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.

Want More Politics? Listen to the Political Gabfest.

Join Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz as they discuss and debate the week’s biggest political news.
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.

ADVERTISING

inRead invented by Teads
Top Comment

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.

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

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.

Politics newsletter
The big stories and commentary shaping the day.
Sign up
“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.”

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

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!”

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

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.”

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

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.”

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

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 . . . .”

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

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

 

“NINA T” DISHES ON THE SUPREMES — GORSUCH OFF TO TOUGH START – BATTLE WITH KAGAN LOOMING!

http://amp.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2017/10/why_rumors_of_a_gorsuch_kagan_supreme_court_clash_are_such_a_bombshell.html

Mark Joseph Stern reports for Slate:

“Following his nomination to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch was packaged by his wealthy benefactors as the judicial equivalent of a carrot cake: mild and wholesome with the occasional hint of spice. Now that the justice has been safely installed on the court for life, he has revealed himself to be more akin to melted sorbet: sickly sweet and insubstantial with a tangy finish that induces slight nausea. Gorsuch’s abrupt pivot to arrogance has been on full display in his bumptious opinions and questions from the bench. But it also appears to be infecting his interactions with justices behind the scenes. Whispers emerging from the court indicate Gorsuch is more likely to alienate than influence even his conservative colleagues.

The latest sign of trouble comes from NPR’s Nina Totenberg, who dropped in on the indispensable Supreme Court podcast First Mondays to dish some gossip about the newest justice.”

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

Read Nina’s “scoop” over on Slate at the above link.

Ah, the “Eddie Haskell act” is over, and the real fun begins.

PWS

10o-20-17

GONZO’S WORLD: DEHUMANIZING IMMIGRANTS BRINGS BACK DREDD SCOTT!

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2017/10/the_justice_department_s_radical_new_anti_abortion_stance_echoes_dred_scott.html

Mark Joseph Stern and Perry Grossman report for Slate:

“JURISPRUDENCE
THE LAW, LAWYERS, AND THE COURT.OCT. 19 2017 6:32 PM
Trump’s Dred Scott
In a case about the abortion rights of undocumented minors, the Department of Justice evokes the worst Supreme Court decision of all time.

By Perry Grossman and Mark Joseph Stern
Jeff Sessions and Roger B. Taney
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, left, and Chief Justice Roger B. Taney
Saul Loeb/Getty Images and Library of Congress

Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump maligned undocumented immigrants as violent criminals and sexual predators who deserved to be rounded up and deported. Once in office, Trump transformed this rhetoric into policy, implementing a nationwide crackdown on immigrant communities. Now, the president’s dehumanizing disparagement of undocumented people has now seeped into his administration’s legal positions. This week, the Department of Justice is arguing in court that undocumented, unaccompanied minors have no right to abortions—and that undocumented immigrants may have no constitutional rights at all. This argument does not only contravene Supreme Court precedent. It also draws upon an inhuman notion of constitutional liberty most notoriously espoused in Dred Scott v. Sandford.

The Justice Department’s radical new theory arose out of a disturbing case in Texas that revolves around a 17-year-old referred to as Jane Doe in court filings. Doe arrived in the United States several months ago, unaccompanied by her parents and lacking documentation. She was placed in a federally funded Texas shelter, at which point she learned she was pregnant. Doe requested an abortion, but under state law, minors cannot receive the procedure without either parental consent or judicial approval. So Doe obtained what’s known as a judicial bypass and asked permission to attend a state-mandated counseling session before undergoing the procedure.

Her shelter refused to allow her to attend that counseling session, citing federal regulations promulgated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a wing of the Department of Health and Human Services. In March, ORR announced that federally funded shelters could not take “any action that facilitates” abortion for unaccompanied minors, including “scheduling appointments, transportation, or other arrangement,” without “direction and approval” from Scott Lloyd, the agency’s director. A Trump appointee and longtime anti-abortion activist, Lloyd has refused to allow minors to access abortion services. Instead, he has directed shelters to take these women to “crisis pregnancy centers,” which “counsel” them not to get abortions. At least once, Lloyd himself called a pregnant minor to talk her out of terminating her pregnancy. If a minor still wants to get an abortion after navigating these obstacles, ORR instructs its shelters to block her from attending her appointment.

Doe’s shelter followed these guidelines, taking her to a crisis pregnancy center and calling her mother to tell her Doe was pregnant. But Doe persisted, and in October, her court-appointed attorneys filed suit along with the American Civil Liberties Union in a federal district court in Washington, where ORR is headquartered. Doe argues that ORR’s rules violate her constitutional rights by placing an undue burden on her access to abortion.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan held a hearing in the case. While defending the government, Department of Justice attorney Scott Stewart strongly implied that undocumented women do not have a right to abortion. Here, Stewart was echoing an amicus brief filed by the Texas attorney general’s office, which proclaimed that “unlawfully present aliens” living in the United States have no constitutional right to abortion access. Chutkan then asked Stewart whether Doe has any constitutional rights; Stewart declined to make that “concession.”

Chutkan ruled against the government and issued a temporary restraining order guaranteeing Doe the ability to terminate her pregnancy. (She is currently 15 weeks pregnant, and abortion is illegal after 20 weeks in Texas.) The DOJ appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which will hear arguments in the case on Friday morning. In its motion, the agency argued that the government’s “interest in promoting fetal life and childbirth over abortion” justified its refusal to let a minor go to an abortion clinic. It also claimed that, even if undocumented minors have a constitutional right to abortion care, the administration was not unduly burdening that right, because minors who want to terminate their pregnancies can leave the country. This argument is merely another way of stating that women like Doe have no right to an abortion in the United States.

By excluding undocumented immigrants from the protections of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Trump administration is essentially asserting that they do not qualify as “person[s]” under the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and 14th Amendments. The Supreme Court has ruled that the liberty component of the Due Process Clause protects a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy without a substantial obstacle. If arbitrary regulations that severely burden clinics qualify as such an unconstitutional obstacle, as the Supreme Court has held, then surely self-deportation does as well. Thus, the sole plausible interpretation of the DOJ’s posture is that the Due Process Clause does not protect undocumented women like Doe. Put simply, undocumented women are not people for constitutional purposes.

If the government can force Doe to carry her pregnancy to term, what can’t it do?
This theory parallels the Supreme Court’s most infamous ruling. Dred Scott was a black man born into slavery who moved with his “master” from a slave state to a free state. Upon his master’s death, Scott sued for his freedom. In 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney—a virulent racist whose statue was removed from the grounds of the Maryland State House in August—wrote an opinion dismissing Scott’s suit. Taney held that black people were not “persons” based on the language of the Constitution and that Scott, as a black man, therefore had no right to sue in the federal courts. Black men, Taney wrote, were “so far inferior” to whites that they had “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

Following the Civil War, Dred Scott was overturned by the 13th and 14th Amendments. These amendments ensured that everyone born in the United States would be a citizen. They also granted all “person[s]”—not just citizens—due process and equal protection under the law. Trump has already raised the specter of Dred Scott through his call to end birthright citizenship, the constitutional command that lay at the heart of the Civil War amendments. Now his administration is invoking the decision again in its attempt to deprive undocumented immigrants of their personhood under the Constitution.

The government has rarely alleged that undocumented immigrants may be deprived of rights protected by the liberty component of due process, what’s also known as “substantive” due process. Its few attempts have been unsuccessful. In 2003, the Bush administration argued that substantive due process does not apply to immigrants who reside in the country illegally. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, emphatically rejected this claim, explaining

If excludable aliens were not protected by even the substantive component of constitutional due process, as the government appears to argue, we do not see why the United States government could not torture or summarily execute them. … [W]e do not believe that our Constitution could permit persons living in the United States—whether they can be admitted for permanent residence or not—to be subjected to any government action without limit.
Perhaps recognizing the extremism of its argument, the Trump administration has left open the possibility that undocumented immigrants are entitled to some unspecified “minimal standards” of constitutional protection. But if those minimal standards don’t include the basic right to bodily autonomy, then the 6th Circuit’s query still stands. If the government can force Doe to carry her pregnancy to term against her will, what can’t it do? The administration’s attempt to exert complete control over Doe’s reproductive system is a straightforward deprivation of constitutional liberty that opens the door to equally egregious future abuses.

On Friday morning, the Justice Department will return to court once more to argue, in effect, that Jane Doe is not a “person” worthy of due process protections. It might as well cite Dred Scott for the proposition that the government may strip undocumented immigrants of their constitutionally protected liberty. The 14th Amendment was designed to end such capricious discrimination against individuals living in the United States. But to the Trump administration, immigrants like Doe aren’t even people—just possessions of the state, awaiting deportation.”

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

Just when you think that Gonzo Apocalypto can’t sink any lower, he manages to achieve new depths!

Sen. Liz Warren was right!

PWS

10-19-17

PACKER REPORT: AR Breaks Collarbone As Pack Loses To Vikes 23 -10! — Season Likely Over For One Of NFL’s Brightest Stars!

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/10/15/the_nfl_just_lost_its_best_and_most_exciting_player.html

Nick Greene reports for Slate:

“Oh No, Aaron Rodgers Broke His Collarbone

Green-Bay-Packers-v-Minnesota-Vikings
Aaron Rodgers rides a cart into the locker room after being injured.

Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

The 2017-’18 NFL season is objectively worse right now than it was on Sunday morning. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone, and, for the foreseeable future, the league’s best player will be spending his Sundays watching games rather than playing in them.

The injury occurred in the the first quarter of Green Bay’s game against Minnesota. Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr tackled Rodgers to the turf, and the quarterback crumpled awkwardly on his arm and shoulder. (It’s a bit of frustrating irony that Rodgers’ offensive line on Sunday was in the best shapeit’s been in all year.)

After Rodgers was carted to the locker room for tests, Brett Hundley replaced him under center. Hundley is a promising young player, but, unfortunately for the Packers, he is one of the roughly 7 billion people on earth who is not Aaron Rodgers, meaning he will represent a downgrade at the quarterback position. With Rodgers, the Packers are a consistent threat to challenge for the Super Bowl. Without him … well, we’re about to find out.

Rodgers had been enjoying a terrific season, leading the Packers to a 4-1 record atop the NFC North. Just last weekend he performed his customary late-game vivisection of the Dallas Cowboys, which was exhilarating at the time but rather irritating in retrospect as it perfectly encapulates what fans will be missing due to his broken collarbone.

In 2013, Rodgers suffered a similar injury when he fractured his left clavicle in week nine. However, he was able to recover in time for the last game of that season, an affair in which he threw a last-gasp, game-winning touchdown to win the NFC North for the Packers and usher them into the playoffs. It was a miraculous performance that Green Bay fans will be careful not to label “once-in-a-lifetime” just yet.

Football carries more potential energy per play than any other sport. You never know when a routine tackle will result in something devastating, but the possibility is always there. While these high stakes may make the sport exciting, they can also conspire to result in the exact opposite outcome. Aaron Rodgers’ broken collarbone is an example of this, and the league will suffer as a result.

Nick Greene is a Chicago-born writer who currently lives in Oakland, California. Follow him on Twitter.”

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

Pack backup QB Brett Hundley didn’t “knock anyone’s socks off” in the first “real action” of his career.  He was 18-33, 157 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT.  Not going to win many games with stats like those. But, perhaps, with knowledge that he’ll be starting and time to practice with the starters, he’ll do better next time out.  We can only hope.

Some folks (including me) think that Packer General Manager Ted Thompson would do well to ring up CBS Broadcaster Tony Romo (Wisconsin native) and/or notorious former 49er Colin Kaepernick (also a Wisconsin native).

The Pack (4-2), carrying lots of injuries in addition to Rodgers, are now tied with the Vikes atop the NFC Central (although the Vikes now own the “tiebreaker”). They play the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau next Sunday.

PWS

10-15-17

 

 

GONZO’S WORLD: HOMOPHOBIC AG ATTACKS LGBTQ COMMUNITY WITH BOGUS LEGAL MEMO STRIPPING TRANSGENDER INDIVIDUALS OF CIVIL RIGHTS PROTECTIONS!

https://www.buzzfeed.com/dominicholden/jeff-sessions-just-reversed-a-policy-that-protects

Dominic Holden reports for BuzzFeed News:

“US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed a federal government policy that said transgender workers were protected from discrimination under a 1964 civil rights law, according to a memo on Wednesday sent to agency heads and US attorneys.

Sessions’ directive, obtained by BuzzFeed News, says, “Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status.”

It adds that the government will take this position in pending and future matters, which could have far-reaching implications across the federal government and may result in the Justice Department fighting against transgender workers in court.

“Although federal law, including Title VII, provides various protections to transgender individuals, Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se,” Sessions writes. “This is a conclusion of law, not policy. As a law enforcement agency, the Department of Justice must interpret Title VII as written by Congress.”

But Sharon McGowan, a former lawyer in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and now an attorney for the LGBT group Lambda Legal, countered that Sessions’ is ignoring a widespread trend in federal courts.

“It’s ironic for them to say this is law, and not policy,” McGowan told BuzzFeed News. “The memo is devoid of discussion of the way case law has been developing in this area for the last few years. It demonstrates that this memo is not actually a reflection of the law as it is — it’s a reflection of what the DOJ wishes the law were.”

“The sessions DOJ is trying to roll back the clock and pretend that the progress of the last decade hasnt’ happened,” she added. “The Justice Department is actually getting back in the business of making anti-transgender law in court.”

“The Justice Department is actually getting back in the business of making anti-transgender law in court.”
The memo reflects the Justice Department’s aggression toward LGBT rights under President Trump and Sessions, who reversed an Obama-era policy that protects transgender students after a few weeks in office. Last month, Sessions filed a brief at the Supreme Court in favor of a Christian baker who refused a wedding cake to a gay couple. And last week, the department argued in court that Title VII doesn’t protect a gay worker from discrimination, showing that Sessions will take his view on Title VII into private employment disputes.

At issue in the latest policy is how broadly the government interprets Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which does not address LGBT rights directly. Rather, it prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an independent agency that enforces civil rights law in the workplace, and a growing body of federal court decisions have found sex discrimination does include discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sex stereotyping — and that Title VII therefore bans anti-transgender discrimination as well.

Embracing that trend, former attorney general Eric Holder under President Obama announced the Justice Department would take that position as well, issuing a memo in 2014 that said, “I have determined that the best reading of Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination is that it encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including transgender status. The most straightforward reading of Title VII is that discrimination ‘because of … sex’ includes discrimination because an employee’s gender identification is as a member of a particular sex, or because the employee is transitioning, or has transitioned, to another sex.”

But Sessions said in his latest policy that he “withdraws the December 15, 2014, memorandum,” and adds his narrower view that the law only covers discrimination between “men and women.”

“The Department of Justice will take that position in all pending and future matters (except where controlling lower-court precedent dictates otherwise, in which event the issue should be preserved for potential future review),” Sessions writes.

Sessions adds: “The Justice Department must and will continue to affirm the dignity of all people, including transgender individuals. Nothing in this memorandum should be construed to condone mistreatment on the basis of gender identity, or to express a policy view on whether Congress should amend Title VII to provide different or additional protections.”

Devin O’Malley, a spokesperson for the Justice Department, explained the decision to issue the memo, telling BuzzFeed News, “The Department of Justice cannot expand the law beyond what Congress has provided. Unfortunately, the last administration abandoned that fundamental principle, which necessitated today’s action. This Department remains committed to protecting the civil and constitutional rights of all individuals, and will continue to enforce the numerous laws that Congress has enacted that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”

McGowan, from Lambda Legal, counters, “The memo is so weak that analysis is so thin, that it will courts will recognize it for what it is — a raw political document and not sound legal analysis that should be given any weight by them.”

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

Virulent homophobia has always been a key element of the “Gonzo Apocalypto Agenda.” Check out this report from Mark Joseph Stern at Slate about how when serving as Alabama’s Attorney General Gonzo attempted to use an Alabama statute that had been ruled unconstitutional by a Federal Judge to both publicly demean LGBTQ students and stomp on their First Amendment rights. (So much for the disingenuous BS speech that Gonzo delivered on Free Speech at Georgetown Law last week.)  Here’s what happened:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered a speech at Georgetown University Law Center in which he argued that “freedom of thought and speech on the American campus are under attack.” As my colleague Dahlia Lithwick explained, the attorney general said this in “a room full of prescreened students who asked him prescreened questions while political demonstrators outside were penned off in ‘free speech zones.’ ” Ensconced in a safe space of his own, Sessions blasted the notion that speech can be “hurtful,” criticizing administrators and students for their “crackdown” on “speech they may have disagreed with.”

Mark Joseph Stern
MARK JOSEPH STERN
Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers the law and LGBTQ issues.

Sessions’ hypocrisy on speech issues is not a new development. In 1996, the then–attorney general of Alabama used the full power of his office to try to shut down an LGBTQ conference at the University of Alabama. Sessions took his battle to court, asking a federal judge to let him block the conference altogether—or, at the very least, silence students who wished to discuss LGBTQ issues. He ultimately failed, but his campaign reveals a great deal about his highly selective view of free expression. Sessions claims to support freedom for “offensive” speech, but when speech offends him, he is all too happy to play the censor.

When Sessions served as Alabama attorney general, the state still criminalized sodomy. A 1992 law, Alabama Education Code Section 16-1-28, also barred public universities from funding, recognizing, or supporting any group “that fosters or promotes a lifestyle or actions prohibited by” the sodomy statute, either “directly or indirectly.” The law also forbade schools from allowing such organizations to use public facilities. Sessions’ predecessor, Jimmy Evans, had interpreted the statute to effectively outlaw the discussion or promotion of gay rights on public campuses, with that prohibition even extending to AIDS awareness campaigns.

In 1995, the University of South Alabama’s Gay Lesbian Bisexual Alliance sued in federal court to block Section 16-1-28. That summer, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that, under the First Amendment, public universities may not deny access to facilities or funding for student organizations on the basis of their viewpoints. This decision, the GLBA asserted, rendered Section 16-1-28 unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson agreed, holding the law to be invalid in a January 1996 ruling.

This decision was excellent news for the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Alliance at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. The GLBA had planned to host the Fifth Annual Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual College Conference of the Southeastern United States in February 1996. Sessions, by now attorney general, was trying his hardest to shut it down.

“University officials say they’re going to try to obey the law,” Sessions said at the time, as CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reported in December of last year. “I don’t see how it can be done without canceling this conference. I remain hopeful that if the administration does not act, the board of trustees will.” Sessions didn’t give up even after Judge Thompson struck down the law. “I intend to do everything I can to stop that conference,” he said.

In a last-ditch effort, Sessions returned to Thompson’s court and asked permission to ban the conference. “The State of Alabama,” he explained in court filings, “will experience irreparable harm by funding a conference and activities in violation of state law.” Failing a total ban, Sessions implored Thompson to let him censor any discussion of “safe sex and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.” Sessions claimed that, by talking about LGBTQ issues, conference attendees were essentially conspiring to promote criminal activity, and Alabama should not be obligated to support their criminality. Predictably, Thompson rejected Sessions’ arguments, writing that the attorney general was endeavoring to violate students’ free speech rights. Sessions then appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which unanimously ruled against Alabama. The conference went on as planned.

Cathy Lopez Wessell, a lead organizer and spokeswoman for the conference, told me Sessions’ intervention “was incredibly stressful. We got threatening phone calls. We were attacked from all sides.” She continued, “We were the abomination of the month. I didn’t feel safe in the world for a while. I started to internalize some of the judgment leveled at our group. I thought, there must be something deeply wrong with you if you need to be silenced.”

Lopez Wessell explained that Sessions’ campaign against the conference registered as a broader attack on LGBTQ students.

“If we can’t talk, do we have a right to exist?” Lopez Wessell asked. “If our speech is so dangerous that it needs to be stopped, then are we dangerous? We weren’t promoting any particular activity; we just wanted to talk—about our experiences, about our existence.”

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

Denying the humanity as well as the human rights of those he is biased against is a staple of the Gonzo Apocalypto agenda. Just look at his constant attempts to tie all members of the Hispanic ethnic community to crime, drugs, and gangs (even though all credible studies show that immigrants or all types have markedly lower crime rates than native-born U.S. citizens) and his false and gratuitous attempts to tie “Dreamers” to crime, terrorism, and loss of jobs!

There is no more certain way of knowing that a DOJ “legal” memo is all policy and no law than the statement: “This is a conclusion of law, not policy.“ In other words, “Don’t you dare accuse me of doing what I’m actually doing!”

Since assuming the office of Attorney General for which he is so spectacularly unqualified, here’s a list of the folks whose rights or humanity Sessions has attacked or disparaged:

Hispanics

African Americans

LGBTQ Individuals

Dreamers

Immigrants

Refugees

Asylum Seekers

Poor People

Undocumented Migrants

Women

Muslims

Civil Rights Protesters

Black Athletes

City Officials Seeking To Foster Community Law Enforcement

Prisoners

Immigration Detainees

Forensic Scientists

State Governors Who Disagree With Him

Federal Judges Who Find Trump Policies Illegal

State & Federal Judges Who Object To Migrants Being Arrested At Their Courts

Convicts

Liberal Students & College Administrators

Anti-Facists

Anti-Hate-Group Activists

Reporters

Unaccompanied Migrant Children

President Obama

Whistleblowers (a/k/a “Leakers” in “Gonzopeak”)

DOJ Career Attorneys

I’m sure I’ve left a few out.  Feel free to send me additions. The list just keeps getting longer all the time.

The only group that appears to be “A-OK” with Gonzo is “White straight Christian male Republican ultra rightists.”

Liz was right!

PWS

10-05-17

 

 

 

 

 

GONZO’S WORLD: “Eggshell” Attorney General Is A Parody Of The First Amendment!

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

Dahlia Lithwick writes at Slate:

“Having seen the Sessions DOJ prosecute someone for laughing at Jeff Sessions, it’s hardly surprising that he wants a First Amendment that celebrates the robust criticism of everyone but himself. Watching Sessions’ DOJ going after private Facebook information for anti-Trump activists, it’s hardly surprising that these much-vaunted free speech protections flow in the direction of Trump officials and away from Trump dissenters. It is, nevertheless, somewhat more surprising to see that the burgeoning theory that conservatives deserve free speech protections, and liberals deserve none, is becoming yet another normalized part of this abnormal administration. After all, if you cannot even see anyone from the opposing side, you certainly have no reason to hear their voices. And what was most striking about Sessions’ rousing performance at Georgetown is that he didn’t seem to even notice or concede that an opposing side exists. This has very real practical effects for his DOJ and for our rule of law.

Read, for example, the work of my friend Garrett Epps on the stunning DOJ brief filed in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission “religious baker” case to be heard at the Supreme Court this fall. The Justice Department evinces no solicitude at all for the injuries of anyone but the Christian baker at issue, the one who seeks not to be compelled to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. Sessions’ Department of Justice, for instance, argues that Colorado hadn’t yet acknowledged the rights of marriage equality at the time of the cake incident, so the fact that such equality is now a constitutional right should not even be considered. It’s a hard case, as Epps notes. But it’s vastly easier if you simply pretend away the interests of the other side. For this DOJ, there is nobody else on the radar. Nobody else exists.

Want More SCOTUS? Subscribe to Amicus.

Join Dahlia Lithwick and her stable of standout guests for a discussion about the high court and the country’s most important cases.
When talking about the First Amendment and the brutal and challenging clash of diverse opinions, a big part of that is the obligation to listen to ideas that might be uncomfortable or even painful to hear. But that relationship presupposes that we can see or acknowledge that there are speakers on the other side. More and more, it feels as though the Trump administration’s aperture has narrowed to the point where someone can espouse First Amendment values while viewing genuine opponents as wholly other, foreign, and not even worth giving the chance to respond. This is the framing for the NFL protests (Trump has free speech rights, the players do not) and the framing for Sessions’ speech about student speech.

There’s little doubt that Jeff Sessions meant it when he importuned the students before him to stand up for free speech and to spend their law school careers refining their own views in opposition to conflicting ideas. But it’s far from clear that he realized how absurd it was to say those things at an event that excluded faculty and students with different viewpoints. Admonishing law students to spend their time testing their pre-existing views against alternate ideas while engaging in almost daily acts of punishing and suppressing speech and expression of alternate ideas is insane. I’m not sure that the sparking, hotly contested debates between people who hate marriage equality and the people who really, really hate marriage equality is the sort of dispute Justices Jackson and Brandeis were thinking about.

And what is terrifying is the possibility that Sessions truly believes that people with different viewpoints don’t even exist anymore in any tangible application. These dissenters are all just enemies of the state. They are no more real to him than ghosts. More and more, Sessions is constructing a Justice Department in which the other side is just noise to him, not speech. And if you cannot even see protesters and political dissidents, it’s hardly a surprise that you cannot hear them either.”

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

Read Lithwick’s complete article at the link.

I have to admit that it’s great to be retired, outside the repressively paranoid atmosphere of the DOJ (and that was before the reign of Gonzo began), and able to exercise my right to free speech again.

Sessions is enthusiastic about defending the right to promote hate speech, religious zealotry, and homophobia, all things in which he and his alt-right cronies fervently believe. But, when it comes to defending the rights of Blacks, Hispanics, immigrants, and the rest of us to protest, or in the case of Blacks and Hispanics to even exercise their voting rights, not so much.

Gonzo’s career has been built on disingenuously promoting bias, racial inequality, xenophobia, homophobia, intolerance, and white privilege in the name of a Constitution that it’s hard to believe he’s ever read much less understands or follows. Other than Trump, Bannon, or Miller, I can’t imagine anyone less qualified than Gonzo to pontificate about the First Amendment, or indeed any portion of the U.S. Constitution other than, perhaps, the Second Amendment which apparently is the only part of the Constitution they have ever heard about down in Ol’ Bammy.

PWS

09-29-17

GONZO’S WORLD: 2D CIR AMUSED, BUT NOT RECEPTIVE TO DOJ’S “WHACKADOODLE” ADVOCACY FOR HOMOPHOBIA! — DOJ Attorneys Sacrifice Credibility & Self Respect Every Time They Stand Up To Defend Gonzo’s Hate Agenda! — They Are Becoming The “Neo Clowns”Of The Legal World🤡

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

Mark Joseph Stern reports for Slate:

“NEW YORK—The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit had a burning question for Donald Trump’s Department of Justice on Tuesday: What are you doing in our courthouse? By the end of the day, the answer still wasn’t clear. Something else was, though: The DOJ’s new anti-gay legal posture is not going to be received with open arms by the federal judiciary.

The Justice Department’s latest wound was fully self-inflicted, as Tuesday’s arguments in Zarda v. Altitude Express should not have involved the DOJ in the first place. The case revolves around a question of statutory interpretation: whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws anti-gay workplace discrimination. Title VII bars employment discrimination “because of sex,” which many federal courts have interpreted to encompass sexual orientation discrimination. The 2nd Circuit is not yet one of them, and Chief Judge Robert Katzmann signaled recently that he would like to change that. So on Tuesday, all of the judges convened to consider joining the chorus of courts that believe Title VII already prohibits anti-gay discrimination in the workplace.

It’s important to understand some background before getting further into how those arguments went. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission decided in 2015 that Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination does protect gay employees. Under President Barack Obama, the Justice Department took no position on this question. But in late July, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ DOJ unexpectedly filed an amicus brief in Zarda arguing that Title VII does not protect gay people. The 2nd Circuit had not solicited its input, making the brief both puzzling and gratuitous. Its purpose only became apparent in September, when the DOJ filed a similarly uninvited brief asserting that bakers have a free speech right not to serve same-sex couples. Both anti-gay briefs were startlingly incoherent, seemingly the product of political pandering rather than legal reasoning.

Regardless, the DOJ’s decision to weigh in on Zarda ensured that oral arguments would include the weird spectacle of one federal agency opposing another in court. That doesn’t happen often—and really shouldn’t happen—because the executive branch is expected to speak with one voice on legal affairs. But the EEOC’s commissioners serve fixed terms and haven’t gotten the memo placing politics above the law yet. And so they were not exactly delighted to see political appointees at the Justice Department trash their theories in court on Tuesday when the two agencies faced off over what it means to discriminate “because of sex.”

. . . .

That set the stage for Mooppan’s appearance, which, to put it mildly, did not go well at all. Chief Judge Katzmann immediately wanted to know: Why didn’t the DOJ defer to the EEOC on Title VII, as it normally does? Mooppan’s basic reply was that the Justice Department is the nation’s “largest employer”—meaning, in short, that it has an interest in retaining its capacity to fire gay people for being gay.

“What is the process with regard to the EEOC and the DOJ in terms of filing a brief?” Katzmann followed up.

“That’s a complicated question,” Mooppan responded.

“Try to help us,” Katzmann implored. He also wanted to know what career attorneys at the DOJ’s civil rights division think about the agency’s position. But Mooppan wouldn’t answer: “That’s not appropriate for me to disclose,” he told the judge. Katzmann looked alarmed. Judge Pooler jumped in: “Does the Justice Department sign off on a brief that EEOC intends to file?” she wondered.

“That’s not appropriate for me to disclose,” Mooppan repeated.

“It’s procedure, not internal deliberations,” Pooler responded.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate,” Mooppan said again, stonewalling. Now a majority of the judges looked irritated. As a general rule, attorneys are supposed to answer questions posed by the court, not dodge them as though they’re taking the Fifth. It was a terrible start for Mooppan, and both Pooler and Katzmann looked genuinely perplexed that a DOJ attorney would show such blatant disrespect. Finally, Judge Dennis Jacobs broke the impasse: “I, for one, am prepared to proceed on the assumption that you’re here,” he said.”

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

Read the entire rather amazing, if disturbing, article at the link. Accounts of the daily doings of “Gonzo’s Justice” could be ripped right from the headlines of The Onion. But, sadly they aren’t. Every day that Gonzo serves in the office for which he is jaw-droppingly unaqualified diminishes the American legal system and our country as a whole.

Liz was right. She might even have understated the case against Gonzo. Happy to be retired. Pity those still at the DOJ. Move over, John Mitchell, you’ve got some real competition for “Worst Attorney General In Modern American History.” I feel like asking for a recount when Betsy De Vos allegedly edged out Gonzo for “Worst Cabinet Member!” Could it be Russian interference?

GPWS

09-27-17