WASHPOST: OUR UNPRESIDENTIAL PRESIDENT FAILS TO RESPOND PROPERLY TO DOMESTIC TERRORISM!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/what-a-presidential-president-would-have-said-about-charlottesville/2017/08/12/9f1ffec6-7fa4-11e7-9d08-b79f191668ed_story.html?utm_term=.aa4c1a783bce

August 12 at 6:27 PM

HERE IS what President Trump said Saturday about the violence in Charlottesville sparked by a demonstration of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members:

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.

Here is what a presidential president would have said:“The violence Friday and Saturday in Charlottesville, Va., is a tragedy and an unacceptable, impermissible assault on American values. It is an assault, specifically, on the ideals we cherish most in a pluralistic democracy — tolerance, peaceable coexistence and diversity.

“The events were triggered by individuals who embrace and extol hatred. Racists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and their sympathizers — these are the extremists who fomented the violence in Charlottesville, and whose views all Americans must condemn and reject.

“To wink at racism or to condone it through silence, or false moral equivalence, or elision, as some do, is no better and no more acceptable than racism itself. Just as we can justly identify radical Islamic terrorism when we see it, and call it out, so can we all see the racists in Charlottesville, and understand that they are anathema in our society, which depends so centrally on mutual respect.

“Under whatever labels and using whatever code words — ‘heritage,’ ‘tradition,’ ‘nationalism’ — the idea that whites or any other ethnic, national or racial group is superior to another is not acceptable. Americans should not excuse, and I as president will not countenance, fringe elements in our society who peddle such anti-American ideas. While they have deep and noxious roots in our history, they must not be given any quarter nor any license today.

“Nor will we accept acts of domestic terrorism perpetrated by such elements. If, as appears to be the case, the vehicle that plowed into the counterprotesters on Saturday in Charlottesville did so intentionally, the driver should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The American system of justice must and will treat a terrorist who is Christian or Buddhist or Hindu or anything else just as it treats a terrorist who is Muslim — just as it treated those who perpetrated the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

“We may all have pressing and legitimate questions about how the violence in Charlottesville unfolded — and whether it could have been prevented. There will be time in coming days to delve further into those matters, and demand answers. In the meantime, I stand ready to provide any and all resources from the federal government to ensure there will be no recurrence of such violence in Virginia or elsewhere. Let us keep the victims of this terrible tragedy in our thoughts and prayers, and keep faith that the values enshrined in our Constitution and laws will prevail against those who would desecrate our democracy.”

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It might not be Presidential, but it’s what you’d expect from a President who has unabashed White Nationalists among his closest advisers and in a key cabinet position. It’s also what you would expect from someone who has spent the last several years pandering to White Supremacists, who now feel “at home” in today’s GOP, bigots, and racists, and whose own career shows little sensitivity to decency, values, or toleration.

PWS

08-13-17

THE HUMAN COST OF GONZO POLICIES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trumps-travel-ban-is-leaving-these-orphans-stuck-in-refugee-camps/2017/07/28/58195d24-6d52-11e7-8fb5-d101fa38cebd_story.html?utm_term=.c1979f167906&wpisrc=nl_buzz&wpmm=1

Justin Wm. Moyer reports in the Washington Post:

“The tranquil home of James Isaacs, an Episcopal priest, and wife Maggie Brewinski Isaacs, a pediatrician, sits on a hill above a creek on 5½ wooded acres in suburban Maryland. Inside, an unoccupied bedroom awaits a refu­gee ready to join the family.

But the 16-year-old girl, blocked by the Trump administration’s travel ban, is stuck in an Ethio­pian refu­gee camp and might never see the room.

“The children ask us when their big sister is going to arrive,” James Isaacs said of his sons, ages 4 and 2, one of whom was adopted from South Africa. “We are left in this time of uncertainty because of the administration and the Supreme Court decision.”

The girl, from the East African nation of Eritrea and identified to The Washington Post only by her initials “M.T.” to protect her privacy, is an “unaccompanied minor refu­gee” — a young, displaced person without a parent or guardian who is seeking refuge in the United States.

Jimmy Isaacs, 4, left, and his brother, Joseph, 2, play on the bed inside the room that the family prepared to foster an “unaccompanied minor refugee” from Africa. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

A painting is seen inside the room that Irene Stevenson prepared to foster an “unaccompanied minor refugee” from Africa. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

On July 19, the Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration’s travel ban to stand, leaving about 100 unaccompanied minor refugees stranded overseas. The decision comes after months of judicial back-and-forth over the ban, casting doubt on the children’s plans to live in the United States.

“They are youth that are on their own,” said Autumn Orme, a director at Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, which works with unaccompanied minor refugees. “I find it pretty extraordinary that they are managing this all on their own. These are children that don’t have parents to care for them.”

The result: M.T., an orphan who fled child labor in Eritrea two years ago and was approved by the State Department to live in the United States, remains in legal limbo.

“Not only is she missing out now, we’re missing out,” Isaacs said.

The Isaacs family is not the only one with an empty bedroom after the ban.”

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Read the rest of the stories at the link.

So what kind of country bars vulnerable kids in need while letting the real threats to our national security — Trump, his family, and his cronies — have free rein at the seat of Government? Trump, his family, and some of his advisers probably wouldn’t be able to pass the type of security screening to which overseas refugees are subjected.

PWS

07-28-17

ILYA SOMIN IN WASHPOST: Sessions’s Gonzo Attack On America’s Cities Is Unconstitutional!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/07/27/jeff-sessions-attack-on-sanctuary-cities-is-also-an-assault-on-federalism-and-separation-of-powers/?utm_term=.dadc10264ba1

Somin, a Professor of Law at George Mason, writes:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced a new Justice Department policy seeking to pull federal grants from “sanctuary cities” – jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with some federal efforts to deport undocumented immigrants. Much like President Trump’s earlier executive order targeting sanctuary cities, which was blocked by a federal court decision, the Justice Department’s new policy is unconstitutional. If allowed to proceed, it would create a dangerous precedent for both federalism and separation of powers.

. . . .

The major constitutional problem with all three requirements is exactly the same as the main flaw in the earlier order: Longstanding Supreme Court precedent indicates that only Congress can impose conditions on grants given to states and localities, and that those conditions must be “unambiguously” stated in the text of the law “so that the States can knowingly decide whether or not to accept those funds.” Neither compliance with Section 1373 nor the other two conditions the DOJ seeks to impose are included in the authorizing legislation for the Byrne grants. Sessions and Trump may be at odds on other issues right now. But they are united in their desire to make up new grant conditions and impose them on states and localities after the fact.”

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Read the entire article at the link.

Sessions is a “Constitutional relativist.” One day he’s for states’s rights to deny minorities the vote or to shoot or beat them to a pulp in law enforcement operations. The next day, he’s for the Feds interfering with local law enforcement’s ability to work with the entire community (not just the white guys) to enforce local laws. The only consistency in Sessions’s positions: the White Nationalist agenda. Look for the worst outcome for folks of color or non-Christians and that’s where you will find Sessions and his minions. Every time.

PWS

07-27-17

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith Halts Iraqi Removals

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-iraqi-deportations-20170724-story.html

Melissa Etehad reports in the LA Times:

“A federal judge in Detroit has temporarily halted the deportations of more than 1,400 Iraqi immigrants, ruling that they deserve to have their cases play out in court because of the risk that they could be targeted for persecution in Iraq.

In a ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith said the immigrants faced a “compelling confluence of extraordinary circumstances” and that the government’s attempt to rush their deportations was a violation of their rights.

Many of the Iraqis arrived in the U.S. as children as far back as the 1980s and have few ties to their native country. The majority are members of religious or ethnic minorities such as Chaldean Christians or Kurds, who have been subjected to torture and other forms of repression in Iraq.

They face deportation because they had overstayed visas or committed crimes, typically misdemeanors such as driving under the influence of alcohol.

They had been allowed to stay in the U.S. because for decades Iraq had refused to take them back. But in March, the Trump administration reached a deal with the Iraqi government to accept them and in June began rounding them up in immigration raids.

As of July 1, 234 had been arrested and detained around the country, including large numbers in Detroit, home to thousands of Chaldean Christians.

Returning the immigrants to Iraq would in some cases be akin to issuing a death sentence, according to civil rights and immigrant rights groups that filed a lawsuit in Detroit federal court in late June to block deportations of those immigrants who had been living in Detroit.

Many had been transferred multiple times to various detention facilities, making it harder for them to get legal representation and prepare their cases, advocates said.”

Here is a full copy of Judge Goldsmith’s opinion in Hamama v. Adducci detailing the Government’s efforts to obstruct and derail due process:

https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/field_document/opinion_granting_pi.pdf

 

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Another defeat for the Trump Administration’s gonzo enforcement agenda.

PWS

07-25-17

N. RAPPAPORT IN HUFFPOST: “Is Trump withdrawing Lady Liberty’s invitation to the poor, huddled masses yearning to be free?”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/597274e1e4b0545a5c31000

Nolan writes:

“In 1903, these lines were engraved on a plaque and placed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty:

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

But should our immigration system be based on a desire to help immigrants from around the world? Or should it be based on our own national interests?

The main difference between legal and illegal immigration is that with legal immigration, the government decides which aliens will be allowed to come to the United States. Whereas, with illegal immigration, the aliens decide themselves whether they are going to come.

That distinction loses significance when the government does not base its immigration policy decisions on the country’s needs.

President Donald Trump believes that the current system for legal immigration does not meet our national interests.

. . . .

“Should we reject this approach and honor Lady Liberty’s invitation? That might have been possible when the plaque was put on the base of the Statute of Liberty more than a century ago, but it is no longer possible. Even if we limited the invitation to the huddled masses who have been driven from their countries by war, criminal violence, and persecution, there are too many of them.

And is it really wrong to base America’s immigration system on our own national interests instead of on a desire to help people from other countries? Trump and the Jordan Commission concluded not only that we should do what’s in our national interests, but that the current immigration system is hurting us.”

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Read Nolan’s complete article over at HuffPost at the above link!

Sorry, Nolan, but I think it’s all lots of White Nationalist bull. We wouldn’t even be having this debate if the immigrants were White Christians. It would be in the country’s best interests to legalize everyone who is here now and also to boost legal immigration limits for skilled, unskilled, and family to levels that more realistically match the market of supply and demand.  And, we can take many more refugees than we take now.

By having a bigger and more realistic legal immigration system, our need for all the wasteful and largely ineffective law enforcement we have now would be reduced. We could concentrate on folks who really don’t belong here. And, by having a real “line,” instead of the fake one we have now, we would increase the incentives for folks to wait their turn and come in an orderly manner.

Most economists who have looked at our situation are appalled at the so-called RAISE Act. One has only to look at who sponsors it to see the motives behind it.

I largely agree with the recent article in the Washington Post by Heather Long which demonstrates how harebrained the Trump and RAISE policies would be. However, I don’t agree with the idea of some interviewed in the article that family immigration should be cut to raise employment-based immigration. Family immigration does great things for America, and folks with family ties here have a “leg up” in getting started and making a difference.

Trump doesn’t care two hoots and a holler about America’s future. He’s out to 1) cement his position with the White Nationalists in his base, and 2) to loot the U.S. for his and his family’s benefit any way he can. Cotton and Purdue also are about cultural issues and white Nationalism, not what’s best for America’s future.

I reprint Heather Long’s article below in full:

Wonkblog

Cutting legal immigration 50 percent might be Trump’s worst economic idea

July 17

President Trump’s “to do” list still includes cutting legal immigration. Economists say that’s a “grave mistake.”

A Washington Post survey of 18 economists over the weekend found that 89 percent said it’s a terrible idea for Trump to curb immigration to the United States. Experts overwhelmingly predicted it would slow growth — the exact opposite of what Trump wants to do with “MAGAnomics.”

“Restricting immigration will only condemn us to chronically low rates of economic growth,” said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook Group. “It also increases the risk of the recession.”

Thomas Simons, senior economist at the Jefferies investment firm, called the idea “absolutely harmful to an economy with a population undergoing the demographic transformation.”

The bottom line is: The United States needs more workers. Growth happens when one of two things occurs: The economy gets more workers or the existing workers become more productive. At the moment, both of those factors are red flags. Productivity growth is sluggish, and, as Trump has pointed out many times, the percent of American adults who actually work — the labor-force participation rate — is hovering at the lowest levels since the 1970s.

A big part of the problem is the baby boomers are starting to retire. The United States needs more people to replace them, but the U.S. birthrate just hit a historic low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s why many economists, demographers and business owners keep calling for more immigration, not less.

“Limiting immigration to the U.S. is a grave mistake,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “The only way to meaningfully increase U.S. economic growth on a sustained basis anytime soon is to increase immigration.”

During the campaign, Zandi predicted that Trump’s protectionist stances on trade and immigration would lead to a “lengthy recession.” According to Zandi’s economic models, Trump’s worst policy was his plan to deport 11 million immigrants currently in the country illegally.

Now scaling back on legal immigration is a serious part of the policy discussion.

Congress and the White House are dealing with a slew of issues. Immigration appeared to be sidelined until a much-cited Politico report last week that top Trump aides are actively working with Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) to cut legal immigration by as much as 50 percent. It would be a revised version of the RAISE Act that the senators introduced in February and that would cut back on the number of refugees allowed in each year and make it much harder for anyone other than spouses or minor children of U.S. citizens or permanent residents to immigrate.

Trump still sees action on immigration as a critical part of his agenda. He brought it up on his trip to France last week.

“What I’d like to do is a comprehensive immigration plan,” the president told reporters on his way to Paris. “But our country and political forces are not ready yet.”

If Trump can’t get the bigger immigration overhaul he wants, he’s likely to push for something like the RAISE Act. Trump says the United States needs to limit immigration, legal and illegal, to give workers at home a better chance. One of the proposals Cotton and Perdue are considering is slashing the number of legally issued green cards from 1 million a year to 500,000 over the next decade.

Trump portrays immigrants as scooping up American jobs. But the data appears to tell a different story.

U.S. unemployment is at 4.4 percent. In May, unemployment hit the lowest level since 2001, a milestone Trump celebrated. That implies there aren’t many people struggling to find work. At the same time, the United States has 5.7 million job openings, which is near a record high. It’s been that way for a year now. Business leaders with big and small firms say they can’t find enough workers. They are especially vocal about not being able to find enough people for really low-skilled, low-pay work and for really highly skilled jobs.

Take Bayard Winthrop. He is founder and chief executive of American Giant, a company that Slate said produces the “greatest hoodie ever made.” American Giant makes those masterpiece sweatshirts by using only U.S. workers, U.S. cotton and U.S. manufacturing. In other words, Winthrop is the living embodiment of the “Made in America” a movement Trump is trying to resurrect. Yet one of the biggest problems Winthrop faces is not enough American workers want to do the hard work of picking cotton.

“If you go through our supply chain and talk to a lot of the business that are ginning cotton, dyeing and finishing cotton, what you hear pretty universally is they have open job requests but few people actually want these entry-level, lower-wage jobs,” he said Monday in an interview with WAMU radio. His message to Trump is, “Make immigration much more accessible.”

Trump is already heeding the calls for more lower-skilled workers. His administration just bumped up visas for seasonal foreign workers by 15,000, a 45 percent increase from last year.

There’s little love among economists and business leaders for a 50 percent cut in immigration overall, but there is growing support for moving the United States to a more merit-based immigration system. The idea is to attract more of the immigrant workers that the country desperately needs. At the moment, only 15 percent of green cards are issued for employment reasons, according to Department of Homeland Security data.

“There is a case for adopting a Canada-style system of ‘points’ whereby preference is given to people with desired skills,” said Martin Barnes, chief economist at BCA Research in Montreal.

The vast majority of legal immigrants are entering the country because they are relatives of someone already in the United States. It’s known as “chain immigration,” and the RAISE Act wants to limit that substantially so only spouses and children could come with a visa holder, not more-extended relatives.

From an economics standpoint, the key is to get more workers with the desired skills into the country. It’s why the tech community is lobbying so hard for more H-1B visas.

Immigrants also tend to start more businesses. While start-up founders in Silicon Valley are glorified, the reality is, business formation in the United States is near a 40-year low. That worries Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust.

“Countries that get collectively older are granted fewer patents, start fewer small businesses and take fewer risks with capital,” Tannenbaum said. All of that hurts economic growth.

Tannenbaum is concerned not only that Trump will cut immigration in the future but also that the president’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and controversial travel ban are already encouraging the best young minds in the world to look elsewhere for their college educations and early careers.

“If smart kids get educated elsewhere, the U.S. will experience a talent drain that we will certainly come to regret,” Tannenbaum warned.”

PWS

07-21-17

 

NORTHERN VIRGINIA PASTOR CAUGHT UP IN DHS WEB OF CRUEL, INDISCRIMINATE, & WASTEFUL ENFORCEMENT — WHILE SON FIGHTS FOR OUR COUNTRY IN AIR FORCE, GEN. KELLY & CO. PLAN TO SHOW APPRECIATION BY DEPORTING HIS FATHER!

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/ICE-Detains-Northern-Virginia-Pastor-435897973.html

NBC Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reports:

“Faith groups around the Commonwealth are mobilizing to support a Northern Virginia pastor who may soon be deported.

Pastor Juan Gutierrez typically leads a small service of about 10 to 20 members at his home every Saturday in Dumfries, Virginia. But on Saturday, that number is expected to grow for a day-long vigil in support of his family.

Gutierrez went to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office for his usual check-in in late June, when he was suddenly taken into custody.

“I say why? He do everything like the rules say,” Gutierrez’s wife Aurelia Sicha said. “I was really sure surprised. I started to cry.”

Gutierrez came to the U.S. from Peru in 2002 with a visa to play music. Sicha, who is a U.S. citizen, became pregnant and he stayed to help care for their family.

ICE is now enforcing an order of removal Gutierrez received in 2012.

“I understand my husband broke the rules of this country because he’s here without the visa, but he’s a good man. Never he do [anything] wrong. He’s a pastor. He’s a preacher. The word of God,” Sicha said.

An ICE official confirmed to News4 that Gutierrez does not have a criminal record, writing in a statement, “As DHS Secretary Kelly and Acting ICE Director Homan have stated repeatedly, ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of national security and public safety threats; however, no class or category of alien in the United States is exempt from arrest or removal.”

The couple has a son in the U.S. Air Force and a 13-year-old daughter.”

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See Julie’s video report, which also appeared on NBC 4 locally at the link.

I have pointed out that Kelly’s once sterling reputation will end up in the trash bin unless he starts showing some backbone and standing up to the arbitrary and wasteful enforcement program espoused by the Trump White Nationalists and some (but not all) of his own agents. Good law enforcement is not just an exercise in keeping the line agents happy, any more than leading a successful military operation is just about keeping the troops happy. It’s about using limited resources wisely, humanely, and with some rational purpose in mind to achieve some legitimate strategic goal. Arbitrarily enforcing a broken and unworkable law does none of the foregoing. So far, Kelly has come up disturbingly short on almost all accounts.

PWS

07-21-17

 

UNDER THE RADAR: Trump Administration Implementing “Muslim Ban” Without Fanfare!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/18/opinion/trump-muslim-ban-supreme-court.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20170718&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=3&nlid=79213886&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

“Lost amid the uproar over the Trump administration’s travel restrictions on citizens from Muslim-majority countries and the impending showdown at the Supreme Court are the insidious ways that the government has already begun to impose a Muslim ban.

It’s doing so through deceptively boring means: increasing administrative hurdles and cementing or even expanding the current travel restrictions that are not under review at the court. The collective impact of these changes will be that a permanent Muslim ban is enshrined into American immigration policy.

. . . .

The Twitterverse and cable news pundits are unlikely to be mobilized by policy changes that come about through these types of bureaucratic processes. Most people are not closely following the intricacies of visa vetting and screening.

That’s a shame because there is already evidence that they are working. The number of visas issued to citizens from Muslim-majority countries has decreased by double digits. Among nearly 50 Muslim-majority countries, nonimmigrant visas declined almost 20 percent in April, compared with the monthly average from 2016. Visas issued to people from Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen, the six countries on the travel ban list, were down 55 percent. Those figures will continue to get worse if these other provisions are implemented.

Finally, consider an embarrassing incident. An Afghan girls’ robotics team was initially denied entry into the United States to participate in a science competition. It was only after public outcry and an intervention by President Trump that they were granted passage. Situations like that are also likely to have a chilling effect on people from Muslim-majority countries, resulting in further decreases.

A Muslim ban, even when implemented through seemingly mundane bureaucratic processes, simply has no place in our country.

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

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

King writes:

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

What does that tell us about the country?

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Read King’s full op-ed at the link.

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

PWS

07-15-17

THE CUT: SESSIONS UNDER FIRE FOR SPEECH TO ANTI-LGBT GROUP!

https://www.thecut.com/2017/07/jeff-sessions-speech-anti-lgbtq-hate-group-alliance-defending-freedom.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Cut%2520-%2520July%252013%252C%25202017&utm_term=Subscription%2520List%2520-%2520The%2520Cut%2520%25281%2520Year%2529

Claire Landsbaum reports:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions is being criticized for delivering a speech to an anti-LGBTQ hate group. On Tuesday night he addressed the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian law firm that advocates against LGBTQ rights, but the Justice Department won’t release his remarks, according to ABC.

The event reportedly aimed to “bring together prominent legal advocates, scholars, cultural commentators, business executives and church leaders to examine the current state of religious freedom,” and “develop legal and cultural strategies to allow freedom to flourish in the United States and around the world.” A spokesperson for the Alliance Defending Freedom said it was “working through channels” to release Sessions’s remarks at the gathering.

The ADF was classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2016; according to the center’s website, the ADF “is a legal advocacy and training group that specializes in supporting the recriminalization of homosexuality abroad, ending same-sex marriage, and generally making life as difficult as possible for LGBT communities in the U.S. and internationally.” This characterization doesn’t sit well with the ADF, which recently published a column defending its ideology.

Sessions’s voting record as an Alabama senator was generally in line with the ADF’s stances — for example, he supported a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage; voted against adding sexual orientation and gender identity to categories protected against hate crimes; and voted against repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. But although his attendance at an event involving the ADF isn’t surprising, some LGBTQ advocates are worried about the message it sends.

Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, who’s the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate, told ABC it “sends a very troubling message that our attorney general, America’s top law-enforcement official, is not committed to standing up to anti-LGBT hate.”

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Liz was right!

PWS

07-13-17

 

WISCONSIN GOP JUMPS ON BANDWAGON TO SOLVE IMAGINARY PROBLEM OF SHARIA LAW! — “[N]one in Wisconsin, thankfully!”

http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/2017/07/10/wisconsin-bill-preserving-u-s-laws-promoting-islamophobia/452810001/

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal reports:

“Since 2010, at least 10 states have passed laws aimed at fighting what a network of far-right organizations insist is the encroachment of Sharia law into American courts.

Now, a group of state lawmakers would like to see Wisconsin follow suit.

State Rep. Thomas Weatherston (R-Caledonia) is spearheading an effort to pass a so-called “American Laws for American Courts” bill, which would bar Wisconsin judges from applying foreign laws — including those based on Islamic law — if doing so would violate fundamental human rights protected by the U.S. and Wisconsin constitutions.

Weatherston said he’s “not concerned about Muslims.” In fact, his bill, like others across the country, doesn’t explicitly mention Sharia. But he is worried, he said, “about other countries’ laws creeping into the United States.”

“Especially religious laws, no matter what the origin is,” said Weatherston. “I’m just making sure that U.S. laws are heard in U.S. courts.”

Critics, including the American Bar Association and many non-Muslims, argue that the laws are unnecessary because such protections already exist in American jurisprudence. And they’re seen by many as part of a larger agenda to vilify Muslims.

“If you look at the promotional materials, the lobbying, it’s the same people who are pushing against Sharia around the country — holding rallies, talking about ‘Sharia creep’ and Muslims taking over,” said Asifa Quraishi-Landes, who teaches constitutional and Islamic law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and serves as president of the National Association of Muslim Lawyers. “They see any acknowledgment of Sharia in American Muslim life as a first step to the Trojan Horse.”

Last week, the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on Legislative leaders to reject the bill, saying it’s unconstitutional and “contrary to our nation’s crucial principle of not elevating or marginalizing one faith community.”

Sharia, meaning “path,” is the Islamic law, a set of guiding principles that touch on every aspect of Muslim life, from how one dresses and prays to marriage and business contracts. Aspects of it are embedded in the legal systems of Muslim-majority countries, and its tenets are interpreted variously based on the country and schools of Islamic thought. Those who are suspicious of Islam point to its harsher punishments, such as stoning and amputations in rare cases, and its bias in many cases against women.

American Laws for American Courts, or ALAC, was developed by the nonprofit advocacy group American Public Policy Alliance, David Yerushalmi of the Center for Security Policy and others as a way to address the constitutional challenges raised against the earliest versions of the laws — in Tennessee and Oklahoma — which explicitly singled out Sharia.

The newer versions make no mention of Sharia, referencing instead “foreign laws.” But the groups that promote them openly disparage Sharia as a threat to American values and liberties and a vehicle for imposing worldwide Islamic rule.”

. . . .

“Gélé said there have been hundreds of cases in which Islamic law has been invoked in U.S. courts, often to the detriment of women and children. And Weatherston said his office has found at least 70 others, though “none in Wisconsin, thankfully.”

Quraishi-Landes, the UW-Madison professor, disputes their claims. She said courts already look to public policy and constitutional protections — for example, the right to equal protection — as the bases for their rulings. She said she has reviewed all of the cases cited by the Center for Security Policy and found none in which the courts ultimatelyenforced a religious law that violated a fundamental civil right.

“To us, that is an example of the system working,” she said.

Invoking Sharia principles in a family matter is no different from other religious minorities invoking their religious principles in civil cases, she said, pointing to the Beth Dins, or rabbinical tribunals used by Orthodox Jews to negotiate disputes, which are recognized by state courts.

The “American Laws for American Courts” bills have been criticized by Jewish and Catholic groups concerned that their rights to invoke religious principles could also be affected.

In Catholic church bankruptcies, for example, including Milwaukee’s, the church has cited canon law to defend the way it responded to the sexual abuse crisis and to protect assets.

“Americans who care about religious liberty should be concerned about anti-Sharia laws,” even those purporting to address foreign laws, said Robert Vischer, dean of the School of Law at St. Thomas University in Minneapolis.

“Suggesting that the religious convictions of citizens have no place in our courts misunderstands the function of our legal system and sends a troubling message about the place of religion in our society.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

The GOP often “fakes” concern about expenditure of public funds. However, in reality, they waste countless taxpayer dollars pursuing unnecessary, unneeded, and divisive pet projects of the far right.

PWS

07-13-17

ANOTHER SETBACK FOR TRUMP ADMINISTRATION AS U.S. JUDGE IN DETROIT BLOCKS IRAQI DEPORTATIONS!

https://patch.com/michigan/detroit/u-s-iraqi-deportation-hold-until-court-review-detroit-judge

AP reports:

“DETROIT, MI — A federal judge Tuesday halted the deportation of 1,400 Iraqi nationals, including many Christians fearing persecution, while courts review the orders to remove them from the U.S. Judge Mark Goldsmith issued a 24-page opinion asserting jurisdiction in the case over the objection of the Justice Department, which argued U.S. district judges do not have jurisdiction.

“This Court concludes that to enforce the Congressional mandate that district courts lack jurisdiction — despite the compelling context of this case — would expose Petitioners to the substantiated risk of death, torture, or other grave persecution before their legal claims can be tested in a court,” Goldsmith wrote in a 24-page opinion.

Goldsmith earlier blocked the deportations while he considered whether he had jurisdiction over the case. (For more local news, click here to sign up for real-time news alerts and newsletters from Detroit Patch, click here to find your local Michigan Patch. Also, like us on Facebook, and if you have an iPhone, click here to get the free Patch iPhone app.)

Many of the Iraqis, including 114 rounded up in the Detroit area last month who are mostly Christians, fear attacks over their religion if returned to Iraq. The government says they face deportation because they committed crimes in the U.S.

Goldsmith earlier extended a ruling suspending the deportation of the 114 while he considered jurisdiction to all Iraqi nationals in the U.S.

The U.S. government said 1,400 Iraqis are under deportation orders nationwide, though most are not in custody. Some have been under orders for years because they committed crimes in the U.S. But legal action over deportations took on new urgency because Iraq has agreed to accept them.

The American Civil Liberties Union said a suspension is necessary so Iraqi nationals can go to immigration court and argue that their lives would be in jeopardy if returned to their native country. Without some intervention, the ACLU contends that people could be deported before their case is called.

Goldsmith scheduled a Wednesday hearing to discuss several matters in the case, including a request from the Iraqis for a preliminary injunction barring the deportations.”

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Seems like these folks should have their cases reviewed by a U.S. Immigration Judge based on current conditions in Iraq.

PWS

07-12-17

JAMELLE BOUIE IN SLATE: Trump’s Hypocritical “Defense Of Western Values” Is Really About White Nationalism!

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/07/the_white_nationalist_roots_of_donald_trump_s_warsaw_speech.html

Bouie writes:

“Thus far, Donald Trump has governed as a typical Republican president, with the usual suite of tax cuts, deregulation, and conservative nominees for the federal bench. The difference is that unlike his predecessors, Trump isn’t rooted in the tenets of conservativism. Indeed, as a man of id and impulse, it’s hard to say he’s rooted in anything. To the extent that he does have an ideology, it’s a white American chauvinism and its attendant nativism and racism. It was the core of his “birther” crusade against Barack Obama—the claim that for reasons of blood and heritage, Obama couldn’t be legitimate—and the pitch behind his campaign for president. Trump would restore American greatness by erasing the racial legacy of Obama’s presidency: the Hispanic immigration, the Muslim refugees, the black protesters.

Jamelle BouieJAMELLE BOUIE

Jamelle Bouie is Slates chief political correspondent.

This is the reason Trump’s campaign attracted, and his administration employs, men like Jeff Sessions, Stephen Bannon, and Stephen Miller. Sessions, a staunch opponent of federal civil rights enforcement and proponent of radical immigration restriction. Miller, his protégé, whose young career is marked by the same contempt for racial pluralism. Bannon, an entrepreneur with intellectual pretensions whose literary touchstones include virulently racist propaganda, and who brought that sensibility to Breitbart, a news website where “black crime” was a vertical and writers churn out stories on dangerous Muslims. Each shares a vision of a (white) America under siege from Hispanic immigration to the South and Islam to the East. All three are influential in the Trump White House as strategists and propagandists, taking the president’s impulses and molding them into a coherent perspective.

That is the key context for President Trump’s recent remarks in Warsaw, Poland, where he made a defense of “Western civilization.” He praised Poland’s resilience in the face of Nazi aggression and Soviet domination (and stayed quiet on Nazi collaboration within Poland), and celebrated the nation as a beacon of Western values. “A strong Poland is a blessing to the nations of Europe, and they know that. A strong Europe is a blessing to the West and to the world.” (It should be said that U.S. allies in Western Europe are less enthusiastic about the current right-wing Polish government.) From here, Trump presented the West as an empire under siege: “We have to say there are dire threats to our security and to our way of life. You see what’s happening out there. They are threats. We will confront them. We will win.”

Although marked by Trump’s characteristic bombast, much of this was in line with past presidential rhetoric, especially during the Cold War when American presidents routinely engaged in this kind of clash of civilizations rhetoric. (It is unclear, though, if previous presidents would have endorsed a narrative that erases victims of Polish anti-Semitism.)

But this isn’t the Cold War. The Soviet Union no longer exists. For Trump then, what are these “dire threats”? The chief one is “radical Islamic terrorism” exported by groups like ISIS. But he doesn’t end there. For Trump, these threats are broader than particular groups or organizations; they are internal as well as external.

“We must work together to confront forces, whether they come from inside or out, from the South or the East, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith, and tradition that make us who we are,” said Trump. “If left unchecked, these forces will undermine our courage, sap our spirit, and weaken our will to defend ourselves and our societies.”

Not content to leave his message understated, Trump hammered home this idea in a subsequent line. “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” said the president, before posing a series of questions: “Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”

In the context of terrorism specifically, a deadly threat but not an existential one, this is overheated. But it’s clear Trump has something else in mind: immigration. He’s analogizing Muslim migration to a superpower-directed struggle for ideological conquest. It’s why he mentions “borders,” why he speaks of threats from “the South”—the origin point of Hispanic immigrants to the United States and Muslim refugees to Europe—and why he warns of internal danger.

This isn’t a casual turn. In these lines, you hear the influence of Bannon and Miller. The repeated references to Western civilization, defined in cultural and religious terms, recall Bannon’s 2014 presentation to a Vatican conference, in which he praised the “forefathers” of the West for keeping “Islam out of the world.” Likewise, the prosaic warning that unnamed “forces” will sap the West of its will to defend itself recalls Bannon’s frequent references to the Camp of the Saints, an obscure French novel from 1973 that depicts a weak and tolerant Europe unable to defend itself from a flotilla of impoverished Indians depicted as grotesque savages and led by a man who eats human feces.

For as much as parts of Trump’s speech fit comfortably in a larger tradition of presidential rhetoric, these passages are clear allusions to ideas and ideologies with wide currency on the white nationalist right.

Defenders of the Warsaw speech call this reading “hysterical,” denying any ties between Trump’s rhetoric in Poland and white nationalism. But to deny this interpretation of the speech, one has to ignore the substance of Trump’s campaign, the beliefs of his key advisers, and the context of Poland itself and its anti-immigrant, ultranationalist leadership. One has to ignore the ties between Bannon, Miller, and actual white nationalists, and disregard the active circulation of those ideas within the administration. And one has to pretend that there isn’t a larger intellectual heritage that stretches back to the early 20thcentury, the peak of American nativism, when white supremacist thinkers like Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard penned works with language that wouldn’t feel out of place in Trump’s address.

“Unless we set our house in order, the doom will sooner or later overtake us all. And that would mean that the race obviously endowed with he greatest creative ability, the race which had achieved most in the past and which gave the richer promise for the future, had passed away, carrying with it to the grave those potencies upon which the realization of man’s highest hopes depends,” wrote Stoddard in his 1920 book The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy. Compare this to the crest of Trump’s remarks in Warsaw, which follows his warning of internal threat and his praise of Western civilization:

What we have, what we inherited from our—and you know this better than anybody, and you see it today with this incredible group of people—what we’ve inherited from our ancestors has never existed to this extent before. And if we fail to preserve it, it will never, ever exist again.

Those lines fit comfortably into a long history of white nationalist rhetoric. They in no way resemble Ronald Reagan’s words in Berlin or John Kennedy’s speeches in defense of the “free world.”

To read those previous presidential speeches is to see what makes Trump distinctive. Kennedy and Reagan defined “the West” in ideological terms—a world of free elections and free markets. It’s an inclusive view; presumably, any country that adopts these institutions enters that community of nations. For Trump, “the West” is defined by ties of culture and religion. It’s why a government that disdains democratic institutions, like Poland’s, can still stand as a vanguard of Western civilization, and why Muslim immigration is a chief threat to the integrity of Europe. What makes this racial is its relationship to Trump’s other rhetoric. If Western civilization is defined by religion and culture, then Mexico—with its Catholic heritage and historic ties to European monarchies—is unquestionably an outpost of “the West.” But for Trump and his advisers, it too is a threat to the Western order.

Donald Trump went to Europe and, in keeping with his campaign and influences, gave a speech with clear links to white nationalist thought. To pretend otherwise, to ignore the context of this address—to place Trump in a vacuum of history and politics, divorced from his own persona—is, at best, to cross the line into willful ignorance.”

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Trump has clearly shown himself to be a person of no values whatsoever. Although his xenophobic, white nationalist/racist agenda appears to be little more that political opportunism — parroting concepts developed by Sessions, Bannon, Miller & company — that doesn’t make it any less problematic — or dangerous.

PWS

07-07-17

 

N. RAPPAPORT IN HUFFPOST: ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE SHOULDN’T BE AN ISSUE IF SUPREMES EVER REACH MERITS OF TRAVEL BAN CASE!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/5956805de4b0f078efd9894c

Nolan writes:

“May not need to state a reason at all.

In Kleindienst v. Mandel, the Court observed that, without exception, it has sustained Congress’ “plenary power to make rules for the admission of aliens.” And, “The power of Congress …. to have its declared policy in that regard enforced exclusively through executive officers, without judicial intervention, is settled by our previous adjudications.” (Page 408 U. S. 766).

Mandel held that when Congress has made a conditional delegation of its plenary power over the exclusion of aliens to the Executive Branch, and the Executive Branch exercises this power “on the basis of a facially legitimate and bona fide reason,” the courts will not look behind the exercise of that discretion.

The next sentence in Mandel indicates that it may not be necessary to state the reason. “What First Amendment or other grounds may be available for attacking [an] exercise of discretion for which no justification whatsoever is advanced is a question we neither address nor decide in this case.” (Page 408 U. S. 769-70).

No basis for finding religious discrimination in the language of the order.

But the travel ban order does state a reason, and the District Court for the District of Hawaii found no basis in the stated reason or elsewhere in the language of the order for suspecting that the real purpose of the ban was religious discrimination:

It is undisputed that the Executive Order does not facially discriminate for or against any particular religion, or for or against religion versus non-religion. There is no express reference, for instance, to any religion nor does the Executive Order — unlike its predecessor — contain any term or phrase that can be reasonably characterized as having a religious origin or connotation (page 30).
Does it matter if other explanations for the travel ban are possible?

The district court nevertheless went on to find that religious discrimination was the real reason for the ban. In other words, the court finds two reasons, the stated one, which does not reflect religious discrimination, and the real reason, which was found in Trump’s calls for a Muslim ban when he was still campaigning.

Other areas of immigration law do require a weighing of conflicting reasons. An alien is not eligible for an immigration benefit on the basis of a sham marriage, which is defined as a marriage that was entered into for the primary purpose of circumventing the immigration laws. But if the primary reason was that the couple was in love and wanted to spend their lives together, the fact that they got married so the alien spouse could stay in America does not make the marriage a sham.

In the present case, however, the Court will not be weighing reasons to determine which one is primary. It will be interpreting an unambiguous statutory provision that does not require the stated reason to be the primary one. It doesn’t even require the president to say why he made the finding. Section 212(f) has no requirements at all. The president just has to proclaim that he has found that that “the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

If opponents of the travel ban find this unacceptable, their only recourse is to lobby Congress to revise section 212(f).

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years; he subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years.”

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Man, Nolan is prolific, appearing not only in The Hill on an almost weekly basis, but in HuffPost and other publications as well! And, it’s all “original stuff.”  I have a hard time just keeping up with posting his articles!

Nolan might be right, if Trump can keep from shooting off his mouth and undermining his own case, as he has done in the past. But, that’s a big “if!” And to date, I’ve seen nothing to indicate that 1) Trump possesses the quality of self control, or 2) that anyone else can impose it on him. So, I wouldn’t underestimate Trump’s ability to screw this up. Perhaps, Nolan is just hoping that Trump will show some restraint.

PWS

07-01-17

WORLDVIEWS IN THE WASHPOST: No Matter How The Legal Case Comes Out, Trump’s Travel Ban Will Stand As An Ugly Blot On America’s Reputation!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/06/27/trumps-travel-ban-still-doesnt-make-any-sense/?hpid=hp_rhp-more-top-stories_no-name%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.105cc6430610

Ishaan Tharoor writes:

“But whatever the case, it’s important to remember that the travel ban on its face makes very little sense. The two federal appeals courts that ruled against it said separately that Trump’s order was both discriminatory toward Muslims and not necessary for national security, despite the White House’s continued insistence.

“There is no finding that present vetting standards are inadequate, and no finding that absent the improved vetting procedures there likely will be harm to our national interests,” the judges of the 9th Circuit wrote. “These identified reasons do not support the conclusion that the entry of nationals from the six designated countries would be harmful to our national interests.”

Not a single person has died in a terrorist attack on American soil carried out by a citizen from one of the six nations covered by the ban. Since the Refugee Act of 1980 set up a system for vetting refugees to the United States, no person accepted as a refugee has been implicated in a fatal terrorist attack. Critics of the order have also nitpicked in the past about the absence of other “terror-prone” nations in the ban’s purview, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan or even Saudi Arabia, whence 15 of the 9/11 attackers came. And, while Trump voices fear over foreign threats, he has been conspicuously quiet about the scourge of domestic terrorism within the United States.

Mourners at a memorial for the victims of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. (Amanda Voisard)
The broader point the ban’s opponents make is that singling out immigrants, tourists and refugees based on their country of origin will do little to keep the United States safe, while badly damaging the nation’s reputation abroad.

 

“Far from being foreign infiltrators, the large majority of jihadist terrorists in the United States have been American citizens or legal residents. Moreover, while a range of citizenship statuses are represented, every jihadist who conducted a lethal attack inside the United States since 9/11 was a citizen or legal resident,” concluded a recent report by the New America Foundation. “In addition about a quarter of the extremists are converts, further confirming that the challenge cannot be reduced to one of immigration.”

. . . .

The underlying impetus has always been Trump’s desire to make real a campaign promise for some kind of Muslim ban — “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” as he put it in 2015. Taking into account the statements of both Trump and his allies before and after last year’s election, the 4th Circuit court had ruled that the executive order “in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.”

The Supreme Court’s decision on Monday doesn’t strip away the moral validity of the arguments posed by the ban’s critics. And the court’s justices wrote “the relief we grant today” should enable the White House “to conclude its internal work and provide adequate notice to foreign governments within the 90-day life of [the order].” If the Trump administration seeks to extend the ban well beyond the summer, it will be all the more clear that its motives aren’t quite as benign as it claims.”

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Read the complete article at the above link.  “We should all be afraid all the time even of things that we have no objective reason to fear.” That’s essentially Trump’s dark, downbeat message on immigration and pretty much everything else. What would FDR think?

PWS

06-28-17

U.S. District Judge Stops DHS From Deporting Iraqis Arrested In Recent Bust!

Continue reading U.S. District Judge Stops DHS From Deporting Iraqis Arrested In Recent Bust!