MLK DAY 2018 — DR. KING’S DREAM OF AN AMERICA CELEBRATING EQUALITY & RACIAL HARMONY IS UNDER VICIOUS ATTACK BY TRUMP, PENCE, SESSIONS, AND A HOST OF OTHERS IN TODAY’S WHITE NATIONALIST ENABLING GOP — Who Is Going To Fight To Reclaim The Dream, & Who Is Going To “Go Along To Get Along” With The 21st Century Version Of Jim Crow?

Folks, as we take a few minutes today to remember Dr. King, his vision for a better America, and his inspiring “I Have A Dream Speech,” we have to face the fact that everything Dr. King stood for is under a vicious and concerted attack, the likes of which we haven’t seen in America for approximately 50 years, by individuals elected to govern by a minority of voters in our country.

So, today, I’m offering you a “potpourri”  of how and why Dr.King’s Dream has “gone south,” so to speak, and how those of us who care about social justice and due process in America can nevertheless resurrect it and move forward together for a greater and more tolerant American that celebrates the talents, contributions, and humanity of all who live here!.

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From the LA Times Editorial Board:

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_popover_share.aspx?guid=186bb118-702e-49a2-a52d-b8dac8aa0cc8

“50 years on, what would King think?

On Martin Luther King’s birthday, a look back at some disquieting events in race relations in 2017.

Nearly 50 years ago, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. went to the mountaintop and looked out over the promised land. In a powerful and prophetic speech on April 3, 1968, he told a crowd at the Mason Temple in Memphis that while there would certainly be difficult days ahead, he had no doubt that the struggle for racial justice would be successful.

“I may not get there with you,” he said. “But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And so I am happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything.”

The following day, he was assassinated.

The intervening years have been full of steps forward and steps backward, of extraordinary changes as well as awful reminders of what has not changed. What would King have made of our first black president? What would he have thought had he seen neo-Nazis marching through the streets of Charlottesville, Va., so many years after his death? How would he have viewed the shooting by police of unarmed black men in cities around the country — or the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement? He would surely have heard the assertions that we have become a “post-racial” society because we elected (and reelected) Barack Obama. But would he have believed it?

This past year was not terribly heartening on the civil rights front. It was appalling enough that racist white nationalists marched in Charlottesville in August. But it was even more shocking that President Trump seemed incapable of making the most basic moral judgment about that march; instead, he said that there were some “very fine people” at the rally of neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

Racial injustices that bedeviled the country in King’s day — voter suppression, segregated schools, hate crimes — have not gone away. A report released last week by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on inequities in the funding of public schools concludes — and this should surprise no one — that students of color living in poor, segregated neighborhoods are often relegated to low-quality schools simply due to where they live. States continued in 2017 to pass laws that make it harder, rather than easier, for people of color to vote.

The Trump administration also seems determined to undo two decades of Justice Department civil rights work, cutting back on investigations into the excessive use of force and racial bias by police departments. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions in March ordered a review of all existing federal consent decrees with local police departments with the possibility of dismantling them — a move that could set back police reform by many years.

Here in Los Angeles County, this statistic is telling: 40% of the estimated 57,000 homeless people — the most desperate and destitute residents of the county — are black. Yet black residents make up only 9% of the L.A. County population.

But despite bad news on several fronts, what have been heartening over the last year are the objections raised by so many people across the country.

Consider the statues of Confederate generals and slave owners that were brought down across the country. Schools and other institutions rebranded buildings that were formerly named after racists.

The Black Lives Matter movement has grown from a small street and cyber-protest group into a more potent civil rights organization focusing on changing institutions that have traditionally marginalized black people.

When football quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest, as he said, a country that oppresses black people, he was denounced by many (including Trump) but emulated by others. Kaepernick has been effectively banished from professional football but he started a movement.

Roy Moore was defeated for a Senate seat in Alabama by a surge of black voters, particularly black women. (But no sooner did he lose than Joe Arpaio — the disgraced, vehemently anti-immigrant former Arizona sheriff — announced that he is running for Senate there.)

So on what would have been King’s 89th birthday, it is clear that the United States is not yet the promised land he envisioned in the last great speech of his life. But we agree with him that it’s still possible to get there.”

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See this short HuffPost video on “Why MLK’s Message Still Matters Today!”

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/martin-luther-king-jr-assassination-legacy_us_58e3ea89e4b03a26a366dd77

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Read about how the Arizona GOP has resurrected, and in some instances actually welcomed, “Racist Joe” Arpaio, an unapologetic anti-Hispanic bigot and convicted scofflaw. “Racist Joe” was pardoned by Trump and is now running for the GOP nomination to replace retiring Arizona GOP Senator Jeff Flake, who often has been a critic of Trump. One thing “Racist Joe’s” candidacy is doing is energizing the Latino community that successfully fought to remove him from the office of Sheriff and to have him brought to justice for his racist policies. 

Kurtis Lee reports for the LA Times:

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-pol-arpaio-latino-voters-20180114-story.html

“Yenni Sanchez had thought her work was finished.

Spared from the threat of deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, she campaigned to oust Joe Arpaio when he unsuccessfully ran for reelection as Maricopa County sheriff in 2016. She knocked on hundreds of doors in south Phoenix’s predominantly Latino neighborhoods to register voters. She made phone calls, walked on college campuses. Her message was direct, like the name of the group she worked with, Bazta Arpaio, a take on the Spanish word basta — enough Arpaio.

But now, the 85-year-old former sheriff is back and running for Senate. Sanchez, who had planned to step away from politics to focus on her studies at Grand Canyon University, is back as well, organizing once more.

“If he thinks he can come back and terrorize the entire state like he did Maricopa County, it’s not going to happen,” Sanchez, 20, said. “I’m not going to let it happen.”

Arpaio enters a crowded Republican primary and may not emerge as the party’s nominee, but his bid has already galvanized Arizona’s Latino electorate — one of the country’s largest and fastest-growing voter blocs.

Organizers like Sanchez, who thought they might sit out the midterm elections, rushed back into offices and started making calls. Social media groups that had gone dormant have resurrected with posts reminding voters that Arpaio was criminally convicted of violating a federal court order to stop racially profiling Latinos.

“We’ve been hearing, ‘Is it true Arpaio is back? OK, what can we do to help?’” said Montserrat Arredondo, director of One Arizona, a Phoenix nonprofit group focused on increasing Latino voter turnout. “People were living in terror when Arpaio was in office. They haven’t forgotten.”

In 2008, 796,000 Latinos were eligible to vote in the state, according to One Arizona. By 2016, that potential voting pool jumped to 1.1 million. (California tops the nation with the most Latinos eligible to vote, almost 6.9 million.)

In 2016, Latinos accounted for almost 20% of all registered voters in Arizona. Latinos make up about 30% of Arizona’s population.

. . . .

Last year, President Trump pardoned Arpaio of a criminal conviction for violating a federal court order to stop racially profiling Latinos. When announcing his candidacy Tuesday, Arpaio pledged his full support to the president and his policies.

On Saturday, Arpaio made his first public appearance since announcing his candidacy, attending a gathering of Maricopa County Republicans. He was unmoved when asked about the enthusiasm his candidacy has created among Latinos.

“Many of them hate me for enforcing the law,” he said. “I can’t change that. … All I know is that I have my supporters, they’re going to support who they want. I’m in this to win it though.”

Arpaio, gripping about a dozen red cardboard signs that read “We need Sheriff Joe Arpaio in DC,” walked through the crowd where he mingled with, among others, former state Sen. Kelli Ward and U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, who also are seeking the GOP Senate nomination. Overall, Arpaio was widely met with enthusiasm from attendees.

“So glad you’re back,” said a man wearing a “Vietnam Veteran” hat.

“It’s great to be back,” Arpaio replied.

Arpaio, who handed out business cards touting his once self-proclaimed status as “America’s toughest sheriff,” said he had no regrets from his more than two decades in office.

“Not a single one,” he said. “I spoke my mind and did what needed to be done and would do it the same in a minute.”

In an interview, Arpaio, who still insists he has “evidence” that former President Obama’s birth certificate is forged, a rumor repeatedly shown to be false, did not lay out specific policy platforms, only insisting he’ll get things done in Washington.

During his tenure as sheriff, repeated court rulings against his office for civil rights violations cost local taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.”

Read the complete story at the link.

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Professor George Yancy of Emory University writing in the NY Times asks “Will America Choose King’s Dream Or Trump’s Nightmare?”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/15/opinion/martin-luther-king-trump-racism.html

Yancy writes:

“Let’s come clean: President Trump is a white racist! Over the past few days, many have written, spoken and shouted this fact, but it needs repeating: President Trump is a white racist! Why repeat it? Because many have been under the grand illusion that America is a “post-racial” nation, a beautiful melting pot where racism is only sporadic, infrequent and expressed by those on the margins of an otherwise mainstream and “decent” America. That’s a lie; a blatant one at that. We must face a very horrible truth. And America is so cowardly when it comes to facing awful truths about itself.

So, as we celebrate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, we must face the fact that we are at a moral crossroad. Will America courageously live out Dr. King’s dream or will it go down the road of bigotry and racist vitriol, preferring to live out Mr. Trump’s nightmare instead? In his autobiography, reflecting on the nonviolent uprising of the people of India, Dr. King wrote, “The way of acquiesce leads to moral and spiritual suicide.” Those of us who defiantly desire to live, and to live out Dr. King’s dream, to make it a reality, must not acquiesce now, precisely when his direst prophetic warning faces us head on.

On the night before he was murdered by a white man on the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., Dr. King wrote: “America is going to hell if we don’t use her vast resources to end poverty and make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life.” Our current president, full of hatred and contempt for those children, is the terrifying embodiment of this prophecy.

We desperately need each other at this moment of moral crisis and malicious racist divisiveness. Will we raise our collective voices against Mr. Trump’s white racism and those who make excuses for it or submit and thereby self-destructively kill any chance of fully becoming our better selves? Dr. King also warned us that “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.” To honor Dr. King, we must not remain silent, we must not betray his legacy.

So many Americans suffer from the obsessive need to claim “innocence,” that is, to lie to ourselves. Yet such a lie is part of our moral undoing. While many will deny, continue to lie and claim our national “innocence,” I come bearing deeply troubling, but not surprising, news: White racism is now comfortably located within the Oval Office, right there at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, embodied in our 45th president, one who is, and I think many would agree, must agree, without any hesitation, a white racist. There are many who will resist this characterization, but Mr. Trump has desecrated the symbolic aspirations of America, exhumed forms of white supremacist discourse that so many would assume is spewed only by Ku Klux Klan.”

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

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From lead columnist David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick at the NY Times we get “Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List.”

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/01/15/opinion/leonhardt-trump-racist.html

Donald Trump has been obsessed with race for the entire time he has been a public figure. He had a history of making racist comments as a New York real-estate developer in the 1970s and ‘80s. More recently, his political rise was built on promulgating the lie that the nation’s first black president was born in Kenya. He then launched his campaign with a speech describing Mexicans as rapists.

The media often falls back on euphemisms when describing Trump’s comments about race: racially loaded, racially charged, racially tinged, racially sensitive. And Trump himself has claimed that he is “the least racist person.” But here’s the truth: Donald Trump is a racist. He talks about and treats people differently based on their race. He has done so for years, and he is still doing so.

Here, we have attempted to compile a definitive list of his racist comments – or at least the publicly known ones.

The New York Years

Trump’s real-estate company tried to avoid renting apartments to African-Americans in the 1970s and gave preferential treatment to whites, according to the federal government.

Trump treated black employees at his casinos differently from whites, according to multiple sources. A former hotel executive said Trump criticized a black accountant: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks.”

In 1989, Trump took out ads in New York newspapers urging the death penalty for five black and Latino teenagers accused of raping a white woman in Central Park; he argued they were guilty as late as October 2016, more than 10 years after DNA evidence had exonerated them.

In 1989, on NBC, Trump said: “I think sometimes a black may think they don’t have an advantage or this and that. I’ve said on one occasion, even about myself, if I were starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black, because I really believe they do have an actual advantage.”

An Obsession With
Dark-Skinned Immigrants

He began his 2016 presidential campaign with a speech disparaging Mexican immigrants as criminals and “rapists.”

He uses the gang MS-13 to disparage all immigrants. Among many other statements, he has suggested that Obama’s protection of the Dreamers — otherwise law-abiding immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children — contributed to the spread of MS-13.

In December 2015, Trump called for a “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” including refusing to readmit Muslim-American citizens who were outside of the country at the time.

Trump said a federal judge hearing a case about Trump University was biased because of the judge’s Mexican heritage.

In June 2017, Trump said 15,000 recent immigrants from Haiti “all have AIDS” and that 40,000 Nigerians, once seeing the United States, would never “go back to their huts” in Africa.

At the White House on Jan. 11, Trump vulgarly called forless immigration from Haiti and Africa and more from Norway.”

The disgusting list goes on and on. Go to the link to get it all!

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Also at the NY Times, Charles M. Blow states what by now should have become obvious to the rest of us: “Trump Is A Racist. Period.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/14/opinion/trump-racist-shithole.html

Blow writes:

“I find nothing more useless than debating the existence of racism, particularly when you are surrounded by evidence of its existence. It feels to me like a way to keep you fighting against the water until you drown.

The debates themselves, I believe, render a simple concept impossibly complex, making the very meaning of “racism” frustratingly murky.

So, let’s strip that away here. Let’s be honest and forthright.

Racism is simply the belief that race is an inherent and determining factor in a person’s or a people’s character and capabilities, rendering some inferior and others superior. These beliefs are racial prejudices.

The history of America is one in which white people used racism and white supremacy to develop a racial caste system that advantaged them and disadvantaged others.

Understanding this, it is not a stretch to understand that Donald Trump’s words and deeds over the course of his life have demonstrated a pattern of expressing racial prejudices that demean people who are black and brown and that play to the racial hostilities of other white people.

It is not a stretch to say that Trump is racist. It’s not a stretch to say that he is a white supremacist. It’s not a stretch to say that Trump is a bigot.

Those are just facts, supported by the proof of the words that keep coming directly from him. And, when he is called out for his racism, his response is never to ameliorate his rhetoric, but to double down on it.

I know of no point during his entire life where he has apologized for, repented of, or sought absolution for any of his racist actions or comments.

Instead, he either denies, deflects or amps up the attack.

Trump is a racist. We can put that baby to bed.

“Racism” and “racist” are simply words that have definitions, and Trump comfortably and unambiguously meets those definitions.

We have unfortunately moved away from the simple definition of racism, to the point where the only people to whom the appellation can be safely applied are the vocal, violent racial archetypes.

Racism doesn’t require hatred, constant expression, or even conscious awareness. We want racism to be fringe rather than foundational. But, wishing isn’t an effective method of eradication.

We have to face this thing, stare it down and fight it back.

The simple acknowledgment that Trump is a racist is the easy part. The harder, more substantive part is this: What are we going to do about it?

First and foremost, although Trump is not the first president to be a racist, we must make him the last. If by some miracle he should serve out his first term, he mustn’t be allowed a second. Voters of good conscience must swarm the polls in 2020.

But before that, those voters must do so later this year, to rid the House and the Senate of as many of Trump’s defenders, apologists and accomplices as possible. Should the time come where impeachment is inevitable, there must be enough votes in the House and Senate to ensure it.

We have to stop thinking that we can somehow separate what racists believe from how they will behave. We must stop believing that any of Trump’s actions are clear of the venom coursing through his convictions. Everything he does is an articulation of who he is and what he believes. Therefore, all policies he supports, positions he takes and appointments he makes are suspect.

And finally, we have to stop giving a pass to the people — whether elected official or average voter — who support and defend his racism. If you defend racism you are part of the racism. It doesn’t matter how much you say that you’re an egalitarian, how much you say that you are race blind, how much you say that you are only interested in people’s policies and not their racist polemics.

As the brilliant James Baldwin once put it: “I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.” When I see that in poll after poll a portion of Trump’s base continues to support his behavior, including on race, I can only conclude that there is no real daylight between Trump and his base. They are part of his racism.

When I see the extraordinary hypocrisy of elected officials who either remain silent in the wake of Trump’s continued racist outbursts or who obliquely condemn him, only to in short order return to defending and praising him and supporting his agenda, I see that there is no real daylight between Trump and them either. They too are part of his racism.

When you see it this way, you understand the enormity and the profundity of what we are facing. There were enough Americans who were willing to accept Trump’s racism to elect him. There are enough people in Washington willing to accept Trump’s racism to defend him. Not only is Trump racist, the entire architecture of his support is suffused with that racism. Racism is a fundamental component of the Trump presidency.

 

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Back over at the Washington Post, op-ed writer E.J. Dionne, Jr., tells us the depressing news that “We could be a much better country. Trump makes it impossible.” 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/we-could-be-a-much-better-country-trump-makes-it-impossible/2018/01/14/84bff6dc-f7d4-11e7-b34a-b85626af34ef_story.html?utm_term=.c2151ab89a3c

Dionne concludes his piece with the following observations about our current “Dreamer” debate:

“Our current debate is frustrating, and not only because Trump doesn’t understand what “mutual toleration” and “forbearance” even mean. By persistently making himself, his personality, his needs, his prejudices and his stability the central topics of our political conversation, Trump is blocking the public conversation we ought to be having about how to move forward.

And while Trump’s enablers in the Republican Party will do all they can to avoid the issue, there should now be no doubt (even if this was clear long ago) that we have a blatant racist as our president. His reference to immigrants from “sh–hole countries” and his expressed preference for Norwegians over Haitians, Salvadorans and new arrivals from Africa make this abundantly clear. Racist leaders do not help us reach mutual toleration. His semi-denial 15 hours after his comment was first reported lacked credibility, especially because he called around first to see how his original words would play with his base.

But notice also what Trump’s outburst did to our capacity to govern ourselves and make progress. Democrats and Republicans sympathetic to the plight of the “dreamers” worked out an immigration compromise designed carefully to give Trump what he had said he needed.

There were many concessions by Democrats on border security, “chain migration” based on family reunification, and the diversity visa lottery that Trump had criticized. GOP senators such as Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) bargained in good faith and were given ample reason by Trump to think they had hit his sweet spot.

Trump blew them away with a torrent of bigotry. In the process, he shifted the onus for avoiding a government shutdown squarely on his own shoulders and those of Republican leaders who were shamefully slow in condemning the president’s racism.

There are so many issues both more important and more interesting than the psyche of a deeply damaged man. We are capable of being a far better nation. But we need leaders who call us to our obligations to each other as free citizens. Instead, we have a president who knows only how to foster division and hatred.”

Read the rest of the op-ed at the link.

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Our “Liar-in-Chief:” This short video from CNN, featuring the Washington Post’s “Chief Fact Checker” Glenn Kessler deals with the amazing 2000+ false or misleading claims that Trump has made even before the first anniversary of his Presidency: “Trump averages 5-6 false claims a day.”

http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2018/01/15/president-trump-false-claims-first-year-washington-post.cnn

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Also on video, even immigration restrictionists sometimes wax eloquent about the exceptional generosity of U.S. immigration and refugee laws (even as they engage in an unending battle to undermine that claimed generosity). But, the reality, as set forth in this short HuffPost video is that on a regular basis our Government knowingly and intentionally returns individuals, mostly Hispanics, to countries where they are likely to be harmed or killed because we are unable to fit them within often hyper-technical and overly restrictive readings of various protection laws or because we are unwilling to exercise humanitarian discretion to save them..

I know first-hand because in my former position as a U.S. Immigration Judge, I sometimes had to tell individuals (and their families) in person that I had to order them returned to a country where I had concluded that they would likely be severely harmed or killed because I could not fit them into any of the categories of protection available under U.S. law. I daresay that very few of the restrictionists who glory in the idea of even harsher and more restrictive immigration laws have had this experience. 

And clearly, Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, Steven Miller, Bob Goodlatte and others in the GOP would like to increase the number of humans we return to harm or death by stripping defenseless juveniles and other vulnerable asylum seekers of some of the limited rights they now possess in the false name of “border security.” Indeed, Sessions even invented a false narrative of a fraud-ridden, “attorney-gamed” (how do folks who often don’t even have a chance to get an attorney use attorneys to “game” the system?) asylum system in an attempt to justify his totally indefensible and morally bankrupt position.

Check out this video from HuffPost, entitled “This Is The Violent And Tragic Reality Of Deportation”  to see the shocking truth about how our removal system really works (or not)!

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/this-is-the-violent-and-tragic-reality-of-deportation_us_5a58eeade4b03c41896545f2

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Thinking of MLK’S “I have a dream,” next, I’ll take you over to The Guardian, where Washington Correspondent Sabrina Siddiqui tells us how “Immigration policy progress and setbacks have become pattern for Dreamers.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/15/dreamers-policy-progress-and-disaster-has-become-a-pattern-trump

Sabrina writes:

“Greisa Martínez Rosas has seen it before: a rare bipartisan breakthrough on immigration policy, offering a glimmer of hope to advocates like herself. Then a swift unraveling.

Martínez is a Dreamer, one of about 700,000 young undocumented migrants, brought to the US as children, who secured temporary protections through Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or Daca.

She considers herself “one of the lucky ones”. Last year, she was able to renew her legal status until 2020, even as Donald Trump threw the Dreamers into limbo by rescinding Daca and declaring a deadline of 5 March for Congress to act to replace it.

Martínez is an activist with United We Dream, the largest youth-led immigration advocacy group in the US. She has fought on the front lines.

In 2010 and 2013, she saw efforts for immigration reform, and a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, culminate in disappointment. She rode a familiar rollercoaster this week, as a bipartisan Daca fix was undermined by Trump’s reported – if contested – reference to African and Central American nations as “shithole countries”.

“It feels like a sequel,” Martínez told the Guardian, adding that Trump’s adversarial views underscored the need to hash out a deal. “This same man is responsible for running a Department of Homeland Security that seeks to hunt and deport people of color.”

Negotiations over immigration have always been precarious. Trump has complicated the picture. After launching his candidacy for president with a speech that called Mexican migrants “rapists” and “killers”, Trump campaigned on deporting nearly 11 million undocumented migrants and building a wall on the Mexico border.

He has, however, shown a more flexible attitude towards Dreamers – despite his move to end their protective status. Last Tuesday, the president sat in the White House, flanked by members of both parties. In a 45-minute negotiating session, televised for full effect, Trump ignited fury among his hardcore supporters by signaling he was open to protection for Dreamers in exchange for modest border security measures.

Then, less than 48 hours later, Trump’s reported comments about countries like Haiti and El Salvador prompted a fierce backlash.

“People are picking their jaws up from the table and they’re trying to recover from feelings of deep hurt and anger,” said Frank Sharry, founder and executive director of America’s Voice, a group which advocates for immigration reform.

“We always knew we were climbing a mountain … but it’s improbable to imagine a positive breakthrough for immigrants with the most nativist president in modern America in charge.”

As the uproar continued, it was nearly forgotten that on Thursday, hours before Trump’s remarks became public, a group of senators announced a bipartisan deal.

Under it, hundreds of thousands of Dreamers would be able to gain provisional legal status and eventually apply for green cards. They would not be able to sponsor their parents for citizenship – an effort to appease Trump’s stance against so-called “chain migration” – but parents would be able to obtain a form of renewable legal status.

There would be other concessions to earn Trump’s signature, such as $2bn for border security including physical barriers, if not by definition a wall.

The compromise would also do away with the diversity visa lottery and reallocate those visas to migrants from underrepresented countries and those who stand to lose Temporary Protected Status. That would help those affected by the Trump administration’s recent decision to terminate such status for some nationals of El Salvador, effectively forcing nearly 200,000 out of the country.

The bill would be far less comprehensive than the one put forward in 2013, when a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Eight” proposed a bill that would have given nearly 11 million undocumented migrants a path to citizenship.

The bill passed the Senate with rare bipartisan support. In the Republican-led House it never received a vote.

Proponents of reform now believe momentum has shifted in their favor, despite Trump’s ascent. The Arizona senator Jeff Flake, part of the 2013 effort and also in the reform group today, said there was a clear deadline of 5 March to help Dreamers.

“I do think there is a broader consensus to do this than we had before,” Flake told the Guardian. “We’re going have 700,000 kids subject to deportation. That’s the biggest difference.”

Read the rest of the story at the link.

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Finally, John Blake at CNN tells us “Three ways [you might not know] MLK speaks to our time.”

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/12/us/mlk-relevance-today/index.html

“(CNN)“Every hero becomes a bore at last.”

That’s a famous line from the 19th century philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, but it could also apply to a modern American hero: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
As the nation celebrates King’s national holiday Monday, it’s easy to freeze-frame him as the benevolent dreamer carved in stone on the Washington Mall. Yet the platitudes that frame many King holiday events often fail to mention the most radical aspects of his legacy, says Jeanne Theoharis, a political science professor at Brooklyn College and author of several books on the civil rights movement.
“We turn him into a Thanksgiving parade float, he’s jolly, larger than life and he makes us feel good,” Theoharis says. “We’ve turned him into a mascot.”
Many people vaguely know that King opposed the Vietnam War and talked more about poverty in his later years. But King also had a lot to say about issues not normally associated with civil rights that still resonate today, historians and activists say.

If you’re concerned about inequality, health care, climate change or even the nastiness of our political disagreements, then King has plenty to say to you. To see that version of King, though, we have to dust off the cliches and look at him anew.
If you’re more familiar with your smartphone than your history, try this: Think of King not just as a civil rights hero, but also as an app — his legacy has to be updated to remain relevant.
Here are three ways we can update our MLK app to see how he spoke not only to his time, but to our time as well:
. . . .
The country is still divided by many of the same issues that consumed him.
On the last night of his life, King told a shouting congregation of black churchgoers that “we as a people” would get to “the Promised Land.” That kind of optimism, though, sounds like it belongs to another era.
What we have now is a leader in the White House who denies widespread reports that he complained about Latino and African immigrants coming to America from “shithole” countries; a white supremacist who murders worshippers in church; a social media landscape that pulsates with anger and accusations.
King’s Promised Land doesn’t sound boring when compared to today’s headlines. And maybe that’s what’s so sad about reliving his life every January for some people.
Fifty years after he died, King’s vision for America still sounds so far away.”
Read the complete article at the link.
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There you have it. A brief but representative sample of some of the many ways in which Dr. King’s dream of a “post racist America” is still relevant and why there’s still much more work still to be done than many of us might have thought several years ago.  
So, the next time you hear bandied about terms like “merit-based” (means: exclude Brown and Black migrants); “extreme vetting” (means: using bureaucracy to keep Muslims and other perceived “undesirables” out); “tax cuts” (means: handouts to the rich at the expense of the poor); “entitlement reform” (means: cutting benefits for the most vulnerable); “health care reform” (means: kicking the most needy out of the health care system); “voter fraud” (means: suppressing the Black, Hispanic, and Democratic vote); “rule of law” (means: perverting the role of Government agencies and the courts to harm Blacks, Hispanics, Gays, women, the poor, and other minorities); “job creation” (means: destroying our precious natural resources and the environment for the benefit of big corporations), “border security” (means: slashing rights for children and asylum seekers, money for building a wall and expanding prisons for non-criminal migrants, a/k/a/ “The New American Gulag”) and other deceptively harmless sounding euphemisms, know what the politicos are really up to and consider them in the terms that Dr. King might have.
What’s really behind the rhetoric and how will it help create the type of more fair, just, equal, and value-driven society that majority of us in American seek to be part of and leave to succeeding generations. If it isn’t moving us as a nation toward those goals, “Just Say NO” as Dr. King would have done! 
PWS
01-15-18

THE HILL: PROFESSOR (& FORMER USCIS CHIEF COUNSEL) STEPHEN LEGOMSKY ON WHY THE TRUMP/SESSIONS FALSE NARRATIVE ATTEMPTING TO DEMONIZE & CRIMINALIZE ALL IMMIGRANTS IS SO TOXIC FOR AMERICA!

http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/367269-trumps-lumps-all-immigrants-together-at-americas-risk

Steve writes:

“As we approach the first anniversary of the Trump presidency, a clear pattern emerges.

A Muslim immigrant and her U.S.-born husband kill civilians. Candidate Donald Trump’s reaction was to propose a ban on all Muslim immigrants.

Some refugees commit crimes. His reaction is to bar all refugees for 120 days and drastically cut refugee admissions after that.

A diversity-visa immigrant commits a terrorist act. President Trump‘s reaction is to call for repealing the diversity immigrant program.

A man is admitted under the sibling preference. His accompanying child attempts a terrorist attack years later. President Trump’s reaction is that all “chain immigration” should be banned.

 

The absurdity of condemning an entire group because of the actions of a single member seems self-evident. If a left-handed immigrant commits a crime, no one would propose banning all left-handed immigrants. The real question is whether there is a causal link between the commission of the crime and either the substantive criteria or the processes of the particular program.

No such link exists. For one thing, everyone who seeks admission to the United States under any of these programs is rigorously vetted. I know this firsthand, from my experience as chief counsel of the federal agency that admits immigrants and refugees.

. . . .

Anti-immigrant groups are fond of pointing out that, if an individual who committed a crime had never been allowed to enter, the crime would not have occurred. And that is true. But that observation could be made about any admission program. No matter how strict the criteria or how rigorous the vetting, there is always some possibility, however remote, that a given individual will one day commit a crime. Short of banning all foreign nationals from ever setting foot on U.S. soil, there is no way to reduce the risk to zero.

As with any other policy decision, the risks have to be balanced against the benefits. And there are benefits in allowing U.S. citizens to reunite with their family members, benefits in attracting workers with needed skills, benefits in diversifying the immigrant stream, and benefits in fulfilling a moral responsibility to welcome our fair share of those who fear for their lives.

Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Stephen Legomsky is an emeritus law professor at Washington University, the former chief counsel of the federal immigration services agency, and the principal author of “Immigration and Refugee Law and Policy,” which has been the required text for immigration courses at 185 law schools.”

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Go on over to The Hill at the link to read Steve’s complete article.

Thanks, Steve, for sending this my way and for these great and appropriate thoughts on MLK Day! It’s important for those of us who have spent a lifetime working in the field and have served the public in our Government to speak out against the various false narratives and perversions of programs that have served America well being pushed by the restrictionists who control this Administration’s immigration policies. Hate, fear, and loathing are not the answers that Dr. King was promoting!

PWS

01-15-18

LA TIMES: GOP APPARENTLY ADOPTS TRUMP’S WHITE NATIONALIST RESTRICTIONIST IMMIGRATION AGENDA WHILE ESSENTIALLY DEFENDING HIS RACISM — GOP Now Openly RepresentsThe Forces Of Ignorance & Intolerance In America!

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_popover_share.aspx?guid=c072dbb1-9778-4e79-a635-ce0b9b58b8d4

Lisa Mascaro reports for the LA Times:

“WASHINGTON — The furor over President Trump’s language about immigrants from “shithole countries” has partially obscured the substance of what he was demanding and the profound shift among Republicans beyond opposing illegal immigration to also pushing new limits on legal migrants, particularly of color.

Trump made the remark as he rejected a bipartisan proposal from Sens. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to resolve the status of some 700,000 so-called Dreamers facing deportation. In exchange for protecting them, Trump wanted more restrictions on legal immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, among other changes.

Those demands come as Trump has already put the country on track to remove 1 million immigrants over the next two years. Among them are the Dreamers — young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children — and more than 200,000 Salvadorans, nearly 60,000 Haitians and others from Central America who have lived in the U.S. legally, in some cases for decades, under temporary protected status that the administration is ending.

The mounting total is a policy reversal for Republicans, who until recently insisted that welcoming new arrivals was vital not just to the fabric of American life but in boosting the domestic economy. Now, many Republicans in Congress have moved to a more restrictionist position, following Trump’s lead.

Trump “has taken our issues off the back burner and thrust them into the spotlight,” said Roy Beck, executive director at Numbers USA, which argues for reducing immigration to midcentury levels, before passage of the 1965 immigration overhaul ushered in a new era of diverse migrants.

Beck marvels at the turn of events.

“The president has done as much as we hoped for,” he said.

Trump’s insistence on immigration restrictions may have increased the odds of a confrontation this week when Congress must vote on a measure to fund agencies or risk a partial government shutdown.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Aligning yourselves with Roy Beck says it all. The GOP’s push on undocumented immigration has become a smokescreen for a war on legal immigrants from non-European countries. That, in turn, is part of the White Nationalist attack on ethnic Americans, particularly individuals of color.

Trump’s crassness and lack of judgment has just blown the smokescreen and exposed the ugly racist and xenophobic underpinnings of the GOP’s “merit based” immigration charade. Folks who care about America’s future must resist this un-American GOP initiative.

Eventually, the majority of us who believe in a tolerant, diverse, welcoming, unafraid America that can resume its world leadership role must regain power from those driven by the toxic, intolerant views of a minority of Americans who foisted the national disaster of Trump upon our country!

PWS

01-14-18

TRUMP AND GOP RESTRICTIONISTS HAVE AFRICA ALL WRONG – AFRICAN IMMIGRANTS ACTUALLY BETTER EDUCATED, MORE SUCCESSFUL, THAN MOST NATIVE BORN AMERICANS – Racial Bias Distorts Truth!

http://www.latimes.com/world/africa/la-fg-global-african-immigrants-explainer-20180112-story.html

Ann M. Simmons reports for the LA Times:

“Lots of the news from sub-Saharan Africa is about war, famine, poverty or political upheaval. So it’s understandable if many Americans think most Africans who immigrate to the United States are poorly educated and desperate.

That’s the impression that President Trump left with his comments to members of Congress opposing admission of immigrants from “shithole countries” in Africa and elsewhere.

But research tells another story.

While many are refugees, large numbers are beneficiaries of the “diversity visa program” aimed at boosting immigration from underrepresented nations. And on average, African immigrants are better educated that people born in the U.S. or the immigrant population as a whole.

“It’s a population that’s very diverse in its educational, economic and English proficiency profile,” said Jeanne Batalova, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute think tank in Washington and coauthor of a report last year on sub-Saharan African immigrants in the U.S. “People came for a variety of reasons and at various times.”

Overall, their numbers are small compared with other immigrant groups but have risen significantly in recent years. The U.S. immigrant population from sub-Saharan Africa (49 countries with a total population of more than 1.1 billion) grew from 723,000 to more than 1.7 million between 2010 and 2015, according to a new report by New American Economy, a Washington-based research and advocacy group. Still, they make up just half a percent of the U.S. population.

Drawing from U.S. surveys and Census Bureau data, the report found that the majority come from five countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa.

The Pew Research Center reported that African immigrants are most likely to settle in the South or Northeast, and that the largest numbers — at least 100,000 — are found in Texas, New York, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Virginia. Many African refugees have also relocated to or have been resettled in states such as Minnesota and South Dakota.

The Refugee Act of 1980 made it easier for people fleeing war zones to resettle in the U.S., and today there are tens of thousand of refugees from Somalia, Sudan and Congo. About 22% of African immigrants are refugees, according to Andrew Lim, associate director of research at New American Economy.

At the same time, the diversity visa program — also known as the visa lottery — has opened the door to immigrants from more peaceful places. Of the sub-Saharan immigrants who have become legal permanent residents, 17% came through the program, compared with 5% of the total U.S. immigrant population, according to Batalova.

Applicants to the program must have completed the equivalent of a U.S. high school education or have at least two years of recent experience in any number of occupations, including accountant, computer support specialist, orthodontist and dancer.

As a result, the influx includes many immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa who are highly skilled professionals.

Batalova’s research found that of the 1.4 million who are 25 and older, 41% have a bachelor’s degree, compared with 30% of all immigrants and 32% of the U.S.-born population. Of the 19,000 U.S. immigrants from Norway — a country Trump reportedly told lawmakers is a good source of immigrants — 38% have college educations.

The New American Economy study found that 1 in 3 of these undergraduate degrees were focused on science, technology, engineering and math — “training heavily in demand by today’s employers.”

That report also found that African immigrants were significantly more likely to have graduate degrees. A total of 16% had a master’s degree, medical degree, law degree or a doctorate, compared with 11% of the U.S.-born population, Lim said.

African immigrants were more than twice as likely than the U.S. population overall to work in healthcare, Lim said. There are more than 32,500 nursing, psychiatric or home health aides, more than 46,000 registered nurses and more than 15,700 doctors and surgeons.

“Overwhelmingly the evidence shows that [African immigrants] make a significant, positive economic contribution to the U.S. economy,” both at a national level and in districts where they are concentrated, Lim said. “They contribute more than $10.1 billion in federal taxes, $4.7 billion in state and local taxes, and most importantly, they have significant economic clout to the point of $40.3 billion in spending power.”

That $40.3 billion pays for housing, transportation, consumer goods and education for their children — “things that actually stimulate the economy around them,” Lim said.

The biggest beneficiary is Texas, where their spending power is $4.7 billion, followed by California, Maryland, New York and Georgia.

“It’s a population that leverages its human resources and contributes to the U.S. economy by revitalizing communities, starting businesses, but also by working in a variety of professional fields,” Batalova said.

Even those with less education who arrive as refugees often fill certain lower-skill niches in healthcare, such as home health aides, researchers said.

“In the communities they were resettled in, they have made significant contributions,” Lim said.

In many towns and cities in the Great Lakes area of the Midwest, for example, they have started new businesses, infused local labor forces with younger workers, and expanded local tax bases, Lim said.

A report last year by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that immigrants in general had little to no negative effect on overall wages or employment levels for U.S.-born workers, and higher-skilled immigrants in fields such as technology and science had a positive influence on the U.S. labor force.

Still, supporters of stricter immigration policy back the Trump administration’s calls to end the visa lottery as well as programs that allow certain immigrants to sponsor family members to settle in the U.S. They believe that a merit system that selects immigrants based on individual skills should replace the current system.”

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Truth, facts, and helping American workers have never been part of the GOP restrictionist agenda. The xenophobia is no longer limited to so-called undocumented immigrants; it’s clear that guys like Purdue, Cotton, and Goodlatte really don’t like immigrants of any type, and particularly those of color or from “developing nations.” It’s really all about race with religion and culture thrown in — slowing down the “browning and blackening” of America, attacking the Hispanic American and African-American cultures, and trying to block or limit the immigration of non-Christians (including, of course, Muslims).

Trump’s racist remarks this week (which Perdue, Cotton, and Nielsen are rather disingenuously trying to claim never happened) and the GOP’s basic defense of the idea of drawing immigrants from White European countries rather than Haiti, Africa, or Central America has basically “blown the cover” off of so-called “merit based” immigration being pushed by some in the GOP. Trump was just articulating the hateful White Nationalist immigration agenda that he ran on and many (not all) in the GOP have now adopted under the code word “merit based.” That doesn’t bode well for bipartisan immigration reform of any type or, for that matter, for the future of a diverse “nation of immigrants.”

PWS

01-14-18

GONZO’S WORLD: PERVERSION @ JUSTICE: IN THE NAME OF TRUMP & WHITE NATIONALISM, HE’S TRASHED THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, THE RULE OF LAW, THE RIGHTS OF MINORITIES, GAYS, IMMIGRANTS, WOMEN, & OTHERS, AND OVERALL HUMAN COMPASSION & DECENCY– BUT, SESSIONS’S ONE NOTABLE INSTANCE OF ACTING ETHICALLY AND LAWFULLY IS UNFORGIVABLE IN TRUMP’S EYES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/sessions-tries-to-impress-trump-with-moves-at-justice-it-hasnt-worked/2018/01/10/e2053d84-f478-11e7-91af-31ac729add94_story.html?utm_term=.c7613a002b16

Josh Dawsey and Matt Zapotosky report for the Washington Post:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions is trying to find his way back into President Trump’s good graces.

For months, Sessions has asked senior White House aides to make sure the president knows what he is doing at the Justice Department, two White House advisers said, and has told allies he hopes policy decisions that garner news coverage will please Trump. ­Sessions’s team at Justice has crafted a public campaign to highlight the work it is doing to advance the president’s agenda. The department has also begun looking into matters that Trump has publicly complained are not being pursued.

Top Trump advisers, including White House counsel Donald McGahn and counselor Kellyanne Conway and former chief of staff Reince Priebus and former strategist Stephen K. Bannon, have at times joined the effort and pressed Trump to give his attorney general a second chance. They note that his department has helped reduce illegal border crossings and carried out a number of the president’s initiatives, such as cracking down on leaks and targeting the MS-13 street gang.

But Sessions, who was one of Trump’s earliest backers and gave up a safe Senate seat to join the administration, has, by all accounts, been unable to repair his relationship with the president. Trump has dismissed praise of Sessions, according to four White House officials and advisers, as he continues to rage about the Russia investigationand Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the probe into Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election and whether there was any coordination with the Trump campaign.

“He’s one of the most active Cabinet secretaries there is,” one White House official said. “He’s done a fine job. Does it wash away the sin of recusal? I don’t think so.”

. . . .

At the Justice Department, officials have tried to publicly tout their successes, hopeful that political allies and the president, a frequent television viewer, will take notice. They have done work that — in their view — should appeal to the president and his base, such as settling lawsuits with tea party groups, issuing guidance on religious liberty, cracking down on illegal immigration and rolling back various Obama-era guidances, including one advising courts to be wary of imposing heavy fines on those who can’t afford them.

“We’re trying to get our successes out in the ether,” one department official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss dynamics with the White House.

The official said Justice has communicated with some conservative constituencies, like law enforcement groups, and was recently heartened when the Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement praising Sessions’s decision to make it easier for U.S. prosecutors to enforce federal marijuana laws in states that had legalized the substance, advisers said.

“It’s that kind of stuff that you figure will lead to this tipping point where the audience of one says, ‘Wow, that’s pretty impressive,’ ” the official said.

But the official acknowledged that the department can’t seem to overcome the president’s frustration over Sessions’s recusal, and even some publicizing of successes can lead to mixed results. The department has allowed its top spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, to make television appearances, but while half of the interview will be about work officials want to promote, the conversation often turns to the Russia investigation, which is not helpful to Sessions, if Trump is watching.

. . . .

One department official said Sessions had no real option under federal regulations but to recuse himself. Even a number of top White House lawyers and aides argued to Trump that Sessions needed to step aside.

. . . .

Sessions is widely disliked among liberals, who say his policies are rolling back decades of social and civil rights progress. But among conservatives and those on the far right, Sessions is a strong spot in the administration.

A few months ago, Leonard Leo, a legal adviser to Trump, said the president asked him about Sessions. Leo said he told the president he was impressed by the department, particularly its “religious liberty” guidance and the performance of the solicitor general’s office. Leo said Trump largely listened to his assessment.

“For conservatives going into the Trump administration, the question was whether the department’s morale could be restored and whether there would be a greater sensitivity to respect for the rule of law in the department,” Leo said in an interview. “I think Attorney General Sessions has done a good job of creating the right atmosphere in the department.”

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Read the complete article at the link.

Poor Gonzo! Here he thought that a heavy dose of White Nationalism, racism, voter suppression, xenophobia, and scoffing at Constitutional rights like abortion at the DOJ would overcome a single unavoidable act of acting ethically and following the law. Boy, was he wrong! What Trump really wanted was a complete toady dedicated to protecting Trump, his family, and a few of his friends from the natural consequences of their inappropriate behavior. Gonzo should have taken Mike Pence’s class in “Toadyism 101” before accepting the job!

PWS

01-12-18

 

NY TIMES: YES, HE’S A RACIST! — AND THE GOP ENCOURAGES/ENABLES HIM! – NOBODY IS GOING TO “SAVE” US FROM TRUMP & THE GOP IF WE DON’T!

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/12/opinion/trump-racist.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region&_r=0

David Leonhardt writes in the NY Times:

“When it comes to President Trump and race, there is a predictable cycle. He makes a remark that seems racist, and people engage in an extended debate about whether he is personally racist. His critics say he is. His defenders argue for an interpretation in which race plays a secondary role (such as: Haiti really is a worse place to live than Norway).

It’s time to end this cycle.

No one except Trump can know what Trump’s private thoughts or motivations are. But the public record and his behavior are now abundantly clear. Donald Trump treats black people and Latinos differently than he treats white people.

And that makes him a racist.

Is it possible to defend some of his racially charged statements by pointing out that something other than race might explain them? Sure. Is it possible that he doesn’t think of himself as a racist who views white people as superior to nonwhite people? Yes.

But the definition of a racist — the textbook definition, as Paul Ryan might say — is someone who treats some people better than others because of their race. Trump fits that definition many times over:

• Trump’s real-estate company was sued twice by the federal government in the 1970s for discouraging the renting of apartments to African-Americans and preferring white tenants, such as “Jews and executives.”

• He spent years claiming that the nation’s first black president was born not in the United States but in Africa, an outright lie that Trump still has not acknowledged as such.

• He began his 2016 presidential campaign by disparaging Mexican immigrants as criminals and “rapists.”

• He has retweeted white nationalists without apology.

• He frequently criticizes prominent African-Americans for being unpatriotic, ungrateful and disrespectful.

• He called some of those who marched alongside white supremacists in Charlottesville last August “very fine people.”

• He is quick to highlight crimes committed by dark-skinned people, sometimes exaggerating or lying about it (such as a claim about growing crime from “radical Islamic terror” in Britain). He is very slow to decry hate crimes committed against dark-skinned people (such as the murder of an Indian man in Kansas last year).

• At the White House yesterday, Trump vulgarly called for less immigration from Haiti and Africa and more from Norway.

If you think this list is incomplete, email me at Leonhardt@nytimes.com.

For more on this topic, read my colleague Nick Kristof wrestling with the topic during the 2016 campaign: “Here we have a man who for more than four decades has been repeatedly associated with racial discrimination or bigoted comments about minorities,” he wrote. “While any one episode may be ambiguous, what emerges over more than four decades is a narrative arc, a consistent pattern — and I don’t see what else to call it but racism.”

And Slate’s Jamelle Bouie: “It’s impossible to know what’s in his heart. But what Trump feels is less important than what he does.”

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Meanwhile, elsewhere on the NYT editorial page, Professor Roxane Gay, a distinguished Haitian American writes:

“I could write a passionate rebuttal extolling all the virtues of Haiti, the island my parents are from, the first free black nation in the Western Hemisphere. I could write about the beauty of the island, the music and vibrant art, the majesty of the mountains, the crystalline blue of the water surrounding her, the resilience of the Haitian people, our incredible work ethic, our faith. I could tell you about my parents, how they came to this country with so many other Haitians, how they embraced the American dream and thrived, how I and so many first-generation Haitian-Americans are products of our parents’ American dreams.

Or I could tell you about the singular, oppressive narrative the media trots out when talking about Haiti, the one about an island mired in poverty and misery, the one about AIDS, the one about a country plagued by natural and man-made disasters, because these are the stories people want to hear, the stories that make Haiti into a pitiable spectacle instead of the proud, complicated country it is. I could tell you how I have spent an inordinate amount of time and energy, throughout my life, educating people about Haiti and disabusing them of the damaging, incorrect notions they have about the country of my parents’ birth.

On the eve of the eighth anniversary of the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake that devastated Haiti, the president, in the Oval Office, is said to have wondered aloud why he should allow immigrants from “shithole countries” like Haiti, El Salvador and African nations to enter the United States. Mr. Trump has tweeted a denial that he made this statement. “He said those hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly,” Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, who was in the room, said Friday.

But the president has to know that even if video footage of the comment existed, there wouldn’t be any political consequences for him. He has to know, like we all do, that xenophobic commentary plays well with his base, the people who were more than happy to put him in office because they could seamlessly project their racism and misogyny onto his celebrity persona. It’s no wonder Fox News hosts have defended the comment.

Now, in response to the news about the reports of the vile remark, there are people saying “vote” and highlighting the importance of the 2018 midterm elections, as if American democracy is unfettered from interference and corruption. There is a lot of trite rambling about how the president isn’t really reflecting American values when, in fact, he is reflecting the values of many Americans. And there are entreaties to educate the president about the truth of Haiti as if he simply suffers from ignorance.

But the president is not alone in thinking so poorly of the developing world. He didn’t reveal any new racism. He, once again, revealed racism that has been there all along. It is grotesque and we must endure it for another three or seven years, given that the Republicans have a stranglehold on power right now and are more invested in holding onto that power than working for the greater good of all Americans.

What I’m supposed to do now is offer hope. I’m supposed to tell you that no president serves forever. I’m supposed to offer up words like “resist” and “fight” as if rebellious enthusiasm is enough to overcome federally, electorally sanctioned white supremacy. And I’m supposed to remind Americans, once more, of Haiti’s value, as if we deserve consideration and a modicum of respect from the president of the United States only because as a people we are virtuous enough.

But I am not going to do any of that. I am tired of comfortable lies. I have lost patience with the shock supposedly well-meaning people express every time Mr. Trump says or does something terrible but well in character. I don’t have any hope to offer. I am not going to turn this into a teaching moment to justify the existence of millions of Haitian or African or El Salvadoran people because of the gleeful, unchecked racism of a world leader. I am not going to make people feel better about the gilded idea of America that becomes more and more compromised and impoverished with each passing day of the Trump presidency.

This is a painful, uncomfortable moment. Instead of trying to get past this moment, we should sit with it, wrap ourselves in the sorrow, distress and humiliation of it. We need to sit with the discomfort of the president of the United States referring to several countries as “shitholes” during a meeting, a meeting that continued, his comments unchallenged. No one is coming to save us. Before we can figure out how to save ourselves from this travesty, we need to sit with that, too.

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Thanks primarily to the African-American Community in Alabama, we all were saved from the nightmare of having racist, xenophobic, homophobic theocrat Roy Moore thrust upon the U.S. Senate. But, “White Folks” are going to chip in big time to save the country from Trump and his GOP apologists/handlers/fellow travelers. No less than the future of American Democracy and that of the so-called “Free World” is at stake.

PWS

01-12-18

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.”

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

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

 

READ (RETIRED) JUDGE THOMAS LISTER’S “Personal pledge for planetary peace!”

http://lacrossetribune.com/opinion/columnists/article_424899f4-67e5-59b6-92dc-dc9e41c8e67a.html

Judge Lister writes in the LaCrosse (WI) Tribune:

“Our planet is beset with war, terror, hunger, disease, poverty and environmental degradation which must end soon if future generations are to survive and progress.

Perpetuating hatred, ignorance, bias, prejudice, selfishness, greed, fear, extremism, jealousy and misunderstanding from generation to generation perpetuates the world’s differences, disasters, degradations and difficulties.

Without an immediate, dramatic change of direction individually and collectively, our human race will come to where we are presently — and suicidally

— headed.

I and many others doubt whether individual actions or reactions to the planet’s universal problems can or will make any difference.

I personally pledge that I will forever peacefully condemn, resist and denounce killing, terror, war, crime, prejudice, vengeance and the loss or limitation of basic human rights – including, but not limited to:

  • The right to adequate food, shelter, clean water, clean air and clothing.
  • The right to health care.
  • The right to education.
  • The right to work for a living.
  • The right to worship one’s highest spirit and/or creator.
  • The right to a homeland free of challenge or aggression.

I will work to promote remedial action by those who have too much in favor of those who have too little; and, by those who can offer aid to those who need help.

I will not tolerate — without my active peaceful protest and, where necessary my peaceful civil disobedience — any government action that violates these covenants.

I support one planetary, plenary police power, consisting of fair representation from all nations, which will enforce the principles of universal law and peace through a multinational force governed by the United Nations.

I support one World Court, representative of all nations, to interpret and administer its universal rights and laws and principles.

I support a renewed and more responsible United Nations, free of veto power vested in any single nation or select group of nations.

Any declaration of war implied by any nation, government, individual or organized entity, other than the United Nations, shall be a declaration against all earth’s people; and, I will oppose any such aggressor.

I will look anew at earth’s environmental status as well as my own in light of the damage humankind has wrought; and, I will endeavor to waste no resource, to conserve energy and prevent pollution of air, water and soil. I will try to use no more energy than is necessary to support my family.

I will teach my children and grandchildren principles of universal tolerance, love, equality, understanding, compassion, sympathy, empathy and freedom. I will teach the lessons of history and world events that have led us to this perilous time. This promotion of universal principles has become so necessary to the survival of humankind and the preservation of our earth.

I pledge to end the exposure of children to violence, including that portrayed in the media and I will also reject such portrayals myself.

I will pray for all those who are asked to understand this simultaneous planet-wide denouncement of violence and killing and vengeance even though they and their loved ones have been brutalized and victimized; and, I will promote the message that we must altogether say “enough” to violence, terror and killing. I believe earth’s present generations must agree to forgive terrible past and present wrongs and forego future wrongs and revenge.

I will respect and work to protect human differences in religion, culture, color, nationality, language, gender, age, ethnicity and political beliefs.

This dramatic and immediate change, so essential to preserving the planet and its people, will not come about through slow generational purging of the problems and prejudices that plague our earth.

We must act together to adopt sweeping, global change that will provide all people with the ultimate promise and hope, that we can together act to change tomorrow. I pledge to act responsively and responsibly to achieve this end.

I support a general amnesty for those who have engaged in conflict, so long as they terminate armed conflict and lay down their arms forever.

We must redirect worldwide economic resources from weapons and armies, fear and terror, to provide world sustenance, health, universal education and other basic human rights and needs for all. I will work for the preservation of the earth’s natural resources and development of clean renewable alternative energy to sustain future life on the planet.

I will urge others to take this pledge including my governmental representatives at all levels, my religious leaders, my nation’s military leaders, educational leaders and corporate leaders.

If we support these changes, there can and will be peace on earth and preservation of our planet and protection and perpetuation with dignity for humankind.

Thomas Lister is a trial lawyer, former Jackson County district attorney and circuit court judge. He is retiring from Fitzpatrick Skemp & Associates, La Crosse.

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

Judge Thomas “Tom” Lister and I were members of the Class of 1973 at the University of Wisconsin School of Law. (No Orange Bowl — or indeed any Bowl — victories in those days — we were happy if the Badger Football team won a game. But, we faithfully attended the games in the “law student section” and the “fifth quarter” afterward!) Indeed, Tom, his wonderful wife Sally, my wife Cathy, and I were very close friends throughout those three years and have remained in touch ever since. Tom and I were members of the same “study group.”

Like me, Tom has seen the U.S. legal system from a number of different vantage points — as a prosecutor, a judge, and a private practitioner. Several years ago at our 40th UW Law Reunion we had an interesting discussion of the failures of the traditional law enforcement approach to drug and opioid use, a particular problem not only in Northern Virginia but in the largely rural Jackson Country Wisconsin where Tom was a Circuit Judge and, some years prior to that, the District Attorney.

I find Tom’s words and thoughts inspiring, particularly at a time when the level of political and intellectual discourse in our country is often quite the opposite, to say the least. I particularly appreciate his message about tolerance and the recognition of basic universal human rights — a subject which has concerned me throughout my legal career.

PWS

01-04-18

AMERICA THE FORMER GREAT: UNDER TRUMP, AMERICA HAS SURRENDERED ITS WORLD LEADERSHIP POSITION — It’s Unlikely We’ll Ever Get It Back!

https://www.cfr.org/blog/year-one-america-first-global-governance-2017/?cid=3D=

 

 

Patrick T. Stewart writes for Foreign Affairs:

Coauthored with Anne Shannon, former intern in the International Institutions and Global Governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations.

After President Donald J. Trump’s election last fall, many experts predicted that 2017 would be a tumultuous year for international cooperation. During his campaign, Trump promised to “make America great again” by renegotiating or renouncing “bad” and “unfair” international agreements, and questioned the value of international institutions. Since January, Trump’s “America First” policies have seen the United States abdicate its global leadership role. Yet contrary to expectations, multilateral cooperation on pressing issues like climate change and migration has continued, as other states have stepped up to lead. Despite all the tumult, the world has recorded several important achievements for multilateralism alongside the setbacks.

Climate Change

More on:

Global Governance Diplomacy and International Institutions Trump Foreign Policy 2017
Trump’s largest blow to international cooperation came in June when he announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. Early reactions suggested that other countries might respond in kind, reneging on their commitments and stalling overall progress on environmental governance. Nevertheless, this November’s climate conference in Bonn, aimed at finalizing aspects of the Paris Agreement, was a success. Participating states secured additional funding for climate initiatives and agreed to several objectives in the fields of agriculture, indigenous rights, and gender equality in climate governance.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who has made combatting climate change a signature policy, hosted a separate global climate conference this December, raising additional funds to meet Paris commitments. And while the Trump administration signaled its intent to abandon the agreement, many U.S. states, cities, and companies have stepped into the void, pledging commitments of their own. The successes in Bonn and Paris, combined with near-unanimous international support for the Paris Accords, indicate that multilateral cooperation on climate change will continue without U.S. leadership, even if the politics look challenging.

Global Trade

Trump’s protectionist campaign positions suggested that global trade would take a beating in 2017. Experts warned of trade wars, predicting that a downward spiral of tit-for-tat measures could strangle economic growth. In fact, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), global trade in goods and services increased, growing 4.2 percent in 2017, almost twice the growth registered in 2016. Despite Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and threats to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), neither deal is dead yet. The remaining TPP members revived the idea of trans-pacific trade at the Asia-Pacific Economic Partnership (APEC) summit in November, making significant progress without the United States toward what is now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Even as extreme U.S. demands stall NAFTA renegotiations, U.S. public support for NAFTA increased in 2017, pressuring the Trump administration not to withdraw from the agreement. While the United States has abdicated global trade leadership, the European Union (EU) has made progress on several important agreements of its own, notably one with Japan, encompassing countries that account for over 30 percent of the world’s GDP. The EU-Japan agreement will reduce the ability of the United States to set world product standards and other regulations—disadvantaging U.S. exports in the process. In exercising his America First strategy, President Trump could actually hurt U.S. businesses. Reinforcing this possibility was the disappointing December WTO ministerial meeting in Argentina, in which parties failed to reach any significant multilateral deals.

Migration

Trump has continually and publicly expressed negative opinions about immigrants, particularly (although not exclusively) illegal ones. He demands a wall between the United States and Mexico and has signed several executive orders attempting to halt refugee admissions, as well as ban immigrants from various Muslim-majority countries. Nevertheless, international efforts to cooperate on migration issues have continued, notwithstanding certain setbacks.

In December, Mexico held multilateral negotiations toward a Global Compact on Migration, despite the United States withdrawal from the negotiating process. In November, the African Union-European Union summit saw both blocs condemn the situation of migrants in Libya and pledge to work toward a joint migration task force. All is not rosy, of course. According to Amnesty International and other groups, EU governments remain complicit in the Libyan migrant crisis. Elsewhere, Australia closed a refugee camp on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, while Bangladesh and Brazil struggled to accommodate influxes of refugees across their borders.

Nuclear Proliferation

Despite Trump’s decision not to recertify the “terrible” Iran deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) remains alive. Europe strongly condemned Trump’s decision, and along with China and Russia, pledged to remain committed to the JCPOA as long as Iran complies, even if the United States backs out. Were such a breakdown between the United States and other permanent UN Security Council members (as well as Germany) to occur, the U.S.-led sanctions regime against Iran could well disappear as European, Chinese, and Russian firms deepen business ties with Iran. The continued success of the JCPOA is also vital for the prospects of a peaceful resolution of tensions with North Korea. Indeed, some argue that the JCPOA could be a blueprint for a similar agreement with North Korea. By contrast, the United States would lose any negotiating credibility with North Korea if the Trump administration pulls out of the Iran agreement.

International Institutions

Global governance has held ground in 2017 in other, less publicized, ways. The IMF and the World Bank, unlike other multilateral institutions, have largely escaped Trump’s criticism. Although several senior administration officials have long histories of disliking the IMF and World Bank, savvy diplomacy by Jim Yong Kim and Christine Lagarde seems to have placated the Trump administration so far.

President Trump has also backpedaled on some of his criticisms of international alliances and organizations. After repeatedly calling the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) obsolete on the campaign trail, Trump deemed NATO “no longer obsolete” in April after meeting Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Trump also toned down his rhetoric on the United Nations. In April he called the organization “unfair” and an “underperformer;” in September the president tweeted that the “United Nations has tremendous potential.” (Whether this rapprochement will withstand the UN General Assembly’s condemnation of the unilateral U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital remains to be seen.)

America First’s Future

Looking forward to 2018, it is difficult to predict how Trump’s America First agenda will affect global governance, particularly with a notoriously unpredictable president. It is possible that Trump will continue to renege on some campaign promises. Moreover, midterm elections in November could severely cripple his ability to pass nationalist-minded legislation. Still, he retains significant leeway, should he choose to use it, to undermine NAFTA, the JCPOA, and other international agreements through executive action.

Regardless of the president’s choices, his actions cannot overturn a fundamental contemporary reality—namely, that transnational challenges require global solutions. The lesson of 2017 is that other states are willing to step forward to fill some of the leadership roles vacated by the United States. In pulling back from international cooperation, Trump is forfeiting the United States’ historically important role in shaping international norms and multilateral policies. Nations that are willing to pick up the slack, whether under authoritarian regimes (like China) or democratic leadership (like France), will shape international rules and institutions to conform to their own priorities, not necessarily American ones. And they will not be eager to give up their new-found influence if and when the United States decides it wants the reins of global influence back.

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

Surrendering moral, economic, and political leadership to the likes of Presidents Putin and Xi, plus making ourselves an inherently unreliable ally, will have long term adverse consequences for our country.

Bad stuff from the worst Administration in US history!

And, what does it say about those who voted for Trump and continue to support or aid and abet him?

PWS

01-01-18

 

THE MAN WHO WOULD BE BURGER KING! — SO MANY LIES, SO LITTLE TIME! — TRUMP: “More Whoppers Than Burger King At Lunchtime!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/12/29/in-a-30-minute-interview-president-trump-made-24-false-or-misleading-claims/

 

 

 

Glenn Kessler reports for the Washington Post’s Fact Checker:”

“President Trump gave an impromptu half-hour interview with the New York Times on Dec. 28. We combed through the transcript and here’s a quick roundup of the false, misleading or dubious claims that he made, at a rate of one every 75 seconds. (Some of the interview was off the record, so it’s possible the rate of false claims per minute is higher.)

“Virtually every Democrat has said there is no collusion. There is no collusion. . . . I saw Dianne Feinstein the other day on television saying there is no collusion.”

Trump appears to be referring to an interview with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. She did not flatly say there was no collusion and instead was more nuanced. Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper on Nov. 5 whether she had “seen any evidence that this dirt, these emails, were ever given to the Trump campaign,” she replied: “Not so far.” Tapper then asked: “Have you seen any communications that suggested that the Trump campaign wanted them to release them through a different means?” She answered: “I have not.”

“I think it’s been proven that there is no collusion.”

Trump is entitled to his own opinion, but he sidesteps the fact that the investigation has revealed that members of the Trump campaign interacted with Russians at least 31 times throughout the campaign. There are at least 19 known meetings, in addition to the indictments or guilty pleas of his campaign manager, national security adviser and others. Here’s The Fact Checker’s video on our count.

3:09
All the times members of the Trump campaign interacted with Russians

The Trump campaign and the White House have said there was no contact between anyone on their staff and Russia. This isn’t true. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)
“There was collusion with the Russians and the Democrats. A lot of collusion. . . . Starting with the dossier. But going into so many other elements. And Podesta’s firm.”

Trump has falsely accused Clinton campaign manager John Podesta of being involved with a Russian company. Tony Podesta co-founded the Podesta Group, a lobbying firm, with his brother John. But it’s a U.S.-based company, not a company in Russia. Trump likely is referring to the Podesta Group being paid $170,000 over six months to represent Sberbank, a Russian bank. The Podesta Group said its work for Sberbank USA was “never about getting sanctions lifted,” and “was simply about helping to clarify to what extent our client, the U.S. subsidiary [of Sberbank], was subject to sanctions. We confirmed they were not.” As for alleged collusion between the Democrats and Russia, Trump is referring to the fact that Fusion GPS, the political research firm that assembled the dossier as part of an assignment for Democrats, relied on a British intelligence agent who used Russian sources for his research. So that’s a rather big stretch.

Here’s the Fact Checker’s video on the Fusion GPS Russian connections.

3:28
What you need to know about Fusion GPS, the Trump dossier and Russian interests

How is Fusion GPS connected to the Trump dossier, Donald Trump Jr.’s Trump Tower meeting and the 2016 election? The Fact Checker explains. (Video: Meg Kelly/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
“I won because I campaigned properly and she didn’t. She campaigned for the popular vote. I campaigned for the electoral college.”

There is no evidence that Hillary Clinton campaigned for the popular vote, which Trump previously has said he would have won if not for fraud. Clinton campaigned in many battleground states, including Republican-leaning ones where she thought she had a chance. She did not campaign as much in two states — Michigan and Wisconsin — that were considered locks for Democrats but which Trump narrowly won. Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million. If 40,000 votes had switched in three states, Trump would have also lost the electoral college.

“Paul [Manafort] only worked for me for a few months.”

Trump skips over lightly the fact that Manafort, now under indictment, was his campaign manager in the critical period in which he secured the nomination and accepted it at the GOP convention.

“There was tremendous collusion on behalf of the Russians and the Democrats. There was no collusion with respect to my campaign.”

This is a breathtakingly false statement. Little evidence has emerged of any collusion between the Democrats and Russia, whereas evidence has emerged of many contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian-linked individuals. The FBI, CIA and National Security Agency earlier this year concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government “aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.” The New York Times reported on Dec. 30 that the FBI investigation began because a Trump campaign aide told an Australian diplomat in May 2016 that the Russians had access to emails that would embarrass Clinton, well before research in the “dossier” was started. The Australian government then notified the U.S. government about the conversation.

“What I’ve done is, I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.”

Presidents do not have unfettered right to interfere with Justice Department investigations, unless they are actively seeking a constitutional crisis.

“I’m the one that saved coal. I’m the one that created jobs. You know West Virginia is doing fantastically now.”

West Virginia’s gross domestic product increased 3 percent in the first quarter of 2017. The recent bump is due in part to the increased price of metallurgic coal, which is used to make steel, and a price increase in natural gas exports. West Virginia produces roughly 5 percent of the natural gas in the U.S. and as the price of natural gas rises, the demand for coal increases, spurring growth in the state. Trump can’t take credit for the change in prices, which fluctuate with market forces. He previously earned Four Pinocchios for this claim, but he keeps saying it. As for “saving coal,” there has barely been any job growth in the coal industry since Trump became president. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 900 jobs have been created in the coal industry since Trump became president — an increase of less than 3 percent.

“There is tremendous collusion with the Russians and with the Democratic Party. Including all of the stuff with the — and then whatever happened to the Pakistani guy, that had the two, you know, whatever happened to this Pakistani guy who worked with the DNC?”

Trump echoes a conspiracy theory that a criminal case involving a Pakistani information technology specialist who worked for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz — who had chaired the Democratic National Committee — was somehow related to the Russian hack of DNC emails. The case involves a fraudulent loan, and no evidence has emerged to connect it to the Russia investigation.

“They made the Russian story up as a hoax, as a ruse, as an excuse for losing an election that in theory Democrats should always win with the electoral college. The electoral college is so much better suited to the Democrats.”

Trump is falsely labeling nonpartisan investigations as made up by Democrats. The CIA concluded in 2016 that Russia intervened in the U.S. presidential election to help elect Trump, an assessment backed up by FBI Director James B. Comey and then-Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. As we noted, the intelligence community released a declassified report expressing “high confidence” in this judgment. Senate and House committees led by Republicans have begun their own investigations, and a special prosecutor has been appointed. Meanwhile, Democrats obviously do not have an electoral college lock. According to a tally by John Pitney of Claremont McKenna College, every Republican president since Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 won a larger share of the electoral college votes than Trump, with the exception of George W. Bush (twice) and Richard Nixon in 1968.

“I was for Strange, and I brought Strange up 20 points. Just so you understand. When I endorsed him, he was in fifth place. He went way up. Almost 20 points.”

Polls indicate that Trump’s endorsement made little difference in the Alabama senate race — and in fact Luther Strange lost to Roy Moore by a greater margin than polls suggested at the time of Trump’s endorsement. While Trump says Strange was in fifth place, there were only three candidates in the GOP primary.

“I endorsed him [Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore]. It became a much closer race because of my endorsement. People don’t say that. They say, ‘Oh, Donald Trump lost.’ I didn’t lose, I brought him up a lot.”

Polls can vary, but there is little evidence this is the case. The fact remains that Moore lost an election in a state where Democrats usually lose by double digits.

“We have spent, as of about a month ago, $7 trillion in the Middle East. And the Middle East is worse than it was 17 years ago. … $7 trillion.”

Trump, who previously would cite a number of $6 trillion, is lumping together the wars in Iraq (in the Middle East) and Afghanistan (in Central or South Asia), which together cost about $1.6 trillion from 2001 to 2014. He is also adding in estimates of future spending, such as interest on the debt and veterans’ care for the next three decades.

“By the way, and for that, we’ve ended across state lines. So we have competition. You know for that I’m allowed to [inaudible] state lines. So that’s all done.”

Trump signed an executive order encouraging the formation of health plans across state lines. But there is still a law in place that exempts insurance companies from aspects of federal antitrust law and ensures that individual states remained the primary regulators of insurance. We wrote about this before, when Vice President Pence earned Four Pinocchios for a false claim.

“I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A. I know the details of health care better than most, better than most.”

Lawmakers who dealt with Trump on taxes and especially health care privately told reporters they were shocked how little he knew about these issues.

“We’ve created associations, millions of people are joining associations. Millions. That were formerly in Obamacare or didn’t have insurance. Or didn’t have health care. Millions of people.”

Trump is referring to an executive order, mentioned above, but it has no force in law on its own and no one has yet joined these associations. The rules spelling out how the executive order would work have not been issued yet, so Trump is simply making up his “millions” number.

“Now that the individual mandate is officially killed, people have no idea how big a deal that was. It’s the most unpopular part of Obamacare. But now, Obamacare is essentially … You know, you saw this. … It’s basically dead over a period of time.”

While the individual mandate was an important incentive for Americans to seek health insurance, it was only one part of a far-reaching law that remains intact. The repeal does not take effect until 2019, and enrollment in Obamacare has remained strong. The Congressional Budget Office says the marketplaces are expected to remain stable for years.

“We see the drugs pouring into the country, we need the wall.”

The wall will have virtually no effect on drugs coming into the country. According to reports by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the majority of drugs are smuggled through legal ports of entry or smuggled through underground tunnels. Trump previously earned Four Pinocchios for this claim, but he keeps saying it.

“They have a lottery in these countries. They take the worst people in the country, they put them into the lottery, then they have a handful of bad, worse ones, and they put them out. ‘Oh, these are the people the United States.’ … We’re going to get rid of the lottery.”

This is a gross misrepresentation of the diversity visa program. Individuals apply for the visa system, and must have at least a high school diploma or work in specific industries to be eligible for the program. As the term “lottery” implies, applicants are selected via a randomized computer drawing. The selected applicants undergo a background check before entering the country, and some applicants undergo an additional in-depth review if they are considered a security risk.”

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Well, you get the picture. It just goes on and on. Get all the “whoppers” at the link. Having a congenital liar as our leader can’t come out well for the U.S.

Happy New Year!

PWS

12-31-17

 

 

 

 

 

JRUBE IN WASHPOST; GONZO’S SCAPEGOATING OF UNDOCUMENTED RESIDENTS IMMORAL & STUPID!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/12/27/scapegoating-illegal-immigrants-isnt-just-immoral-its-bad-crime-policy/

Rubin writes:

“Anti-immigrant voices’ smokescreen that they were only opposed to illegal immigration has been shredded. They now revel in their calls for immigration exclusionism. If allowed to persist, it will distort and damage our economy and impede entrepreneurship. It has already encouraged a wholly-misguided approach to crime fighting.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Trump have concocted a theory that we are awash in crime because of illegal immigrants, especially those living in “sanctuary cities.” That is patently false, and Sessions’ efforts to punish cities that refuse to do the feds bidding in detaining and helping to deport illegal immigrant have been swatted down in court. However, the barrage of litigation over sanctuary cities and obsession with the issue has led us to ignore both the successes and failures in crime fighting — and the causes of each.

. . . .

So when Los Angeles mayors and police chiefs tell the Justice Department that making police into immigration agents will impair their community policing success and divert valuable resources, maybe we should listen to them. Conservatives used to understand that in federalism we have the “laboratories of democracy,” namely the opportunities to find through experimentation what works and what doesn’t. Rather than riding roughshod of localities, Sessions should highlight the successes of local police departments, urge others to follow suit and increase funding — rather than threaten to yank it for spurious reasons — for those localities that need it the most. Alas, his ideological fixation with demonizing illegal immigrants seems to preclude such a fact-based approach.“

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

Read JRube’s compleat article at the link.

As she indicates, Gonzo is undoubtedly the most “fact and law free” Attorney General in our lifetime. Almost every one of his amazingly horrible and destructive  decisions is driven by deeply ingrained ideological bias. Senator Liz Warren and the others who spoke up at the confirmation hearings were right. But, the GOP Senate tuned them out. Remember that the next time you go to the polls!

PWS

12-27-17

 

MORE LUMPS FOR TRUMP FROM LOWER COURT ON REFUGEE BAN!

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/366337-federal-judge-partially-lifts-trump-ban-on-refugees

Jesse Byrnes and Julia Manchester report for The Hill:

“A federal judge in Seattle has partially lifted a ban on certain refugees imposed by the Trump administration.

U.S. District Judge James Robart issued a ruling on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Jewish Family Service on Saturday.

The groups had urged the judge, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, to halt the ban on refugees from some majority-Muslim nations.

Robart ruled that the federal government should process certain refugee applications, saying his order doesn’t apply to refugees who do not have a “bona fide” relationship with an individual or an entity in the U.S.

The ban originally went into effect after the president issued an executive order reinstating the refugee program “with enhanced vetting capabilities” in October.

The ACLU argued that a memo sent to the president from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats saying certain refugees should be banned unless security was enhanced did not provide enough evidence for why more security was needed.

The judge wrote Saturday that “former officials detailed concretely how the Agency Memo will harm the United States’ national security and foreign policy interests” and said his ruling restores “refuge procedures and programs to the position they were in prior” to the ban, which he noted included thorough vetting of individuals traveling to the U.S.

The lawsuits stemming from the ACLU and Jewish Family Services were consolidated and involved refugees who have been blocked from coming to the U.S.”

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

Read the complete article over at The Hill at the link.

Like other recent lower court rulings against the Travel Ban, I expect this will be largely a “symbolic victory” for the plaintiffs. Based on the Supremes’ actions on other “Travel Ban”  cases to date, I expect that the Administration will eventually prevail in its effort to restrict refugee admissions from abroad.

PWS

12-26-17

OUT HERE BEYOND THE WHITE NATIONALIST XENOPHOBIC WORLD OF TRUMP & SESSIONS, LIES THE “REAL AMERICA” – A NATION OF IMMIGRANTS, DIVERSITY, & LOYALTY TO AMERICA – THREE CAMEROONIAN SISTERS BOUND FOR THE IVIES SHOW THAT THERE IS HOPE FOR OUR NATION’S FUTURE BEYOND THE BLEAK, SELF-INDULGENT MYOPIA OF TRUMP & HIS CRONIES!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/24/opinion/trump-african-immigrants-ivy-league.html?_r=0

Photo

American sisters born in Cameroon, from left, Ella, Chris and Xaviera. CreditVictor J. Blue for The New York Times

Ten years ago, a family arrived in the Bronx from Yaoundé, Cameroon, not speaking a word of English. This Christmas, they are celebrating a feat that would be impressive for any family: Three of the family’s five daughters have been accepted to Ivy League universities.

In a year in which our nativist president would have you believe that immigrants are, at best, a job-stealing drain and at worst, criminals, rapists and people with AIDS, these three remarkable sisters are worth paying attention to. Not just because they are inspiring — they are — but because they are far better ambassadors for this country and exponents of its ideals than the 45th president.

“We brought the girls to this country because there are better opportunities here,” says Flore Kengmeni, their mother, who works as a nurse. “I don’t know of another country where you can try hard, work hard and get somewhere. Where you are given the opportunity to fulfill your potential.”

“This country is built on immigrants,” Francois de Paul Silatchom, their father, a professor of economics at SUNY, starts to say, before his middle daughter, Ella, a sophomore at Yale, interjects: “Our experience as a family is what America is.”

That experience is marked by hard work, optimism, resilience and a persistent sense of gratitude even to have the opportunity.

All three girls admit it wasn’t easy. They recall sitting in class during their first year in America and not understanding what their teachers and classmates were saying. They remember being made fun of, but not really knowing why.

“Everyone spoke so fast and I guess we speak that fast now, too,” says Xaviera, the youngest of the three, who was accepted to Harvard earlier this month.

They turned to books for guidance. Their parents got the girls library cards and made reading mandatory — “Education is the most valuable asset,” the parents say repeatedly when we meet. The sisters were encouraged to read broadly, from “The Magic School Bus” to “Harry Potter,” and they practiced English as a family in their two-bedroom apartment in the Bronx’s Pelham Parkway neighborhood.

By the end of their first year at their local public schools, the girls had learned enough English to take the state exams, and were excelling in their classes. But their parents were alarmed that they were finishing their homework during the school day and coming home bored. They asked teachers to assign their daughters more homework. But even that wasn’t enough.

“Something was wrong,” Mr. de Paul Silatchom says. “I started looking for schools that would challenge them and keep them busy. At a school fair, we learned about Democracy Prep.”

At Democracy Prep, a public charter school in Harlem where I met them one recent afternoon, the day begins at 7:45 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. Longer school days, many argue, allow teachers to spend more time on subjects other than math and English, and keep students out of trouble.

Photo

Francois de Paul Silatchom, left, poses for a portrait with his daughters (left to right) Xaviera, 17, Ella, 19, and Chris, 20, and their mother Flore Kengmeni, center, at their church on the Upper East Side.CreditVictor J. Blue for The New York Times

Through the school’s Korean language program, the sisters were exposed to a culture completely different from their own, which sparked an interest in global affairs for all of them. Civics is a core part of the school’s curriculum, which Xaviera says showed her that, “Regardless of how disadvantaged you are in society, you have an advantage if you understand how our system of government works.”

“I learned so much here,” Ella says of the school. “And between that and our parents, my work ethic — our work ethic — really developed. Our parents required us to do an extracurricular, so sports or choir or whatever and that was for after 5 o’clock. That was normal for us.”

When the oldest, Chris, now a junior at Dartmouth, got into the college in 2014, friends and family were elated, but her parents made it clear that the work wasn’t over.

“The night I got into Dartmouth, Mom asked me, ‘Have you done the dishes?’ Getting in was exciting and I knew she was proud, but it was just a regular day,” Chris says.

“They haven’t ‘arrived,’ as people like to say, just because they are into Ivy League schools,” Mr. de Paul Silatchom says. “It’s a good start and a platform of opportunity.”

When speaking, the sisters transition seamlessly between New York-accented English and French, their first language. The irony that they landed at a school called Democracy Prep after immigrating from one of the world’s least democratic countries is not lost on them.

It’s something they’ve spent a lot of time thinking about as President Trump has rolled out various cruel immigration policies, from his proposed travel ban to, in September, rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — an Obama-era program that protected the country’s approximately 800,000 undocumented youth raised in the country from being deported.

“It’s scary to see because this is not the country we know,” says Chris, who along with her sisters, became an American citizen in 2016. “America at its core is principled on immigrants. We came to this country to improve our futures and I feel as American as anyone born here.”

“These girls are more American than Cameroonian,” their mother says. “Can you imagine being undocumented? We were very lucky,” Xaviera adds.

Watching videos of immigration agents separating families in recent months has been particularly difficult for Ms. Kengmeni and Mr. de Paul Silatchom. “I can’t imagine what it’s been like for these children who go to school in the morning knowing they might come home at the end of the day to no parents,” Ms. Kengmeni says.

This year, Christmas break involves running around to pack for Chris’s semester abroad and attending three Christmas Masses, but the family is grateful to be all together, even if it’s for just a few days. They know they are the lucky ones.

Forty percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded or co-founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. Watching Ella, Chris and Xaviera, I’d bet good money that they will join those ranks of these world-class leaders. But the question I find myself asking as I leave their school: Who are the young women the Trump administration is currently keeping out?

CHRISTMAS 2017: Pope Francis Makes Migrants’ Humanity, Plight, Rights Focus Of Christmas Message To World’s Christians!

 

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/pope-christmas-eve-migrants_us_5a4025cfe4b025f99e17c35b

Phillip Pullella reports for HuffPost:


“Pope Francis strongly defended immigrants at his Christmas Eve Mass on Sunday, comparing them to Mary and Joseph finding no place to stay in Bethlehem and saying faith demands that foreigners be welcomed.
Francis, celebrating his fifth Christmas as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, led a solemn Mass for about 10,000 people in St. Peter’s Basilica while many others followed the service from the square outside.
Security was stepped up, with participants checked as they approached St. Peter’s Square even before going through metal detectors to enter the basilica. The square had been cleared out hours earlier so security procedures could be put in place.
The Gospel reading at the Mass in Christendom’s largest church recounted the Biblical story of how Mary and Jesus had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be registered for a census ordered by Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus.
“So many other footsteps are hidden in the footsteps of Joseph and Mary. We see the tracks of entire families forced to set out in our own day. We see the tracks of millions of persons who do not choose to go away, but driven from their land, leave behind their dear ones,” Francis said.
Even the shepherds who the Bible says were the first to see the child Jesus were “forced to live on the edges of society” and considered dirty, smelly foreigners, he said. “Everything about them generated mistrust. They were men and women to be kept at a distance, to be feared.”

“NEW SOCIAL IMAGINATION”
Wearing white vestments in the flower-bedecked church, Francis called for a “new social imagination … in which none have to feel that there is no room for them on this earth.”
The 81-year-old pope, who was born of Italian immigrant stock in Argentina, has made defense of migrants a major plank of his papacy, often putting him at odds with politicians.
Austria’s new chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, has aligned himself with central European neighbors like Hungary and the Czech Republic in opposing German-backed proposals to distribute asylum seekers around EU member states.
In elections in Germany in September, the far-right and anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party made significant gains, with electors punishing Chancellor Angela Merkel for her open-door policy and pushing migration policy to the top of the agenda in talks to form a coalition government.
Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League, whose leader Matteo Salvini often gives fiery speeches against migrants, is expected to make gains in national elections next year. A law that would give citizenship to children born in Italy to migrant parents is stalled in parliament.
In his homily, Francis said, “Our document of citizenship” comes from God, making respect of migrants an integral part of Christianity.
“This is the joy that we tonight are called to share, to celebrate and to proclaim. The joy with which God, in his infinite mercy, has embraced us pagans, sinners and foreigners, and demands that we do the same,” Francis said.
Francis also condemned human traffickers who make money off desperate migrants as the “Herods of today” with blood on their hands, a reference to the Biblical story of the king who ordered the killing of all newborn male children near Bethlehem because he feared Jesus would one day displace him.
More than 14,000 people have died trying to make the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean to Europe in the past four years.
On Christmas Day, Francis will deliver his twice-yearly “Urbi et Orbi” (To the City and to the World) blessing and message from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

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Compare the Pope’s very clear statement of true Christian values with the fear-mongering, false narratives, and xenophobic rantings and actions of the so-called “Christians” in the Trump Administration.

PWS

12-26-17

ANDREW SULLIVAN IN NY MAGGIE: Congrats, Vladimir, On A Spectacular First Year In Our White House! – You Achieved More Toward The Destruction of Liberal Western Democracy Than All Of Your Soviet Predecessors Put Together!

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/12/andrew-sullivan-putins-first-year-in-the-white-house.html

Sullivan writes:

“What are we to make of Vladimir Putin’s first year in the White House? How has he done?

I’m only slightly kidding. Or rather I’m just channeling a CNN interview earlier this week with James Clapper, former director of National Intelligence. Here’s what Clapper said: “I think this past weekend is illustrative of what a great case officer Vladimir Putin is. He knows how to handle an asset, and that’s what he’s doing with the president […] You have to remember Putin’s background. He’s a KGB officer. That’s what they do. They recruit assets. And I think some of that experience and instincts of Putin has come into play here in his managing of a pretty important account for him, if I could use that term, with our president.”

Clapper clarified his statement by saying he was being figurative, rather than literal. So let’s just ask a figurative question, shall we? How successful has the Kremlin’s figurative investment been this past year? Pretty damn impressive.

Look first at Putin’s domestic goals. His core concern, as with any despot, is the legitimacy of his pseudo-democratic autocracy – which means, in turn, discrediting the very different features of the liberal democracies of the West. And in this, he must be scarcely able to believe his luck. After decades of the West’s championing of liberal democracy, the American president has spent his first year attacking it. Trump has exhibited contempt for a free press, describing the bulk of Western journalism as “fake news,” words that have gladdened the hearts of dictators across the planet. He has minimized Putin’s assassination of critical journalists, saying that America has no moral standing to criticize. He has treated the judiciary either as instruments of loyalty — hence his packing of the federal bench — or as pests to be slandered or dismissed. He prefers total loyalty from law-enforcement officials to the actual rule of law. For good measure, Trump has legitimized Putin’s core model of governance — that of a benevolent cult hero of the nation, shored up by religious reactionaries — by plagiarizing it. As for the other critical aspect of Putinism — the looting of the treasury by oligarchs — I give you the latest tax bill. It even carves out special goodies for real-estate investors.

Then there is Russia’s permanent interest in deepening the racial and partisan divides in America — the better to force the United States to be more concerned with internal strife than with foreign affairs. On this, Putin’s success is even more impressive. What better propaganda could the Kremlin get than the Charlottesville horrors, the racial divide crippling the NFL, or the candidacy of Roy Moore? In the Cold War, the Kremlin constantly cited America’s racial strife as proof that, whatever its democratic pretensions, the country was still a bastion of white supremacy. Now, much of American academia and an entire rising generation agree with what the Soviets long argued. As for the stability and legitimacy of liberal capitalism, Putin could scarcely do better than the GOP tax proposal. When economic inequality is at record highs, undermining the social compact that undergirds capitalism, the GOP is making things far worse. It would also add well over a trillion dollars to the U.S. debt. Trump is not just looting the Treasury for himself and his buddies, he is looting the younger generation as well.

Internationally, Putin has had an even bigger year. One of his central goals — the disintegration of the European Union and the entire concept of the West — has been advanced by Washington in ways never seen before. Trump backed Brexit, breaking the U.K. away from its European partners; he supported Marine Le Pen in France for the same reason; and he has routinely lambasted Merkel, whose power is now hanging by a thread. He chose Poland, where an authoritarian party is busy dismantling judicial independence, as the site for his major foreign-policy address. He has permanently undermined the core Article 5 commitment that an attack on one NATO country is an attack on all of them, by being the first U.S. president to equivocate on it. America has also broken with its European allies by withdrawing from the Paris Accords on climate, threatening the Iran nuclear deal, and backing the ethno-nationalist extremists who now run Israel on the status of Jerusalem. Last week, the U.S. found itself utterly isolated at the U.N. on the question, and openly threatening all its allies with payback. In the Middle East, Russia has never been stronger — it is now the key player in the future of Syria, while Putin’s naked annexation of Crimea and sections of eastern Ukraine remains in place, unmentioned by the White House.

What more could Putin ask for? Well, he could hope that his grotesque attack on the last U.S. election would lead to no serious effort to prevent it happening again. And lo, an American president has emphatically refused to lift a finger to defend the Constitution he is duty bound to protect. There’s been no attempt by the White House to protect the integrity of our elections — just a constant disdain for those who worry about them, and a general, somewhat egregious, complacency.

No American president in history has ever given Russia so much in so short a time. Congrats, Vladimir. You’ve achieved what no Soviet dictator ever managed to. Your asset in the White House, figurative or not, has given more than all the British and American traitors in the history of the Cold War.”

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The Trump Administration is a clear and present danger to the safety and security of the United States of America.

PWS

12-24-17