GONZO’S WORLD: DOJ #3 RACHEL BRAND FLEES SINKING SHIP TO SAVE CAREER – FINDS REFUGE AT WALMART – No, It’s Not Normal For The Associate AG To Leave After 9 Months! – But, Who Ever Said The Trump/GONZO DOJ Is “Normal?”

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/02/rachel-brand-is-leaving-doj-are-we-headed-for-a-massacre.html

“In a surprise move, Rachel Brand is stepping down as the No. 3 official at the Department of Justice, the New York Timesreported on Friday. Brand was next in line to oversee the special counsel’s Russia inquiry after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Brand’s departure could have enormous consequences for Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference and President Donald Trump.

The New York Times has reported that Trump considered firing Rosenstein and Mueller over the summer, a situation that would have been reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre and the firing of Watergate investigator Archibald Cox. Trump will now get to hand-pick a replacement for Brand, who would step in to take over the investigation should he or she be confirmed by the Senate and should Rosenstein go. It’s also been noted that Rosenstein may ultimately have to recuse himself from the investigation; in that case, he wouldn’t even have to be fired for the Trump selection to take control of the investigation into Trump.

Last March, Trump issued an executive order modifying the line of succession for an acting attorney general, the person who would be in control of Mueller’s inquiry since Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself. According to that order, under normal procedures, a potential replacement for either Brand or Rosenstein to oversee the Russia inquiry would need Senate confirmation.

Fordham Law professor and occasional Slate contributor Jed Shugerman has laid out the potential orders of succession at the current moment. According to the vacancy statutes, Solicitor General Noel Francisco would be designated by Jeff Sessions as acting attorney general if Rosenstein were to depart, and he’d be followed by the assistant attorneys general. The next in line after that would typically be the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, a position which is being vacated by Dana Boente. Since Boente is leaving that job, it would go to the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon Jr.

It’s worth noting that the executive order says Trump “retains discretion, to the extent permitted by law” to go around this line of succession to select an acting attorney general on his own. But doing so in an effort to squelch an investigation into himself, his allies, and his family would conceivably be such a transparent effort to subvert the rule of law as to be a political liability even within the Republican Party.

Rosenstein has been personally attacked by Trump. He has come under additional fire recentlyfrom critics of the Russia investigation, who have been using a concocted and false narrative from a recently declassified talking points memo to go after the FBI, Mueller, and Rosenstein. When Trump was asked by reporters if he still had confidence in Rosenstein last week, he responded “you figure that one out.”

Brand is reportedly leaving to become the head of global corporate governance at Walmart. The move feels possibly odd for someone who has served in three presidential administrations, cultivated a reputation as a devoted public servant, and who has only been in her current job less than one year.

Politico’s Eliana Johnson reported that someone close to Brand and the administration said she was leaving “because she is very smart, accomplished, and talented, and wants to protect her career.”

Brand worked in the George W. Bush administration and has been considered a rising conservative legal star for more than a decade. It seems very possible that staying in that DOJ position might have ultimately left her facing a very difficult situation career-wise. In a world where Rosenstein was fired and Brand was placed in charge of the Mueller probe, she might have to choose between obeying a Trump order that might upend the rule of law and being fired by Trump. As congressional and mainstream Republicans have moved closer towards Trump’s apparent anti-Mueller, anti-rule of law position, such martyrdom does not sound like it would help her future in the GOP.

Either decision might have done long-term damage to Brand’s future career prospects in any branch of government.

Brand’s move, however, preemptively abdicates that possible decision, quite possibly leaving it to a Trump-approved successor. As Elie Mystal, the executive editor at Above the Law, wrotefollowing the news, it seems as though we might be rolling towards a “slow moving Saturday Night Massacre.”

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Gee, Jeremy, I’m only a retired Immigration Judge (and 35 year vet of the DOJ), but I don’t view this a much of a “surprise.”

Brand has a reputation as as a smart lawyer, perhaps the smartest of the “Sessions crew.” As opposed to someone like the buffoonish racist White Nationalist xenophobe Stevie Miller or the often incoherently bias spewing Sessions himself, Brand was a low-key “doer.” She actually did a “bang up job” of implementing the Sessions alt right, anti-civil rights, anti-due process, anti-minority, anti-civil-liberties, anti-diversity, homophobic agenda at the DOJ.

She obviously sees “Armageddon” coming to the realm of “Gonzo Apocalypto” and wants to get out before she is left in the “lose-lose” position (that both Trump & Sessions have a penchant for creating) of having to become “Trump’s patsy” in the Russia investigation or maintaining her integrity, getting fired, and getting on Trump’s “S-list.”

This way, she can get out of the way of the “train wreck,” make some real money, and preserve her reputation in both right-wing legal circles and with Trump. That sets her up as a possible Cabinet appointee in a future, somewhat saner GOP Administration, or even to be a Trump nominee for a Federal Judgeship.

Smart, Rachel!

PWS

02-10-18

JAMELLE BOUIE @ SLATE: TRUMP, SESSIONS, MILLER & THE GOP RESTRICTIONISTS HAVE PUT GOOD OL’ 1920S RACISM AT THE FOREFRONT OF THEIR WHITE NATIONALIST IMMIGRATION AGENDA! –“What good does it do to bring in somebody who’s illiterate in their own country, has no skills, and is going to struggle in our country and not be successful? . . . That is not what a good nation should do, and we need to get away from it.” — J. “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions, Attorney General of the United States of America & Unapologetic White Nationalist With A Long History Of Racism!

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/02/the-nativist-blueprint-for-trumps-immigration-plan.html

Jamelle writes in Slate:

“State of the Union on Tuesday night, “one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country.”

The president and his allies claim such an immigration policy would promote cohesion and unity among Americans “and finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century.” Far from forward-facing, however, the president’s policies evoke the beginning of the 20th century, when war abroad and opportunity at home brought waves of immigrants to the United States, from Italians, Polish, and Russians to Chinese and Japanese. Their arrival sparked a backlash from those who feared what these newcomers might mean for white supremacy and the privileged position of white, Anglo-Saxon Americans. Those fears coalesced into a movement for “American homogeneity,” and a drive to achieve it by closing off America’s borders to all but a select group of immigrants. This culminated in 1924 with the Johnson-Reed Act, which sharply restricted immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe and all but banned it from much of Asia.

Members of the Trump administration have praised the Johnson-Reed Act for its severe restrictions on who could enter the country, and the act’s history helps illuminate what exactly Trump means when he says he wants to put “America first.”

The cohesion Trump espouses isn’t national or ideological. It is racial. The fight over immigration isn’t between two camps who value the contributions of immigrants and simply quibble over the mix and composition of entrants to the United States. It is between a camp that values immigrants and seeks to protect the broader American tradition of inclusion, and one that rejects this openness in favor of a darker legacy of exclusion. And in the current moment, it is the restrictionists who are the loudest and most influential voices, and their concerns are driving the terms of the debate.

At the heart of the nativist idea is a fear of foreign influence, that some force originating abroad threatens to undermine the bonds that hold America together. What critics condemned as “Know Nothing-ism” in the 19th century, adherents called Americanism. “The grand work of the American party,” said one nativist journal in 1855, “is the principle of nationality … we must do something to protect and vindicate it. If we do not, it will be destroyed.”

In the first decades of the 20th century, the defense of “the principle of nationality” took several forms. At the level of mass politics, it meant a retooled and reinvigorated Ku Klux Klan with a membership in the millions, whose new incarnation was as committed to anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, and anti-Semitic politics as it was to its traditional anti-black racism. In Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan, historian Nancy MacLean notes how Georgia Klan leader William Joseph Simmons warned his followers that they were, in his words, “being crowded out by a “mongrel population … organized into Ghettos and Communistic groups … and uplifting a red flag as their insignia of war.” Likewise, Klan leaders and publications blasted Catholic immigrants as “European riff-raff” and “slaves of ignorance and vice” who threatened to degrade the country at the same time that they allegedly undermined native-born white workers. When, in 1923 and 1924, Congress was debating the Johnson-Reed Act, the Klan organized a letter-writing campaign to help secure its passage, turning its rhetoric into political action.

At the elite level, it meant the growth of an intellectual case for nativism, one built on a foundation of eugenics and “race science.” Prominent scholars like Madison Grant (The Passing of the Great Race) and Lothrop Stoddard (The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy) penned books and delivered lectures across the country, warning of a world in which “Nordic superiority” was supplanted by those of so-called inferior stock. “What is the greatest danger which threatens the American republic today?” asked eugenicist Henry Fairfield Osborn in the preface to Grant’s book. “I would certainly reply: The gradual dying out among our people of those hereditary traits through which the principles of our religious, political and social foundations were laid down and their insidious replacement by traits of less noble character.” The aim of the nativists was to preserve those traits and admit for entry only those immigrants who could fully and easily assimilate into them.

. . . .

It is true that there are some more moderate restrictionists in the mix, for whom the drive to reduce legal immigration is driven by concern and prudence—concern over immigration’s impact on wage and employment, especially among the country’s working-class citizens, and prudence regarding our ability to assimilate and absorb new arrivals.

The facts do not support these misgivings. Low-skilled immigration does more to bolster prospects for working-class Americans—providing complementary employment to construction and farm labor—than it does to lower wages. Likewise, immigrants to the United States have shown a remarkable capacity for assimilation, quickly integrating themselves into the fabric of American life by building homes, businesses, and families. To the extent that native-born workers need protection, it’s best provided by stronger unions and more generous support from the government.

But those moderate voices aren’t setting the agenda. Instead, it’s the hardliners who have used their initiative to inject nativism into mainstream politics and channel, in attenuated form, the attitudes that produced the 1924 law. President Trump, for example, ties Hispanic immigrants to crime and disorder, blaming their presence for gang violence. He attributes terror attacks committed by Muslim immigrants to the “visa lottery and chain migration” that supposedly allows them unfettered access to American targets. And in a recent meeting with Democratic and Republican lawmakers, Trump disparaged Haiti and various African nations as “shitholes” (or “shithouses”) whose immigrants should be turned away from the country in favor of those from European countries, like Norway. It’s unclear if Trump is aware of Rep. Albert Johnson, who spearheaded the 1924 immigration law. But in his racial ranking of immigrants, the president echoed the congressman’s sentiments. “The day of unalloyed welcome to all peoples, the day of indiscriminate acceptance of all races, has definitely ended,” proclaimed Johnson on the passage of the bill that bore his name.

The president isn’t alone in his views. Before joining the Trump administration, former White House adviser Stephen Bannon openly opposed nonwhite immigration on the grounds that it threatened the integrity of Western nations. And while Bannon has been exiled from Trump’s orbit, that legacy lives on. Stephen Miller, who is now the driving force behind immigration policy in the Trump administration, is a notorious hardliner who has echoed Bannon’s views, bemoaning the number of foreign-born people in the United States.

Miller is the former communications director for and protégé of Jeff Sessions, who as Alabama’s senator praised the Johnson-Reed Act and its restrictions on foreign-born Americans. “When the numbers reached about this high in 1924, the president and Congress changed the policy, and it slowed down immigration significantly,” Sessions said in a 2015 interview with Bannon. “We then assimilated through the 1965 and created really the solid middle class of America, with assimilated immigrants, and it was good for America.”

As attorney general, Sessions has leaned in to these views. “What good does it do to bring in somebody who’s illiterate in their own country, has no skills, and is going to struggle in our country and not be successful?” said Sessions during a recent interview on Fox News. “That is not what a good nation should do, and we need to get away from it.” Rep. Steve King of Iowa, a staunch defender of Trump, is especially blunt in his defense of hardline immigration policies. “Assimilation, not diversity, is our American strength,” he said on Twitter last year.

Assimilation in those middle decades of the 20th century was built, to a considerable extent, on racial exclusion. It was assimilation into whiteness, one which bolstered and preserved the racial status quo. There’s no return to the America of that era, but one could slow the nation’s demographic transition. The White House proposals for immigration reform seem designed to do just that. According to an analysis from the Cato Institute, President Trump’s framework for immigration would slash entries by 44 percent, excluding almost 22 million people from the United States over the next 50 years. And in an analysis tied to the “Securing America’s Future Act”—a House-produced bill which hews closely to what the president wants—the Center for Global Development finds that white immigrants would be twice as likely to attain entry into the United States than black and Hispanic ones, while a majority of Muslim and Catholic immigrants would be barred from the country. Couple these measures with voter suppression, a biased census, apportionment by citizenship, extreme gerrymandering, and the existing dominance of rural counties in national politics, and you can essentially rig the system for the preservation of white racial hegemony.

Immigration policy is inextricably tied to our nation’s self-identity. What we choose to do reflects the traditions we seek to uphold. In the 1920s, most Americans wanted a more homogenous country, and they chose accordingly. Forty years later, in the midst of the civil rights revolution and a powerful ethos of inclusion, Americans reversed course, opening our borders to millions of people from across the globe. In this moment, we have two options. We can once again take the path that wants to keep “America for Americans,” and which inevitably casts American-ness in ways circumscribed by race, origin, and religion. Or we could try to realize our cosmopolitan faith, that tradition of universalism which elevates the egalitarian ideals of the Founding, and which seeks to define our diversity of origins as a powerful strength, not a weakness to overcome.

portrait of Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie is Slate’s chief political correspondent.”

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Read the complete article, with more historical references to the racist historical basis for today’s GOP restrictionist policies, at the link.

Actually, “Gonzo Apocalypto,” most of those Latino, African, Hispanic, and Middle Eastern immigrants that you look down upon and disrespect aren’t illiterate in their own countries. And, they probably speak and understand English better than you do their native languages.

While you, Gonzo, have spent most of your adult life on the “public dole,” trying to turn back the clock and, as far as I can see, doing things of questionable overall value to society, immigrants have been working hard at critical jobs, at all levels of our society, that you and your White Nationalist buddies couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to do. Hard-working immigrants, not your “White Nationalist Myth,” have advanced America in the latter half of the 20th Century and the beginning of the 21st Century. Immigrants will continue to make America stong, prosperous, and great, if you and your White Nationalist restrictionist cronies would only get out of the way of progress!

“We can once again take the path that wants to keep “America for Americans,” and which inevitably casts American-ness in ways circumscribed by race, origin, and religion. Or we could try to realize our cosmopolitan faith, that tradition of universalism which elevates the egalitarian ideals of the Founding, and which seeks to define our diversity of origins as a powerful strength, not a weakness to overcome.”

Right on, Jamelle!

PWS

02-02-18

STUPIDITY & CRUELTY BECOME TRADEMARKS OF TRUMP’S ICE – ONE FEDERAL JUDGE IN NY HAD ENOUGH – BLASTS POLICIES AS UNCONSTITUTIONAL!

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/01/ice-is-out-of-control.html

From right, Rene Bermudez wipes away tears as he holds his 4-year-old daughter Danyca during a protest on behalf of his wife Liliana Cruz Mendez on May 23.
From right, Rene Bermudez wipes away tears as he holds his 4-year-old daughter Danyca during a protest on behalf of his wife Liliana Cruz Mendez on May 23.
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

“Donald Trump hasn’t created the massive “deportation force” he promised as a candidate for president. But he has done the next best thing—boosting, bolstering, and unleashing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, giving it broad authority to act at its own discretion. The result? An empowered and authoritarian agency that operates with impunity, whose chief attribute is unapologetic cruelty.

Under President Obama, who ramped up immigration enforcement even as he sought to protect large categories of unauthorized immigrants from deportation, ICE was a controversial agency whose practices came under heavy scrutiny from activists and some fellow Democrats. But in the year since Trump’s election, ICE has become something far more sinister: a draconian force for harassing and detaining people who pose no threat to the United States or its citizens.

And in keeping with one of President Trump’s first executive orders, which drastically expanded who the federal government considered a priority for deportation, the most striking aspect of ICE under this administration has been its refusal to distinguish between law-abiding immigrants, whose undocumented status obscures their integration into American life, and those with active criminal records—the “bad hombres” of the president’s rhetoric.

Erasing that distinction is how we get the arrest and detention of Lukasz Niec, a Polish immigrant and green card holder who was brought to the United States as a young child. Last week, ICE agents arrested Niec at his home in Michigan, citing two misdemeanor convictions for offenses that were committed when he was a teenager, according to the Washington Post. Although one of the convictions had been scrubbed from his record, it can still be used to remove him from the country. A practicing physician, Niec now sits in a county jail, awaiting possible deportation.

Niec’s standing as an affluent professional makes him an unusual case. More typical is the plight of Jorge Garcia, a 30-year resident of the United States who was recently deported to Mexico after his arrest by ICE. Married with two American-born children, Garcia was brought to the country as a child. He was working to secure legal status when, following Trump’s election, he was ordered to leave the country. In a statement to CBS News, ICE explained that anyone violating immigration laws “may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and … removal from the United States.” Despite its ability to exercise discretion, ICE has opted for an indiscriminate approach to immigration enforcement, arresting and detaining unauthorized residents regardless of whether they pose a threat to the public.

In its drive to remove as many undocumented residents as possible, ICE has begun deporting immigrants who make routine check-ins to their offices, even if those people are simply awaiting visas or green cards that would allow them to stay. Vice News recounts the story of Andre Browne, a Barbados native married to an American citizen. At a recent check-in with ICE agents, he was “arrested and forced to surrender all personal belongings.” He was jailed and now faces deportation. Similarly, in Virginia, a mother of two, Liliana Cruz Mendez, was detained following her regular check-in with immigration officials. Her offense? A traffic misdemeanor.

ICE’s tactics can have life-changing effects, even when its targets are spared deportation. The New Yorker tells of Alejandra Ruiz, brought to the United States as an infant. Last March, she was arrested by ICE agents citing a deportation order issued when she was a toddler. She was shackled and sent to an immigrant-detention facility operated by a private-prison firm. Ruiz was eventually released—she had filed a motion to reopen her childhood case for asylum—but it came at the cost of her livelihood: She lost her job as a senior care worker.

In addition to these activities, ICE is ramping up its mass raids in an effort to spread paranoia and uncertainty in cities with large undocumented populations. The agency is deliberately targeting these “sanctuary cities,” hoping to compel cooperation with their newly aggressive enforcement operations. This is all part of a larger strategy to create an atmosphere of fear and desperation for unauthorized immigrants. It’s behind President Trump’s decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and end deportation protections for immigrants from Haiti and El Salvador. Vox’s Dara Lind describes it as “a combination of policy and messaging to keep the threat of deportation hanging over immigrants’ heads” meant to make sure “they don’t get too comfortable here because they could be taken at any minute.”

Anti-immigration hard-liners describe these incidents in the bloodless language of “immigration enforcement,” but that obscures the violence and trauma of what’s happening on the ground: ICE is whisking people away to jails or private prisons and then exiling them from their homes and communities with little chance of recourse or recompense. And the pace is only increasing. While the overall number of “border removals”—those caught trying to cross the border—dropped last year, as a result of economic trends and Trump’s hard-line policies, the proportion of “interior removals” undertaken by ICE increased. Most deportations still involve immigrants from a handful of Latin American countries, but “[t]he number of deportees from other nations rose 24 percent in Trump’s first year,” reports NPR.

The administration is still hoping to increase those efforts. A proposal released by the White House last week asked Congress to grant additional funds to hire more ICE agents as part of an overall increase in “border security” that would be effectively traded for a path to citizenship for more than 1 million Dreamers.

It will be up to Democrats to block those additional funds and, perhaps, to build a broader case against ICE and its tactics. Some high-profile Democrats, like Sen. Kamala Harris of California, have already publicly condemned the agency. “ICE raids across the country have torn mothers apart from their children. The raids lack transparency, spread fear, and harm public safety,” she said last year in a Facebook post. More recently, following a report that ICE was planning raids in retaliation to a new California law limiting cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities, Harris said that such raids would be “an abhorrent abuse of power.”

Given the extent to which Democrats have helped build the architecture for today’s ICE, Harris’ statements—as well as similar ones by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi—may mark the beginning of a new and needed skepticism toward the agency. And if so, then the logic of their critique doesn’t just point toward reform—it points toward a fundamental rethinking of immigration enforcement and a move away from the authoritarianism of ICE as it exists.

What the country needs, in other words, is an honest discussion about whether ICE can be effectively reformed or if it must be abolished and replaced by an agency that can carry out its mission in a more effective and humane way.”

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Meanwhile, over in the Southern District of New York, U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest had enough of ICE’s “Gonzo” tactics following the mindless arrest of immigration activist Ravi Ragbir. She blasted ICE’s actions in ordering Ragbir’s release to say good-bye to his family and wind up his affairs. Judge Forrest characterized ICE’s actions in detaining Ragbir as “unnecessarily cruel.”

Here is a copy of Judge Forrest’s order in Ragbir v Sessions:

Ravi.Order

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Useless, counterproductive removals, waste of Government enforcement resources, irrationality, and unnecessary cruelty are, of course, at the heart of the Trump/Sessions/Miller immigration enforcement program. Certainly, the performance of ICE under Trump — not especially good at removing real criminals and threats or any other type of legitimate law enforcement — much better at busting minor offenders and law-abiding community members  and sowing terror in ethnic communities — provides a compelling argument that DHS does not need any additional enforcement agents.

Indeed, I have hypothesized that what Trump, Sessions, Miller, and the White Nationalists are really doing is building the DHS into an internal security police force that will be used against all of those the Administration fears or views as opponents of their “Totalitarian-Wannabe State.”

In the meantime, arbitrary use of force and calculated unnecessary cruelty are likely to remain staples of the DHS under Trump. That’s why ICE is fast becoming American’s most loathed, mistrusted, and unprofessional police force. Bouie might well be right. Assuming that America recovers from the Trump regime, unfortunately not necessarily a given, ICE might well need to be abolished and “replaced by an agency that can carry out its mission in a more effective and humane way.”

PWS

01-30-18

WILLIAM SALETAN @ SLATE TELLS US WHY, IN ADDITION TO BEING A WAR HERO, RESTRICTIONIST GOP SEN. TOM COTTON IS A LIAR WHO PEDDLES A RACIALLY-CHARGED IMMIGRATION PROGRAM – HE’S ACTUALLY ONE OF THE MOST DANGEROUS & TWISTED MEN IN AMERICA! – IF HE ACHIEVES HIS AMBITION TO BECOME AMERICA’S NEXT “SPY-MASTER,” NONE OF US WILL BE SAFE!

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/01/tom-cotton-is-dangerously-deceptive.html

Saletan writes:

“Cotton Tales

Tom Cotton’s lies make him a dangerous prospect to head the CIA.

Tom Cotton, the Republican senator from Arkansas, is becoming President Trump’s right arm in the Senate. Or maybe it’s the other way around, and Cotton, a right-wing ideologue, is helping to steer the president. Either way, Trump’s behavior in the immigration debate—turning against a legislative compromise after Cotton was summoned to a White House meeting to oppose it—illustrates the young senator’s influence. In fact, Trump is said to be considering him as the next CIA director.

Cotton’s emergence is alarming. In part, that’s because what endears Cotton to Trump—and makes them particularly dangerous together—is Cotton’s unflinching willingness, in pursuit of an agenda, to say things that aren’t true.

Cotton is a veteran. He served with honor in Iraq and Afghanistan. But when he came home, he brought back the psychology of war. He treats liberals and moderates as the enemy. In 2015, he blocked one of President Obama’s ambassadorial nominees over an unrelated issue—she eventually died waiting for approval—because Cotton knew she was Obama’s friend. He depicts Obama as a traitor. Last month, Cotton said of the Iran nuclear agreement: “Barack Obama was willing to give away anything to get that deal.”

Cotton is quick to charge others with lying. Two weeks ago, he accused colleagues of floating a “disingenuous” immigration compromise. He said Democrats had “misrepresent[ed]” immigration talks. On Friday, Cotton accused Graham of conspiring with Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin: “Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin are not adversaries in negotiating. They are allies strategizing.” That line has been used exactly once before, by an anonymous member of Congress—presumably Cotton—who accused House Speaker Paul Ryan of treachery on the same issue. Tucker Carlson reported the accusation last fall:

As one of their colleagues told us just this morning, when Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan sit down to talk immigration, they aren’t opponents negotiating, they are allies strategizing … Earlier this year we had Speaker Ryan on this show and he assured us Congress would be working hard on funding the border wall. That was a lie.

In the war at home, Cotton fights for Trump. Each time he’s faced with a choice between Trump and the truth, Cotton protects Trump. Two months ago on Face the Nation, John Dickerson asked Cotton about unresolved sexual misconduct allegations against the president. Cotton brushed the allegations aside, arguing that “the American people had their say on that” when they elected Trump. Last month, when an AP reporter asked Cotton about collusion between Trump and Russia, Cotton dismissed the question, claiming that Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein had “said she’d seen no evidence of collusion.” Actually, what Feinstein had said was, “It’s an open question because there’s no proof yet that it’s happened, and I think that proof will likely come with [Special Counsel] Mueller’s investigation.”

Now Cotton is protecting Trump again. On Jan. 11, during an Oval Office meeting, Trump said he wanted fewer immigrants from “shithole” countries in Africa and Haiti and more from Norway and Asia. The president’s comments were leaked, and Durbin, who had witnessed the exchange, publicly recounted them the next day. Cotton, who had also attended the meeting, went on TV to defend Trump. He portrayed Durbin as a liar, saying Trump had never used the expletivereported by Durbin. Dickerson asked Cotton whether Trump, in the meeting, was in any way “grouping people based on the countries they came from.” Cotton denied it. He insisted that Trump had “reacted strongly against” such thinking and that “what the president said he supports is [to] treat people for who they are,” not “where they’re from.”

Cotton was lying. We know this from other Republicans who were in the meeting. On Jan. 16, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testified that Trump had specifically praised Norwegians and had worried aloud about not bringing in enough Europeans. An anonymous White House official told the Washington Post that Trump, in addition, had “suggested that he would be open to more immigrants from Asian countries because he felt that they help the United States economically.” Trump also recapitulated his remarks, complaining in tweets that the U.S. “would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly.” And the Post reported that according to “three White House officials,” Cotton and his fellow immigration hard-liner, Sen. David Perdue, had later “told the White House that they heard ‘shithouse’ rather than ‘shithole,’ allowing them to deny the president’s comments on television.”

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Read the entire, eye-opening article at the link.

I’ve seen Cotton at least twice on “Meet the Press.” Each time I was impressed by the number of lies, distortions, misrepresentations, and evasions he could pack into a relatively short interview with Chuck Todd. You could tell that even the perennially affable Todd was having a hard time keeping a straight face at some of Cotton’s antics and facially absurd answers.

That this is what passes for “leadership” in today’s GOP should give us all pause.

PWS

01-25-18

NO SURPRISES HERE – “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT IS BAD LAW ENFORCEMENT!

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/01/how-trumps-immigration-policies-are-backfiring.html

Isaac Chotiner reports for Slate

“A week after President Trump declared his preference for immigrants from places like Norway over various “shithole” countries (that just happen to be majority nonwhite), Congress and the White House are negotiating over keeping the government funded, with immigration as a key issue. Most Democrats only want to do avoid a shutdown if the Dreamers are given legal protections that Trump has sought to remove. In return for offering them protections, Trump wants funding for things like a border wall. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has continued its heightened pace of immigration raids and deportations, and recently declared that it would remove protections from Salvadoran immigrants who had settled in the country.

To discuss the state of play on Capitol Hill, and Trump’s approach to immigration more broadly, I spoke by phone with Jonathan Blitzer, a staff writer at the New Yorker who covers immigration issues. (Earlier this month, he wrote about the presence of the MS-13 gang on Long Island.) During the course of our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we discussed how much racism has influenced Trump’s immigration policies, whether tough-on-immigration stances can be counterproductive to halting crime, and if Democrats should compromise on a border wall if it means protecting the Dreamers.

. . . .

Essentially in the past, in the last two years of the Obama presidency, DHS created a set of priorities, basically saying to ICE: Look, there’s a huge undocumented immigrant population in the United States. 12 million people. You can’t go after everyone. If you guys are going to be a serious police force and if people aren’t going to live in fear of completely random acts of arrest and deportations, you have to prioritize people with criminal records. You have to prioritize people who could be viewed as constituting a public safety threat. The new administration immediately canceled those priorities, which pretty much means there are actually no guidelines for how ICE now goes about its business.

In one sense, that suits the MO of the administration, which is almost total randomness. There really isn’t a kind of thoroughgoing vision of what immigration enforcement looks like. In fact, if you think thematically, the administration is doing things that in some ways undermine the president’s very public statements about how concerned he is with the growing undocumented population in the U.S.

How so?

Just talking about the Salvadoran population, you’re talking about 200,000 people. Those people aren’t just going to leave after two decades here because the administration has now removed this legal protection for them. You are going to see the undocumented community grow in the United States under the Trump administration.

What’s more, arrests are up, right? So the statistics I’ve seen are that ICE arrests have gone up by something like 40 percent, and a significant number of those are people who did not have criminal records. There’s an enormous backlog in immigration courts, a backlog of over 600,000 cases, which means that you actually can’t process all the people who are being arrested. In fact, if you were thinking about this all rationally, [the arrests] would be counterproductive.

One thing your colleague Sarah Stillman mentions in her piece in last week’s issue of the New Yorker is that immigrants are not reporting crime. The drops in major cities are staggering. In Arlington, Virginia, for example, according to Stillman, “domestic-assault reports in one Hispanic neighborhood dropped more than eighty-five per cent in the first eight months after Trump’s Inauguration, compared with the same period the previous year. Reports of rape and sexual assault fell seventy-five per cent.” You would think that as an administration that talks about being tough on crime that this would be a huge problem, but it isn’t to them.

One hundred percent agreed. It’s counterproductive in almost every sense. You don’t even need to go to the bleeding-heart liberals for confirmation of this. You talk to police, you talk to sheriffs, and a lot of them are actually quite concerned about what this means for public safety and how they do their police work. Victims aren’t coming forward.

In some of the work that I’ve done on Long Island, MS-13 has been basically an obsession with this administration, and in every instance, the way the administration has gone about trying to combat the gang problem has backfired and has resulted in communities being a lot less safe than they otherwise would have been.

What specifically?

What’s happening on Long Island—and I think it’s fair to say this is happening elsewhere where MS-13’s been active—what ICE and local law enforcement have started to do is they’ve been so indiscriminate in who they’re arresting for suspected gang associations that they’re actually arresting a lot of people who are the victims of gang crime. I mean, you look at some of these communities, the victims and the perpetrators live side-by-side in these tiny hamlets. They go to the same schools. They work the same jobs. The idea of arresting anyone who has this kind of peripheral association with the gang is nonsensical.

There’s some racial profiling going on on Long Island, and this is exactly the stuff that you’re describing, the fears that people have. I mean you have victims of crimes who are scared to come forward because when they talk to the police, they know police are talking to ICE and the next thing they know, they’ll either end up in detention or family members will end up in detention.

What would be a more proper approach to MS-13? It seems like a tough issue for Democrats.

The proper approach from a law enforcement and community-building standpoint is to invest more money in after school programs. It sounds like sort of milquetoast policy, but you talk to experts on this, you talk to former gang members and community organizers and all of them, all of them are aligned in stressing the importance of just basically providing some sense of community for kids who live in these immigrant communities who often have come fleeing gang violence in Central America who have essentially nowhere else to turn. They go to schools. They don’t speak the language. There aren’t after school programs. They don’t have counseling. Some of them have undergone intense trauma. They’re easy marks for a gang that recruits people who feel isolated and socially marginalized. Oftentimes what happens is they join up on the U.S. side and not on the Central American side, precisely because they feel exposed here.

But that’s not an easy sell. I think Democrats are in a tough spot on that and I think that’s one of the reasons why the Republicans have really tried to link MS-13 to this kind of nationwide attack on sanctuary cities. It’s all playing on these fears and rhetorically, I think for the most part has been pretty successful for Republicans.

If you put aside for a minute America’s role in helping immiserate El Salvador, going back many years to our support for very bad people during their civil war, what would you tell American citizens about taking in immigrants who might be likely to end up in gangs like this?

I don’t think they are so likely to end up in gangs. I think that’s one of the first things that the administration trades on: playing up the idea that all of these kids who arrive here are somehow threats. A tiny, tiny minority of unaccompanied kids who show up in the U.S. end up joining these gangs. The vast majority, the overwhelming majority of them have no gang affiliation, want nothing to do with the gangs, and if given the opportunity here, thrive.

The argument for why we should be more open to them is the same argument that I would make about U.S. refugee policies generally. It is a mark of American moral and political leadership. It actually affects our policies and our foreign policy weight in these regions. The United States has supported all kinds of horrifying political regimes in Central America, but even leaving that political history aside, the gang problem in Central America is the direct outgrowth of U.S. deportation policy. It’s a literal shift. It’s not even a manner of speaking.

Mass deportation creates instability. It’s just going to continue to create a refugee crisis. I mean this crisis is just the continuation of a decades-long trend. We sometimes look the other way, which sometimes is contributing directly to the violence in these regions and then people basically having no other move than to try to move north.

. . . .”

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

Read the complete interview at the link.

As I have been saying, Trump, Sessions, Miller, Homan, & Co. have little or no interest in effective law enforcement. Anything but!

Indeed, as this article points out, and as I have said in the past, truly effective, legitimate law enforcement would involve securing the trust of the Hispanic communities and separating real law enforcement targets — serious criminals and terrorists — from the vast, vast bulk of the undocumented population who are residing peacefully and productively in the U.S. In addition to exercising “PD” for the latter, effective law enforcement would involve putting forth a “no strings attached” proposal to give these folks legal status and work authorization in the U.S., preferably with, but even without, a “path to citizenship.”

No, with the Trumpsters, it’s all about White Nationalism, racism, and the quest to create a false link between Hispanics, crime, and loss of American jobs (conveniently forgetting that we’re now basically at “full employment” in the U.S. and that without undocumented workers our economy would likely be contracting rather than continuing to expand). As a result, ICE is becoming a “bad joke” in the legitimate law enforcement community and an anathema to people almost everywhere. In a democracy (which Trump, Sessions, et al don’t really want) law enforcement can’t operate effectively without a certain amount of mutual trust and respect from the community.

PWS

01-18-18

SO, YOU THINK YOU WANT TO BE A SYCOPHANT! – VEEP MIKE PENCE IS THE BIGGEST BADASS BROWN-NOSER IN AMERICA—TAKE HIS “MASTER CLASS IN KISSING ASS” (With Wonderful Commentary By Slate’s Katy Waldman)!

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/12/a_line_by_line_breakdown_of_mike_pence_s_master_class_in_toadyism.html

Katy writes:

After his tax bill victory on Wednesday, Donald Trump graciously called a Cabinet meeting—he probably sensed his staff was itching to get something off its chest. If he had not convened his cheerleading squad, it’s possible they would have been borne away by their unvented amazement, swept into the streets like Enoch to heaven. The president of the United States would not allow such a thing to happen to his beloved staff.

ADVERTISING
Katy WaldmanKATY WALDMAN

Katy Waldman is a Slate staff writer.

Right before the speeches began, though, Trump looked mad. What if all the nice things people said about him failed to live up to the nice things he deserved to hear? Florid with dark expectation—already anticipating the insufficiency of the praise—Trump gestured at his No. 2 and curtly prompted him to “say a few words.”

“I’m deeply humbled, as your vice president, to be able to be here.”

That was Mike Pence’s cue. Those of us watching on TV were left to imagine the vice president’s rapturous expression as the back of his head started to enumerate the blessings Trump has brought to America.

“You’ve restored American credibility on the world stage.”

Meanwhile, the camera was a surrogate for the president’s mind. It focused intently on Trump, his stormy visage framed by the piously downcast faces of his white male priesthood, which on Wednesday included Ryan Zinke, Rex Tillerson, Jim Mattis, and Wilbur Ross.

“You’ve spurred an optimism in this country that’s setting records.”

Trump, in implacable Apprentice mode, clenched up like a fist, his arms crossed over his chest. He looked like a mafia boss hearing the news that his heavies had just been iced and tossed into the Hudson with cement around their ankles. Meantime, in our world, his cronies were delivering what the Washington Post calculated to be 14 compliments in less than three minutes, at a rate of approximately one commendation per 12.5 seconds.

“You’ve signed more bills rolling back federal red tape than any president in American history.”

As my colleague Ruth Graham pointed out to me, Pence’s lavish ode was less a piece of political rhetoric emanating from the government headquarters of a democratic country than a freestyle evangelical orison: Lord, we just come to you today with thanks, Lord. You promised us tax reform, and Lord we are just so humbled, Lord, that you have fulfilled your promise.

“Because of your leadership, Mr. President, and because of the strong support of the leadership in the Congress of the United States, you’re delivering on [a] middle-class miracle.”

Praise the Lord!

“You’ve unleashed American energy.”

And hot air. Lots and lots of hot air.

When the video of Pence’s performance emerged online, Twitter wags mocked the “groveling” “ass kissers” “[going] around the Cabinet table kissing Trump’s butt.”

“You’ve actually got the Congress to do, as you said, what they couldn’t do with [the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska] for 40 years.”

The vice president has made himself an instrument of Trumpian divinity before. He formed part of a backdrop of aggressive Jesus-worship during Trump’s announcement that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (Muslim viewers, triply assaulted by Pence; Christmas lights; and an extravagant, beribboned tree, surely got the hint.) And in October, the White House deployed Pence as a culture-war pawn, sending him to an NFL game and instructing him to leave early when the players inevitably knelt to protest police violence. “Pence did not take this job to perform demeaning tasks for the pleasure of his boss; he was expected to use his ties to the GOP establishment to help push Trump’s agenda through Congress,” wrote Mark Joseph Stern at the time. “But following the administration’s failure to repeal and replace Obamacare, Trump seems to be repurposing Pence … as a prop in the grudges he fosters to keep his white working-class base satisfied.”

“You got the Congress to do, with tax cuts for working families and American businesses, what they haven’t been able to do for 31 years.”

Before he linked his political fortunes to Trump, the former governor of Indiana was known to prioritize values over results. As Stern observed, Pence made his name in the House of Representatives “playing up his Christian conservative credentials by introducing symbolic bills and resolutions that went nowhere.” In the governor’s house, he often “let ideology trump pragmatism,” as when he backed a draconian anti-abortion measure that was swiftly struck down as unconstitutional.

“And you got Congress to do what they couldn’t do for seven years, in repealing the individual mandate in Obamacare.”

The Trump presidency is often accused of degrading American institutions, from the courts to the press to the government agencies that now hustle to undermine their stated missions. It’s easy to forget how corrupt organizations can also degrade individuals.

“Mostly, Mr. President, I’ll end where I began and just tell you, I want to thank you, Mr. President.”

Sacrificing results to values is one thing. The shameful spectacle of Pence, a U.S. elected official, toadying up to his fuming, incompetent boss as his peers nodded along felt like a glimpse from some dark totalitarian timeline. It was unreal: Cabinet members called together to fawn over their leader in the most obsequious possible terms, as he steamed in the center of the camera frame like a bratty starlet caught in a downpour, and the chyrons ran past with their tidings of tax-related disaster.

“I want to thank you for speaking on behalf of and fighting every day for the forgotten men and women of America.”

Mike Pence, featuring Dido:

“Because of your determination, because of your leadership, the forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more.”

What Pence may have discovered when he put his faith in a new Lord was that his religiosity was a perfect match for Trump’s petulant ego. They are grim idol and trembling sycophant, the one’s insatiable need for reverence answered in the depths of the other’s devotional temperament.

“And we are making America great again.”

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

Thanks, Katy, for giving us such deep insight into one of the shallowest minds in America!

PWS

12-23-17

 

BATTLE OF THE PUNDITS: RAPPAPORT V. LITHWICK – NOLAN SAYS “If the Supreme Court allows the courts to continue to do this to Trump, they will interfere with any national security decision he makes that impacts a country with a large Muslim population, regardless of the circumstances.” – DAHLIA SAYS “Thousands of people will be harmed for no reason other than Donald Trump dislikes Muslim countries and crafted a nearly legal theory to achieve his ban after two abject failures.” – YOU DECIDE!

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/363473-with-travel-ban-scotus-can-correct-lower-courts-anti-trump-bias

Nolan writes in The Hill:

“According to Eric Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, the lower U.S. courts have created a “Trump exception” to settled law on presidential powers with their travel ban decisions. They have ignored the Supreme Court’s admonition that courts may not “look behind” a “facially legitimate” reason for an executive order, which in these cases was a national security interest in stricter vetting.

Trump appealed to the Supreme Court, but his case became moot when he replaced the temporary travel ban with a permanent program with the Presidential Proclamation he issued on September 24, 2017, “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats.”

When fourth and ninth circuit courts enjoined implementation of his proclamation, he went back to the Supreme Court. On December 4, 2017, the Court ordered stays of the fourth circuit and the ninth circuit injunctions.

The Court did not state its basis for granting Trump’s stay request in either decision, but stays are not granted for meritless cases. I expect Trump to prevail on the merits of his case.

. . . .

He [Judge Derick Watson of the USDC in Hawaii] goes on to say that nevertheless “any reasonable, objective observer would conclude … that the stated secular purpose of the Executive Order is, at the very least, ‘secondary to a religious objective’ of temporarily suspending the entry of Muslims.” This “assessment rests on the specific historical record,” which “focuses on the president’s statements about a ‘Muslim ban,’” including on the campaign trail.

If the Supreme Court allows the courts to continue to do this to Trump, they will interfere with any national security decision he makes that impacts a country with a large Muslim population, regardless of the circumstances.”

Go on over to The Hill at the link to read Nolan’s complete article! I note that Nolan’s article is also posted on SCOTUSDaily. Here’s the link:

SCOTUSDaily pdf

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

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2017/12/the-new-travel-is-an-abomination-why-have-we-stopped-caring.html

Meanwhile, Dahlia Lithwick writes in Slate:

“Way, way back in February, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit heard oral arguments in State of Washington v. Trump, the first iteration of the first appeal of the first attempt at Donald Trump’s travel ban. This version was a hastily executed implementation of the president’s promise to create a Muslim ban, signed on Jan. 27, just a week after Trump took office.

America was riveted, listening eagerly to arguments broadcast without images and parsing—or trying to parse—complicated appellate questions about standing, and justiciability, and religious animus. As the court ultimately found—before this first version was pulled from commission and replaced with a new one—Trump’s ban trampled over all sorts of due process rights.

Almost a year later, a different panel of the 9th Circuit heard on Wednesday a different oral argument, about a third iteration of a Trump executive order limiting immigration from some majority-Muslim countries. This one, though, was offered without the glare of national media and by seemingly worn-out advocates. More than anything, the argument was reminiscent of one of those old-timey dance marathons, in which weary partners pushed one another around a high school gymnasium in the futile hope that anything might still matter.

Wednesday’s effort made the second argument about the very same issuesfrom May seem positively zippy (May? Remember May??). But here we are in December, and the travel ban has been sanitized and then sanitized again. The current version, announced in September, targets 150 million travelers from Muslim-majority countries Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, as well as the non–Muslim majority outlier North Korea along with some Venezuelan government officials. It was promptly blocked by judges before it went into effect, and on Monday the Supreme Court allowed it to go forward for the time being, warning the appeals courts that they had better rule quickly.So here in December, it is now being defended by seemingly competent counsel, despite the fact that—if one noticed such things anymore—the president was tweeting Muslim revenge porn only a week ago.

. . . .

We should all possibly care about travel ban 3.0 and its cretinous defenders a whole lot more than we apparently do, simply because it’s permanent, it’s nearly as bad as the original, and the Supreme Court appears inclined to tolerate it. Thousands of people will be harmed for no reason other than Donald Trump dislikes Muslim countries and crafted a nearly legal theory to achieve his ban after two abject failures.

A fortiori, for the record, means an argument made with greater reason or more convincing force. Who knew that something so grotesquely cynical and cruel as this travel ban could become a fortiori, just from sheer wariness, repetition, and fatigue?”

Read the rest of Dahlia’s article over at Slate at the above link.

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

Clearly, “different strokes for different folks!” But, we all have a stake in this one way or the other!

Interestingly, Nolan and Dahlia appear to agree on one thing: the Supremes (or at least a majority of them, excluding Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg who dissented from the dissolution of the stay) have signaled that they are ready to “greenlight” Trump’s “Travel Ban 3.0.” In other words, if Trump is exceeding “political and societal norms” (which many of us think he is) ultimately it will be up to the political branches of Government and the voters, not the courts, to rein him in.

PWS

12-07-17

IMMIGRATION, AGRIBUSINESS, & THE AMERICAN SMALL CITY — A Complex Dialogue!

https://slate.com/business/2017/12/latino-immigrants-and-meatpacking-in-midwestern-towns-like-fremont-nebraska.html

Henry Graber reports for Slate:

“FREMONT, Nebraska—The past few years in this Nebraska town of 26,000 have been unusually fraught. “My neighbor is on the City Council. His wife does not wave to me,” explained John Wiegert, as he made his way to a political meeting at the public library this summer. “I could be on fire in the front yard, and she wouldn’t put me out with a garden hose.” Doug Wittmann, who had organized the get-together, wore a blue polo branded with his organization, a Tea Party–influenced group called Win It Back. “We’re divided in this country; we’re divided in this community,” Wittmann told me. “And a house divided against itself cannot stand.” Twenty minutes later, the City Council president, Scott Schaller, wearily addressed the gathering: “It seems like we’ve disagreed on more issues lately, over the past year, than we’ve ever disagreed on.”

A few dozen Fremont residents were crowded into a library meeting room to discuss the Costco chicken plant, a $300 million facility that broke ground this summer and will, starting in 2019, slaughter and ship nearly 400,000 birds a day, all raised by local farmers on strict contracts. The meeting was about eminent domain, but the plant had come to stand for much more than that. Its arrival had split this quadrant of the state along lines that defy traditional two-party politics. In favor is the pro-growth business and political elite, immigration-friendly liberals, and a considerably quieter contingent of Latino residents. Opposed is a curious coalition of aging nativists, good-government advocates, environmentalists, and advocates for workers’ rights.

When complete, the Fremont plant will enable Costco to control poultry production all the way from fertilization to the spits upon which rotisserie chickens will glisten in the chain’s hundreds of locations in the Western United States. Costco says the economic impact of the Fremont plant, hatchery, and feed mill will be $1.2 billion each year, adding more than 1 percent to Nebraska’s gross domestic product. It will transform Fremont, where as many as 1,000 new workers could buy their groceries and educate their children, and the surrounding region, where hundreds of chicken barns will sprout in the fields like mushrooms after the rain.

The battle over the Costco plant has served as a coda for a long war over the way the meat business—Fremont’s Hormel hog plant is the nation’s largest producer of Spam—has changed the town’s identity through the arrival of Latino workers and their families, who now number about 4,000 here. Fremont is the only city in the country that has successfully made it illegal to rent a house to an unauthorized immigrant. The ordinance failed in the City Council in 2008, passed in a referendum in 2010, was overturned by a district court judge in 2012, and was upheld by a circuit court in 2013. Fremont reaffirmed the ordinance in a second referendum in 2014, with 60 percent of voters in favor. Years of raucous debate split families and neighbors, inspired acts of vandalism, brought media attention from far afield, and drove hundreds of Latino residents to leave. Since the second referendum, the city has held an uneasy peace over the ordinance, which goes largely unenforced. Many Latinos who left have returned. But the City Council still sets aside budget money for the possibility they will wind up back in court. A similar, ultimately overturned ordinance cost a Dallas suburb $6 million in legal fees.

The themes that characterized that saga in Fremont resonate across dozens of Midwestern towns—Austin, Minnesota; Storm Lake, Iowa; Garden City, Kansas—where just about the only job and population growth in the past two decades has come from the meatpacking industry and the immigrant workers it attracts. Meat has remained invulnerable to the outsourcing that devastated Rust Belt manufacturing towns. In fact, deregulation and factory farming have brought on a meat boom, bringing good news to towns like these: more young people, more downtown businesses, and related jobs in law, finance, and health care. This is especially visible in places like Schuyler, Nebraska, a small city west of Fremont that’s now more than 70 percent Hispanic. “People had to make a decision: Embrace change or get rid of it,” said Susan Jacobus, a Fremont city councilor who moved recently from Schuyler. “And if you get rid of it, it’s going to cost you your town.”

The Costco plant will bring tax dollars and local spending from hundreds of new arrivals. But it will also reshape the environment of eastern Nebraska, with fertilizer from 500 chicken barns dumping nitrates and phosphates into the water supply of cities downstream. And the work itself, if history is any guide, will be low-paying, dangerous, and difficult. There’s a reason native-born whites don’t work in meat plants anymore.

Supporters of the housing ordinance claimed to defend law and order—they had no problem with legal immigrants, they often said—but they also complained about hearing Spanish spoken in the supermarket and worried about the burden that even legal immigrants placed on Fremont’s schools and social services. They didn’t see why Fremont had to change. If the ordinance was their defiant rebuke to the plants, the packers, and the politicians, the approval of the Costco plant was the opposite: proof that their world was indeed changing beyond their control.

Three years after affirming what may be the most anti-immigrant housing law in the country, Fremont is welcoming a plant that is all but certain to bring hundreds more immigrant and refugee families to town. The city’s political class, which by and large opposed the ordinance, considers this a no-brainer. Unlike many rural communities, Fremont’s population has not declined, in part because it’s now 15 percent Latino. But it is older than the state and the country: Nearly 20 percent of the population is 65 and older. “There’s some people that, regardless of what you do, it’s change, and they don’t want change, period,” said Fremont Mayor Scott Getzschman, who has helped approve the facility. “There’s nothing you can do to make them feel this is the right thing for Fremont.” But, he insists, there is no alternative. “You have to continue to grow, or you die.”

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

Read the complete, much longer, article at the link.

Seems like the immigrants and the local folks have a lot in common. They all want:

  • A decent place to live;
  • Economic and educational opportunities;
  • A better future for their kids.

So, what’s preventing them from working together for a better future?

PWS

12-06-17

 

 

CAN’T RELY ON THAT MAINSTREAM MEDIA: ABC BASICALLY RETRACTS “BOMBSHELL” EARLIER REPORT LINKING FLYNN WITH CANDIDATE TRUMP — Disingenuously Refers To It As A “Correction”

http://money.cnn.com/2017/12/01/media/abc-news-flynn-correction/index.html

CNN reports on ABC’s misreporting and sleight of hand:

“ABC News on Friday evening corrected an explosive special report that aired in the morning saying that Donald Trump, as a candidate for president, had asked Michael Flynn to make contact with Russians.
During “World News Tonight,” ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross said the source who had provided the initial information for his story later told him that it was as president-elect, not as a candidate, that Trump asked Flynn to contact the Russians.
The initial report, based on one anonymous source, prompted a dramatic reaction in the financial markets, and the Dow fell more than 350 points.
Stocks largely recovered later in the day.

. . . .

CNN had reached out to ABC News in the early afternoon to ask why Ross’ initial reporting was not included in the network’s online story about Flynn pleading guilty to lying to the FBI.
Several hours later, a spokesperson for the network told CNN that Ross would be issuing a “clarification” on “World News Tonight,” which airs at 6:30 p.m. ET.
“[A] clarification tonight on something one of Flynn’s confidants told us and we reported earlier today,” Ross said on the program. “He said the president had asked Flynn to contact Russia during the campaign. He’s now clarifying that saying, according to Flynn, candidate Trump asked him during the campaign to find ways to repair relations with Russia and other world hot spots. And then after the election, the president-elect asked him to contact Russia on issues including working together to fight ISIS.”
A tweet published by ABC News containing Ross’ initial report had been retweeted more than 25,000 times and embedded in various news stories online before it was deleted. ABC posted a “clarification” on Twitter around 8 p.m.

. . . .

An ABC spokesperson said the network learned its initial reporting was incorrect at about 6 p.m. The network spokesperson declined to say if any disciplinary action would occur.
ABC’s decision to call its correction a “clarification” prompted immediate criticism.
“If we want to regain trust in the media, we need to admit our mistakes, especially when as consequential as this. Retract. Correct. Don’t use weasel words to describe it,” Jonathan Swan of Axios tweeted.

Greta Van Susteren blasted ABC for trying to “sugar coat” its mistake by characterizing it as a “clarification.”
This is not the first high-profile mistake by Ross. In a 2012 piece for which he apologized, he suggested that the Aurora shooter may have had a connection to the Tea Party.”

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

I blogged this story earlier today:

https://wp.me/p8eeJm-1Lm

 

My apologies for accepting the ABC/Slate reporting. Guess I’ll have to take ABC News off my list of reliable sources!

PWS

12-01-17

 

GOP’S WAR ON AMERICA RAMPS UP! — LOOT, PILLAGE, BURN UNLESS & UNTIL VOTERS WAKE UP — AFTER UNNEEDED TAX CUTS, SOCIAL SECURITY, MEDICARE, & SAFETY NET NEXT TO BE SACRIFICED TO THE RICH — RACE TO THE BOTTOM ACCELERATES!

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/12/republicans_rule_and_ruin_agenda_shows_how_bankrupt_the_party_has_become.html

Jamelle Bouie writes in Slate:

“For the Republicans in opposition to Barack Obama, it was rule or ruin. If they couldn’t advance their agenda, then they would paralyze Congress, sabotage the courts, and hold the economy hostage to hyper-ideological demands. If they couldn’t set the terms of American governance, then no one would.

Jamelle Bouie
JAMELLE BOUIE
Jamelle Bouie is Slate’s chief political correspondent.

Far from paying a political price for this behavior, Republicans rode it to the trifecta of federal power: a majority in the House, a majority in the Senate, and a president in the White House. Finally, they ruled. But in forging this path to power, the GOP abandoned any commitment to the public interest. The result is rule and ruin from a Republican Party that holds power but wields it in destructive, irresponsible ways.

Historian Geoffrey Kabaservice detailed the demise of the moderate Republican at the hands of an uber-ideological conservative movement in his book Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, From Eisenhower to the Tea Party. But the current GOP has laid bare exactly what this means when the party takes power.

Republicans pushed, again and again, to repeal the Affordable Care Act earlier this year, despite wide opposition and clear evidence of disastrous consequences for ordinary Americans. They slapped together plans with little forethought and even less rigor, with predictable results: Any one of the GOP repeal bills would have crashed the individual health care market and crippled Medicaid, leaving tens of millions of Americans without health coverage. Pressed on why exactly they were doing this, few Republican lawmakers could even answer the question. They weren’t legislating to solve problems or further the public good, they were legislating to achieve a narrow ideological goal, whatever the costs for actual, living people.

We see this, now, with the Republican tax plan. Sold to the public as a generous middle-class tax cut, the reality is just the opposite. As it currently exists, the Republican bill is a large tax cut for corporations and wealthy households, paid for by tax hikes on middle- and working-class households and designed to land glancing blows on the social safety net writ large.

Republicans would slash corporate tax rates, spending more than $1 trillion over the next decade to cut the rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. They would slash rates on the highest income earners, as well as create a new loophole lowering taxes on certain kinds of businesses. They would also make cuts to the estate tax, with an eye toward phasing it out entirely, hugely benefiting wealthy heirs. There is a middle-class tax cut, but unlike these provisions, it’s temporary. “By 2027,” notes the New York Times, “people making $40,000 to $50,000 would pay a combined $5.3 billion more in taxes, while the group earning $1 million or more would get a $5.8 billion cut.”

Adding to this, Republicans intend to use this bill to end the individual mandate in Obamacare, potentially crippling the law’s health insurance markets and lowering the insurance rate by an estimated 13 million people over the next 10 years. Other measures include the end of a federal deduction for state and local taxes—sharply raising the tax burden in high-tax states like New York and California—and a provision that would end deductibility for tuition waivers for graduate students and repeal the student loan interest deduction, policies that might restrict access to higher education for people from marginalized groups.

The economic case for these policies is nonexistent. There’s little evidence that, in these conditions, a tax cut would stimulate significant economic growth. On Thursday, the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation said that the Senate GOP plan would result in just 0.8 percent more growth over the next decade. And Republican rhetoric notwithstanding, this growth would only cover a third of the cost of the tax cut. The public would be on the hook for $1 trillion. The only way to close that gap, if you won’t raise taxes on the rich, is to slash vital services like Social Security and Medicare, plans that are already taking shape.

The Republican tax plan, then, is potentially transformative. It would supercharge inequality, putting even more of the nation’s wealth in the pockets of a handful of wealthy families (one of which is the Trump family, which would benefit enormously from the provisions of the bill, even as Trump says the opposite), and it would fund this by slashing health care, burdening students, and raising taxes on middle-income families. All to fix a problem—high, burdensome taxes on the wealthy—which doesn’t exist.

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In other words, this tax plan does not serve the larger public. It’s simply a giveaway to wealthy interests, robbing the country of needed investments and loading younger generations with endless debt and little to show for it. As we saw in Kansas and Oklahoma—states that had to make deep cuts to infrastructure and education to afford their tax cuts—this is essentially rule in order to ruin. The looting of public coffers for the sake of individuals and interests who already have so much. And while Trump is a central figure here, he is not the driving force. This is the endpoint of conservative ideology, the all-consuming priority of the Republican governing class. Replace President Trump with President Rubio or President Cruz and we’d be looking at a similar bill, with a similarly reckless process.

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Part of their calculation must be they’ll lose big next year so they have to rob the place while they can.

The “rule and ruin” ethos applies to more than just legislation. It defines the relationship between President Trump and the Republican Party, as GOP lawmakers tolerate racist demagoguery and dangerously unstable rhetoric for the sake of narrow ideological concerns, ignoring or rationalizing the real damage to America’s norms and institutions. It captures the dynamic of GOP-led states like Wisconsin and Michigan, where “rule” has meant all-out attacks on unions and higher education. You could almost see this repeat itself in Virginia, where the Republican nominee for governor, Ed Gillespie, promised massive tax cuts (while demanding steep spending cuts) had he won the election.

Backed by a network of activist billionaires, the Republican Party has launched an assault on public goods and the public interest, bent on destroying the idea that affluent citizens owe anything to the commons. It’s the return to a Gilded Age ideology, where politicians openly worshipped wealth, and where keeping that wealth in the hands of the wealthy was more critical—and more worthy—than attending to the vulnerable among us.

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Meanwhile, over at the Washington Post, Jeff Stein writes about the next target for these Mondern Day Mauraders who intend to strip many Americans of the benefits they need to live somthat they can line their own pockets and those of their fat cat cronies — all the time laughing at the fools who elected them and counting on their continuing to vote their biases rather than their best interests.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/12/01/gop-eyes-post-tax-cut-changes-to-welfare-medicare-and-social-security/

“High-ranking Republicans are hinting that, after their tax overhaul, the party intends to look at cutting spending on welfare, entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, and other parts of the social safety net.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said recently that he wants Republicans to focus in 2018 on reducing spending on government programs. Last month, President Trump said welfare reform will “take place right after taxes, very soon, very shortly after taxes,” according to The Washington Examiner.

As Republicans advocate spending cuts, they have frequently cited a need to reduce the national deficit while growing the economy.

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“You also have to bring spending under control. And not discretionary spending. That isn’t the driver of our debt. The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare for future beneficiaries,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said this week.

While whipping votes for a GOP tax bill on Thursday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) attacked “liberal programs” for the poor and said Congress needed to stop wasting Americans’ money.

“We’re spending ourselves into bankruptcy,” Hatch said. “Now, let’s just be honest about it: We’re in trouble. This country is in deep debt. You don’t help the poor by not solving the problems of debt, and you don’t help the poor by continually pushing more and more liberal programs through.”

The GOP tax bill currently under consideration in the Senate would increase the federal deficit by nearly $1.5 trillion over a decade, according to Congress’s official tax analysts and multiple other nonpartisan analysts. When economic growth the measure could create is included in the analysis, Congress’s official tax scorekeeper predicted the bill would add $1 trillion to the deficit over 10 years.

President Trump greets Vice President Pence, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) in July. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Trump has not clarified which specific programs would be affected by the proposed “welfare reform.”

During the presidential campaign, Trump vowed that there would be “no cuts” to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, although the president has reversed many of his economic campaign promises since taking office.

The remarks from leading Republicans have fueled a growing fear among liberals that the GOP will use higher deficits — in part caused by their tax bill — as a pretext to accomplish the long-held conservative policy objective of cutting government health-care and social-service spending, which the left believes would hit the poor the hardest.

“What’s coming next is all too predictable: The deficit hawks will come flying back after this bill becomes law,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the ranking Democrat on the finance committee. “Republicans are already saying ‘entitlement reform’ and ‘welfare reform’ are next up on the docket. But nobody should be fooled — that’s just code for attacks on Medicaid, on Medicare, on Social Security, on anti-hunger programs.”

On the Senate floor Thursday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) asked Rubio and Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) to promise that Republicans would not advance cuts to Medicare and Social Security after their tax bill. Toomey said that there was “no secret plan” to do so, while Rubio said he opposed cuts to either program for current beneficiaries. However, neither closed the door to changing the programs for future beneficiaries.

“I am not going to support any cuts to people who are on the program and need those benefits. But I want this program to survive,” Toomey said. To which Sanders responded: “He just told you he’s going to cut Social Security.”

Many conservatives have long argued for cutting and changing social safety net programs, arguing that anti-poverty programs have failed and that Social Security spending is growing at an unsustainable rate.

Still, members of both parties have long been reticent to cut benefits, especially for seniors, due in part to the potential political cost of doing so. And in discussing changes, Republicans, including Rubio, have largely confined their ideas to plans that would affect new beneficiaries, rather than current ones.

Still, it may be particularly difficult for Republicans to push those measures ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, in which many in swing states and districts face well-funded Democratic challengers hoping to ride an anti-Trump wave into office.”

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Ah, the party of grifters taking their “Begger Thy Neighbor” strategy to new heights! Because they can! (And the rest of us have let them get away with it.)

PWS

12-01-17

 

BREAKING: SLATE & ABC NEWS CLAIM THAT FLYNN READY TO IMPLICATE TRUMP IN RUSSIA PROBE! – COULD THIS BE THE “BEGINNING OF THE END” FOR THE WORST, MOST CORRUPT PRESIDENCY IN US HISTORY? — Could We Be Heading For “President Pence?”

ALERT: THIS STORY HAS SINCE BEEN RETRACTED BY ABC NEWS!

http://money.cnn.com/2017/12/01/media/abc-news-flynn-correction/index.html

 

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/12/01/report_flynn_prepared_to_testify_trump_told_him_to_contact_russia.html

Ben Mathis-Lilley reports for Slate:

“ABC’s Brian Ross says that Michael Flynn—the former national security adviser who pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation—is prepared to testify that Donald Trump directed him to make contact with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump has directly denied having any knowledge that anyone involved with his campaign was in contact at any point with Russian officials.

Some caveats:

On the other hand, wow!

Developing!”

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Stay tuned! This is all happening very fast.

Mike Pence would certainly be a truly horrible President. And, probably far more effective than Trump at pushing his far-right religious/social agenda down the throats of Americans.

But, at least, he 1) appears to be basically honest, although misguided; 2) is pretty predictable; 3) probably could conduct meetings with foreign leaders without putting his foot in his mouth and making America look totally foolish; 4) has never been accused of sexual misconduct; 5) isn’t known for tweeting; 6) although having retrograde views on race, gender, and immigration, does not pander quite as directly to the White Nationalist and extremist hate groups as does Trump (although he might well turn out to be a “willing enabler” of hate groups, I actually don’t see him retweeting bogus materials from known hate groups to intentionally divide America and the world); 7) generally speaks in complete, relatively coherent sentences; 8) doesn’t appear to have any immediate extended family or business ties who intend to corruptly profit from his Presidency.

It’s not a great prospect, but far better than what we have now. Just an indication of how low we have fallen as a nation.

Here is some more in depth analysis from ABC News of the Flynn plea and why despite the predictably pathetic attempts at deflection by the White House, this can’t be good news for Trump!

http://abcn.ws/2zEfjFd

PWS

12-01-17

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION LAUNCHES “STEALTH ATTACK” ON MUSLIM REFUGEES!

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

Dahlia Lithwick and Jeremy Stahl Report for Slate:

“At the end of last month, the Trump administration quietly rolled out new restrictions on certain groups of refugees, ostensibly aimed at “protect[ing] people from terrorist attacks and other public-safety threats.” This latest form of “extreme vetting” reportedly targeted citizens of 11 purportedly high “risk” countries, along with the children and spouses of refugees already in the United States.

These high “risk” refugees would be temporarily barred from entering the country and kept from resettlement, so yet another layer of reviews could be added to the already years-long process. Here is the list of affected countries: Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Nine of these countries are Muslim-majority nations. The list was not made public in the executive order itself. Instead, the State Department released an accompanying memo saying that the refugee freeze would affect 11 unnamed countries for which additional security screening had been previously required for males age 16–50.

The new policy expands the additional scrutiny for people from those 11 nations to include all refugees, and not just males of a certain age, while attempting to hide which 11 countries are affected. It also “temporarily prioritizes” applications of refugees from countries not on the list. The list of countries has never been made public outside of media reports, but was included in a December 2016 State Department memo seen by Slate. The new executive order was the Trump administration’s latest attempt to secretly sanitize and repurpose President Trump’s long-proffered and repeatedly bungled Muslim ban.

To put it more simply: This is another Muslim ban.
In addition to the new vetting and resettlement restrictions for a certain type of refugee, the “follow-to-join” program for close relatives of refugees who are already in the U.S. was paused indefinitely until further review. That means that refugees already lawfully admitted will be prevented from reuniting with their spouses and minor children. Department of Homeland Security data shows that about 2,000 follow-to-join family members came to the U.S. in 2015. Just as a reminder, one of the first plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Trump’s first “travel ban,” Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, was an Iraqi who had qualified for a Follow to Join Visa. Alshawi’s wife and 7-year-old son, whom he had not seen for three years, were lawful permanent residents living in Houston. He was detained at JFK Airport in transit to the U.S. when the first travel ban was signed in January, before ultimately being allowed to reunite with his family.

Seen together, the new restrictions will not only disproportionately affect Muslim refugees: They will also extend an already cumbersome process that at present features extensive vetting that can average between 18–24 months.”

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Readthe full article at the link.

More anti-Muslim religious discrimination and anti-refugee discrimination masquerading as as “national security.”

PWS

11-11-17

 

GONZO’S WORLD: WARNING — GONZO ATTACKS LAWYERS WHO DARE TO DEFEND THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF MIGRANTS!

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/11/03/justice_department_declares_war_on_aclu_attorneys_who_oppose_trump.html Continue reading GONZO’S WORLD: WARNING — GONZO ATTACKS LAWYERS WHO DARE TO DEFEND THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF MIGRANTS!

DRAMA CONTINUES FOR PREGNANT TEEN AS APPEALS COURT LOOKS TO “BROKER DEAL” WITHOUT DECIDING ANYTHING!

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/10/20/d_c_circuit_s_dubious_compromise_won_t_guarantee_undocumented_minor_s_abortion.html

Mark Joseph Stern reports for Slate:

“On Friday afternoon, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted an undocumented minor in federal custody conditional access to abortion—within the next few weeks. The decision marks a compromise by two conservative judges keen to preserve their anti-abortion bona fides without transgressing Supreme Court precedent, which clearly protects the minor’s right to terminate her pregnancy. This ruling will force the minor at the heart of this case, who is referred to as Jane Doe, to continue her unwanted pregnancy for at least 11 more days.

. . . .

Thus, it is quite possible that Kavanaugh’s handiwork will fail, and the government will be back in court in a few weeks arguing against Doe’s abortion rights. By that point, Doe will be approaching the point at which she cannot legally terminate her pregnancy in Texas. The government’s intervention has already prevented her from getting a first-trimester abortion, a simpler procedure than a second-trimester abortion. Now HHS has been handed a strategy to keep her pregnant for weeks longer. Kavanaugh may think he has played the conciliator in this case. But in reality, he’s given the government another chance to run down the clock on Doe’s abortion rights.”

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Read Stern’s complete article at the above link.

Looks to me like Judge Kavanaugh’s political instincts and desire to keep alive a possible nod for the Supremes trumps his responsibility to the Constitution, to litigants, and to the public to make tough decisions (which, after all, is what he actually gets paid for). Little wonder that trial judges (not as many places to “run and hide” at the “retail level”) often look at their “ivory tower” appellate colleagues with a jaundiced eye!

PWS

10-21-17

WHY WAS US ALLY AGAINST TERRORISM CHAD INCLUDED IN TRAVEL BAN 3.0? – NO REAL REASON EXCEPT THAT “TRUMP COULD” — The Abject Stupidity Of Running Foreign Policy By Bias, Prejudice, and Bullying, Rather Than Rational and Coherent Principles!

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/10/19/trump_put_chad_on_the_travel_ban_because_of_passport_paper.html

Joshua Keating reports for Slate:

“Ever since the Trump administration unveiled the latest edition of its travel ban on Sept. 24, many observers have been puzzled by the inclusion of Chad on the list. Chad was not previously known as a major source of anti-U.S. terror plots, at least no more than several countries that aren’t on the list, and is in fact considered an important regional counterterrorism partner of the U.S. We now know the answer—and it’s very dumb.

CBS reports that as part of its security review of traveler vetting procedures, the Trump administration had required countries to provide a sample of its passports to the Homeland Security Department for analysis. That was a problem for Chad, because the country had run out of passport paper . . . .”

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Read the rest of Keating’s remarkable report at the above link.

The greatest threat to America’s national security sits in the White House in Washington, D.C. Talk about “self-inflicted wounds!”

PWS

10-20-17