PAUL KRUGMAN IN THE NYT: GOP IRATE AT BEING CALLED OUR ON ITS BIG TIME TAX LIES! – The “Anti-Robin –Hood” Party Is In Full Attack Mode! – Screw Everyone Else To Hand Out More Bennies To The Super Rich!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/20/opinion/lies-incoherence-and-rage-on-tax-cuts.html

Krugman writes:

“One thing you can count on in 21st-century U.S. politics is that Republicans will lie about taxes. They did it under George W. Bush, they did it under Barack Obama and they’re still doing it under Donald Trump.

Yet this time is different. It’s not just that the lies have gotten even more brazen. There’s now a combination of incoherence and rage that we, or at least I, haven’t seen before. These days, they can’t even seem to get their fake story straight — and they literally start yelling obscenities when someone tries to point out the facts.

G.O.P. lies about taxes generally involve two issues: who is hurt or helped by tax changes, and what these changes will do to the budget.

Thus, when George W. Bush cut taxes in 2001 and 2003, he and his party repeatedly insisted that the tax cuts were primarily for the middle class. In fact, while there were some middle-class tax breaks in the package, such as an increase in the child tax credit, these were dwarfed by cuts in tax rates on high incomes, reduced taxes on dividends and repeal of the estate tax. Over all, the richest 1 percent saw a much larger increase in after-tax income than middle-class families did.

At the same time, the Bush administration used a series of gimmicks to hide the true fiscal cost of the plan, such as delaying the implementation of some tax cuts while pretending that others would expire when the actual intention was to make them permanent.

When Obama took office, these tricks were simply flipped on their head. Republicans insisted, falsely, that Obama had imposed a “massive tax increase” on the middle class; in fact, for the most part he actually cut middle-class taxes. Meanwhile, they insisted that the surge in the budget deficit caused by the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis was permanent, and ridiculed the Obama administration’s claims that deficits would fall sharply once crisis spending ended and tax receipts recovered; in fact, that’s exactly what happened.

So what’s different this time? As in the Bush years, Republicans are claiming to be offering a middle-class tax cut. But where Bush truly was cutting taxes on the middle class, just much less than he was on the wealthy, current Republican plans would raise those taxes on many lower- and middle-income families, even as they go down for the wealthy. (Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, claims that only “million-dollar earners”would see tax increases. This is the opposite of the truth.

Oh, and a memo to journalists: If you play it safe by reporting this as “Democrats say” that middle-class taxes will go up, you’re misleading your readers: Those estimates come from the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s own nonpartisan scorekeeper.

How can Republicans like Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, pretend to be helping the middle class? It depends crucially on a new kind of budget gimmick: Both the House and Senate tax-cut bills do contain some middle-class tax breaks — but only for the first few years. Then they expire.

Take one of Ryan’s favorite examples, a family with two children and earning $59,000 a year. That family would indeed get a tax break next year. But the break would rapidly dwindle and turn into a tax increase by 2024.

The Republican response is to claim that these tax breaks wouldn’t really expire, that Congress would eventually renew them. That’s quite doubtful — and even if true, it means that the tax plans would add much more to the national debt than the G.O.P. admits. Which brings me to the whole budget deficit issue.

Not long ago, leading Republicans claimed to be deeply concerned about budget deficits. Only fools and centrists took the Republicans seriously. Still, the abrupt shift to nonchalance about adding trillions to the debt in order to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy is causing a bit of whiplash even among cynics. How do they justify the shift?

Well, they don’t seem to have settled on a story. Mnuchin keeps asserting that tax cuts will pay for themselves, going so far as to claim (falsely) that Treasury has released a study showing this. Mick Mulvaney, the budget director, cheerfully acknowledges that they’re using gimmicks to pass a bill that permanently cuts taxes on corporations, and not to worry. Whatever works, it seems.

So we’re really looking at an unprecedented level of dishonesty here. But what happens when you try to explain what’s going on? When Senator Sherrod Brown tried to point out, correctly, that the Senate G.O.P.’s tax bill heavily favors the rich, Senator Orrin Hatch exploded, calling it “bull crap” and asserting that he grew up poor (which is relevant why, exactly?).

Sorry, but this isn’t the righteous anger of a man falsely accused of wrongdoing. It’s the rage con men always exhibit when caught out in their con.

But what’s the con about? The very incoherence of the arguments Republicans are making for their plans shows that it’s not about helping the economy, let alone ordinary families. It really is about making the rich richer, at everyone else’s expense. If this be bull crap, make the most of it.”

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As usual, the GOP counts heavily on voters being too biased or gullible to figure out that they are being fleeced. And, to date, they have been correct. So, why stop a “winning strategy” even if it is based on lies, demonstrably bogus assumptions, and other “cons?”

PWS

11-21-17

WALL? WHAT WALL? – BUREAUCRATIC BARRIERS BEST BAR TO (NEEDED) IMMIGRATION (Hey, I Could’ve Told ‘Em That!) – But, White Nationalist Goal Of Returning To A “White America” Ultimately Doomed — “You can slow the rate of Latino and Asian immigration, but it won’t make the population whiter,”. . . “It will just become less white at a slower pace.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/immigration/how-trump-is-building-a-border-wall-no-one-can-see/2017/11/21/83d3b746-cba0-11e7-b0cf-7689a9f2d84e_story.html?utm_term=.a71d3a707371

Maria Sacchetti and Nick Miroff report in the Washington Post:

“President Trump’s vision of a “big, beautiful” wall along the Mexican border may never be realized, and almost certainly not as a 2,000-mile physical structure spanning sea to sea.

But in a systematic and less visible way, his administration is following a blueprint to reduce the number of foreigners living in the United States those who are undocumented and those here legallyand overhaul the U.S. immigration system for generations to come.

Across agencies and programs, federal officials are wielding executive authority to assemble a bureaucratic wall that could be more effective than any concrete and metal one. While some actions have drawn widespread attention, others have been put in place more quietly.

The administration has moved to slash the number of refugees, accelerate deportations and terminate the provisional residency of more than a million people, among other measures. On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security said nearly 60,000 Haitians allowed to stay in the United States after a devastating 2010 earthquake have until July 2019 to leave or obtain another form of legal status.

. . . .

Even as they fight court orders seeking to halt parts of Trump’s immigration agenda, Sessions, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller and other key players are finding ways to shrink the immigration system. Miller was an aide to Sessions before both men joined the administration; in less than a year, their immigration policy prescriptions have moved from the realm of think-tank wish lists to White House executive orders.

In October, the White House — in a plan led by Miller — said it had conducted a “bottom-up review of all immigration policies” and found “dangerous loopholes, outdated laws, and easily exploited vulnerabilities in our immigration system — current policies that are harming our country and our communities.”

. . . .

Trump’s tough talk alone appears to be one of the administration’s best bulwarks: Illegal crossings along the border with Mexico have plunged to their lowest level in 45 years, and U.S. agents are catching a far greater share of those attempting to sneak in. Applications for H-1B skilled visas and new foreign-student enrollment have also declined.

William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, said that until now U.S. immigration rates have largely spared the country from the challenges facing advanced industrial nations such as Japan and Germany that can’t replace aging workers fast enough. By slashing immigration, Frey said, the country could end up with labor shortages and other workforce issues.

But although some of Trump’s most fervent supporters see curbing immigration as a way to turn back the United States’ rapid racial and ethnic transformation, Frey said it is an unrealistic goal. By 2020, census projections show minorities will account for more than half of the under-18 U.S. population, because of higher birthrates in nonwhite populations. And by 2026, the number of whites is projected to begin declining in absolute numbers, he said, as deaths exceed births.

“You can slow the rate of Latino and Asian immigration, but it won’t make the population whiter,” Frey said. “It will just become less white at a slower pace.”

Trump continues to insist his administration will build a border wall, despite exorbitant cost projections and senior DHS officials saying a 2,000-mile structure is impractical. His supporters say they admire the president for plowing ahead in his overhaul efforts and see a historic, generational shift underway.

“There is more than one way to get to the goal,” Dane said. “Legislative solutions are all great, but clearly the administration has done things behind the scenes. . . . The results have been dramatic.”

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Read the full article at the link.

It’s no surprise that guys like Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions and his henchman Stephen Miller are leading this racist-inspired, xenophobic “race to the bottom” that if successful would likely tank our economy and cause even more inequality and social unrest as well as inflicting all sorts of unnecessary pain and suffering on long time residents, needed and productive workers, and the most vulnerable individuals seeking protection under U.S. and international laws.  Really, hard to see how guys like this with retrograde ideas that come right from the “Jim Crow era” of American history get into positions of power for which they are so totally unqualified, both by background and temperament. But, then again, look at whom we have elected our President to represent us on the international scene.

The good news for the majority of Americans is that  the “turn back the clock” plan is ultimately likely to fail. We will eventually move forward again as a diverse, productive, “country of immigrants,” and restore humane and humanitarian values to our national and international profile.

PWS

11-22-17

GONZO’S WORLD: POST PANS GONZO’S ILL-ADVISED, ILLEGAL, & ILLOGICAL ATTACKS ON “SANCTUARY CITIES!” — Against The “Public Interest!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jeff-sessions-keeps-waging-his-failing-war-against-sanctuary-cities/2017/11/21/00add736-ce2d-11e7-81bc-c55a220c8cbe_story.html

From today’s Washington Post editorials:

“IN ITS crusade against so-called sanctuary jurisdictions, the Trump administration is on an impressive judicial losing streak, having been slapped down in federal courts from San Francisco to Philadelphia. It remains undeterred, as the Justice Department girds for more battles whose stakes — a few million dollars in federal funds withheld from offending cities — make a mockery of the dire rhetoric deployed by officials in Washington.

The administration is wrong on the law and the principle. It has no valid legal justification for its insistence that state and local law enforcement officers act as proxies for federal immigration agents and no basis for threatening to withhold funding if they refuse. By seeking to compel such conduct, the administration ignores police and prosecutors who warn that driving a wedge between law enforcement and immigrant communities will erode public safety. On Monday, a federal judge in San Francisco permanently blocked President Trump’s executive order seeking to deny funding to uncooperative localities, but the administration shows no sign of giving up the fight.

. . . .

Most jurisdictions seek to balance information-sharing and other forms of cooperation with federal authorities with their interest in forging ties to immigrant communities. The judge in Philadelphia, in ruling against the administration’s threat to withhold funding, found the city had done just that, creating no conflict.

As it happens, the grants the feds wanted to withhold in that case would have covered, among other items, drugs used by first responders to save the lives of opioid overdose victims. How would that have been in the public interest?“

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Read the complete editorial at the link.

Gonzo’s extreme White Nationalist, xenophobic agenda drives him to waste the courts’ time and the public’s resources on wasteful and counterproductive publicity stunts while our country’s real law enforcement problems (like, for example, combatting foreign interference in our electoral process, combatting racial profiling in policing, protecting the rights of the LGBTQ community, fixing the due process crisis in our Immigration Courts, or addressing the causes of opioid addiction and gang violence in communities) go largely unaddressed.

PWS

11-22-17

REUTERS TV: TILLERSON VIOLATES “CHILD SOLDIERS” LAW — “Steamrolls” Unanimous Internal Opposition!

Click here for link to the TV report

http://reut.tv/2jbsLJH

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Just another travesty by an “Administration of scofflaws” who put human rights last.

PWS

11-21-17

SLAM DUNKED AGAIN: SF FEDERAL JUDGE ORRICK ISSUES NATIONWIDE INJUNCTION AGAINST ADMINISTRATION’S ATTACK ON “SANCTUARY CITIES!”

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/immigration/ct-trump-sanctuary-cities-funding-ruling-20171120-story.html

Sudhin Thanawala reports for the Associated Press in the Chicago Tribune:

“A federal judge on Monday permanently blocked President Donald Trump’s executive order to cut funding from cities that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities.

U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick rejected the administration’s argument that the executive order applies only to a relatively small pot of money and said Trump cannot set new conditions on spending approved by Congress.

The judge had previously made the same arguments in a ruling that put a temporary hold on the executive order targeting so-called sanctuary cities. The Trump administration has appealed that decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The District Court exceeded its authority today when it barred the President from instructing his cabinet members to enforce existing law,” Department of Justice spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement late Monday. “The Justice Department will vindicate the President’s lawful authority to direct the executive branch.”

Orrick’s ruling came in lawsuits brought by two California counties, San Francisco and Santa Clara.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said the ruling was “a victory for the American people and the rule of law.”

“President Trump might be able to tweet whatever comes to mind, but he can’t grant himself new authority because he feels like it,” he said in a statement.

A lawyer for the DOJ argued during a hearing before Orrick in April that the executive order applied to only a few grants that would affect less than $1 million for Santa Clara County and possibly no money for San Francisco.

Judge in Chicago refuses to change ruling on sanctuary cities
But the judge disagreed, saying in his rulings that the order was written broadly to “reach all federal grants” and potentially jeopardized hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to San Francisco and Santa Clara.

He cited comments by the president and Attorney General Jeff Sessions as evidence that the order was intended to target a wide array of federal funding. And he said the president himself had called it a “weapon” to use against recalcitrant cities.

The Trump administration separately has also moved to withhold one particular law enforcement grant from sanctuary cities, prompting a new round of lawsuits that are pending.”

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WORTHY OF NOTE:

  • Trump’s tweets and Sessions’s bombastic, anti-immigrant public agenda continue to haunt them in litigation.
  • Continuing a recent trend, Judge Orrick basically found the DOJ’s legal position “not credible.”
  • An Administration that (rather hollowly) claims to be interested in effective law enforcement refuses to work cooperatively with many major cities and threatens to withhold law enforcement funds.
  • Clearly, this case is headed “up the line,” probably eventually to the Supremes.

PWS

11-21-17

GONZO’S WORLD: Gonzo Smugly Mocks The “Rule Of Law” — But Will Mueller Get The Last Laugh?

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/11/jeff-sessions-has-got-jokes.html

Christian Farias reports in NY Maggie:

“Since taking office as Donald Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions hasn’t missed a chance to remind the public that the North Star of his Department of Justice is the rule of law. Eliminating protections for Dreamers and exposing them to deportation; threatening to pull federal funding from sanctuary cities that refuse to do the administration’s bidding on immigration; asserting in court that gay workers aren’t protected by the letter of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; siding with a religious baker who declined to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple wishing to marry — all actions demanded by fidelity to the the rule of law.

Because the rule of law matters to Sessions, he decided to make it the centerpiece of his Friday remarks at the annual national lawyers’ gathering of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal brain trust that helped Trump handpick Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. About the president’s own disdain for the rule of law and so-called judges who rule against him, the group has largely turned a blind eye. Instead, they celebrate the parade of originalist judges he’s sent to the federal bench. For conservative legal thinkers, this covers a multitude of sins. “Attendees this year have an ebullience I haven’t seen before,” Ariane de Vogue, a longtime Supreme Court correspondent, observed on Twitter. The Federalist Society’s chairman, for his part, is already plotting how to turn the judicial map red.

Chalk it up to the electricity in the air, all this winning, that Sessions, after an introduction by Edwin Meese, his predecessor at the Justice Department during the Reagan administration, suddenly decided the rule of law was a joke. “Is Ambassador Kislyak in the room?” Sessions asked of the lawyerly audience, which greeted the question with laughter. “Before I get started here, any Russians? Anybody been to Russia? Got a cousin in Russia or something?” The audience was loving it. Meese was rolling.

Sessions must have thought of the Russia bit on the spot, as it wasn’t in his prepared remarks. There’s a reason he may have found the whole thing hilarious right there and then: He delivered the line at none other than the Mayflower Hotel, the same location where he and Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador, had an encounter during the presidential campaign that went undisclosed during his confirmation hearing. Sessions’s own shifting recollections and denials about his contacts with Russian officials in later Senate testimony are hard to keep up with. For all we know, he may have lied to Congress. Suffice it to say, the extent of those contacts played a significant role in Sessions’s recusal from all things Russia, a move that blindsided Trump and infuriated him. With a loyalist out of the way, it fell to Rod Rosenstein, Sessions’s deputy, to appoint Robert Mueller to lead the criminal and counterintelligence probes into the Kremlin’s disruption of last year’s election. Sessions came this close to resigning over Mueller’s appointment.

None of this is a laughing matter. That Sessions had the presence of mind to crack a joke about it makes a mockery of his self-professed commitment to the rule of law. The rule of law isn’t just rescinding Obama-era rules or steering the federal government toward more conservative outcomes. The rule of law, fragile as it is, is also a set of unwritten norms that stay the same no matter who’s in power — such as the nation’s top law-enforcement officer recognizing that he should not make light of an investigation in which he himself is implicated and may have committed perjury. One in which his own Justice Department has active, ongoing prosecutions of campaign officials that he once worked with. Sessions treating this as a joke undermines keepers of the constitutional order — Congress, the Executive branch, and now the courts — who are taking it very seriously.

“Recusals happen all the time throughout the Department of Justice … just because we follow the rules. That furthers confidence in justice,” Sessions declared near the end of his Federalist Society speech. Now that’s a good one. Desiree Fairooz, the activist who laughed at Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearing and was prosecuted by his Justice Department over it, would be forgiven if she heard that zinger and laughed again.

Mueller, for his part, has his sights on another uproarious matter: ABC News reported Sunday that the special counsel is looking into the Justice Department’s role in the firing of James Comey. Sessions may have a hard time laughing that one off.”

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Sessions, who lives on and for the “wrong side of history and human decency,” should go down as the most lawless Attorney General since John Mitchell. Indeed, I think he has the potential to surpass Mitchell in terms of contempt for the American system, for the majority of Americans, and for the rule of law. Having lived through the “Watergate Era,” that’s saying something!

PWS

11-20-17

“LET THE HAITIANS STAY” — IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO!

The NY Times Editorial Board writes:

“The Temporary Protected Status program provides the sort of assistance the United States should be proud to extend to foreigners fleeing civil unrest, violence or natural disasters. Enacted by Congress in 1990, it currently offers safe and legal harbor to 437,000 people from 10 countries. Many stay for a long time, their status regularly extended because of continued turmoil in their homelands.

That, alas, is a far cry from the spirit of the Trump administration. But even President Trump’s bombastic pledges to throw up a Mexican border wall, expel illegal immigrants and bar entry to Muslims are different from expelling people who, though they may have entered the United States illegally, have been allowed to stay legally, often for many years, with solid jobs and large families, while their homelands remain unsettled or dangerous.

On Thanksgiving, of all days, the Department of Homeland Security is to announce whether it will extend the temporary protected status that was granted to about 50,000 Haitians when their country was devastated by an earthquake in 2010. Their stay has been regularly extended, but in May, John Kelly, then secretary of homeland security and now the White House chief of staff, gave them only six more months, explicitly to get ready to go home. Unless their status is extended this week, they must leave by Jan. 22.

By any reasonable measure, Haiti is not ready to take them back. The destitute country has never fully recovered from the 2010 earthquake or the cholera epidemic that followed. Last year, Hurricane Matthew added even more suffering. The country does not have the resources to absorb 50,000 people, and the money they have sent back is a critical source of income for their relatives and homeland.

Every member of Congress who represents South Florida, where most of these Haitians live, is in favor of extending their status. One of them, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Miami, is among the congressional members of both parties who have proposed legislation that would allow these immigrants to eventually apply for permanent residency, which is not possible under current rules.”

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Read the full editorial at the link.

Haitians seem to have gotten the “short end” of US immigration, refugee, and humanitarian policies over the years.

Let’s take a look at the latest Country Report on Human Rights issued by the US State Department:

“The most serious impediments to human rights involved weak democratic governance in the country worsened by the lack of an elected and functioning government; insufficient respect for the rule of law, exacerbated by a deficient judicial system; and chronic widespread corruption. Other human rights problems included significant but isolated allegations of arbitrary and unlawful killings by government officials; allegations of use of force against suspects and protesters; severe overcrowding and poor sanitation in prisons; chronic prolonged pretrial detention; an inefficient, unreliable, and inconsistent judiciary; governmental confiscation of private property without due process. There was also rape, violence, and societal discrimination against women; child abuse; allegations of social marginalization of vulnerable populations; and trafficking in persons. Violence, including gender-based violence, and crime within the remaining internally displaced persons (IDP) camps remained a problem. Although the government took steps to prosecute or punish government and law enforcement officials accused of committing abuses, credible reports persisted of officials engaging in corrupt practices, and civil society groups alleged there was widespread impunity.”

Sound like a place where 50,000 additional refugees can be safely returned and reintegrated? Preposterous!

No, the only thing that has changed here is the political motivation of the Administration; TPS — some of the most successful, efficient, and cost effective migration programs the US has ever run — has become a target of the xenophobic, White Nationalist, restrictionist wing of the GOP.

Allowing 50,000 Haitians already residing here to remain costs the US nothing — in fact their continued presence is good for the US economy and our international image. Not to mention that many of the Haitian TPS holders have relatives with legal status in the US.

On the other hand, pulling TPS and removing these individuals could have catastrophic consequences for the individuals involved, their families, and their US communities. And, it’s likely to overwhelm Haiti, a country that has already proved unable to take care of its existing population.

Anywhere but the Trump Administration, extending TPS for Haitians and others while looking for a long-term solution that would give them some type of permanent status in the US would be a “no brainer.” But, in the Trump Administration immigration and refugee policies appear to be driven largely by a policy of “no brains” — just unnecessary cruelty, wasting resources, diminishing our international humanitarian standing, and playing to the xenophobia, racism, and hate of the White Nationalists.

PWS

11-20-17

GONZO’S WORLD: Sessions Gives Congress The “Scarface Treatment” Again — Then He Jokes About Russia — Will Mueller Eventually Wipe The Smirk Off Gonzo’s Face?

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/11/jeff-sessions-has-a-strangely-selective-memory.html

Eric Levitz writes in NY Maggie:

“Jeff Sessions’s memory works in mysterious ways. He has “no clear recollection” of the March 2016 meeting where George Papadopoulos offered to set up a meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin — but the attorney general does remember shooting down the campaign aide’s unseemly suggestion.

Or, so Sessions tells the House Judiciary Committee.

In October, Sessions testified to the Senate that he did not have any “continuing exchange of information” with Russian operatives — and that he wasn’t “aware of anyone else [on the Trump campaign] that did.” Weeks later, Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed

“Papadopoulos’s confession to the crime of lying to the FBI. In that written statement, the former Trump campaign national security adviser claimed that he had told Sessions about “connections” he had that “could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin” in March of last year. In his testimony before Congress Tuesday, Sessions tried to account for this apparent discrepancy.

“I do now recall the March 2016 meeting at Trump Hotel that Mr. Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the details of what he said at that meeting,” Sessions explained. “After reading his account, and to the best of my recollection, I believe that I wanted to make clear to him that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian government, or any other foreign government, for that matter.”

Later, Sessions said more firmly, “At the meeting, I pushed back.”

So, the attorney general has no clear memory of the meeting, but has a vivid recollection of behaving admirably during it.

This isn’t the first time that Sessions’s memories of last year have failed him. In January, the attorney general testified to the Senate that he had not “been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day.” Months later, the Washington Post revealed that Sessions had met with the Russian ambassador to the United States multiple times during the 2016 campaign. Sessions responded to these revelations by insisting that he’d met with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in his capacity as U.S. senator (not as a Trump surrogate), and that they did not discuss the 2016 election. Sessions later conceded that it was “possible” that Trump’s positions on U.S.-Russia relations came up in his discussions with Kislyak.

Some Democrats have suggested that Sessions’s multiple false statements to Congress this year were conscious lies. The former senator responded to such charges with indignation Tuesday.

“My answers have not changed,” Sessions said. “I have always told the truth, and I have answered every question as I understood them and to the best of my recollection, as I will continue to do today … I will not accept and reject accusations that I have ever lied under oath. That is a lie.”

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Meanwhile, speaking to a friendly audience over at the Heritage Foundation, Gonzo treated the Russia investigation as a joke. Mary Papenfuss reports for HuffPost:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions had lawyers rolling in the aisles with a surprising string of Russian quips at the start of a speech he gave Friday.

Sessions was the keynote speaker at the National Lawyers Convention at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel hosted by the conservative Federalist Society.

He thanked the applauding crowd for welcoming him. Then, smiling mischievously, he added: “But I just was thinking, you know, I should ― I want to ask you. Is  Ambassador Kislyak in the room? Before I get started ― any Russians?” As the laughs grew louder, he continued: “Anybody been to Russia? Got a cousin in Russia?” The audience roared.

The jarring jokes came just three days after Sessions was pressed in Congress on apparent discrepancies in his previous testimony about Trump associates’ meetings with Russians during the 2016 campaign.

Sergey Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., met with several members of Donald Trump’s campaign during the Republican National Convention, Kislyak and some Trump associates have revealed. Kislyak was widely believed a top spy recruiter.

Kislyak has said he discussed Trump’s policy positions during the campaign with Sessions, an early Trump supporter who was an Alabama senator at the time, The Washington Post reported.

But during his confirmation hearings to become attorney general ― before the Post report ― Sessions said he “never met with or had any conversations with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election.”

Sessions later recused himself from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the U.S. election.

Critics were stunned by Sessions’ attitude in the lawyers’ speech.

Sessions “still doesn’t get it” — he’s “in trouble,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) told Wolf Blitzer later on CNN.

“He’s not in trouble where he happened to be in places where there are Russians,” said Lieu, a member of the House Judiciary Committee who grilled Sessions this week. “He is in trouble because he had a nearly hour-long meeting with Ambassador Kislyak — also a spy — and then he failed to disclose the existence of that meeting under oath to the U.S. Senate. That’s why Jeff Sessions is in trouble.”

Blitzer noted that Kislyak “now says he spoke with so many Trump officials it would take him more than 20 minutes to name them all.”

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sessions-russian-lawyers_us_5a0fb5dee4b045cf43718e96?ncid=APPLENEWS00001

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PWS
11-19-17

GONZO’S WORLD: FRANK RICH @ NY MAGGIE THINKS GONZO COULD FOLLOW JOHN MITCHELL’S FOOTSTEPS ALL THE WAY TO JAIL: “He’s an awful attorney general but he’s arguably an even worse liar.” — I Think It’s Time for Senator Al Franken (D-MN) To Step Down!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/11/frank-rich-the-gop-cant-handle-moore-problems.html

Rich writes:

“Last month, Jeff Sessions testified that he was not aware of anyone in the Trump campaign who had been in contact with Russia. Though press accounts have appeared to prove him wrong, yesterday he told the House Judiciary Committee that he “had no recollection” of the meeting, and has “always told the truth.” Will he face consequences for changing his story?

The second most-scandal-ridden presidency in American history, Richard Nixon’s, also had an attorney general, John Mitchell, who had played a major role in his boss’s presidential campaign. He ended up in prison. Sessions seems determined to head to the same destination. He has been repeatedly caught lying to Congress about his and others’ contacts with the Russians, and his only defense has been to strike a sanctimonious tone of self-martyrdom, to repeat or enhance the original lies, and to accuse his inquisitors of rank injustice. He’s an awful attorney general but he’s arguably an even worse liar. It was especially choice to hear him testify last week that he had completely forgotten about attending a meeting with Trump where George Papadopoulos talked about his Russian connections; he just couldn’t stop himself from embroidering the lie further by adding he did remember a single aspect of it after all — a supposedly exculpatory moment when he pushed back on Papadopoulos’s suggestion of a Trump-Putin meeting. This stuff is not going to go over well with the special counsel.

The most unexpected twist in last week’s hearing, by the way, came when Sessions, for the moment at least, firmly shut down Trump’s idea of appointing a new special counsel to investigate the Clintons. What brought that on? A cynic might ask if he is already trying to butter up the jury pool in Washington.”

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Read Rich’s full column, where he also covers Ayatollah Roy, Ivanka, and Donnie Jr., at the link.

As I have noted before, as a former trial and appellate judge, I find Gonzo totally incredible by the standards applied to witnesses in immigration cases. I also find his bristling self-righteous indignation that anyone would dare call him on his obvious lack of candor to be disgusting hypocrisy, even by Gonzo standards. But, testifying incredibly, even under oath, does not necessarily amount to perjury under the law.

I have no particular desire to see Gonzo end his career in jail. But, there are plenty of reasons why he should no longer be the Attorney General of the U.S. Right wing talk radio would be a good fit for him.

Gonzo might also benefit from the good fortune to have one of his chief Senate critics/accusers Senator Al Franken (D-MN) in some pretty “deep doodo” himself. Indeed, given that the woman who raised Franken’s past sexual harassment has pictures, witnesses, and Franken himself doesn’t deny or attempt to justify the incident, why would he put her, himself, the Senate, the Democratic Party, and the country through a useless investigation? What is there to “investigate?” We know what happened; in light of it, Franken needs to do the right thing and step down. This isn’t SNL. And, the Democrats can’t afford a major sexual scandal in the Senate right now.

PWS

11-16-17

 

 

RICHARD WOLFFE IN THE GUARDIAN: TRUMP FAMILY, SESSIONS, OTHER AIDES AFFLICTED WITH DEBILITATING CASES OF “MOSCOW MEMORY!”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/14/trump-administration-moscow-memory?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

“Sadly this sickness may have started inside the Trump family. Jeff Sessions is just a hapless victim of some brain-corroding virus
For so many people who are close to Donald Trump, Russia is the Bermuda Triangle of their memory.

Conversations and meetings seem to pass through this mysterious quadrant of their brains and simply disappear. Even when the wreckage is found on some server or other, they profess ignorance, confusion or innocence. And sometimes all three at once.

On Tuesday the synapses inside the skull of attorney general Jeff Sessions magically reconnected around a March 2016 campaign meeting in which he heard Trump’s point man on Russian policy discuss how the candidate could get together with one Vladimir Putin.

 

This is kind of awkward since Sessions had sworn, like the honorable southern gentleman that he is, that there were no absolutely no such contacts with the Russians, no siree.

Fortunately for the former senator, his amnesia has recovered enough to remember that he pooh-poohed the idea of a Trump-Putin meeting. Somehow he could remember none of the other sordid details of what normal people would call collusion.

Donald Trump Jr communicated with WikiLeaks during final stages of election
“I had no recollection of this meeting until I saw these news reports,” Sessions told the House judiciary committee, before he recalled only the details of the meeting that made him look good.

Sadly this sickness may have started inside the Trump family itself, in which case Sessions is just a hapless victim of some brain-corroding virus. After all, Donald Trump Jr, the president’s son, shows repeated symptoms of Moscow Memory.

It is only five long months since we learned about the slick-haired son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer. Luckily his father was on hand to draft a press statement saying the meeting was no big deal: just a casual chat about Russian adoptions.

But then there were all those leaked emails from Trump Jr himself in which he set up the “adoptions” meeting. “I love it,” he wrote, when offered a Russian government trove of “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary”.

Once the emails were public, Trump Jr denounced the leaks and claimed he was being wonderfully transparent after all.

This makes the latest leaks – involving WikiLeaks, no less – all the more conclusive in diagnosing this Putin-induced amnesia. It also makes them more exquisitely ironic.

As reported by the Atlantic, in the final stages of last year’s presidential election, our forgetful protagonist was coordinating campaign efforts and tweets with WikiLeaks.”

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Read the rest of Wolffe’s op-ed at the link.

Good thing Mrs. Sessions accompanies him to these hearings. Otherwise, I doubt that Ol’ Gonzo could find the hearing room or his way back home. How does he even know what day it is or remember his name?

PWS

11-15-17

JRUBE@WASHPOST: GONZO HAS “THE WORLD’S WORST MEMORY!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/11/14/has-jeff-sessions-got-the-worlds-worst-memory-or-what/

Rubin writes:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s defense for apparently misleading Congress about his knowledge of campaign contacts with Russians is that he has a bad memory. No, honestly. The man who now oversees the entire Justice Department might have heard about contacts with Russia, but no alarms went off, nothing was seared into memory and no action was taken. Even if you believe Sessions, his testimony is damning.

. . . .

It may be that Sessions is struggling to deflect pressure for him to investigate Clinton. However, that would simply be evidence of the president’s total lawlessness and would suggest that Sessions is not being candid when he denies pressure to investigate Clinton. The proper response to outside pressure to use the Justice Department as a political weapon against political opponents should be: Forget it. If that pressure continues, a responsible attorney general would either quit or force the president to fire him (as acting attorney general Sally Yates did when she refused to litigate the travel ban).

Finally, if Sessions’s memory is so poor, one wonders how he can reliably answer questions that the special counsel will no doubt ask about the firing of former FBI director James B. Comey and Russian collusion. An attorney general who remembers nothing might escape implicating the president or others — but it also suggests he should never have been given the job.”

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Read the entire op-ed at the link.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

PWS

11-15-17

SESSIONS DEFENDS FAULTY MEMORY, BUT “AYATOLLAH ROY” – NOT SO MUCH!

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-pol-sessions-russia-hearing-20171114-story.html

Joseph Tanfani and Cathleen Decker report for the LA Times:

“Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions repeatedly denied Tuesday that he deliberately misled or lied to Congress about the Trump campaign’s multiple contacts with Russia, saying he forgot that two aides told him about their meetings with Russian government officials during the 2016 race.

In an often-contentious House Judiciary Committee hearing, Sessions sparred for more than five hours with Democrats, who faulted him for changing his story each time he has testified under oath before Congress, and some Republicans, who pushed him to appoint a second special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton.

Sessions grew visibly angry at times, insisting again and again that he “always told the truth” as he recalled it, even as he confirmed for the first time that an aide offered to help arrange a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin last March. Sessions said he “pushed back” against the offer.

“In all of my testimony, I can only do my best to answer all of your questions as I understand them and to the best of my memory,” he said.

“But I will not accept, and reject accusations, that I have ever lied,” he added. “That is a lie.”

The nationally-televised hearing was the latest sign of how last year’s bitter presidential campaign has yet to recede. Harsh questions about the Democratic nominee’s alleged misdeeds collided with national security concerns of whether President Trump’s current or former aides helped Russia meddle in an American election — the focus of a special counsel investigation led by former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.

Sessions held firm against Republicans who pressed him to swiftly appoint another special counsel to focus on Clinton. Senior prosecutors at the Justice Department were reviewing the record and it would “be done without political influence,” he said.

After Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) laid out a long list of allegations that he said indicated wrongdoing, Sessions responded sharply. “I would say ‘looks like’ is not enough basis to appoint a special counsel,” he said.

Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the House committee’s top Democrat, said the allegations against Clinton — which chiefly involve her use of a private email server as secretary of State, fundraising for the Clinton Foundation, and an Obama administration decision in 2010 to approve sales of uranium to a Russian company — have been “carefully examined and completely debunked” and said the threat of jailing political opponents after an election is something that would happen in “a banana republic.”

The often testy back-and-forth on Russia largely echoed Sessions’ three previous appearances on Capitol Hill this year, creating more heat than light as lawmakers confronted Sessions with his previous statements and other evidence that contradicted his claims, and the attorney general insisting he did “not recall” dozens of times in response.

“I have been asked to remember details from a year ago, such as who I saw on what day, in what meeting, and who said what when,” he said.

He blamed his faulty memory on the political and organizational maelstrom of Trump’s insurgent presidential campaign. The four-term senator from Alabama joined Trump’s side early on and became his top foreign policy advisor.

“It was a brilliant campaign in many ways,” he said. “But it was a form of chaos every day from Day One. We traveled all the time, sometimes to several places in one day. Sleep was in short supply.”

. . . .

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) challenged Sessions to explain an FBI report made public in October that said “black identity extremists” were intent on killing law enforcement officers. She said all the groups named were from decades ago, and asked him if any such groups existed today. He said he did not know of any.

He said he was aware of no similar report on white extremist groups, such as the white supremacists who rallied in Charlottesville, Va., in August. Later, he said he did not have a senior staff member who is African American, and said Trump has appointed just one African American as a U.S. attorney.

Sessions also declined to defend Roy Moore, the Republican candidate in the special election to decide Sessions’ old Senate seat in Alabama. Moore now faces charges of being a serial predator of teenage girls, with five women coming forward to describe their encounters.

“I have no reason to doubt these young women,” he said of Moore’s accusers, adding that he would consider whether the Justice Department should open an investigation. “We would do our duty,” he said. He said he has followed advice from the department’s ethics lawyers and avoided any involvement in the campaign.”

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

Read the complete article at the link.

Doesn’t seem that unreasonable to expect a former Senator and a guy who got himself appointed and confirmed to the highest legal job in the country to remember key events that happened less than two years ago.

Sessions should contrast his performance with the way some U.S. Immigration Judges exercising his delegated authority treat memory lapses by barely literate individuals trying to go back into traumatic events that happened a decade or more ago. Would that our U.S. Immigration Courts were all as forgiving of others as Sessions is of himself. Perhaps, he needs to ease up a bit on the “gonzo enforcement” push and act more like a human being. Not a bad idea for someone seeking better and more sympathetic treatment for himself.

PWS

11-14-17

JOE PATRICE @ ABOVE THE LAW: WE NOW HAVE “SCIENTIFIC PROOF” THAT IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ARE “INCREDIBLY USEFUL” — IN FACT, THEY ARE ESSENTIAL TO DUE PROCESS — So, Why Are Sessions & His Minions Smearing Lawyers & Trying To Railroad More Migrants Through The System Without Fair Hearings?

We Have Scientific Proof That Lawyers Are Incredibly Useful

Patrice writes:

“So instead of fighting whether or not the feds can order cops to bust up the local Motel 6, cities can just hire some lawyers.

This is the lie of every talking head that praises building a wall but adds, with all faux sincerity, that they have “no problem with legal immigrants.” Almost half of the people shuttled through assembly line deportation hearings actually fit within legal immigration protections, but the complexity of the system — not to mention language barriers — make them victims of the bureaucracy.

If that projection is correct, NYIFUP cases result in immigrant victories 48 percent of the time. As Oren Root, director of the Vera Institute’s Center for Immigration and Justice, puts it, that means that of every 12 immigrants who are winning at Varick Street right now, 11 would have been deported without a lawyer.

That finding challenges a widely held assumption about immigration court: that most immigrants who go through it don’t qualify for the types of protection that Congress has laid out for particularly compelling cases. The Vera finding implies that, in fact, many immigrants do deserve relief as Congress and the executive branch have established it — but that hundreds of thousands of them have been deported without getting the chance to pursue those claims.

New York’s program has inspired 12 more cities to adopt the program. It’s put up or shut up time for the Department of Justice — if they’re really committed to proving some undocumented migrant is in violation of the law, then stand up and make that case in court.

Against a real attorney.

Unless they’re chicken.”

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

Read the complete article at the link. I have previously reported on the VOX News Article and the Vera study.

I think Patrice has hit the nail on the head. Sessions, Miller, Bannon and the White Nationalist crowd are biased bullies picking on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. Like all bullies, they have absolutely no desire to compete fairly on a level playing field.

The Vera report confirms what many of us involved in the field have been saying for years: a significant portion of those going through Immigration Court, probably 50% or more are entitled to be in the US. Without lawyers, such individuals have little or no chance of making and succeeding on claims that would allow them to stay. Since at least one-third of individuals (and a much higher percentage of detained individuals) are unrepresented, we are unlawfully removing tens of thousands of individuals each year, in violation of due process. And nothing aggravates this unfairness more than unnecessary detention (in other words, the majority of immigration detention which involves individuals who are not criminals, security threats, or threats to abscond if they are represented and understand the system).

A competent and conscientious Attoyney General would work cooperatively with private bar groups, NGOs, and localities to solve the representation crisis and drastically reduce the use of expensive and inhumane immigration detention. But, Sessions is moving in exactly the opposite direction, in violation of constitutional principles of due process, practical efficiency, and basic human decency.

PWS

11-13-17

EUGENE ROBINSON IN WASHPOST: “The Clown Goes Abroad!”🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡🤡

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-clown-goes-abroad/2017/11/13/854b7186-c8b7-11e7-8321-481fd63f174d_story.html

“We are running a terribly unwise experiment: What happens when you replace U.S. presidential leadership with the slapstick antics of a clown?

On Saturday, President Trump issued the following statement: “Why would Kim Jong Un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend — and maybe someday that will happen!”

There is a natural tendency to become inured to Trump’s gushing stream of nonsense. Resist the urge. Read that statement again. The president of the United States, in the midst of a trip to Asia, taunted the nuclear-armed dictator of North Korea in a manner most sixth-graders would consider juvenile.

There was a time when the world looked to the U.S. president to speak clearly in defense of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. I refer to the entirety of modern U.S. history before January, when Trump assumed the high office he now dishonors.

His Asia tour has been at times a disaster, at times a farce. What was the most shameful moment? Perhaps when he announced that he has a “great relationship” with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has encouraged police and vigilantes to fight the trade in illegal drugs by assassinating suspected traffickers without the bother of arrests or trials. At least 7,000 and perhaps as many as 13,000 people have been slain.

The White House claimed that human rights came up “briefly” in a private meeting between the two leaders, but Duterte said it didn’t come up at all. In fact, during a gala dinner, the buffoonish Duterte serenaded Trump with a Philippine ballad that includes the lyric, “You are the love I’ve been waiting for.”

The spectacle was simply appalling. One might argue, however, that Trump’s kowtowing to Russian President Vladimir Putin was even worse.

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that the Russian government directed a multipronged campaign to meddle in the 2016 election, with the aim of helping Trump win. Putin denies having committed this hostile act, and Trump, for some reason, takes the former KGB officer at his word.”

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Read the rest of,the story at the link.

What about the clowns 🤡 who voted to make this idiot the Clown-in-Chief 🤡 over the objections of the majority of us?

PWS

11-13-17

 

O CANADA: TRUMP POLICIES AID CANADIAN LOBSTERMEN AT THE EXPENSE OF MAINE! — CANADA BRACES FOR INFLUX OF “TPSers” FLEEING US!

Ana Swanson reports in the NY Times:

“When Americans think about lobster, Maine often comes to mind. But Nova Scotia has emerged as a fierce competitor in exporting lobsters, particularly to Europe. Last year, American lobstermen sold only slightly more to Europe than their Canadian counterparts.
That balance could soon shift given the Canadian-European trade pact, which eliminated an 8 percent European tariff on live lobster when it went into effect in September. Tariffs on frozen and processed Canadian lobster will be phased out in the next three to five years as part of the agreement.
The elimination of European tariffs is “the single most challenging issue” for the American lobster industry, said Annie Tselikis, the executive director of the Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association, which represents companies that buy lobster from Maine fishermen. “This trade agreement does give Canada a huge leg up in the European marketplace,” she said.
Ms. Tselikis said the pact was encouraging American companies to invest in new facilities in Canada to qualify for the lower European tariff.
“If the argument is you’re not going to develop this trade policy because you’re worried about outsourcing jobs — well, here we are, potentially outsourcing jobs due to an absence of trade policy,” she said.”

Read the complete article here:

Meanwhile, Alan Freeman reports in the Washington Post that the Trump Administration might be on the verge of  driving tens of thousands of American residents with useful job skills over our Northern Border:

“OTTAWA — In late October, starkly worded warning signs began appearing on the Canadian border with New York state and Vermont aimed at discouraging would-be asylum seekers fleeing the United States.

“Stop. It is illegal to cross the border here or any place other than a Port of Entry. You will be arrested and detained if you cross here.”

“Not everyone is eligible to make an asylum claim,” reads a second sign. “Claiming asylum is not a free ticket into Canada.”

As the Trump administration signals that it may soon remove the Temporary Protected Status designation from more than 300,000 Central Americans and Haitians, threatening them with deportation, Canadian officials are bracing for a new wave of asylum seekers flooding over the border.

Already this week, acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke announced she was lifting protected status for 2,500 Nicaraguans, effective January 2019. And while she extended the same protection for 57,000 Hondurans until July 2018, she warned that protection may end at that time.

A new sign posted by Canadian authorities at the border between Canada and the United States. (Canada Border Services Agency)
The U.S. government decided to protect both groups from deportation following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Mitch in 1999, and the measures were repeatedly renewed until this year. Duke said the original conditions justifying that protection “no longer exist.” Canada and its immigrant-friendly policies may be seen as a viable alternative for those reluctant to return to their countries of origin.

. . . .

Just last week, the government published a three-year plan aimed at accepting almost 1 million immigrants as permanent residents, with a clear bias toward economic migrants, who will make up 58 percent of the total. The balance will be shared between family and refugee classes.

 

Public reaction to the plan, which will see intake grow steadily from 300,000 in 2017 to 310,000 in 2018, 330,000 in 2019 and 340,000 in 2020, has been generally positive with many of the critics, including the government’s own council of economic advisers, saying Canada should be accepting even more immigrants.

Canada has an increasingly diverse population, with visible minorities making up 22.3 percent of the population in 2016, according to recently released census figures, compared with just 4.7 percent in 1981. By 2036, visible minorities are expected to make up 33 percent of the population.

“Canada is probably the best country in the world to be an immigrant because we give immigrants a chance to climb the ladder to success,” said Kareem El-Assal, senior research manager at the Conference Board of Canada, a think tank, where he specializes in immigration.

Assal said Canada’s immigration system works in part because the Canadian government helps newcomers integrate through language, skills and job training at a cost of almost a billion dollars a year. Furthermore, immigrants benefit from Canada’s universal health-care system and its good public education and reasonably priced universities.

Public opinion surveys continue to show that Canadians are pro-migration. A survey by the Environics Institute last spring showed that 72 percent of respondents agreed that “overall, migration has a positive impact on the economy.” Yet in the same survey, 54 percent said that “too many immigrants do not accept Canadian values.”

As for those border warning signs, Fortin, the union leader, says that asylum seekers are reading them and then crossing the border anyway.

“It doesn’t seem to have a very big dissuasive effect,” he said.”

Here’s a link to the complete article:https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/canada-fears-a-huge-rush-of-asylum-seekers-if-their-us-protected-status-is-lifted/2017/11/12/9464645c-c4b1-11e7-9922-4151f5ca6168_story.html

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Maine needs all the economic help it can get. And, I had lots of successful “TPSers” pass through my courtroom in Arlington. Good folks, industrious with useful job skills in the types of positions that we need but most Americans don’t want to do: child care, home health care, roofing, drywalling, cleaning, washing, making beds, waiting on tables, brewing coffee, making sandwiches, landscaping, pouring concrete, building things, meat processing, running convenience stores, etc. And, the vast majority had kids who were US citizens or in the DACA program. Our loss is likely to be Canada’s gain. The concept that there are lots of Native-born Americans out there (at a time of effectively full employment) waiting to take these jobs is a restrictionist fairy tale. But, if and when these folks leave, Americans who depend on them for essential services (like child care and Home improve,wants, for example, or restaurant and hotel owners) are going to find themselves out of luck.

So far, overall incompetence has saved us from the full adverse effects of Trump’s “Make America (Not So) Great” policies. But, if they ever do go into full effect, it will be bad for most Americans, including those gullible enough to have voted for Trump.

PWS

11-13-17