START YOUR WEDNESDAY WITH SOME UPLIFTING BREAKING NEWS – IT’S A GREAT DAY FOR THE USA: 1) Alabama Comes Through For U.S. By Electing Democrat Doug Jones To US Senate; 2) Aaron Rodgers Cleared To Return To Pack & Will Start Against The Carolina Panthers on Sunday! –- “Ayatollah Roy” Will Not Be Bringing His Agenda Of Bigotry, Hate, & Un-American Views & His Total Scumbag Persona To Washington – One Of America’s Favorite — & Most Fun To Watch – Sports Stars Will Return To “Primetime!”

First, we can all thank Senator Elect Doug Jones and the voters of Alabama for saving America from the horrible spectacle and damage that would have been caused by the election of the heinous bigot, liar, slanderer, racist, homophobe, xenophobe, theocrat of a false religion, coward, scofflaw, and apparent sexual predator Roy Moore. Jones’s election is a striking rebuke to that other sleazy, corrupt, dishonest, bigoted unrepentant sexual predator in America, Trump. And, by narrowing the GOP advantage in the Senate to a razor-thin 51-49, it raises the possibility that the Democrats with the help of just two responsible Republicans could block substantial parts of Trump’s and the GOP’s insane “War on America” and protect us from some of Trump’s worst excesses.

How ironic that White Nationalist and “Jim Crow relic” Attorney General Jeff “Gonzo Apocalyopto” Sessions is being replaced by a by a competent and decent person who believes in American democracy and governing for the “common good” rather than as an out of touch ideologue with a strong anti-American, anti-Diversity, hate promoting agenda.

It’s also ironic that Jones has done the GOP a favor by relieving them of the lengthy circus of both expelling him from their party and ultimately removing him from the Senate. Anything short of that would have been a continuing embarrassment for the party. Quite contrary to Trump’s outrageous statements in support of the Ayatollah, any vote that a party wins because of support of a total scumbag like Moore damages that party as well as our country. (It does, however, raise in my mind the question of when they are going to expel the anti-American, racist, bigot Steve King from their party. There is no room in any major party for the likes of King.)

Hats off to the African-American community in Alabama who were not deterred by the Sessions/GOP voter suppression anti-Civil Rights initiatives and showed up in the numbers required to make a difference in the election. After being shut out of their fair share of political power in Alabama for over 300 years, African-Americans are finally in a position to make their voices and feelings heard in the U.S. Senate.

Also, hats off to GOP Southern Senators Richard Shelby of Alabama and Tim Scott of South Carolina for standing up and “Just Saying No” to the Moore nonsense. As pointed out by Shelby, Alabama could do better than Ayatollah Roy (not a very high hurdle), and they now have in the person of Doug Jones.

Hopefully, Jones will over time find a way to “win over” most of those misguided souls who voted for Ayatollah Roy notwithstanding the very credible evidence of sexual misconduct with minors in his past, his arrogant “not credible” defense, the clear lies that he told in attempting to smear those who came forward, and his scofflaw, anti-American views. What a jerk!

Here’s the Washington Post’s editorial on Jones’s stunning upset:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/thank-you-alabama/2017/12/12/176388de-df64-11e7-bbd0-9dfb2e37492a_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-d%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.4ea2f1920de1

“THANK YOU, Alabama.

In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alabama, seemingly confirming every negative stereotype about the Deep South state, the shame would have been national. Instead, Alabama voters chose Democrat Doug Jones to represent them until 2021.

Mr. Jones is not in perfect sync with many Alabama voters on some issues, most notably abortion. But he is an honorable man with an admirable record of public service who ran a respectful campaign. His behavior suggests he will serve with decency and care in the Senate. He should make his state proud. None of these fine things could have been said of Mr. Moore. It is beyond heartening that Alabamians refused to overlook or forgive Mr. Moore’s misshapen character.

Mr. Jones’s victory shows that, while partisanship might be extreme, it still has limits. Even in deep-red Alabama, enough voters refused to succumb to lies about how negative stories on Mr. Moore were merely fake news cooked up by a hostile media.

Americans do not send senators to Washington merely to vote mechanically on a few hot-button issues, but to exercise judgment when cameras are not rolling, on issues that are important but not headline-grabbing. Good lawmakers also protect the nation’s democratic institutions, preserve the independence of their branch of government and work with people with whom they disagree. It takes character to fulfill these responsibilities. Mr. Jones seems ready to do such work. Mr. Moore did not.

Mr. Jones’s victory also suggests that the nation’s recent awakening on sexual harassment and assault is spreading across the country. Enough Alabamians believed the women.

If Americans should feel grateful to Alabama voters, so should the Republican Party, much of which debased itself by following President Trump into the gutter of support for Mr. Moore. Its majority in the Senate will be slightly narrower, but the dignity of the Senate GOP caucus will be at least partially salvaged. Alabama voters spared the Senate Ethics Committee the dilemma of how to handle a senator who was clearly unfit but who nevertheless won a popular election. Instead of inviting controversy and chaos, they elected Mr. Jones, a man who deserves the honor.

Thanks to Alabama, Americans can wake up Wednesday morning feeling hopeful about the decency and dignity of their democracy.”

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On to the other big story, Aaron Rodgers (“AR”). AR’s recovery from a broken collarbone which required surgery, two plates, and 13 screws is about as amazing as Jones’s victory.

AR is a smart player, tough guy, and great competitor. It’s certainly possible that he will be able to lead the Pack (currently 7-6 and “on the outside looking in” for a playoff spot) to a sweep of the final three games and a possible playoff birth. But, certainly no “slam dunk!”

The O line will have to do a perfect job of protecting AR. He will have to suppress his tendency to run with the football when nobody is open and the Pack needs a first down.

If the Pack should lose to the Panthers on Sunday, they will have to make a decision on whether to play AR in the final two games. A defeat would pretty much end any realistic hope of the playoffs this year. So, it might make sense to let backup Brett Hundley (3-4 as a starter in AR’s absence) start the last two games. On the other hand, being the competitor that he is, AR will want to play.

Congrats to AR on his return, good luck, and stay tuned.

Here’s a report from the Green Bay Press Gazette on AR’s return:

http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/sports/nfl/packers/2017/12/12/silence-prevails-packers-ponder-aaron-rodgers-decision/943774001/

“The news catapults the Packers’ playoff chances from a pipe dream to a legitimate possibility with three games remaining. Conventional wisdom says the Packers must win all three — at Carolina, vs. Minnesota and at Detroit — to have a chance at a wild card in the top-heavy NFC. Accomplishing that feat with Brett Hundley at quarterback was unlikely after he won just three games in seven starts; but with Rodgers the odds shift dramatically.

Beginning Wednesday, Rodgers will have three days of practice to prepare for his first game since Oct. 15, when a hit from Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr resulted in a broken right collarbone. Rodgers underwent surgery in California to stabilize the fracture, and the Packers ultimately placed him on injured reserve. He returned to practice on a limited basis Dec. 2 and spent the last two weeks running the scout team, dazzling his teammates each day.

His initial return meant nothing, though, if Rodgers could not be medically cleared. He underwent a series of scans Monday to reveal the progress of his collarbone, and the interpretations of those scans by team physician Patrick McKenzie, several outside specialists and general manager Ted Thompson would determine whether the risk of further injury would be worth the reward of having Rodgers for a potential playoff run.

For a while it appeared bleak. Monday came and went with nothing but party-line comments by coach Mike McCarthy, who reiterated during a news conference that any decision on Rodgers’ future would be made by medical professionals. That Rodgers spun the football during pregame at Heinz Field or zinged passes in the Don Hutson Center was irrelevant, just as his assistant coaching efforts in Cleveland did nothing but reinforce his passion.

With Tuesday morning came additional silence, and social media wondered if the lengthy delay lessened Rodgers’ chances of returning. But the results of his scans were sent to specialists around the country, in multiple time zones, and the coordination of gathering various opinions certainly influenced the timeline. It’s quite possible that Rodgers’ surgeon in California, who at this point is unidentified, had a large say in the discussion.

If nothing else, the painstaking deliberation surrounding Rodgers’ health captures the importance of franchise quarterbacks, and in particular elite franchise quarterbacks. In breadth alone the discussion might have stretched to a dozen people: McKenzie, Thompson, McCarthy, the doctor who performed surgery, several outside experts and, of course, Rodgers himself. The crew needed 36 hours to probe the conundrum from various angles.

Everything started, of course, with the fairly black-and-white question of whether Rodgers’ collarbone had calcified since two plates and 13 screws were inserted to stabilize the fracture eight weeks ago. Enough time had passed for the bone to heal significantly, though perhaps not entirely, and therein lies the gray area for whoever reviewed the scans. How sturdy must his collarbone be to withstand the punishment of 300-pound defensive linemen or hard-charging linebackers?

There were also football questions that clouded the equation. At 7-6, the Packers must win out to have a realistic shot at the playoffs — and even then, they could fall short. Why risk Rodgers’ throwing shoulder when the Packers don’t control their postseason destiny? Surely that question irked the conscience of Thompson, whose conservative disposition is well-documented in Green Bay.

One has to wonder if the two-day uncertainty weighed on Hundley as well. With Sunday’s win over the Browns came the cleansing exhale of accomplishing his primary job: keeping the Packers in playoff contention until Rodgers was eligible to return. He achieved that feat with consecutive overtime victories that cast light on his moxie.

But narrow escapes against the Browns and Buccaneers bear little resemblance to the challenge of the next three weeks. To beat the Panthers (9-4), Vikings (10-3) and Lions (7-6) — two of which are on the road — the Packers will need reinforcements.

As it turns out, that’s just what the doctor ordered.”

Not often these days that we get to wake up to good news. Go Doug, go AR, go Pack, go America!

PWS

12/13/17

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.”

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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

 

 

TERRIFIED PENCE FLEES NFL STADIUM FOLLOWING PEACEFUL EXERCISE OF CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS! — “Trump Told Me To Do It,” Says Vapid Veep!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mike-pence-nfl-walks-out_us_59da5fb4e4b0f6eed35114bd?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Igor Bobic reports for HuffPost:

Vice President Mike Pence walked out of Sunday’s NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers as several 49ers players knelt in protest during a rendition of the national anthem.

“While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect our Flag and our National Anthem,” Pence wrote on Twitter minutes after leaving the game in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Following the example of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, NFL players around the country have knelt during renditions of the national anthem in order to protest against police brutality and racial injustice directed towards black Americans.

More than a hundred NFL players from several football teams kneeled or held arms in solidarity earlier this month after President Donald Trump called NFL players who kneel during the anthem “sons of bitches.” He later insisted his criticism of the NFL had “nothing” to do with race.

Trump said on Sunday that he asked Pence to leave the stadium in Indianapolis if any players knelt during the national anthem, an extremely likely event given the number of players on the 49ers team who kneel during the anthem before every game.

The president’s revelation suggested the White House orchestrated the walk out on purpose, raising questions about the cost of Pence’s brief trip to Indianapolis. The vice president flew there from Las Vegas, where he visited the victims and families of last week’s horrific shooting. He is now flying back West for a stop in California.

“Wait. This was orchestrated to make a point? That’s not an inexpensive thing to do,” tweeted Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) on Sunday.

Many people have commented that Pence’s action came off as publicity stunt, including San Francisco 49ers’ Eric Reid, who was one of the first players to kneel alongside Kaepernick in 2016. Reid told reporters that the three-year-old photo of Pence at a Colts game in 2014 was the last he had heard of the vice president attending a game.

“So this looks like a PR stunt to me,” Reid told a pool of reporters on Sunday. “He knew our team has had the most players protest. He knew that we were probably going to do it again. This is what systemic oppression looks like. A man with power comes to the game, tweets a couple of things out and leaves the game with an attempt to thwart our efforts. Based on the information I have, that’s the assumption I’ve made.”

This is what systemic oppression looks like. A man with power comes to the game, tweets a couple of things out and leaves the game with an attempt to thwart our efforts.Eric Reid, San Franciscos 49ers

Prior to walking out of the game, Pence met with former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. The retired football star, who also played for the University of Tennessee and has donated to prominent GOP figures, has been floated as a potential candidate to replace Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). Corker is retiring next year, but Manning has said he has no plans to run for the seat.”

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

Obviously, Trump orchestrated this event to show America that if they ditch him they would be trading a bully for an idiot.

NOTE: Although Pence undoubtedly was carrying out a “staged” role assigned to him by Trump, and the  quote is certainly sufficiently obsequious to have come from Pence, the actual quote in the headline section is “fake news.” However, the rest of the story about Pence’s idiotic behavior is, unfortunately, true — just another day in Trumpland.

NOW, ON TO MORE SIGNIFICANT NEWS:

After spotting the home-standing Dallas Cowboys a 21-6 lead (including missing two missed extra points) the Pack rallied for an exciting 35-31 victory over the ‘Pokes. The incomparable Aaron Rodgers (“AR”) led the last second comeback with a key third down scramble setting up the winning TD pass to Devonte Adams with 11 seconds remaining. Adams came back to catch two TD passes in an inspiring performance following a scary near-decapitation on a cheap shot by Bears’ LB Danny Trevathan during the Pack’s victory on Thursday, September 28.

PWS

10-08-17

 

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

AR & REST OF PACK ASK FANS TO JOIN THEM IN STANDING UP FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE BEFORE TOMORROW NIGHT’S GAME WITH BEARS AT LAMBEAU!

http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/sports/nfl/packers/2017/09/26/packers-players-invite-fans-join-moment-unification/706899001/

The Green Bay Press Gazette reports:

“In a statement issued Tuesday evening, Green Bay Packers players invited fans attending their game Thursday against the Chicago Bears to join them in locking arms together during the national anthem at Lambeau Field.

Here is the complete statement:

“The NFL family is one of the most diverse communities in the world. Just look around! The eclectic group of players that you root for, the coaches you admire, the people you sit next to in the stands, those high-fiving on military bases, fans at the sports bar or during tailgate parties—we all come from different walks of life and have unique backgrounds and stories.

“The game of football brings people together. As NFL players, we are a living testimony that individuals from different backgrounds and with different life experiences can work together toward a common goal.

RELATED: Aaron Rodgers asks fans to lock arms in unity during anthem

“This Thursday during the national anthem at Lambeau Field, Packers players, coaches and staff will join together with arms intertwined—connected like the threads on your favorite jersey. When we take this action, what you will see will be so much more than just a bunch of football players locking arms. The image you will see on September 28th will be one of unity. It will represent a coming together of players who want the same things that all of us do—freedom, equality, tolerance, understanding, and justice for those who have been unjustly treated, discriminated against or otherwise treated unfairly. You will see the sons of police officers, kids who grew up in military families, people who have themselves experienced injustice and discrimination firsthand, and an array of others all linking together in a display of unity.

“Those of us joining arms on Thursday will be different in so many ways, but one thing that binds us together is that we are all individuals who want to help make our society, our country and our world a better place. We believe that in diversity there can be UNI-versity. Intertwined, we represent the many people who helped build this country, and we are joining together to show that we are ready to continue to build.

“Let’s work together to build a society that is more fair and just.

“Join us this Thursday by locking arms with whoever you’re with, stranger or loved one, wherever you are—intertwined and included—in this moment of unification.”

– The Packers Players”

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Go Pack!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GONZO’S WORLD: “Jeff Sessions Defends Trump’s Right To Speak Out Against Free Speech”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeff-sessions-trump-nfl_us_59ca8732e4b0cdc7733534d4

Ryan Reilly reports at HuffPost:

“WASHINGTON ― Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave an impassioned defense of the values of free speech on Tuesday, proclaiming that “in this great land, the government does not tell you what to think or what to say.” Then the nation’s top law enforcement official condemned the actions of NFL players who protest during the national anthem and defended his boss’ right to call for them to be fired.
“The president has free speech rights too,” Sessions said after a speech at Georgetown Law, when asked whether he was concerned that President Donald Trump had criticized NFL players for exercising free-speech rights. Sessions said he did not think protesting during the national anthem was an appropriate form of speech because it “weakens the commitment” of citizens to the country.
“I agree that it’s a big mistake to protest in that fashion,” Sessions said.
“I would note of course that the players are not subject to prosecution, but if they take a provocative act, they can expect to be condemned, and the president has a right to condemn them,” Sessions said. “I would condemn their actions,” but not them personally, he continued.
“There are many ways, these players with all the assets that they have, can express their political views,” Sessions said. There are ways to protest without “denigrating the symbols of our nation,” Sessions said.
He said decisions about how protests were handled were up to NFL officials.
“The freedom of every individual player is paramount under the Constitution, it’s protected, and we have to protect it,” Sessions said. “It’s not a contradiction there.”

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I can see that it would be of paramount importance to our democracy to have a President threaten and deride citizens asserting their civil rights and the civil rights of others which guys like Trump and Sessions have undermined. The only thing more important would be protecting the right of bakers to engage in homophobic actions.

Basically, it comes down to it’s OK for a powerful White bully to stir up gratuitous racial animosity, but it’s not OK for Black guys to defend their rights against the powerful White bully.  Clearly, that’s the way things are done in good old ‘Bammy where Gonzo hails from, and which seems to be his only frame of reference.

Little wonder that all parts of our Constitutional justice system are endangered by having this right wing wacko as Attorney General.

PWS

09-26-17

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

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

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

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

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

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Read the full report on the link.

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

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

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

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

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

09-24-17

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

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

Chris Cillizza writes on CNN:

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

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

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

The full statement from Murphy:

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

09-23-17

 

 

 

 

“INEXCUSABLE OMISSIONS” — 4th Cir. Slams BIA For Unjustified Denial Of Family-Based Gang Threat Asylum Claim From El Salvador — BIA’s Shoddy Factual & Legal Analysis Of “One Central Reason” Exposed — ZAVALETA-POLICIANO v. SESSIONS!

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ZAVALETA-POLICIANO v. SESSIONS, 4th Cir., as amended 09-18-17 (Published)

PANEL:  GREGORY, Chief Judge, WILKINSON, Circuit Judge, and DAVIS, Senior Circuit Judge

OPINION BY:  Chief Judge Gregory

KEY QUOTE:

“We hold that the BIA abused its discretion in affirming the IJ’s clearly erroneous factual finding. To start, the IJ unjustifiably relied on the fact that the threatening notes themselves did not explain why Zavaleta Policiano was targeted. As this Court recently explained, the single-minded focus on the “articulated purpose” for the threats while “failing to consider the intertwined reasons for those threats” represents “a misapplication of the statutory nexus standard.” Cruz v. Sessions, 853 F.3d 122, 129 (4th Cir. 2017). It is unrealistic to expect that a gang would neatly explain in a note all the legally significant reasons it is targeting someone. The IJ’s heavy reliance on the fact that El Salvadoran gangs target various groups of people in the country was similarly misguided. That “the criminal activities of MS-13 affect the population as a whole,” we have explained, is simply “beside the point” in evaluating an individual’s particular claim. Crespin-Valladares, 632 F.3d at 127.

More fundamentally, the IJ and BIA failed to appreciate, or even address, critical evidence in the record. It is this Court’s responsibility to “ensure that unrebutted, legally significant evidence is not arbitrarily ignored by the factfinder.” Baharon v. Holder, 588 F.3d 228, 233 (4th Cir. 2009). The IJ did discuss the threatening notes (although while drawing unwarranted conclusions, as discussed above). But the IJ failed to address, or to assign any weight to, the significant body of unrebutted, indeed, undisputed, probative evidence giving meaning and context to the threatening notes: (1) Zavaleta Policiano and her father’s stores, as well as their familial relationship, were well-known in the community; (2) MS-13 threatened Zavaleta Policiano several times by phone; (3) Zavaleta Policiano’s statement that MS-13 “threatened me because my father had left;” and (4) the threats against Zavaleta Policiano began immediately after her father fled to Mexico. These are inexcusable omissions in the agency’s analysis.

The Government asks us to reject much of the overlooked evidence, characterizing it as Zavaleta Policiano’s “subjective beliefs [] as to the gangs’ motives.” Appellees’ Br. 22–23. This argument does not explain away the IJ’s and BIA’s wholesale failure to discuss the evidence, however. See Ai Hua Chen v. Holder, 742 F.3d 171, 179 (4th Cir. 2014) (explaining that the IJ and BIA must “offer a specific, cogent reason for rejecting evidence” (quoting Tassi, 660 F.3d at 720)). What is more, Zavaleta Policiano’s affidavit includes much more than her “subjective beliefs”—it contains key evidence of the context, nature, frequency, and timing of the gang’s threats against her and her family. By stipulating to the credibility and veracity of the affidavit, the Government forwent the opportunity to probe and weaken the evidentiary basis of Zavaleta Policiano’s claims.

When considering the unchallenged record evidence, we are compelled to conclude that Zavaleta Policiano’s familial relationship to her father was “at least one central reason” MS-13 targeted and threatened her. The evidence shows that MS-13 explicitly threatened to kill Zavaleta Policiano’s father and his family if he did not pay the extortion demands, and that “[i]mmediately after” he fled El Salvador, the gang began threatening Zavaleta Policiano. A.R. 210. The timing of the threats against Zavaleta Policiano is key, as it indicates that MS-13 was following up on its prior threat to target Barrientos’s family if he did not accede to the gang’s demands. This explanation appears especially probable given the absence of record evidence that Zavaleta Policiano was ever threatened before her father’s departure. Beyond the timing, Zavaleta Policiano’s affidavit outlines the well-known relationship between the two businesses and the Policiano family, and contextualizes her statement that she was threatened because her father left. And just as MS-13 threatened Zavaleta Barrientos and his children, the gang threatened Zavaleta Policiano and her children, suggesting a pattern of targeting nuclear family members. The totality of this undisputed evidence demonstrates that Zavaleta Policiano was persecuted on account of her family membership.

We add that the BIA’s attempt to distinguish our precedent is unpersuasive. The BIA found, in a single sentence without any analysis, that Zavaleta Policiano’s claim is distinct from the one at issue in Hernandez-Avalos. A.R. 4 (mentioning Hernandez- Avalos, 784 F.3d at 949–50). But that decision actually bolsters Zavaleta Policiano’s position. There, the BIA denied asylum to a mother who was threatened by an El Salvadoran gang after she refused to allow her son to join the gang. The BIA held that the mother was not threatened on the basis of familial ties, but rather “because she would not consent to her son engaging in a criminal activity.” Hernandez-Avalos, 784 F.3d at 949 (citation omitted). In other words, the BIA determined that the gang’s threats against the mother were motivated by its desire to recruit the son. This Court rejected that “excessively narrow reading of the requirement that persecution be undertaken ‘on account of membership in a nuclear family.’” Id. We instead found that the nexus requirement was satisfied, explaining that the mother’s relationship “to her son is why she, and not another person, was threatened with death if she did not allow him to join [the gang].” Id. at 950. The same logic applies here. MS-13 warned Zavaleta Barrientos that it would target his family if he did not pay the extortion demands, and the gang in fact threatened Zavaleta Policiano immediately after her father left. Zavaleta Policiano’s relationship to her father is why she, rather than some other person, was targeted for extortion.

For all the reasons outlined above, we conclude that the BIA erred by affirming the IJ’s clearly erroneous finding. Zavaleta Policiano was not required to prove that the gang’s threats were “exclusively” motivated by her family ties—such “a requirement defies common sense.” See Cruz, 853 F.3d at 130. She only needed to show that the relationship with her father was “at least one central reason” MS-13 threatened her. Because Zavaleta Policiano made this showing, we find the BIA decision to be manifestly contrary to law and an abuse of discretion. See Hernandez-Avalos, 784 F.3d at 953 n.10. By establishing that she was persecuted on account of her family membership, Zavaleta Policiano has satisfied the first two requirements of her asylum claim.”

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Read the complete decision at the above link.

“Inexcusable” describes how the Immigration Courts under the BIA’s defective leadership are skewing facts and law to deny protection to Central American refugees. Not everyone can get a great lawyer like Tamara Jezic, and not every Circuit Court is as conscientious as this Fourth Circuit panel. That means that many of those Central Americans being railroaded through the system by DHS and EOIR are being improperly denied protection.

How can Federal Courts including the Supremes justify continuing to give “deference” to an appellate body that possesses neither expertise in the law nor care in reviewing records? It’s clear that BIA appellate review has become highly politicized and biased against asylum seekers. How much more of this nonsense are the Federal Courts going to put up with?

It also appears that the term “excessively narrow reading” is a perfect description of the BIA’s recent precedent in  Matter of L-E-A, 27 I&N Dec. 40 (BIA 2017), in which the BIA tortured the law to come up with a way of denying most family-based claims. Will the Fourth Circuit “call out” the BIA on this attempt to evade the law by denying family-based asylum claims?

We need an independent Article I Immigration Court!

Thanks and congratulations to respondent’s attorney Tamara Jezic for alerting me to this important decision.

PWS

09-18-17

 

 

SPORTS: FEEL GOOD STORY OF THE WEEKEND: Behind “Mini-Cam,” Howard Bison Pull Off Biggest Upset In NCAA FB History — Visiting 45-Point Underdogs From DC Stun UNLV 43-40 In Sin City!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dc-sports-bog/wp/2017/09/03/howard-and-caylin-newton-stun-unlv-in-one-of-the-biggest-upsets-in-college-football-history/?hpid=hp_local-news_bog-howard-420am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.ffec46b588aa

The Washington Post reports:

“I mean, coming to Howard, it’s not a football school right now,” Caylin Newton said last month. “It will be.”

The undersized freshman quarterback — whose brother happens to be a former NFL MVP, guy named Cam — wasn’t trying to make headlines. He was speaking matter-of-factly, in a cramped office, before an early-season practice. He hadn’t even been named the school’s starter yet, although he was confident that moment would arrive. But Newton seemed absurdly certain that his new school — which he selected after not getting offers from any Power-5 programs — was ready to take off, and soon.

Newton later became the starter, and his first game went far beyond any rational preseason rhetoric. The Bison, 40-some point underdogs at UNLV, pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport late Saturday night, a 43-40 road win in Coach Mike London’s first game that will completely upend all expectations at the D.C. school.

Longtime Vegas analyst RJ Bell said Howard’s win was the biggest upset in college football history, noting that a $100 bet on the Bison to win outright would have paid out an astounding $55,000. The Associated Press confirmed that it was indeed the largest upset in college football history based on point spreads, topping Stanford’s win over USC as a 40-point underdog in 2007. And Howard was actually paid $600,000 for the honor of beating UNLV, according to USA Today, which reported that “Howard had to arrange for its band and cheerleaders to arrive in Las Vegas by noon the day before the game to participate in various events” to receive the full guarantee.”

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Read the complete report at the link. Nice story!

Oh, yeah, after a sluggish start that saw them down 10-0 to four touchdown underdog Utah State in the second quarter, the #9 Wisconsin Badgers reeled off 59 consecutive points en route to a 59-10 thrashing of the Aggies in their opener at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, WI. Go Badgers!

PWS

09-03-17

 

Raphael Choi To Join Arlington Immigration Bench!

Congrats to fellow Badger Law grad Raphael Choi, currently the ICE Chief Counsel in Arlington. Our careers have been intertwined in a number of ways. As an Assistant Chief Counsel in NY, Raphael was the DHS attorney in the first case I heard as a U.S. Immigration Judge back in 2003. My colleagues at the NY Immigration Court had told me in advance that Raphael was one of the best in skills, demeanor, and commitment to fairness and due process.

As a Judge in Arlington, I always appreciated Raphael’s work and leadership, first as an Assistant Chief Counsel and then as Chief Counsel. During my tenure, he consistently took an effective, practical, humane approach to the prosecutor’s role. He also gave the ACCs  working for him a wide range of discretion in settling cases, waiving appeals, and offering PD. The Arlington OCC attracted some truly top flight legal talent, a number of whom went on to important positions at DHS, EOIR, DOJ, the Department of State, and the private sector.

Congrats again and good luck, Raphael. Due Process Forever!

 

PWS

08-08-17

 

 

MY MOST RECENT SPEECHES: “MY LIFE & TIMES” — CATHOLIC LEGAL IMMIGRATION NETWORK (“CLINIC”), July 18, 2017; “JOIN THE ‘NEW DUE PROCESS ARMY’ — FIGHT FOR DUE PROCESS IN THE UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION COURTS” — HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST, JULY 19, 2017

On Tuesday July 18, 2107, I gave a luncheon address to interns and staff at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (“CLINIC”) in Silver Spring, MD. My speech entitled “My Life & Times” is at this link:

MY LIFE

On Wednesday, July 19, 2017, I delivered the a luncheon address that was part of the Frankel Lecture Series at Human Rights First in Washington, D.C. & New York, NY (by televideo). My speech entitled “Join The ‘New Due Process Army’ — Fight For Due Process In The United States Immigration Courts” is at this link:

AMERICA’S REAL IMMIGRATION CRISIS

Both speeches are also reproduced in the left menu of immigrationcourtiside.com.

 

NBA SUPERSTAR STEPH CURRY JOINS LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA’S PRO IMMIGRATION CAMPAIGN!

http://www.vibe.com/2017/06/steph-ayesha-curry-lin-manuel-ham4all/

VIBE reports:

Lin-Manuel Miranda early this morning announced his latest and most important contest yet: the #Ham4All challenge in support of Immigrants: We Get the Job Done Coalition.

“Hamilton has crisscrossed the country—New York, Chicago, San Francisco. Next stop…Los Angeles!” wrote the playwright in an open letter. “I’m thrilled to be back again with another great Hamilton experience, this time benefiting a cause that’s not only at the heart of Hamilton but particularly close to me—immigration. I’m raising money for the Immigrants: We Get the Job Done Coalition, which is comprised of 12 amazing organizations.”

READ: Lin-Manuel Miranda To Be Inducted In The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

Shortly after making the announcement, Golden State Warrior and NBA champion Stephen Curry and his wifey-in-crime Ayesha Curry entered the challenge, making a donation of their own—performing their favorite Hamilton track and throwing down the gauntlet to the next celebrity, in one fell swoop.

“We all feel strongly about supporting these important organizations fighting to protect immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers who want to make a better life for themselves and their families,” the couple captioned on Instagram, urging Olivia Munn and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to join the fight. “The grand prize winner will join us and Lin-Manuel at the LA opening on August 16th. We think that this will be the biggest Hamilton sweepstakes yet, but we need your help…”

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Read the complete story and get links to more information about the “Immigrants: We Get The Job Done Coalition” at the above link. Compare Miranda’s positive, upbeat message about immigration with the steady stream of fear-mongering, xenophobia, implicit racism, and, let’s face it, outright lies about migrants coming from the Trump Administration.

PWS

06-28-17

UW Law Looking For Immigrant Justice Clinic Director!

http://jobs.hr.wisc.edu/cw/en-us/job/495278/immigrant-justice-clinic-director

Click the link for full details.  Great opportunity for a bilingual immigration attorney who wants to get into clinical teaching at a terrific school in a super city.  Unlike many of today’s law schools, UW Law is located on Bascom Hill in the “heart” of the Main Campus with a view of the Capitol dome! Madison has to be one of the best places to live in the US.

While the initial appointmeet is for one year, based on performance, creativity, and ability to inspire funding, the position has longer term potential!

And, as an extra bonus, if you get the job, I’ll drop by at some mutually convenient time and give your students a “guest lecture.” Preferably right before a Badger home football or basketball game!

Thanks to Professor Alberto Benítez of the GW Law Immigration Clinic for sending this my way.

PWS

06-09-17

 

THE AM TWEET: Trump Will Nominate DOJ Vet Christopher A. Wray For FBI Post!

Here’s the blurb from HuffPost:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-fbi-director-christopher-a-wray_us_5913503de4b05e1ca2041925?98s

Sounds like an appropriate choice. My questions: 1) why does he want this job working in the Trump Administration, which has demonstrated a lack of respect for an independent investigative authority within the DOJ, 2) how long will he last before he quits or is fired?

On the other hand, Wray leaves a lucrative “big law” partnership to which he can return at any time.

PWS

06-08-17