Immigrants Bridge The Gap With Local Communities — “The Haters Are Always Wrong, And The Haters Will Eventually Lose.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/working-to-build-bridges-between-immigrants-and-their-new-communities/2017/06/23/03c1bb1a-4d2a-11e7-a186-60c031eab644_story.html?utm_term=.2bcde1762b2f

Steven V. Roberts writes in a WashPost op-ed:

“These are all good examples that will, hopefully, ease the “cultural anxiety” Noorani writes about. But he shies away from discussing a key dimension of Trump’s appeal: racism. “A significant portion of the American electorate felt their country had been taken away,” he writes, but he doesn’t complete the thought. Taken away by whom? Let’s be honest. Many of those voters believe that their country has been overrun by dark-skinned, foreign-language-speaking aliens.

While it is wildly unfair to call all Trump supporters racists, it is equally inaccurate to ignore that the president deliberately inflamed racist impulses to win the election.

 

Moreover, Noorani lacks a larger perspective. Trump is a very American figure. Anti-immigrant fears didn’t start with globalization and weren’t “triggered” by the election of Barack Obama. Throughout our history, spasms of nativist hostility have erupted against each new group arriving on our shores: Germans and Jews, Irish and Italians, Japanese and Chinese.

Hispanics and Muslims are now the objects of this animosity, and the language directed against them is the same that’s been used to demonize newcomers for more than two centuries: This group will degrade our culture and alter our identity. But today’s targets can take comfort from the clear lessons of history.

Immigrants do change our culture — for the better. They reenergize and revitalize our civic spirit. The haters are always wrong, and the haters will eventually lose. Tiwana and Noorani himself prove that truth.

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Read the entire op-ed at the link.

Trump and his supporters might be on the right side of the political equation at this point in time, but they are squarely on the wrong side of history. Before joining up with the Trump Team, folks ought to think about being remembered by their grandchildren and great grandchildren in the same way that we think about such notorious racists as Alabama Governor George Wallace, Georgia Governor Lester “Pickax” Maddox, and Arkansas Governor Orvil Faubis, or those who engineered and championed such abominations as the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Even iconic American historical figures like President Woodrow Wilson and Gen. Robert E. Lee have recently had their racism and support for racist causes eventually catch up with them and tarnish their reputations. In the long run, the cause of intolerance, fear, and bias promoted by Trump, Pence, and today’s GOP will look pretty bad. Yeah, we’ll all be gone by then. But, our descendants and history will remember where we stood.

PWS

06-25-17

FEDERAL JUDGE SANCTIONS KOBACH FOR MISCONDUCT IN KS VOTING RIGHTS CASE!

 

https://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/immigration/b/immigration-law-blog/archive/2017/06/24/kobach-sanctioned-for-39-deceptive-conduct-39-in-proof-of-citizenship-lawsuit-fish-v-kobach.aspx

Dan Kowalski reports from LexisNexis Immigration:

“Fish v. Kobach, June 23, 2017 – “[D]efendant’s deceptive conduct and lack of candor warrant the imposition of sanctions. … [D]efendant made patently misleading representations to the court … The court cannot say that defendant flat-out lied in representing the content of the disputed documents. … “Most attorneys, of course, try to convey evidence in the best possible light for their clients. But there is a difference between putting evidence in the best possible light and blatantly misstating the evidence.” … When counsel’s false references in a brief indicate “that he has been either cavalier in regard to his approach to this case or bent upon misleading the court,” sanctions are appropriate. … [P]laintiffs are permitted to take the deposition of Secretary Kobach with respect to non-privileged information and evidence pertaining to the draft amendment and the photographed document. … The undersigned will preside over the deposition and contemporaneously resolve any disputes that arise.”

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Go to the link for the full decision.

Gee, Kris, the rules in Federal Court apply even to guys like you!

PWS

06-24-17

NYT: Meet The White Nativist, Anti-Democracy Politician Kris Kobach — If You’re Non-White, He’s Out To Restrict Or Eliminate Your Right To Shape America’s Future — “implementing policies that protect the interests and aims of a shrinking white majority.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/13/magazine/the-man-behind-trumps-voter-fraud-obsession.html?action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&module=Trending&version=Full®ion=Marginalia&pgtype=article

Read Ari Berman’s shocking profile of a minor politician who wields outsized influence within the GOP and is out to put a “White’s Only” sign on the American Dream. For Kobach, the “Jim Crow Era” was the glory day of the “rule of law” in the U.S. When Kobach talks about the “rule of law” it’s code for using the legal system to cement the rule of a disproportionately white GOP minority over the rest of us, and particularly Americans of color. Will the “sleeping majority” wake up before we’re all disenfranchised by this racist in a suit hiding behind his Yale law degree and ability to spin legal gobbledygook? Kobach isn’t just “the ACLU’s worst nightmare,” as he smugly touts himself. He’s American Democracy’s worst nightmare!

Here’s a sample of what Kobach has in store for the rest of us:

“Kobach’s plans represent a radical reordering of American priorities. They would help preserve Republican majorities. But they could also reduce the size and influence of the country’s nonwhite population. For years, Republicans have used racially coded appeals to white voters as a means to win elections. Kobach has inverted the priorities, using elections, and advocating voting restrictions that make it easier for Republicans to win them, as the vehicle for implementing policies that protect the interests and aims of a shrinking white majority. This has made him one of the leading intellectual architects of a new nativist movement that is rapidly gaining influence not just in the United States but across the globe.”

Read Berman’s lengthy article, and think about what YOU can do to put the kibosh on the plans of this self-proclaimed “fanatic” and his dream of turning America into a “White GOP Folks Only Club.” Even Republicans who might remember enough to know that the GOP in the far, far distant past was the “Party of Lincoln” might want to rethink their party’s support of and association with this dangerous extremist. Act before it’s too late and Kobach steals YOUR American Dream and turns it into a nightmare!

PWS

06-13-17

 

 

 

 

WashPost: Courtland Milloy Lays Bare Sessions’s White Nationalist Agenda!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/a-virginia-politician-calls-for-hate-to-leave-his-hometown-easier-said-than-done/2017/05/16/0ca5dc3a-3a55-11e7-9e48-c4f199710b69_story.html?utm_term=.39c1a4b01e14

Milloy writes in an op-ed:

“Here’s what white supremacy really looks like:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions gearing up for another “war on crime.” But first, he has to manufacture enough fear of people of color. He recently tried by declaring, falsely, that New York “continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city’s ‘soft on crime’ stance.”

Sessions threatened to withhold millions of dollars in federal grants from the city’s police department if the city didn’t start turning in undocumented immigrants to federal authorities.

[Sessions issues sweeping new criminal charging policy ]

In other words, if New York doesn’t have a crime problem now, Sessions would cut police funding until it did have one.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, citing the city’s low crime rate, called Sessions’s remarks “outrageous” and “pitiful.” Sessions later conceded that New York police had created “some of the best” techniques for fighting crime.

But that’s not the end of it.

Under the Trump administration, local police departments are slated to get more powerful weaponry and expanded powers to use them. Corporate prison complexes could see an increase in profits if Sessions’s push to bring back mandatory minimum sentences moves forward. Rural communities in majority white areas will get new prisons — along with jobs overseeing a veritable plantation of mostly black and Hispanic inmates.
The judiciary is a key component in the maintenance of this system. Police are rarely charged for fatally shooting someone while on duty. According to an analysis by The Washington Post and researchers at Bowling Green State University, 54 officers faced charges for such shootings between 2005 and 2015, a fraction of the fatal police shootings that occurred across the country in that time. The majority of the officers whose cases have been resolved have not been convicted, The Post found.

The Post also reported: “Among the officers charged since 2005 for fatal shootings, more than three-quarters were white. Two-thirds of their victims were minorities, all but two of them black.”

It is as if the vision of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who recently declared that white “culture and demographics are our destiny,” are coming true. In effect, black and brown lives do not matter.

And with voting rights under attack, the chances of getting elected officials who might take a stronger stance for justice becomes slimmer by the year.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that North Carolina legislators had acted “with almost surgical precision” to blunt the influence of black voters. But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. made clear in a separate opinion that the ruling did not mean that court was taking a stand for or against the actions. Encouraged by the high court’s statement, the legislators have vowed to keep at their obstructionist ways.

President Trump, having fomented fears of “Mexican rapists” during his campaign, announced Monday that he was cracking down on a Mexican gang. “MS-13 is going to be gone from our streets very soon, believe me,” he said, during a ceremony for slain police officers. “When policing is reduced, it’s often the poorest and most vulnerable Americans who are the first to suffer. We have all seen the tragic rise in violence and crimes in many of our disadvantaged communities.”
But Trump offered no plan for dealing with that disadvantage. Nothing about more jobs or affordable housing. Not better health care — just more police officers with bigger guns.

No need for the white protesters to wave Confederate flags and chant “white power.” Trump and Sessions know how to placate them by attacking black freedoms.

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PWS

05-17-17

“GONZO-APOCALYPTO:” The Ominous Cloud Hanging Over American Justice — In Good Friday Editorials, Both NYT & WashPost Blast Sessions’s Dark, Distorted, “Gonzo-Apocalypto” Vision Of America!

First, the Washington Post ripped Sessions’s “embarrassing” withdrawal of support from African Americans and other minorities challenging the State of Texas’s scheme to disenfranchise them. A Federal Judge has twice found in favor of the plaintiffs — once with the DOJ’s support and once without!

“BLASTING “A PATTERN of conduct unexplainable on nonracial grounds, to suppress minority voting,” U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos on Monday repudiated Texas’s voter-ID law, the strictest in the country. Asked by appeals court judges to reconsider her expansive 2014 ruling against the law using slightly different evidence, Ms. Ramos reaffirmed her previous determination that “the law places a substantial burden on the right to vote, which is hardly offset by Texas’s claimed benefits to voting integrity.” She found that racial discrimination was at least a partial motivation for the law, a step toward reestablishing federal supervision over Texas’s voting procedures, per the Voting Rights Act.

Given the ruling and the mountain of evidence, it is embarrassing that the Trump Justice Department dropped its support for the contention that the Texas voter law is purposely discriminatory.

The legal question is not close. “There has been a clear and disturbing pattern of discrimination in the name of combating voter fraud,” Ms. Ramos wrote in 2014. The only type of fraud the law could combat — voter impersonation — hardly ever happens. Meanwhile, the law’s backers knew it would disproportionately impact minority voters; in fact, they designed it so. “The Texas Legislature accepted amendments that would broaden Anglo voting and rejected amendments that would broaden minority voting,” Ms. Ramos found in her 2014 examination. Texas accepts relatively few forms of identification at the polls, and those it does accept, such as gun licenses, are those white Texans tend to hold. Unlike many voter-ID states, Texas does not relax ID rules much for the elderly or the indigent, though obtaining an accepted ID can be surprisingly time-consuming and expensive.”

Read the complete editorial here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/its-time-for-the-justice-department-to-disown-texass-discriminatory-voting-law/2017/04/13/ee63a0e0-1ef7-11e7-ad74-3a742a6e93a7_story.html

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Meanwhile, A NY Times editorial slammed Session’s disingenuous plan to make immigrants the “#1 target” of law enforcement in the “Trump era.” The emphasis is mine.

Here’s the full editorial:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions went to the border in Arizona on Tuesday and declared it a hellscape, a “ground zero” of death and violence where Americans must “take our stand” against a tide of evil flooding up from Mexico.

It was familiar Sessions-speak, about drug cartels and “transnational gangs” poisoning and raping and chopping off heads, things he said for years on the Senate floor as the gentleman from Alabama. But with a big difference:  Now he controls the machinery of federal law enforcement, and his gonzo-apocalypto vision of immigration suddenly has force and weight behind it, from the officers and prosecutors and judges who answer to him.

When Mr. Sessions got to the part about the “criminal aliens and the coyotes and the document forgers” overthrowing our immigration system, the American flag behind him had clearly heard enough — it leaned back and fell over as if in a stupor. An agent rushed to rescue it, and stood there for the rest of the speech: a human flag stand and metaphor. A guy with a uniform and gun, wrapped in Old Glory, helping to give the Trump administration’s nativist policies a patriotic sheen.

It was in the details of Mr. Sessions’s oratory that his game was exposed. He talked of cities and suburbs as immigrant-afflicted “war zones,” but the crackdown he seeks focuses overwhelmingly on nonviolent offenses, the document fraud and unauthorized entry and other misdeeds that implicate many people who fit no sane definition of brutal criminal or threat to the homeland.

The problem with Mr. Sessions’s turbocharging of the Justice Department’s efforts against what he paints as machete-wielding “depravity” is how grossly it distorts the bigger picture. It reflects his long fixation — shared by his boss, President Trump — on immigration not as an often unruly, essentially salutary force in American history, but as a dire threat. It denies the existence of millions of people who are a force for good, economic mainstays and community assets, less prone to crime than the native-born — workers, parents, children, neighbors and, above all, human beings deserving of dignity and fair treatment under the law.

Mr. Sessions is ordering his prosecutors to make immigration a priority, to consider prosecution in any case involving “transportation and harboring of aliens” and to consider felony charges for an extended menu of offenses, like trying to re-enter after deportation, “aggravated identity theft” and fraudulent marriage.

He said the government was now detaining every adult stopped at the border, and vowed to “surge” the supply of immigration judges, to increase the flow of unauthorized immigrants through the courts and out of the country. He has ordered all 94 United States attorney’s offices to designate “border security coordinators,” no matter how far from “ground zero” they are.

Mr. Sessions and the administration are being led by their bleak vision to the dark side of the law. The pieces are falling into place for the indiscriminate “deportation force” that the president promised. Mr. Sessions and the homeland security secretary, John Kelly, have attacked cities and states that decline to participate in the crackdown. Mr. Sessions has threatened these “sanctuary” locales with loss of criminal-justice funding, on the false assertion that they are defying the law. (In fact, “sanctuary” cities are upholding law and order. They recognize that enlisting state and local law enforcement for deportation undermines community trust, local policing and public safety.)

Mr. Kelly recently told a Senate committee that all unauthorized immigrants are now potential targets for arrest and deportation. And so an administration that talks about machete-waving narco killers is also busily trying to deport people like Maribel Trujillo-Diaz, of Fairfield, Ohio, the mother of four citizen children, who has no criminal record.

“Be forewarned,” Mr. Sessions said in Arizona. “This is a new era. This is the Trump era.”

Let’s talk about this era. It’s an era when the illegal border flow, particularly from Mexico, has been falling for 20 years. When many of those arriving from Central America immediately surrender to border agents — having fled to the United States to find safety, not to do it harm. When American border cities enjoy safety and vitality, thanks to immigrants. When a large portion of the unauthorized population has lived here for years, if not decades, with clean records and strong roots. When polls show that Americans back reasonable and humane immigration policies giving millions a chance to get right with the law.

President Trump has shown his mind to be a place where ideas and principles can morph without warning or explanation. It is a vacuum that allows ideologues like Mr. Sessions — who know their minds — to do their worst. On immigration, that is a frightening thing to contemplate.

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

“Gonzo-Apocalypto” has to be the “word of the day.” What a perfect term to describe Jeff Sessions.

In a grotesque display of disingenuous hypocrisy, Sessions referred to “drug cartels and ‘transnational gangs’ poisoning and raping and chopping off heads.” These are exactly the things causing scared, defenseless women and children to flee for their lives from the Northern Triangle and seek refuge in the U.S. But, instead of refuge they find: well, Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Gen. John Kelly and others anxious to stomp out their humanity in the false name of “law enforcement.”

Turning to civil rights, I watched on the TV news last night two clips of brutal beatings and stompings of African Americans by white police officers. One victim was accused of “jaywalking”  — that’s right, “jaywalking.” The other was “driving without a license plate.” I was wondering how, after all the recent publicity, those officers could have engaged in such conduct, “on camera” no less.

Unfortunately, the answer is pretty simple “Black Lives Don’t Matter,” an attitude that obviously has just become instinctive for too many U.S. police officers. I couldn’t imagine a white pedestrian or a white motorist being treated that way in our multi-racial but predominantly white neighborhood.

Yes, the officers involved were disciplined. I believe that most or all of them were either fired, prosecuted, or both. But, that’s not the point!

The object is to prevent misuse of force by police, not to fire, prosecute, or otherwise discipline more policemen. And, prevention without compromising effectiveness of policing is exactly what the carefully crafted “consent decrees” with some problematic cities developed by the Civil Rights Division under AGs Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder achieved.

Those are the very decrees that Sessions immediately announced an intent to “review” with an obvious eye toward withdrawing or undermining them. Look at the childish behavior in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore, MD, when DOJ attorneys, acting on Sessions’s behalf, withdrew their support from the consent decree and basically refused to participate in a long-scheduled public hearing. Fortunately, the judge has the good sense to go ahead and approve and finalize the consent decree without any participation by DOJ, leading to even more childish whining from Sessions about the horrors of infringing on local law enforcement in the name of African American citizen’s constitutional rights.

The very public “green light” that Sessions has given to law enforcement to run over citizen’s rights as they please, without any fear of DOJ intervention, so long as they are “enforcing the law” — like busting jaywalkers, license plate violators, and presumably undocumented aliens — no doubt plays a role in the continuing anti-minority policing being conducted by some law enforcement agencies.

Sessions “bristles” when anyone uses the term “racist” to describe him. Sessions was given a chance to make good on his (obviously false) promise during his confirmation hearings to turn over a new leaf and look at the responsibilities of being Attorney General for all Americans differently from representing Alabama in the U.S. Senate.

Unfortunately,  his actions have proved that all of the charges his detractors made against him are as true now as they were when he was, quite properly, denied a U.S. judgeship many decades ago. If the shoe fits, wear it. And, sadly, this “shoe” fits Sessions “like a glove.” Liz was “right on.”

Finally, DHS Secretary John Kelly will see his distinguished career in public service end in ignomany if he continues “toadying up” to the ethno-nationalist views of the Sessions-Bannon-Miller crowd on immigration enforcement. Most of the arrests, deportations, detentions, denials of asylum, and removals Sessions is touting in his haste to become the new “Immigration Czar,” actually are within the jurisdiction of DHS. But, these days, you’d hardly know that Sessions isn’t in charge of DHS enforcement as well as Justice. If Kelly isn’t careful, he’s going to develop a neck injury from constantly nodding his head to every absurd “gonzo-apocalypto” immigration enforcement initiative announced by Sessions.

PWS

04-14-17

LA TIMES EDITORIAL #5: “Conspiracy Theorist In Chief”

http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-ed-conspiracy-theorist-in-chief/

“It was bad enough back in 2011 when Donald Trump began peddling the crackpot conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was not a native-born American. But at least Trump was just a private citizen then.

By the time he tweeted last month that Obama had sunk so low as to “tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process,” Trump was a sitting president accusing a predecessor of what would have been an impeachable offense.

Trump went public with this absurd accusation without consulting the law enforcement and intelligence officials who would have disabused him of a conspiracy theory he apparently imbibed from right-wing media. After the FBI director debunked it, Trump held fast, claiming he hadn’t meant that he had been literally wiretapped.

Most people know by now that the new president of the United States trafficks in untruths and half-truths, and that his word cannot be taken at face value.

Even more troubling, though, is that much of his misinformation is of the creepiest kind. Implausible conspiracy theories from fly-by-night websites; unsubstantiated speculations from supermarket tabloids. Bigoted stories he may have simply made up; stuff he heard on TV talk shows.

. . . .
This is pathetic, but it’s also alarming. If Trump feels free to take to Twitter to make wild, paranoid, unsubstantiated accusations against his predecessor, why should the nation believe what he says about a North Korean missile test, Russian troop movements in Europe or a natural disaster in the United States?

Trump’s willingness to embrace unproven, conspiratorial and even racist theories became clear during the campaign, when he repeatedly told tall tales that seemed to reinforce ugly stereotypes about minorities. Take his now famous assertion that he watched thousands of people in “a heavy Arab population” in New Jersey cheer the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11, an astonishing account that no one has been able to verify. PolitiFact rated that as “Pants on Fire.”

Or his retweeting of a bogus crime statistic purporting to show that 81% of white homicide victims are killed by blacks. (The correct figure was 15%.)

On several occasions he retweeted white nationalists. (Remember the image of Hillary Clinton and the star of David, for instance?)

His engagement with, to put it politely, out-of-the-mainstream ideas has attracted some strange bedfellows. It may not be fair to attribute to his senior aide, Steve Bannon, all the views that were published on the controversial alt-right site Breitbart.com, of which Bannon was the executive chairman. But it is certainly fair to wonder why Trump has elevated to a senior West Wing position a man who has trafficked in nonsense, bigotry and rank speculation.”

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Read the entire editorial, part of a series that has been posted on this blog, at the above link.

For me, the key quote: “But it is certainly fair to wonder why Trump has elevated to a senior West Wing position a man who has trafficked in nonsense, bigotry and rank speculation.”

Apparently, Bannon and his crowd are now locked in a “death struggle” with the “Trump-Kushner Family” over who gets the President’s ear. Consider Bannon’s ouster from the NSC, where he had absolutely no business being in the first place (does this guy really have a security clearance?), as a victory for Kushner and Gen. McMaster. That’s notwithstanding planted “fake news” from the Bannon faction downplaying the move and absurdly attempting to pass it off as “normal evolution.”

But, Bannon is a lifetime “conspirator” and not someone who takes slights in stride (just like his boss). Probably only Kellyanne Conway had more to do with Trump being in the White House today. And, Bannon isn’t someone Trump wants on the “outside” lobbing bombs and grenades back at to Oval Office and talking trash to Trump’s Breitbart-reading base. So, I wouldn’t count him out.

PWS

04/06/17

WashPost EDITORIAL: Texas Railroad — GOP Stomps On Justice In Attempt To Justify Own Lies! — 8 Year Sentence For Clueless Hispanic Women Who Voted Illegally! Really? I Saw Drug Dealers, Wife Beaters, Car Thieves, & Repeat Offenders Who Got Less Than That!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-texas-size-scapegoating-of-an-illegal-voter-is-a-travesty-of-justice/2017/04/05/94b8e3b2-1a05-11e7-855e-4824bbb5d748_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-f%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.89a469888cea

“DESPITE COCKAMAMIE conservative conspiracy theories, actual cases of intentional or even possibly intentional voting fraud are so rare in the United States that when one does crop up, Republicans get themselves in a lather. That explains the ugly tone of self-righteousness and retribution attending the scapegoating of Rosa Ortega, whose sentence of eight years in prison for voting illegally in Texas is a travesty of justice.

Eight years, really? That falls in the midrange of sentences for second-degree felonies in Texas, which include manslaughter, aggravated assault, sexual assault, possession of up to 2,000 pounds of marijuana and human trafficking. It’s a draconian and absurdly severe punishment for Ms. Ortega, who has a sixth-grade education and guilelessly exposed her intention to cast an illegal vote to elections officials.

Ms. Ortega, 37, has lived most of her life in Texas. As a legal permanent resident of the United States, she is eligible to work, serve in the military, pay taxes and receive most public benefits. But her green card does not entitle her to vote; therefore she committed a crime by having done so while living in Dallas County in 2012 and 2014.”

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Want proof that Ortega was clueless?  Try this — she cast her so-called “illegal vote” for Ken Paxton, the Republican Texas AG who prosecuted her!

PWS

04-05-17

 

LA TIMES EDITORIAL #3: “Trump’s Authoritarian Vision”

“Trump’s Authoritarian Vision”

“In a way, Trump represents a culmination of trends that have been years in the making.

Conservative talk radio hosts have long blasted federal judges as “activists” and regulators as meddlers in the economy, while advancing the myth of rampant election fraud. And gridlock in Washington has led previous presidents to try new ways to circumvent the checks on their power — witness President George W. Bush’s use of signing statements to invalidate parts of bills Congress passed, and President Obama’s aggressive use of executive orders when lawmakers balked at his proposals.

What’s uniquely threatening about Trump’s approach, though, is how many fronts he’s opened in this struggle for power and the vehemence with which he seeks to undermine the institutions that don’t go along.

It’s one thing to complain about a judicial decision or to argue for less regulation, but to the extent that Trump weakens public trust in essential institutions like the courts and the media, he undermines faith in democracy and in the system and processes that make it work.
Trump betrays no sense for the president’s place among the myriad of institutions in the continuum of governance. He seems willing to violate long-established political norms without a second thought, and he cavalierly rejects the civility and deference that allow the system to run smoothly. He sees himself as not merely a force for change, but as a wrecking ball.

Will Congress act as a check on Trump’s worst impulses as he moves forward? One test is the House and Senate intelligence committees’ investigation into Russia’s meddling in the presidential election; lawmakers need to muster the courage to follow the trail wherever it leads. Can the courts stand up to Trump? Already, several federal judges have issued rulings against the president’s travel ban. And although Trump has railed against the decisions, he has obeyed them.

None of these institutions are eager to cede authority to the White House and they won’t do so without a fight. It would be unrealistic to suggest that America’s most basic democratic institutions are in imminent jeopardy.

But we should not view them as invulnerable either. Remember that Trump’s verbal assaults are directed at the public, and are designed to chip away at people’s confidence in these institutions and deprive them of their validity. When a dispute arises, whose actions are you going to consider legitimate? Whom are you going to trust? That’s why the public has to be wary of Trump’s attacks on the courts, the “deep state,” the “swamp.” We can’t afford to be talked into losing our faith in the forces that protect us from an imperial presidency.

This is the third in a series.”

Read the complete editorial here: http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-ed-trumps-authoritarian-vision/

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PWS

04/04/17

LA TIMES CONFRONTS TRUMP IN FOUR PART EDITORIAL SERIES — Here Are Parts 1 & 2 — 1) “Our Dishonest President;” 2) “Why Trump Lies”

“Our Dishonest President”

“These are immensely dangerous developments which threaten to weaken this country’s moral standing in the world, imperil the planet and reverse years of slow but steady gains by marginalized or impoverished Americans. But, chilling as they are, these radically wrongheaded policy choices are not, in fact, the most frightening aspect of the Trump presidency.

What is most worrisome about Trump is Trump himself. He is a man so unpredictable, so reckless, so petulant, so full of blind self-regard, so untethered to reality that it is impossible to know where his presidency will lead or how much damage he will do to our nation. His obsession with his own fame, wealth and success, his determination to vanquish enemies real and imagined, his craving for adulation — these traits were, of course, at the very heart of his scorched-earth outsider campaign; indeed, some of them helped get him elected. But in a real presidency in which he wields unimaginable power, they are nothing short of disastrous.

Although his policies are, for the most part, variations on classic Republican positions (many of which would have been undertaken by a President Ted Cruz or a President Marco Rubio), they become far more dangerous in the hands of this imprudent and erratic man. Many Republicans, for instance, support tighter border security and a tougher response to illegal immigration, but Trump’s cockamamie border wall, his impracticable campaign promise to deport all 11 million people living in the country illegally and his blithe disregard for the effect of such proposals on the U.S. relationship with Mexico turn a very bad policy into an appalling one.

. . . .

On Inauguration Day, we wrote on this page that it was not yet time to declare a state of “wholesale panic” or to call for blanket “non-cooperation” with the Trump administration. Despite plenty of dispiriting signals, that is still our view. The role of the rational opposition is to stand up for the rule of law, the electoral process, the peaceful transfer of power and the role of institutions; we should not underestimate the resiliency of a system in which laws are greater than individuals and voters are as powerful as presidents. This nation survived Andrew Jackson and Richard Nixon. It survived slavery. It survived devastating wars. Most likely, it will survive again.

But if it is to do so, those who oppose the new president’s reckless and heartless agenda must make their voices heard. Protesters must raise their banners. Voters must turn out for elections. Members of Congress — including and especially Republicans — must find the political courage to stand up to Trump. Courts must safeguard the Constitution. State legislators must pass laws to protect their citizens and their policies from federal meddling. All of us who are in the business of holding leaders accountable must redouble our efforts to defend the truth from his cynical assaults.

The United States is not a perfect country, and it has a great distance to go before it fully achieves its goals of liberty and equality. But preserving what works and defending the rules and values on which democracy depends are a shared responsibility. Everybody has a role to play in this drama.

This is the first in a series.”

Read the entire editorial here:

http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-ed-our-dishonest-president/

“Why Trump Lies”

“Donald Trump did not invent the lie and is not even its master. Lies have oozed out of the White House for more than two centuries and out of politicians’ mouths — out of all people’s mouths — likely as long as there has been human speech.

But amid all those lies, told to ourselves and to one another in order to amass power, woo lovers, hurt enemies and shield ourselves against the often glaring discomfort of reality, humanity has always had an abiding respect for truth.

In the United States, born and periodically reborn out of the repeated recognition and rejection of the age-old lie that some people are meant to take dominion over others, truth is as vital a part of the civic, social and intellectual culture as justice and liberty. Our civilization is premised on the conviction that such a thing as truth exists, that it is knowable, that it is verifiable, that it exists independently of authority or popularity and that at some point — and preferably sooner rather than later — it will prevail.

Even American leaders who lie generally know the difference between their statements and the truth. Richard Nixon said “I am not a crook” but by that point must have seen that he was. Bill Clinton said “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” but knew that he did.
The insult that Donald Trump brings to the equation is an apparent disregard for fact so profound as to suggest that he may not see much practical distinction between lies, if he believes they serve him, and the truth.

His approach succeeds because of his preternaturally deft grasp of his audience. Though he is neither terribly articulate nor a seasoned politician, he has a remarkable instinct for discerning which conspiracy theories in which quasi-news source, or which of his own inner musings, will turn into ratings gold. He targets the darkness, anger and insecurity that hide in each of us and harnesses them for his own purposes. If one of his lies doesn’t work — well, then he lies about that.

If we harbor latent racism or if we fear terror attacks by Muslim extremists, then he elevates a rumor into a public debate: Was Barack Obama born in Kenya, and is he therefore not really president?
If his own ego is threatened — if broadcast footage and photos show a smaller-sized crowd at his inauguration than he wanted — then he targets the news media, falsely charging outlets with disseminating “fake news” and insisting, against all evidence, that he has proved his case (“We caught them in a beauty,” he said).

If his attempt to limit the number of Muslim visitors to the U.S. degenerates into an absolute fiasco and a display of his administration’s incompetence, then he falsely asserts that terrorist attacks are underreported. (One case in point offered by the White House was the 2015 attack in San Bernardino, which in fact received intensive worldwide news coverage. The Los Angeles Times won a Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on the subject).

If he detects that his audience may be wearying of his act, or if he worries about a probe into Russian meddling into the election that put him in office, he tweets in the middle of the night the astonishingly absurd claim that President Obama tapped his phones. And when evidence fails to support him he dispatches his aides to explain that by “phone tapping” he obviously didn’t mean phone tapping. Instead of backing down when confronted with reality, he insists that his rebutted assertions will be vindicated as true at some point in the future.

Trump’s easy embrace of untruth can sometimes be entertaining, in the vein of a Moammar Kadafi speech to the United Nations or the self-serving blathering of a 6-year-old.

. . . .

Our civilization is defined in part by the disciplines — science, law, journalism — that have developed systematic methods to arrive at the truth. Citizenship brings with it the obligation to engage in a similar process. Good citizens test assumptions, question leaders, argue details, research claims.

Investigate. Read. Write. Listen. Speak. Think. Be wary of those who disparage the investigators, the readers, the writers, the listeners, the speakers and the thinkers. Be suspicious of those who confuse reality with reality TV, and those who repeat falsehoods while insisting, against all evidence, that they are true. To defend freedom, demand fact.

This is the second in a series.”

Read the complete editorial here:

http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-ed-why-trump-lies/

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Stay tuned for parts 3 & 4 in this LA Times editorial series.

PWS

04-03-17

 

BREAKING: Sessions Recuses Himself From Russian Investigation!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/top-gop-lawmaker-calls-on-sessions-to-recuse-himself-from-russia-investigation/2017/03/02/148c07ac-ff46-11e6-8ebe-6e0dbe4f2bca_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_gopreax-840a:homepage/story&utm_term=.2d513bee7715

From the WashPost:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday he will recuse himself from any investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign, which would include any Russian interference in the electoral process.

Speaking at a hastily-called press conference at the Justice Department, Sessions said he had met with department ethics officials soon after being sworn in last month to evaluate the rules and cases in which he might have a conflict.

“They said that since I had involvement with the campaign, I should not be involved in any campaign investigation,” Sessions said. He added that he concurred with their assessment, and would thus recuse himself from any existing or future investigation involving Trump’s campaign.

The announcement comes a day after The Washington Post revealed that Sessions twice met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and did not disclose that fact to Congress during his confirmation hearing.”

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The good news for Sessions is that most experts think that he will not face criminal prosecution for any arguable “inaccuracies” in his sworn testimony to Congress during his confirmation hearings.

But, folks are missing what Sessions really lied about under oath: that he could leave his partisan positions as an “outlier Senator” from a state known for its historic bigotry and poor race relations behind and represent all of the people of the United States as Attorney General.  In the short time since he became Attorney General, Sessions has proved that he was at least being disingenuous if not outright lying. He has: 1) withdrawn Federal protections for transgender students, 2) changed the Government’s position in a key voting rights case thus giving the green light to states that seek to disenfranchise African American and other minority voters, and 3) announced that local police will have a free hand to enforce laws even if they have been shown to have a tendency to do so in ways that violate the basic civil rights of minority suspects.

And, Sessions was apparently behind the xenophobic, poorly conceived and executed, and fear-mongering Executive Orders on immigration. In other words, Sessions has squarely aligned himself with the white-power-oriented, nationalistic, xenophobic forces in the White House represented by Steve Bannon and Sessions’s former aide Stephen Miller.

Another article in the WashPost points out Session’s hypocrisy on the issues of “perjury, access, and recusal” when the situation involved the Clintons. What goes around comes around. Here’s a link to the complete article:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/03/02/six-times-jeff-sessions-talked-about-perjury-access-and-special-prosecutors-when-it-involved-the-clintons/?utm_term=.84d5a9024cb4

And here’s an article by Ari Berman in The Nation pointing out the real truth about our Attorney General: “Jeff Sessions Is a Disgrace to the Justice Department
He didn’t just lie about Russia—he’s put the Trump administration on the wrong side of every major issue.”

https://www.thenation.com/article/jeff-sessions-is-a-disgrace-to-the-justice-department/

 

PWS

03/02/17

SLATE: Bannon, Sessions, Miller Plan To Use Justice Department To Implement Far Right Agenda!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/28/magazine/jeff-sessions-stephen-bannon-justice-department.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=b-lede-package-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

Emily Bazelon reports:

“One night in September 2014, when he was chief executive of Breitbart News, Stephen Bannon hosted cocktails and dinner at the Washington townhouse where he lived, a mansion near the Supreme Court that he liked to call the Breitbart Embassy. Beneath elaborate chandeliers and flanked by gold drapes and stately oil paintings, Jeff Sessions, then a senator from Alabama, sat next to the guest of honor: Nigel Farage, the insurgent British politician, who first met Sessions two years earlier when Bannon introduced them. Farage was building support for his right-wing party by complaining in the British press about “uncontrolled mass immigration.” Sessions, like other attendees, was celebrating the recent collapse in Congress of bipartisan immigration reform, which would have provided a path to citizenship for some undocumented people. At the dinner, Sessions told a writer for Vice, Reid Cherlin, that Bannon’s site was instrumental in defeating the measure. Sessions read Breitbart almost every day, he explained, because it was “putting out cutting-edge information.”

Bannon’s role in blocking the reform had gone beyond sympathetic coverage on his site. Over the previous year, he, Sessions and one of Sessions’s top aides, Stephen Miller, spent “an enormous amount of time” meeting in person, “developing plans and messaging and strategy,” as Miller later explained to Rosie Gray in The Atlantic. Breitbart writers also reportedly met with Sessions’s staff for a weekly happy hour at the Union Pub. For most Republicans in Washington, immigration was an issue they wished would go away, a persistent source of conflict between the party’s elites, who saw it as a straightforward economic good, and its middle-class voting base, who mistrusted the effects of immigration on employment. But for Bannon, Sessions and Miller, immigration was a galvanizing issue, lying at the center of their apparent vision for reshaping the United States by tethering it to its European and Christian origins. (None of them would comment for this article.) That September evening, as they celebrated the collapse of the reform effort — and the rise of Farage, whose own anti-immigration party in Britain represented the new brand of nativism — it felt like the beginning of something new. “I was privileged enough to be at it,” Miller said about the gathering last June, while a guest on Breitbart’s SiriusXM radio show. “It’s going to sound like a motivational speech, but it’s true. To all the voters out there: The only limits to what we can achieve is what we believe we can achieve.”

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Talk about “the fox guarding the chicken coop!” And, I don’t share Bazelon’s view that DOJ career attorneys will be a significant moderating influence.

They all work for Jeff Sessions. Resisting Administration policies or positions could be considered insubordination — a ground for firing. Short of that, those who don’t “get with the program” could find themselves demoted, denied pay increases, transferred to obscure offices (perhaps in different locations), or given meaningless “busywork” assignments as punishment. In  DOJ lingo the disfavored and exiled are known as “hall walkers.”

Yes, it’s true that in many past Administrations those with opposing views were tolerated and often even had their differing perspectives considered and occasionally adopted. That often had a moderating effect. But, that assumes an Administration acting in good faith. Sounds like Sessions and his colleagues have already decided to dismantle those parts of the U.S. justice system that don’t fit their ultra nationalist, restrictionist, white-power-Christian-oriented agenda. It could be a long four years at the DOJ for career lawyers (those who survive). Sad!

PWS

02/28/17

 

Brennan Center For Justice Report: “Non-Citizens Are Not Voting. Here Are the Facts.”

http://Non-Citizens Are Not Voting. Here Are the Facts.

Wendy R. Weiser & Douglas Keith report:

“The Trump administration continues to double down on its false and widely-criticized assertion that 3 to 5 million non-citizens illegally voted in the 2016 election.

On Sunday, White House Senior Advisor Stephen Miller claimed 14% of non-citizens are registered to vote. “We know for a fact, you have massive numbers of non-citizens registered to vote in this country,” he said, appearing on ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos. “The White House has provided enormous evidence with respect to voter fraud.”

Actually, it hasn’t. Nevertheless, President Trump announced earlier this month, despite the lack of evidence, that Vice President Mike Pence will lead a federal investigation into voter fraud.

Tons of ink has been devoted to debunking the president’s claims that our elections are marred by widespread voter fraud. But few have focused specifically on his administration’s larger false claims about non-citizens. It is important to put this particular allegation to bed once and for all.

Like voter fraud generally, non-citizen voting is incredibly rare. Simply put, we already know that ineligible non-citizens do not vote in American elections — including the 2016 election — except at negligible rates. Here are the facts.”

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Read the entire report at the link. This matches my own experience. During my my 21+ years as a trial and appellate judge in the U.S. Immigration Court system, and having been involved in thousands of cases over that time, I can only recollect the illegal voting issue coming up once. I am also aware that one of my judicial colleagues in Arlington had it come up. But, it was very, very rare. And, I was serving as a judge during times of “enhanced enforcement” by administrations of both parties (no, President Trump is not the only one to ever think about strong immigration enforcement).

PWS

02-17-17

Morning Joe: “Stephen Miller’s weekend performance: That was horrendous and an embarrassment!” — Other Than That, He Loves The Guy!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/02/13/joe-scarborough-is-trying-to-make-trump-turn-on-stephen-miller/?utm_term=.8c119ea36330

Callum Borchers Wirtes in “The Fix” in today’s Washington Post:

“Joe Scarborough is trying to use whatever influence he has over Donald Trump to change the president’s mind about Stephen Miller. It hasn’t worked so far.

The MSNBC host previously blamed Miller for mishandling the rollout of the travel ban and on Monday resumed his campaign against Trump’s senior policy adviser, who made a series of breathtakingly forceful statements on the Sunday political talk shows, including:

“Our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see, as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.”
“Sean Spicer, as always, is a hundred percent correct.”
“It is a fact, and you will not deny it, that there are massive numbers of noncitizens in this country who are registered to vote.”

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The video clips on this one (see link) are truly amazing.  Miller is the “Perfect Storm” of arrogance, ignorance, and intolerance all wrapped into a package of smart-ass, off-putting demeanor, lack of gravitas, and robotic delivery. Hopefully, they never let this guy into a courtroom. Or, perhaps they should . . . .

Come to think of it, I’d love to see him go “toe to toe” with Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit. Nothing Judge P loves better than being told “who’s in charge.” And, as for the “I’m from the White House come to tell you about your authority, you robed boob” tone, let’s just say it wouldn’t be pretty. On the other hand, couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.

PWS

02/13/17

Miller Gets Four Pinocchios For Lies About Voter Fraud On ABC!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/02/12/stephen-millers-bushels-of-pinocchios-for-false-voter-fraud-claims/?hpid=hp_rhp-more-top-stories_no-name%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.80854c52eafd

The Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler says:

“The Pinocchio Test

George [Stephanopoulos] is right. The White House continues to provide zero evidence to back up its claims of voter fraud. Officials instead retreat to the same bogus talking points that have been repeatedly shown to be false.

It’s pretty ridiculous to cite research in a way that even the researcher says is inappropriate, and yet Miller keeps saying 14 percent of noncitizens are registered to vote. The Republican governor of New Hampshire has admitted that he was wrong to say buses of illegal voters voted in the election, and yet Miller shamelessly suggests that is the case. Miller cites a supposed expert on voter fraud, Kobach, who has been mocked for failing to prove his own claims of voter fraud. Miller also repeats a claim about people being registered to vote in two states, even though that is not an example of voter fraud.

Miller earns Four Pinocchios — over and over again.

Four Pinocchios”

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Wow! Most impressive for a 31-year-old whiz kid whose been in his first White House job for about three weeks. Usually, you have to be in the White House much longer to learn how to lie on national TV like that.

PWS

02/12/17

WashPost Political Analysis: More Lies & Obfuscation From Stephen Miller — Like His Boss, Miller Makes It Up As He Goes Along — But, He Does (Inadvertently) Reveal The Real Reason For The Bogus “Fraudulent Voter” Offensive: Lower The Turnout Among Those Groups Of Citizens Who Normally Vote For Democrats!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/02/12/mixed-into-his-falsehoods-on-voter-fraud-stephen-miller-did-hit-on-one-truth/?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_milleranalysis-135pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.34ef3ee8f935

Phillip Bump writes in the Washington Post:

“There’s a theory under which some people operate which holds that presidential advisers appear in the news media to provide insight into what the president is doing for the American people. Governance broadly, and the White House specifically, can be inscrutable to outsiders, but since our democracy depends on an informed populace, it has historically been important to shed as much light as possible on what’s happening. Politicians and their allies don’t always like to shed that light, but they’ve generally acquiesced to participating in the effort.

On ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, President Trump’s adviser Stephen Miller wasn’t interested in shedding light on reality. If anything, he was running around turning lights off. Inadvertently, though, he did offer one bit of insight into what’s happening at the White House.

. . . .

Three claims here. First, that there are millions of people who are registered in multiple states. Second, that dead people are still registered. Both of those things are true. (Among those registered to vote in two places, by the way, are Trump’s son-in-law, treasury nominee, daughter and press secretary.) But that’s not voter fraud. It’s a sloppy registration system — and indifference from people whose first instincts when relatives die is not to ensure that the registrar of voters is informed.

The third claim is that 14 percent of noncitizens are registered to vote, which is based on an academic analysis released several years ago. It has been subsequently shown to be problematic. [In fact, it earned the coveted “Four Pinocchio Award” from the Post’s “Fact Checker” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2016/10/24/no-eric-trump-14-percent-of-noncitizens-are-not-registered-to-vote/?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.3c0bdd64fa0c ] As anyone paying attention to the issue should know.

. . . .

Kobach is the secretary of state in Kansas, in charge of the state’s electoral process. He has held that position since 2011, the year the state passed new restrictions on voting in the name of preventing fraud.

The net effect? A report from the Government Accountability Office determined that turnout fell by several percentage points in the 2012 election relative to comparable states. And the populations that saw the biggest drops in turnout?
Young people, newly registered voters and black people. Populations that tend to vote more heavily Democratic.

That’s almost certainly the point. Miller was trying to mislead people with his false arguments about voter fraud. But he ended up offering some insight after all.”

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Miller and Steve Bannon are among the remarkably unqualified guys that are pulling the strings from the Trump White House.

PWS

02/12/17