THE PRESIDENCY: “STABLE GENIUS?” – UNLIKELY – BUT, EVEN TRUMP’S HARSHEST CRITICS ADMIT THAT HE’S AN “EXTRAORDINARILY TALENTED CON MAN” – Move Over Charles Ponzi, Bernie Madoff, & Bernie Cornfield, You’ve Got Company At The Top!

http://www.newsweek.com/robert-reich-trump-may-be-dumb-he-has-plenty-emotional-intelligence-773200

Robert Reich writes in Newsweek:

For more than a year now, I’ve been hearing from people in the inner circles of official Washington – GOP lobbyists, Republican pundits, even a few Republican members of Congress – that Donald Trump is remarkably stupid.

I figured they couldn’t be right because really stupid people don’t become presidents of the United States. Even George W. Bush was smart enough to hire smart people to run his campaign and then his White House.

Several months back when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a “fucking moron,” I discounted it. I know firsthand how frustrating it can be to serve in a president’s cabinet, and I’ve heard members of other president’s cabinets describe their bosses in similar terms.

Now comes “ Fire and Fury, ” a book by journalist Michael Wolff, who interviewed more than 200 people who dealt with Trump as a candidate and president, including senior White House staff members.

In it, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster calls Trump a “dope.” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus both refer to him as an “idiot.” Rupert Murdoch says Trump is a “fucking idiot.”

GettyImages-872383186Donald Trump’s hair blows in the wind as he boards Air Force One on November 10, 2017. JIM WATSON/AFP/GETTY

Trump’s chief economic adviser Gary Cohn describes Trump as “dumb as shit,” explaining that “Trump won’t read anything — not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored.”

When one of Trump’s campaign aides tried to educate him about the Constitution, Trump couldn’t focus. “I got as far as the Fourth Amendment,” the aide recalled, “before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.”

Trump doesn’t think he’s stupid, of course. As he recounted, “I went to an Ivy League college … I did very well. I’m a very intelligent person.”

Yet Trump wasn’t exactly an academic star. One of his professors at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and Finance purportedly said that he was “the dumbest goddamn student I ever had.”

Trump biographer Gwenda Blair wrote in 2001 that Trump was admitted to Wharton on a special favor from a “friendly” admissions officer who had known Trump’s older brother.

But hold on. It would be dangerous to underestimate this man.

Even if Trump doesn’t read, can’t follow a logical argument, and has the attention span of a fruit fly, it still doesn’t follow that he’s stupid.

There’s another form of intelligence, called “emotional intelligence.”

Emotional intelligence is a concept developed by two psychologists, John Mayer of the University of New Hampshire and Yale’s Peter Salovey, and it was popularized by Dan Goleman in his 1996 book of the same name.

Mayer and Salovey define emotional intelligence as the ability to do two things – “understand and manage our own emotions,” and “recognize and influence the emotions of others.”

Granted, Trump hasn’t displayed much capacity for the first. He’s thin-skinned, narcissistic, and vindictive.

As dozens of Republican foreign policy experts put it, “He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate criticism.”

Okay, but what about Mayer and Salovey’s second aspect of emotional intelligence – influencing the emotions of others?

This is where Trump shines. He knows how to manipulate people. He has an uncanny ability to discover their emotional vulnerabilities – their fears, anxieties, prejudices, and darkest desires – and use them for his own purposes.

To put it another way, Trump is an extraordinarily talented conman.

He’s always been a conman. He conned hundreds of young people and their parents into paying to attend his near worthless Trump University. He conned banks into lending him more money even after he repeatedly failed to pay them. He conned contractors to work for them and then stiffed them.

Granted, during he hasn’t always been a great conman. Had he been, his cons would have paid off.

By his own account, in 1976, when Trump was starting his career, he was worth about $200 million, much of it from his father. Today he says he’s worth some $8 billion. If he’d just put the original $200 million into an index fund and reinvested the dividends, he’d be worth $12 billion today.

But he’s been a great political conman. He conned 62,979,879 Americans to vote for him in November 2016 by getting them to believe his lies about Mexicans, Muslims, African-Americans, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and all the “wonderful,” “beautiful” things he’d do for the people who’d support him.

And he’s still conning most of them.

Political conning is Trump’s genius. It’s this genius – when combined with his utter stupidity in every other dimension of his being – that poses the greatest danger to America and the world.

Robert Reich is the chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley , and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, and Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective Cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He has written 14 books, including the best-sellers Aftershock, The Work of Nations and Beyond Outrage and, most recently, Saving Capitalism. He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and co-creator of the award-winning documentary Inequality for All.”

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Trump is a “danger to America and the world.” Let’s just hope we survive him and his nasty, would-be authoritarian regime!

PWS

01-08-18

 

RESISTING TRUMP AND THE WHITE NATIONALIST STATE: “YEAR 1” — Read Polish Journalist Martin Mycielski’s “Authoritarian Regime Survival Guide”

YEAR 1 Under Authoritarianism

What to Expect?

  1. They will come to power with a campaign based on fear, scaremongering and distorting the truth. Nevertheless, their victory will be achieved through a democratic electoral process. But beware, as this will be their argument every time you question the legitimacy of their actions. They will claim a mandate from the People to change the system.

    Remember – gaining power through a democratic system does not give them permission to cross legal boundaries and undermine said democracy.

  2. They will divide and rule. Their strength lies in unity, in one voice and one ideology, and so should yours. They will call their supporters Patriots, the only “true Americans”. You will be labelled as traitors, enemies of the state, unpatriotic, the corrupt elite, the old regime trying to regain power. Their supporters will be the “People”, the “sovereign” who chose their leaders.

    Don’t let them divide you – remember you’re one People, one Nation, with one common good.

  3. Through convoluted laws and threats they will try to control mainstream media and limit press freedom. They will ban critical press from their briefings, calling them “liars”, “fake news”. They will brand those media as “unpatriotic”, acting against the People (see point 2).

    Fight for every media outlet, every journalist that is being banned, censored, sacked or labelled an “enemy of the state” – there’s no hope for freedom where there is no free press.

  4. They will create chaos, maintain a constant sense of conflict and danger. It will be their argument to enact new authoritarian laws, each one further limiting your freedoms and civil liberties. They will disguise them as being for your protection, for the good of the People.

    See through the chaos, the fake danger, expose it before you wake up in a totalitarian, fascist state.

  5. They will distort the truth, deny facts and blatantly lie. They will try to make you forget what facts are, sedate your need to find the truth. They will feed “post-truths” and “alternative facts”, replace knowledge and logic with emotions and fiction.

    Always think critically, fact-check and point out the truth, fight ignorance with facts.

  6. They will incite and then leak fake, superficial “scandals”. They will smear opposition with trivial accusations, blowing them out of proportion and then feeding the flame. This is just smokescreen for the legal steps they will be taking towards totalitarianism.

    See through superficial topics in mainstream media (see point 3) and focus on what they are actually doing.

  7. They will propose shocking laws to provoke your outrage. You will focus your efforts on fighting them, so they will seemingly back off, giving you a false sense of victory. In the meantime they will push through less “flashy” legislation, slowly dismantling democracy (see points 4 and 6).

    Focus your fight on what really matters.

  8. When invading your liberal sensibilities they will focus on what hurts the most – women and minorities. They will act as if democracy was majority rule without respect for the minority. They will paint foreigners and immigrants as potential threats. Racial, religious, sexual and other minorities will become enemies to the order and security they are supposedly providing. They will challenge women’s social status, undermine gender equality and interfere with reproductive rights (see point 7). But it means they are aware of the threat women and minorities pose to their rule, so make it your strength.

    Women and minorities should fight the hardest, reminding the majority what true democracy is about.

  9. They will try to take control of the judiciary. They will assault your highest court. They need to remove the checks and balances to be able to push through unconstitutional legislation. Controlling the judiciary they can also threat anyone that defies them with prosecution, including the press (see point 3).

    Preserve the independence of your courts at all cost, they are your safety valve, the safeguard of the rule of law and the democratic system.

  10. They will try to limit freedom of assembly, calling it a necessity for your security. They will enact laws prioritizing state events and rallies, or those of a certain type or ideology. If they can choose who can demonstrate legally, they have a legal basis to forcefully disperse or prosecute the rest.

    Oppose any legislation attempting to interfere with freedom of assembly, for whatever reason.

  11. They will distort the language, coin new terms and labels, repeat shocking phrases until you accept them as normal and subconsciously associate them with whom they like. A “thief”, “liar” or “traitor” will automatically mean the opposition, while a “patriot” or a “true American” will mean their follower (see point 2). Their slogans will have double meaning, giving strength to their supporters and instilling angst in their opponents.

    Fight changes in language in the public sphere, remind and preserve the true meaning of words.

  12. They will take over your national symbols, associate them with their regime, remake them into attributes of their power. They want you to forget that your flag, your anthem and your symbols belong to you, the People, to everyone equally. Don’t let them be hijacked. Use and expose them in your fight as much as they do.

    Show your national symbols with pride, let them give you strength, not associate you with the tyranny they brought onto your country.

  13. They will try to rewrite history to suit their needs and use the education system to support their agenda. They will smear any historical or living figure who wouldn’t approve of their actions, or distort their image to make you think they would. They will place emphasis on historical education in schools, feeding young minds with the “only correct” version of history and philosophy. They will raise a new generation of voters on their ideology, backing it with a distorted interpretation of history and view of the world.

    Guard the education of your children, teach them critical thinking, ensure their open-mindedness and protect your real history and heritage.

  14. They will alienate foreign allies and partners, convincing you don’t need them. They won’t care for the rest of the world, with their focus on “making your country great again”. While ruining your economy to fulfil their populist promises, they will omit the fact that you’re part of a bigger world whose development depends on cooperation, on sharing and on trade.

    Don’t let them build walls promising you security instead of bridges giving you prosperity.

  15. They will eventually manipulate the electoral system. They might say it’s to correct flaws, to make it more fair, more similar to the rest of the world, or just to make it better. Don’t believe it. They wouldn’t be messing with it at all if it wasn’t to benefit them in some way.

    Oppose any changes to electoral law that an authoritarian regime wants to enact – rest assured it’s only to help them remain in power longer.

And above all, be strong, fight, endure, and remember you’re on the good side of history.
EVERY authoritarian, totalitarian and fascist regime in history eventually failed, thanks to the PEOPLE.
– With love, your Eastern European friends

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

Martin Mycielski is a journalist, serving as Brussels correspondent for leading Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza. Before that he was one of the leaders of the Committee for the Defence of Democracy (KOD) NGO and protest movement, which has organized the largest mass demonstrations in Poland since the fall of communism, opposing the authoritarian and unlawful actions of the Law and Justice (PiS) government and its leader, Jarosław Kaczyński (read more here and here, or just Google). In 2016 KOD’s efforts to defend democracy, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law were recognized by the European Parliament which awarded it the European Citizen’s Prize.

Since childhood Martin has been enamoured with the US, it’s culture, politics and people. Tragically, January events have put the worlds greatest democracy at risk, as they have clearly undermined the fundamental values the States were build upon, such as freedom, democracy, equality & diversity. As these values form the idea of America Martin has been raised on, he has decided to step in and help to defend them the only way he knows how – by sharing with you his experiences from a continent being currently torn apart by populists, authoritarians and tinpot dictators.

His message to President Donald J. Trump is therefore a paraphrased fragment from W. B. Yeats:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams;
And if you don’t, we the People will push you off them.

You can follow Martin on Twitter at @mycielski.

To view his professional background visit his portfolio, or invite him on LinkedIn to connect.

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

Scary, but important points to remember if we want “liberal Western democracy” to survive the Trump era.

Points 8, 9, an 14 have particular relevance to what is happening in our legal and immigration systems now. thus, I reiterate them in full here:

Point 8

When invading your liberal sensibilities they will focus on what hurts the most – women and minorities. They will act as if democracy was majority rule without respect for the minority. They will paint foreigners and immigrants as potential threats. Racial, religious, sexual and other minorities will become enemies to the order and security they are supposedly providing. They will challenge women’s social status, undermine gender equality and interfere with reproductive rights (see point 7). But it means they are aware of the threat women and minorities pose to their rule, so make it your strength.

Women and minorities should fight the hardest, reminding the majority what true democracy is about.

Point 9

They will try to take control of the judiciary. They will assault your highest court. They need to remove the checks and balances to be able to push through unconstitutional legislation. Controlling the judiciary they can also threat anyone that defies them with prosecution, including the press (see point 3).

Preserve the independence of your courts at all cost, they are your safety valve, the safeguard of the rule of law and the democratic system.

Point 14

They will alienate foreign allies and partners, convincing you don’t need them. They won’t care for the rest of the world, with their focus on “making your country great again”. While ruining your economy to fulfil their populist promises, they will omit the fact that you’re part of a bigger world whose development depends on cooperation, on sharing and on trade.

Don’t let them build walls promising you security instead of bridges giving you prosperity.

 

 

PWS

12-22-17

SNL SCORES DIRECT HIT WITH “TRUMPSTER CHRISTMAS” — SIMULTANEOUSLY VERY FUNNY AND VERY FRIGHTENING!

http://verifiedpolitics.com/snl-just-mocked-trumps-ousted-staffers-hilarious-christmas-sketch-watch/

 

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How did we go from being the World’s Greatest Democracy to a “Grade B” Reality Show fast becoming “The World’s Biggest Third World Kleptocracy.”

Where are the Kardashians when their country needs them?

PWS

12-18-17

THE DAILY INTELLIGENCER: AMERICA’S “TOADY IN WAITING”

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/12/mike-pence-first-toady.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily Intelligencer – December 6, 2017&utm_term=Subscription List – Daily Intelligencer (1 Year)

Ed Kilgore reports for The Daily Intelligencer in NY Maggie:

“Most reactions to McKay Coppins’s vast new profile of Vice-President Mike Pence have focused on an October 2016 incident wherein the then-candidate for veep offered to replace Donald Trump at the top of the ticket in the wake of the Access Hollywood revelations, which for a moment looked likely to bring the mogul down.

But the far more enduring picture Coppins paints is very different: Mike Pence as a man who decided early on in his relationship with Trump that no one could look in the mirror at night and see a browner nose.

In Pence, Trump has found an obedient deputy whose willingness to suffer indignity and humiliation at the pleasure of the president appears boundless. When Trump comes under fire for describing white nationalists as “very fine people,” Pence is there to assure the world that he is actually a man of great decency. When Trump needs someone to fly across the country to an NFL game so he can walk out in protest of national-anthem kneelers, Pence heads for Air Force Two.

This willingness to serve as First Toady was evident in Pence’s initial interview — on a Trump golf course — as a potential running mate:

Pence had called Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump adviser, whom he’d known for years, and asked for her advice on how to handle the meeting. Conway had told him to talk about “stuff outside of politics,” and suggested he show his eagerness to learn from the billionaire. “I knew they would enjoy each other’s company,” Conway told me, adding, “Mike Pence is someone whose faith allows him to subvert his ego to the greater good.”

True to form, Pence spent much of their time on the course kissing Trump’s ring. You’re going to be the next president of the United States, he said. It would be the honor of a lifetime to serve you. Afterward, he made a point of gushing to the press about Trump’s golf game. “He beat me like a drum,” Pence confessed, to Trump’s delight.

This set the pattern for Pence, notwithstanding anything he might have contemplated during the brief but intense hours after the Access Hollywoodrevelations.

What makes Coppins’s take on Pence especially valuable is his understanding that sucking up to Trump was entirely in keeping with the Hoosier governor’s sense that God was working through the unlikely medium of the heathenish demagogue to lift up Pence and his godly agenda to the heights of power. Just as it has been forgotten that the Access Hollywood tapes nearly brought Trump down, it has rarely been understood outside Indiana that Pence was down and possibly out when Trump reached out to him to join his ticket.

The very fact that he is standing behind a lectern bearing the vice-presidential seal is, one could argue, a loaves-and-fishes-level miracle. Just a year earlier, he was an embattled small-state governor with underwater approval ratings, dismal reelection prospects, and a national reputation in tatters.

Pence’s apparent demise, moreover, came after his careful plans to position himself to run for president in 2016 went awry via his clumsy handling of a signature “religious liberty” bill and a fatal underestimation of the resulting backlash from the business community.

All of a sudden, he was lifted from this slough of despond and placed a heartbeat away from total power thanks to his ability to, as Kellyanne Conway put it, “subvert his ego” in the presence of his deliverer, whose own ego has no limits. He clearly has not forgotten this lesson of an ambition fed by self-abasement rather than self-promotion. And according to Coppins, he even has a theological justification for blind loyalty to Trump:

Marc Short, a longtime adviser to Pence and a fellow Christian, told me that the vice president believes strongly in a scriptural concept evangelicals call “servant leadership.” The idea is rooted in the Gospels, where Jesus models humility by washing his disciples’ feet and teaches, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.”

Usually the idea is to be the “slave” of one’s followers and of the less fortunate, not the slave of the billionaire POTUS, but Pence has the “humility” part down pat.

Pence’s presumed reward in this redemption story could, of course, extend beyond the power he exercises as one of the more influential vice-presidents in history, and as Trump’s designated mediator with the Christian right and with those Republican elected officials who aren’t themselves in the great man’s retinue. He would be the obvious successor to Trump in 2024, when he will still be a relatively youthful 65 — whether or not Trump wins a second term in 2020. And in the meantime, as in the panic-stricken hours after the Access Hollywood tapes were released, Republicans will look to Pence as a reassuring and unifying figure whenever Trump’s presidency is endangered, whether it’s by the Mueller investigation or his own erratic conduct.

Pence has indeed come a long way since he was airlifted out of what was probably a losing gubernatorial race to the role of worshipful sidekick to Donald Trump. And he’s earned his actual and potential power via a habit of slavish loyalty that he may consider godly, but others find infernally corrupt if effective.”

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

I’ve called Pence a sycophant. But, sycophant, toady, you get the picture: spineless, and when you get beyond the disgustingly un-Christian and un-Jesus brand of intolerant religious zealotry that Pence passes off for Christianity (thus giving Christians a “bad name”) you get a guy that no thoughtful American should want for President.  Doesn’t, of course, mean that he won’t be President; just that he shouldn’t be.

Now, there is a school of thought around “The Swamp” that “Mikey the Toady” is “going down” along with The Trumpster in “Russiagate,” leaving us with the “Weaselly  Badger” Paul Ryan as President. Before you get too excited about that prospect, however, best to read the following article to understand that in addition to being a spineless coward who isn’t as smart as he and his backers think he is, Ryan is a “Joint Venture” (50-50 ownership for you non-corporate types) of the National Rifle Association and the Koch Brothers. Yeah, I know that this is a “fake news” satirical piece by none other than the New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz. Sadly, however, it contains more accuracy than a standard White House press briefing by Sarah Huckabee Sanders (a disturbingly low standard to be sure — where oh where is “Spicey” when we need him?). In the end, he could turn out to be just as damaging to America and the world as Trump and Pence.

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/koch-brothers-and-nra-reach-timeshare-agreement-over-ownership-of-paul-ryan

“WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a unique accord, the billionaire Koch brothers and the National Rifle Association have reached a timeshare agreement over the ownership of House Speaker Paul Ryan, representatives of both parties have confirmed.

Speaking on behalf of the Kochs, Charles Koch said that he contacted the N.R.A.’s executive director, Wayne LaPierre, with the timeshare proposal “so that we could all get the maximum enjoyment out of owning Paul.”

The arrangement is intended to minimize conflicts between the Kochs and the gun group that have arisen in the past when both co-owners have wanted to use Ryan at the same time, Koch said.

“I said to Wayne, ‘This is craziness,’ ” he said. “ ‘Let’s work something out where you get Paul half the year, and we’ll take him the other half.’ ”

Under the timeshare deal, the Kochs will have the exclusive use of Ryan during the months when tax cuts and environmental deregulation are put to a vote, while the N.R.A. will have him for the months when gun legislation is to be defeated.

Additionally, each co-owner is responsible for insuring that Ryan is well maintained and in good condition when the other’s period of using him commences.

Koch indicated that, if the timeshare agreement is a success, the two parties are likely to work out a similar deal for their longtime joint ownership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.”

So, what’s a self-respecting country to do? The answer is actually pretty obvious. Stop putting Republicans in elective office. No, that won’t cure all the country’s ills; indeed, just repairing the damage already done by this Administration could take decades.

But, at least we’ll have some folks in office who are working for the common good and trying to solve the nation’s and the world’s problems (yes, amazingly, they are interrelated) rather than actively making them worse every day. And, that would be a start!

PWS

121-08-17

WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL RIPS TRUMP/SESSIONS “GONZO” IMMIGRATION AGENDA AS “ANTI-AMERICAN!”– White Nationalist Inspired Restrictionism Is Suppressing The Real Dialogue We Should Be Having!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-crusade-against-immigrants-is-an-attack-on-america/2017/12/03/0ac43dec-d624-11e7-b62d-d9345ced896d_story.html?utm_term=.71780d337509

December 3 at 8:10 PM

THE TRUMP administration likes to justify its multi-front crusade against immigration and immigrants as a revival of the rule of law, or a recalibration of the rules to favor disadvantaged American workers. In fact, it is largely a resurrection of xenophobia that coincides with a spike, nearly 50 years in the making, in the number of foreign-born residents living in the United States.

“For decades,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a speech in October, “the American people have been begging and pleading . . . for an immigration system that’s lawful and serves the national interest. Now we have a president who supports that.”

Mr. Sessions’s claims are specious. An embrace of legality is not the driving force behind the president’s decision to slash the admission of refugees to levels unseen in nearly 40 years. It is not what compelled Mr. Trump to endorse Republican legislation that would cut the annual allotment of green cards by a half-million, mainly by barring relatives of existing legal permanent residents of the United States. It is not why the Pentagon has considered ending a recruitment program that put skilled foreigners on a fast track for citizenship if they served in this country’s armed forces. And it is not why the administration favors ending the so-called diversity visa lottery program, under which immigrants are admitted from nations underrepresented in other programs.

Those programs were all legally enacted and, by and large, carried out in compliance with the law. The animating force in targeting them, as the administration is now doing, is an effort to turn back the tide of foreigners in our midst and exorcise what the president evidently sees as the demon of diversity.

The administration’s goal is not to reshape America’s immigration policy but to prune immigration itself. While Mr. Trump backs a GOP plan that would give preference to immigrants with skills rather than family connections in the United States, the effect would be not simply to shift the mix while maintaining the current level of legal immigration but to drastically reduce overall numbers of admissions.”

. . . .

Unfortunately, Mr. Trump has poisoned the debate on immigration so thoroughly that he has twisted the frame through which many Americans see the issue. His slurs — labeling Mexican immigrants as rapists and Muslim immigrants as terrorists — form the context from which the administration’s policies arise. They are affronts to U.S. tradition and values.

They’re also an assault on what Mr. Sessions refers to as “the national interest” and specifically the United States’ economic well-being. Legions of employers dependent on immigrant workers, especially to fill low-skilled jobs for which native-born Americans are too well educated and in short supply, will be harmed by choking off the flow of immigrant labor. With unemployment at a 16-year low and approaching levels unseen in a half-century, the Trump policies threaten to sap the economy by depriving it of the energy of striving newcomers who have fueled this nation’s ambitions since its founding.

It is within the president’s discretion to intensify efforts at deportation, though the humanitarian price — in shattered communities and families, including those whose children, born in this country, are Americans — is high. It is reasonable to take steps to tighten border security, though with illegal crossings already at a 40-year low and the Border Patrol’s staffing having already been doubled since the George W. Bush administration, a significant new investment along those lines faces the risk of diminishing returns. The administration may arguably have had a valid legal basis for ending the Obama-era program granting deportation protection for “dreamers” — undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children, often brought by their parents — though only a smallish minority of Americans believes they should be removed from this country.

But what value, other than sheer bigotry, is served by reducing the resettlement of refugees in the United States at a time when the number of displaced people worldwide has soared to staggering levels? In a country founded and in many respects shaped by refugees — a country that has resettled some 3 million refugees since 1980, more than any other nation — why does the Trump administration insist on turning its back on them now, when some 17 million people have been displaced from their homes across international borders around the world due to conflict or persecution, the highest number in a quarter-century?

It is clearly jarring to some Americans that the foreign-born portion of the overall population has nearly tripled since 1970. Many communities, towns and cities have been transformed culturally and socially by that surge, about a third of which was driven by illegal immigrants.

In some places, local government budgets have strained to provide services for immigrants, particularly public education, and the economic dislocation felt by many working-class Americans is a fact. But that dislocation is not mostly caused by immigrants. The United States is a more prosperous place today than it was before the surge in immigration, and immigrants have fed that prosperity — by helping to harvest America’s crops, build its cities, care for its young and elderly, and found some of its most buoyant companies.

. . . .The Trump administration’s crusade against immigration and immigrants is not just a quest to diminish the influence of the “other”; it is an assault on the nation’s future and prospects.”

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

Read the complete editorial at the link.

This is largely (not entirely — I believe that there is a sound legal basis for continuing DACA, for example) what I’ve been saying all along:

  • Jeff Sessions is a bigoted, xenophobic, anti-American scofflaw whose disingenuous, self-righteous claims to be restoring the “Rule of Law” (that would be the “Jim Crow laws” of Sessions’s Alabama past) are totally outrageous;
  • The real purpose of the Administration’s xenophobic program is to divide and weaken America  by stirring up racial, religious, and ethnic animosities;
  • The “Gonzo,” arbitrary interior enforcement program serves no useful purpose other than playing to the “biases of the base” and the wishes of some (not all) disgruntled immigration enforcement agents for unbridled authority;
  • Our xenophobic anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies are costing us leadership and respect on the world scene (just this weekend, the Administration withdrew from the UN Global Migration Pact);
  • Our past strength as a nation and our future success and prosperity is based on immigration (and, the US clearly has benefitted from BOTH legal and “extra-legal” migration);
  • The Trump Administrations’s rhetoric and actions are preventing us from having the serious discussion we need: how we can better regulate (not cut off, diminish, or eliminate) future legal migration of all types to serve our national interest (and to be more “in tune” with “market realities” that drive much immigration), reflect our humanitarian values and the legitimate needs of current and future migrants, and encourage use of our legal immigration system, thereby diminishing the incentives for extra-legal migration.

As long as U.S. immigration policy remains in the hands of White Nationalist xenophobes like Trump, Sessions, Miller, and Bannon (yes, Stevie “Vlad the Lenin” has vacated his perch in the West Wing, but he continues to pull strings through his White Nationalist disciples Sessions and Miller and to stir the pot through his alt-right “news” apparatus Breitbart News) we won’t get the constructive dialogue and the humane, realistic “immigration reform” that we really  need. In other words, under current leadership, the real “Rule of Law” will continue to be diminished.

PWS

12-04-17

 

CNN’S TAL KOPAN: WHITE HOUSE RESTRICTIONIST AGENDA THREATENS DREAMER DEAL!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/08/politics/white-house-daca-deal-principles/index.htm

Tal reports:

“Washington (CNN)The White House on Sunday night is expected to release an aggressive list of priorities for any deal to protect young undocumented immigrants in limbo — a list that could make a deal almost impossible to reach if it is strictly followed.

According to documents obtained by CNN, the Trump administration is expected to ask lawmakers to include tough border security and immigration enforcement measures in any deal to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program the administration is ending. Those measures would include provisions to make it harder for unaccompanied minors to enter the country illegally, money for the President’s border wall and cuts to legal immigration.
Trump announced he would end the Obama-era DACA program, which protects young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children, at the beginning of last month, but gave Congress a six-month window in which to act to make the program permanent. Trump has repeatedly said he wanted border security measures as part of a deal, but Sunday night was the first time lawmakers were able to see the full list of the White House asks.
The list represents Republican priorities for immigration and border security, such as tightening the standard for asylum protections, beefing up staffing, cracking down on sanctuary cities, expanding the ways would-be immigrants can be rejected and cutting back significantly on the number of ways that immigrants can obtain green cards in the US by restricting family categories and transforming the employment-based system.
While Democrats have signaled an openness to some deal on DACA and border security, many of the proposals alone would be deal-breakers. Democrats are almost certainly needed to pass a bill to clear the filibuster threshold of 60 votes in the Senate and to make up for Republicans in both chambers who may decline to vote for any path to citizenship or legalization for DACA recipients.
close dialog
What will be key, one Democratic congressional staffer said, is how hard the White House pushes for the wish list.
“Depends on whether they’re serious or just positioning,” the staffer said. “If it’s the latter, and they leave themselves a lot of room to move, then maybe we can still negotiate something. The problem is that they could lock themselves in politically and then not be able to bend.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer were quick to pan the list, saying it shows Trump “can’t be serious” about reaching a deal if they start with a list that is “anathema” to immigrants and Democrats.
“We told the President at our meeting that we were open to reasonable border security measures alongside the DREAM Act, but this list goes so far beyond what is reasonable,” the Democratic leaders said in a statement, referring to discussions over dinner at the White House last month. “This proposal fails to represent any attempt at compromise. The list includes the wall, which was explicitly ruled out of the negotiations. If the President was serious about protecting the Dreamers, his staff has not made a good faith effort to do so.”
While Trump has Republican supporters on Capitol Hill who have endorsed a similar wish list of measures, even among his own party, lawmakers have pleaded with the White House not to seek a comprehensive immigration reform package before dealing with DACA — for which permits begin expiring March 6.
At a hearing in the Senate last week with representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, both Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and Republican North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, who have proposed different DACA measures, implored the officials not to seek a complete immigration deal before any action. Durbin said it was “too much” to “put the burden” on a DACA bill to answer all of the issues on the table.
“It’s too much to ask … and I hope you’ll take that message back,” Durbin said.
Responding to the general principles articulated at the hearing, Tillis said: “It reads like a laundry list for comprehensive immigration reform, and if Congress has proven an extraordinary ability to do anything, it’s to fail at comprehensive immigration reform.”
*************************************************
As I’ve said before, this “proposal” — obviously the work of White Nationalist racists like Stephen Miller and Jeff Sessions influenced by Steve Bannon — is DOA. And, it’s certainly not an outline for “Comprehensive Immigration Reform.” No, it’s actually “Regressive Racist Anti-Americanism.” Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time that that America has used immigration laws to advance a despicable racist agenda. But, in the 21st Century all decent Americans have to take a strong stand against “neo-racists” of the GOP and the “neo-fascists” of the Alt Right. And, a guys like Miller, Gonzo, and Bannon fit both of those categories. They, along with Trump and “Looney White Guys With Guns,” pose the biggest threats to America’s safety and security.
PWS
10-08-17

 

IMMIGRATIONPROF BLOG: PROFESSOR BILL ONG HING LAYS BARE THE WHITE NATIONALIST INTENT BEHIND THE RAISE ACT — “Asian, Latino, and African Exclusion Act of 2017” — And, It’s Bad For Our Economy To Boot!

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/immigration/2017/08/trumps-asian-latino-and-african-exclusion-act-of-2017.html

Professor Ong Hing writes:

“From the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journal:

President Trump’s recent call for overhauling the legal immigration system suffers from serious racial implications and violations of basic family values. Earlier this month he endorsed the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, which would eliminate all family reunification categories beyond spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (reducing the age limit for minor children from 21 to 18), and would lower capped family categories from 226,000 green cards presently to 88,000. The prime relatives targeted for elimination are siblings of U.S. citizens and adult children of citizens and lawful residents. The diversity immigration lottery program, which grants 50,000 green cards to immigrants from low-admission countries, also would be terminated. The RAISE Act is essentially the Asian, Latino, and African Exclusion Act of 2017. Why? Because the biggest users of family immigration categories are Asians and Latinos, and the biggest beneficiaries of the diversity lottery are Africans.

The RAISE Act is an elitist point system that favors those with post-secondary STEM degrees (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics), extraordinary achievement (Nobel laureates and Olympic medalists), $1.35 to $1.8 million to invest, and high English proficiency. However, it fails to connect prospective immigrants with job openings and makes incorrect assumptions about family immigrants.

Promoting family reunification has been a major feature of immigration policy for decades. Prior to 1965, permitting spouses of U.S. citizens, relatives of lawful permanent residents, and even siblings of U.S. citizens to immigrate were important aspects of the immigration selection system. Since the 1965 reforms, family reunification has been the major cornerstone of the immigration admission system. Those reforms, extended in 1976, allowed twenty thousand immigrant visas for every country. Of the worldwide numerical limits, about 80 percent were specified for “preference” relatives of citizens and lawful permanent residents, and an unlimited number was available to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. The unlimited immediate relative category included spouses, parents of adult citizens, and minor, unmarried children of citizens. The family preference categories were established for adult, unmarried sons and daughters of citizens, spouses and unmarried children of lawful permanent resident aliens, married children of citizens, and siblings of citizens. Two other preferences (expanded in 1990) were established for employment-based immigration.

Asian and Latino immigration came to dominate these immigration categories. The nations with large numbers of descendants in the United States in 1965, i.e., western Europe, were expected to benefit the most from a kinship-based system. But gradually, by using the family categories and the labor employment route, Asians built a family base from which to use the kinship categories more and more. By the late 1980s, virtually 90 percent of all immigration to the United States – including Asian immigration – was through the kinship categories. And by the 1990s, the vast majority of these immigrants were from Asia and Latin America. The top countries of origin of authorized immigrants to the United States today include Mexico, China, India, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and El Salvador.

As Asian and Latin immigrants began to dominate the family-based immigration system in the 1970s and 1980s, somehow the preference for family reunification made less sense to some policymakers. Since the early 1980s, attacking kinship categories – especially the sibling category – has become a political sport played every few years. Often the complaint is based on arguments such as we should be bringing in skilled immigrants, a point system would be better, and in the case of the sibling category, brothers and sisters are not part of the “nuclear” family. Proposals to eliminate or reduce family immigration were led by Senator Alan Simpson throughout the 1980s, Congressman Bruce Morrison in 1990, and Senator Simpson and Congressman Lamar Smith in 1996. As prelude to the RAISE Act, the Senate actually passed S.744 in 2013 that would have eliminated family categories and installed a point system in exchange for a legalization program for undocumented immigrants.

Pitting so-called “merit-based” visas in opposition to family visas implies that family immigration represents the soft side of immigration while point-based immigration is more about being tough and strategic. The wrongheadedness of that suggestion is that family immigration has served our country well even from a purely economic perspective. The country needs workers with all levels of skill, and family immigration provides many of the needed workers.

A concern that the current system raises for some policymakers is based on their belief that the vast majority of immigrants who enter in kinship categories are working class or low-skilled. They wonder whether this is good for the country. Interestingly enough, many immigrants who enter in the sibling category actually are highly skilled. The vast majority of family immigrants are working age, who arrive anxious to work and ready to put their time and sweat into the job. But beyond that oversight by the complainants, what we know about the country and its general need for workers in the short and long terms is instructive.

The Wharton School of Business projects that the RAISE Act would actually lead to less economic growth and fewer jobs. Job losses would emerge because domestic workers will not fill all the jobs that current types of immigrant workers would have filled. In the long run, per capita GDP would dip. Furthermore, in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s forecast of large-growth occupations, most jobs require only short- or moderate-term on-the-job training, suggesting lower skilled immigrants could contribute to meeting the demand for these types of jobs.

The economic data on today’s kinship immigrants are favorable for the country. The entry of low-skilled as well as high-skilled immigrants leads to faster economic growth by increasing the size of the market, thereby boosting productivity, investment, and technological practice. Technological advances are made by many immigrants who are neither well-educated nor well-paid. Moreover, many kinship-based immigrants open new businesses that employ natives as well as other immigrants; this is important because small businesses are now the most important source of new jobs in the United States. The current family-centered system results in designers, business leaders, investors, and Silicon Valley–type engineers. And much of the flexibility available to American entrepreneurs in experimenting with risky labor-intensive business ventures is afforded by the presence of low-wage immigrant workers. In short, kinship immigrants contribute greatly to this country’s vitality and growth, beyond the psychological benefits to family members who are able to reunite.

The preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights highlights the unity of the family as the “foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world” for good reason. Our families make us whole. Our families define us as human beings. Our families are at the center of our most treasured values. Our families make the nation strong.

Bill Ong Hing is the Founder and General Counsel of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and Professor of Law and Migration Studies, University of San Francisco”

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

Unhappily, America has a sad history of using bogus arguments about the economy and protecting American labor to justify racist immigration acts.  Among other things, the Chinese Exclusion Act was supposed to protect the U.S. against the adverse effects of “coolie labor.”

I find it remarkable that those pushing the RASE Act are so ready to damage American families, the fabric of our society, and our economy in a futile attempt to achieve their White Nationalist vision.

PWS

08-18-17

HISTORY: In January 1972, A.G. John Mitchell Sat In His Paneled Office At The DOJ, Puffed On His Pipe, And Listened To Plans For A Whacko Criminal Conspiracy (Which Sent Him To Jail) — Since Then The Vaunted “Independence” Of The DOJ Has Been More Myth Than Reality — Trump Wants To Make The DOJ Part Of His Corrupt Political Empire — GOP Pols Talk Big But Do Little When It Comes To Standing Up To America’s Corruptor In Chief!

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/07/27/jeff-sessions-is-the-canary-in-the-coal-mine-215424?cid=apn

Joshua Zeitz writes in Politico:

“President Trump’s condemnation of his own attorney general may seem bizarre and unprecedented, but here’s something many in America’s gobsmacked chattering class are forgetting: The vaunted independence of the Justice Department took over a century to build, and it’s a far more fragile institution than we realize.

The spectacle of Trump attacking Jeff Sessions, one of his earliest and most stalwart supporters, as “beleaguered” and “unfair” is certainly jarring. The president seemingly cannot help but vent his frustration over the attorney general’s decision to step aside in the Department of Justice’s probe into Russian election interference—a step that led indirectly to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. If Sessions “would have recused himself before the job,” Trump told the (“failing”) New YorkTimes. “I would have said ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’”

The prospect that the president might fire Sessions, whose immigration policies and draconian approach to law enforcement are anathema to the left, places Democrats in an unusual position. They despise the attorney general but find themselves bound to protect the independence of his office. But the real test lies with Republicans, who have largely looked the other way as Trump has laid waste to one political norm after another. Will they draw a sharp line in the sand, or bury their heads in it?

It took well over a century for the office of the attorney general to accrue the very power and independence that Trump now stands poised to blow up. Originally a minor position with little authority or autonomy, over the years the AG emerged as the nation’s top law enforcement official and a key adviser to the president. The office withstood considerable strain in the latter quarter of the 20th century. But like so many civic institutions today, it is imperiled precisely because it is largely the product of traditions, and administrative rules that capture those traditions, rather than permanent statutes or laws. Once broken, it may not be so easily reassembled.”

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

Read the complete article, which contains a fascinating short history of the DOJ, at the link.

Washington was, in fact, built on swampland with Tiber Creek running through it. I’m sort of expecting that the old swamp will just open up again some day and swallow Trump and the whole corrupt mess surrounding him.

PWS

07-27-17

 

 

Get Out The Peanut Butter & Jelly, Sean “Spicey” Spicer Is Toast!

Guess being the mouthpiece for a congenital liar who is also an unappreciative egoist can get a little old.

Melissa McCarthy must be beside herself.

It’s been entertaining, if not always very informative.

Good luck, Sean, you’re probably getting out while the getting is if not good, than at least better than it will be a ways down the line!

PWS

07-21-17

 

WHAT’S TRUMP’S TRAVEL BAN PROTECTING US FROM? — DUH, NOTHING, OF COURSE — But, It IS Distracting Attention From The REAL Threat To Our National Security!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/06/26/supreme-court-partially-restores-trump-travel-ban-which-wouldnt-have-kept-out-anyone-behind-deadly-terrorist-attacks/?utm_term=.b3e979184075

Mark Berman writes in the Washington Post:

“The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to let a limited version of President Trump’s travel ban take effect, so we are republishing an updated version of this story.

President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning travelers from six Muslim-majority nations due to “heightened concerns about terrorism” was quickly frozen by the courts, much like an earlier version of the ban, until the Supreme Court acted on Monday.

The justices said they would let the ban partially take effect and, in the ruling, announced plans to consider the case later this year. The Supreme Court made a key exception, saying the ban could not be “enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” But otherwise, the Trump administration is now free to impose a 90-day ban on travelers from six countries that it had said posed certain “national security risks.”

The second travel ban had something big in common with the first version: It would not have kept out of the United States anyone responsible for a deadly terrorist attack since 2001.”

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

Read the complete article (with charts and map) at the above link.

Question of the Day:

In any “normal” Administration, how many of the characters holding positions in the Trump White House would be granted high level security clearances (including, of course, the “Tweeter-in-Chief” himself)?

PWS

06-30-17

 

 

 

WashPost: Trump Actually Has A Strategy — It’s Ugly!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/06/06/daily-202-trump-signals-to-his-base-that-he-is-a-man-of-action/5935fccce9b69b2fb981dc64/?utm_term=.90d201c44030

James Hohmann writes in the PowerPost:

“THE BIG IDEA: Some have called him crazy. He thinks he’s crazy like a fox.

Let’s dispense once and for all with the fiction that Donald Trump doesn’t have a strategy. It may be a deeply-flawed strategy for reasons the neophyte president is not yet savvy enough to appreciate, but make no mistake: there is a strategy.

The conventional wisdom around Washington is that Trump is being impulsive as he disregards the counsel of his lawyers, who are correctly warning him that the travel ban may not survive a Supreme Court review if he continues to talk about it the way he does.

Yet the president has now explicitly called for a “TRAVEL BAN” five separate times on Twitter over the past four days. Undercutting the spin that he was just reacting to a morning cable segment he saw on TV before coming downstairs to work, his social media team posted a video on Facebook (an account he doesn’t personally control) that featured the tweets set to dramatic music.

He posted this at 9:20 p.m. last night:

If Trump truly cared about the underlying ban and wanted it to be in place for the country’s security, as he claims, he would not be speaking so freely. The billionaire businessman has been mired in litigation off and on for decades and has demonstrated an ability – when his own money was at stake – to be self-disciplined.

The only explanation, then, is that he cares less about winning the case than reassuring his base. The number of posts reflects the degree to which Trump thinks the travel ban is a political winner. He is trying to signal for his 24 million Facebook fans and 31.7 million Twitter followers that he’s fighting for them, regardless of what the judges, the media and the Democrats say. As Trump put it this morning:

— Bigger picture, the president is trying to maintain his populist street cred and show his true believers that he’s not going wobbly on them after five months in Washington, despite back-tracking on more of his campaign promises than he’s kept.

Trump has always been a flashy show horse. Why would anyone think a septuagenarian is suddenly going to buckle down to become a work horse? As a developer, biographers and former associates say, he consistently cared more about the gold-plated façade than the foundation. This is why Trump could obsess about how the lobbies of his properties looked, even as his business ventures careened toward bankruptcy under the weight of bad loans and poor bookkeeping. (Marc Fisher explored this dynamic in February.)

— With his agenda imperiled, Trump increasingly seems determined to create an aura of effectiveness in the hopes that core supporters already inclined to support him won’t be able to tell the difference between optics and substance. Remember, this is the same candidate who once boasted that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and his voters would stick with him.

Consider this: “Trump employed all the trappings traditionally reserved for signing major bills into law as he kicked off ‘infrastructure week’ on Monday: the stately East Room full of dignitaries, a four-piece military band to serenade, celebratory handshakes and souvenir presidential pens for lawmakers, promises of ‘a great new era’ and a ‘revolution’ in technology. Yet the documents Trump signed amid all the pomp were not new laws or even an executive order. They were routine letters to Congress, relaying support for a minimally detailed plan in Trump’s budget to transfer control of the nation’s air traffic control system to a private nonprofit group,” the Los Angeles Times’s Noah Bierman reports.

But low-information voters may not be able to tell the difference when they see the b-roll of the ceremony on TV or an image in the paper.

It follows a pattern of Trump over-promising and under-delivering: “He touted the unveiling of his tax overhaul in April but released only a one-page set of bulleted talking points,” Noah writes. “Just last week, he tweeted that his tax bill is proceeding ‘ahead of schedule,’ though he has submitted no bill to Congress … Trump held a Rose Garden ceremony in May to celebrate House passage of a bill to repeal Obamacare … even as Republicans in the Senate served notice that the House bill was unacceptable. His promised ‘beautiful wall’ on the southern border is not yet on a drawing board. Likewise, many of the executive orders Trump has signed failed to live up to the president’s rhetoric.”

Bloomberg’s Toluse Olorunnipa noticed an amusing pattern and just posted a smart trend story about it: “From overhauling the tax code to releasing an infrastructure package to making decisions on NAFTA and the Paris climate agreement, Trump has a common refrain: A big announcement is coming in just ‘two weeks.’ It rarely does. … Trump’s habit of self-imposing — then missing — two-week deadlines for major announcements has become a staple of his administration … The president has used two-week timelines to sidestep questions from reporters or brag to CEOs at the White House. But his pronouncements have also flummoxed investors, Congress and occasionally even members of his staff.”

Is this strategy gimmicky and cynical? Absolutely. Does it work? For millions of people, yes.

Trump hands off a pen after signing a &quot;decision memo&quot; and a letter to members of Congress outlining broad principles of his plan to privatize the nation&#39;s air traffic control system. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)</p>

Trump hands off a pen after signing a “decision memo” and a letter to members of Congress outlining broad principles of his plan to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

— To be sure, Trump’s talent for showmanship has gotten him this far. He developed a valuable brand as a reality TV star and has leveraged his celebrity to get through rough patches before. He brought that skillset to the presidential race and assumes it will continue to work in Washington.

Indeed, White House officials defend Trump by arguing that he’s simply governing as he campaigned. “The president won an election by being somebody who is not a conformist candidate,” Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, told reporters during a conference call last night. “He won by being somebody who the American people were anxious to change the culture in D.C. They understand that they were asking for disruption to the way D.C. operates. And I think that they’re anxious, the American people are anxious to see progress in this town. So he may not have conventional style in doing that, but many of his efforts are extremely helpful to, I think, getting our legislation accomplished.”

Short’s explanation offers a deeply revealing window into Trump’s theory of the case: All of the let-‘er-rip tweets in the wake of the attack on London Bridge have been focused on ginning up the GOP base. The president believes that, so long as grassroots activists back him, his adopted party’s lawmakers will have no choice but to follow. The fact that so many politicians have caved and capitulated over the past two years has taught him that he can get away with his unusual behavior. What the Republican governing class has never understood is that Trump doesn’t really respect people who kowtow to him; he sees it as a sign of their weakness. Seeing such timidity has only emboldened this president to pursue this bottom-up, outside-in approach. There is no evidence he will change until elected Republicans buck him en masse.

— Here’s the rub: There are some fresh signs that Trump’s act is wearing thin. While Trump’s floor of support has thus far stayed surprisingly high, the percentage of Americans who “strongly” approve of the president has continued to slip – from 30 percent earlier in the spring to about 20 percent now.

— More and more GOP lawmakers are also getting sick and tired of either defending the president or dodging questions about his latest provocative statement. “Trump’s refusal to disengage from the daily storm of news — coming ahead of former FBI director James B. Comey’s highly anticipated public testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday — is both unsurprising and unsettling to many Republicans (on the Hill), who are already skittish about the questions they may confront in the aftermath of the hearing,” Robert Costa reports on the front page of today’s Post. “In particular, they foresee Democratic accusations that Trump’s exchanges with Comey about the FBI probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign were an effort to obstruct justice. Some Republicans fear that Trump’s reactions will only worsen the potential damage.”

  • “It’s a distraction, and he needs to focus,” said former Trump campaign adviser Barry Bennett. “Every day and moment he spends on anything other than a rising economy is a waste that disrupts everything.”
  • “Unfortunately, the president has, I think, created problems for himself by his Twitter habit,” John Cornyn, the second highest-ranking Senate Republican, said with characteristic understatement during a Sunday interview on the Dallas TV station WFAA.
  • “We live in a world today where unfortunately a lot of communication is taking place with 140 characters. Probably it’s best to refrain from communicating with 140 characters on topics that are so important,” Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said one day after golfing with the president.

— Efforts to create a “war room” stocked with former campaign officials and top-flight lawyers have stalled.“Three people briefed on the matter said the process has been bogged down by a lack of decision-making in the West Wing over how to proceed, as well as reluctance from some of those the White House hoped to recruit about serving a president who keeps getting in his own way,” the AP’s Julie Pace reports. “The White House has made a conscious decision to avoid answering questions about the Russia probes, referring inquiries to Marc Kasowitz, the president’s outside counsel. Kasowitz has so far had no comment on the investigations, leaving those questions unanswered.”

“Anybody with press chops looks at this and they’re fearful there’s not a path to succeed,” said Sara Fagen, former White House political director for George W. Bush.

— Top lawyers with at least four major law firms rebuffed White House overtures to represent Trump in the Russia investigations, in part over concerns that the president would be unwilling to listen to their advice, Michael Isikoff reports for Yahoo News this morning. “Before Kasowitz was retained, however, some of the biggest law firms and their best known attorneys turned down overtures when they were sounded out by White House officials to see if they would be willing to represent the president.”

Jerry Moran leaves a closed-door GOP caucus luncheon at the Capitol.&nbsp;(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)</p>

Jerry Moran leaves a closed-door GOP caucus luncheon at the Capitol. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

— Trump wants to blame Democrats for blocking his agenda, but the truth is that he cannot even get 50 Republican senators onboard for his biggest priorities. Consider these two other quotes from yesterday:

Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, a former NRSC chairman and one of the most reliable votes in the Republican conference, put out a stinging statement about Trump’s push to privatize the country’s air traffic control system: “Proposals to privatize air traffic control threaten the reliable transportation options provided by small airports and the general aviation community for millions of Americans. All but our largest airports nationwide stand to be hurt by this proposal. Privatization eliminates the chance for Congress and the American people to provide oversight, creates uncertainty in the marketplace and is likely to raise costs for consumers.”

On health care: “I just don’t think we can put it together among ourselves,” South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham told a gaggle of reporters, joining a growing chorus of Republicans who publicly and privately say that Obamacare repeal is unlikely to happen. (Last week, Richard Burr (R-N.C.) made a similar comment and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said he doubted a bill could pass before the August recess.)

— “The most effective opponent of the Trump Presidency is Donald J. Trump,” the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board opines this morning. “If Mr. Trump’s action is legal on the merits, he seems to be angry that his lawyers are trying to vindicate the rule of law. Attorney General Jeff Sessions would be justified if he resigned. … If this pattern continues, Mr. Trump may find himself running an Administration with no one but his family and the Breitbart staff. People of talent and integrity won’t work for a boss who undermines them in public without thinking about the consequences. And whatever happened to the buck stops here?”

— “The man is out of control,” Eugene Robinson writes in his column today. “I know his unorthodox use of social media is thought by some, including the president himself, to be brilliant. But I don’t see political genius in the invective coming from Trump these days. I see an angry man lashing out at enemies real and imagined — a man dangerously overwhelmed.”

— “The president has gone rogue,” adds Dana Milbank.“Though Trump’s ineffectiveness comes as a relief, his isolation is no cause for celebration. Whenever his back is to the wall, he becomes even more aggressive. The further he falls, and the more alienated he grows, the greater the danger that he will do something desperate — and there is much that a desperate commander in chief can do.”

Dana flags that an unnamed Trump confidant told CNN’s Gloria Borger last week that the president is a lost man:“He now lives within himself, which is a dangerous place for Donald Trump to be. I see him emotionally withdrawing. He’s gained weight. He doesn’t have anybody whom he trusts.”

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

Pretty grim outlook for the President, for the country, and for the world. Elections have consequences. And, in this case they are as bad as it gets.

PWS

06-08-17

 

BREAKING: 4th Circuit Slams Travel Ban — Losses Continue To Pile Up For Trump — Majority Finds Trump Acted In Bad Faith!

Here’s a key excerpt from the majority opinion by Chief Judge Gregory:

“As we previously determined, the Government’s asserted national security interest in enforcing Section 2(c) appears to be a post hoc, secondary justification for an executive action rooted in religious animus and intended to bar Muslims from this country. We remain unconvinced that Section 2(c) has more to do with national security than it does with effectuating the President’s promised Muslim ban. We do not discount that EO-2 may have some national security purpose, nor do we disclaim that the injunction may have some impact on the Government. But our inquiry, whether for determining Section 2(c)’s primary purpose or for weighing the harm to the parties, is one of balance, and on balance, we cannot say that the Government’s asserted national security interest outweighs the competing harm to Plaintiffs of the likely Establishment Clause violation.

For similar reasons, we find that the public interest counsels in favor of upholding the preliminary injunction. As this and other courts have recognized, upholding the Constitution undeniably promotes the public interest. Giovani Carandola, 303 F.3d at 521 (“[U]pholding constitutional rights surely serves the public interest.”); see also Melendres v. Arpaio, 695 F.3d 990, 1002 (9th Cir. 2012) (“[I]t is always in the public interest to prevent the violation of a party’s constitutional rights.” (quoting Sammartano v. First Jud. Dist. Ct., 303 F.3d 959, 974 (9th Cir. 2002))); Dayton Area Visually Impaired Pers., Inc. v. Fisher, 70 F.3d 1474, 1490 (6th Cir. 1995) (“[T]he public as a whole has a significant interest in ensuring…protection of First Amendment liberties.”). These cases recognize that when we protect the constitutional rights of the few, it inures to the benefit of all. And even more so here, where the constitutional violation injures Plaintiffs and in the process permeates and ripples across entire religious groups, communities, and society at large.

When the government chooses sides on religious issues, the “inevitable result” is “hatred, disrespect and even contempt” towards those who fall on the wrong side of the line. Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421, 431 (1962). Improper government involvement with religion “tends to destroy government and to degrade religion,” id., encourage persecution of religious minorities and nonbelievers, and foster hostility and division in our pluralistic society. The risk of these harms is particularly acute here, where from the highest elected office in the nation has come an Executive Order steeped in animus and directed at a single religious group. “The fullest realization of true religious liberty requires that government neither engage in nor compel religious practices, that it effect no favoritism among sects or between religion and nonreligion, and that it work deterrence of no religious belief.” Sch. Dist. of Abington Twp. v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 305 (1963) (Goldberg, J. concurring). We therefore conclude that enjoining Section 2(c) promotes the public interest of the highest order. And because Plaintiffs have satisfied all the requirements for securing a preliminary injunction, we find that the district court did not abuse its discretion in enjoining Section 2(c) of EO-2.”

Here’s the Court’s entire 205-page opinion including separate opinions:http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/171351.P.pdf

Judges Agee, Niemeyer, and Shedd dissented.

PWS

05-25-17

 

Spicey Returns, “Lester Holt” Interviews “Trump” On SNL — See Clips Here!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/14/arts/television/snl-melissa-mccarthy-sean-spicer.html?emc=edit_nn_20170514&nl=morning-briefing&nlid=79213886&te=1&_r=0

From the NYT.  Hard to tell spoof from reality in the Trump Circuis.

PWS

05-15-17

MARJORIE COHN IN HUFFPOST: Destroying American Justice From The Inside — The “Gonzo-Apocalypto Era” Takes Hold At The USDOJ!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeff-sessions-department-of-injustice_us_590dd80ee4b0f711807244f1

Cohn writes:

“Motivated by his deep-seated biases and those of President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pursuing a draconian agenda on voting rights, immigration, crime, policing, the drug war, federal sentencing and the privatization of prisons.

Sessions, now head of the Department of Justice, which is charged with enforcing the Voting Rights Act, once called the act “intrusive.” In 2013, after the Supreme Court issued a decision in “Shelby County v. Holder” that struck down the section of the act that established a formula for preclearance of jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination, Sessions called it “a good day for the South.”

Sessions and Trump tout the existence of what the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School calls a “phantom crime wave.” While this administration scaremongers about high crime rates, in reality, national crime and murder rates are at a near-historic low: 50 percent less than they were at their peak in 1991.

Trump’s campaign mantra was “law and order,” a euphemism for tolerating excessive force by police officers, often against people of color. Trump speaks of “American carnage” in the cities and a “war” on the police. His bogus rhetoric is aimed at Black Lives Matter, which arose in response to increasing numbers of police shootings, particularly of nonwhites.

The president depicts police reform measures as “anti-law enforcement” and Sessions is fully on board with this framing. In 2015, when he was a senator, Sessions said that police reform movements endanger public safety and hinder police work.

Sessions opposes consent decrees, which are court-enforced agreements aimed at eliminating racial profiling and excessive force by police in agencies that demonstrate “a pattern or practice” of violating civil rights. Sessions says the federal government should not be “dictating to local police how to do their jobs” (except when it comes to immigration enforcement, that is).

Amnesty International warns that Trump and Sessions’ “law and order” rhetoric could lead to higher levels of mass incarceration, long sentences and prolonged solitary confinement.

. . . .

Trump and Sessions are not disappointing the white nationalists who favor using immigration policy as a wedge to further their “alt-right” program.

Kevin de León, President pro Tempore of the California State Senate, noted, “It has become abundantly clear” that Sessions and Trump “are basing their law enforcement policies on principles of white supremacy ― not American values.”

From January to mid-March of this year, immigration arrests have increased by 33 percent. Since Trump’s inauguration, the number of arrests of immigrants with no criminal records has doubled. Roughly half of the 675 arrested in early February raids had either driving convictions or no criminal record at all, according to data obtained by The Washington Post.

Sessions drastically increased penalties for illegal reentry into the United States and ordered immigration officials to charge undocumented immigrants with higher-penalty crimes.

Although Sessions’ heavy-handed actions are based on Trump’s spurious claim that immigrants disproportionately murder and rape US citizens, studies have shown that immigrants actually commit fewer crimes than citizens.

Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are arresting immigrants who come to the courthouse. This egregious practice motivated California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye to complain in a letter to the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security that ICE agents “appear to be stalking undocumented immigrants in our courthouses to make arrests.”

Terrorizing immigrants with frightful measures discourages immigrant witnesses from reporting crimes, and discourages victims from seeking legal measures and services that are meant to protect their own safety and well-being.

By March, the Los Angeles Police Department had seen a 25 percent drop in the number of Latinos reporting sexual assault and a 10 percent decrease in Latinos’ reports of domestic violence. By early April, there was a 42.8 percent drop in the number of Latinos who reported rapes to the Houston Police Department. And a health care center in Los Angeles reported a 20 percent decrease in food stamp enrollments and a 54 percent drop in enrollments for Medicaid.

The Trump administration has been arresting ― even deporting ― “Dreamers” who relied on Barack Obama’s assurances they would be protected if they came out of the shadows and provided their personal information to ICE. Dreamer Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez is a registrant in Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and was the first DACA recipient to be deported. Bojorquez, who is now in Mexico, is suing the US federal government.

On January 25, 2017, Trump signed an executive order to halt federal funding to municipal governments that don’t facilitate federal immigration enforcement. Trump’s order is aimed at “sanctuary cities” that protect immigrants from deportation.

In March, Sessions threatened officials in nine jurisdictions with losing their 2016 grants if they failed to certify by June 30 that they were in compliance with a law that forbids local authorities from forcing officials to withhold information about immigration status from federal authorities.

But the majority of sanctuary policies do not cover information sharing. Most address how to handle “detainers,” where federal immigration officials request that state or local authorities continue to detain people who are eligible for release. Courts have said jurisdictions cannot be forced to honor those detainers.

Trump’s January 25 order is blocked, for now. US District Judge William H. Orrick III issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that forbids the federal government from withholding funds from municipal governments that don’t fully cooperate with immigration agents.

Orrick also ruled the federal government can’t legally force counties to hold undocumented people beyond their release dates. The judge concluded Trump’s order likely violates due process, the separation of powers doctrine, and the 10th Amendment, which prevents federal interference with state and local self-government. Only Congress can limit spending, Orrick wrote.

This is Trump’s third executive order halted by federal courts. His first and second Muslim bans are now pending in the 9th and 4th Circuit Courts of Appeals.

. . . .

After Trump nominated Sessions for attorney general, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Illinois) stated, “No senator has fought harder against the hopes and aspirations of Latinos, immigrants and people of color than Sen. Sessions.”

Indeed, no one is worse equipped to lead the Department of Justice. Sessions’ racism is prominently on display in every action he has taken during his short tenure in Trump’s cabinet.

It is critical that “we the people” continue to resist, in every way we can, the Trump-Sessions pattern and practice of injustice.

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her books include The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse; Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law; and Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. Follow her on Twitter. Copyright Truthout. Reprinted with permission.”

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Read the entire article over on HuffPost.

So much damage in so little time. And, I’m sure the worst is yet to come. Most impressive in a depressingly negative way! Senators Liz Warren, Cory Booker, and others were right!

PWS

05-07-17

THE RAPE THAT WASN’T — MD Prosecutors Drop Charges Against Two Hispanic Students At Rockville High In Case That Administration “Tried” Without Facts In Attempt To “Whip Up” Xenophobia!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/rape-charge-against-immigrant-teen-in-maryland-case-will-be-dropped-defense-lawyer-says/2017/05/05/a4806c02-312f-11e7-8674-437ddb6e813e_story.html?utm_term=.cc30dc476886&wpisrc=nl_buzz&wpmm=1

The Washington Post reports:

“Maryland prosecutors said they will drop rape and sex offense charges against two immigrant teens accused of attacking a 14-year-old classmate in a high school bathroom stall in a case that attracted international and White House attention and stoked the debate about illegal crossings into the United States.

After a court hearing Friday morning, prosecutors said they will drop the sex-assault case against Henry Sanchez Milian, 18, and Jose Montano, 17.

“The facts of this case do not support the original charges filed,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

Defense lawyers had said for weeks that the sex acts were consensual and that text messages and school surveillance videos did not substantiate the girl’s claims she had been pushed from a hallway into a bathroom at Rockville High School on March 16 and that the suspects took turns assaulting her as she tried to break free.

As prosecutors moved to dismiss the rape cases, they began pursuing cases of child pornography charges related to images discovered on cellphones during the course of the investigation, according to court records and defense attorneys.

Prosecutors did not describe the content or path of the exchanges of the images. Defense attorneys said they were willingly shared by the girl with one defendant, who passed them along to the other.

Sanchez Milian’s attorney, Andrew Jezic, called the charges “selective prosecution of elective promiscuity,” adding that “it is hardly uncommon behavior for teenagers.”

Montano’s attorney, Maria Mena, said the child pornography laws are made to go after adults. She called the new charges “egregious.”

The developments Friday stood in stark contrast to the reports that pushed the case onto the national platform.

The severity of the reported assault — the girl originally told police the suspects held her down as she cried and repeatedly told them to stop — and that the two accused teens had entered the United States illegally only months earlier drew heated comments from the White House to the Maryland State House and to activists in the county.

Montano came to the United States from El Salvador, and Sanchez Milian from Guatemala. They were stopped at the border, detained, then allowed to continue on to relatives before they enrolled at Rockville at a ninth-grade level.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer was asked at a daily briefing about the cases in its early days and said, “The idea that this occurred is shocking, disturbing, horrific.”

“Part of the reason that the president has made illegal immigration and crackdown such a big deal is because of tragedies like this. . . . Immigration pays its toll on our people if it’s not done legally, and this is another example,” Spicer said.”

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Read the entire article at the above link.

Always a good idea to wait for the legal system to operate before passing judgment. And, the idea that anyone in the Trump Administration would give “two hoots and a holler” about a rape victim is facially absurd.

Nope.  It’s all about revving up xenophobia. And, the targets aren’t just those who arrived recently and made claims for protection. Xenophobia, like racism, is an ugly phenomenon. In the end, the Administration’s “white nationalist” agenda threatens all Americans in one way or another (ironically, it even threatens those who think that they stand to benefit from it).

PWS

05-07-17