Musings on Events in U.S. Immigration Court, Immigration Law, Sports, and Other Random Topics by Retired United States Immigration Judge (Arlington, Virginia) and former Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals Paul Wickham Schmidt. To see my complete professional bio, just click on the link below.
Sessions runs around the country trashing Dreamers, asylum seekers, lawyers, empowering MS-13, and promoting his White Nationalist agenda while not lifting a finger to prevent Russian meddling in our elections;
DHS is headed by a lightweight sycophant who is more concerned about deporting gardeners and maids and “kissing up” to Trump’s racist agenda than about protecting our country from the active threat by Russia;
We’re standing by and letting Russia run all over us on the world stage;
Vladi is just delighted with the performance of his “Puppet President,” “Agent Devon,” and a host of GOP “Fellow Travelers;”
Trump and his cohorts are out to destroy the career civil service because career civil servants owe allegiance to our Constitution rather than to Trump and his corrupt minions.
Wake up, folks, and vote the GOP out of office, on all levels, before it’s too late for America!
Some members of this dispirited group overlap with a third key constituency that is underanalyzed because its ranks are not exceptionally partisan or ideological. They are citizens who ask for a basic minimum from those in charge of their government: some dignity and decorum, a focus on problem-solving, and orderliness rather than chaos. Trump and the conservatives sustaining him are completely out of line with this behavioral conservatism built on self-restraint and temperamental evenness.
It is not to romanticize the heartland to say that anyone who spends time in the Midwest runs into such solid citizens all the time. They are horrified by spousal abuse. They include small-business owners who prefer low taxes but care about schools, roads, libraries and parks. They may be critical of government, but they also expect it to do useful things. They don’t much like bragging and find an obsession with enemies unhealthy.
They are churchgoers who don’t watch TV preachers, may have doubts about this or that doctrine, and don’t tell others how religious they are. But they take from their faith and scripture that they have obligations to their communities and a duty to try as best they can to live by the standards they uphold.
They like to look up to their leaders with respect, and they feel betrayed when the powers that be give them every reason not to.
The obvious political calculation is that this fall’s elections will be decided by which side mobilizes its most ardent supporters. But here is a bet that there is also a quiet revolution of conscience in the country among those who are sick to death of the chaos they see every day on the news, a White House whose energy is devoted to stabbing internal foes in the back and a president who can’t stop thinking about himself. In the face of this, demanding simple decency is a radical and subversive act.”
Read the rest of Dionne’s op-ed at the link.
One can only hope that at some point, reason will prevail over the greed, immorality, clownishness, disrespect, dishonesty, and incompetence that has come to symbolize today’s GOP and the Trump regime. Even today, there are a number of stories about how well-to-do yet fundamentally dishonest Trump appointees and their families continue to loot the Treasury and run up a huge deficit while essentially proposing a “death to the poor and vulnerable” budget. This is what a kleptocracy and gross indecency looks like! Reading our newspapers on a daily basis reminds me of passages I used to see only in State Department Country Reports on corrupt, Third-World dictatorships.
“This is a messaging document,” Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters at the White House.
Here are eight messages that the White House sends with its wish list:
1. Touching third rails he said he wouldn’t:
As a candidate, Trump repeatedly said he would never cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security.
Now he proposes cutting Medicare by $554 billion and Medicaid by around $250 billion over the next decade.
His plan includes new per-person limits on the amount of health care each Medicaid enrollee can use and a dramatic shift toward block grants, which would allow states to tighten eligibility requirements and institute work requirements that would kick some off public assistance.
Impacting the middle class, Trump also calls for cutting the subsidies that allow more than four in five people with marketplace health plans to afford their insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act.
2. Scaling back support for the forgotten man:
Many displaced blue-collar workers in the Rust Belt took the president at his word when he promised to bring back their manufacturing jobs. But Trump’s budget calls for cutting funding for National Dislocated Worker Grants – which provides support to those who lose their jobs because of factory closures or natural disasters — from $219.5 million in 2017 to $51 million in 2019.
Also at the Labor Department, the president wants to slash support for the Adult Employment and Training Activities initiative, which serves high school dropouts and veterans, from $810 million last year to $490 million in 2019.
3. Giving up on a balanced budget:
Trump repeatedly promised that he would balance the budget “very quickly.” It turns out that a guy who has often described himself as the “king of debt” didn’t feel that passionately about deficits. Last year, he laid out a plan to balance the budget in 10 years. This year he didn’t even try. Trump now accepts annual deficits that will run over $1 trillion as the new normal.
Going further, the president also promised on the campaign trail that he’d get rid of the national debt altogether by the end of his second term. But his White House now projects that the national debt, which is already over $20 trillion, will grow more than $2 trillion over the next two years and by at least $7 trillion over the next decade. The administration repeatedly denied this in December as officials pushed to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion.
“After Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts in the 1980s, deficits exploded in the same range as Trump’s now, when calculated as a percentage of the economy, or gross domestic product. But Reagan’s famous ‘riverboat’ gamble came when the total national debt was a fraction of what it is today. Trump is pushing the envelope when debt is already near 80 percent of GDP, leaving far less room to maneuver if the economy turns downward,” David Rogers writes in Politico. “Economists and politicians alike don’t know what happens next. There’s all the edginess of breaking new ground. But also, as with Faulkner’s famous line, there is a sense that the past ‘is not even past.’ … Nothing now seems obvious, except red ink.”
Trump blames state of U.S. infrastructure on ‘laziness’ after WWII
4. Relying on fuzzy math:
Trump’s team knows full well that they’ll never get most of the spending cuts they’re proposing, but they’re using them to make the deficit look less bad than it really is. Just last Friday, the president signed into law an authorization bill that blows up the sequester and increases spending by more than $500 billion.
The White House also makes the unrealistic assumption that the economy will grow by more than 3 percent every year between now and 2024, which makes its projections for revenue growth rosier than they should be. No serious economist thinks that level of growth can be sustained. A recession seems probable in the next decade.
Senate Democrats noticed that Trump’s budget plan, if it was enacted, would actually result in a net decrease in federal spending on infrastructure. Chuck Schumer’s office identified more than $240 billion in proposed cuts over the coming decade to existing infrastructure programs, which is higher than the $200 billion Trump simultaneously proposed in new spending. “The cuts identified by Schumer’s office include a $122 billion reduction in outlays over the coming decade to the Highway Trust Fund, which pays for road projects and mass transit,” John Wagner reports. “Other proposed reductions would target an array of programs that fund rail, aviation [and] wastewater…”
In 1999, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush denounced a House Republican plan to save $8 billion by deferring tax credit payments for low-income people. “I don’t think they ought to balance their budget on the backs of the poor,” he said at a campaign stop. “I’m concerned for someone who is moving from near-poverty to middle class.”
That sentiment seems quaint now. While Trump has never claimed the mantle of “compassionate conservatism,” his budget validates several of the negative stereotypes that Bush tried to shed.
Trump wants to cut $214 billion from the food stamp program in the next decade, a reduction of nearly 30 percent.
The budget shows Ben Carson has no suction at the White House. Despite his efforts, the secretary of housing and urban development was unable to stop Trump from reducing Section 8 federal housing subsidies by more than $1 billion, zeroing out community development block grants and eliminating a $1.9 billion fund to cover public housing capital repairs. The 14 percent cut at HUD is even deeper than what Trump proposed last year.
The budget cuts 29 programs at the Education Department, many of which are designed to help needy children – including after-school activities to keep kids off the street and a grant program for college students with “exceptional financial need.” Trump’s plan also gets rid of a tuition initiative that makes college affordable for underprivileged D.C. residents, who don’t have access to strong in-state universities.
Trump wants to neuter the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by starving it of resources, limiting its enforcement power and changing its funding stream so that it’s more vulnerable to pressure from Wall Street.
He seeks to cut more than $2.5 billion from the annual budget of the Environmental Protection Agency, which is about a quarter of its spending. He’d eliminate funding for state radon-detection programs and end partnerships to monitor and restore water quality in the Gulf of Mexico, Puget Sound and other large bodies of water.
“Funding for the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay would fall from $72 million to $7 million, and a similar program for the Great Lakes would be cut from $300 million to $30 million — although neither would be wiped out,” Brady Dennis reports. “In addition, the Trump budget would eliminate — or very nearly eliminate — the agency’s programs related to climate change. Funding for the agency’s Office of Science and Technology would drop by more than a third, from $762 million to $489 million. And funding for prosecuting environmental crimes and for certain clean air and water programs would drop significantly.”
7. More guns, less butter:
Make no mistake, Trump is not calling for a reduction in the size of government. He seeks to spend $4.4 trillion next year, up 10 percent from last year. He’s calling for spending less on the homefront to cover a massive military buildup.
Trump asks for $716 billion in defense spending in 2019, a 13 percent increase. “The Trump plan provides more money for just about everything a general or admiral might desire,” Greg Jaffe notes. “The United States already spends more on its military than the next eight nations combined.”
Meanwhile, Trump proposes slashing the State Department’s budget by 23 percent. As Secretary of Defense James Mattis told Congress in 2013, when he was a Marine general leading Central Command: “If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.”
Another campaign promise Trump is making good on: building his “Deportation Force.” The budget allocates $2.8 billion to expand immigration detention facilities so that 52,000 beds are always available, $782 million to hire 2,750 additional border agents, and $1.6 billion for the construction of 65 miles of border wall in Texas. (Whatever happened to Mexico paying?) He also adds $2.2 billion for the Secret Service to hire 450 more people.
Trump claims that U.S. has spent $7 trillion in the Middle East
8. Leaning in on privatization:
Trump wants to outsource as many public functions as possible to private, for-profit companies.
His budget calls for selling off scores of prized federal assets, from Reagan National and Dulles Airports to the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. “Power transmission assets from the Tennessee Valley Authority; the Southwestern Power Administration, which sells power in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas; the Western Area Power Administration; and the Bonneville Power Administration, covering the Pacific northwest, were cited for potential divestiture,” Michael Laris reports. “It was not immediately clear what public or private entity might buy those roads, whether they might be tolled, or other details. Some state officials said they were uncertain about how their residents would benefit from such a proposal.”
The White House is re-upping its plan to shift the nation’s air traffic control system out of government hands, even though it went nowhere in Congress last year.
Finally, he wants to increase spending by more than $1 billion on privateschool vouchers and other school choice plans while slashing the Education Department’s budget by $3.6 billion and devoting more resources to career training, at the expense of four-year universities.
Don’t be fooled by the “paper money” you might be making in the stock market (if you are one of the fortunate minority of Americans with money to invest). 2017 was one of the worst years in the history of American democracy, and 2018 promises to be even worse. Indeed, while American democracy has been resilient enough to stand up to Trump and the utterly corrupt GOP to date, they are now upping their attack. There is absolutely no guarantee that their plan to destroy our country and hand it over to an unholy mixture of Russian Oligarchs, Chinese Government Corporations, and greedy Capitalist plutocrats won’t succeed.
Donald Trump and today’s GOP are a clear and present danger to our national security and the future of our democracy!
“Earlier this week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted a record-setting 1,597 points, the biggest point decline in history during a single trading session. Donald Trump, who has patted himself on the back for gains in the stock market on a near daily basis since becoming president, was uncharacteristically silent on the matter, while the White House suddenly claimed it was focused on the long-term health of the economy, rather than short-term market fluctuations. However, given his uniquely thin skin, not to mention the fact that the Dow dared to take a nosedive in the middle of one of his speeches, it was only a matter of time before the president weighed in on the matter.
What we expected: perhaps an angry rant sent from his bed in the East Wing, or maybe a targeted attack on one of the many experts who have said, more or less, that he was a fool for tying himself to the market. (Trump may “fancy himself a great expert,” Horizon Investments chief global strategist Greg Valliere told me, but “the markets are . . . tricky and they’re really humbling. Not to be cliché, but you live by the sword and you die by the sword.”) But never in our wildest dreams did we imagine Trump’s counterattack would be something so magnificent as this:
It’s only one tweet. But there’s so much to appreciate:
When Trump says the stock market went down because of “good news,” what he’s referring to is the fact that many have attributed Monday’s drop (as well as last Friday’s) to the strong U.S. employment numbers which, among other things, are leading traders to fear higher wage demands and rising inflation, at a time when the economy is getting a giant, yuuuge stimulus in the form of the tax cuts. Trump was actually warned by a lot of people, who he didn’t listen to, that given where unemployment was—at a multi-year low—and the relative strength of the economy, now was the exact wrong time for a stimulus. (“Passing the tax reform bill is like throwing a small cup of gasoline on a fire that’s already burning,” one expert said.) But he did it anyway, because he’s stupid, and now the markets are worried about a recession (which Trump was also warned about).
You know he has literally no idea how modern financial markets operate and that his basis for the stock market is a bunch of guys holding up little pieces of paper and shouting on the floor of the stock exchange.
Isn’t it great that Trump believes he can bully and intimidate the “Stock Market” like he does his political enemies? What’s he going to do to the “Stock Market”? Fire it? Send it back to its country of origin? Demand it produce its long-form birth certificate?
We’re calling it now: the president is one indignity away from giving the stock market a derogatory epithet. Watch your back, Liddle Stock Market! Fake Tears Stock Market! Low Energy Stock Market! Sad!
Trump (probably) won’t get another shutdown, after all
On Tuesday, the president of the United States said that he’d “love” to see the federal government shut down should Democrats fail to give him what he wants re: cracking down on illegal immigration. But for once, lawmakers do not seem inclined to oblige him. On Wednesday, Senate leaders announcedthat they’d reached a bipartisan spending agreement. And not just anyspending agreement, but a real deficit-buster that will raise spending caps by roughly $300 billion over the next two years. According to The New York Times, the limit imposed on military spending—by a 2011 deal “once seen as a key triumph for Republicans”—will be increased by $80 billion for the current fiscal year and $85 billion for the next one. Nondefense spending will increase by $63 billion this year and $68 billion next year. And while most Republicans have long since given up pretending to care about “fiscal responsibility,” not everyone is pleased.
Jason Pye, vice president FreedomWorks, told the Times that the deal “isn’t just fiscally irresponsible, it’s an abomination,” adding that “no one in Congress who claims that they’re a deficit hawk or a fiscal conservative can justifiably vote for [it].” Freedom Caucus leader Jim Jordan was practically in tears over the idea that Paul Ryan, whom he thought he could trust, would betray his Ayn Randian ideals in such a heinous fashion. Calling the agreement a “monstrosity,” he fumed to Politico “I just never thought that Speaker Ryan—with his history and his background in budget issues, and his concern with the debt and deficit issue—I just never thought that this would be something that the Congress would put forward.” Freedom Caucus member Mo Brooks likewise told reporters, “I’m not only a no; I’m a hell no,” and basically compared the deal to a narcotic: “This spending bill is a debt junkie’s dream,” he said. “Quite frankly, I’m astonished that the Republican Party seems to be the party of big government in this day and age.”
Nancy Pelosi also said she wouldn’t support the budget, but for reasons that Jordan would sooner spit in his mother’s face than get behind. From the House floor, Pelosi said that without an accompanying commitment from Ryan or Mitch McConnell to debate legislation to protect Dreamers, “[the] package does not have my support, nor does it it have the support of a large number of members of our caucus.”
Read the rest of the “Levin Report” at the link.
Another “right on” observation:
“You know he has literally no idea how modern financial markets operate and that his basis for the stock market is a bunch of guys holding up little pieces of paper and shouting on the floor of the stock exchange.”
Kind says it all about what Trump voters and the GOP are doing to America. Ignorance, arrogance, bullying, incoherence, irrationality — what more could we ask for in a “Supreme Leader?” Let’s celebrate with a big (expensive) parade!
Standing in front of a divided Congress, with possible obstruction charges looming over him and facing governance struggles produced by his ineffective leadership, the president sought to undermine a 135-year-old law protecting federal civil servants from the whims of tyrants and hacks. “I call on the Congress to empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers — and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people,” he said.
While this plea sounds sensible, it actually represents a historic threat to the U.S. government and to some of its most vulnerable citizens. Recognizing that threat requires understanding two crucial and related pieces of context — first, how the law Trump seeks to dissolve came into being, and second, how the effort to undermine it fits into a larger pattern of racist ideas driving the Trump administration’s actions.
Why can’t a Cabinet secretary simply fire federal employees? Before 1883, they did just that on a regular basis. Federal employees came and went on the orders of political appointees with each electoral cycle. Every four years, federal workers sat waiting with bags packed to find out if their party would hold on to power and they onto their livelihoods.
Claiming these spoils of victory enabled a president and his Cabinet secretaries to hand out high-paying, desirable jobs to political supporters. Abraham Lincoln famously — or infamously — cleaned house in 1861 to reward his new political party whose members had not tasted federal salaries since the collapse of the Whig party a decade earlier.
But in the 1870s, consistency and competence in the federal bureaucracy became more important as the nation’s political and commercial life grew more complex. Americans became increasingly aware of political corruption (see: the Grant administration) and its drag on government and commercial efficiency. When, in July 1881, President James A. Garfield was assassinated by disgruntled office seeker Charles Guiteau, the push for reform gained enough momentum to force Congress to rein in the patronage system.
The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 cost its namesake, Sen. George H. Pendleton (Ohio), his job in a political backlash against the new anti-spoils system. Nevertheless, the Pendleton Act was a major step forward for good government, and over the next quarter-century the majority of ordinary and largely essential civil service positions became disconnected from political machinations, filled instead through a standard set of hiring practices and exams, and protected from arbitrary firing.
The system was never perfect, and political affiliation has continued to matter for employment prospects in Washington right up through the present. Still, today the U.S. government does have something resembling what political scientists call an “autonomous” civil service — that is, a federal bureaucracy sheltered from political winds.
The result is a more stable and experienced government workforce, a Congress that gets accurate reports from its research bureaus and federal departments that provide a certain level of regulatory consistency for citizens and businesses at home and around the world.
Trump’s upending of decades of civil service protections is not about accountability. Such changes would clearly risk a return to more corrupt and less competent government. Even worse, Trump’s proposal and the rhetoric surrounding it also threaten to undermine a second set of crucial reforms that occurred thanks to the civil rights movement.
During the 1960s, the civil rights movement pushed the government to guarantee racial equality in federal employment. This effort was more successful than attempts to transform the private workforce, largely because of federal training programs, standardized hiring procedures and fixed pay scales that weeded out bias, aggressive anti-discrimination measures and historic mentorship and seniority lines dating to the Johnson administration. Today, African Americans are 30 percent more likely to work in civil service than white Americans. Black men and women, just 13 percent of the U.S. population and with an unemployment rate double that of white Americans, make up about 18 percent of the federal workforce.
Over the past 30 years, conservative valorization of “market solutions” has been accompanied by deeply racialized notions of government inefficiency that aims to undermine these civil rights achievements by invoking the image of a wasteful, corrupt public workforce — one viewed by many Americans as dominated by African Americans. Commentator Pat Buchanan, for example, claimed that federal offices under the Obama administration operated according to a “racial spoils system.” For Buchanan and many others, the drive for a leaner government merges with a racist suspicion of black workers — what they see as the most rotten part of the bureaucracy.
Moreover, the president’s attack on the stability of government jobs comes at a rough time for public servants, who have been battered by austerity measures that have made jobs scarcer.
These measures have also deepened the racial disparity in the public workforce, which, along with the growing racial wealth gap that deprives nonwhite Americans of stability and mobility, transforms Trump’s assault on the Pendleton Act from merely historically ignorant and potentially corrupt into something more. It becomes a nod to the same racist worldview that produces the profound suspicion of people of color that has defined much of Trump’s political life.
Continuous conflation of blackness and wastefulness in American governance, a conflation pushed by writers and politicians like Buchanan and Trump, marks African Americans as incapable of earning “the public’s trust” through good governance, a stain that persists into today’s politics, from assumptions of black voting malfeasance to questions about President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
And that returns us to Trump’s rise to the presidency. Calls for government accountability have long merged racism and anti-government rhetoric but have traditionally stopped short of resurrecting the spoils system. Then again, politicians have traditionally veiled their positions in generous and moderately realistic visions of humanity to maintain moral ground and the capacity to govern. In his latest call for the gutting of civil service reforms, Trump seems hellbent on surrendering both.
As I have mentioned several times before, my more than four decades of working in the field of immigration, and my 21 years of judging individual asylum cases have given me an outstanding chance to study virtually all of the current political and government systems in the world.
The difference between the U.S. and the corrupt states that send us refugees is not necessarily the words of our Constitution. Almost all countries have snazzy sounding constitutions that aren’t worth the paper on which they are written.
The main difference is that the U.S. has a basically honest, dedicated, professional, largely apolitical Career Civil Service that works hard to make sure that the words of our Constitution are translated into actions. Most refugee sending countries have a Trump-like “spoils system” where notwithstanding the words of the constitution and laws, the government is corrupt and run primarily for the benefit of the dictator and his relatives and friends or for the ruling class and their cronies.
When the government changes (usually, although not always, violently) the “new” group, even if it once had a “reform platform,” merely views it as “their turn” to loot and pillage the country and the common people for their own benefit and that of their supporters, be it tribe, ethnic group, or party.
The Trump Administration and the “modern GOP” already have all of the earmarks of a kleptocracy. Letting them destroy our Career Civil Service, the “Jewel in the Crown” of American democracy, would lead to the end of our nation as we have known it.
“Well before The Wall Street Journal reported that a porn star with the meteorological name of Stormy Daniels was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about sex with Donald Trump, it was clear that a bigger and more crass proposition would be emerging from the White House.
Going into the midterm elections, Trump is offering this deal to his supporters: Say nothing about the lies, the bullying, the accusations of sexual misconduct from more than a dozen women, the undermining of the rule of law, the abdication of basic decency — and in turn he will make you rich.
Essentially, it’s a payoff. Trump himself has framed it this way. When asked about his coming health exam last month, he said, “It better go well, otherwise the stock market will not be happy.” He used the same phrase when talking about his hard-line position on immigration.
Both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton oversaw spectacular gains in the stock market — among the best in history. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 227 percent during Clinton’s eight years and 149 percent under Obama.
Yet, neither of those men held the market out as hostage to a backward agenda and a deranged personality. Trump is running a bottom-line presidency — as soulless as a Kremlin bot on Facebook — in which people who know better are asked to stay quiet in exchange for a short-term payoff.
Modern presidents, dating at least to Ronald Reagan, have urged voters to ask one question going into pivotal elections: Are you better off than you were before? It’s a reasonable standard. But it has never been the leverage for allowing a democracy to collapse.
You heard some uplifting words during the State of the Union address, words with all the staying power of vapor from a sewage vent. But a more honest assessment of what this presidency represents came from Trump when he was in his element, surrounded by Mar-a-Lago cronies. “You all just got a lot richer,” he told a bejeweled and pink-faced crowd just a few hours after signing the $1.5 trillion tax cut in December.
Even as Trump spoke before Congress on Tuesday, he monetized the speech, with donors paying to have their name live-streamed across a Trump campaign web page.
A cartoon in Politico showed a naked Trump with a king’s crown and a golf club walking down a red carpet. “I know, I know,” one man says to another. “Just keep thinking about your stock portfolio.”
The question for those yet to join the enablers is: What’s the price — a record stock market in which 10 percent of Americans own 84 percent of the market wealth, a tax cut that burdens the working poor in years to come — for saying nothing?
Evangelical Christians were among the first to sign on to a Stormy Daniels proposition. In the infamous words of Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, Trump gets a “do-over” for the infidelity allegation. Yes, because nothing says family values like a thrice-married man who allegedly cheats on his latest wife just after she gives birth to their son. And Pat Robertson, the mush-headed moralist who still fogs up many a television screen with his gaseous utterances, told Trump last summer, “I’m so proud of everything you’re doing.”
For these self-appointed guardians of the soul, the bargain is bigger than 30 pieces of silver: It’s a promise that Trump will continue to protect their tax-exempt empires, in the name of religious freedom.
For Republicans in Congress, the pact is more consequential. They will ignore the pleadings of career law enforcement officials in order to stoke fantasies of a deep-state coup against the president. These politicians are counting on a base that will look the other way as they undermine Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian tampering with the election.
It’s a good bet. After Trump called the American justice system “a joke” and “a laughingstock,” after he fired the F.B.I. director because he would not pledge loyalty to him, after he told another top lawman that his wife was “a loser,” after he referred to members of the intelligence community as “political hacks,” it was all quiet on the Republican front.
He can falsely say that his State of the Union speech drew the highest audience in history — in fact, it ranked ninth since 1993 — because this president has told more than 2,000 lies in a year and hasn’t been called out for them by the people who signed on to silence.
But what happens if the bargain crumbles? What if the market tanks — as the Dow did in losing more than 500 points a few days ago? Do the sycophants bail? Or do they hold out for something more — like the lobbyists now drafting legislation and gutting regulations that affect the companies that pay them?
Beware, those of you who have made your deal with the Stormy Daniels presidency. You can take your settlement money — as the people who signed up for the fraudulent Trump University did — but you still got suckered.
I invite you to follow me on Twitter (@nytegan).”
The lack of values, intellectual honesty, and common decency from the GOP and the so-called “Evangelical right” (not much recognizable Christianity in their words and actions) is stunning, but, unfortunately, not very surprising.
Bess Levin at Vanity Fair with the “Levin Report:”
“WHY TRUMP’S INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN SHOULD SCARE THE CRAP OUT OF YOU
The president wants to apply his hotel-licensing model to a $1.5 trillion government initiative.
If you only paid attention to the words that tumbled out of his mouth, you might believe that Donald Trump was a successful real-estate developer, just like you might also think he’s a “stable genius” with a “winning temperament” who had a shot with Princess Diana. In reality, none of these things are true. In the wake of multiple bankruptcies, the Trump Organization shifted from developing properties on its own to licensing its founder’s name to others for multi-million-dollar fees, in what Forbes once called a “low-effort, low-risk, high-reward cash flow proposition.” With no capital on the line, Trump was free to sit back with a taco bowl, take a cut of the profit, and deal with none of the consequences if and when a project ran into trouble. And now, he wants to apply the same model to a $1.5 trillion infrastructure deal.
In his State of the Union speech last night, Trump said that he was “calling on Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need,” noting that “every federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with State and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment—to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit.” Previously, the administration had said it would put in $200 billion and would expect the private sector, along with state and local governments, to pony up $800 billion for a nice, round $1 trillion plan. Now they’re apparently going to have to dig a little deeper, for no other apparent reason than because Trump thinks $1.5 trillion sounds better. That might seem like a great deal for the federal government, except for the fact that by allocating a mere $200 billion—when you take the White House’s proposed infrastructure cuts into account, it comes out as even less—they’ll have to prioritize corporate profits over the actual needs of the public.
In order to get a return on their investment, which is—understandably!—the only reason private companies will want to get involved here, the government will naturally offer them lucrative tax breaks. But, as The Washington Postpoints out, unlike typical public-private partnerships wherein the government is the ultimate owner of the road or bridge constructed by a private company, it’ll all be under private ownership.
“PriveCo Equity Partners [get] a gigantic tax incentive to build the bridge, which the company now owns—and which will charge tolls on [it] in perpetuity. Taxpayers could shell out nearly as much in tax incentives to the private company as we would have spent to just build the bridge, and then on top of that you’ll have to pay tolls to cross it—forever. As long as the bridge stands, people are paying extra so PriveCo Equity Partners can make a profit.”
And because Trump & Co. will pay for no more than 20 percent of any given project, states and localities that don’t have the extra funds will most likely be shit out of luck. As the Post’s Paul Waldman notes, “the focus on private investment . . . will naturally privilege projects that can generate a profit for private companies, which probably won’t be the most sorely needed upgrades.” According to a new report released this week by the left-leaning Democracy Forward, under the rubric for judging grant applicants, a whopping 70 percent of a project’s score “would be based on the availability of non-federal revenue,” whereas the “economic and social returns” it could generate make up 5 percent. Sorry, Flint, Michigan! You don’t really need new pipes, right?
Of course, this was all by design. Less scary than the fact that Trump’s friends might financially benefit from the plan is the promise (threat?) he made last night that “any bill must . . . streamline the permitting and approval process,” by which he means gut environmental protections and put public health at risk. On the bright side, no one actually believes that President Hard Hat’s plan will come to fruition, at least not in its current form. “Not to be morbid, but an infrastructure catastrophe could move the needle . . . and spur congressional action,” political strategist Chris Kruegertold Business Insider. “Barring some kind of morbid catalyst, [the plan’s passage] seems extremely unlikely.”
Judge rules Mick Mulvaney will have to work hard to destroy the C.F.P.B.
Since the day the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was formed, Republicans have been raving about how it’s an unconstitutional menace that must be stopped. Unfortunately for people like Representative Jeb Hensarling, who thinks the bureau is a “dictator,” a court has more or less declared that this argument is bullshit:
The structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is constitutional, an appeals court ruled Wednesday in a blow to President Donald Trump’s efforts to ease regulations on the financial system.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit made the ruling in a battle over whether the president could remove the director at will. The court in October had upheld a challenge to the structure but agreed to rehear the case.
Republicans had challenged the C.F.P.B. structure on grounds that the director’s position was unaccountable to the executive branch.
On the bright side, now that the C.F.P.B.’s acting director is a guy who thinks the place shouldn’t exist, he can simply chip away at it from the inside. It’ll require a little more effort and creativity, but if anybody is up to the challenge, it’s Mick “The C.F.P.B. is a sick, sad joke” Mulvaney.
You get a Twinkie! And you get a Twinkie!
Hostess Brands is using its tax bill savings to reward employees with snacks:
The company, which makes Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos, is providing its employees one-time payments of $1,250—with $750 in cash and $500 in the form of a 401(k) contribution. In taking the step, Hostess cited last month’s tax legislation, which slashed the rate for U.S. corporations.
It’s also offering a year’s worth of free food to workers—though they won’t be able to eat all the Ding Dongs they like. A representative from each of Hostess’s bakeries will choose a product each week, and the employees will be able to take home a multipack of that item. The company also makes Hostess CupCakes, Fruit Pies, and Donettes.”
Gotta love it!
Billions for the fat cats, “Twinkies” for the workers. And, while working his infrastructure scam, Trump and his GOP kleptocrats will be trashing our environment and destroying our health care. I suppose they all will eventually move to a (“Whites Only” — Sorry Ben & Tim) “tax haven” somewhere offshore leaving the rest of us sick and dying in a looted country with an “infrastructure” that nobody needs any more!
Meanwhile, over at Bloomberg News, reporter Ben Penn exposes a Trump Administration scheme to allow management to steal billions of dollars from waitresses and waiters!That’s right, folks, Trump’s GOP kleptocrats are busy scheming to transfer wealth from the lowest rungs on the economic ladder to the well-to-do! When the Labor Department’s own internal analysis exposed this “ripoff in the making,” the Trumpsters did what any good kleptocrat would do — tried to hide the results from the public (so much for the Trump White House claim of “transparency” in the release of “Vladi’s Agent Devon’s” memo).
“Labor Dept. Ditches Data Showing Bosses Could Skim Waiters’ Tips
Posted Feb. 1, 2018, 6:01 AM
Labor Department leadership scrubbed an unfavorable internal analysis from a new tip pooling proposal, shielding the public from estimates that showed employees could lose out on billions of dollars in gratuities, four current and former DOL sources tell Bloomberg Law.
The agency shelved the economic analysis, compiled by DOL staff, from a December proposal to scrap an Obama administration rule. The proposal would permit tip pooling arrangements that involve restaurant servers and other workers who make tips and back-of-the-house workers who don’t. It sparked outrage from worker advocates who said the move would permit management to essentially skim gratuities by participating in the pools themselves.
Senior department political officials—faced with a government analysis showing that workers could lose billions of dollars in tips as a result of the proposal—ordered staff to revise the data methodology to lessen the expected impact, several of the sources said. Although later calculations showed progressively reduced tip losses, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta and his team are said to have still been uncomfortable with including the data in the proposal. The officials disagreed with assumptions in the analysis that employers would retain their employees’ gratuities, rather than redistribute the money to other hourly workers. They wound up receiving approval from the White House to publish a proposal Dec. 5 that removed the economic transfer data altogether, the sources said.
The move to drop the analysis means workers, businesses, advocacy groups, and others who want to weigh in on the tip pool proposal will have to do so without seeing the government’s estimate first. The public notice-and-comment period for the proposal is set to end Feb. 5.
The new revelation lends credence to concerns from Democrats and labor organizers that the proposed rule will short change workers. It also raises questions about how much the DOL intends to take public feedback into account in shaping a final version of the rule.
The current and former DOL sources, hailing from both political parties, were all independently briefed by people involved in the rulemaking. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to prevent retaliation against themselves and others.
The Labor Department “works to provide the public accurate analysis based on informed assumptions” a DOL spokesman told Bloomberg Law in an email. The spokesman noted that the department asked the public to comment with suggestions about how to quantify the rule’s impact as part of the proposal. “As previously stated, after receiving public comment, the Department intends to publish an informed cost benefit analysis as part of any final rule.”
The DOL did not address Bloomberg Law’s inquiry as to why the agency did not include the completed transfer analysis in the proposed rule.
The department has previously defended criticism of the proposal by saying the move would lead to higher pay for some low-wage workers who don’t traditionally earn tips, such as dishwashers. The DOL has also argued that managers would be dissuaded from stealing tips, out of fear of employee turnover and decreased morale. The department further noted that it included in the proposal a qualitative analysis, which doesn’t include dollar figures.
OMB Involvement Unclear
Former career and political officials at the DOL and the White House Office of Management and Budget, joined by business and employee-side regulatory attorneys, all told Bloomberg Law that scrapping a completed analysis from a significant proposal would mark a troubling departure from the government’s mission. Agencies and OMB are expected to ensure that all available data are brought to bear during notice-and-comment rulemaking, the sources said.
White House Office of Management and Budget’s regulatory review staff was familiar with the data, before the proposed rule was released, sources said. It’s not clear whether OMB Director Mick Mulvaney approved the deletion of the numbers or whether Neomi Rao, who runs OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, was involved in the decision.
“We do not comment on the interagency review process,” an OMB senior official told Bloomberg Law in an email responding to a series of questions directed at OIRA.
Representatives for the White House and Mulvaney did not respond to requests for comment.
“I have to wonder about the internal pressure brought to bear on OIRA in this case, because historically OIRA’s position has been that analysis is a good thing,” Stuart Shapiro, a career policy analyst at OIRA in the Clinton and Bush presidencies,” told Bloomberg Law. “It helps us make better decisions, it helps us increase the transparency of the regulatory effort.” Shapiro, who reviewed labor regulations in his tenure at the office, is now a Rutgers University professor researching the regulatory process.
Bloomberg Law has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the transfer report, which is being processed by the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division.
Transparency in Question
The proposal rescinds a 2011 rule that asserted tips are the property of workers who earn them. That revision of the Fair Labor Standards Act covered scenarios in which restaurants and other employers supplemented tipped workers’ earnings by paying at least the full minimum wage.
Since the rule’s release in December, worker advocacy groups and Obama administration officials have vehemently opposed it. They point to language that permits companies to keep gratuities for themselves, provided they pay workers at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and don’t apply a tip credit that allows them to pay as little as $2.13 per hour, depending on the state.
The left-leaning think tank Economic Policy Institute attempted to fill the data void by producing an analysis of its own. EPI predicts the proposed rule on tips would lead to $5.8 billion changing hands from workers to businesses, rather than being redistributed among employees as the DOL leadership suggested.
Some worker advocacy attorneys say the absence of the data might violate administrative law.
The existence of economic data has not been previously reported. It comes as President Donald Trump’s labor secretary and OIRA administrator have said they are committed to good government and transparent notice-and-comment rulemaking as they implement the White House demands to cut unnecessary regulations issued during the Obama administration.
Some attorneys have theorized that the Trump administration fast-tracked this rescission to moot the restaurant industry’s request that the U.S. Supreme Court grant review and invalidate the Obama tipping rule.
News of the scrapped analysis comes as Acosta has tried to avoid being cast as putting business interests above employees in various legal and regulatory moves.
David Weil, Wage and Hour Division administrator under President Barack Obama, called the new tip rule a boon for the restaurant industry,
“I think it is simply a statement of fact that Secretary Acosta and the people in the political side of the Labor Department who pushed that rule, which was a wonderful Christmas present to the National Restaurant Association, didn’t want the public to understand what kind of transfer we’re talking about,” Weil told Bloomberg Law in December, before the news of an existing analysis publicly surfaced.
Democrats have also placed their thumb on the scale when it comes to regulatory analyses, Leon Sequeira, who ran the DOL policy office in the George W. Bush administration, said.
“Economic analysis is a political football in every administration,” Sequeira told Bloomberg Law. He said the Obama administration DOL provided inadequate cost-benefit analyses that understated the compliance costs on businesses. “If the agency feels that it doesn’t have sufficient information to perform as robust an analysis as some may like, then that’s the precise purpose of the proposed rulemaking—to say to all of these critics, if you’ve got a better idea or different analysis or additional information, by all means send it in.”
“It’s at the final stage, when the agency makes its final decision, that folks need to be concerned about evaluating the rulemaking,” said Sequeira, now a management-side employment attorney in Washington.
The More Data the Better
The DOL insisted in the rule proposal that uncertain employer responses make it difficult to produce reliable estimates of managers participating in tip pools and how customers might change their tipping habits. Former agency officials said, however, that the regulation breaks from protocol because it is still the department’s duty to release a best attempt at the data in the proposed rule.
“To punt on that and say we’ll let the public come up with the economic analysis, that’s really not how the process is intended to work,” Michael Hancock, a former assistant administrator at the WHD, told Bloomberg Law. “The agency has an obligation to provide its best judgment on what the likely impact is economically, and that will give the public an opportunity to comment on that.”
The DOL proposal explained that an analysis of potential benefits and transfers is too speculative at this stage. “The Department is unable to quantify how customers will respond to proposed regulatory changes, which in turn would affect total tipped income and employer behavior,” the agency stated.
One trade association executive, who had no prior knowledge of a shelved analysis, told Bloomberg Law that when it comes to rulemaking, the more information the better. “I would just be troubled if the agency had done economic work that’s directly relevant to rulemaking, and for any reason chose not to include that, because the public has a right to know everything about the rule,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity to address an issue that doesn’t affect the trade association’s members.
The National Restaurant Association, by far the trade group most invested in the rulemaking, has been a massive supporter of the effort. An economic analysis isn’t relevant to this discussion because the 2011 version of the rule didn’t include that type of analysis either, Angelo Amador, the NRA’s senior vice president and regulatory counsel, told Bloomberg Law in December. Plus, Amador said he believes he has the law on his side.
“I do not see how an economic analysis has an impact either way on something that they don’t have the authority to do,” he said. The NRA has litigated the Obama rule since 2011 and has filed a request for review that is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Two circuit courts have called the rule an abuse of agency rulemaking authority.
Tough to Estimate
In reality, both business and employee-side sources told Bloomberg Law that it’s difficult to arrive at a confident estimate on this rule change, because of many possible employer and customer reactions, and interactions with a maze of state and local minimum wage laws.
The new methods ordered by the DOL leadership on the tip pool rule reduced the transfer total by changing the industries affected and how the rule would interact with state laws, which dropped the total, a few sources said.
Hancock, whose 20-year career at the WHD spanned three presidents from both parties, said that during the approximately 15-20 economically significant rules he’s worked on, he never once witnessed the agency excluding the cost-benefit analysis from a significant regulation. Lack of data accuracy is no excuse, Hancock said.
“If their view is they’re not really confident with the data you have, you put it out there, you identify those areas where you have uncertainty about the data, and invite the public to fill in those gaps,” said Hancock, who is now of counsel at plaintiff-side firm Cohen Milstein in New York.
The Labor Department’s policy shop played a central role in the tip pooling proposal, as is customary for significant rules. Sequeira, who was heavily involved with the WHD and other agencies in developing regulatory economic analyses in the prior Republican DOL, stopped short of saying whether the DOL behaved inappropriately in this circumstance.
“It’s hard to say,” Sequeira said. “That’s the age-old conspiracy theory with virtually every regulatory proposal that comes out.”
Kleptocracy, secrecy, anti-democracy, Putinism are at work every day the corrupt Trump Administration and the GOP enablers are in power. The Con-Man-In-Chief!
“State of the Union on Tuesday night, “one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country.”
The president and his allies claim such an immigration policy would promote cohesion and unity among Americans “and finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century.” Far from forward-facing, however, the president’s policies evoke the beginning of the 20th century, when war abroad and opportunity at home brought waves of immigrants to the United States, from Italians, Polish, and Russians to Chinese and Japanese. Their arrival sparked a backlash from those who feared what these newcomers might mean for white supremacy and the privileged position of white, Anglo-Saxon Americans. Those fears coalesced into a movement for “American homogeneity,” and a drive to achieve it by closing off America’s borders to all but a select group of immigrants. This culminated in 1924 with the Johnson-Reed Act, which sharply restricted immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe and all but banned it from much of Asia.
Members of the Trump administration have praised the Johnson-Reed Act for its severe restrictions on who could enter the country, and the act’s history helps illuminate what exactly Trump means when he says he wants to put “America first.”
The cohesion Trump espouses isn’t national or ideological. It is racial. The fight over immigration isn’t between two camps who value the contributions of immigrants and simply quibble over the mix and composition of entrants to the United States. It is between a camp that values immigrants and seeks to protect the broader American tradition of inclusion, and one that rejects this openness in favor of a darker legacy of exclusion. And in the current moment, it is the restrictionists who are the loudest and most influential voices, and their concerns are driving the terms of the debate.
At the heart of the nativist idea is a fear of foreign influence, that some force originating abroad threatens to undermine the bonds that hold America together. What critics condemned as “Know Nothing-ism” in the 19th century, adherents called Americanism. “The grand work of the American party,” said one nativist journal in 1855, “is the principle of nationality … we must do something to protect and vindicate it. If we do not, it will be destroyed.”
In the first decades of the 20th century, the defense of “the principle of nationality” took several forms. At the level of mass politics, it meant a retooled and reinvigorated Ku Klux Klan with a membership in the millions, whose new incarnation was as committed to anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, and anti-Semitic politics as it was to its traditional anti-black racism. In Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan, historian Nancy MacLean notes how Georgia Klan leader William Joseph Simmons warned his followers that they were, in his words, “being crowded out by a “mongrel population … organized into Ghettos and Communistic groups … and uplifting a red flag as their insignia of war.” Likewise, Klan leaders and publications blasted Catholic immigrants as “European riff-raff” and “slaves of ignorance and vice” who threatened to degrade the country at the same time that they allegedly undermined native-born white workers. When, in 1923 and 1924, Congress was debating the Johnson-Reed Act, the Klan organized a letter-writing campaign to help secure its passage, turning its rhetoric into political action.
At the elite level, it meant the growth of an intellectual case for nativism, one built on a foundation of eugenics and “race science.” Prominent scholars like Madison Grant (The Passing of the Great Race) and Lothrop Stoddard (The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy) penned books and delivered lectures across the country, warning of a world in which “Nordic superiority” was supplanted by those of so-called inferior stock. “What is the greatest danger which threatens the American republic today?” asked eugenicist Henry Fairfield Osborn in the preface to Grant’s book. “I would certainly reply: The gradual dying out among our people of those hereditary traits through which the principles of our religious, political and social foundations were laid down and their insidious replacement by traits of less noble character.” The aim of the nativists was to preserve those traits and admit for entry only those immigrants who could fully and easily assimilate into them.
. . . .
It is true that there are some more moderate restrictionists in the mix, for whom the drive to reduce legal immigration is driven by concern and prudence—concern over immigration’s impact on wage and employment, especially among the country’s working-class citizens, and prudence regarding our ability to assimilate and absorb new arrivals.
The facts do not support these misgivings. Low-skilled immigration does more to bolster prospects for working-class Americans—providing complementary employment to construction and farm labor—than it does to lower wages. Likewise, immigrants to the United States have shown a remarkable capacity for assimilation, quickly integrating themselves into the fabric of American life by building homes, businesses, and families. To the extent that native-born workers need protection, it’s best provided by stronger unions and more generous support from the government.
But those moderate voices aren’t setting the agenda. Instead, it’s the hardliners who have used their initiative to inject nativism into mainstream politics and channel, in attenuated form, the attitudes that produced the 1924 law. President Trump, for example, ties Hispanic immigrants to crime and disorder, blaming their presence for gang violence. He attributes terror attacks committed by Muslim immigrants to the “visa lottery and chain migration” that supposedly allows them unfettered access to American targets. And in a recent meeting with Democratic and Republican lawmakers, Trump disparaged Haiti and various African nations as “shitholes” (or “shithouses”) whose immigrants should be turned away from the country in favor of those from European countries, like Norway. It’s unclear if Trump is aware of Rep. Albert Johnson, who spearheaded the 1924 immigration law. But in his racial ranking of immigrants, the president echoed the congressman’s sentiments. “The day of unalloyed welcome to all peoples, the day of indiscriminate acceptance of all races, has definitely ended,” proclaimed Johnson on the passage of the bill that bore his name.
The president isn’t alone in his views. Before joining the Trump administration, former White House adviser Stephen Bannon openly opposed nonwhite immigration on the grounds that it threatened the integrity of Western nations. And while Bannon has been exiled from Trump’s orbit, that legacy lives on. Stephen Miller, who is now the driving force behind immigration policy in the Trump administration, is a notorious hardliner who has echoed Bannon’s views, bemoaning the number of foreign-born people in the United States.
Miller is the former communications director for and protégé of Jeff Sessions, who as Alabama’s senator praised the Johnson-Reed Act and its restrictions on foreign-born Americans. “When the numbers reached about this high in 1924, the president and Congress changed the policy, and it slowed down immigration significantly,” Sessions said in a 2015 interview with Bannon. “We then assimilated through the 1965 and created really the solid middle class of America, with assimilated immigrants, and it was good for America.”
As attorney general, Sessions has leaned in to these views. “What good does it do to bring in somebody who’s illiterate in their own country, has no skills, and is going to struggle in our country and not be successful?” said Sessions during a recent interview on Fox News. “That is not what a good nation should do, and we need to get away from it.” Rep. Steve King of Iowa, a staunch defender of Trump, is especially blunt in his defense of hardline immigration policies. “Assimilation, not diversity, is our American strength,” he said on Twitter last year.
Assimilation in those middle decades of the 20th century was built, to a considerable extent, on racial exclusion. It was assimilation into whiteness, one which bolstered and preserved the racial status quo. There’s no return to the America of that era, but one could slow the nation’s demographic transition. The White House proposals for immigration reform seem designed to do just that. According to an analysis from the Cato Institute, President Trump’s framework for immigration would slash entries by 44 percent, excluding almost 22 million people from the United States over the next 50 years. And in an analysis tied to the “Securing America’s Future Act”—a House-produced bill which hews closely to what the president wants—the Center for Global Development finds that white immigrants would be twice as likely to attain entry into the United States than black and Hispanic ones, while a majority of Muslim and Catholic immigrants would be barred from the country. Couple these measures with voter suppression, a biased census, apportionment by citizenship, extreme gerrymandering, and the existing dominance of rural counties in national politics, and you can essentially rig the system for the preservation of white racial hegemony.
Immigration policy is inextricably tied to our nation’s self-identity. What we choose to do reflects the traditions we seek to uphold. In the 1920s, most Americans wanted a more homogenous country, and they chose accordingly. Forty years later, in the midst of the civil rights revolution and a powerful ethos of inclusion, Americans reversed course, opening our borders to millions of people from across the globe. In this moment, we have two options. We can once again take the path that wants to keep “America for Americans,” and which inevitably casts American-ness in ways circumscribed by race, origin, and religion. Or we could try to realize our cosmopolitan faith, that tradition of universalism which elevates the egalitarian ideals of the Founding, and which seeks to define our diversity of origins as a powerful strength, not a weakness to overcome.
Jamelle Bouie is Slate’s chief political correspondent.”
Read the complete article, with more historical references to the racist historical basis for today’s GOP restrictionist policies, at the link.
Actually, “Gonzo Apocalypto,” most of those Latino, African, Hispanic, and Middle Eastern immigrants that you look down upon and disrespect aren’t illiterate in their own countries. And, they probably speak and understand English better than you do their native languages.
While you, Gonzo, have spent most of your adult life on the “public dole,” trying to turn back the clock and, as far as I can see, doing things of questionable overall value to society, immigrants have been working hard at critical jobs, at all levels of our society, that you and your White Nationalist buddies couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to do.Hard-working immigrants, not your “White Nationalist Myth,” have advanced America in the latter half of the 20th Century and the beginning of the 21st Century. Immigrants will continue to make America stong, prosperous, and great, if you and your White Nationalist restrictionist cronies would only get out of the way of progress!
“We can once again take the path that wants to keep “America for Americans,” and which inevitably casts American-ness in ways circumscribed by race, origin, and religion. Or we could try to realize our cosmopolitan faith, that tradition of universalism which elevates the egalitarian ideals of the Founding, and which seeks to define our diversity of origins as a powerful strength, not a weakness to overcome.”
“Hispanic Caucus vents at Democratic leadership over shutdown, DACA strategy
By: Tal Kopan, CNN
Hispanic Democrats on Tuesday had a combination venting and strategy session with Democratic congressional leaders as they expressed frustration that there still has not been a resolution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer got an earful about the handling of the recent government shutdown and recent comments about future strategy, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said.
“I think there’s a lot of conversations about, where is our leverage and how are we going to use it?” said California Democrat Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán.
Barragán said she specifically raised comments Schumer made in The Washington Post that “can’t just let (DACA) occupy the whole stage,” referring to Democratic strategy in red states. She said she told Schumer her community felt that sent a message they weren’t a priority.
“He stood by his comment,” Barragán said of his response. Generally, she added, “He said, ‘I can understand the pain people are feeling and the frustration’ and certainly understood why people felt disappointed in where we are today. Although I think the message is, ‘We’re better off than we were.’ So I’m not sure there’s complete agreement on all fronts.”
The “tension,” as Barragán put it, was indicative of raw nerves among the Democratic caucus about whether leadership is fully committed to using all points of leverage to push for a solution on DACA, the program being ended by President Donald Trump that protected young undocumented immigrants from deportation.
One source in the room speaking anonymously to be candid called the meeting a “waste of time” that was “all filler.”
Another called it equal parts frustration and cheerleading, with an understanding that Republicans remain the main obstacle to deal with.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer called the meeting “candid,” saying the caucus is “correctly frustrated” about the situation for recipients of DACA.
“I think there were obviously some sentiments in the meeting, as you well know, that were, ‘I’m not sure we’re following the right strategy here,'” Hoyer told reporters after the meeting. “There was a candid discussion about why the strategy was being pursued and what was being pursued and what opportunities and challenges were, I think people came out with some degree of appreciation.”
Multiple lawmakers said there was frustration as Democrats rejected government funding on a Friday but voted to reopen the government on Monday when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to open debate on immigration on the Senate floor in February.
Barragán noted there is no commitment to an immigration vote in the House.”It’s very frustrating on the House side because it appears there’s a different situation in the House than in the Senate, we haven’t gotten any kind of commitment on the House side,” Barragán said. “And so even though on the Senate side, Sen. Schumer talks about how they have that commitment and he believes they’re going to get a vote, I think it still fails to take into consideration that strategy on the House side.”
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat who has long served as a voice for immigration advocates in the House, said many in the room “were disappointed” in a “lack of communication” regarding the shutdown. But he also said the focus was on moving forward.
“Democrats, we’re good at fighting and I also think we’re good at mending fences, and that’s what we’re doing here,” Gutierrez told reporters. “We’re trying to figure out a way forward. … I think (Dem leaders) are committed and this isn’t over. Look, trip, you get up and you go back to fight, but we have a clear determination, we’re going to fight for the Dreamers.”
The chairwoman of the Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, called the session a combination of strategy and “venting, productively.”
“I didn’t see it as being negative,” she said. “It was an important place to come back after a week for folks to talk about their frustrations, to talk about what they think we haven’t done well, to talk about things that we think are working and to talk about all eyes on the House. What is the House going to do, how are we going to get them to do it and where are we?”
I think the hard answer to Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s question is “You won’t get the House to ‘do what you want.'”Not as long as the GOP is in the majority, the White Nationalist/Bakuninist Block of the House GOP remains intact, and “Spineless Paul” Ryan (or any other GOP Representative) remains Speaker.
In simple terms, Dems and Dreamers, you’re going to have to win some elections and get some control to bring this to a conclusion that won’t involve “giving in” to the whole (or huge chunks of the) White Nationalist, anti-American, anti-growth restrictionist agenda! Minority parties pushing minority platforms seldom get what they want.
Instead of uselessly “ranting” and “venting” at each other, Dreamers and Dems need to work harder to get out the vote (a few more well-placed Hispanic, African-American, and other minority votes could have changed the results of the last election) and eventually win control of something on the national level!
Clearly, while Dreamers and their cause remain popular with the overall public, there is a “vocal minority” essentially White, racist, xenophobic “core” out there that is vehemently opposed to progress and a diverse society and puts their “hate/turn back the clock agenda” at the top of their “issues list.” That’s why most GOP legislators, particularly in the House, see little or no “downside risk” to “stiffing” Dreamers — particularly if the only “downside” is an unpopular and unsustainable “Government shutdown” by the Senate Dems.
Internal bickering is not a useful substitute for putting energy and talent into “grass-roots” organizations that appeal to voters, incorporate solutions to local and regional issues, and thereby win elections! Without “victories in the political arena,” there will be no “magic strategies” that will produce decent immigration reform — for the Dreamers or anyone else who cares about America’s future as a vibrant, forward-looking “nation of immigrants.”
“President Trump leaned heavily on the stories of American heroes in his State of the Union address Tuesday night because he didn’t have much else to say. From the Coast Guard, the fire departments, the shop floor and many other quarters they came, providing structural support for a flabby speech that was one of the least adventurous and forward-looking efforts of its kind. Without the heroes, there would hardly have been any speech at all.
And while Trump opened his speech by calling on Americans “to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground,” he kept coming back to the most divisive themes of his presidency — from “chain migration” and highlighting the role of immigrants in criminality to his calls for all to stand for the flag. Trump did not so much ask his domestic adversaries to set aside their differences as to abandon their own views. Nothing in this speech will inspire his critics with new hope that Trump is serious about negotiating anything.
Trump bragged, of course, about his tax cuts, the economy, the stock market and slashing regulations. At moments, he even sounded as though he believed in activist government, calling on the country to “invest in job training,” “open great vocational schools” and to support “paid family leave.” But there were no specifics, no sense of how budgets, strained by the very tax cuts he extolled, would actually support these objectives. Words without concrete programs are words without deeds.
Similarly, he asked Congress “to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment our country so desperately needs.” Notice the squirrely wording — “that generates.” He didn’t say that the plan his administration has been working on would put up only $200 billion of that big number and rely either on state and local governments or private investors to provide the rest.
And as Paul Waldman noted on The Post’s Plum Line blog, the focus on private investment would “naturally privilege projects that can generate a profit for private companies, which probably won’t be the most sorely needed upgrades.” The Trump plan would do little for the hurting parts of the country that supported Trump in 2016. Again, words without deeds.
There was one passage that did suggest a real change that Trump would seek, and it was an alarming idea.
“All Americans deserve accountability and respect. And that’s what we are giving to our wonderful heroes our veterans,” Trump said. “So tonight, I call on Congress to empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.”
This sounded like an attack on the entire civil service system. It sounded like a demand by Trump that he and those who work for him have the right to fire federal employees whenever he or they feel like it. Perhaps this idea will come with safeguards, perhaps not. Trump didn’t say.
And the alarm this idea inspired among all who are not sold on Trump reflected the fundamental failure of the address. Trump rose before Congress in the shadow of an investigation into Russian collusion in our elections that he and his allies in Congress are doing all in their power to attack, discredit and obstruct.
This call to broaden Trump’s right to fire brought to mind what the president did to then-FBI Director James B. Comey and might do to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Nothing in this speech transformed the public conversation in a way that lessened the burden of scandal. Nothing suggested any change in Trump’s behavior that might lead him to govern less divisively.
Yes, we cheered the heroes. They remind us of what is good in our country. Alas, their selflessness stands in stark contrast to our politics in the Trump era.”
Will America really be able to withstand three more years of this incompetent and immoral man occupying (without truly filling) the highest office in our country? Will our public institutions really be able to withstand continuing attacks by spectacularly unqualified cabinet members and a GOP that feels more kinship to Putin’s Russia than it does to the majority of Americans? Will whatever emerges from this national nightmare and mockery of the “American Dream” be something that only White Nationalists and oligarchs will recognize?
Oh yeah, the Federal Civil Service and some courageous and dedicated Civil Servants are the only things holding our Federal Government together right now! Once that’s transformed into a haven for incompetent political hacks (see Trump’s White House staff & Cabinet appointments) the descent into the abyss will be rapid and, perhaps, irreversible.
In addition to the “Trump blather,” there was some “real news” coming from Washington last night. After years of drama, the Washington Redskins will part ways with QB Kirk Cousins. They signed a 4-year, $71 million deal with Alex Smith (lately of the KC Chiefs). Smith, a 13-yr. vet and 3-time Pro Bowler, was the NFL’s top-rated QB last year.
I always liked Kirk at MSU (except when he was beating my Badgers) and Washington. He’ll be a spectacular addition to any team, and I wish him well (except when he plays the Packers or Washington)! I hope he gets a ton of money and some better pass protection, receivers, and defense than he had with Washington.
“WASHINGTON — A secret, highly contentious Republican memo reveals that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein approved an application to extend surveillance of a former Trump campaign associate shortly after taking office last spring, according to three people familiar with it.
The renewal shows that the Justice Department under President Trump saw reason to believe that the associate, Carter Page, was acting as a Russian agent. But the reference to Mr. Rosenstein’s actions in the memo — a much-disputed document that paints the investigation into Russian election meddling as tainted from the start — indicates that Republicans may be moving to seize on his role as they seek to undermine the inquiry.
The memo’s primary contention is that F.B.I. and Justice Department officials failed to adequately explain to an intelligence court judge in initially seeking a warrant for surveillance of Mr. Page that they were relying in part on research by an investigator, Christopher Steele, that had been financed by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Democrats who have read the document say Republicans have cherry-picked facts to create a misleading and dangerous narrative. But in their efforts to discredit the inquiry, Republicans could potentially use Mr. Rosenstein’s decision to approve the renewal to suggest that he failed to properly vet a highly sensitive application for a warrant to spy on Mr. Page, who served as a Trump foreign policy adviser until September 2016.
A handful of senior Justice Department officials can approve an application to the secret surveillance court, but in practice that responsibility often falls to the deputy attorney general. No information has publicly emerged that the Justice Department or the F.B.I. did anything improper while seeking the surveillance warrant involving Mr. Page.
Mr. Trump has long been mistrustful of Mr. Rosenstein, the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, who appointed the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and now oversees his investigation into Mr. Trump’s campaign and possible obstruction of justice by the president. Mr. Trump considered firing Mr. Rosenstein last summer. Instead, he ordered Mr. Mueller to be fired, then backed down after the White House counsel refused to carry out the order, The New York Times reported last week.
Mr. Trump is now again telling associates that he is frustrated with Mr. Rosenstein, according to one official familiar with the conversations.
It is difficult to judge whether Republicans’ criticism of the surveillance has merit. Although House members have been allowed to view the Republican memo in a secure setting, both that memo and a Democratic one in rebuttal remain shrouded in secrecy. And the applications to obtain and renew the warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court are even more closely held. Only a small handful of members of Congress and staff members have reviewed them.
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, whose staff wrote the memo, could vote as early as Monday, using an obscure House rule, to effectively declassify its contents and make it available to the public. Mr. Trump would have five days to try to block their effort, potentially setting up a high-stakes standoff between the president and his Justice Department, which opposes its immediate release.
The White House has made clear to the Justice Department in recent days that it wants the Republican memo to be made public. Asked about the issue on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Marc Short, the White House’s head of legislative affairs, said that if the memo outlined serious concerns, “the American people should know that.”
But Stephen E. Boyd, an assistant attorney general, warned in a letter last week to the committee’s chairman, Representative Devin Nunes of California, that it would be “extraordinarily reckless” to release a memo drawing on classified information without official review and pleaded with the committee to consult the Justice Department. He said the department was “unaware of any wrongdoing related to the FISA process.”
To obtain the warrant involving Mr. Page, the government needed to show probable cause that he was acting as an agent of Russia. Once investigators get approval from the Justice Department for a warrant, prosecutors take it to a surveillance court judge, who decides whether to approve it.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment, and a spokesman for Mr. Nunes did not reply to requests for comment. The people familiar with the contents of the memo spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details remained secret.
A White House spokesman, Hogan Gidley, said in a statement: “The president has been clear publicly and privately that he wants absolute transparency throughout this process. Based on numerous news reports, top officials at the F.B.I. have engaged in conduct that shows bias against President Trump and bias for Hillary Clinton. While President Trump has the utmost respect and support for the rank-and-file members of the F.B.I., the anti-Trump bias at the top levels that appear to have existed is troubling.”
Mr. Page, a former Moscow-based investment banker who later founded an investment company in New York, had been on the F.B.I.’s radar for years. In 2013, an investigation revealed that a Russian spy had tried to recruit him. Mr. Page was never charged with any wrongdoing, and he denied that he would ever have cooperated with Russian intelligence officials.
But a trip Mr. Page took to Russia in July 2016 while working on Mr. Trump’s campaign caught the bureau’s attention again, and American law enforcement officials began conducting surveillance on him in the fall of 2016, shortly after he left the campaign. It is unclear what they learned about Mr. Page between then and when they sought the order’s renewal roughly six months later. It is also unknown whether the surveillance court granted the extension.
The renewal effort came in the late spring, sometime after the Senate confirmed Mr. Rosenstein as the Justice Department’s No. 2 official in late April. Around that time, following Mr. Trump’s firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director in May, Mr. Rosenstein appointed Mr. Mueller, a former head of the bureau, to take over the department’s Russia investigation. Mr. Rosenstein is overseeing the inquiry because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself.
Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, who is close to Mr. Trump and House Republicans, signaled interest in Mr. Rosenstein this month as news of the memo’s existence first circulated, asking on air if Mr. Rosenstein had played a role in extending the surveillance. “I’m very interested about Rod Rosenstein in all of this,” he said.
In a speech on Friday in Norfolk, Va., Mr. Sessions appeared to wade into the debate. Without mentioning the Republican memo, he said that federal investigations must be free of bias, and that he would not condone “a culture of defensiveness.” While unfair criticism should be rebutted, he added, “it can never be that this department conceals errors when they occur.”
Man, “Ol’ Vladi P” must wake up with an ear-to-ear grin every single morning! How could it get any better for him!
First, notwithstanding a solid year of totally unpresidential performance, moronic Tweets, intentional divisiveness, blatant lies, wanton environmental destruction, attacks on American’s health, kleptocracy, overt promotion of income inequality, and abandonment of American world leadership, about one-third of American voters love having a puppet (even an evil and incompetent one) for a President!Sometimes in the former “Soviet Satellites” that the old KGB-man loved so much, the “chosen one” never, ever got to that support level!
And, as if that’s not enough, Vladi’s “GOP Fellow Travelers” are busy tearing down the fabric of the American justice system and at the same time insuring that nobody will ever get to the bottom of Vladi’s well-documented attempts to “tank” the American electoral system and the several already-documented (formerly) secret contacts between officials of the Trump campaign and Vladi’s chosen Russian agents.
“Wow,” Vladi’s thinking, “all my predecessors spent all that time, money, and trouble ‘weaponizing,’ building up our military, overthrowing pro-American governments, infiltrating, starting wars in third countries, and supporting terrorists. But, I’ve gotten all of this from the dumb Yanks pretty much for free — just the investment in some basic hacking equipment that most high school kids could have developed in the basement, a few juicy rumors about “HRC,” and some rubles converted to dollars to underwrite some fake “consulting contracts” and I’ve got these guys destroying American democracy and world leadership without me lifting a finger or firing a shot! I’m a genius,” thinks Vladi!
Leaving the question, if Vladi’s a “genius” what does that make us, our elected puppet President, and his enablers?
Professor Catherine Kerrison writes in the Washington Post:
“Many people know that Thomas Jefferson had a long-standing relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings. But fewer know that they had four children, three boys and a girl, who survived to adulthood. Born into slavery, Sally’s daughter Harriet boarded a stagecoach to freedom at age 21, bound for Washington, D.C. Her father had given her $50 for her travel expenses. She would never see her mother or younger brothers again.
With her departure from Monticello in 1822, Harriet disappeared from the historical record, not to be heard of again for more than 50 years, when her brother told her story. Seven-eighths white, Harriet had “thought it to her interest to go to Washington as a white woman,” he said. She married a “white man in good standing” in that city and “raised a family of children.” In the half-century during which she passed as white, her brother was “not aware that her identity as Harriet Hemings of Monticello has ever been discovered.”So how did we lose a president’s daughter? Given America’s obsession with the Founding Fathers, with the children of the Revolution and their descendants, why did Jefferson’s child disappear? As it turns out, America has an even greater obsession with race, so that not even Harriet Hemings’s lineage as a president’s daughter was sufficient to convey the benefits of freedom. Instead, her birth into slavery marked her as black and drove her decision to erase her family history.
Harriet Hemings passed as white to protect her fragile freedom. Jefferson had not issued her formal manumission papers, so until the abolition of slavery in 1865, by law she remained a slave, which meant her children also inherited that condition. But in a society that increasingly associated blackness with enslavement, Hemings used her white skin not only to ensure her children’s freedom, but to claim for them all the rights and privileges of whiteness: education, the vote, a home mortgage, any seat they chose on a streetcar. To reveal herself as the daughter of Jefferson and his slave would have destroyed her plans for a better life for her descendants.
Since Harriet’s time, science has proved there is no difference in blood as a marker of “race.” As a biological category, racial difference has been exposed as a sham. Even skin color is not a reliable indicator of one’s origins. As one study calculated, almost a third of white Americans possess up to 20 percent African genetic inheritance, yet look white, while 5.5 percent of black Americans have no detectable African genetic ancestry. Race has a political and social meaning, but not a biological one.
This is why the story of Harriet Hemings is so important. In her birth into slavery and its long history of oppression, she was black; but anyone who saw her assumed she was white. Between when she was freed in 1822 and the ratification of the 13th Amendment in 1865, she was neither free nor enslaved — yet she lived as a free person.
She does not comfortably fit any of the terms that have had such inordinate power to demarcate life in America. Her disappearance from the historical record is precisely the point. When we can so easily lose the daughter of a president and his slave, it forces us to acknowledge that our racial categories are utterly fallacious and built on a science that has been thoroughly discredited.
Yet as political, economic and social categories, racial difference and its consequences remain profoundly real. White privilege has been much on display in our own day, as armed white men proclaiming white supremacy marched unmolested in the streets, while unarmed black men are shot down by police who are rarely held to account. Politicians run successful campaigns on platforms of racial hatred.
This is why, by one estimate, between 35,000 and 50,000 black Americans continue to cross the color line each year.
As I poured through hundreds of family genealogies, searching for more details about the life of Harriet Hemings, I saw that all families have invented stories: details that have been embellished over time, or perhaps altered by accidental errors. Descendants of immigrants Anglicized their names; information in census records is inconsistent from one decade to another; genealogies are altered because of confusion with recurring favorite names over multiple generations.
Those families who pass as white most definitely have such invented stories. It is what they had to do to authenticate a white lineage, to be recognized as fully human and fully American, with all the rights and privileges thereto — rights and privileges not even a lineage as honored as Jefferson’s can match.
Nations, as well as families, invent stories about themselves. In both cases, we will run into characters we would rather not admit as being one of us, and stories we would rather not tell about ourselves. That the president’s daughter had to choose between her family and living a life with the dignity only whiteness can confer is one of those stories. But without them, we will never truly know where we’ve come from; and without them, we will never be able to chart out a path for a better family and national life.
FRIDAY ESSAY — FROM MONTICELLO TO TRUMP, MILLER, SESSIONS, AND THE GOP WHITE NATIONALISTS
BY PAUL WICKHAM SCHMIDT
Cathy and I recently visited Monticello. Unlike my first visit, decades ago, I found that the issue of slavery subsumed everything else. And, TJ as a person and a human being certainly got infinitely smaller during our time there.
How could someone like Jefferson, who understood human rights, actually “own” his common-law wife Sally Hemings and his own children as “property” — to be meticulously accounted for and “valued” (only in cash, not humanity) along with barrels of beer, cases of wine, hogsheads of tobacco, kegs of nails, books, and furniture?
What kind of “father” wouldn’t publicly acknowledge and show affection to his own children when they were living within a stone’s throw? How could a man who had a long-standing domestic relationship with a woman and fathered her children continue with the knowingly false narrative that African-American slaves were somehow “less than human” and therefore not entitled to freedom, dignity, education, fair compensation for their labor, or any of the other basic rights that Jefferson and his White upper class contemporaries took for granted?
Guys who got worked up about paying too much tax giving a “free pass” to their own exploitation of hundreds of thousands of enslaved individuals? (Remind you of any of today’s politicos of any contemporary party?)
And, no, Jefferson and the other slave-owning founding fathers don’t get a “free pass” as “products of their times.” That’s the type of “DAR sanitized non-history” we were fed in elementary and high school.
They were, after all, contemporaries of William Wilberforce who was speaking, writing, and fighting the (ultimately successful) battle to end slavery in England. We can also tell from the writings of Jefferson, Washington, Madison, and Monroe that they realized full well that enslavement of African-Americans was wrong. But, they didn’t want to endanger their livelihood (apparently none of them felt confident enough in his abilities to earn an “honest living”) or their “social standing” in a racist society.
Truth is that guys who had the courage to risk their lives on a “long shot” that they could win their political freedom from England, lacked the moral courage to stop doing what they knew was wrong. Yes, they founded our great country! And, we should all be grateful for that. But, we shouldn’t forget that they also were deeply flawed individuals, as we all are. It’s critical for our own well-being that we recognize, not celebrate, those flaws.
Those flaws also caused untold human suffering. Largely untold, because enslaved African-Americans were denied basic education, outside social contact, and certainly possessed no “First Amendment” rights. There were few first-hand written accounts of the horrors of slavery. Of course, there were no national news syndicates or “muckraking journalists” to expose the truth of what really was going on “down on the plantations.”
One of the things our guide at Monticello described was that “passing for White” wasn’t necessarily the “great boon” that “us White guys” might think it was. It meant leaving your family, friends, and ancestry behind and creating a new “fake” ancestry to appease White society.
For example, if Jefferson’s “White” daughter had a “not so White” husband and children at Monticello, they could never have accompanied her into the “White World.” Indeed, even if such family members were eventually “freed,” acknowledging them as kin would bring down the whole carefully constructed “Whitehouse of cards.”
For that reason, some light-skinned slaves who could have escaped and passed into White society chose instead to remain enslaved with their “dark-skinned” families and relatives.
The “Father of American Independence” only freed three slaves during his lifetime (none of them apparently family members). And he only freed five slaves upon his death.
The rest were sold, some “down the river,” breaking up families, to pay the substantial indebtedness that Jefferson’s irresponsible lifestyle had run up during his lifetime. Even in death, his enslaved workers paid a high price for his disingenuous life.
So, the next time our President or one of his White Nationalist followers plays the “race card,” (and that includes of course Latinos and other ethnic and religious minorities, not just African-Americans or African immigrants) think carefully about the ugly reality of race in American history, not the “sugar-coated version.”
While you’re at it, you should wonder how in the 18th year of the 21st Century we have elected a man and a party who know and acknowledge so little about our tarnished past and who strive so eagerly to send us backwards in that direction.
“The roughly 10-20 percent of Americans who do not support protecting the Dreamers in any way have long had a hugely outsized influence on our politics. Gerrymandered white Republican districts led to a wave of radical anti-immigration restrictionists in the House. That trend, of course, continued through the 2016 election, when hardline immigration opponents got perhaps their greatest champion in recent memory in the White House with President Donald Trump. While he has been very inconsistent on DACA, he has consistently elevated and empowered immigration hardliners in his administration — those who appeal to his white nationalist base.”
The Dreamers have won the hearts of most all Americans — across our political boundaries — whose country they joined when they were just children and who are clearly Americans too.
There is enormous public support for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) from the American people. According to a poll released by CBS News last week, “nearly 9 in 10 Americans (87%) favor allowing young immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children to remain in the U.S.” This number includes 79 percent of Republicans, 92 percent of Democrats, and 87 percent of independents who favor the policy.
The DACA program, which is designed to shield from deportation undocumented Americans who were brought to this country by their parents, was established by President Obama in 2012 and ended by President Trump in September. Congress has tried and failed for the last 17 years to pass legislation that would formally confer legal status on these young men and women.
Because of President Trump’s decision, about 800,000 Dreamers currently protected by DACA will be at risk of deportation in early March unless Congress passes legislation and the president signs it by then. That’s why Democrats and some Republican members of Congress have felt such urgency to finally pass permanent legal protection for the Dreamers. Until the issue is resolved legislatively, it is likely to dominate the political debates in Washington in the weeks to come.
Dreamers are essential members of our communities. As politicians play games with their futures, it’s important that we share their stories. They are Dreamers like Mauricio Lopez-Marquez, who is 28 years old and was able to become a social worker after receiving DACA. In that role and as a dance instructor for an after-school program, he works with 180 young people in New Mexico. They are Dreamers like 22-year-old Teresa Rivera, who is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a part-time child facilitator at an organization that supports women and children who have experienced domestic violence. They are Dreamers like Zabdi Samuel Olvera, 18, who was brought from Mexico to Charlotte, N.C., at 6 months old, and is currently majoring in computer science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Zabdi’s work with underprivileged children in South Charlotte and his excellence on his varsity wrestling team earned him a Golden Door Scholarship, which provides a full-tuition scholarship that is making it possible for him to earn his degree. If Congress does not pass legislation to protect the Dreamers by early March, these young men and women and so many more will be unable to work legally in the United States and could be vulnerable to deportation.
In 2012 many Dreamers had the opportunity to step out of the shadows and participate fully in the economy in ways that were previously impossible. They have done so, however, at great risk: In exchange for legal protection, they had to provide their personal information to the government. And now, unless Congress acts, the government could use that information to find and deport them. This is not a tenable moral or political position, and the public support for a permanent DACA fix reflects that. Americans understand that the Dreamers are our children’s teachers, they work in our communities, and they serve their country in all kinds of ways, including the military.
It is also undeniable that churches across the theological and political spectrum of American Christianity have been steadfast in support for the Dreamers. Even among white evangelicals, the base of Donald Trump’s support, 57 percent favor protection for Dreamers. This support comes from biblical commands about how we should treat “the stranger” among us, a religiously inspired sense of what is moral and just, and the fact that many Dreamers and their families are members of our church communities —and even our pastors. As I’ve written many times before, the biblical command to protect immigrants is unambiguous, and that certainly informs how many Christians approach this issue. But the human stories are perhaps even more influential in changing minds and hearts. Indeed, many churchgoers have discovered over the last five years that people they know well and care for deeply are undocumented because DACA gave them the incentive to step out of the shadows. Now, congregations all over the country are facing the possibility that many families in their midst will soon be torn apart. That is justifiably causing righteous outrage and determination for Christians all over the country to stand beside Dreamers and demand a solution from Congress.
Yet the problem, as it has been for many years, is to translate the strong public support for protecting Dreamers to actual policy change. The roughly 10-20 percent of Americans who do not support protecting the Dreamers in any way have long had a hugely outsized influence on our politics. Gerrymandered white Republican districts led to a wave of radical anti-immigration restrictionists in the House. That trend, of course, continued through the 2016 election, when hardline immigration opponents got perhaps their greatest champion in recent memory in the White House with President Donald Trump. While he has been very inconsistent on DACA, he has consistently elevated and empowered immigration hardliners in his administration — those who appeal to his white nationalist base.
We don’t know how this fight will ultimately turn out, but we do know two things. First, we know that the right thing for Christians to do is to fight — and fight hard — for Dreamers until they get the permanent protection they need, and continue fighting for their parents and the many other undocumented people living among us. These are the people Jesus literally commands us to treat as we would treat him.
Second, we know that since an overly influential group of hardline anti-immigration White House officials and politicians in Congress are blocking both the will of the overwhelming majority of the American people and what God wants, we must defeat them at the ballot box. There are fundamental Christian issues that cause Christians to vote against political candidates — and being opposed to immigrants should become one of those issues. We need to ensure that the fate of the Dreamers and other undocumented Americans is a voting issue for Christians this November and beyond.
Jim has nailed it! Our public immigration policy has been taken over by a group of White Nationalist GOP restrictionists who represent a minority of Americans, but are now driving the debate and the policies.
Guys like Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose racially tinged White Nationalist views on immigration as a Senator were so extreme that he was once marginalized within his own party, and his White Nationalist strategist/protégée Steven Miller, are now in charge of the Government’s immigration policies. They and others in the GOP with similar restrictionist views have made overtly racist immigration policies “fashionable” again.
We now “debate” things like “should we reduce African immigration, deport long-term law abiding Hispanic residents, and bar Muslims” as if these immoral minority proposals were a legitimate “other side” of the immigration issue. The real issues often get shoved aside.
The minority might have seized control. But that doesn’t mean that they are entitled to ram their anti-immigrant, basically anti-American policies down the throats of the rest of us.
The resistance is going to take a prolonged and energetic effort — at the ballot box, in the courts, and in the arena of public opinion. But, eventually, human decency, true American values, and having our “nation of immigrants” treat current and future migrants as human beings whose contributions we recognize and value will be restored!
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!.
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.”
See this short HuffPost video on “Why MLK’s Message Still Matters Today!”
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.
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.
Professor George Yancy of Emory University writing in the NY Times asks “Will America Choose King’s Dream Or Trump’s Nightmare?”
“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.
From lead columnist David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick at the NY Times we get “Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List.”
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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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)!
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.”
“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.
Finally, John Blake at CNN tells us “Three ways [you might not know] MLK speaks to our time.”
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:
. . . .
But here’s one more uncomfortable thought that also explains why King remains so relevant:
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.
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 immigrants); “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, and more money for building a wall and expanding prisons for non-criminal migrants, a/k/a/ “The New American Gulag”), “ending chain migration” (means keeping non-White and/or non-Christian immigrants from bringing family members) 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!