GONZO’S WORLD: TRUMP & SESSIONS ARE SYSTEMATICALLY DISMANTLING OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM – THE “BOGUS FOCUS” ON IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT IS KEY TO THEIR DESTRUCTIVE STRATEGY! — “Perhaps the most insidious part of the Trump administration’s approach to criminal justice lies in its efforts to link crime to its broader crackdown on immigration.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/17/opinion/sunday/donald-trump-and-the-undoing-of-justice-reform.html

The New York Times Editorial Board writes:

“In the decade or so before Donald Trump became president, America’s approach to criminal justice was changing fast — reckoning with decades of destructive and ineffective policies that had ballooned the prison population and destroyed countless lives. Red and blue states were putting in place smart, sensible reforms like reducing harsh sentencing laws, slashing prison populations and crime rates, and providing more resources for the thousands of people who are released every week.

President Obama’s record on the issue was far from perfect, but he and his first attorney general, Eric Holder Jr., took several key steps: weakening racially discriminatory sentencing laws, shortening thousands of absurdly long drug sentences, and pulling back on the prosecution of low-level drug offenders and of federal marijuana offenses in states that have legalized it. This approach reflected state-level efforts and sent a message of encouragement to those still leery of reform.

Within minutes of taking office, Mr. Trump turned back the dial, warning darkly in his Inaugural Address of “American carnage,” of cities and towns gutted by crime — even though crime rates are at their lowest in decades. Things only got worse with the confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who, along with Mr. Trump, appears to be stuck in the 1980s, when politicians exploited the public’s fear of rising crime to sell absurdly harsh laws and win themselves re-election. Perhaps that’s why both men seem happy to distort, if not outright lie about, crime statistics that no longer support their narrative.

Last February, Mr. Trump claimed that “the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years.” Wrong: The national rate remains at an all-time low. It’s true that the 10.8 percent increase in murders between 2014 and 2015 was the largest one-year rise in more than four decades, but the total number of murders is still far below what it was in the early 1990s.

 

As bad as the dishonesty is the fact that Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions have managed to engineer their backward worldview largely under the public’s radar, as a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice documents. Last May, Mr. Sessions ordered federal prosecutors to charge as aggressively as possible in every case — reversing a policy of Mr. Holder’s that had eased up on nonviolent drug offenders and others who fill the nation’s federal prisons. In January, Mr. Sessions rescinded another Obama-era policy that discouraged federal marijuana prosecutions in states where its sale and use are legal. (Mr. Sessions has long insisted, contrary to all available evidence, that marijuana is “a dangerous drug” and “only slightly less awful” than heroin.)

These sorts of moves don’t get much attention, but as the report notes, they could end up increasing the federal prison population, which began to fall for the first time in decades under Mr. Obama.

The reversal of sensible criminal justice reform doesn’t stop there. Under Mr. Trump, the Justice Department has pulled back from his predecessor’s investigations of police abuse and misconduct; resumed the use of private, for-profit prisons; and stopped granting commutations to low-level drug offenders who have spent years or decades behind bars.

Meanwhile, Mr. Sessions, who as a senator was one of the most reliable roadblocks to long-overdue federal sentencing reform, is still throwing wrenches into the works as Congress inches toward a bipartisan deal. Mr. Sessions called the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, a sweeping bill that would reduce some mandatory-minimum sentences, and that cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, a “grave error.” That earned him a rebuke from the committee’s chairman, Senator Charles Grassley, who pointed out that the attorney general is tasked with enforcing the laws, not writing them. “If General Sessions wanted to be involved in marking up this legislation, maybe he should have quit his job and run for the Republican Senate seat in Alabama,” Mr. Grassley said.

Mr. Grassley is no one’s idea of a justice reformer, but he supports the bill because, he said, it “strikes the right balance of improving public safety and ensuring fairness in the criminal justice system.”

So what has this administration done right? The list is short and uninspiring. In October, Mr. Trump declared the epidemic of opioid abuse a national emergency, which could be a good step toward addressing it — but he’s since done almost nothing to combat a crisis that killed more than 64,000 Americans in 2016.

In his State of the Union address last month, Mr. Trump promised to “embark on reforming our prisons to help former inmates who have served their time get a second chance.” It’s great if he really means that, but it’s hard to square his assurance with his own attorney general’s opposition to a bill that includes recidivism-reduction programs intended to achieve precisely this goal.

Perhaps the most insidious part of the Trump administration’s approach to criminal justice lies in its efforts to link crime to its broader crackdown on immigration. In a speech last month, Mr. Sessions said undocumented immigrants are far more likely than American citizens to commit crimes, a claim he found in a paper by John Lott, the disreputable economist best known for misusing statistics to suit his own ideological ends. In this case, it appears Mr. Lott misread his own data, which came from Arizona and in fact showed the opposite of what he claimed: Undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes than citizens, as the vast majority of research on the topic has found.

But no matter; Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions don’t need facts to run their anti-immigrant agenda, which has already resulted in more than double the number of arrests of immigrants with no criminal convictions as in 2016, as the Brennan Center report noted. Soon after taking office, Mr. Trump issued an executive order cutting off federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities, jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials. A federal judge blocked the order in November for violating the Constitution.

The rhetoric from the White House and the Justice Department has emboldened some state and local officials to talk tougher, even if just as ignorantly, about crime. The good news is that it’s not working as well anymore. In Virginia’s race for governor last fall, the Republican candidate, Ed Gillespie, attacked his opponent, Ralph Northam, with ads blaming him for violence by the MS-13 gang.

It was a despicable stunt, its fearmongering recalling the racist but effective Willie Horton ad that George H. W. Bush ran on in his successful 1988 presidential campaign. Thankfully, Virginia’s voters overwhelmingly rejected Mr. Gillespie, another sign that criminal justice reform is an issue with strong support across the political spectrum. In the era of Donald Trump, candidates of both parties should be proud to run as reformers — but particularly Democrats, who can cast the issue not only as a central component of a broader progressive agenda, but as yet another example of just how out of touch with the country Mr. Trump and his administration are.”

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I know it’s quoted above, but two paragraphs of this article deserve re-emphasis:

Perhaps the most insidious part of the Trump administration’s approach to criminal justice lies in its efforts to link crime to its broader crackdown on immigration. In a speech last month, Mr. Sessions said undocumented immigrants are far more likely than American citizens to commit crimes, a claim he found in a paper by John Lott, the disreputable economist best known for misusing statistics to suit his own ideological ends. In this case, it appears Mr. Lott misread his own data, which came from Arizona and in fact showed the opposite of what he claimed: Undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes than citizens, as the vast majority of research on the topic has found.

But no matter; Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions don’t need facts to run their anti-immigrant agenda, which has already resulted in more than double the number of arrests of immigrants with no criminal convictions as in 2016, as the Brennan Center report noted. Soon after taking office, Mr. Trump issued an executive order cutting off federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities, jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials. A federal judge blocked the order in November for violating the Constitution.

Gonzo consistently uses bogus statistics, fear-mongering, racial innuendo, and outright slurs of immigrants, including Dreamers, and their advocates to advance his White Nationalist agenda at Justice.

At the same time, he largely ignores or proposes laughably inadequate steps to address the real justice problems in America: Russian interference, the opioid crisis, uncontrolled gun violence (much of it involving mass shootings by disgruntled White Guys with assault-type weapons), overcrowded prisons, lack of an effective Federal community-based anti-gang effort in major cities, hate crimes committed by White Supremacists, grotesquely substandard conditions in civil immigration detention, and the uncontrolled backlogs and glaring denials of Due Process and fairness to migrants in our U.S. Immigration Court System.

How long can America go without a real Attorney General who acknowledges the rights of all people in America? How will we ever recover from the damage that Gonzo does every day he remains in the office for which he is so supremely unqualified?

PWS

02-19-18

 

DREAMER DEBACLE: MY THREE “TAKEAWAYS”

DREAMER DEBACLE: MY THREE “TAKEAWAYS”
  • Trump and the GOP aren’t going to help the Dreamers. While the majority of GOP voters are favorably disposed to Dreamers, it isn’t a priority for them. Unlike the Dems, GOP legislators aren’t getting pressure from their constituents to solve the Dreamer problem. Meanwhile, “the base” doesn’t like the Dreamers. Without Trump’s support, the GOP isn’t going to press the issue. With Trump’s active opposition and veto threats, the Dreamers are “dead meat” as far as the GOP is concerned.

 

  • The Democrats can’t help the Dreamers from their minority position. The minority doesn’t get to control the agenda, particularly over the President’s active opposition. No, it doesn’t make sense to blame Schumer for sacrificing “leverage” he never really had. The shutdown didn’t work. The Dems and the Dreamers were losing the public opinion battle. Since the GOP is basically out to destroy Government (other than the military) they didn’t feel much pressure to make concessions to the minority to get it reopened.

 

  • The Dreamers aren’t going anywhere. It’s a tossup whether the Supremes will intervene in Trump’s favor in the Dreamer case. We will probably find out within the next week. Even if the Supremes do Trump’s bidding, there is no way Trump can deport 700,000 Dreamers. Unlike the semi-helpless women and children detained at the border that Trump & Sessions like to pick on, the Dreamers have resources, community support, and access to good lawyers. They have lots of possible defenses to removal and some affirmative causes of action that should keep the legal system occupied for decades, or at least until we get regime change and wiser legislators finally put the Dreamers on the path to citizenship.

PWS

02-18-18

PETER BEINART IN THE ATLANTIC: ANTI-LATINO RACISM IS NOW THE MAJOR PLANK IN THE TRUMP GOP IMMIGRATION PLATFORM: “When Americans talk about undocumented immigrants, Latinos or immigrants in general . . . the images in their heads are likely to be the same.” — Since Trump & Sessions Are Well-Established Scofflaws – Trump Regularly Bashes The FBI & Ignores Ethics Laws, While Sessions Is Openly Scornful Of The Federal Courts And Constitutional Abortion Rights – They Need To Play To “Tribal Bias” Rather Than The “Rule of Law!”

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/what-the-new-gop-crack-down-on-legal-immigration-reveals/553631/

Beinart writes:

“The Trump-era GOP cares more about the national origin and race of immigrants than the methods they used to enter the United States.

In this August 2015, photo, a woman approaches the entrance to the Mexico border crossing in San Ysidro, California.Lenny Ignelzi / AP
A few weeks ago, the contours of an immigration compromise looked clear: Republicans would let the “dreamers” stay. Democrats would let Trump build his wall. Both sides would swallow something their bases found distasteful in order to get the thing their bases cared about most.Since then, Trump has blown up the deal. He announced on Wednesday that he would legalize the “dreamers,” undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, only if Democrats funded his wall and  ended the visa lottery and “chain migration.” He would support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants only if Congress brought the number of legal immigrants down.

There’s an irony here, which was pointed out to me by CATO Institute immigration analyst David Bier. Until recently, Republican politicians drew a bright line between illegal immigration, which they claimed to hate, and legal immigration, which they claimed to love. Florida Senator Marco Rubio launched his presidential campaign at the Freedom Tower, Miami’s Ellis Island. Texas senator Ted Cruz, who in 2013 proposed a five-fold increase in the number of H1B visas for highly skilled immigrants, declared in April 2015 that, “There is no stronger advocate for legal immigration in the U.S. Senate than I am.” Mitt Romney promised in 2007 that, “We’re going to end illegal immigration to protect legal immigration.”

Trump has turned that distinction on its head. He’s willing to legalize the “dreamers”—who came to the United States illegally—so long as the number of legal immigrants goes down. He has not only blurred the GOP’s long-held moral distinction between legal and illegal immigration. In some ways, he’s actually flipped it—taking a harder line on people who enter the U.S. with documentation than those who don’t.

What explains this? Trump’s great hidden advantage during the 2016 Republican presidential primary was his lack of support from the GOP political and donor class. This allowed him to jettison positions—in support of free trade, in support of the Iraq War, in support of cutting Medicare and Social Security—that enjoyed support among Republican elites but little support among Republican voters. He did the same on immigration, where the “legal good, illegal bad” distinction turned out to be much more popular among the party’s leaders than among its grassroots. Cribbing from Ann Coulter’s book, Adios America, Trump replaced the legal-illegal distinction with one that turned out to have more resonance on the activist right: The distinction between white Christian immigrants and non-white, and non-Christian ones.The words “illegal immigration” do not appear in Trump’s presidential announcement speech. Instead, Trump focused on immigrants’ country of origin. “When Mexico sends its people,” he declared, “they’re not sending their best … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists … It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably—probably—from the Middle East.”

Trump, who often says bluntly what other Republicans say in code, probably realized that “illegal immigrant” was, for many voters, already a euphemism for Latino or Mexican-immigrants. In their book White Backlash, the political scientists Marisa Abrajano and Zoltan Hajnal cite a poll showing that 61 percent of Americans believe that most Latino immigrants are undocumented even though only about a quarter are. “When Americans talk about undocumented immigrants, Latinos or immigrants in general,” they note, “the images in their heads are likely to be the same.”

What really drove Republican opinion about immigration, Trump realized, was not primarily the fear that the United States was becoming a country of law-breakers. (Republicans, after all, were not outraged about the lack of prosecution of tax cheats.) It was the fear that the United States—which was becoming less white and had just elected a president of Kenyan descent—was becoming a third world country.When the Public Religion Research Institute and Brookings Institution asked Americans in 2016 their views of immigration from different parts of the world, it found that Republicans were only three points more likely than Democrats to want to reduce immigration from “predominantly Christian countries” and only seven points more likely to want to reduce immigration from Europe. By contrast, they were 33 points more likely to support reducing immigration from Mexico and Central America and 41 points more likely to support reducing immigration from “predominantly Muslim countries.” What really drives Republican views about immigrants, in other words, is less their legal status than their nation of origin, their religion, and their race.

Trump grasped that during the campaign, and in coalition with a bevy of current and former Southern Senators—Jeff Sessions, David Perdue and Tom Cotton—he has used it to turn the GOP into a party devoted to slashing legal immigration. On Thursday, when presented with a bill that traded the legalization of dreamers for more border security but did not reduce legal immigration, only eight Republican Senators voted yes. However, 37 voted for a bill that legalized the “dreamers,” added more border security and substantially reduced legal immigration.

But there’s another reason Trump has succeeded in erasing the “legal good, illegal bad” distinction that for years governed GOP immigration debate. He’s made Republicans less concerned with legality in general. In 2012, the GOP—which was then-outraged by executive orders that supposedly displayed President Barack Obama’s contempt for the constitutional limits of his office—titled the immigration section of its platform, “The Rule of Law: Legal Immigration.” The seven paragraph-section used variations of the word “law” fourteen times.That emphasis is harder now. In his ongoing battles with the FBI, Justice Department, judiciary and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Trump has convinced many Republicans that the “rule of law” is often a cloak for the partisan biases of the “deep state.” As a result, Republicans are now 22 pointsless likely to hold a positive opinion of the FBI than they were in 2015.

What really matters for many Republicans in Trump’s standoff with Mueller and the FBI is not who has the law on their side, since the bureaucracy can twist the law to its own advantage. What really matters is who enjoys the backing of “the people,” the authentic America that resides outside the swamp, a construct that definitely does not include the imagined beneficiaries of “chain migration” and the “visa lottery.”

In the Trump era, Republicans now justify their immigration views less by reference to law than by reference to tribe. Which, not coincidentally, is how they justify Trump’s presidency itself.”

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Marco Rubio has already seen the downside of trying to become a national force in the GOP by advocating a moderate, pro-business, pro-immigrant, not overtly anti-Hispanic policy. I suspect if and when Ambassador Nikki Haley tries to make a bid for national office in the GOP she’ll find out that the Miller-Sessions-Cotton-Perdue-King group and Trump supporters will treat her with the same disrespect, bias, and disdain that they usually reserve for smart, capable Latinas, children fleeing for their lives from the Northern Triangle, and “Dreamers.”

And folks like Sen. Tim Scott will find that even consistent support for a right-wing GOP that regularly disses African-Americans and Hispanics won’t give him “White Guy” status in the larger GOP world. A useful vote in the Senate. That’s about it. Reportedly, Scott once talked to Trump about the latter’s “tone” on race. How did that work out, Tim? But, hey, as long as you vote for big tax breaks for the wealthy, cuts in health care, and are happy to threaten the benefits, remaining dignity, and lives of the poor, you can at least retain your status a “club member at the retail level.”

PWS

02-18-18

WHAT DOES TRUMP HAVE IN COMMON WITH THE GAMBINO CRIME FAMILY OTHER THAN AUDACIOUS DISHONESTY AND A PENCHANT FOR FRAUD? — PERHAPS, MUELLER & CO ARE GOING TO “ROLL UP” THE TRUMPSTERS JUST THE WAY THEY DID THE GAMBINOS! – Will Rick Gates Be The Reincarnation of “Sammy The Bull?”

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/02/rick-gates-robert-mueller-donald-trump

Abigail Tracy writes in Vanity Fair:

“Even among some of Donald Trump’s allies, there is a sense of astonishment at the White House’s handling of Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. “It’s like no one took down the Gambino family,” Steve BannontoldChris Whipple in a book adaptation the Hive published this week. “Mueller’s doing a roll-up just like he did with the Gambinos. [Paul] Manafort’s the caporegime, right? And [Rick] Gates is a made man!” Indeed, Mueller, who led the F.B.I. takedown of the infamous crime family in the early 1990s, famously cutting a deal with Sammy the Bull to flip on mob boss John Gotti, appears to be executing what some have called a “Gambino-style roll-up.” First, he flippedformer Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos; then, he turnedousted national security adviser Michael Flynn. Now, CNN reports, Mueller appears to be in the final stages of a plea deal with Gates, Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman and a longtime business associate of Manafort, who was indicted alongside him last fall.

The White House reportedly views Gates’s testimony as a threat to Manafort, and not to the president. “There’d be no anxiety here,” a White House official told CNN when asked about the possibility that Gates will cut a deal. The charges against the two, after all, had nothing do with Russian collusion; the 12 counts included failure to register as a foreign agent, false and misleading statements related to that registration, and seven counts of improper foreign financial reporting—all as part of a broader conspiracy to launder millions of dollars from their consulting work in Ukraine into the United States. Manafort has pleaded not guilty, and is fighting the charges. But Gates, who has also pleaded not guilty, has been grappling with financial troubles and difficulties with his legal team. According to CNN, he has been in plea negotiations with Mueller’s team of F.B.I. investigators for about a month, and has already given an interview in which he would have revealed any knowledge he might have of criminal activity that could be traded for leniency or immunity in sentencing.

What this means for the White House isn’t exactly clear. While Manafort’s reign as campaign chairman and Gates’s role as his deputy were short-lived, the duo oversaw a series of events and interactions that have come under intense scrutiny in the ongoing Justice Department probe. Manafort and Gates ran the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016, during which Donald Trump Jr. held his infamous Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer. They were also on board during the Republican National Convention, where a number of Trump campaign officials and surrogates met with Russian officials and campaign officials altered the language of the official G.O.P. platform on Ukraine to be more sympathetic to Russian interests. While Manafort was replaced by Bannon after The New York Times alleged that handwritten ledgers showed millions in undisclosed cash payments designated for Manafort in Ukraine—a claim Manafort denies—Gates continued to work with the Trump campaign through the transition, and served as a senior official on Trump’s inaugural committee.”

For now, the most significant facts in the case remain under lock. Adam Schiff, the top ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that the panel has discovered evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians during the 2016 campaign, as well as evidence of subsequent obstruction. “There is certainly an abundance of non-public information that we’ve gathered in the investigation,” Schiff toldreporters. Whether that information is actionable remains to be seen. According to the White House’s own budget request, the administration expects Mueller’s investigation to continue well into next year, despite repeated assurances from the president’s legal team that it was approaching a conclusion. If Gates has the goods, perhaps it will end sooner.

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No, the “Don of Con” isn’t “in the clear” as he incredibly asserts. In fact, it appears that the noose is slowly tightening. Exactly the kind of “dangling in the wind” to which The Don likes to subject those subordinates whom he suspects of disloyalty.

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” And, there’s so much smoke surrounding The Don, his family, and his current and former associates right now that it’s a miracle nobody in the White House has succumbed to smoke inhalation.

PWS

02-17-18

BESS LEVIN @ VANITY FAIR: CORPORATE AMERICA HELPED DIVVY UP THE SPOILS AFTER TRUMP & THE GOP LOOTED OUR TREASURY – THEY APPROPRIATED MOST OF THE LUCRE, LEAVING MERE CRUMBS FOR WORKERS – BUT, WHEN THEIR “USEFUL IDIOT” TURNED HIS IDOCY ON “DREAMERS,” THEREBY THREATENING OUR ECONOMIC WELL-BEING, THEY WERE VERY UNHAPPY!

Bess writes:

DERELICTION OF DUTY! — VLADI PUTIN SCORED A DIRECT HIT ON OUR “SHIP OF STATE!” – WITH THE SHIP LISTING AND THE CREW FRANTICALLY WARNING OF OTHER IMMINENT ATTACKS, “CAPTAIN COWARD” ROWS AWAY TO SAVE HIS OWN SKIN WHILE LEAVING OUR NATION TO “SINK WITH THE SHIP!” – How Is This Right? – Why Are We Letting Him Get Away With It?

FROM TODAYS’ WASHINGTON POST — THE EDITORIAL BOARD WRITES:

February 16 at 8:09 PM

FRIDAY’S FEDERAL grand jury indictment of 13 Russians for conspiracy to interfere illegally in the 2016 presidential election presents powerful evidence that Moscow staged an attack on the United States’ democratic political process. The facts, doggedly accumulated by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III despite much hostility from President Trump, show that the Russians’ goal was to foment “distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general,” as the indictment puts it. And the chosen means was “information warfare,” reportedly waged via provocations on social media and the occasional in-person grass-roots activity. It began in 2014 and involved Russians engaging in political activities under false, sometimes stolen, identities; no Americans wittingly cooperated with this particular plot, though some did so unwittingly, according to the indictment.

The indictment thus undercuts any lingering suggestion that Russian interference is a myth or a hoax, and Mr. Trump, who has often suggested as much, should have acknowledged the new evidence Friday. Instead, his first reaction was to claim vindication on Twitter. “The Trump campaign did nothing wrong,” he wrote, adding, “no collusion!” This was inappropriate on two levels.

First, though the indictment did say that there was no knowing American collusion with the Russian social media campaign, and though it did not say that it affected the results, it also showed that the vast majority of Russian propaganda supported Mr. Trump’s campaign and attacked that of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. You would think Mr. Trump would take a moment to repudiate that support, even in hindsight, and to declare that no foreign power has a right to campaign secretly against an American candidate.

Second, Mr. Mueller has not finished his investigation and has not ruled out the possibility of collusion. We don’t yet know whether Donald Trump Jr.’s eagerness to meet with Russians offering “dirt” on Ms. Clinton’s campaign was an isolated incident. Nor has the special counsel yet weighed in on the question of possible obstruction of his investigation by President Trump.

Meanwhile, the evidence of a Russian assault on the U.S. election is a serious development in and of itself that any responsible president would respond to in a serious way. Such an attempt to delegitimize the American system could only have gone forward with the knowledge and approval of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. It reflected the Kremlin’s all-too-accurate judgment that a divided and polarized U.S. electorate would be vulnerable to the same sort of dirty tricks Russia has pulled in Europe. In a statement, Mr. Trump declared that “we cannot allow those seeking to sow confusion, discord, and rancor to be successful,” though he strangely blamed not Russia, but rather “outlandish partisan attacks” by his opponents, which, he said, “further the agendas of bad actors, like Russia.” The only message he should be sending now, both to the American people and to Moscow, is that Mr. Putin is responsible and that the U.S. government will respond to his covert attacks with appropriate retaliation.

President Trump continues to insist the Democrats are responsible for any story relating to Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The grand jury’s indictment shows how far Russia is willing to go to manipulate and discredit our democracy. Mr. Trump’s own intelligence chiefs warned this week that the 2018 election is under threat. Given the baffling and inexcusable absence of presidential leadership, Congress must step up to defend the nation.”

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An “inexcusable absence of presidential leadership.” Sorry, I don’t find that “baffling” or surprising at all. In fact, it’s a depressingly accurate and succinct description of Trump’s entire “Joke Presidency.”

Trump’s own intelligence officials, including National Security Advisor Gen. McMaster are all warning of the seriousness of the threat Russia poses to our electoral integrity and national security. Trump is, as normal, focused entirely on trying (totally unsuccessfully) to cover his own behind. This is a guy who up until now has been calling Russian interference with  the 2016 Election “a hoax” and “fake news.”

And, there is zero chance that the spineless and complicit GOP-controlled Congress will step into the breach. They are too busy looting our country before Armageddon comes!

There is, however, one way available to all of us to save our country! Throw the GOP scoundrels, enablers, and “Fellow Travelers” out of office. A Democratic Congress is the best hope for the people to take back control and save America from Putin, Trump, and the “New American Oligarchs” and “Kleptocrats” who are enabling both of them!

Otherwise, we all ought to start studying Russian. Because we’re all going to need it to communicate with our “future real rulers” in Moscow!

PWS

02-17-18

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT TWO STORIES FROM THAT “GREAT ERA OF AMERICA” THAT TRUMP, SESSIONS, MILLER, COTTON, AND THEIR WHITE NATIONALIST PALS LOVE SO MUCH – When White Men Were Supreme, The Law Was There To Keep African Americans in Their Place, Blacks Who Stood Up For Their Rights Were Murdered By The White Police, And Latinos & Women Were “Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind!”

From “John Kelly’s Washington” in the Washington Post:

Stuck on a shelf or locked in a safe, D.C.’s ‘Lost Laws’ still packed a punch

 
Before the Supreme Court upheld the District’s “Lost Laws” in 1953, activists such as Mary Church Terrell (center) picketed in front of segregated restaurants.

Columnist February 14

Martin Luther King Jr. said “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

He could have added: “eventually, and after plenty of detours.”

In 1872 and 1873, two laws were passed in Washington that forbade racial discrimination in the city’s restaurants. Then, somehow, the laws vanished.

Just imagine the reaction when they were “rediscovered” in the 1940s. It must have been as if someone had opened a vault sealed when Ulysses Grant was president and found an airplane inside, a television, penicillin … .

Could Washingtonians from 70 years ago really have been so advanced? What had happened to those people?

What amazed me when I looked into the events of the 1870s and 1880s was how similar things were to the Jim Crow era. Restaurateurs used some of the same excuses for refusing to serve African Americans: Black customers were “boisterous,” white patrons would stay away, the government shouldn’t meddle.

To fight discrimination, black activists used methods that are familiar to us now. Lawyer E.M. Hewlett deliberately visited restaurants to see if he would be served. Hewlett looked to see if owners had posted price lists, as required by law to prevent black customers from being gouged. When he spotted a violation, he took the establishment to court.

In the end, none of it did any good. Why?

“During Reconstruction, D.C. was really on the leading edge of racial change in America,” said Chris Myers Asch, co-author, with George Derek Musgrove, of “Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation’s Capital.”

Said Asch: “D.C. was a very progressive city. You had remarkable progress being made toward racial equality in a very brief space of time. Black men in D.C. were the first black men in the country to be granted the right to vote after the Civil War.”

Such efforts, Asch said, were a priority for radical Republicans in Congress.

“The backlash from white conservatives is really substantial,” Asch said. “First you eliminate self government all together in 1874. Then you slowly roll back those Reconstruction-era gains. This is part of a regionwide effort to enforce white supremacy. By 1901, when city commissioners decide to compile the D.C. Code, they simply don’t include those Reconstruction-era statutes.”

They didn’t include them, but they didn’t repeal them. The Lost Laws were not dead. They were like a long-dormant seed, ready to spring to life after a refreshing rain.

I don’t know who found them. Asch thinks it was A. Mercer Daniel, who oversaw the library at Howard University’s law school. They gained fame in 1948 with the publication of “Segregation in Washington,” a scathing report that mentioned the laws.

Civil rights activists wondered: Could the laws be used to fight segregation?

Annie Stein, a white woman from Southwest D.C. who was a member of the Progressive Party, invited Mary Church Terrell to chair the Coordinating Committee for the Enforcement of the D.C. Anti-Discrimination Laws of 1872 and 1873. When Terrell, the octogenarian co-founder of the NAACP, was denied service at a downtown cafeteria called Thompson’s in 1950, it set the stage for a test case.

District of Columbia vs. John R. Thompson Co. went first to the old Municipal Court, where Judge Frank Myers ruled that the Lost Laws had “been repealed by implication” and, thus, could no longer be enforced.

Terrell and company appealed. In May of 1951, the Municipal Court of Appeals ruled 2-to-1 that the anti-bias laws were still valid. Among the points raised by Judge Nathan Cayton was that another so-called lost law had been enforced in 1908, even though it, too, had been omitted from the 1901 D.C. Code.

It was an animal cruelty law. Animals, it seemed, had more rights than black Washingtonians.

The game of legal ping-pong continued. The next stop was the U.S. Court of Appeals. In a 5-to-4 decision, it ruled that the laws of 1872 and 1873 could not be enforced.

One judge, Barrett Prettyman, wrote the statutes were “neither mentioned again nor enforced for a period of 75 years.” Thus the laws “must be deemed by the courts to have been abandoned.”

If you’ve been reading my columns this week, you know that wasn’t true. African Americans did mention them and did try to get them enforced.

In April of 1953, the case finally reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Chester H. Gray of the District’s corporation counsel’s office asked the court not to blame his staff. They hadn’t known of the laws until someone found them in the corporation counsel’s safe.

“You mean you have to go to a locked safe to find laws of the District of Columbia?” Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson joked.

In June, the court ruled unanimously that the laws were still in effect. Laws passed by long-dead Washingtonians had helped their descendants.

Five days after the Supreme Court ruling, Terrell went to eat at Thompson’s with the mixed-race group who had been denied a meal three years earlier. They were treated, Terrell said, with courtesy.”

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

Sound all too familiar? It should! The claptrap coming from yesterday’s racists is pretty much the same as the garbage coming out of the mouths of some GOP pols these days. Here’s my “rewrite” of a paragraph of Kelly’s account in “today’s context.”

The backlash from Sessions, Bannon, Kobach, Miller and their White Nationalist pals to the diversification of America and growing political power of African-Americans, Hispanics and other non-Whites was substantial. First, they used gerrymandering and intentional mis-constructions of Civil Rights and Voting Rights statutes intended to protect minorities to instead suppress and minimize the minority vote. This is part to a nationwide effort by the far right to restore White Supremacy and prevent African-Americans and Hispanics from eventually obtaining political power commensurate with their demographics and overwhelming contributions to America. Then, when supposedly in charge of administering the laws equally, they simply refuse to recognize the rights of African-Americans to be free from police violence and the rights of Hispanics and asylum seekers in the United States to be treated with respect and dignity and to be given full Due Process under our Constitution. They even invent false narratives, bogus statistics, and demonize hard-working law-abiding citizens, residents, and great and deserving young people known as “Dreamers” in a desperate effort to restore exclusive White (preferably “pseudo-Christian”) power. To add insult to injury, they carry out this anti-American, anti-Constitutional campaign under the boldly false rubric of “Restoring the Rule of Law.”

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

Now let’s move over to the Post’s Sports Section. Here’s an account of what happened to courageous African-American athletes who stood up for their rights and the rights of others during the “glory days” of White Supremacy that Trump, Sessions, & Co. so cherish and honor.

Remembering the Orangeburg massacre, and the athlete-activists who took a stand 


Two black demonstrators killed in the Orangeburg Massacre lie on the ground at the edge of South Carolina State College in Orangeburg, S.C., on Feb. 8, 1968. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
February 13

Robert Lee Davis found himself lying in blood next to his teammate Sam Hammond. At least one bullet had struck Davis in the back. Another went in Hammond’s neck.

Davis recalled in an oral history that Hammond, a running back at South Carolina State, asked him, “Do you think I’m going to live?” Davis, a linebacker, said he answered, “Sam, you are going to be all right, buddy.”

Hammond was the first of three young black men to die that night 50 years ago in Orangeburg, S.C. Davis was one of several football players at historically black South Carolina State to survive a hail of police fire with injuries.

What brought them together that Feb. 8, 1968, evening was not a team meeting or the training table. Instead, it was a call to confront a wrong, an affront, an act of overt racial discrimination in Orangeburg at a bowling alley that refused would-be black bowlers just like the state was denying black citizens their human rights.

As a result, Davis and Hammond became athlete-activists long before we created the suddenly ubiquitous, if not trite, alliterative phrase these days to describe football and basketball players, almost all of color, who have, by comparison, merely sported sloganeering T-shirts, or employed histrionics, to demonstrate against racial injustice.

It is a noble and laudable effort, of course. But what we’ve come to champion of athletes today pales juxtaposed to what so many did in the cauldron of the late ’60s civil rights movement. Davis and Hammond, for example, dared to physically confront the very embodiment of the South’s recalcitrant racists — scores of carbine rifle-toting, all-white state troopers — for which Hammond forfeited not just his career but his life.

They were among at least 30 victims of what became known as the Orangeburg massacre.

I was reminded of it three years ago as a presenter at the annual Media and Civil Rights symposium at the University of South Carolina. It included a mesmerizing panel featuring a demonstrator that night, civil rights icon and scholar Cleveland Sellers, and a reporter who became legendary for his fearless coverage of the massacre and other civil rights movement era violence, Jack Bass. With Jack Nelson, awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the civil rights movement, Bass authored “The Orangeburg Massacre” in 1970.

And I took note that the panelists, particularly Oliver Francis, a one-time baseball player at Voorhees, another historically black South Carolina college, pointed out that black male athletes in particular stepped to the fore in Orangeburg’s deadly confrontation with white supremacy, and in others. Francis wound up convicted and sentenced to prison for 18 to 24 months as an organizer in an armed black student takeover in 1969 of the Voorhees administration building.

It all reminded that black athletes played not just pivotal roles in the civil rights movement, like the muscle North Carolina A&T football players provided for their classmates engaged in sit-ins to desegregate the Greensboro, N.C., Woolworth’s lunch counter. Or in Rock Hill, S.C., where 10 black Friendship College students were detained by police for trying to desegregate a town lunch counter in 1961 but became known as the Rock Hill Nine after one among them wasn’t booked so he could maintain his athletic scholarship. Chicago Bears running back Willie Galimore was the test black registrant at the Ponce de Leon Motor Lodge in St. Augustine, Fla., that became a flash point for desegregation fights in 1964.

And as was evidenced in Orangeburg, black athletes sometimes were even in the vanguard of protests. Samuel Freedman underscored as much in recounting the Orangeburg massacre in his 2014 book, “Breaking the Line: The Season in Black College Football That Transformed the Sport and Changed the Course of Civil Rights.”

Freedman wrote: “Shortly after the 1967 football season ended, many of the politically engaged members of the South Carolina State team joined in protests against a segregated bowling alley near the campus in Orangeburg.” On Feb. 6, 1968, Freedman reported, Davis and several of his teammates went on their own to the bowling alley and not only were denied admittance but were threatened with arrest by city police for disturbing the peace. Other students eventually joined the football players, objected to the police threats and wound up defending themselves from swinging billy clubs.

Two nights later, Freedman stated, “an all-white force of state troopers opened fire on the student demonstrators, killing three and wounding twenty-eight. Among the dead was one football player . . . Hammond. Several other players were injured by gunfire, one of them temporarily paralyzed.”

Davis was that temporarily paralyzed victim.

The student survivors of the massacre refused, however, to be deterred and allow the killings of Hammond, fellow student Henry Smith and high school football player Delano Middleton to be in vain. They organized a march from campus to the state capital 42 miles away to demand justice. Athletes decided to lead the march by running the distance.

“The four young men who approached me about the run were all track and field distance runners,” Willis Ham, a South Carolina State baseball player at the time, told the (Orangeburg, S.C.) Times and Democrat five years ago. “Three of the young men were not of American descent, and they simply wanted to express their disgust for the way Americans ‘treat their own,’ with the one tool that they had to their credit [the ability to run].

“We wanted our fellow students to know how deeply we felt about their determination to go to Columbia [S.C.], and express to state officials how they really felt about the lack of support in the days leading to the massacre.”

“It gave us a chance to say that our spirits and drive for freedom from depression would never be destroyed,” Ham explained.

The white troopers who fired on the students were exonerated in a trial a year later. The lone conviction from the incident was of Sellers for incitement. He spent seven months in prison. He was pardoned in 1993.

But what Hammond, the football player, first fell for is forever remembered on South Carolina State’s campus. Its basketball arena that opened that fateful day, Feb. 8, 1968, was renamed the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center.

Kevin B. Blackistone, ESPN panelist and visiting professor at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, writes sports commentary for The Post.”

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We should all be appalled that in the 21st Century, folks like Trump, Sessions, Miller, Cotton, and others who think that it’s “OK” and “permissible” to whip up false anti-Hispanic fervor with bogus narratives about rampant crime, imaginary “stolen” jobs, and phantom “adverse effects” of legal immigration have weaseled their way into positions of national power and prominence.

They seek to take America backwards to a bygone era of racial injustice and manufactured hate. Don’t let them get away with it! Ballot boxes were made to “retire” the Trumps, Sessions, and Cottons of the world and send them off to try to make an honest living.

PWS

02-16-18

CRIME/NATIONAL SECURITY/TRUMP: “NO DOUBTER” – ANYONE WHO THINKS THAT VALDI PUTIN DIDN’T HELP ELECT TRUMP IS BADLY MISTAKEN – Just Read Mueller’s Latest Indictment! – I’ve Got It for You!

 

Russian Indictment

 

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So, now you know why:

  • Trump fears the truth;
  • Sessions runs around the country trashing Dreamers, asylum seekers, lawyers, empowering MS-13, and promoting his White Nationalist agenda while not lifting a finger to prevent Russian meddling in our elections;
  • DHS is headed by a lightweight sycophant who is more concerned about deporting gardeners and maids and “kissing up” to Trump’s racist agenda than about protecting our country from the active threat by Russia;
  • We’re standing by and letting Russia run all over us on the world stage;
  • Vladi is just delighted with the performance of his “Puppet President,” “Agent Devon,” and a host of GOP “Fellow Travelers;”
  • Trump and his cohorts are out to destroy the career civil service because career civil servants owe allegiance to our Constitution rather than to Trump and his corrupt minions.

Wake up, folks, and vote the GOP out of office, on all levels, before it’s too late for America!

PWS

02-15-18

MEET THE GOOD GUYS: NOVA SUPERSTAR IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY AVA BENACH HELPS “DREAMER TYPES” & THEY HELP AMERICA – THIS IS THE WAY THE SYSTEM CAN WORK WHEN YOU GET BEYOND THE WHITE NATIONALIST XENOPHOBIA OF TRUMP, SESSIONS, & MILLER & WHEN GREAT LAWYERS GET INVOLVED!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/she-was-almost-deported-as-a-teen-now-she-helps-frightened-versions-of-herself/2018/02/15/b39969a8-1245-11e8-9065-e55346f6de81_story.html

Petula Dvorak writes in the Washington Post:

“She was almost deported as a teen. Now she helps frightened versions of herself.


Liana Montecinos is a senior paralegal at Benach Collopy in Washington. She was 17 and about to be deported when lawyer Ava Benach helped her win asylum. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Columnist February 15 at 3:39 PM

On many days in the shiny, sleek law office — in her sharp suit and sweeping view of Washington — she revisits all the horrors most people would want to forget:

The drunk men bursting into her tiny, adobe home at night, terrorizing the 15 children who lived there.

The walk across three countries, fearing for her life the entire way.

The months of eating nothing but beans and rice.

These are the same stories Liana Montecinos hears just about every time the 29-year-old paralegal sits down with a client.

Ava Benach, from left, Satsita Muradova and Liana Montecinos chat at their law office. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

She doesn’t have to go there. She’s an American citizen and a third-year law student with a great future in front of her. But instead of going into something lucrative — corporate law, for example — she’s sticking with the law firm that helped her get political asylum.

“Being an immigrant and serving immigrants, it’s a very special connection,” Montecinos said.

And by doing that, she spends her days with frightened versions of herself.

I wanted to tell Montecinos’s story as Congress grapples with the fate of 1.8 million “dreamers,” the undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children. They face deportation under President Trump unless Congress can find a way to reinstate the protection they were given by President Barack Obama.

Montecinos was brought across the border by a relative in 1999, when she was 11 years old, after walking — yes, actually walking — from Honduras, across Guatemala, then across Mexico, crossing the Rio Grande into the United States.

She joined her mother in Northern Virginia — they had been separated since she was an infant and she had been raised by her grandmother — and her life was transformed.

She played volleyball and basketball in her Falls Church high school. She was a cheerleader and soccer player. She took Advanced Placement classes.

But no matter how well she was doing in school and no matter how faint her accent became, she knew it could all fall apart any second.

And it nearly did when she was 17 and applied for legal status. Instead, the government began removal proceedings. She was going to be deported.

But it didn’t stop her from graduating from high school and enrolling at George Mason University, where she received a scholarship to cover the triple-tuition she had to pay as an undocumented student.

The scholarship’s donor — Helen Ackerman — introduced Montecinos to D.C. immigration attorney Ava Benach, who took on her complex case. What followed was a 10-year struggle.

“I met Liana when she was 17 years old,” Benach said. “And I knew she was special. She was out there, trying to figure out her own immigration status. I felt a very parental desire to help her.”

So they took on the case together, with Montecinos never giving up.

“I’d be doing an all-nighter, knowing I had a hearing the next day and the judge could send me away and it would all be for nothing,” she said.

But she kept studying, striving and working. You know how folks are always saying “Why don’t they just get legal?” It’s not that easy.

It took 10 years of hearings and arguments to convince a judge that she faced threats and violence in Honduras, in that tiny, adobe house, and that her hard work in school, model citizenship and potential were enough to grant her a place in American society.

Asylum is granted only to someone who faces persecution in their home country. And that persecution has to be for one of five reasons: your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or your political opinion.

“It has to fit in one of five boxes,” Benach said. And her life’s work is helping her frightened clients qualify.

Montecinos was granted asylum and citizenship on June 29, 2016.

“For many, becoming a U.S. citizen is the last part of the process,” Montecinos wrote on her Facebook page that day. “For others, like myself, it is the beginning to end 16 plus years of uncertainty and of fear of a forceful return to imminent harm.”

She called herself “extremely blessed and thankful for such a privilege, which is denied to many,” she said. “This path, however, was not easy. It was not short. It was not cheap.”

She is in her third year of law school at the University of the District of Columbia, where she received a Student Humanitarian and Civic Engagement award on Thursday.

In her spare time, you see, she runs a nonprofit group she founded, United for Social Justice, which helps low-income, first-generation Americans get access to higher education. Oh, and she coaches and plays on a bunch of soccer teams.

When she meets with the undocumented children who are like her, the ones she is fighting for, it reminds her of her struggle.

Though her own story is horrible — think of being 11 and scared, hiding your face with blankets as you cross strange villages where people are yelling “pollos mojados” (wet chickens) at you, not knowing where you’re going — her clients recount even more heart-stopping stories.

She hears from children who were kidnapped, who rode for days on top of speeding trains, afraid to fall asleep because they’d fall off, from a little girl who was gang-raped in front of her father.”

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

Ava has a “Major League” legal mind to go with a “heart of gold!” She and her colleagues from her firm appeared on many occasions before me at the Arlington Immigration Court.

This article aptly illustrates one of the points I often make.  Asylum law has intentionally been “jacked” against Central Americans by a non-independent BIA working under pressure from politicos to limit protections to large groups. Nevertheless, with a good lawyer (e.g., one who isn’t afraid to argue the BIA’s — often otherwise ignored — favorable precedents back to them and to take wrong BIA denials to the Court of Appeals if necessary), resources to build and document a case, and persistence, most of the “Dreamers” probably could win some type of relief in Immigration Court if not at the Asylum Office or elsewhere at USCIS.

But, what rational reason could there be for forcing folks like Liana Montecinos who are already here, part of our society, and just want to become taxpaying citizens and REALLY “Make America Great” (not to be confused with the disingenuous racist slogan of Trump and his White Nationalist “base”) go through such a laborious process? And what possible rationale could there be for wasting the time of an already overburdened Immigration Court system with cases of individuals who clearly should be welcomed and accepted into American society without being placed in “Removal Proceedings?” Also, what would be the rationale for trying to artificially “speed up” complex cases like Liana’s and trying to make life difficult for talented lawyers like Ava?

The answer is clear: there is NO rationale for the “Gonzo” Immigration enforcement and “designed chaos and attack on Due Process in Immigration Court” that Trump, Miller, Sessions, Nielsen, Tom Homan and their ilk are trying to ram down our throats. Sessions is the problem for justice in our Immigration Courts; lawyers like Ava are a key part of the solution! Clearly, the U.S. Immigration Courts are too important to our system of justice to be left in the clutches of a biased, “enforcement only,” White Nationalist, xenophobic opponent of individual due process like Jeff Sessions! American needs an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court! Harm to the least and most vulnerable among us is harm to all!

The good news is that folks like Ava and her fellow “Generals” of the “New Due Process Army” are out there to fight Trump, Sessions & Company and their White Nationalist, anti-American actions every step of the way and to vindicate the Constitutional and legal rights of great American migrants like Liliana and millions of others similarly situated. They are “American’s future!” Trump, Sessions, Miller, et al., are the ugly past of America that all decent Americans should be committed to “putting in the rear-view mirror” where the “Trumpsters” live and belong! And, it won’t be long before Liliana becomes an attorney and a “full-fledged member” of the “New Due Process Army!”

Go Ava! Go Liliana! Due Process Forever! 

PWS

02-16-18

 

SLAMMED AGAIN! — 4TH CIR. FINDS CLEAR ANTI-MUSLIM BIAS IN AGAIN REJECTING TRUMP’S BOGUS TRAVEL BAN! — SUPREMES WILL HAVE LAST WORD!

https://www.buzzfeed.com/zoetillman/a-federal-appeals-court-ruled-that-trumps-third-travel-ban

Zoe Tillman reports for BuzzFeed News:

“A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that President Donald Trump’s third attempt at a travel ban is likely unconstitutional, writing that it “continues to exhibit a primarily religious anti-Muslim objective.”

The US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit upheld a lower court injunction that blocked the Trump administration from enforcing key parts of the travel ban, but put its order on hold while the US Supreme Court takes up the issue of the ban.

The president’s third travel ban is already before the Supreme Court, after the 9th Circuit ruled in December that it violated federal law. The 9th Circuit did not rule on the issue addressed by the 4th Circuit — whether the ban amounts to religious discrimination in violation of the US Constitution’s Establishment Clause — but the justices asked for briefing on the constitutional question as well.

The 4th Circuit sided in favor of the groups challenging the ban in a 9–4 decision. Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote in the majority opinion that the government’s “proffered rationale for the Proclamation lies at odds with the statements of the President himself.”

“Plaintiffs here do not just plausibly allege with particularity that the Proclamation’s purpose is driven by anti-Muslim bias, they offer undisputed evidence of such bias: the words of the President,” Gregory wrote.

Gregory cited Trump’s “disparaging comments and tweets regarding Muslims,” the president’s repeated references to a Muslim ban, the fact that Trump’s previous travel bans were focused on majority-Muslim countries, and statements by Trump and his advisers that the latest order has the same goals as the previous ones.

A Justice Department spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.

Cecillia Wang, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, who argued the case for the travel ban challengers in the 4th Circuit, said in a statement, that, “President Trump’s third illegal attempt to denigrate and discriminate against Muslims through an immigration ban has failed in court yet again. It’s no surprise. The Constitution prohibits government actions hostile to a religion.”

After federal courts struck down the president’s first two attempts at a travel ban, Trump on Sept. 24 signed the latest set of travel restrictions. It in large part suspended travel to the US by nationals of five majority-Muslim countries covered under the previous travel bans — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen — as well as two new countries, Chad and North Korea. The presidential proclamation also placed travel restrictions on certain government officials in Venezuela and their family members.

In October, federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland issued injunctions blocking enforcement of the ban, which the Trump administration appealed. The Supreme Court issued an order on Dec. 4 allowing the ban to go fully into effect while the appeals in the 9th Circuit and the 4th Circuit went forward. The justices wrote at the time that it expected that the appeals courts would rule “with appropriate dispatch.”

The 9th Circuit, which heard arguments on Dec. 6, issued its opinion on Dec. 20. But the 4th Circuit, which heard arguments two days later, did not rule until Thursday.

Gregory wrote in the main opinion that even if the proclamation was “facially legitimate” — that the text on its face didn’t run afoul of the constitution — it failed the test of whether the government had a “bona fide” reason for adopting it. The administration argued that the proclamation was rooted in national security concerns, but Gregory wrote that Trump’s statements undermined that.

Gregory said that even setting aside Trump’s statements during the campaign calling for a Muslim ban, the president had continued to make statements that “convey the primary purpose of the Proclamation—to exclude Muslims from the United States.” He quoted Trump’s tweets supporting his original travel ban executive order, which multiple courts determined was likely unconstitutional, as well as a tweet expressing support for an unverified story about a general who killed Muslims using bullets dipped in pig’s blood and his retweets of anti-Muslim videos.

“Plaintiffs offer undisputed evidence that the President of the United States has openly and often expressed his desire to ban those of Islamic faith from entering the United States. The Proclamation is thus not only a likely Establishment Clause violation, but also strikes at the basic notion that the government may not act based on ‘religious animosity,'” Gregory wrote.

The court upheld US District Judge Theodore Chuang’s preliminary injunction, which blocked enforcement of the proclamation’s travel restrictions with respect to nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen who have a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

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The Administration continues to trip over the out of court statements by Trump and his sleazy subordinates which reveal the real agenda of bias and  hate beneath his actions.

No matter how the Supremes come out (and Trump could win the cherished right to discriminate and carry out his bogus hate agenda) the stain on America being caused by Trump, Sessions, Miller, the other White Nationalists, and their supporters and enablers will take a long time to wash away!

PWS

02-15-15

HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST – JOIN THE BATTLE – TELL YOUR SENATORS TO ”JUST SAY NO” TO ADMINISTRATION’S SLEAZY WHITE NATIONALIST ATTACK ON HUMAN RIGHTS, DREAMERS, AND HUMAN DECENCY!

Human Rights First - American Ideals. Universal Values.
Paul,

The Dreamers—immigrants brought to the United States as children—have become the quintessential political football. And today, the battle continues.

The Senate will vote on bills today to protect the Dreamers, but many of them include inhumane provisions that would turn our backs on asylum seekers—some of the most vulnerable individuals in the world.

President Trump and his allies are using Dreamers, asylum seekers, and refugees as bargaining chips to pursue extreme immigration restrictions.

Take Action Now

Under the Trump Administration, the United States is turning away migrants at the border, restricting their ability to seek asylum, and increasing criminal prosecutions. And today, the Senate may vote to expand these cruel practices further, punishing refugees fleeing violence and prosecution, and families left in harm’s way.

Join with us and call on your senators to stand firm on protections for refugees, asylum seekers, and families.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Quigley

Advocacy Strategist

On human rights, the United States must be a beacon. America is strongest when our policies and actions match our values.
Human Rights First - American Ideals. Universal Values.
Human Rights First is an independent advocacy and action organization that challenges America to live up to its ideals. We believe American leadership is essential in the struggle for human rights so we press the U.S. government and private companies to respect human rights and the rule of law. When they don’t, we step in to demand reform, accountability and justice. Around the world, we work where we can best harness American influence to secure core freedoms.

Human Rights First
New York: 75 Broad Street, 31st Floor, New York, NY 10004
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www.humanrightsfirst.org | Click here to unsubscribe | Click here to signup

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Click on “Take Action Now” to stop the White Nationalist assault on American Values and Human Rights.  “Harm to one, is harm to all.” 

“We can diminish ourselves as a Nation, but that won’t stop human migration!”

PWS

02-15-18

DREAMERS: THE UGLY TRUTH COMES OUT — ADMINISTRATION UNLEASHES AN ALL-OUT XENOPHOBIC, WHITE NATIONALIST, “GONZO” “FACT-FREE” ATTACK ON DREAMERS, IMMIGRANTS, AND AMERICA’S FUTURE IN A DESPERATE ATTEMPT TO UNDERMINE BIPARTISAN IMMIGRATION REFORM! – Tal @ CNN Reports!

“White House goes all out to stop bipartisan immigration deal

By Tal Kopan, CNN

The Trump administration is working Thursday to kill a bipartisan deal on immigration that could be the best chance to get a bill through the Senate.

The White House is “actively considering issuing a veto threat” against the bipartisan immigration bill Thursday morning, a senior administration official said.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions derided the legislation in remarks to a national sheriff’s association.

“This is open borders and mass amnesty and the opposite of what the American people support,” Sessions claimed about the bill, according to prepared remarks. “This amendment — plain as day — will invite a mad rush of illegality across our borders.”

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is also making calls to lawmakers to urge them to reject the bill, or potentially even revoke their sponsorship of it, according to an administration official.

And in a statement released late Wednesday night, the Department of Homeland Security had tough words for the plan, calling it “the end of immigration enforcement in America.”

The legislation from a group of 16 bipartisan senators would offer nearly 2 million young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children before 2012 a path to citizenship over 10 to 12 years.

The plan would also place $25 billion in a guarded trust for border security, would cut a small number of green cards each year for adult children of current green card holders, and would prevent parents from being sponsored for citizenship by their US citizen children if that child gained citizenship through the pathway created in the bill or if they brought the child to the US illegally.

The administration statements riled up co-sponsors of the bill, who said the White House and allies have “lost credibility” by criticizing a bipartisan agreement.

“With their press release this morning, it seems as if DHS is intent on acting less like a partner and more like an adversary,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina. “Instead of offering thoughts and advice — or even constructive criticism — they are acting more like a political organization intent on poisoning the well. From the tone of this morning’s document, it appears as if DHS hopes all border security proposals fail. That would be the worst outcome of all.”

One provision the Department of Homeland Security particularly objected to would direct it to focus its arrests and deportations on criminals and newly arrived immigrants. The Trump administration has virtually removed all prioritization of arresting and deporting immigrants. It has targeted individuals with final deportation orders, some years and decades old, drawing criticism for deporting longtime members of communities with US citizen families.

“The Schumer-Rounds-Collins proposal destroys the ability of the men and women from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to remove millions of illegal aliens,” DHS said in a statement. “It would be the end of immigration enforcement in America and only serve to draw millions more illegal aliens with no way to remove them.

“The changes proposed by Senators Schumer-Rounds-Collins would effectively make the United States a Sanctuary Nation where ignoring the rule of law is encouraged,” the agency added.

President Donald Trump has backed a plan to give 1.8 million undocumented people who came to the US as children citizenship with $25 billion in border security, host of hardline enforcement power requests, substantially cutting family-based migration and ending the diversity visa lottery.

DHS called the bipartisan proposal an “egregious violation” of what the President has wanted.

The White House proposal has been introduced by Republican senators and is expected to be well below the 60 votes needed to advance.

Both proposals are expected to get a vote in the Senate on Thursday.”

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Hang tough, Dems! Don’t sell out to outrageous lies, racism, and xenophobia!

PWS

02-15-18

“QUEEN OF DISINGENUOUS NONSENSE” SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS WAS AT A LOSS FOR WORDS – WHILE SOME MIGHT WELL VIEW THAT AS A GOOD THING FOR AMERICA, DANA MILBANK @ WASHPOST HELPS HER OUT! — “I used the time waiting in vain for Wednesday’s briefing to compile the following executive summary of l’affaire Porter, in Trump administration officials’ own words . . . .”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/sarah-huckabee-sanders-is-at-a-loss-for-words-on-rob-porter-i-am-here-for-her/2018/02/14/0a019a22-11e2-11e8-9065-e55346f6de81_story.html

Milbank writes:

“Are you having trouble keeping up with the Rob Porter scandal? Apparently Sarah Huckabee Sanders is.

Her daily press briefing Wednesday was scheduled for 1 p.m., then at 2 p.m. was postponed until 4 p.m., then at 4 p.m. was abandoned entirely. The menu of topics — scandals at the EPA and VA, confirmation of a payoff to porn actress Stormy Daniels and, by midafternoon, another horrendous school shooting — was hardly appetizing. And the unpalatable entree was sure to be Porter, the White House staff secretary who resigned last week amid accusations of wife-beating that were ignored by the White House for months.

After eight days of the administration’s shifting and contradictory explanations of its handling of Porter, it’s quite understandable that Sanders would be at a loss for words. But I am here for her. As a public service, I used the time waiting in vain for Wednesday’s briefing to compile the following executive summary of l’affaire Porter, in Trump administration officials’ own words:

White House officials “are all processing the shocking and troubling allegations made against” Porter, which is why they “hope he has a wonderful career and hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him.”

Columnist Ruth Marcus says White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly is as much of a disgrace as the former staff secretary whose spousal abuse Kelly covered up.

Porter “says he’s innocent and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent,” which explains why “it became apparent to us that the allegations were true.”

Porter “is someone of the highest integrity and exemplary character” and is the victim of “a coordinated smear campaign.” As a result, there is “no reason not to believe the women” who accused him, and his “resignation was appropriate.”

Resignation “was a personal decision that Rob made and one that he was not pressured to do, but one that he made on his own.” Furthermore, “we dismissed that person immediately.”

There were “contemporaneous police reports,” “women speaking to the FBI under threat of perjury” and “photographs” corroborating accusations of wife beating. Consequently, “we absolutely wish him well.”

The White House “learned of the extent of the situation involving Rob Porter last Tuesday evening,” as a result of Porter himself telling the White House counsel of the situation in January 2017.

As of Sunday, the White House “had not received a final investigation” of Porter’s background because “the FBI has the ongoing investigations” had “not completed that investigation,” which is only logical given that the FBI gave the White House “a completed background investigation” in July and “closed the file” last month.

Kelly learned the details of Porter’s situation only “40 minutes before he threw him out,” last week, several months after Kelly reportedly was informed that allegations of spousal abuse were holding up Porter’s security clearance.

Once White House officials learned of the Porter allegations, “within 24 hours his resignation had been accepted and announced,” which is why the White House security office informed high-level White House officials about the allegations in November and Porter resigned in February.

The president has “absolute confidence in Gen. Kelly,” who is “an American hero” and also a “big fat liar.”

The “White House personnel security office,” which received the FBI’s background report on Porter, is part of “a process that doesn’t operate within the White House.”

The president is “totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind,” while “people’s lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.” Domestic violence “is abhorrent and has no place in our society,” and “there is no recovery for someone falsely accused.” The White House takes “matters of domestic violence very seriously,” and “the president is shaped by a lot of false accusations against him” and wonders, “Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”

When you think about the Porter affair this way, it all begins to make perfect sense. Yes, the matter is “shocking,” and the White House “could have done better.” And at the same time, “what happened this week was completely reasonable and normal.”

In the Trump White House, this juxtaposition of “shocking” and “normal” somehow doesn’t feel like an oxymoron.”

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Trump and his “toady/sycophant/enablers are “normalizing” lies and misinformation.

The Trump Administrator is the biggest threat to our democracy and our national security. Will enough folks wake up to the threat before it’s too late?

PWS

02-15-18

E.J. DIONNE, JR. @ WASHPOST – “SIMPLE DECENCY MOVEMENT” LIKELY TO BE BAD NEWS FOR TRUMP’S INDECENT GOP – “[D]emanding simple decency is a radical and subversive act.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-real-split-in-american-politics-isnt-left-vs-right/2018/02/14/9ca64696-11bc-11e8-9570-29c9830535e5_story.html

Dionne writes:

“. . . .

Some members of this dispirited group overlap with a third key constituency that is underanalyzed because its ranks are not exceptionally partisan or ideological. They are citizens who ask for a basic minimum from those in charge of their government: some dignity and decorum, a focus on problem-solving, and orderliness rather than chaos. Trump and the conservatives sustaining him are completely out of line with this behavioral conservatism built on self-restraint and temperamental evenness.

It is not to romanticize the heartland to say that anyone who spends time in the Midwest runs into such solid citizens all the time. They are horrified by spousal abuse. They include small-business owners who prefer low taxes but care about schools, roads, libraries and parks. They may be critical of government, but they also expect it to do useful things. They don’t much like bragging and find an obsession with enemies unhealthy.

They are churchgoers who don’t watch TV preachers, may have doubts about this or that doctrine, and don’t tell others how religious they are. But they take from their faith and scripture that they have obligations to their communities and a duty to try as best they can to live by the standards they uphold.

They like to look up to their leaders with respect, and they feel betrayed when the powers that be give them every reason not to.

The obvious political calculation is that this fall’s elections will be decided by which side mobilizes its most ardent supporters. But here is a bet that there is also a quiet revolution of conscience in the country among those who are sick to death of the chaos they see every day on the news, a White House whose energy is devoted to stabbing internal foes in the back and a president who can’t stop thinking about himself. In the face of this, demanding simple decency is a radical and subversive act.”

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

One can only hope that at some point, reason will prevail over the greed, immorality, clownishness, disrespect, dishonesty, and incompetence that has come to symbolize today’s GOP and the Trump regime. Even today, there are a number of stories about how well-to-do yet fundamentally dishonest Trump appointees and their families continue to loot the Treasury and run up a huge deficit while essentially proposing a “death to the poor and vulnerable” budget. This is what a kleptocracy and gross indecency looks like! Reading our newspapers on a daily basis reminds me of passages I used to see only in State Department Country Reports on corrupt, Third-World dictatorships.

PWS

02-15-18

 

 

TAL @ CNN – STATUS OF PARENTS STICKING POINT IN SENATE DREAMER NEGOTIATIONS

http://www.cnn.com/2018/02/14/politics/daca-parents-flashpoint/index.html

 

DACA parents become flashpoint in negotiations

By: Tal Kopan, CNN

As the debate over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program goes down to the wire, the parents of the young undocumented immigrants affected — not the recipients themselves — may be the trickiest flashpoint.

Negotiations on a bipartisan Senate plan have been thorny on the issue of what to do about the parents, according to sources familiar with the group’s discussions, and comments from lawmakers. And threading the needle could be the difference on whether it can get 60 votes.

“If you deal with the parents now, you lose a lot of Republicans. If you try to do the breaking chain migration now, you lose a lot of Democrats,” South Carolina’s Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said of the talks. “We’re going to say that parents can’t be sponsored by the Dream Act child they brought in illegally.”

According to a draft of the bipartisan deal obtained by CNN, the compromise would prevent parents from being sponsored for citizenship by their children if the children received citizenship through the pathway created by the bill or if the parents brought them to the US illegally. That leaves Democrats grappling with the idea that they may have to trade protections for DACA immigrants for a penalty for their parents, who brought them to the US illegally.

“I don’t like that part,” Hawaii’s Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono said, leaving a meeting of Democrats where they were briefed on the bill, though she indicated she may be able to accept it as a compromise.

At issue are laws that allow US citizens to sponsor family members for eventual citizenship, including parents.

The Trump administration and allies have seized on the issue of family-based migration as a wedge, arguing that all forms of family sponsorship except spouses and minor children should be cut.

But even Republican moderates who don’t support that position are concerned about the implications for parents of recipients of DACA.

If eligible young immigrants are granted a path to becoming citizens in roughly a decade, as per most proposals, that could allow them to sponsor their parents down the road — though experts say it’s not that simple.

Conservatives object to the notion that parents who came here illegally could eventually be rewarded with citizenship.

In a call with reporters on Wednesday, a White House official said that without blocking parental sponsorship for people who came to the US illegally with their children, a deal “would massively incentivize” more illegal immigration and would create a “perverse incentive of adult illegal immigrants to (not) enter illegally without their children.”

How to do it is tricky. Lawmakers agree it’s impossible to create a class of citizen that has different rights than others, so that leaves either cutting parental sponsorship for all citizens, a massive cut to current legal immigration or specifically addressing parents of DACA immigrants.

Advocates and experts point out that it’s false to claim that a DACA pathway would quickly, or even easily, allow parents to get citizenship.

The law already requires that individuals who came to the US illegally and have been here without status for more than a year — statistically a substantial majority of DACA parents — are required to return to their home countries for at least 10 years before they can apply for green cards. Nothing in proposed legislation would remove that requirement, which would come after a 10- to 12-year waiting period for the children.

After that, all of those individuals would still have to meet other requirements on all green card applicants, including clean criminal records and being able to prove they could support themselves once here. Advanced age can be used as a factor to reject immigrants on the latter grounds.

William Stock, a partner at Klasko Immigration Law Partners and the former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said “nearly all” DACA parents would have trouble becoming citizens even with a bill because of the 10-year penalty.

“If they didn’t have to deal with the 10-year bar, they would have done it already,” Stock said. “They wouldn’t be undocumented, because they could have found some way (to legalize their status.)”

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How screwed up is U.S. Immigration policy under Trump and the GOP?

Under a rational policy, we would not only legalize the “Dreamers” and give them a path to citizenship, but also eliminate the stupid, cruel, and ineffective (actually counterproductive) 10-year bar. Then, over time, as the Dreamers naturalized (five or more years down the line from any green card) they could petition for their parents, and gradually, those who were still alive could gain legal status.  Pretty much another win-win. Parents of “Dreamers” are almost all good, hard-working folks who took risks and “put it all on the line” for their kids’ futures. Basically “salt of the earth.”What better people could you want for fellow citizens? And the parents who are already here are basically supporting the rest of us with their work.

But, when one side of the “debate” is driven by bias, racism, xenophobia, White Nationalism, bogus narratives, and fake statistics, well, you get folks like the immigration restrictionists and the mess we have today. We’d do much better if we just incorporated all the good folks who are already here into our society over time and moved forward as a united country. That would be common sense, enlightened self-interest, and basic human decency. Not in the restrictionists’ play book, I’m afraid. But, someday we’ll either get to that point, in spite of the restrictionists, or perish as a viable nation. That’s why Putin loves Trump and the GOP so much. America’s worst enemies are his best friends!

PWS

02-14-18