HuffPost: With Sessions Leading The Charge, Administration Abandons Transgender Children — Cites “States’ Rights” — Traditional Argument For Retrograde Government, Injustice, And Picking On Minorities!

Amanda Terkel reports:

“President Donald Trump’s administration announced on Wednesday that it will no longer bar schools from discriminating against transgender students, rescinding a policy put in place by the previous administration.

“The prior guidance documents did not contain sufficient legal analysis or explain how the interpretation was consistent with the language of Title IX. The Department of Education and the Department of Justice therefore have withdrawn the guidance,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “Congress, state legislatures, and local governments are in a position to adopt appropriate policies or laws addressing this issue. The Department of Justice remains committed to the proper interpretation and enforcement of Title IX and to its protections for all students, including LGBTQ students, from discrimination, bullying, and harassment.”

In May, under President Barack Obama, the departments of Education and Justice issued guidance mandating that any school that receives federal money must treat a student’s gender identity as his or her sex. Schools, for example, would therefore have to allow transgender individuals to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity, rather than the sex assigned to them at birth.

The federal government said at the time that transgender students were covered under Title IX, the statute that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. This interpretation had been on hold, however, after more than a dozen states sued the Obama administration and a judge issued an injunction in August.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was reportedly against rescinding the order and initially resisted signing off on it, but Sessions pushed her to do so because both departments had to agree in order to move forward.

In a statement Wednesday, DeVos said she considered protecting all students, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students, “not only a key priority for the Department, but for every school in America.”

“This is an issue best solved at the state and local level. Schools, communities, and families can find ― and in many cases have found ― solutions that protect all students,” she added.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer argued during his press briefing earlier Wednesday that Title IX does not apply to transgender issues because there was no discussion of gender identity when the statute was passed in 1972. Judges and justices, however, often interpret laws and the Constitution to apply to new issues that arise.”


Sure didn’t take Jeff Sessions long to prove his critics correct — that he is totally unqualified to hold the job of the nation ‘s chief lawyer and protector of “equal justice for all.” And, as someone from Alabama, with its sordid history of misuse of the rule of law against African Americans, Sessions knows exactly what the code term “States’ Rights” means. At least he made Betsy DeVos look almost, but not quite, good by comparison.





HuffPost: Rev. Al Sharpton: “Trump Should Reflect On Race And His Legacy After Museum Visit”

Rev. Al Sharpton writes in a guest piece on HuffPost:

“Today, President Trump toured the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, where he was shown everything from slavery to the present day ― depicting both the ugliness in our past and the progress that we have achieved. As one who has toured the museum (and even has two or three photos in it), I have taken great pride in attending events there and showing people various parts of this unusually important institution. My immediate reaction to Trump’s visit was cynical; that it’s just a photo op, and it’s a way for him to get by some of his policies that are clearly bigoted and exclusionary. But on the other side, it is good that he went and at least saw some of the history that makes many of us look at him through the eyes of people that have felt trumped all of their lives and the lives of their forefathers. The real question now is, how will the Trump era be viewed in that museum?

We are a little over a month into Trump’s Presidency, and there are many unanswered questions as to how he will proceed when it comes to issues impacting our communities. As the president immediately following Barack Obama ― the first African American president ― will Trump want to be in that museum as the one who reversed progress like unemployment being cut in half for Blacks, or implementation of the Affordable Care Act that disproportionately helped Blacks? Will he want to be the one who turns back from an emphasis on criminal justice reform, including police reform and Obama’s commutations of low-level offenders more than the last 11 presidents combined? Does he want to be remembered as the President that removed protection of voting rights and instead tried to reverse it with more suppression tactics like voter ID laws?
President Trump should keep in mind today and going forward that he will be in that museum one day alongside others. He can go down surprising everyone by continuing to ensure that the arc is bent towards justice, or he can be another one who tried to bend the arc back in the wrong direction. Will he be the first President in modern history that didn’t meet with the Congressional Black Caucus, or heads of major civil rights organizations (even though they may be critical of some of some of his policies)? He should reflect on the Museum of African American History and Culture and realize that the corridor of history is longer than an election cycle.

Black history is American history. Trump should realize that he cannot only look at black history, but that he will be in it.”


I must confess that I haven’t always been a big fan of Rev. Al Sharpton. But, he is right that history will eventually judge President Trump.

Does Trump really want to be on the wrong side of social ands political progress? Does he really want a to be remembered for a presidency based largely on a white minority demographic that did not represent the real America with all of its diversity, talent, and energy?

I’ll also admit that I don’t always “get” President Trump. In the clip I posted this morning about “Dreamers”

the President could have been channeling my thoughts when I looked out at the “Dreamers” who came before me in Immigration Court:  wonderful kids, lots of courage and determination, over-achievers, the future of America, remind me of my own kids and their goals and aspirations and my grandchildren, the only real difference the accident of place of birth.

The only place I might have differed with the President is on the “bad guys.” He thinks that more of them got into DACA than I do.

I actually found that the much-maligned DHS/USCIS did a very good job of getting the right kids into the program. In almost all cases, the “good kids” got DACA, while those with some significant problems in their records came back for me to deal with in court.

No system is perfect, but having observed and been involved with the DHS/”Legacy INS” over more than four decades, DACA appeared to be one of the best and most effective programs that the immigration authorities had ever developed and implemented!

At any rate, I don’t get why President Trump can’t see that most (not all) other migrants here without legal status are pretty much the same as the DACA kids. In my experience, the overwhelming majority are decent, hard working, law abiding individuals who are making our country a better place and basically want the same things the rest of us do: safety, stability, food on the table, opportunity, and a decent future for their kids. Nothing very nefarious or threatening there.

There are obviously folks advising the President who have some wrong-headed views on race, diversity, and the real strength of America. He put them there, so one has to assume they reflect his views.

Yet, I can’t help but wish that President Trump would break out of his “inner circle” and get to know the migrants, both documented and undocumented, and ethnic minorities who have built and comprise the real America. That would be his best chance of making America great and leaving a great legacy.



CNN BREAKING: Trump’s Russian Problems Deepen — Campaign In Constant Contact With Russian Intelligence!

“(CNN)High-level advisers close to then-presidential nominee Donald Trump were in constant communication during the campaign with Russians known to US intelligence, multiple current and former intelligence, law enforcement and administration officials tell CNN.

President-elect Trump and then-President Barack Obama were both briefed on details of the extensive communications between suspected Russian operatives and people associated with the Trump campaign and the Trump business, according to US officials familiar with the matter.
Both the frequency of the communications during early summer and the proximity to Trump of those involved “raised a red flag” with US intelligence and law enforcement, according to these officials. The communications were intercepted during routine intelligence collection targeting Russian officials and other Russian nationals known to US intelligence.

Among several senior Trump advisers regularly communicating with Russian nationals were then-campaign manager Paul Manafort and then-adviser Michael Flynn.

Officials emphasized that communications between campaign staff and representatives of foreign governments are not unusual. However, these communications stood out to investigators due to the frequency and the level of the Trump advisers involved. Investigators have not reached a judgment on the intent of those conversations.

Adding to US investigators’ concerns were intercepted communications between Russian officials before and after the election discussing their belief that they had special access to Trump, two law enforcement officials tell CNN. These officials cautioned the Russians could have been exaggerating their access.”


This is  story that is unlikely to go away any time  soon.



Immigrationcourtside Politics: The View From The Heartland — Guest Columnist CDR Thomas W. Felhofer (USN-Ret.): “Legitimacy, Inter Alia”

My long-time friend, fellow Badger, and fellow Lawrentian, retired U.S. Navy CDR Thomas W. Felhofer shares his views on recent political events from what he calls “fly-over country:”

Rep John Lewis of Georgia called President Trump “illegitimate” and refused to attend the inauguration because, Lewis says, the Russians helped Trump get elected. How did perpetual winner Trump pull this one off?

Well, he didn’t. Wikileaks exposed email that indicated Team Clinton was fed debate questions beforehand, and that they had conspired with the DNC to torpedo Sen Sanders’ campaign. Our government was pretty sure that the info was originally hacked by the Ruskies, but there was no indication that they pressured Wikileaks to get a truly definitive answer as to the source.

But who cares what the source was? Suppose it was a DNC traitor or a RNC researcher rather than a foreign government. Would that have made a difference? The point is, the leak wasn’t a nasty smear, the throwing of mud, misinformation–none of that! It was the truth coming out! God bless those whistle-blowers and government transparency enthusiasts, right? Did Trump do something underhanded to steal the election? No! Did HRC do something underhanded causing her to lose the election? Could be. She cheated to get an unfair advantage!

But all this tempest, so far as I’m concerned, belongs in a teapot. The notion that political operatives (and candidates) are are doing dirty tricks for political gain is pretty much widely accepted, even expected, by the electorate. I doubt if these revelations changed more than a couple hundred votes.

So let’s get back to “illegitimate,” the most overused political buzzword since “gravitas.” As the leaked email proved, Team Clinton conspired to sabotage Sanders’ campaign. Wouldn’t that make HRC an “illegitimate” Democrat presidential nominee? Also, why is the Left so anxious to pin the term “illegitimate” on Trump? No matter what adjective people want to hang on the President, can he not still sign or veto bills, nominate justices, set policy, command the military, etc.?

By the way, hacking is part of daily life. My personal credit card has been hacked three times in the last 20 years. It seems that a month rarely passes without a major batch of Big Box customer info being lost into cyberspace. And it’s an open secret that we and almost every other major country use computers to spy on each other. As Hillary can certainly tell you (by now), if you want to keep your actions secret, either delete them permanently before the subpoena comes, or, better yet, don’t put them on the computer in the first place.

And so far as Rep Lewis goes, well, I kind of feel sorry for him. Think of all that lobster and prime rib he missed by not attending the party. But at least he made his point, which was that. . . . . .

Thomas W. Felhofer, CDR (USN-Ret.)

CDR Thomas W. Felhofer is a retired U.S. Postmaster and a U.S. Navy Veteran.  He received his B.A. from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, and his M.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Oshko.h  He lives in Northeastern Wisconsin.


I’ll have to think about this one.  Too late tonight, my brain (what’s left of it) is frozen.



Beware: When Egotistical Nationalist Leaders Invoke “The Will Of The People,” Very Bad Things Are Likely To Happen!

Retired professor of theology Charles Bayer writes on “Moyers & Company:”

“What shall we do now? I doubt we can pass this off as simply an intellectual or academic problem that can be solved by further conferences, documents, symposia or formal papers.

Perhaps we should rather look at what has produced serious positive change in the recent past. I think of a woman who just sat in the front seats of a bus, and the Freedom Riders who traveled throughout the American South at the risk of their lives. And I remember the tens of thousands of both young and older people who hit the streets and finally whose acts were critical in ending the disastrous Vietnam War. To the extent that these actions were nonviolent, they gained the respect of the American people. Violence just sets things back. New generations of in-the-street activists, not journalists or academics, might blunt the destructive nationalistic thrust of the new administration, and prepare the rest of us to play an important role in making America good again.”




Can “Globalists” and “Nationalists” Bridge Their Gap And Find Some Middle Ground For The Common Good?

“Above all, globalists should not equate concern for cultural norms and national borders with xenophobia. Large majorities of Americans, for example, welcome immigrants so long as they adopt American values, learn English, bring useful skills and wait their turn. Australia’s low tolerance for illegal immigration helps to maintain public support for high levels of legal entrants.

“We’ve created this false dichotomy that if you’re not for open borders, you’re racist,” says Avik Roy, president of the conservative Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity and a former adviser to Republican presidential candidates. “There is some sort of middle ground between a nationalist and globalist approach,” Mr. Roy argues.

Even as committed a globalist as Mr. Obama has come to acknowledge this. Democrats, he told Rolling Stone the day after the election, must recognize that “for the majority of the American people, borders mean something.”


This very interesting and thought provoking article by Greg Ip from the Wall Street Journal points out that the old “left – right” political struggles have been replaced by a contest between “globalism” and “nationalism” that often crosses some of the traditional political boundaries between left and right.

It also echoes some of the themes about the need to “understand where the other guys are coming from” rather than just “demonizing the opposition” that have been raised in previous blogs and comments by Thomas “Mink” Felhofer and Nolan Rappaport.

The world is definitely changing, and many of the “old norms” are breaking down.  The challenge is how to find some stability in the middle that doesn’t sacrifice or run across strongly held views or principles.

When I was the Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals, I found one of the difficulties in reaching “consensus positions” is that, unlike a “compromise,” a “consensus” requires both ends of the spectrum to nominally support, or at least refrain from public disagreement with, the result.  That’s a challenge when judges, or anyone else, have worked in the area for many years and have strong views tied to their underlying principles.  For better or worse, on many occasions, the best we could do was “agree to disagree” and move on to the next case.  That’s at best a “compromise”  — “you win” this time but we’ll preserve our objections for the future — rather than a “consensus.” But, at least the results were very transparent and arguments for and against carefully developed for future debate.



Asylum Free Zones in the U.S. Examined by Inter-American Commission — Ignites Dialogue Pro and Con

This article by Katie Shepard in Immigration Impact fueled a “spirited dialogue” among my long-time Lawrence University friend Thomas “The Mink” Felhofer, a retired Postmaster and U.S. Navy Veteran from Sturgeon Bay, WI; my former BIA colleague Hon. Lory D. Rosenberg; my former colleague, Retired U.S. Immigration Judge Bruce Einhorn, of Los Angeles, CA; and me.  For those interested, I’ve tried my best to recreate the back and forth (most of which occurred before the birth of in the “Comments” section below.  Further dialogue is always welcome!