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.
“Even among some of Donald Trump’s allies, there is a sense of astonishment at the White House’s handling of Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. “It’s like no one took down the Gambino family,” Steve BannontoldChris Whipple in a book adaptation the Hive published this week. “Mueller’s doing a roll-up just like he did with the Gambinos. [Paul] Manafort’s the caporegime, right? And [Rick] Gates is a made man!” Indeed, Mueller, who led the F.B.I. takedown of the infamous crime family in the early 1990s, famously cutting a deal with Sammy the Bull to flip on mob boss John Gotti, appears to be executing what some have called a “Gambino-style roll-up.” First, he flippedformer Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos; then, he turnedousted national security adviser Michael Flynn. Now, CNN reports, Mueller appears to be in the final stages of a plea deal with Gates, Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman and a longtime business associate of Manafort, who was indicted alongside him last fall.
The White House reportedly views Gates’s testimony as a threat to Manafort, and not to the president. “There’d be no anxiety here,” a White House official told CNN when asked about the possibility that Gates will cut a deal. The charges against the two, after all, had nothing do with Russian collusion; the 12 counts included failure to register as a foreign agent, false and misleading statements related to that registration, and seven counts of improper foreign financial reporting—all as part of a broader conspiracy to launder millions of dollars from their consulting work in Ukraine into the United States. Manafort has pleaded not guilty, and is fighting the charges. But Gates, who has also pleaded not guilty, has been grappling with financial troubles and difficulties with his legal team. According to CNN, he has been in plea negotiations with Mueller’s team of F.B.I. investigators for about a month, and has already given an interview in which he would have revealed any knowledge he might have of criminal activity that could be traded for leniency or immunity in sentencing.
What this means for the White House isn’t exactly clear. While Manafort’s reign as campaign chairman and Gates’s role as his deputy were short-lived, the duo oversaw a series of events and interactions that have come under intense scrutiny in the ongoing Justice Department probe. Manafort and Gates ran the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016, during which Donald Trump Jr. held his infamous Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer. They were also on board during the Republican National Convention, where a number of Trump campaign officials and surrogates met with Russian officials and campaign officials altered the language of the official G.O.P. platform on Ukraine to be more sympathetic to Russian interests. While Manafort was replaced by Bannon after The New York Times alleged that handwritten ledgers showed millions in undisclosed cash payments designated for Manafort in Ukraine—a claim Manafort denies—Gates continued to work with the Trump campaign through the transition, and served as a senior official on Trump’s inaugural committee.”
For now, the most significant facts in the case remain under lock. Adam Schiff, the top ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that the panel has discovered evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians during the 2016 campaign, as well as evidence of subsequent obstruction. “There is certainly an abundance of non-public information that we’ve gathered in the investigation,” Schiff toldreporters. Whether that information is actionable remains to be seen. According to the White House’s own budget request, the administration expects Mueller’s investigation to continue well into next year, despite repeated assurances from the president’s legal team that it was approaching a conclusion. If Gates has the goods, perhaps it will end sooner.
No, the “Don of Con” isn’t “in the clear” as he incredibly asserts. In fact, it appears that the noose is slowly tightening. Exactly the kind of “dangling in the wind” to which The Don likes to subject those subordinates whom he suspects of disloyalty.
“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” And, there’s so much smoke surrounding The Don, his family, and his current and former associates right now that it’s a miracle nobody in the White House has succumbed to smoke inhalation.
FRIDAY’S FEDERAL grand jury indictment of 13 Russians for conspiracy to interfere illegally in the 2016 presidential election presents powerful evidence that Moscow staged an attack on the United States’ democratic political process. The facts, doggedly accumulated by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III despite much hostility from President Trump, show that the Russians’ goal was to foment “distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general,” as the indictment puts it. And the chosen means was “information warfare,” reportedly waged via provocations on social media and the occasional in-person grass-roots activity. It began in 2014 and involved Russians engaging in political activities under false, sometimes stolen, identities; no Americans wittingly cooperated with this particular plot, though some did so unwittingly, according to the indictment.
The indictment thus undercuts any lingering suggestion that Russian interference is a myth or a hoax, and Mr. Trump, who has often suggested as much, should have acknowledged the new evidence Friday. Instead, his first reaction was to claim vindication on Twitter. “The Trump campaign did nothing wrong,” he wrote, adding, “no collusion!” This was inappropriate on two levels.
First, though the indictment did say that there was no knowing American collusion with the Russian social media campaign, and though it did not say that it affected the results, it also showed that the vast majority of Russian propaganda supported Mr. Trump’s campaign and attacked that of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. You would think Mr. Trump would take a moment to repudiate that support, even in hindsight, and to declare that no foreign power has a right to campaign secretly against an American candidate.
Second, Mr. Mueller has not finished his investigation and has not ruled out the possibility of collusion. We don’t yet know whether Donald Trump Jr.’s eagerness to meet with Russians offering “dirt” on Ms. Clinton’s campaign was an isolated incident. Nor has the special counsel yet weighed in on the question of possible obstruction of his investigation by President Trump.
Meanwhile, the evidence of a Russian assault on the U.S. election is a serious development in and of itself that any responsible president would respond to in a serious way. Such an attempt to delegitimize the American system could only have gone forward with the knowledge and approval of Russian President Vladimir Putin. It reflected the Kremlin’s all-too-accurate judgment that a divided and polarized U.S. electorate would be vulnerable to the same sort of dirty tricks Russia has pulled in Europe. In a statement, Mr. Trump declared that “we cannot allow those seeking to sow confusion, discord, and rancor to be successful,” though he strangely blamed not Russia, but rather “outlandish partisan attacks” by his opponents, which, he said, “further the agendas of bad actors, like Russia.” The only message he should be sending now, both to the American people and to Moscow, is that Mr. Putin is responsible and that the U.S. government will respond to his covert attacks with appropriate retaliation.
President Trump continues to insist the Democrats are responsible for any story relating to Russian interference in the 2016 election.(Video: Meg Kelly/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
The grand jury’s indictment shows how far Russia is willing to go to manipulate and discredit our democracy. Mr. Trump’s own intelligence chiefs warned this week that the 2018 election is under threat. Given the baffling and inexcusable absence of presidential leadership, Congress must step up to defend the nation.”
An “inexcusable absence of presidential leadership.” Sorry, I don’t find that “baffling” or surprising at all. In fact, it’s a depressingly accurate and succinct description of Trump’s entire “Joke Presidency.”
Trump’s own intelligence officials, including National Security Advisor Gen. McMaster are all warning of the seriousness of the threat Russia poses to our electoral integrity and national security. Trump is, as normal, focused entirely on trying (totally unsuccessfully) to cover his own behind. This is a guy who up until now has been calling Russian interference with the 2016 Election “a hoax” and “fake news.”
And, there is zero chance that the spineless and complicit GOP-controlled Congress will step into the breach. They are too busy looting our country before Armageddon comes!
There is, however, one way available to all of us to save our country! Throw the GOP scoundrels, enablers, and “Fellow Travelers” out of office. A Democratic Congress is the best hope for the people to take back control and save America from Putin, Trump, and the “New American Oligarchs” and “Kleptocrats” who are enabling both of them!
Otherwise, we all ought to start studying Russian. Because we’re all going to need it to communicate with our “future real rulers” in Moscow!
Martin Luther King Jr. said “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
He could have added: “eventually, and after plenty of detours.”
In 1872 and 1873, two laws were passed in Washington that forbade racial discrimination in the city’s restaurants. Then, somehow, the laws vanished.
Just imagine the reaction when they were “rediscovered” in the 1940s. It must have been as if someone had opened a vault sealed when Ulysses Grant was president and found an airplane inside, a television, penicillin … .
Could Washingtonians from 70 years ago really have been so advanced? What had happened to those people?
What amazed me when I looked into the events of the 1870s and 1880s was how similar things were to the Jim Crow era. Restaurateurs used some of the same excuses for refusing to serve African Americans: Black customers were “boisterous,” white patrons would stay away, the government shouldn’t meddle.
To fight discrimination, black activists used methods that are familiar to us now. Lawyer E.M. Hewlett deliberately visited restaurants to see if he would be served. Hewlett looked to see if owners had posted price lists, as required by law to prevent black customers from being gouged. When he spotted a violation, he took the establishment to court.
“During Reconstruction, D.C. was really on the leading edge of racial change in America,” said Chris Myers Asch, co-author, with George Derek Musgrove, of “Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation’s Capital.”
Said Asch: “D.C. was a very progressive city. You had remarkable progress being made toward racial equality in a very brief space of time. Black men in D.C. were the first black men in the country to be granted the right to vote after the Civil War.”
Such efforts, Asch said, were a priority for radical Republicans in Congress.
“The backlash from white conservatives is really substantial,” Asch said. “First you eliminate self government all together in 1874. Then you slowly roll back those Reconstruction-era gains. This is part of a regionwide effort to enforce white supremacy. By 1901, when city commissioners decide to compile the D.C. Code, they simply don’t include those Reconstruction-era statutes.”
They didn’t include them, but they didn’t repeal them. The Lost Laws were not dead. They were like a long-dormant seed, ready to spring to life after a refreshing rain.
I don’t know who found them. Asch thinks it was A. Mercer Daniel, who oversaw the library at Howard University’s law school. They gained fame in 1948 with the publication of “Segregation in Washington,” a scathing report that mentioned the laws.
Civil rights activists wondered: Could the laws be used to fight segregation?
Annie Stein, a white woman from Southwest D.C. who was a member of the Progressive Party, invited Mary Church Terrell to chair the Coordinating Committee for the Enforcement of the D.C. Anti-Discrimination Laws of 1872 and 1873. When Terrell, the octogenarian co-founder of the NAACP, was denied service at a downtown cafeteria called Thompson’s in 1950, it set the stage for a test case.
District of Columbia vs. John R. Thompson Co. went first to the old Municipal Court, where Judge Frank Myers ruled that the Lost Laws had “been repealed by implication” and, thus, could no longer be enforced.
Terrell and company appealed. In May of 1951, the Municipal Court of Appeals ruled 2-to-1 that the anti-bias laws were still valid. Among the points raised by Judge Nathan Cayton was that another so-called lost law had been enforced in 1908, even though it, too, had been omitted from the 1901 D.C. Code.
It was an animal cruelty law. Animals, it seemed, had more rights than black Washingtonians.
The game of legal ping-pong continued. The next stop was the U.S. Court of Appeals. In a 5-to-4 decision, it ruled that the laws of 1872 and 1873 could not be enforced.
One judge, Barrett Prettyman, wrote the statutes were “neither mentioned again nor enforced for a period of 75 years.” Thus the laws “must be deemed by the courts to have been abandoned.”
If you’ve been reading my columns this week, you know that wasn’t true. African Americans did mention them and did try to get them enforced.
In April of 1953, the case finally reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Chester H. Gray of the District’s corporation counsel’s office asked the court not to blame his staff. They hadn’t known of the laws until someone found them in the corporation counsel’s safe.
“You mean you have to go to a locked safe to find laws of the District of Columbia?” Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson joked.
In June, the court ruled unanimously that the laws were still in effect. Laws passed by long-dead Washingtonians had helped their descendants.
Five days after the Supreme Court ruling, Terrell went to eat at Thompson’s with the mixed-race group who had been denied a meal three years earlier. They were treated, Terrell said, with courtesy.”
Sound all too familiar? It should! The claptrap coming from yesterday’s racists is pretty much the same as the garbage coming out of the mouths of some GOP pols these days. Here’s my “rewrite” of a paragraph of Kelly’s account in “today’s context.”
The backlash from Sessions, Bannon, Kobach, Miller and their White Nationalist pals to the diversification of America and growing political power of African-Americans, Hispanics and other non-Whites was substantial. First, they used gerrymandering and intentional mis-constructions of Civil Rights and Voting Rights statutes intended to protect minorities to instead suppress and minimize the minority vote. This is part to a nationwide effort by the far right to restore White Supremacy and prevent African-Americans and Hispanics from eventually obtaining political power commensurate with their demographics and overwhelming contributions to America. Then, when supposedly in charge of administering the laws equally, they simply refuse to recognize the rights of African-Americans to be free from police violence and the rights of Hispanics and asylum seekers in the United States to be treated with respect and dignity and to be given full Due Process under our Constitution. They even invent false narratives, bogus statistics, and demonize hard-working law-abiding citizens, residents, and great and deserving young people known as “Dreamers” in a desperate effort to restore exclusive White (preferably “pseudo-Christian”) power. To add insult to injury, they carry out this anti-American, anti-Constitutional campaign under the boldly false rubric of “Restoring the Rule of Law.”
Now let’s move over to the Post’s Sports Section. Here’s an account of what happened to courageous African-American athletes who stood up for their rights and the rights of others during the “glory days” of White Supremacy that Trump, Sessions, & Co. so cherish and honor.
Remembering the Orangeburg massacre, and the athlete-activists who took a stand
Two black demonstrators killed in the Orangeburg Massacre lie on the ground at the edge of South Carolina State College in Orangeburg, S.C., on Feb. 8, 1968. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Robert Lee Davis found himself lying in blood next to his teammate Sam Hammond. At least one bullet had struck Davis in the back. Another went in Hammond’s neck.
Davis recalled in an oral history that Hammond, a running back at South Carolina State, asked him, “Do you think I’m going to live?” Davis, a linebacker, said he answered, “Sam, you are going to be all right, buddy.”
Hammond was the first of three young black men to die that night 50 years ago in Orangeburg, S.C. Davis was one of several football players at historically black South Carolina State to survive a hail of police fire with injuries.
What brought them together that Feb. 8, 1968, evening was not a team meeting or the training table. Instead, it was a call to confront a wrong, an affront, an act of overt racial discrimination in Orangeburg at a bowling alley that refused would-be black bowlers just like the state was denying black citizens their human rights.
As a result, Davis and Hammond became athlete-activists long before we created the suddenly ubiquitous, if not trite, alliterative phrase these days to describe football and basketball players, almost all of color, who have, by comparison, merely sported sloganeering T-shirts, or employed histrionics, to demonstrate against racial injustice.
It is a noble and laudable effort, of course. But what we’ve come to champion of athletes today pales juxtaposed to what so many did in the cauldron of the late ’60s civil rights movement. Davis and Hammond, for example, dared to physically confront the very embodiment of the South’s recalcitrant racists — scores of carbine rifle-toting, all-white state troopers — for which Hammond forfeited not just his career but his life.
They were among at least 30 victims of what became known as the Orangeburg massacre.
I was reminded of it three years ago as a presenter at the annual Media and Civil Rights symposium at the University of South Carolina. It included a mesmerizing panel featuring a demonstrator that night, civil rights icon and scholar Cleveland Sellers, and a reporter who became legendary for his fearless coverage of the massacre and other civil rights movement era violence, Jack Bass. With Jack Nelson, awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the civil rights movement, Bass authored “The Orangeburg Massacre” in 1970.
And I took note that the panelists, particularly Oliver Francis, a one-time baseball player at Voorhees, another historically black South Carolina college, pointed out that black male athletes in particular stepped to the fore in Orangeburg’s deadly confrontation with white supremacy, and in others. Francis wound up convicted and sentenced to prison for 18 to 24 months as an organizer in an armed black student takeover in 1969 of the Voorhees administration building.
It all reminded that black athletes played not just pivotal roles in the civil rights movement, like the muscle North Carolina A&T football players provided for their classmates engaged in sit-ins to desegregate the Greensboro, N.C., Woolworth’s lunch counter. Or in Rock Hill, S.C., where 10 black Friendship College students were detained by police for trying to desegregate a town lunch counter in 1961 but became known as the Rock Hill Nine after one among them wasn’t booked so he could maintain his athletic scholarship. Chicago Bears running back Willie Galimore was the test black registrant at the Ponce de Leon Motor Lodge in St. Augustine, Fla., that became a flash point for desegregation fights in 1964.
And as was evidenced in Orangeburg, black athletes sometimes were even in the vanguard of protests. Samuel Freedman underscored as much in recounting the Orangeburg massacre in his 2014 book, “Breaking the Line: The Season in Black College Football That Transformed the Sport and Changed the Course of Civil Rights.”
Freedman wrote: “Shortly after the 1967 football season ended, many of the politically engaged members of the South Carolina State team joined in protests against a segregated bowling alley near the campus in Orangeburg.” On Feb. 6, 1968, Freedman reported, Davis and several of his teammates went on their own to the bowling alley and not only were denied admittance but were threatened with arrest by city police for disturbing the peace. Other students eventually joined the football players, objected to the police threats and wound up defending themselves from swinging billy clubs.
Two nights later, Freedman stated, “an all-white force of state troopers opened fire on the student demonstrators, killing three and wounding twenty-eight. Among the dead was one football player . . . Hammond. Several other players were injured by gunfire, one of them temporarily paralyzed.”
Davis was that temporarily paralyzed victim.
The student survivors of the massacre refused, however, to be deterred and allow the killings of Hammond, fellow student Henry Smith and high school football player Delano Middleton to be in vain. They organized a march from campus to the state capital 42 miles away to demand justice. Athletes decided to lead the march by running the distance.
“The four young men who approached me about the run were all track and field distance runners,” Willis Ham, a South Carolina State baseball player at the time, told the (Orangeburg, S.C.) Times and Democrat five years ago. “Three of the young men were not of American descent, and they simply wanted to express their disgust for the way Americans ‘treat their own,’ with the one tool that they had to their credit [the ability to run].
“We wanted our fellow students to know how deeply we felt about their determination to go to Columbia [S.C.], and express to state officials how they really felt about the lack of support in the days leading to the massacre.”
“It gave us a chance to say that our spirits and drive for freedom from depression would never be destroyed,” Ham explained.
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The white troopers who fired on the students were exonerated in a trial a year later. The lone conviction from the incident was of Sellers for incitement. He spent seven months in prison. He was pardoned in 1993.
But what Hammond, the football player, first fell for is forever remembered on South Carolina State’s campus. Its basketball arena that opened that fateful day, Feb. 8, 1968, was renamed the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center.
Kevin B. Blackistone, ESPN panelist and visiting professor at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, writes sports commentary for The Post.”
We should all be appalled that in the 21st Century, folks like Trump, Sessions, Miller, Cotton, and others who think that it’s “OK” and “permissible” to whip up false anti-Hispanic fervor with bogus narratives about rampant crime, imaginary “stolen” jobs, and phantom “adverse effects” of legal immigration have weaseled their way into positions of national power and prominence.
They seek to take America backwards to a bygone era of racial injustice and manufactured hate. Don’t let them get away with it! Ballot boxes were made to “retire” the Trumps, Sessions, and Cottons of the world and send them off to try to make an honest living.
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!
“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!
“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.
“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.”
Jennifer Rubin writes in “Right Turn” in the Washington Post:
The Post reports:
The long-simmering feud between President Trump and the Justice Department erupted into open conflict Wednesday when the FBI publicly challenged the president’s expected release of a contentious and classified memo related to the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
In a rare unsigned statement, the FBI cited “grave concerns” with inaccuracies and omissions in the four-page memo, which was written by House Republicans and alleges abuses at the Justice Department connected to secret surveillance orders. Trump has told advisers that the memo could benefit him by undercutting the special counsel’s investigation and allow him to oust senior Justice Department officials — and that he wants it released soon, something that could happen as early as Thursday.
“We have grave concerns about the material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,” the FBI said. …
The memo in dispute was written by staffers for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) earlier in January after the panel obtained documents related to a controversial dossier of allegations concerning Trump and his purported ties to Kremlin officials.
We cannot stress enough just how bizarre and outrageous is the Nunes scheme. FBI Director Christopher Wray, appointed by Trump, and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, also appointed by Trump, have warned the president that disclosure of the memo would do great damage to American national security. The FBI publicly has, in essence, said the Nunes memo is misleading. And despite all that, the president plans to allow the release of the memo, which has one purpose only: to discredit and hobble the FBI and the Justice Department that are investigating the president. Bluntly put, Trump and Nunes surely seem to be acting with corrupt intent to taint the investigators in order to help Trump escape the legal and political consequences of possible wrongdoing.
What is the Nunes memo?
Created by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the four-page memo is critical of the Justice Department and the FBI’s handling of the Russia investigation. (Video: Victoria Walker/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Wednesday night, events got even weirder. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee’s ranking Democrat, released a letter he sent to Nunes accusing Nunes of altering the memo the committee voted to release before Nunes sent it to the White House. Schiff wrote:
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Because there were material changes made to the document unbeknownst to Committee Members and only revealed to us this evening, two days after the vote, there is no longer a valid basis for the White House to review the altered document, since this new version is not the same document shared with the entire House and on which Committee Members voted.
It is now imperative that the Committee Majority immediately withdraw the document that it sent to the White House. If the Majority remains intent on releasing its document to the public, despite repeated warnings from DOJ and the FBI, it must hold a new vote to release to the public its modified document. This can be done at the business meeting on Monday, February 5, 2018 when we will move, once again, to release the Minority’s responsive memorandum, which House Members have now had the opportunity to read.
Schiff’s letter is unlikely to alter Nunes and the White House’s plans to release the memo on Thursday, but it does once more expose Nunes’s sleazy, dishonest behavior. Nunes has managed — just as he did in the phony “unmasking” scandal — to mitigate the impact of his own scheme. It’s hard to take seriously a convoluted conspiracy theory coming from someone who trips over his own feet with such regularity.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) then weighed in. “It’s clear that Chairman Nunes will seemingly stop at nothing to undermine the rule of law and interfere with the Russia probe,” he said in a written statement. “He’s been willing to carry the White House’s water, attack our law enforcement and intelligence officials, and now to mislead his House colleagues. If Speaker [Paul] Ryan cares about the integrity of the House or the rule of law, he will put an end to this charade once and for all.”
Ryan, however, has been part of the problem. It is fully within his power as House speaker to remove Nunes as chairman and to signal to Republicans that the institution (Congress, in this case), the party, the intelligence community and the country would not be served by Nunes’s stunt. Instead, Ryan threw a few logs on the bonfire by suggesting that the FBI needed to be cleansed, which sounds an awful lot like a politically minded purge.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who seems more and more to be in the wrong party, denounced Republicans’ antics. “These attacks on these institutions like we’re seeing now with the FBI and the Justice Department — I mean, these are things that they’re hallmarks of our country,” he said, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “And as we erode them or create enormous doubts in the minds of Americans that there’s anything we can trust … it gets us in trouble.”
If Democrats ever needed proof for the midterms that the GOP is a threat to national security and is unfit to govern, this should do it. The Republicans cannot with a straight face claim to be the party of national security while carrying on in such fashion. And even if a congressman in Iowa or Michigan were to say he played no part in Nunes’s conduct, his or her reelection by definition would help return Nunes to the intelligence committee chairmanship and Ryan to the speakership. In short, Democrats can argue that if you vote for anyone with an “R” after his or her name, you are voting to hobble the FBI, expose our secrets to our enemies and help Trump escape the consequences of possible wrongdoing. Talk about a winning message.
So, “Vladi’s Not So Secret Agent” Devon Nunes (R-Moscow) and his Fellow Travelers want to attack our democratic institutions of justice!
Here’s what we know for sure:
Russia tried to interfere with our 2016 Presidential election.
Vladimir Putin hated Hillary Clinton.
Russia plans to interfere with our 2018 elections.
Several individuals close to the Trump Campaign, including former “National Security Director” General Mike Flynn lied to the FBI about their Russian connections.
Former Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort faces Federal criminal charges for lying about his Russian connections.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions “forgot several times under oath” about various Russian contacts.
Donald Trump is a known liar.
Nunes & Trump plan to release a classified GOP propaganda memo over the national security objections of the Deputy AG and the FBI Director appointed by Trump.
Sure looks like 1) our national security is at risk, and 2) there are connections between Russians and various Trump campaign officials that those individuals went to the trouble of lying (or “forgetting”) under oath to hide.
But, do the “Party of Putin” and “Agent Nunes” want to get to the bottom of this? No way! Instead, they want to protect their sleazy President even at the cost of our national security and our democratic institutions!
Every time Trump and the GOP disingenuously talk about “protecting national security,” what they really mean is protecting themselves and their corrupt President from the truth.
By far, the biggest threat to our national security and indeed to our continued existence as a nation, resides right in plain view at 1600 Pennsylvania, Avenue, Washington, D.C. When, if ever, will we wise up?
For months, some Republicans in Congress have been itching to give cover to President Trump’s complaint that the investigation into alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign is a politically motivated “witch hunt.” On Monday, the majority of the House Intelligence Committee put that shameful strategy into practice.
The panel voted along party lines to make public a ballyhooed memo purporting to show that the investigation now being pursued by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III was tainted from the beginning by partisan bias. The White House can refuse, but Trump has signaled that he wants the document released despite opposition from his own Justice Department.
We welcome any effort by Congress to be genuinely transparent, especially on controversial and polarizing issues. But this move falls short of genuine transparency.
The panel’s Republican majority rejected a proposal to simultaneously release a dissenting document prepared by committee Democrats, who have dismissed the Republican memo as a “misleading set of talking points.” The Democrats’ response will be viewed by House members and could be released later — after the Republicans’ spin on the underlying classified information has dominated a few news cycles.
Nor is the committee seeking to release the actual documents used in the case. Instead, the memo provides an interpretation of those documents prepared under the direction of California’s own Rep. Devin Nunes, the committee chairman.
We haven’t seen the memo, but Republicans who have read it have described it in sensational terms that makes it clear that it will be music to Trump’s ears. The memo reportedly asserts that an application for a court order to conduct surveillance on a Trump campaign advisor, Carter Page, drew on information from Christopher Steele, a former British spy who created the now notorious “dossier” about alleged contacts between Trump and Russia that was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. But the fact that Steele’s research might have been part of the basis for the court order doesn’t mean that other matters weren’t cited in the application to the court or that subsequent investigations were unjustified.
Moreover, Nunes’ involvement in this project undermines its credibility. Last year, the Republican from Tulare pushed a bogus “unmasking” scandal that sought to shift the public’s focus away from the evidence of Russian meddling in the U.S. election. That bit of freelancing led to him recusing himself from the panel’s probe.
The underlying allegations being investigated by Congress and by Mueller are as serious as can be. It’s alarming and infuriating that a foreign government may have sought to subvert our elections — and it’s even more outrageous that a candidate might possibly participate in such subversion. Accusations this grave need to be investigated and considered objectively, carefully and without fear or favor. The idea that either party or both would turn such serious issues into opportunities for partisan gain or gamesmanship is a sign of how dysfunctional and amoral Washington has become.”
A bad week for America = a great week for Vladimir Putin and his Oligarchs!
Who would have thought that the party that saw the “Red Menace” under every bed in America when I was growing up would so eagerly “leap into bed” with our old (not really “reformed”) KGB menace Putin in an effort to discredit the FBI, the DOJ, the American Intelligence Community, and our Courts, all to preserve a congenital liar and “Putin sell-out” who happens to occupy our White House! Amazing, sports fans!
“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.
“The defining moment of Jeff Sessions’s time as attorney general has been when he recused himself from oversight of the Russia investigation. That quickly led to the appointment of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is now extensively probing President Trump. And by all accounts, it seriously strained Sessions’s relationship with Trump, who thinks Sessions should be protecting him and doing his bidding.
But there are increasing signs that Sessions has indeed done plenty of Trump’s bidding behind closed doors. And he’s done it on some dicey and very politically tinged issues — so much so that he made Trump’s second FBI director deeply uncomfortable with the whole thing.
The Post’s Devlin Barrett and Philip Rucker report that Sessions has pressured FBI Director Christopher A. Wray to get rid of his deputy Andrew McCabe, a holdover from James B. Comey’s FBI and favorite target for Republicans alleging bias in federal law enforcement. Some have reported that Wray even threatened to resign; The Post is reporting that he did not explicitly do so.
Here’s the meat of it all:
Sessions, Republican lawmakers and some members of the Trump administration have argued for weeks that Wray should conduct some kind of housecleaning by demoting or reassigning senior aides to his predecessor, Comey, according to people familiar with the matter. These people added that Sessions himself is under tremendous political pressure from conservative lawmakers and White House officials who have complained that the bureaucracy of federal law enforcement is biased against the president.
Trump has made no secret of his distaste for McCabe, even tweeting about it repeatedly after McCabe announced last month that he would soon retire, when he becomes eligible for full pension benefits. Trump’s tweets date back to the summer and have focused on McCabe’s wife’s run for the Virginia state legislature as a Democrat and ties to Hillary Clinton.
. . . .
In other words, Trump has publicly stated his preference for Sessions to try to get rid of McCabe, and he has suggested Wray do it as well. Now we find out Sessions did indeed attempt it, and Wray resisted it.
But it’s only the latest evidence that Sessions and his Justice Department are taking specific actions that Trump has publicly urged, even as they, in some cases, risk looking like they are in service to Trump’s political goals.
(Remarkably, Trump actually hit Sessions for his weak positions on both leakers and Clinton’s emails in the same tweet. The Justice Department now appears to be addressing both.)
The Post’s Josh Dawsey and Matt Zapotosky even reported last month that Sessions has engaged in an all-out campaign to regain Trump’s faith by pointing to things the Justice Department has done in service of Trump’s agenda. That’s a pretty remarkable state of affairs.
Some of these things are issues on which Sessions has clearly sided with Trump, especially the dangers of leakers. So it’s perhaps no surprise Sessions would pursue them. But the fact that Trump called for these actions before Sessions was reported to have taken them sure makes it look like he’s taking direction from Trump — or at least succumbing to pressure that Trump and others have brought to bear.
Sessions has also, notably, resisted that pressure at times. During congressional testimony in November, he very publicly shunned a Republican lawmaker’s conspiracy theory — one to which Trump has also alluded — about how the federal government may have colluded with Democrats to spy on Trump’s campaign. Sessions said the issue didn’t rise to the level of appointing a special counsel.
But the picture of what Sessions is doing behind the scenes is increasingly suggesting that Trump’s very public hints that his attorney general should do this or that have often resulted in those specific actions. And especially when it comes to things such as trying to force out McCabe or reportedly dig up dirt on Comey, it sure makes it look like Sessions is using his authorities to try to address Trump’s political aims.
And for an attorney general who leads the federal law enforcement that is currently investigating the president and his team, that’s a perception problem, at best.”
Read Blake’s full article, complete with “Tweet Texts,” at the link.
Meanwhile “chatter” surrounding the DOJ credits Sessions for doing a “bang up” job of implementing his racist, White Nationalist agenda at Justice. Basically, according to some, he’s very effectively shifting the Government’s resources, focus, and litigating capacity to insuring that no element of White privilege or far-Right religious intolerance goes unprotected.
At the same time, he’s using basically bogus or at least highly misleading “statistics” to “rev up” racist fervor against immigrant, primarily Latino communities and Democratic local officials who won’t go along with his program of attempting to draw false connections between immigrants and crime and terrorism. Meanwhile, he essentially has consigned the rights of African-Americans, Latinos, Immigrants, Migrants, Women who seek abortions, and the LGBTQ community to the “trash-bin of Justice.” Many who care about the future of racial equality and social justice in America are concerned that this type of “deep damage” to our justice system can’t easily be undone or repaired, even after Sessions and his “wrecking crew” finally depart the “Halls of Injustice.”
Reportedly, Sessions has been ably assisted in his campaign “to take the justice out of Justice” by Associate Attorney General Rachel B. Brand, the “number three” person at Justice. Brand, a former Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy under Bush II, DOJ “vet,” and apparent “true believer” in the Radical Right, maintains a much “lower profile” than the ever controversial Sessions. But, apparently she and those under her excel at undoing and “deconstructing” all of the “social justice” achievements of the Obama Administration.
Following the “Watergate Disaster” in the 1970, where the Nixon Administration’s blatant politicization of the DOJ became a national scandal, succeeding Administrations, in my view, more or less “backed off” of obvious political partisanship at the DOJ. But, as Watergate becomes a “mere tiny image in the rearview mirror,” that “tradition of restraint” has gradually eroded. Sounds to me like the “Watergate Era” has basically returned to the DOJ. This time, and quite sadly for our Constitutional system of Government and the U.S. Justice System, there is some doubt as to whether it will ever depart again.
“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!
“Some 70% of Americans support a legislative solution that would allow DACA recipients who entered the U.S. illegally as children to stay in the United States—but the fight to pass that legislation has stalled so much that it led to the shutdown of the federal government. In part, that’s because some Republicans are making divisive and hardline demands about broader reforms to the immigration system in exchange for DACA protections.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen reportedly passed out a four-page memo at a meeting earlier this month that includes a bulleted list of the administration’s 46 “must haves” on immigration negotiations, according to Politico, which published the memo on Wednesday.
The site reports President Donald Trump had not seen the list of demands before the January 9 meeting and reportedly told attendees to ignore the list. But according to Politico, the memo is backed by White House chief of staff John Kelly and xenophobic White House senior adviser Stephen Miller—who has wielded major influence on the administration’s immigration policy—as well as Nielsen. It also echoes bills introduced in both the House and Senate.
The memo—titled “MUST HAVE’S: AUTHORITIES & FUNDING FOR IMMIGRATION DEAL”—includes some some well-known demands, like $18 billion to fund Trump’s wall, but it also lists dozens of lesser known “must haves.”
The memo also calls for re-classifying overstaying a visa as a misdemeanor. Currently, that is handled as a civil violation in immigration court proceedings.
The memo’s “must haves” call for even more immigration agents than previously proposed, including 10,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, 8,000 new Border Patrol agents, 1,000 new ICE attorneys, and 370 new immigration judges. (Since the Border Patrol can’t even meet minimum staffing levels mandated by Congress, getting 8,000 extra agents seems unlikely.)
The administration also wants to make it tougher for unaccompanied children and asylum seekers to prove they have a legitimate credible fear of returning to the countries they fled. And when they can prove they’re being persecuted, the Trump administration now wants to send them to “safe third countries.”
The memo also includes all the other stuff we’ve heard about, like limiting “sanctuary cities,” ending family reunification programs (what Trump calls “chain migration”) and the elimination of the diversity visa lotteries.
To top it all off, the memo calls for making the legalization process even more expensive for immigrants who are authorized to be here legally, by imposing additional surcharges on visa, immigration, and border crossing fees.”
Sick and tired of racist, “21st Century Know Nothings,” like Steven Miller and Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions running immigration policy, spineless “go along to get along” bureaucrats like Kirstjen Nielson in change of important Government immigration agencies, and restrictionist pols like Sen. Tom Cotton, Sen. David Perdue, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, and Rep. Raul Labrador blocking sensible, humane immigration reform.
That’s why Ballot Boxes were invented! Vote these evil, ignorant, clowns who are ruining America out of office at your earliest opportunity!