortunate to be able to speak openly and freely.”

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Trump’s racism and his condescending attitude toward minorities should come as no surprise given his campaign, his base, the GOP’s racially divisive agenda, and the folks surrounding him. It also should come as no surprise that Trump’s remarks came in Alabama, a state unable to advance beyond its disgusting racist history (except on the football field in Tuscolusa in the Fall) and move into the present.

It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow at NFL stadiums. It will also be interesting to see whether African-American athletes put their money, time, and prestige behind encouraging others to vote so that Trump will never happen again and that the GOP stranglehold on our Government and our country will be broken.

Finally, why do we sing the National Anthem at sporting events in the first place? These athletic contests are entertsinment, not expressions of patriotism. We don’t sing it before concerts, movies, plays, and other performances. It doesn’t belong at sporting events either.

It is a bizarre and sad state of affairs when the President of the Green Bay Packers has to “school” the President of the United States on the meaning of our Constitution and an appropriate tone for race relations in our country!

PWS

09-23-17

 

 

 

 

NYT OP-ED: “MAINSTREAMING” HATE: How Trump & His Supporters Help Legitimize A Global White Hate Movement!

Jessie Singal writes:

Last September, Patrik Hermansson, a 25-year-old graduate student from Sweden, went undercover in the world of the extreme right. Posing as a student writing a thesis about the suppression of right-wing speech, he traveled from London to New York to Charlottesville, Va. — and into the heart of a dangerous movement that is experiencing a profound rejuvenation.

Mr. Hermansson, who was sent undercover by the British anti-racist watchdog group Hope Not Hate, spent months insinuating himself into the alt-right, using his Swedish nationality (many neo-Nazis are obsessed with Sweden because of its “Nordic” heritage) as a way in. It wasn’t always easy. “You want to punch them in the face,” he told me of the people he met undercover. “You want to scream and do whatever — leave. But you can’t do any of those things. You have to sit and smile.”

What he learned while undercover is one part of a shocking, comprehensive new report from Hope Not Hate that sheds light on the strange landscape of the alt-right, the much discussed, little understood and largely anonymous far-right movement that exists mostly online and that has come to national attention in part because of its support for Donald Trump.

As a result of the growing influence of the far-right social-media ecosystem, once-moribund hate groups in both the United States and Europe — groups that mostly existed long before “alt-right” entered the vernacular — are enjoying a striking uptick in recruitment.

This latest wave of potential members is young — teenage and 20-something men (they’re mostly men) appear to be exhibiting interest in far-right ideas in numbers that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. These young men are being radicalized largely through the work of a popular group of new far-right internet personalities whose videos, blog posts and tweets have been consistently nudging the boundaries of acceptable conversation to the right — one of the explicit goals of racist extremists everywhere.

And while “globalist” may be one of the alt-right’s favorite slurs, Hope Not Hate conclusively shows that the alt-right is itself now a global movement with regular interaction among far-right figures from Scotland to Sweden to Seattle.

Mr. Hermansson’s story offers vital insights into these groups’ tactics and their sometimes bizarre practices. During his time undercover, he hung out with heavily armed Holocaust deniers and attended gatherings where extremists drank mead from a traditional Viking horn and prayed to the Norse god Odin. In Charlottesville, he marched alongside hundreds of young neo-Nazis and white supremacists before he was sprayed with Mace by a counterprotester and witnessed the car attack that killed Heather Heyer.

In Britain, Mr. Hermansson attended a private dinner of extremists where Greg Johnson, a reclusive leading American far-right figure who is editor in chief of Counter-Currents Publishing, explained the need to “mainstream this stuff — or, more precisely, we need to bring the mainstream towards us.”

. . . .

“If Mr. Jorjani wasn’t exaggerating to Mr. Hermansson, and he did have a relationship with White House officials, that would certainly be alarming. But even if he was exaggerating, it’s still important to understand how messages like his could travel from the far reaches of the right-wing internet and all the way into — or close to, at least — the White House.

The extreme alt-right are benefiting immensely from the energy being produced by a more moderate — but still far-right — faction known as the “alt-light.”

The alt-light promotes a slightly softer set of messages. Its figures — such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson and Mike Cernovich — generally frame their work as part of an effort to defend “the West” or “Western culture” against supposed left-liberal dominance, rather than making explicitly racist appeals. Many of them, in fact, have renounced explicit racism and anti-Semitism, though they will creep up to the line of explicitly racist speech, especially when Islam and immigration are concerned.

This apparent moderation partly explains why they tend to have much bigger online audiences than even the most important alt-right figures — and why Hope Not Hate describes them as “less extreme, more dangerous.” Alt-light sites like Breitbart, formerly home to Mr. Yiannopoulos, as well as Prison Planet, where Mr. Watson is editor at large, draw millions of readers and are key nodes in a hyperkinetic network that is endlessly broadcasting viral-friendly far-right news, rumors and incitement.

Fluent in the language of online irony and absurdism, and adept at producing successful memes, alt-lighters have pulled off something remarkable: They’ve made far-right ideas hip to a subset of young people, and framed themselves as society’s forgotten underdogs. The alt-light provides its audience easy scapegoats for their social, economic and sexual frustrations: liberals and feminists and migrants and, of course, globalists.

The alt-light’s dedicated fan base runs into the millions. Mr. Watson has more than a million YouTube followers, for example, while Mr. Yiannopoulos has more than 2.3 million on Facebook. If even a tiny fraction of this base is drafted toward more extreme far-right politics, that would represent a significant influx into hate groups.

According to researchers, the key to hooking new recruits into any movement, and to getting them increasingly involved over time, is to simply give them activities to participate in. This often precedes any deep ideological commitment on the recruits’ part and, especially early on, is more about offering them a sense of meaning and community than anything else.

Intentionally or not, the far right has deftly applied these insights to the online world. Viewed through the filters of alt-light outlets like Breitbart and Prison Planet, or through Twitter feeds like Mr. Watson’s, the world is a horror show of crimes by migrants, leftist censorship and attacks on common sense. And the best, easiest way to fight back is through social media.

The newly initiated are offered many opportunities to participate directly. A teenager in a suburban basement can join a coordinated global effort to spread misinformation about Emmanuel Macron, France’s centrist president, in the hopes of helping far-right leader Marine Le Pen. Anyone who wants to do so can help spread the word about supposed mainstream media censorship of the Muslim “crime wave” the far right says is ravaging Europe.

These efforts — a click, a retweet, a YouTube comment — come to feel like important parts of an epochal struggle. The far right, once hemmed in by its own parochialism, has manufactured a worldwide online battlefield anyone with internet access can step into.

And if you’re one of those newcomers happily playing the part of infantryman in the “meme wars” that rage daily, maybe, along the way, one of your new online Twitter buddies will say to you, “Milo’s O.K., but have you checked out this guy Greg Johnson?” Or maybe they’ll invite you to a closed online forum where ideas about how to protect Europe from Muslim migrants are discussed a bit more, well, frankly. Maybe, if you’re really lucky, you’ll eventually discover a whole new political movement to join.

All of which can explain why members of the hard-core alt-right are watching the explosive success of their more moderate counterparts with open glee, unable to believe their good luck. “I’m just fighting less and less opposition to our sorts of ideas when they’re spoken,” Mr. Johnson, the Counter-Currents editor, told Mr. Hermansson. His optimism, unfortunately, appears to be well founded.”

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Read the entire shocking article at the link!

Think that a return of Naziism is impossible in our lifetimes? Not if these evil dudes have anything to say about it, And, they well might. That’s due in large part to the GOP’s acceptance of Trump, his inappropriate hate speech, and his pandering to the worst undercurrents in American politics and society which has assisted the mainstreaming of hate and racism as a legitimate political and philosophical stance! Shrugging it off as “it’s just Donald being Donald” or even applauding his willingness to be “politically incorrect” is only making things worse.

And, if some of this sounds familiar, it should. It’s pretty much the same false narratives that guys like Trump, Sessions, Miller, and Bannon have been spreading: migrants and Latinos are drug peddlers, rapists, and criminals who endanger American communities; migrants steal jobs from Americans; Muslims and refugees are terrorists and even those who aren’t are a drag on our society; multiculturalism weakens the “homeland,” laws protect Muslims and gays but not (white, straight) Christians, etc.

PWS

09-20-17

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

 

BRET STEPHENS IN NYT: Right Finally Getting The Trump They Deserve!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/15/opinion/trump-conservatives-democrats-daca.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region%C2%AEion=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region&_r=0

Stephens writes:

“Who are the “cuckservatives” now?

I use the epithet — “cuck” is short for cuckold — since it’s the one Trump’s most vociferous supporters hurled at mainstream Republicans they accused of caving in to the moral bullying of liberals, especially on the subjects of race and immigration.

But now it’s the president who is doing exactly that, making the case for DACA beneficiaries in terms his base most condemns: as “good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military” and who don’t deserve to be thrown out of the country simply because their parents brought them to the United States as children. It’s the kind of thing Nancy Pelosi — or, worse, John McCain — might say.

It’s also the kind of thing that could make for a successful presidency, if only Trump could follow his pragmatic instinct, banish his inner Steve Bannon and shelve the worst promises of his candidacy, as he already has with his threats to exit NATO.

Next steps could include pairing an infrastructure bill with tax reform, eliminating budget sequestration and the debt ceiling, restoring funding to the State Department and cutting it to the United Nations, and saving the nuclear power industry through deregulation and federal subsidies — in the name of combating climate change.

But Trump’s move toward the Democrats on DACA — just as his earlier move toward them on the debt ceiling — isn’t about pragmatism. It’s not even about the plasticity of his convictions.

It’s about his addiction to betrayal, his contempt for those who bend their knee to him, his disdain for “losers” (especially when they’re on his side) and his desperate need to be admired by those who despise him most simply because they have the wit to see through him. This is a presidency whose defining feature isn’t ideology, much less policy. It’s neurosis.

In other words, there is no “pivot” at work in the presidency, in the mold of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s leftward turn during his governorship of California. There’s a mood swing.

That might comfort the Trump true believers who fear their president is abandoning them. It shouldn’t: He feels about as much loyalty toward them and their convictions as he’s felt toward his several wives. Remember that, as recently as 2012, he denounced Mitt Romney for an excessively harsh attitude toward immigrants, calling the Massachusetts governor’s policy of self-deportation “crazy” and a turnoff to “everybody who is inspired to come into this country.”

All of this is fun, since it’s always delightful to see blowhards and bigots get their comeuppance at the hands of their idol. The ideologues of the right are left to make do with their jester and his antics. I hope they have a sense of humor about it.

But there’s also a lesson for conservatives who mistook Trump’s bluster for seriousness. Not least among the conservative “Never Trump” objections to the candidate is that he would be a disaster to the Republican Party — not just because his beliefs, such as they were, were anathema to the party’s best traditions, but because at heart he was a destructive opportunist with no core convictions beyond his own immediate advantage.

The president’s newfound good sense on DACA is good news for the country, provided it lasts. Nobody should count on it whipping any sense into those conservatives who fell for him, also known as cucks.”

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Read Stephens’s full column at the link.

Stephens chooses to be a bozo on climate change (controversy ups readership, I suppose), but he sure does understand the evil dynamics of Donald Trump. Believe in nothing, be loyal to nobody, but require absolute belief and loyalty from others. That’s why Trump is such a danger to our country and to our national security. He doesn’t believe in the Constitution, humane values, democracy, or the free world for that matter. He is his own “Cult of Personality” and his erratic self-centered behavior certainly is reminiscent of guys like Mao (although to be fair, The Donald hasn’t ordered the liquidation of his “enemies” — just public humiliation, dissing, twitter shaming, threats of political retaliation, and occasionally calling for baseless criminal prosecutions).

Any time overhyped Neo-Fascists like Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Steve King, and Sean Hannity as well as ideologue White Nationalists like Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions, Stephen Miller, and Steve Bannon are up in arms, you know that the country is moving in the correct (can’t use the term “right” here) direction.

PWS

09-16-17

WHAT DO YOU CALL SOMEONE WHO ENJOYS INFLICTING GRATUITOUS PAIN AND SUFFERING ON VULNERABLE PEOPLE? — Jeff Sessions

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/category/the-daily-202/?utm_term=.c4e82aca4268&wpisrc=nl_daily202&wpmm=1

James Hohmann writes in then”Daily 202″ in the Washington Post:

“THE BIG IDEA: Photographers caught a giddy Jeff Sessions cracking a satisfied smile last week as he prepared to announce that 690,000 undocumented immigrants who had been brought into the United States as minors would no longer be shielded from deportation. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program “is being rescinded,” the attorney general declared in the first line of his statement. “There is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws. … Failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and even terrorism. … The effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences. It also denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.” Fact checkers called these and other claims Sessions made about the immigrants known as “dreamers” dubious or outright false. Perhaps that’s why he didn’t take questions afterward. Regardless, the speech was widely covered as a triumph for the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and a sign that he was out of President Trump’s doghouse. Not only did Sessions get the outcome he wanted; he also got to deliver the news from the Justice Department briefing room. Trump’s DACA decision last week seemed to validate Sessions’s decision to slog on through the summer even after being frozen out of the inner circle. From interviews to tweets, Trump repeatedly attacked his attorney general throughout July as “weak” and “beleaguered.” The main reason Sessions chose to put up with indignities that might cause most people to quit was because he believed he could make a difference on immigration policy. That has always been his signature issue and animated his two decades in the Senate.

— But it took less than 10 days for Trump to once again undercut Sessions. The president on Thursday signaled his embrace of granting permanent legal status to these “dreamers” as part of a deal with Democrats that he said is close to being finalized. He also acknowledged that he’s not going to make a deal to save DACA contingent on getting funding for the wall he wants to build along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Discussing the exact same group of people that Sessions painted with such a sinister brush one week earlier, Trump tweeted yesterday: “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!” Trump tweeted yesterday. “They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own — brought in by parents at young age.”

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Read the rest of Hohmann’s always-entertaining column at the above link.

Quite simply, Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions is a poor excuse for a human being and a disgrace to the U.S. Department of Justice. What kind of person is motivated by a desire to destroy our society by hurting fine American young people and smearing them with lies and innuendo?

But, let’s not forget who empowered his message of hate and fear by appointing him, and who “blew by” his long record of racial problems while silencing the opposition that told truth. And, a special “shout out” should go to those who voted to put this intentionally divisive Administration in office and to the unapologetically racially challenged white GOP voters of Alabama who elected this leftover of the Jim Crow era time and time again.

Jeff Sessions does not represent the values of the majority of Americans. We must get it together at the ballot box to insure that he (and those like him) never again happen to us and to our country!

PWS

09-15-17

DEAL OR NO DEAL? — You Can’t Tell With “The Donald” — But He Didn’t Really Deny That Something Is “In Play” With The Dems!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-border-wall-daca_us_59ba570ee4b0edff971983ee

Willa Frej reports for HuffPost:

“President Donald Trump denied on Thursday that he had made a firm agreement with Democrats on immigration, but did not dispute key details from the deal ― namely, that protection for young undocumented immigrants wouldn’t be tied to his long-promised U.S.-Mexico border wall.

In a series of tweets on Thursday, Trump said that any deal on Dreamers ― undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children ― would be contingent on “massive border security,” but did not specifically say it had to be the wall.

He later said that the wall is “already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls” and would proceed.

Trump also told reporters outside the White House on Thursday that “the wall will come later.” Asked if he favors amnesty, the president replied that “the word is DACA.”

The president also seemed to throw cold water on concerns that he wanted to deport beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program, which the administration decided earlier this month to end.

Trump’s Thursday comments followed a dinner he held the previous evening with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.). Following the meeting, they announced that the president agreed to a border security plan that would offer protections to the 800,000 Dreamers, and that the wall was not part of the deal.

Pelosi and Schumer released a statement Thursday clarifying their announcement from the night before, confirming that no final deal had been put in place.

Yet they added, “While both sides agreed that the wall would not be any part of this agreement, the President made clear he intends to pursue it at a later time, and we made clear we would continue to oppose it.”

Many of Trump’s staunchest supporters, including Fox News Host Sean Hannity and conservative commentator Ann Coulter, quickly lashed out at reports that president seemed to be softening his stance on immigration.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later tweeted that “excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to,” but a spokesman for Schumer shot back that, while the wall wasn’t dead yet, it wasn’t part of this deal specifically.

This story has been updated to include Trump’s additional comments to reporters and a statement from Pelosi and Schumer.”

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You know you’re on the right track, Mr. President, when you are being criticized by racist, national embarrassments Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) (how come the GOP hasn’t banished this guy for his unapologetically racist and xenophobic views?  — Yeah, he has a Constitutional right to spout his poisonous lies on and off the floor of Congress, and the folks in his Congressional District have a right to elect him to publicly represent their racism, lack of decency, and lack of judgment.  — But, that doesn’t entitle him to membership in one of our two major political parties.)

And ignoring the rancid input of AG Jeff Sessions and his White Nationalist clone Stephen Miller on anything touching on immigration or national security would also be wise. Just see where this “Demonic Duo” is going and head the other way as fast as you can.

Along with Bannon, Sessions and Miller are at home on the wrong side of history, particularly racial and migration history. The President already got bad legal advice, based on bogus ideological reasoning, from Sessions in terminating DACA. Now he is having to put distance between himself and the markedly xenophobic anti-DACA narrative that Gonzo set forth when gleefully announcing an end to DACA and cheerfully throwing 800,000 American lives into turmoil. What a guy!

PWS

09-14-71

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

“JRUBE” IN WASHPOST: DEPT OF IN–JUSTICE: Under “Gonzo Apocalypto” White Nationalist, Xenophobic, Homophobic Political Agenda Replaces “Rule Of Law” — Latest DOJ Litigation Positions Fail “Straight Face” Test: “making up rules willy-nilly so as to show its rabid xenophobic base it is adhering to its promise of racial and ethnic exclusion!” — Read My “Mini-Essay” On How Advocates and U.S. Courts Could Restore Justice & Due Process To Our Broken U.S. Immigration Courts!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/09/08/trump-is-getting-rotten-legal-advice-and-once-again-it-shows/?utm_term=.e34528c36b2c

Jennifer Rubin writes in “Right Turn” in the Washington Post:

“The 9th Circuit gave the back of the hand to the argument that the Trump administration could borrow a definition from another section of the immigration statute to exclude grandmothers. The Supreme Court had used mothers-in-law as an example of a close familial relationship it wanted to protect. The 9th Circuit judges wrote: “Plaintiffs correctly point out that the familial relationships the Government seeks to bar from entry are within the same ‘degree of kinship’ as a mother-in-law.” It’s hard to make a case that grandmothers would not qualify. It does not appear that the government even made a good-faith effort to apply the Supreme Court’s direction.

On one level, it’s shocking that a Republican administration that is supposed to be a defender of “family values” would take such a miserly position. But, of course, family values are of little consequence to an administration that is more than willing to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, auguring for the breakup of intimate family relations (e.g., one sibling gets deported but American-born siblings remain).

The 9th Circuit also looked at the administration’s argument that a refugee with a formal assurance of settlement lacks a bona fide relationship with some entity or individual in the United States. The court set out the laborious screening process refugees undertake (making a mockery of the notion these people are a security threat) and noted that after all those steps are completed the refugee gets a sponsorship assurance “from one of nine private non-profit organizations, known as resettlement agencies.” The 9th Circuit held: “The Government contends that a formal assurance does not create a bona fide relationship between a resettlement agency and a refugee, and stresses that ‘[t]he assurance is not an agreement between the resettlement agency and the refugee; rather, it is an agreement between the agency and the federal government.’ But the Supreme Court’s stay decision specifies that a qualifying relationship is one that is ‘formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading [the Executive Order].”’”

Again, one cannot help but come away with the impression that the government is throwing up every half-baked idea it can find to limit the number of people entering the country, regardless of the national security risk or the hardship its action inflicts. The Trump administration is plainly reasoning backward — deny as many people as possible admittance and then think up a reason to justify its position.

In its fixation with keeping as many immigrants out of the United States as possible, the Trump administration cannot claim to merely be following the dictates of the law. (Gosh it’s out of our hands — “Dreamers” and grandmas have to go!) It is making up rules willy-nilly so as to show its rabid xenophobic base it is adhering to its promise of racial and ethnic exclusion. It’s hard to believe seasoned career Justice Department lawyers agree with these arguments. In its oversight hearings Congress should start grilling Attorney General Jeff Sessions as to how he comes up with his cockamamie legal arguments and whether political appointees are running roughshod over career DOJ lawyers.

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Read Rubin’s full article at the link.

Mini-Essay:

TIME FOR ACTION ON THE BROKEN U.S. IMMIGRATION COURTS — IF CONGRESS WON’T ACT, THE FEDERAL COURTS MUST

By

Paul Wickham Schmidt

United States Immigration Judge (Retired)

If nothing else, the Trump Administration has given me a new appreciation for the Post’s “JRube.” She certainly has “dialed up” Gonzo’s number and exposed what’s behind his pompous, disingenuous misuse of the term “rule of law.”

No chance that a GOP Senate with Chuck Grassley as Judiciary Chair is going to hold Gonzo accountable for his daily perversions of “justice.” But, at some point, Federal Courts could begin sanctioning DOJ lawyers for willful misrepresentations (the Hawaii arguments before the 9th contained several) and frivolous positions in litigation. It’s possible that some DOJ lawyers all the way up to Gonzo himself could be referred by Federal Judges to state bar authorities for a look at whether their multiple violations of ethical standards should result suspension of their law licenses.

Another thought kicking around inside my head is that Gonzo’s actions and his public statements are starting to make a plausible case for a due process challenge to the continued operation of the U.S. Immigration Courts.

As with school desegregation, prison reform, and voting rights, a Federal Court could find systematic bias and failure to protect due process. That could result in something like 1) a requirement that the DOJ submit a “due process restoration” plan to the court for approval, or 2) the court appointment of an independent “judicial monitor” to run the courts in a fair and unbiased manner consistent with due process, or 3) the Federal Courts could take over supervision of the US Immigration Courts pending the creation of an Article I (or Article III) replacement.

High on the list of constitutionally-required reforms would be ending the location of courts within DHS detention facilities. All courts should be located in areas where adequate pro bono counsel is reasonably available and accessible. Immigration Courts should be located outside of DHS facilities in buildings accessible to the public with reasonable security requirements. Immigration Judges must be required to continue cases until pro bono counsel can be retained. Alternatively, the Government could provide for appointed counsel. 

Another obvious due process reform would be to strip the Attorney General of his (conflict of interest) authority to establish or review precedents and operating procedures for the U.S.  Immigration Courts. Along with that, the DHS should be given an equal right to appeal adverse BIA appellate decisions to the Courts of Appeals (rather than seeking relief from the AG — clearly an interested party in relation to immigration enforcement).

There also should be an immediate end to the appointment and supervision of U.S. Immigration Judges by the politically-biased AG. U.S. Immigration Judges and BIA Appellate Immigration Judges should be appointed on a strict merit basis by either an independent judicial monitor or by the U.S. Courts of Appeals until Congress enacts statutory reforms.

The current U.S. Immigration Court system mocks justice in the same way that Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions mocks it almost every day. There might be no practical way to legally remove Gonzo at present, but the Federal Courts could step in to force the U.S. Immigration Courts to undertake due process reforms. The current situation is unacceptable from a constitutional due process standpoint. Something has to change for the better!

PWS

09-09-17\

GONZO’S LATEST TARGET: LGBTQ Americans — DO”J” Gratuitously Files “Embarrassing” Brief With Supremes SUPPORTING Homophobia: “politicized bigotry dressed up in inane legalese!”

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2017/09/doj_s_cynical_embarrassing_brief_in_the_supreme_court_s_anti_gay_baker_case.html

Mark Joseph Stern reports in Slate:

“On Thursday afternoon, the Department of Justice filed an amicus brief in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Civil Rights Commission, a constitutional challenge to LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws. The DOJ urged the Supreme Court to rule that laws barring businesses from refusing to serve gay couples may violate the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee. Its brief is an exercise in cynical dishonesty, one that’s difficult to read as anything less than politicized bigotry dressed up in inane legalese.

. . . .

Even worse, the brief does not explain why homophobia deserves special respect under the law. The Supreme Court has said that homosexuality is immutable, like race. Why, then, should animus toward same-sex couples be treated differently from animus toward interracial couples? And what about religious bigotry? Can a devout baker refuse to sell a cake to an interfaith couple, and can an atheist one say a Christian can’t buy cupcakes for a christening? Can a sexist baker refuse to serve a female customer? What if his misogyny is derived from religion? And why stop at a cake? Shouldn’t the preparation of other foods qualify as expressive conduct, too? Doesn’t every good or service involve some measure of expressive conduct or association that the First Amendment could theoretically protect?

In its brief, the DOJ implicitly raises all of these questions without answering them because it can’t answer them—not honestly, at least. The reality is that the courts cannot, with any logical coherence or consistency, deny civil rights protections to some groups but not others. Either nondiscrimination law are constitutional or they aren’t. The First Amendment does not grant greater rights to homophobic bakers than racist or sexist ones. Plenty of bigoted business owners wish they could assert a constitutional privilege not to associate with specific groups. If the courts open the door to one, they’ll open the door to all. Shopkeepers do not have a special right to turn away gays from their stores.

The brief strives to avoid this problem because it is, at bottom, a political document. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently gave a speech to ADF thanking the organization for its “important work” defending “religious liberty.” Through Sessions, President Trump is discharging his obligation to appease the bigots in his base. The DOJ’s efforts, however, may prove counterproductive. This brief will delight the court’s reactionaries who favor religious supremacy and disdain gay rights. But it can only estrange Kennedy—who notably, has allowed an LGBTQ nondiscrimination policy to trump a First Amendment claim in the past. Kennedy is always eager to protect the “equal dignity” of same-sex couples; the DOJ now seeks to undermine it. The Trump administration might score political points with this brief, but it won’t win enough votes at the court.

One more thing
The Trump administration poses a unique threat to the rule of law. That’s why Slate has stepped up our legal coverage—watchdogging Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department, the Supreme Court, the crackdown on voting rights, and more.”

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Under Sessions, the Department of Justice has become  purveyor of racism, bigotry, hate, voter suppression, xenophobia, White Nationalism, homophobia, and some incredibly bad and intellectually dishonest lawyering. Gonzo is a disgrace to his position and an insult to American justice. Liz was right. And let’s not forget how she was treated by the GOP when she tried to speak truth about Sessions in the Senate!

PWS

09-08-17

JAMES HOHMANN IN WASHPOST: SOME KEY GOP MODERATES FLEE WASHINGTON AS SWAMP-DWELLING LENINIST REVOLUTIONARIES & BAKUNINIST ANARCHISTS TAKE OVER PARTY AIMING TO DESTROY AMERICAN DEMOCRACY AS WE KNOW IT! — But, Congressional Departures Still Below Norm So “Trump-Effect” Likely Overhyped!

https://s2.washingtonpost.com/camp-rw/?e=amVubmluZ3MxMkBhb2wuY29t&s=59b279eefe1ff671d4f2777c

Hohmann reports in the “Daily 202:”

THE BIG IDEA: Exhausted from his ideological battles with the House Freedom Caucus and clashes with Donald Trump’s White House, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) has decided to retire.

“As a member of the governing wing of the Republican Party, I’ve worked to instill stability, certainty and predictability in Washington,” Dent said in a statement last night announcing that he will not seek an eighth term. “I’ve fought to fulfill the basic functions of government, like keeping the lights on and preventing default. Regrettably, that has not been easy given the disruptive outside influences that profit from increased polarization and ideological rigidity that leads to dysfunction, disorder and chaos.”

Dent is the co-chairman of the moderate Tuesday Group, which has about 50 center-right members. That’s more than the three dozen or so guys in the Freedom Caucus, but the tea partiers punch above their weight because they mostly vote as a bloc.

— The retirement gives Democrats a prime pick-up opportunity, and some veteran GOP strategists are increasingly nervous that a stream of others will follow – especially if the House fails to put more legislative points on the board (e.g. overhauling the tax code) and the political winds continue to suggest major Democratic gains in the 2018 midterms.

— Dent has increasingly drawn the wrath of the Trumpist movement for his willingness to publicly express concerns about Trump that many of his House GOP colleagues are still only willing to say on background. The congressman called for Trump to drop out when the “Access Hollywood” tape emerged last October and then voted for independent Evan McMullin. Since January, he’s spoken out against the president’s travel ban, his firing of James Comey as FBI director and his false moral equivalency after Charlottesville.

Breitbart, again under Steve Bannon’s leadership, played up a story last Friday about an anti-Dent rally in Allentown that drew more than 100 conservative activists.

Pennsylvania state Rep. Justin Simmons announced on Wednesday that he would challenge Dent in a primary next year, emphasizing the incumbent’s lack of support for Trump. “Like many Republicans, I used to support Charlie Dent,” Simmons said in the press release kicking off his campaign. “But in the past year, Charlie Dent has completely gone off the rails.”

Dismissing the challenger as an opportunistic “phony,” Dent released embarrassing text messages that he received from him last year. One asked him to host a fundraiser to help in a contested primary. Another asked, “Do you think there’s any chance the party can replace Trump on the top of the ticket?”

Instead of facing off with Simmons, though, Dent is now stepping aside.

Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) arrives for a House Republican Conference meeting. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) arrives for a House Republican Conference meeting. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

— That surprise news came just one day after another seven-term moderate announced he will retire. Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), who represents a suburban Seattle district that Hillary Clinton carried, is chairman of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on trade. Breaking with the protectionist president, Reichert’s goodbye statement emphasized the importance of free trade to the Pacific Northwest. “From serving on President Obama’s Export Council to battling to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank to leading the fight to pass the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, I have always fought to give our exporters the chance to sell their goods and services around the world,” he wrote.

— A third moderate, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), also expressed concern about the direction of the party when she revealed her plan to step down this spring. The first Cuban American elected to Congress expressed confidence she’d get reelected, even though Clinton won her Miami district by 20 points, but she said the prospect of two more years in the current environment just didn’t appeal to her. “It was just a realization that I could keep getting elected — but it’s not about getting elected,” she told the Miami Heraldin April.

Ros-Lehtinen, the former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has spoken out loudly against Trump since then, on issues like deportations (including DACA this week), transgender rights (her son is transgender) and budget cuts. “I’m not one of those name-callers that think the Democrats don’t have a single good idea,” she said. “Too many people think that way, and I think that’s to the detriment to civility and of good government.”

— Even as relations continue to fray between Republican congressional leaders and Trump, Democrats say these retirements are just the latest proof points that the Trumpists have completed their hostile takeover of the GOP. “With Trump in charge of the GOP, they might as well have a sign on the door that says ‘moderates need not apply,’” said Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson, who previously ran the independent expenditure arm of the DCCC. “The last cell-block has fallen and now Trump’s rabble of inmates are running the asylum. Dare to stand up to Trumpism by thinking people should be able to keep their healthcare or by opposing white supremacists, and you’ll find there is no home for you in the Republican party any more. That’s dangerous for the next two years and for the next 20. Whether it’s in Seattle, Miami, or now Allentown, the GOP is pushing out the only leaders who could convince suburban voters there was a way to get a home in the Republican Party that wasn’t Trump-owned.

Charlie Dent does a TV hit in the Capitol. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Charlie Dent does a TV hit in the Capitol. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

— A close ally of GOP leadership, Dent also serves as chairman of the House Ethics Committee and is a powerful “cardinal,” which in congressional parlance means that he chairs an Appropriations subcommittee. (He controls tens of billions in annual spending related to veterans’ affairs and military construction.)

— While acknowledging that Trump is a factor, Dent says that the trends driving him to give up this immense power predate the current president.

The ideological makeup of the House Republican conference has changed markedly since Newt Gingrich seized the majority in 1994. When the party won back the lower chamber in the 2010 midterms, after four years in the wilderness, the success of the tea party movement meant that there were relatively fewer moderates than before.

Republicans dominated the decennial redistricting process and drew lots of safely red districts. This meant that many House members became more vulnerable to a primary challenge from their right than a general election challenge from a Democrat. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor went down in a 2014 primary, and the Freedom Caucus formed the next year.

This created additional incentives for members to become part of the unofficial “vote no, hope yes” caucus. This is a group of Republicans who want spending bills and debt-ceiling increases to pass but won’t support them because they fear retaliation from outside conservative groups. The departure of Barack Obama from the Oval Office has lessened some of the reflexive, knee-jerk partisanship (it’s harder to tell Trump no), but “vote no, hope yes” remains a powerful force that House Speaker Paul Ryan must contend with every day.

Perversely, these “no” votes force Republican leaders to turn to Democrats for the necessary votes to pass key bills. That has given Nancy Pelosi more leverage than she would have otherwise had. The result is that final deals are often less conservative than they might be otherwise.

People like Dent, who considers himself a conservative, constantly bang their heads against the wall because of this dynamic. He explained last night that solving problems requires “negotiation, cooperation and, inevitably, compromise.”

The 57-year-old said he has been having “periodic discussions” with his wife and three kids about whether to stay in Congress ever “since the government shutdown in 2013.” He said discussions about retiring “increased in frequency” earlier this year, and that he made the decision to step down “in midsummer” – before he drew the primary challenger. “Accomplishing the most basic fundamental tasks of governance is becoming far too difficult,” Dent explained to The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis in an interview last night. “It shouldn’t be, but that’s reality.”

Rep. Charlie Dent, left, and Rep. Pat Meehan walk to a meeting with fellow House Republicans at the Capitol on Wednesday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Rep. Charlie Dent, left, and Rep. Pat Meehan walk to a meeting with fellow House Republicans at the Capitol on Wednesday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

— The nonpartisan Cook Political Report plans to move Pennsylvania’s 15th District – which covers Allentown, Bethlehem and much of the Lehigh Valley – from “Solid Republican” to “Lean Republican” in ratings that will publish later today.

Trump carried the district by eight points last November, while Dent won reelection by 20 points. Obama won the 15th in 2008 and narrowly lost it in 2012.

Democrats see a great pickup opportunity. “After nine months of utter failure to get even the most basic things done for hardworking families, it’s no surprise that Dent is as sick and tired of the Republican party as the American people,” said DCCC spokesman Evan Lukaske.

The NRCC chairman, Rep. Steve Stivers, expressed confidence Republicans will hold the seat. “From reforming the broken VA to ensuring every child has access to a high-quality education, Congressman Dent has championed conservative values since taking office in 2005,” said Stivers (R-Ohio). “While his leadership in Congress will be sorely missed, I wish him the very best in the next chapter of his life.”

— Dent is the 13th Republican to leave the House since the start of 2017. Four accepted jobs in the Trump administration, and three more are running for governor. Dent is the sixth to retire without another position in mind.

As a point of comparison, seven Democrats have announced plans to leave the House. All but one (Rep. Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts) did so to run for higher office. Only one represents a district Trump won: Tim Walz, who is now a front-runner to become the next governor of Minnesota.

— To be fair, though, the current number of House members who are retiring remains far below the historical norm. Going back to 1976, an average of 22 House members have retired in each cycle without seeking a higher office. With Dent, we’re at just seven for this term. Contrary to some of the liberal commentary on places like Twitter and cable news, Trump has not opened the floodgates. At least not yet.”

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Imagine someone who fights to “fulfill the basic functions of government, like keeping the lights on and preventing default. Regrettably, that has not been easy given the disruptive outside influences that profit from increased polarization and ideological rigidity that leads to dysfunction, disorder and chaos.” What audacity! No wonder today’s GOP wants Dent out! Bakuninists believe that revolution is necessary to destroy government and order, not to govern.

PWS

09-08-17

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

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

Dvorak writes:

Fake fear is our new leader.

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

Let me explain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the facts say otherwise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

09-08-17

ABA JOURNAL: “Dickie The P” Reportedly Quit 7th Over Rift With Colleagues About Treatment Of Pro Se Litigants — Perhaps He Should Check Out In Person How Sessions’s DOJ & Captive Immigration Courts Intentionally Abuse & Deny Due Process To Unrepresented Migrants!

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/why_did_posner_retire_he_cites_difficulty_with_his_colleagues_on_one_issue/?utm_source=maestro&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly_email

Debra Cassens Weiss reports:

“Judge Richard Posner had intended to stay on the federal appellate bench until he reached 80, an age he believed to be the upper limit for federal judges.

But on Friday, at the age of 78, he abruptly announced his retirement from the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, effective the next day. The reason is due to “difficulty” with his colleagues over the court’s treatment of people who represent themselves, he told the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin in an email.

“I was not getting along with the other judges because I was (and am) very concerned about how the court treats pro se litigants, who I believe deserve a better shake,” Posner said. The issue will be addressed in an upcoming book that will explain his views and those of his colleagues “in considerable detail,” Posner said.

Posner said he did not time his retirement to allow President Donald Trump to appoint his replacement. “I don’t think it’s proper for judges or justices to make their decision to retire depend on whom they think the president will appoint as replacements,” he told the Law Bulletin. With Posner’s retirement, the 7th Circuit has four vacancies.

Posner was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, and was widely considered a conservative. He has since written more than 3,300 judicial opinions, and not all please conservatives, according to the Law Bulletin. On the one hand, he struck down the Illinois ban on carrying weapons in public, called for fewer restrictions on domestic surveillance, and limited class certification in class-action lawsuits. But he has also written opinions favoring abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

In a 2012 interview with National Public Radio, Posner said he has become less conservative “since the Republican Party started becoming goofy.” But he won’t remain above the fray in politics.

He told the Law Bulletin that his retirement will allow him to assist his cat, Pixie, in a run for president in 2020. Above the Law had endorsed Pixie last year, but Posner was unable to participate in the campaign.”

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Perhaps “Dickie The P” can take some time away from Pixie to visit the kangaroo courts that DOJ has established in prisons intentionally located in out of the way places where traumatized individuals seeking refuge from life-threatening conditions are held in substandard conditions and forced to represent themselves in “death penalty cases” involving some off the most complex and (intentionally) obtuse concepts in modern American law.

Love him or loathe him (or both), Posner is a prolific writer and thinker whose views can’t be ignored or swept under the table. What’s happening in the U.S. Immigration Courts under Sessions is a national disgrace. A high profile legal commentator like Posner, who frankly doesn’t care whom he pisses off, could shed some light on the travesty now passing for due process in the Immigration Courts and how too many of his former Article III colleagues have turned their backs on their constitutional duties rather than taking a strong legal stand against intentional abuse of the most vulnerable  by our legal system. A voice like Posner’s advocating for an Article I Court would be heard!

PWS

09-08-15

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