THE DAILY INTELLIGENCER: AMERICA’S “TOADY IN WAITING”

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/12/mike-pence-first-toady.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily Intelligencer – December 6, 2017&utm_term=Subscription List – Daily Intelligencer (1 Year)

Ed Kilgore reports for The Daily Intelligencer in NY Maggie:

“Most reactions to McKay Coppins’s vast new profile of Vice-President Mike Pence have focused on an October 2016 incident wherein the then-candidate for veep offered to replace Donald Trump at the top of the ticket in the wake of the Access Hollywood revelations, which for a moment looked likely to bring the mogul down.

But the far more enduring picture Coppins paints is very different: Mike Pence as a man who decided early on in his relationship with Trump that no one could look in the mirror at night and see a browner nose.

In Pence, Trump has found an obedient deputy whose willingness to suffer indignity and humiliation at the pleasure of the president appears boundless. When Trump comes under fire for describing white nationalists as “very fine people,” Pence is there to assure the world that he is actually a man of great decency. When Trump needs someone to fly across the country to an NFL game so he can walk out in protest of national-anthem kneelers, Pence heads for Air Force Two.

This willingness to serve as First Toady was evident in Pence’s initial interview — on a Trump golf course — as a potential running mate:

Pence had called Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump adviser, whom he’d known for years, and asked for her advice on how to handle the meeting. Conway had told him to talk about “stuff outside of politics,” and suggested he show his eagerness to learn from the billionaire. “I knew they would enjoy each other’s company,” Conway told me, adding, “Mike Pence is someone whose faith allows him to subvert his ego to the greater good.”

True to form, Pence spent much of their time on the course kissing Trump’s ring. You’re going to be the next president of the United States, he said. It would be the honor of a lifetime to serve you. Afterward, he made a point of gushing to the press about Trump’s golf game. “He beat me like a drum,” Pence confessed, to Trump’s delight.

This set the pattern for Pence, notwithstanding anything he might have contemplated during the brief but intense hours after the Access Hollywoodrevelations.

What makes Coppins’s take on Pence especially valuable is his understanding that sucking up to Trump was entirely in keeping with the Hoosier governor’s sense that God was working through the unlikely medium of the heathenish demagogue to lift up Pence and his godly agenda to the heights of power. Just as it has been forgotten that the Access Hollywood tapes nearly brought Trump down, it has rarely been understood outside Indiana that Pence was down and possibly out when Trump reached out to him to join his ticket.

The very fact that he is standing behind a lectern bearing the vice-presidential seal is, one could argue, a loaves-and-fishes-level miracle. Just a year earlier, he was an embattled small-state governor with underwater approval ratings, dismal reelection prospects, and a national reputation in tatters.

Pence’s apparent demise, moreover, came after his careful plans to position himself to run for president in 2016 went awry via his clumsy handling of a signature “religious liberty” bill and a fatal underestimation of the resulting backlash from the business community.

All of a sudden, he was lifted from this slough of despond and placed a heartbeat away from total power thanks to his ability to, as Kellyanne Conway put it, “subvert his ego” in the presence of his deliverer, whose own ego has no limits. He clearly has not forgotten this lesson of an ambition fed by self-abasement rather than self-promotion. And according to Coppins, he even has a theological justification for blind loyalty to Trump:

Marc Short, a longtime adviser to Pence and a fellow Christian, told me that the vice president believes strongly in a scriptural concept evangelicals call “servant leadership.” The idea is rooted in the Gospels, where Jesus models humility by washing his disciples’ feet and teaches, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.”

Usually the idea is to be the “slave” of one’s followers and of the less fortunate, not the slave of the billionaire POTUS, but Pence has the “humility” part down pat.

Pence’s presumed reward in this redemption story could, of course, extend beyond the power he exercises as one of the more influential vice-presidents in history, and as Trump’s designated mediator with the Christian right and with those Republican elected officials who aren’t themselves in the great man’s retinue. He would be the obvious successor to Trump in 2024, when he will still be a relatively youthful 65 — whether or not Trump wins a second term in 2020. And in the meantime, as in the panic-stricken hours after the Access Hollywood tapes were released, Republicans will look to Pence as a reassuring and unifying figure whenever Trump’s presidency is endangered, whether it’s by the Mueller investigation or his own erratic conduct.

Pence has indeed come a long way since he was airlifted out of what was probably a losing gubernatorial race to the role of worshipful sidekick to Donald Trump. And he’s earned his actual and potential power via a habit of slavish loyalty that he may consider godly, but others find infernally corrupt if effective.”

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I’ve called Pence a sycophant. But, sycophant, toady, you get the picture: spineless, and when you get beyond the disgustingly un-Christian and un-Jesus brand of intolerant religious zealotry that Pence passes off for Christianity (thus giving Christians a “bad name”) you get a guy that no thoughtful American should want for President.  Doesn’t, of course, mean that he won’t be President; just that he shouldn’t be.

Now, there is a school of thought around “The Swamp” that “Mikey the Toady” is “going down” along with The Trumpster in “Russiagate,” leaving us with the “Weaselly  Badger” Paul Ryan as President. Before you get too excited about that prospect, however, best to read the following article to understand that in addition to being a spineless coward who isn’t as smart as he and his backers think he is, Ryan is a “Joint Venture” (50-50 ownership for you non-corporate types) of the National Rifle Association and the Koch Brothers. Yeah, I know that this is a “fake news” satirical piece by none other than the New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz. Sadly, however, it contains more accuracy than a standard White House press briefing by Sarah Huckabee Sanders (a disturbingly low standard to be sure — where oh where is “Spicey” when we need him?). In the end, he could turn out to be just as damaging to America and the world as Trump and Pence.

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/koch-brothers-and-nra-reach-timeshare-agreement-over-ownership-of-paul-ryan

“WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a unique accord, the billionaire Koch brothers and the National Rifle Association have reached a timeshare agreement over the ownership of House Speaker Paul Ryan, representatives of both parties have confirmed.

Speaking on behalf of the Kochs, Charles Koch said that he contacted the N.R.A.’s executive director, Wayne LaPierre, with the timeshare proposal “so that we could all get the maximum enjoyment out of owning Paul.”

The arrangement is intended to minimize conflicts between the Kochs and the gun group that have arisen in the past when both co-owners have wanted to use Ryan at the same time, Koch said.

“I said to Wayne, ‘This is craziness,’ ” he said. “ ‘Let’s work something out where you get Paul half the year, and we’ll take him the other half.’ ”

Under the timeshare deal, the Kochs will have the exclusive use of Ryan during the months when tax cuts and environmental deregulation are put to a vote, while the N.R.A. will have him for the months when gun legislation is to be defeated.

Additionally, each co-owner is responsible for insuring that Ryan is well maintained and in good condition when the other’s period of using him commences.

Koch indicated that, if the timeshare agreement is a success, the two parties are likely to work out a similar deal for their longtime joint ownership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.”

So, what’s a self-respecting country to do? The answer is actually pretty obvious. Stop putting Republicans in elective office. No, that won’t cure all the country’s ills; indeed, just repairing the damage already done by this Administration could take decades.

But, at least we’ll have some folks in office who are working for the common good and trying to solve the nation’s and the world’s problems (yes, amazingly, they are interrelated) rather than actively making them worse every day. And, that would be a start!

PWS

121-08-17

INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE: US ADMINISTRATION OF SHAME: “A year of unwelcome How the Trump administration has sabotaged America’s welcome in 2017”

https://www.rescue.org/article/how-trump-administration-has-sabotaged-americas-welcome-2017

“Since President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 20, his administration has repeatedly implemented policies that pull the welcome mat from under the feet of refugees and immigrants seeking safety in the United States. The latest directive, announced in late October, institutes new vetting measures for refugees from 11 countries, effectively extending the travel ban that recently expired.

These developments are unbefitting America’s history as a safe haven for refugees. Democratic and Republican presidents alike have ensured that the United States supports refugees who seek liberty and reject ideologies opposed to American values.
U.S. leadership is needed now more than ever, when tens of millions across the globe face life-threatening situations. Yet the Trump administration continues to issue anti-immigrant and anti-refugee policies that endanger innocent people fleeing persecution and, inherently, weaken America’s reputation both at home and abroad.
Here is a timeline of the Trump administration’s immigrant policies during its first nine months.
Travel ban
By the numbers
President Trump is pulling back America’s welcome mat at a time of unprecedented global need. This year:
65 million
people worldwide are currently uprooted by crisis

More people have been forced to flee their homes by conflict and crisis than at any time since World War II.

Learn more about refugees
During his first week in office, President Trump instituted a travel ban that suspended the U.S. refugee resettlement program for 120 days and barred Syrian refugees from entry to the U.S. indefinitely. It also indiscriminately excluded any travel from six other countries—Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen—for 90 days.
Opponents of the travel ban challenged the directive in the courts. The Administration drafted a second travel ban as replacement: It allowed travelers who hold green cards entry the U.S.; removed Iraq from the list of restricted countries; and struck down the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.
Even with this second ban, an eventual Supreme Court ruling required the administration to rewrite its travel guidelines over the summer, stipulating that people who have a “credible claim of bona fide relationship” with a person living in the U.S. can enter the country. The new guidelines, however, raised more questions than answers. For example, “bona fide relationships” didn’t include grandparents or resettlement agencies until advocates further challenged the protocols. Meanwhile, thousands of vulnerable refugees who were not already on flights to the U.S. were left stranded.
“The human toll on families who have patiently waited their turn, done the vetting, given up jobs and prepared to travel is wrong,” said David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), in a July 13 statement. “After decades of leading with its gold standard resettlement program, this defective policy shifts the goal posts and sees America turn its back on—and break its promise to—the world’s most vulnerable.”
The Supreme Court scheduled hearings on the legality of the travel ban, but the expiration date for the directive rendering the case moot.
End of protections for Central American refugee children
On Aug. 16, the Trump administration ended the automatic parole option for children in the CAM program (formally called the Central American Minors Refugee and Parole program). Since December 2014, the CAM program has helped reunite children fleeing gang violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador with parents already in the U.S.
Many of these children avoided a perilous journey in order to reunite with parents and relatives—who are lawfully in the U.S.—and begin their new lives with refugee status protected under U.S. and international laws, notes Jennifer Sime, senior vice president of United States Programs at the IRC. “These children are no longer separated from their parents due to conflict and unrest, and are able to attend school and have a childhood free from violence.”
Terminating this lifesaving program, as this administration has done, is brutally tearing families apart—and in many cases, endangering children.
End of the “Dreamers” program
By the numbers
President Trump is pulling back America’s welcome mat at a time of unprecedented global need. This year:
45,000
is the record-low U.S. limit on refugee admissions

That number is less than half the refugee admissions cap set by President Obama last year.

Why the U.S. should accept more refugees
On Sept. 5, Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program, which created a fair and necessary safeguard for hundreds of thousands of young people—commonly known as Dreamers—brought to the U.S. as children.
This decision puts nearly 800,000 young people at risk of deportation from the only country they have ever known. It will have a painful and lasting impact on their lives, the fortunes of their employers, and the wellbeing of their communities.
“The devastating decision to discontinue DACA … unnecessarily tears families apart,” says Hans van de Weerd, vice president of United States Programs at the IRC. “To take away the promised protection of DACA without an alternative, from those who courageously came out of the shadows to apply to the program, bolster our economy and enrich our communities, is simply inhumane.”

Historically low refugee cap
On Sept. 27, the Trump administration announced that it would cap at 45,000 the number of refugees granted admission to the U.S. in Fiscal Year 2018. This number is a historic low—the annual cap on average has exceeded 95,000 since 1980—and comes at a time when more people are uprooted by war and crisis than ever before.
“This administration’s decision to halve the number of refugees admitted to America is a double-blow—to victims of war ready to start a new life, and to America’s reputation as a beacon of hope in the world,” says Miliband. “When America cuts its numbers, the danger is that it sets the stage for other nations to follow suit, a tragic and contagious example of moral failure.”
New vetting procedures
By the numbers
President Trump is pulling back America’s welcome mat at a time of unprecedented global need. This year:
15,000
refugees are actually likely to be admitted to the U.S., based on IRC projections

Vulnerable refugees are being harmed by bureaucratic red tape that won’t make Americans safer.

Why the existing vetting process already works
The travel ban officially expired on Oct. 24, but the Trump administration substituted the directive with a round of new vetting procedures for refugees entering the U.S. All refugees will now need to provide addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and other details – over the past decade – for themselves and, potentially, their extended family members.
Further measures essentially allow Trump to extend the ban for 90 days for refugees from 11 countries.
“This will add months, or potentially years, to the most urgent cases, the majority of which are women and children in heinous circumstances,” says Sime. “With a world facing brutal and protracted conflicts like in Syria, or new levels of displacement and unimaginable violence against the Rohingya, this moment is a test of the world’s humanity, moral leadership, and ability to learn from the horrors of the past.”
Stand with refugees

We need your help to fight back and remind Congress that the Trump administration’s refugee policies DO NOT represent American values.”

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More for Fat Cats, corporations, and the Trump Family Enterprises. Less for the needy and vulnerable. Eventually, there will be a reckoning for selfish, “me first,” policies of greed and disregard for the rights and humanity of others. I read it in a book.

PWS

12-02-17

 

 

 

SLATE: AYATOLLAH ROY MOORE HAS ALWAYS BEEN A BIGOTED, LAWLESS, ANTI-AMERICAN SCUMBAG — What Does That Say About The Alabama GOP!

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2017/11/we_ve_always_known_roy_moore_is_lawless_it_s_why_alabama_republicans_voted.html

Dahlia Lithwick and James Sample write in Slate:

“We may never know for sure whether the graphic, detailed allegations of sexual abuse reported about Roy Moore are true. It seems entirely plausible, though, that the accusations of horrid and criminal assault allegedly committed decades ago by Moore against—among others—a then-14-year-old girl are correct. On Monday, a new accuser, Beverly Young Nelson, came forward with a vivid portrait of an alleged assault that took place when she was 16 years old. She accompanied her stirring testimony with a list of a number of witnesses she has told about the alleged assault over the years, a promise to testify to Congress under oath, a request that the Senate compel Moore to do the same, and a note in her high school yearbook signed “Love, Roy Moore D.A.” The statute of limitations has expired in the cases in question, but the available evidence is damning. After Nelson’s press conference, a Republican Senate leader went so far as to say that the Senate should expel Moore should he refuse to drop out of his Senate race and should the good people of Alabama choose to elect him.

Moore’s disregard for norms that date back to Marbury v. Madison was never considered disqualifying for the Alabama Republican Party.
The fact that there are Moore supporters lining up to alternatively paint these women as cunning partisan liars or to explain away criminal conduct as biblical and benign is indeed one of the most stunning turns in this story. That many Alabama voters have actually redoubled their support as a result of the accusations beggars belief. But the idea that it might be the alleged molesting of multiple teenage girls and women that could prove disqualifying for Moore, rather than his decadeslong contempt for the law, the courts, and the Constitution, tells us how very far we have strayed from our legal moorings at this moment in history.

Roy Moore has long been the Joe Arpaio of the state judicial branch. He is revered not for his compliance with the rule of law, but for his long-standing performance of figurative—and literal—contempt for any legal ruling or norm with which he disagrees. Like Arpaio, he has been repeatedly disciplined for acts of contempt towards the courts over the years. And yet this behavior was rewarded with a Republican nomination for a Senate seat that has been a virtual lock for the party.

Brazen, unapologetic contempt for the rule of law is not often a trait associated with judges, much less justices. Yet, this has long been Moore’s calling card and a rallying cry for his loyal supporters. Moore’s patent defiance of the most fundamental tenets of American law should have disqualified him from public office years ago. The opposite has happened: He has been unerringly rewarded for it. We are talking about Moore’s alleged abuse because it represents depraved criminality. But his open lawlessness has been on display for decades.

Moore’s disregard for norms that date back to Marbury v. Madison was never considered disqualifying for the Alabama Republican Party, nor for the national GOP. National figures—like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who on Monday called for Moore to drop out of the race—only broke with him over the sex crime allegations. Indeed, much like Arpaio, a pattern of disregard of the courts represents Moore’s singular previous qualification for Republicans.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

The disgusting hypocrisy of associating this totally immoral and dishonest individual and his doctrine of hatred, contempt, and intolerance with “Christian values” (of which he is completely devoid) is certainly an insult to the legacy of Jesus Christ.

PWS

11-13-17

GONZO’S WORLD: AYATOLLAH ROY & GONZO HEADLINE SNL! — Almost Too True To Be Funny!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=39idVpFF7NQ

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One of the most depressing things I’ve seen recently is folks from Alabama — some of them so-called  “Christians” —  defending “Ayatollah Roy” and indicating an intent to vote for this truly horrible individual whose candidacy mocks Christian values, American ideals, and the very foundations of our democracy.

PWS

11-12-17

 

 

BY ARRESTING 10-YR-OLD WITH CEREBRAL PALSY AT HOSPITAL, US BORDER PATROL PROVES IT DOESN’T HAVE ENOUGH TO DO – NO ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR STUPID & WASTEFUL ENFORCEMENT!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/is-this-who-we-are/2017/10/27/b8a7ccc8-bb2e-11e7-be94-fabb0f1e9ffb_story.html

From a Washington Post editorial:

”IMMIGRATION OFFICIALS outdid themselves this week when they took into custody a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who had just undergone emergency surgery. Is this what President Trump had in mind when he promised that federal enforcement resources would be focused on the “bad hombres”?

Rosa Maria Hernandez, whose developmental delays put her on a mental par with a 4- or 5-year-old, faces deportation in a case that calls into question the judgment — not to mention humanity — of federal agents. It also should prompt reassessment of the change in policy from that of the Obama administration, which focused enforcement on recent arrivals and those with serious criminal records, to one in which anyone — anywhere — apparently is fair game.

. . . .

It’s unusual for federal agents to detain a child already living in the United States. Who could have possibly imagined that a 10-year-old with disabilities being rushed to a hospital would be the target of federal enforcement? The harm done extends beyond Rosa Maria and her family to other parents who now will have to think about the risk of detention and deportation in deciding whether to seek medical treatment for their children.

Is this really the image the Border Patrol wants for itself? Is this the image we Americans want for ourselves?”

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Read the complete editorial at the link.

Incidents like this one show that DHS has too many agents, with too few real law enforcement duties, and far too little common sense and direction from above.

Far from heeding the preposterous call by Trump and “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions for an unneeded “Internal Security Police Force” of an additional 10,000 agents, Congress should require an accounting for the activities, hiring practices, training, supervision, priorities, and control of the current DHS agent workforce.

Apparently, there presently is insufficient real law enforcement work (e.g., that actually makes sense and benefits us as a country) to occupy the existing DHS workforce. No additional resources are warranted without a sensible, realistic plan and strategy of the type that virtually every other law enforcement agency in America must provide to merit additional funding and resources.

Little wonder that many local law enforcement agencies across the country want little or no part of the Trump Administration’s “Gonzo” immigration enforcement!

PWS

10-28-17

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

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

Marci A. Hamilton writes in Newsweek:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Administration Follows Mississippi’s Lead

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

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

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

Where Did This Intolerance Come From?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

PWS

10-15-17

 

COURTSIDE BRINGS YOU “LAW YOU CAN USE!” – Hon. Jeffrey Chase Tells “Do’s and Don’t’s” Of Challenging CREDIBILITY On BIA Appeals! EXTRA BONUS! NEW PWS COMMENTARY: Don’t Let “Gonzo’s” Lies & His Agenda Of Hate & Intentional Dehumanization Of Our Most Vulnerable Populations Win — Fight His Bogus Distorted Attack On Our Humanity & Our Legal System Every Inch Of The Way!

 

https://www.jeffreyschase.com/blog/2017/10/12/challenging-credibility-findings-before-the-bia

Jeffrey writes:

Challenging Credibility Findings Before the BIA

“As discussed in last week’s post, in 2002, the standard under which the BIA reviews credibility determination was changed as part of the reforms instituted by then Attorney General John Ashcroft.  Furthermore, in 2005, Congress enacted the REAL ID Act, which provided immigration judges with broader grounds for determining  credibility.  These two factors combine to make it more difficult for the Board to reverse an immigration judge’s adverse credibility finding than it was prior to these changes.  The following are some thoughts on strategy when appealing credibility findings to the Board.

1. Don’t offer alternative interpretations of the record.

You cannot successfully challenge an adverse credibility finding by offering an alternative way of viewing the record.  If the IJ’s interpretation is deemed reasonable, the BIA cannot reverse on the grounds that it would have weighed the documents, interpreted the facts, or resolved the ambiguities differently.  Or as the Supreme Court has held, “[w]here there are two permissible views of the evidence, the factfinder’s choice between them cannot be clearly erroneous.”  Anderson v. Bessemer City, 470 U.S. 564, 573-74 (1985).

2. Does the record support the IJ’s finding?

On occasion, the discrepancy cited by the IJ is not found in the transcript.  IJs hear so many cases; some hearings are spread over months or years due to continuances; witnesses or their interpreters do not always speak clearly; documents are sometimes clumsily translated.  For all of these reasons, it is possible that the IJ didn’t quite hear or remember what was said with complete accuracy, or might have misconstrued what a supporting document purports to be or says.  It is worth reviewing the record carefully.

3. Does the REAL ID Act standard apply?

The REAL ID Act applies to applications filed on or after May 11, 2005.  With the passage of time, fewer and fewer cases will involve applications filed prior to the effective date.  However, there are still some cases which have been administratively closed, reopened, or remanded which involve applications not subject to the REAL ID Act standard.  In those rare instances, look to whether the IJ relied on factors that would not support an adverse credibility finding under the pre-REAL ID standard.  For example, did the IJ rely on non-material discrepancies to support the credibility finding?  If so, argue that under the proper, pre-REAL ID Act standard, the discrepancies cited must go to the heart of the matter in order to properly support an adverse credibility finding.

4. Did the IJ’s decision contain an explicit credibility finding?

Under the REAL ID Act, “if no adverse credibility determination is explicitly made, the applicant or witness shall have a rebuttable presumption of credibility on appeal.”  See INA section 208(b)(1)(B)(iii) (governing asylum applications); INA section 240(c)(4)(C) (governing all other applications for relief).  Therefore, review the decision carefully to determine if an explicit credibility finding was made.  In some decisions, the immigration judge will find parts of the testimony “problematic,” or question its plausibility, without actually reaching a conclusion that the testimony lacked credibility.  In such cases, argue on appeal that the statutory presumption of credibility should apply.

5. Did the credibility finding cover all or only part of the testimony?

As an IJ, I commonly stated in my opinions that credibility findings are not an all or nothing proposition.  A respondent may be credible as to parts of his or her claim, but incredible as to other aspects.  There are instances in which a single falsehood might discredit the entirety of the testimony under the doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.  However, there are variations in the application of the doctrine among the circuits, and there are exceptions.  For example, the Second Circuit in Siewe v. Gonzales, 480 F.3d 160 (2d Cir. 2007) recognized the doctrine, but laid out five specific exceptions under which a false statement will not undermine the overall credibility.  However, the Seventh Circuit, in Kadia v. Gonzales, 501 F.3d 817 (7th Cir, 2007) rejected falsus in uno,referring to it as a “discredited doctrine.”  The Ninth Circuit, in Shouchen Yang v. Lynch, 815 F.3d 1173 (9th Cir. 2016), acknowledged that an IJ may apply the doctrine, but that the Board itself could not (for example, to deny a motion to reopen based on a prior adverse credibility finding).   Therefore, determine whether under the applicable circuit case law the falsehood cited by the IJ was sufficient to undermine all of the testimony.  If not, determine whether the remainder of the testimony is sufficient to meet the burden of proof.

6. Did the IJ rely on a permissible inference, or impermissible speculation?

In Siewe v. Gonzales, supra, the Second Circuit discussed the difference between a permissible inference and impermissible “bald” speculation.  The court cited earlier case law stating that “an inference is not a suspicion or a guess.”  Rather, an inference must be “tethered to the evidentiary record:” meaning it should be supported “by record facts, or even a single fact, viewed in the light of common sense and ordinary experience.”  Generally, findings such as “no real Christian wouldn’t know that prayer” or “the police would never leave a copy of the arrest warrant” would constitute bald speculation unless there was expert testimony or reliable documentation in the record to lend support to such conclusion.

7. Did the IJ permissibly rely on an omission under applicable circuit law?

There is a body of circuit court case law treating omissions differently than discrepancies.  For example, several circuits have held that as there is no requirement to list every incident in the I-589,  the absence of certain events from the written application that were later included in the respondent’s testimony did not undermine credibility.  Look to whether the omission involved an event that wasn’t highly significant to the claim.  Also look for other factors that might explain the omission, i.e. a female respondent’s non disclosure of a rape to a male airport inspector; a respondent’s fear of disclosing his sexual orientation to a government official upon arrival in light of past experiences in his/her country.  Regarding omissions in airport statements, please refer to my prior post concerning the questionable reliability of such statements in light of a detailed USCIRF report.  See also, e.g., Moab v. Gonzales, 500 F.3d 656 (7th Cir. 2007); Ramseachire v. Ashcroft, 357 F.3d 169 (2d Cir. 2004), addressing factors to consider in determining the reliability of airport statements.

8.  Was the respondent provided the opportunity to explain the discrepancies?

At least in the Second and Ninth Circuits, case law requires the IJ to provide the respondent with the opportunity to respond to discrepancies.  The Second Circuit limits this right to situations in which the inconsistency is not “dramatic,” and the need to clarify might therefore not be obvious to the respondent.  See Pang v. USCIS, 448 F.3d 102 (2d Cir. 2006).

9. Did the “totality of the circumstances” support the credibility finding?

Even under the REAL ID Act standards, the IJ must consider the flaws in the testimony under “the totality of the circumstances, and all relevant factors.”  INA sections 208(b)(1)(B)(ii), 240(c)(4)(C).  The circuit courts have held that the standard does not allow IJs to “cherry pick” minor inconsistencies to reach an adverse credibility finding.  For a recent example, note the Third Circuit’s determination in Alimbaev v. Att’y Gen. of U.S. (discussed in last week’s post) finding two inconsistencies relied on by the BIA as being “so insignificant…that they would probably not, standing alone, justify an IJ making an adverse credibility finding…”

Copyright 2017 Jeffrey S. Chase.  All rights reserved.”

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION

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Don’t Let “Gonzo’s” Lies & His Agenda Of Hate & Intentional Dehumanization Of Our Most Vulnerable Populations Win — Fight His Bogus Distorted Attack On Our Humanity & Our Legal System Every Inch Of The Way!

By Paul Wickham Schmidt

United States Immigration Judge (Retired)

For those of you who don’t know him, Judge Jeffrey Chase has a unique perspective starting his career in private practice, becoming a U.S. Immigration Judge in New York, and finally finishing his Government career as an Attorney Advisor writing decisions for the BIA.

Great stuff, Jeffrey!  I love being able to help folks “tune in” to things the they can actually use in the day to day practice of immigration law!

One of the best ways to fight “Gonzoism” and uphold due process is by winning the cases one at a time through great advocacy. Don’t let the “false Gonzo narrative” fool you! Even under today’s restrictive laws (which Gonzo would like to eliminate or make even more restrictive) there are lots of “winners” out there at all levels.

But given the “negative haze” hanging over the Immigration Courts as a result of Gonzo and his restrictionists agenda, the best way of stopping the “Removal Railway” is from the “bottom up” by: 1) getting folks out of “Expedited Removal” (which Gonzo intends to make a literal “killing floor”); 2) getting them represented so they can’t be “pushed around” by DHS Counsel and Immigration Judges who fear for their jobs unless they produce “Maximo Removals with Minimal Due Process” per guys like Gonzo and Homan over at DHS; 3) getting them out of the “American Gulag” that Sessions and DHS have created to duress migrants into not seeking the protection they are entitled to or giving up potentially viable claims; 4) making great legal arguments and introducing lots of corroborating evidence, particularly on country conditions, at both the trial and appellate levels (here’s where Jeffrey’s contributions are invaluable); 5) fighting cases into the U.S. Courts of Appeals (where Gonzo’s false words and perverted views are not by any means the “last word”); and 5) attacking the overall fairness of the system in both the Courts of Appeals and the U.S. District Courts — at some point life-tenured Article III have to see the absolute farce that an Immigration Judiciary run by a clearly biased xenophobic White Nationalist restrictionist like Sessions has become. Every time Gonzo opens his mouth he proves that the promise of Due Process in the Immigration Courts is bogus and that the system is being rigged against migrants asserting their rights.

Sessions couldn’t be fair to a migrant or treat him or her like a human being if his life depended on it! The guy smears dreamers, children whose lives are threatened by gangs, hard-working American families, LGBTQ Americans, and women who have been raped or are victims of sexual abuse. How low can someone go!

Virtually everything Gonzo says is untrue or distorted, aimed at degrading the humanity and legal protections of some vulnerable group he hates (Gonzo’s “victim of the week”), be it the LGBTQ community, asylum seekers, women, children, immigrants, Muslims, African-Americans, attorneys, the Obama Administration, or U.S. Immigration Judges trying to do a conscientious job. Perhaps the biggest and most egregious “whopper” is his assertion that those claiming asylum at the Southern Border are either fraudsters or making claims not covered by law.

On the contrary, according to a recent analysis by the UNHCR, certainly a more reliable source on asylum applicants than Gonzo, “over 80 percent of women from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico who were screened on arrival at the U.S. border ‘were found to have a significant possibility of establishing eligibility for asylum or protection under the Convention against Torture.'” “Majority of Asylum Seekers have Legitimate Claims: Response to Sessions Statement,” available online at https://www.wola.org/2017/10/no-basis-claims-rampant-abuse-us-asylum-system-response-sessions-statement/.

This strongly suggests that the big fraud here isn’t coming from asylum seekers. No, the real fraud is the unusually high removal rate at the border touted by Gonzo and his EOIR “patsies” — the result of improper adjudications or unlawful manipulation of the system (intentional duress – misinforming individuals about their rights) by DHS, the U.S. Immigration Court, or simply wrong constructions of protection law.

I think that the majority of Immigration Court cases are still “winners” if the respondents can get competent representation and fight at all levels. Folks, Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions has declared war on migrants and on the Due Process Clause of our Constitution.

He’s using his reprehensible false narratives and “bully pulpit” to promote the White Nationalist, Xenophobic, restrictionist “myth” that most claims and defenses in Immigration Court are “bogus” and they are clogging up the court with meritless claims just to delay removal. The next step is to eliminate all rights and expel folks without any semblance of due process because Gonzo has prejudged them in advance as not folks we want in our country. How biased can you get!

So, we’ve got to prove that many, probably the majority, of the cases in Immigration Court have merit! Removal orders are being “churned out” in “Gonzo’s world” by using devices such as “in absentia orders” (in my extensive experience, more often than not the result of defects in service by mail stemming from sloppiness in DHS and EOIR records, or failure of the DHS to explain in Spanish — as required by law but seldom actually done — the meaning of a Notice to Appear and the various confusing “reporting requirements”); blocking folks with credible fears of persecution or torture from getting into the Immigration Court system by pushing Asylum Officers to improperly raise the standard and deny migrants their “day in court” and their ability to get representation and document their claims; using detention and the bond system to “coerce” migrants into giving up viable claims and taking “final orders;” intentionally putting detention centers and Immigration Courts in obscure detention locations for the specific purpose of making it difficult or impossible to get pro bono representation and consult with family and friends; using “out-of-town” Immigration Judges on detail or on video who are being pressured to “clear the dockets” by removing everyone and denying bonds or setting unreasonable bonds; sending “messages” to Immigration Judges and BIA Judges that most cases are bogus and the Administration expects them to act as “Kangaroo Courts” on the “Removal Railroad;” taking aim at hard-earned asylum victories at all levels by attacking and trying to restrict the many favorable precedents at both the Administrative and Court of Appeals levels that Immigration Judges and even the BIA often ignore and that unrepresented aliens don’t know about; improperly using the Immigration Court System to send “don’t come” enforcement messages to refugees in Central America and elsewhere; and shuttling potentially winning cases to the end of crowded dockets through improper “ADR” and thereby both looking for ways to make those cases fail through time (unavailable witnesses, changing conditions) and trying to avoid the favorable precedents and positive asylum statistics that these “winners” should be generating.

Folks, I’ve forgotten more about immigration law, Due Process, and the Immigration Courts than Gonzo Apocalypto and his restrictionist buddies on the Hill and in anti-immigrant interest groups will ever know. Their minds are closed. Their bias is ingrained. Virtually everything coming out of their mouths is a pack of vicious lies designed to “throw dirt” and deprive desperate individuals of the protections and fairness we owe them under our laws, international law, and our Constitution. Decent human beings have to fight Gonzo and his gang of “Bad Hombres” every inch of the way so that their heinous and immoral plan to eliminate immigration benefits and truncate Due Process for all of us on the way to creating an “Internal Security Force” and an “American Gulag” within the DHS will fail.

Remember,”as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”  Gonzo’s going to have some ‘splainin top do at some point in the future!

Stand Up For Migrants’ Rights! “Gonzo and His Toxic Gang Must Go!” Sen. Liz Warren was absolutely right. Demand a “recount” on the NYT “Worst Trump Cabinet Member” poll. Gonzo is in a class by himself!

 

PWS

10-14-17

 

 

LEGACY OF HATE – TRUMP’S APPOINTMENT OF HOMOPHOBIC JUDGES LIKELY TO TORMENT LGBTQ AMERICANS FOR DECADES TO COME! — Elections Have Consequences!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-judicial-nominee-abortion-rights_us_59d67a63e4b046f5ad96e117?feh

Jennifer Bendery reports for Huff Post:

WASHINGTON ― Thursday was a good day for Amy Coney Barrett. A Senate committee voted to advance her nomination to be a federal judge.

It wasn’t a pretty vote. Every Democrat on the Judiciary Committee opposed her nomination. They scrutinized her past writings on abortion, which include her questioning the precedent of Roe v. Wade and condemning the birth control benefit under the Affordable Care Act as “a grave infringement on religious liberty.” One Democrat, Al Franken (Minn.), called her out for taking a speaking fee from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit that’s defended forced sterilization for transgender people and has been dubbed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

But Republicans don’t need Democrats’ votes, and now Barrett, a 45-year-old law professor at the University of Notre Dame, is all but certain to be confirmed to a lifetime post on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit — a court one level below the Supreme Court.

Barrett is the model judicial candidate for this White House: young, conservative, and opposed to abortion and LGBTQ rights. For all the stories about President Donald Trump using his executive power to roll back civil rights protections — in the past day, his administration axed the ACA birth control benefit and ended workplace protections for transgender people — it is here, on the courts, where his team is working most aggressively to reshape the country.

“Trump’s speed in nominating judges has been perhaps the most successful aspect of his presidency,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond who specializes in judicial nominations. “Trump has easily surpassed Obama, Bush and Clinton at this point in the first year of their presidencies in terms of the sheer number nominated.”

He has. Ten months in, Trump has nominated 17 circuit court judges and 39 district court judges. That’s far more than former President Barack Obama’s seven circuit court nominees and four district court nominees by this point in his first year of office. Former President George W. Bush had nominated 11 circuit judges and 31 district judges by this point.

He’s also got more court seats to fill. He inherited a whopping 108 court vacancies when he became president ― double the number of vacancies Obama inherited when he took office. That’s largely due to Republicans’ years-long strategy of denying votes to Obama’s court picks to keep those seats empty for a future GOP president to fill. It worked.

If Trump’s current judicial nominees are a preview of the kinds of judges he plans to nominate in the coming years, prepare for a significantly more socially conservative group of people shaping the nation’s laws.

Consider John Bush. The Senate confirmed him in July, on a party-line vote, to a lifetime post on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Bush, 52, has compared abortion to slavery and referred to them as “the two greatest tragedies in our country.” He has also said he strongly disagrees with same-sex marriage, mocked climate change and proclaimed “the witch is dead” when he thought the Affordable Care Act might not be enacted.

The Senate also confirmed Kevin Newsom, 44, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in August. He wrote a 2000 law review article equating the rationale of Roe v. Wade to Dred Scott v. Sandford, the 1857 decision upholding slavery. He also argued in a 2005 article for the Federalist Society, a right-wing legal organization, that Title IX does not protect people who face retaliation for reporting gender discrimination. The Supreme Court later rejected that position.

Ralph Erickson, 58, was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in September. As a district judge in 2016, he was one of two judges in the country who ordered the federal government not to enforce health care nondiscrimination protections for transgender people.

 

CSPAN
Here’s U.S. circuit court judge John Bush testifying in his Senate confirmation hearing in June. He thinks abortion is like slavery, and they are “the two greatest tragedies in our country.” 

These are just judges that have been confirmed. Nominees in the queue include Leonard Grasz, Trump’s pick for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. Grasz, 56, proposed amending the Omaha City Charter in 2013 to let employers discriminate against LGBTQ people. He has also compared the “personhood” of fetuses to the civil rights of Native Americans and African-Americans, according to an exhaustive report issued by the Alliance for Justice, a left-leaning advocacy group that focuses on the federal judiciary.

Trump’s effort to shift the federal bench to the right isn’t just aimed at district and circuit courts. He nominated Damien Schiff, a 37-year-old attorney, to a 15-year gig on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Schiff has criticized efforts to prevent bullying of LGBTQ students, referring to messages of equality as “teaching ‘gayness’ in schools.” He also argued that states should be allowed to criminalize “consensual sodomy.”

Part of the reason the White House has been able to nominate so many judges, so quickly, is because it’s been focused on filling court vacancies in states represented by two Republican senators. It’s easier for Trump’s team to work with Republicans in picking nominees, and then in moving them forward in committee, where it takes both home-state senators turning in a “blue slip” to get the hearing process going.

Trump has been less successful in confirming nominees, though. That’s partly because in the mad rush to fill courts seats, the White House isn’t reviewing nominees’ records as thoroughly as, say, the Obama administration did. That means more controversial nominees and more scrutiny. Democrats aren’t exactly eager to cooperate, either, given the way Republicans treated Obama’s judicial nominees (remember Merrick Garland?).

But as Trump plows through judicial nominations that will be a part of his legacy for decades, the only thing Democrats can do while they’re in the minority, for the most part, is make noise.

If they want real change, says Tobias, “Democrats need to win elections.”

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Homophobe Jeff Sessions’s time as Attorney General won’t extend beyond the Trump Administration, if that long. However, the damage he has done to the U.S. legal system, our Constitution, the Department of Justice, and LGBTQ Americans won’t be easily repaired, if ever.

But, life tenured Federal Judges are an even bigger problem. These “robed bigots” will be inflicting cruel, discriminatory, and degrading treatment on the U.S. LGBTQ Community from their benches for decades to come.

In the end, Professor Tobias is entirely correct:“Democrats need to win elections.” Otherwise, our LGBT family, colleagues, friends, and neighbors are going to continue to be targets for homophobic Federal Judges and GOP politicos for many decades.

PWS

10-08-17

GONZO’S WORLD: SESSIONS’S LATEST MEMO ENCOURAGES DISCRIMINATION AGAINST THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY AND WOMEN BASED ON A BOGUS RELIGIOUS RATIONALE!

5https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/06/jeff-sessions-issues-directive-undercutting-lgbtq-protections?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

The Guardian reports:

The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, on Friday issued a sweeping directive that undercuts federal protections for LGBT people, telling agencies to do as much as possible to accommodate those who claim their religious freedoms are violated.

Trump substantially weakens Obamacare contraception mandate
Read more
In response, one LGBT rights advocate called the directive a “license to discriminate” and “an attack on the values of freedom and fairness that make this nation great”.

Also on Friday, the Trump administration issued a new rule that substantially undermines women’s access to birth control under the Affordable Care Act.

The Sessions directive, an attempt to deliver on Donald Trump’s pledge to evangelical supporters that he will protect religious liberties, effectively lifts a burden from religious objectors to prove their beliefs about marriage or other topics are sincerely held.

A claim of a violation of religious freedom will now be enough to override many anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people, women and others.

The guidelines are so sweeping that experts on religious liberty called them a legal powder keg that could prompt wide-ranging lawsuits against the government.

“This is putting the world on notice: you better take these claims seriously,” Robin Fretwell Wilson, a law professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told the Associated Press. “This is a signal to the rest of these agencies to rethink the protections they have put in place on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

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Rebecca Isaacs, executive director of the Equality Federation, said in a statement: “This license to discriminate is an attack on the values of freedom and fairness that make this nation great. It opens the door for discrimination in the workplace and public services, flying in the face of the majority of Americans of whom over 70% believe laws should protect LGBTQ people from discrimination.

“The Trump administration’s ongoing attempts to undermine LGBTQ Americans’ ability to provide for themselves and their families without fear of discrimination highlights the urgent need for national nondiscrimination protections, which are supported by the vast majority of Americans.”

Trump announced plans for the directive last May in a Rose Garden ceremony, surrounded by religious leaders. Since then, religious conservatives have awaited the justice department guidance, hoping for greatly strengthened protections for their beliefs amidst a rapid national acceptance of LGBT rights.

Religious liberty experts said they would have to see how the guidance would be applied by individual agencies, both in crafting regulations and deciding how to enforce them. But experts said the directive clearly tilted the balance very far in favor of people of faith who do not want to recognize same-sex marriage.

“Except in the narrowest circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law,” Sessions wrote. “To the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, religious observance and practice should be reasonably accommodated in all government activity.”

The document lays the groundwork for legal positions the Trump administration intends to take in religious freedom cases, envisioning sweeping protections for faith-based beliefs and practices in private workplaces and government jobs and even in prisons.

In issuing the memo, Sessions, a deeply devout Methodist from Alabama, is injecting the department into a thicket of highly charged legal questions that have repeatedly reached the US supreme court, most notably in the 2014 Hobby Lobby case that said corporations with religious objections could opt out of a health law requirement to cover contraceptives for women.

The memo makes clear the justice department’s support of that opinion in noting that the primary religious freedom law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, protects the rights not only of people to worship as they choose but also of corporations, companies and private firms.

The document also says the government improperly infringes on individuals’ religious liberty by banning an aspect of their practice or by forcing them to take an action that contradicts their faith. As an example, justice department lawyers say government efforts to require employers to provide contraceptives to their workers “substantially burdens their religious practice”.

The document also calls into question the Johnson amendment, which bars churches and tax-exempt groups from endorsing political candidates. Trump in May signed an executive order aimed at weakening the enforcement of that law, which he has said penalizes people for protected religious belief.

The justice department, in the document, says the Internal Revenue Service may not enforce the Johnson amendment “against a religious non-profit organization under circumstances in which it would not enforce the amendment against a secular non-profit organization”.

The department’s civil rights division will now be involved in reviewing all agency actions to make sure they don’t conflict with federal law regarding religious liberty.“

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Gonzo is trying to ram his own homophobic brand of Christian theology down the throats of the vast majority of Americans who don’t want to live in a Theocracy. Can you believe this this Dude has the audacity to lecture folks on the First Amendment? He is a walking perversion of true religious freedom! Religious freedom is the freedom of Americans in the LGBTQ community not to be harmed or denigrated by Sessions’s perverted minority interpretation of Christianity.

While Gonzo might claim to be a “devout Methodist,” he certainly practices a brand of Methodism and Christianity that I don’t recognize and I doubt that Jesus would either. Our Methodist Church “welcomes all people as they are” — even Sessions would be accepted if not his rhetoric of hate, discrimination, and intolerence. Jesus Christ was about love, self-sacrifice, inclusion, and forgiveness concepts that Jeff Sessions sadly has never understood and apparently never will. I feel pity for him as a human being, but that doesn’t entitle him to use his position to preach hate and intolerence.

Liz was right.

PWS

 

 

“AYATOLLAH ROY” Preaches A Gospel Of Hate & Bigotry That Jesus Would Never Regognize

Michael Gerson writes in the Washington Post:

“The strongest objection to Moore’s hardness and harshness is theological. On the consistent evidence of Jesus’ ministry, what public attitude did he condemn the most? He stood against people who talked constantly of the law, who thought they were especially virtuous, who enjoyed scolding people, who judged others without tenderness and understanding. He was at constant war with the self-righteous and took the side of the social outcasts they condemned.

Now we see the return of the Pharisee.”

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Read the rest of Gerson’s “spot on” op ed at the link.

Jeff Sessions are you listening?

PWS

09-29-17

 

THE WHITE CHRISTIAN CALIPHATE OF ALABAMA PLANS TO SEND PROUD BIGOT “AYATOLLAH ROY” MOORE TO WASHINGTON! — AND THERE IS NO TRAVEL BAN ON THE ENTRY OF THIS THREAT TO OUR NATION!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2017/09/26/roy-moore-wins-the-country-loses/

Stephen Stromberg writes in the Washington Post:

“Roy Moore stands for anarchy, disorder, disunity and conflict. His platform just got higher, and his power more considerable. Every minute he is in a position of national prominence, the country loses.”

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Read the full revolting story about “Ayatollah Roy” and his band of domestic terrorist supporters (aka “Alabama GOP”) at the link.  Gotta believe that “Ayatollah Roy” is going to give The Donald a run for his money for the title of  “America’s Bigot Idol.” I’ll bet you thought that the Party of Bigots couldn’t top Ol’ Gonzo Apocalypto. But they’ve done it!

May history record and hold responsible these misguided and dangerous anti-American throwbacks to Jim Crow and their perversion of the teachings of Jesus Christ.

PWS

09-27-16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

COURTSIDE COMMENTARY/ANALYSIS: AG Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions Might Be A Clown 🤡 — But His White Nationalist Plan To Destroy The American Justice System Is No Joke — He Has Already Done Untold Damage To Our Country & Our Rights — And, He And His White Supremacist Buddy Steve Bannon, The Alt-Right, And Other Haters Are Just Getting Started On Their Plan To Turn America Into A “Whites Only” Paradise!

Three articles from today show the “clear and present danger” to American democracy, our national security, and our fundamental values stemming from Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions and his radical right — some would say fascist is more accurate — cabal.

While Trump increasingly appears to be a looney incompetent functioning primarily in the early morning “tweetosphere,” Sessions & Co. know a thing or two about how to take over and sabotage government of the people, by the people, and for the people. (Ironically, the “Party of Lincoln” has morphed into  the “anti-Lincoln,” opposed to equality, generosity, democracy, and inclusion.)

First, Dana Milbank in the Washington Post describes “Gonzo the Clown’s” ludicrous attempts to use and abuse criminal law to suppress free public expression of opinions:

“Did you hear the one about Jeff Sessions?

I’d like to tell you, but I can’t. You see, it’s illegal to laugh at the attorney general, the man who on Tuesday morning announced that the 800,000 “dreamers” — immigrants brought here illegally as children — could soon be deported. If you were to find my Sessions jest funny, I would be an accessory to mirth.

This is no joke, because liberal activist Desiree Fairooz is now being put on trial a second time by the Justice Department — Jeff Sessions’s Justice Department — because she laughed at Sessions during his confirmation hearing. Specifically, she laughed at a line about Sessions “treating all Americans equally under the law” (which is, objectively, kind of funny).”

Yeah, I guess what Sessions, a well-established liar, probably a perjurer, really meant was “all Americans except Blacks, Hispanics, Asian Americans, immigrants, migrants, Dreamers, gays, lesbians, transgendered, bisexual, criminal defendants, Democrats, non-Christians, protestors, non-GOP women, and the poor.” Read the rest of Dana’s article here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/apparently-its-illegal-to-laugh-at-jeff-sessions/2017/09/05/86b6e48a-9278-11e7-aace-04b862b2b3f3_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-b%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.c6b057add449

But, the following list of hostile actions that Sessions has already taken at Justice, compiled by CNN’s Gregory Krieg, are no laughing matter:

“*Directed federal prosecutors to pursue the stiffest possible charge in every single criminal case — potentially triggering draconian mandatory minimum sentences the Obama administration tried to avoid on fairness grounds for non-violent offenders.

*Withdrawn an Obama administration directive offering protections for transgender students who wanted to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

*Reversed an Obama DOJ order that the federal Bureau of Prisons back off new deals with private facilities. “I direct the Bureau to return to its previous approach,” Sessions said in a memo citing concerns that the “future needs of the federal correctional system” would be “impaired.”

*Launched a broad-based effort to reduce federal oversight of local police departments, like those put under increased scrutiny following investigations into alleged abuses. The deputy attorney general and associate attorney general were ordered to review lots of things, including all “contemplated consent decrees.”

*In a move criticized by voting rights advocates, asked state election officials in June to lay out their processes for purging voter rolls of individuals who have become ineligible due to, among other reasons, “death or change of residence.”

*Put in place a policy that could pave the way for an increase in a certain kind of civil asset forfeiture, a controversial practice — in this case a joint federal, state and local version that some departments were accused of using to get around state law — that allows police to seize money or property from suspects who haven’t been convicted of a crime. (The DOJ says it has put new safeguards in place to prevent abuse.)

And more.
Consider Trump’s plan to end DACA. When it came down to it, the President steered clear of the spotlight and let Sessions be the public face of a decision officials from both parties have described as unfair or even cruel.
It’s not the first time Trump has been happy enough — or detached enough, depending on your assessment of the his mindset on these issues — to defer to Sessions or, in cases where executive action is required, follow his lead. Where Trump is primarily focused on how he’s covered in the press and how his actions play with “the base,” officials like Sessions and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt have shown themselves to be laser-focused on very specific policy points.

. . . .

By his side? None other than a once anonymous aide turned top Trump White House official: Stephen Miller.”

Read Gregory’s complete article here:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/06/politics/jeff-sessions-donald-trump-daca-policy/index.html

And, in the Washington Post,  Sarah Posner puts it all in scary context by describing the Bannon-led White Nationalist’s larger program to turn America into a White Theo-Fascist State:

“Now that he is out of the White House, Bannon’s ambitions, if anything, appear to seek an even more enduring footprint on Republican politics. His grand plan is to remake American conservatism, by shifting it away from its long-standing “three-legged stool” coalition of tax-cutters, defense hawks and the religious right. His strategy is to peel away Christian conservatives from that coalition, and to build a new coalition with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, far-right nationalists, in order to make the Trump revolution permanent, even after Trump has left the White House.
Consider the headline on a prominently placed “exclusive” published on the site late last night, which heaps the most coveted of Breitbartian praise on Moore: “Judge Roy Moore Embodies Jeff Sessions.” In an interview with Breitbart, Moore says he shares Sessions’s views on immigration and trade, and that he, too, is a “very strict constructionist of the Constitution.” He says he favors impeaching federal judges, even Supreme Court justices, and singles out Obergefell v. Hodges , the landmark 2015 case legalizing same-sex marriage, as warranting impeachment.
Bannon hinted at some of his designs in an interview with me last year. He said that, without the religious right, his base alone lacks the numbers to “to ever compete against the progressive left.”
In Moore, Bannon has found an unabashed proponent of “biblical law.” Bannon doesn’t appear to care much about “biblical law,” but Moore’s overheated depiction of the overreach of the federal government dovetails with the Bannon goal of “the deconstruction of the administrative state.”
Indeed, the Breitbart-Moore alliance is the most vivid example to date of the anti-government, white-nationalist Breitbart forces teaming up with a candidate with shared views on issues such as immigration and the role of the federal government, but which are driven by outwardly theocratic aspirations. Bannon is not seen as an overtly religious figure, but he has actively sought the religious right’s imprimatur for purely political purposes.
As Politico reports, Bannon himself is now using Breitbart to help “orchestrate the push” for Moore’s candidacy in high-level meetings with influential conservative groups.
There is a good deal of overlap between Bannon’s depiction of Trumpism as a revolt against global elites and Moore’s own rhetoric. Moore has long railed at elitists and “tyrannical” government overreach, albeit from a theocratic point of view. He first became a national hero to the religious right over a decade ago, after he was stripped of his post as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for defying a federal court order to remove a 2.6-ton Ten Commandments monument from the state courthouse, because it violated the separation of church and state.
Undeterred, Moore ran unsuccessfully for governor and then again for his state’s top judicial post, regaining his seat in 2012. After a federal court struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage in early 2015, Moore pointedly told Alabama’s governor that complying with the federal court order could violate God’s law.
Although Breitbart hardly teems with religious language, Moore shares its conspiratorially dark vision of America, and particularly America’s perceived enemies. When I saw him speak in 2011, when Barack Obama was still president, Moore maintained: “Our government is infiltrated with communists, we’ve got Muslims coming in and taking over where we should be having the say about our principles.” On immigration, he said the government was failing “to protect against invasions” and was “letting anybody come in!”
Ultimately, the Breitbart-Moore alliance offers a hint at where the Trump base is headed. If Bannon has his way, it will evolve into a kind of coalition of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim white nationalists seeking to disrupt the GOP from within by joining forces with the Christian right, long an essential component of the GOP base. Whether or not Moore wins, if Bannon can keep pushing the Trumpist base in that direction by continuing to solidify that coalition, we can only guess at the consequences that will have for the GOP over the long term.”

Consequences for the GOP, Sarah? What about the consequences for the world and humanity of turning America into a White Fascist State incorporating the worst parts of Christian mythology, while leaving the kind, merciful, inclusive, and forgiving message of Jesus Christ in the dust?

In the first place, fortunately, only a minority of Americans share the Bannon-Sessions White Nationalist dream. So, making it come to fruition has to involve suppressing and overcoming by unlawful or unconstitutional means the will and rights of those of us in the majority.

That’s an old Bolshevik trick. And, indeed, Bannon is a self-proclaimed “Leninist revolutionary” — Sessions is his Trotsky. (Can’t really picture Stephen Miller as Stalin —  but his ability to concoct lies at a moment’s notice and his cold lack of humanity or any discernible decency or human values, along with his disdain for representative government and love of the dictatorial model certainly fits “Papa Joe” to a tee. You could definitely imagine Miller as leader of a Trump “personality cult” in a fascist regime.)

Read Sarah’s complete article here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2017/09/05/steve-bannons-grand-disruptive-designs-are-only-getting-started/?utm_term=.80ddcfa9f294

But, that’s not all folks! Intentionally cruel, racist, and gonzo as Sessions’s grand plan of “ethnic cleansing” of Dreamers might be, it would actually cost the US economy an astounding  $215 billion, and that’s a conservative estimate that doesn’t even factor in the billions that would be wasted by DHS and EOIR in arresting and deporting America’s future stars (basically, because they aren’t White. As I’ve said before, no sane person thinks we’d be having this orchestrated “immigration debate” if the migrant population were predominantly white, English as a first language, Christians)!

According to Vanessa Wang in Buzzfeed:

“Reversing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could cost the economy $215 billion in lost GDP and cost the federal government $60 billion in lost revenue over ten years, according to the libertarian think tank the Cato Institute.
Ike Brannon, a visiting fellow at Cato, wrote in a recent blog post: “It is important to note that these estimates are conservative, as DACA recipients will likely end up being more productive than their current salaries indicate, as they complete their degrees and gain experience in the workplace. Nor does this analysis factor in the enforcement cost of physically deporting recipients should the program be eliminated, which we believe would be significant.”
California, New York and Florida would bear the greatest costs, according to the Cato Institute’s analysis.
The New American Economy — a coalition of business leaders and mayors “who support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans today” — estimated that the DACA-eligible population earns almost $19.9 billion in total income annually, contributes more than $1.4 billion to federal taxes, more than $1.6 billion to state and local taxes and represent almost $16.8 billion in spending power.
“Despite the rhetoric claiming undocumented youths are a drain on the U.S. economy, 90% of the DACA-eligible population who are at least 16 years old are employed” and contribute meaningfully to the economy, the coalition wrote in a brief.
“Ending DACA will disrupt hundreds of thousands of promising careers and cost the US economy dearly,” said John Feinblatt, President of New American Economy in a statement on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security said it would shut down DACA in six months, potentially giving Congress some time for a legislative solution. House Speaker Paul Ryan has said there are DREAMers “who know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and don’t know another home. And so I really do believe there that there needs to be a legislative solution.”
“Now it’s imperative for Congress to do what’s right and economically smart – protect the young achievers who know no home but America,” said Feinblatt.”

That’s right folks! The Bannon-Sessions White Nationalists would be willing to damage our economy to the the tune of probably a quarter of a trillion dollars for the sheer joy of ruining human lives and entrenching their White Power structure. In most other contexts, there would be a name for such conduct: “domestic terrorism!”

Here’s a link to Vanessa’s article:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/venessawong/scrapping-daca-could-cost-the-economy-as-much-as-215-billion?utm_term=.xdw9nKYOa#.liAZ2w8Y5

Finally, a number folks have noted that DACA is a DHS/USCIS program. So, why was the Attorney General, who pointedly was stripped of his immigration deportation functions and responsibilities by the Act creating DHS, out there acting like he is the deporter-in-chief and administrator of the DHS (which, by statute, he no longer is.)

 

Well, not suprisingly, I’m not in the Trump Administration’s “inner circle.” So, who knows for sure.

But, to me two things were evident. First, Donald Trump is a coward who didn’t have the guts to be the front man for his own inhumane policy — particularly since Sessions contradicted Trump’s public assurances that he “loved Dreamers,” understood their plight, and that they had “nothing to fear” from him and his Administration because he was going to come up with a”great solution” to their situation.

Second, Sessions has never accepted his secondary statutory and Constitutional role in immigration enforcement. With the weak Gen. Kelly in charge of DHS, Sessions simply pretended like the AG was back at the helm of immigration enforcement. After all, Sessions has spent a lifetime attempting to turn back the clock. This is just the first time that he has gotten away with it without any real opposition.

Kelly was a “bobblehead,” meekly agreeing with Sessions’s most outrageous, unlawful, and inhumane statements. He even lent his name to an infamous Sessions-Miller contrived “letter” asking the President for Travel Ban 2.0 and citing facially bogus statistics and disingenuous arguments attempting to tie individuals from Muslim countries to unrelated terrorist threats. In other words, on immigration enforcement, Kelly’s “substance” was about 1/16″ deep, and I’m being generous.

Obviously, killing the Dreamers’ future while heaping scorn on them was Session’s version of “Super Bowl Sunday:” a chance to publicly reclaim the role of deporter-in-chief, while inflicting gratuitous harm on a gallant but vulnerable (largely non-White) group of young people, and tossing in some gratuitous racist insults and nativist lies in the process. For a guy who has spent a lifetime heretofore unsuccessfully trying to “get back to Jim Crow” (where not coincentally, bogus “rule of law” arguments and “state’s rights” were used by Sessions’s Alabama antecedents to deny Black Americans not only their constitutional rights but in many cases their very lives in the process) this had to be “hog heaven.” Let’s not forget that Sessions has endorsed the blatantly racist and anti-semitic “Immigration Act of 1924” as a model for White Nationalist restrictionist policies. See, e.g.http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/09/05/jeff_sessions_praise_of_1924_eugenics_immigration_law_remains_insane.html

I’m sure Gonzo pines for the “good old days” of the Chinese Exclusion Laws when America knew how to use the “rule of law”  and just how to treat the folks who built the trans-continental railroad, most of California, lots of New York, and points in between. Declare them to be an “inferior race” — a threat to our cultural integrity —  and throw them out before they can displace the White Americans who exploited their ingenuity and hard labor.

Also, make no mistake about it, if Sessions were able to carry out his gonzo plans to deport Dreamers to foreign lands that most of them have hardly lived in, some will actually die in the process. But, hey, the lives of non-Whites are just “collateral damage” in the Bannon-Sessions world vision.

Sessions is part of our nation’s racist, White Supremacist past that we will need to get beyond to continue to prosper as a country and to lead the free world. The Dreamers can help us do that! The only question for the rest of us is what legal channels are available to move Sessions and his cohorts out of the way so that the Dreamers, along with other immigrants and minorities, can help lead us to a brighter future as a proudly diverse, humane, and powerful nation.

Liz Warren was right! America is better than Jeff Sessions! It’s time we showed it!  

PWS

09-05-17

 

 

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

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

Silverman writes:

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

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

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

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

. . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

06-25-17

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

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

Marcela Valdes writes:

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

. . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something to think about on Memorial Day.

PWS

05-29-17