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

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

The New York Times Editorial Board writes:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

02-19-18

 

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

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

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

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

Columnist February 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.”

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Davis was that temporarily paralyzed victim.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PWS

02-16-18

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

 

Russian Indictment

 

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So, now you know why:

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

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

PWS

02-15-18

ON SATURDAY, “COURTSIDE” & SLATE’S JEREMY STAHL GAVE YOU THE “REAL LOWDOWN” ON AAG RACHEL BRAND’S “FLIGHT FROM JUSTICE!” — Two Days Later, NBC News Confirms What We Already Said!

Here’s a link to the prior blog on immigrationcourtside.com:

https://wp.me/p8eeJm-26R

Here’s the NBC report by one of my favorite Washington reporters, Julia Edwards Ainsley:

http://nbcnews.to/2CfKuHi

Julia reports:

“WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s No. 3 attorney had been unhappy with her job for months before the department announced her departure on Friday, according to multiple sources close to Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand.

Brand grew frustrated by vacancies at the department and feared she would be asked to oversee the Russia investigation, the sources said.

She will be leaving the Justice Department in the coming weeks to take a position with Walmart as the company’s executive vice president of global governance and corporate secretary, a job change that had been in the works for some time, the sources said.

Sources: Brand left DOJ over fear of overseeing Russia probe 3:40

As far back as last fall, Brand had expressed to friends that she felt overwhelmed and unsupported in her job, especially as many key positions under her jurisdiction had still not been filled with permanent, Senate-confirmed officials.

Four of the 13 divisions overseen by the associate attorney general remain unfilled, including the civil rights division and the civil division, over one year into the Trump administration.

While Brand has largely stayed out of the spotlight, public criticism of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein by President Donald Trump worried Brand that Rosenstein’s job could be in danger.

Should Rosenstein be fired, Brand would be next in line to oversee Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, thrusting her into a political spotlight that Brand told friends she did not want to enter.

The Justice Department pushed back on NBC’s report.

“It is clear these anonymous sources have never met Rachel Brand let alone know her thinking. All of this is false and frankly ridiculous,” said Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Flores.

Brand has had a long legal career that has spanned several administrations, including under Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican George W. Bush.

In announcing her departure, Attorney General Jeff Sessions described Brand as “a lawyer’s lawyer,” noting that she graduated from Harvard Law School and clerked at the Supreme Court.

In the same statement, Brand said, “I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish over my time here.”

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Undoubtedly, the DOJ under Trump and Sessions has made some great strides in attacking the rule of law, undermining social justice, mal-administering the Immigration Courts, eroding the credibility of DOJ attorneys in court, and generally diminishing the quality and fairness of the justice system in the United States.

While those might give Rachel “bragging rights” over at Wal-Mart or in right-wing legal circles, I don’t see that they are anything to “write home about.”  Hopefully, at some point in the future, having served as a politico in the Trump/Sessions DOJ will become a “career killer” for any future Government appointments.

But, in today’s topsy-turvy legal-political climate, it’s still a shrewd “self-preservation” move on Brand’s part. And, she’s somewhat less likely to be stomping on anyone’s civil rights over at Wal-Mart (although you never know when an opportunity to dump on the civil rights of the  LGBTQ community, African-Americans, Latinos, immigrants, women, the poor, or to promote religious intelerance might present itself in a corporate setting).

Looking forward to more DOJ reporting from the super-talented Julia! I’ve missed her on the “immigration beat!”

PWS

02-12-18

 

 

 

INDEFENSIBLE: DHS’S “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT IS CRUEL, WASTEFUL, COUNTERPRODUCTIVE, AND ARBITRARY – IT’S THE VERY ANTITHESIS OF THE “RULE OF LAW” THAT TRUMP, SESSIONS, HOMAN & OTHERS AT THE DHS DISINGENUOUSLY TOUT IN WORDS WHILE MOCKING AND DISPARAGING BY THEIR DEEDS! – EXPOSE FRAUD, RESIST EVIL! – JOIN THE NEW DUE PROCESS ARMY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-takes-shackles-off-ice-which-is-slapping-them-on-immigrants-who-thought-they-were-safe/2018/02/11/4bd5c164-083a-11e8-b48c-b07fea957bd5_story.html

Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti report for the Washington Post:

“A week after he won the election, President Trump promised that his administration would round up millions of immigrant gang members and drug dealers. And after he took office, arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers surged 40 percent.

Officials at the agency commonly known as ICE praise Trump for putting teeth back into immigration enforcement, and they say their agency continues to prioritize national security threats and violent criminals, much as the Obama administration did.

But as ICE officers get wider latitude to determine whom they detain, the biggest jump in arrests has been of immigrants with no criminal convictions. The agency made 37,734 “noncriminal” arrests in the government’s 2017 fiscal year, more than twice the number in the previous year. The category includes suspects facing possible charges as well as those without criminal records.

Critics say ICE is increasingly grabbing at the lowest-hanging fruit of deportation-eligible immigrants to meet the president’s unrealistic goals, replacing a targeted system with a scattershot approach aimed at boosting the agency’s enforcement statistics.

ICE has not carried out mass roundups or major workplace raids under Trump, but nearly every week brings a contentious new arrest.

2:42
Trump said he would deport millions. Now ICE is in the spotlight.

The White House has said they are focused on deporting undocumented immigrants who “pose a threat to this country.”

Virginia mother was sent back to El Salvador in June after her 11 years in the United States unraveled because of a traffic stop. A Connecticut man with an American-born wife and children and no criminal record was deported to Guatemala last week. And an immigration activist in New York, Ravi Ragbir, was detained in January in a case that brought ICE a scathing rebuke from a federal judge.

“It ought not to be — and it has never before been — that those who have lived without incident in this country for years are subjected to treatment we associate with regimes we revile as unjust,” said U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest, reading her opinion in court before ordering ICE to release Ragbir.

“We are not that country,” she said.

Immigrants whose only crime was living in the country illegally were largely left alone during the latter years of the Obama administration. But that policy has been scrapped.

Those facing deportation who show up for periodic “check-ins” with ICE to appeal for more time in the United States can no longer be confident that good behavior will spare them from detention. Once-routine appointments now can end with the immigrants in handcuffs.

More broadly, the Trump administration has given street-level ICE officers and field directors greater latitude to determine whom they arrest and under what conditions, breaking with the more selective enforcement approach of President Barack Obama’s second term.

Trump officials have likened this to taking “the shackles off,” and they say morale at ICE is up because its officers have regained the authority to detain anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally.

1:36
ICE arrests chemistry professor in U.S. for 30 years

Syed Ahmed Jamal was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents Jan. 24 after living in the United States for more than 30 years.

Officers are detaining suspects in courthouses more often, and ICE teams no longer shy from taking additional people into custody when they knock on doors to arrest a targeted person. 

“What are we supposed to do?” said Matthew Albence, the top official in the agency’s immigration enforcement division, who described the administration’s goal as simply restoring the rule of law. If ICE fails to uphold its duties to enforce immigration laws, he added, “then the system has no integrity.”

In addition to arresting twice as many immigrants who have not been convicted of crimes, ICE also arrested 105,736 immigrants with criminal convictions, a slight increase. That figure includes people with serious or violent offenses as well as those with lesser convictions, such as driving without a license or entering the country illegally.

ICE’s arrest totals in Trump’s first year in office are still much lower than they were during Obama’s early tenure, which the agency says is partly because it is contending with far more resistance from state and local governments that oppose Trump’s policies. And the president’s repeated negative characterizations of some immigrant groups have created an atmosphere in which arrests that were once standard now erupt as political flash points.

Obama initially earned the moniker “deporter in chief” because his administration expelled hundreds of thousands of immigrants, including people with no criminal records. But when Republicans blocked his effort to create a path to citizenship for millions living in the country illegally, Obama curtailed ICE enforcement, especially for those without serious criminal violations. Those measures incensed Republicans — and eventually helped to propel Trump into office.

An estimated 11 million people are living in the United States without legal residency, and the new era of ICE enforcement has shattered the presumption that their social and economic integration into American life would protect them.

Because immigration records are generally secret, it is difficult to independently verify how federal agents decide to make arrests. Immigrant advocates and ICE often clash over immigration cases, and both sides frequently present incomplete versions of an immigrant’s case.

Last month, a college chemistry instructor in Kansas, Syed Ahmed Jamal, was taken into custody on his lawn while preparing to take his daughter to school. He arrived from Bangladesh 30 years ago and built a life in the United States. More than 57,000 people signed an online petition asking ICE to stop his deportation, describing him as a community leader and loving father.

An immigration judge placed a temporary stay Wednesday on ICE’s attempt to deport him, but the agency’s account of Jamal’s case is starkly different. ICE said he arrived in 1987 on a temporary visa. He was ordered to leave the United States in 2002, and he complied, but three months later, he returned — legally — and overstayed again. A judge ordered him to leave the country in 2011, but he did not. ICE said agents took Jamal into custody in 2012. He lost his appeal in 2013.

At first glance, Albence said, many of ICE’s arrests may seem like “sympathetic cases — individuals who are here, and who have been here a long time.”

“But the reason they’ve been here a long time is because they gamed the system,” he said.

Defenders of the tougher approach applaud ICE’s new resolve and say it is U.S. immigration courts — not ICE — that are determining who should be allowed to stay. And they reject the idea that the longer someone has lived in the country, the more the person deserves to be left alone.

“As someone who has practiced law for 20-plus years, I find strange the idea the longer you get away with a violation, the less stiff the punishment should be, and that your continued violation of the law is basis for the argument that you shouldn’t suffer the consequences of that violation,” said Matthew O’Brien, director of research at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, which backs Trump’s approach.

No statute of limitations

The furor that has followed recent ICE arrests reflects a deeper disagreement — not unlike the fight over young, undocumented “dreamers” — about the consequences that those in the country illegally should face.

Living in the United States without legal status is generally treated as a civil violation, not a criminal one. And many Americans, especially Democrats, do not view it as an offense worthy of arrest and deportation once someone has settled into American life.

But in the hyper-politicized atmosphere of the immigration debate, where the merits of these arrests are increasingly litigated in public, partisans now argue over each immigrant’s perceived worthiness to remain in the country, even when a full grasp of the facts is lacking.

When a 43-year-old Polish-born doctor in Michigan who came to the United States at age 5 was arrested last month, supporters rushed to his defense. ICE justified its decision by saying the doctor, who was a permanent legal resident, had had repeated encounters with local police and two 1992 misdemeanor convictions for destruction of property and receiving stolen items, crimes that under U.S. immigration law are considered evidence of “moral turpitude.”

Others who committed crimes long ago and satisfied their obligations to the American justice system have learned there is no statute of limitations on ICE’s ability to use the immigrants’ offenses as grounds to arrest and deport them.

When Ragbir, the New York immigration activist, was detained last month during a scheduled check-in with ICE, his supporters accused the agency of targeting him for retaliation.

But Ragbir is the type of person who is now a top priority for ICE. After becoming a lawful U.S. resident in 1994, he was convicted of mortgage and wire fraud in 2000.

Ragbir served two years in prison, then married a U.S. citizen in 2010. Immigration courts repeatedly spared him from deportation, but his most recent appeal was denied, and ICE took him into custody eight days before his residency was due to expire.

Ragbir was so stunned that he lost consciousness, court records show, and was taken to a hospital.

The ‘sanctuary’ campaign

Former acting ICE director John Sandweg, who helped draft the 2014 memo that prioritized arrests based on the severity of immigrants’ criminal offenses, said the agency has resources to deport only about 200,000 cases a year from the interior of the United States.

“The problem is, when you remove all priorities, it’s like a fisherman who could just get his quota anywhere,” Sandweg said. “It diminishes the incentives on the agents to go get the bad criminals. Now their job is to fill the beds.”

Albence said the agency’s priority remains those who represent a threat to public safety or national security, just as it was under Obama. The difference now is that agents are also enforcing judges’ deportation orders against all immigrants who are subject to such orders, regardless of whether they have criminal records.

“There’s no list where we rank ‘This is illegal alien number 1 all the way down to 2.3 million,’ ” he said.

Albence said ICE prioritizes its caseload using government databases and law enforcement methods to track fugitives. But in the vast majority of cases, ICE takes custody of someone after state or local police have arrested the person.

This approach dovetailed with ICE’s enforcement emphasis on targeting serious criminals, and at first, the Obama administration and other Democrats embraced it. But activists protested that ICE was arresting people pulled over for driving infractions and other minor offenses at a time when Congress was debating whether to grant undocumented immigrants legal residency. Advocacy groups pushed cities and towns to become “sanctuary” cities that refused to cooperate with ICE.

ICE’s caseload far exceeds the capacity of its jails. In addition to the 41,500 immigrants in detention, according to the most recent data, the agency has a caseload of roughly 3 million deportation-eligible foreigners, equal to about 1 in 4 of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants nationwide.

More than 542,000 of those are considered fugitives, meaning they did not show up for their immigration hearings and were ordered deported, or they failed to leave the country after losing their cases. Nearly 2 in 3 were not considered a priority for deportation under Obama. They are now.

An additional 2.4 million undocumented immigrants are free pending hearings or appeals, or because the agency has not been able to deport them yet and the Supreme Court has ruled that such individuals cannot be jailed indefinitely. Nearly 1 million of this group have final deportation orders, including 178,000 convicted criminals.

They include the Michigan doctor and Ragbir, the New York activist.

“It’s true that all these people are deportable, but that doesn’t mean they should all have equal value,” said Cecilia Muñoz, a former policy adviser to Obama who helped shape the administration’s tiered enforcement approach.

“By crowding the courts with all kinds of people, you’re creating a resource problem,” Muñoz said.

“If you apply that logic to local police forces, you’re saying that every robber and rapist is the same as a jaywalker. And then you’re clogging your courts with jaywalkers.”

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

The Trump/Sessions/DHS “Gonzo” enforcement program that claims to be targeting criminals but actually busts lots of “collaterals” who are residing here peacefully and contributing to our society is a total sham. It has nothing to do with the “Rule of Law” or real law enforcement.

Unnecessary cruelty, wasting resources, arbitrariness, terrorizing communities, overloading already overwhelmed courts, and undermining the efforts of local politicians and law enforcement are not, and never have been, part of the “Rule of Law,” nor are they professional law enforcement techniques. They are part of the White Nationalist agenda to “beat up” on Latinos and other minorities, lump all immigrants in with “criminals,” stir up xenophobia, and throw some “red meat” to an essentially racist Trump/GOP “base.”

“By crowding the courts with all kinds of people, you’re creating a resource problem,” Muñoz said.

“If you apply that logic to local police forces, you’re saying that every robber and rapist is the same as a jaywalker. And then you’re clogging your courts with jaywalkers.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

As I say over and over, ICE under Trump is well on its way to becoming the most distrusted and despised “law enforcement” agency in America. That damage is likely to hamper their mission of legitimate enforcement well beyond the Trump era.

As some commentators have suggested, the only long-term solution might well be eventually dissolving ICE and turning the functions over to a new agency that will operate within the normal bounds of reasonable, professional law enforcement, rather than as a political appendage.

In the meantime, those who believe in American values and the true “Rule of Law,” should resist the out of control DHS at every step. While Trump and the GOP appear unwilling to place any limits on the abuses by the “ICEMEN,” Federal Courts have proved more receptive to the arguments that there are at least some outer limits on the conduct of law enforcement.

Join the “New Due Process Army” today!

 

PWS

01-12-18

 

GONZO’S WORLD: How “Gonzo” Immigration Enforcement & The All-Out Attack On So-Called “Sanctuary Cities” Actually IMPEDE Effective Law Enforcement! — “The bottom line is, you just can’t trust ICE during the Trump administration!”

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=9cb0eda5-8512-4812-9d46-0b07c60a000b

Frank Shyong reports for the LA Times:

“For the better part of a decade, an agency that bilked Chinese immigrant investors out of nearly $50 million operated in plain sight from a storefront in the front lobby of the bustling Hilton San Gabriel hotel.

Their crimes came to light last year after a task force of San Gabriel police and federal immigration officials tracked transactions between Chinese and U.S. banks, conducted cross-border surveillance operations, launched an undercover sting and sought information from the Chinese government.

San Gabriel Valley police departments often use federal partnerships to tackle crimes like these — many of which target vulnerable new immigrants — because they lack the necessary resources, skills and technology to pursue them.

But the largely immigrant communities that they police are starting to protest these partnerships in the wake of aggressive, Trump-era immigration enforcement that has stoked widespread fears over deportations.

On Tuesday, San Gabriel city leaders rescinded a Police Department agreement with immigration officials, citing doubts about the arrangement’s necessity and heightened fears about deportations.

The memorandum of understanding, signed by Police Chief Eugene Harris in December, designates a San Gabriel police detective to act as a customs officer on a task force that investigates various types of immigration-related crimes.

Although the memo states that the designated officer does not have the authority to enforce administrative violations of immigration law, city leaders said the decision should have been brought before the City Council.

The partnership sends the wrong message about the city’s stance toward immigrants, Councilman Jason Pu said. The city’s population is 61% Asian and 25% Latino, and more than half of of all residents are foreign-born. He also asked the City Council to consider a “sanctuary city” resolution at a later meeting.

“The city of San Gabriel embraces our immigrant communities. If the message becomes ‘Come to San Gabriel and get deported,’ it would be devastating to our community and to our businesses,” Pu said.

Harris said the partnership with Homeland Security Investigations was designed to fight crimes, not deport immigrants. Contributing an officer to an HSI task force allowed the department to access federal databases, among other resources.

Councilman John Harrington voted against canceling the agreement and accused other council members of playing politics.

“This sends the message that politics are more important than residents’ safety,” Harrington said.

The news of the agreement was met with alarm in San Gabriel.

Advocacy groups and residents chanted slogans and waved signs before the Tuesday night meeting, which was so crowded that the city was forced to relocate it from City Hall to the nearby San Gabriel Mission Playhouse.

San Gabriel’s agreement was one of dozens that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have struck with local agencies across Southern California, including jurisdictions as small as Monterey Park and as large as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The documents lay out terms for information-sharing, compensation for labor costs and, in some cases, the designation of a local police officer to work on a task force with Homeland Security Investigations, ICE’s criminal investigations arm.

But California’s new “sanctuary state” law largely prohibits the use of local funds and personnel on both criminal and civil immigration enforcement.

Jurisdictions around the state are scrutinizing these agreements and other local collaborations with ICE — and in some cases canceling them.

Pasadena city leaders recently voided an agreement signed by Police Chief Phillip L. Sanchez, saying that it required the signature of the city manager.

Santa Monica also canceled its Police Department’s arrangement with ICE in a letter from the city manager last year, citing concerns about “implied or inadvertent involvement in civil immigration enforcement by the SMPD.”

Oakland city leaders canceled their agreement with ICE after activists learned that two Oakland police officers had stopped traffic during a raid that resulted in the arrests of two people. One was placed in deportation proceedings. Federal officials said the operation was targeting a human trafficking ring, but no criminal charges have been filed.

In Santa Cruz, a criminal investigation targeting gang members also brought about the arrests of several non-gang members for immigration violations. The city police chief, Kevin Vogel, said he was never informed about the possibility of collateral arrests.

“They misled my department as to the actual scope of the operation. I feel like I was lied to,” Vogel said.

ICE officials said they told Vogel that collateral arrests of non-gang members could occur during the operations several days before the raids, which Vogel disputes.

Though Santa Cruz had no agreement with ICE, Vogel warned other police departments to clarify the terms of their cooperation with ICE up front.

“I’m not in a position to tell authorities which laws to enforce,” said Vogel, a 30-year veteran of the Santa Cruz Police Department who retired in June. “But you have to be straight with me if you’re going to come into my city for an operation.”

A detective in San Gabriel has been assigned to an HSI task force since June. The group has arrested two people it says were posing as immigration attorneys in order to charge exorbitant fees for fraudulent legal services. It has also investigated a counterfeit driver’s license and passport operation, and is looking for the owners of 30 Chinese passports discovered in a package.

These cases are typically too small to draw the attention of state and federal law enforcement agencies but too complicated for local police departments to handle with their own resources, Harris said.

Police departments and immigration authorities say these partnerships are strictly for criminal investigations.

But advocates say it may be impossible to ensure these partnerships won’t include what the Trump administration has called “collateral arrests,” or arrests of immigrants who are in the country illegally but are not the target of criminal investigations.

“Even if the original intent is to investigate a crime, if they find neighbors, bystanders that they believe are removable, they will also arrest and detain them,” said Angela Chan of Advancing Justice — Asian Law Caucus, a coauthor of Senate Bill 54, the sanctuary state bill.

Of the 111,000 immigration arrests reported by ICE between Jan. 20 and Sept. 30 of last year, about 8% were collateral arrests. And last year, ICE’s acting director, Thomas Homan, warned that more collateral arrests might be one result of California’s passing a sanctuary state bill.

Agreements like San Gabriel’s, immigrant rights advocates say, often are broadly worded and rarely include any mention of collateral arrests or consequences for violating the agreement, said Ana Muñiz, assistant professor of criminology at UC Irvine.

“On one hand, ICE and HSI can technically comply with agreements, but on the other hand, there are rhetorical and technical loopholes,” Muñiz said.

Police officers working with HSI task forces are “not authorized” to arrest people for administrative violations of immigration law, said Jennifer Reyes, assistant special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations Los Angeles. But immigration officers working on HSI task forces have no such restrictions.

“HSI special agents, however, have the authority to make administrative arrests during criminal investigations as part of enforcing our nation’s laws,” Reyes said.

Harris said he thinks proper oversight of joint operations with immigration authorities could ensure that no local resources are used to enforce immigration law.

Federal, state and local agencies work together to emphasize that public safety is a shared goal across all law enforcement agencies, Harris said.

But cities are increasingly wary of the perception of endorsing the Trump administration’s immigration policies. And some city leaders, like Pu, don’t see ICE and HSI as trustworthy law enforcement partners.

“The bottom line is, you just can’t trust ICE during the Trump administration,” Pu said.”

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

Yup. Declaring  “open season” on law-abiding undocumented members of the community (treating them basically the same as criminals and gangsters) and picking fights with local officials is one of the dumbest “law enforcement” strategies I could imagine. Even after the “Trumpsters” eventually depart, ICE might never be able to re-establish trust and credibility in many communities.

PWS

02-09-18

GONZO’S WORLD: NO DEFENSE! – SESSIONS MIA AS TRUMP AND GOP ATTACK INTEGRITY OF DOJ!

https://www.newsmax.com/politics/attorney-general-department-of-justice-the-new-york-times-doj/2018/02/05/id/841477/

Brian Freeman reports for Newsmax:

“Even as President Donald Trump has led the most prolonged and public attack on the Justice Department in history, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has broken a long tradition of those in his position of protecting the institution from such interference by remaining largely silent, The New York Times reported Monday.

“What is unusual is the FBI and the Justice Department being attacked, the president leading the charge and the attorney general missing in action,” said Harvard Law Prof. Jack Goldsmith, who headed the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel under President Geoerge W. Bush. “Why isn’t he sticking up for the department?”

Many prosecutors say Sessions’ tepid response is deflating morale among department employees and has increased fears prosecutors cannot depend on protection from political interference.

“Attorneys general swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, not the president,” said Matthew Axelrod, a former Justice Department official who is a partner at Linklaters. “Institutions like the DOJ rely on their leaders to be a voice that defends them. It’s critically important to this institution that its leadership have its back.”

Although the Business Insider reported Sessions did praise his second-in-command Rod Rosenstein hours before the disputed Devin Nunes memo was released Friday by saying he represents “the kind of quality and leadership we want in the department” and he had “great confidence in the men and women of this department,” many commentators said that backing was quite meager when he added, “But no department is perfect.”

One such previous example often cited of far more courageous and strong backing is when ailing attorney general John Ashcroft from his hospital bed allowed his acting replacement, James Comey, to defy the Bush administration over a surveillance program that Justice Department lawyers had called unconstitutional.

Sessions, who has been heavily and publicly criticized by Trump in the past year, declined to comment to the Times.

“Sessions’ silence is evidence that Trump’s public neutering of anyone close to this investigation is working,” said Paul Pelletier, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Virginia who was a long-time federal prosecutor. “It is deleterious to the whole criminal justice process.”

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

The law enforcement community might have thought that they were getting a strong defender/advocate in the right-winger Sessions. After all, he’s out to bust those recreational legalized marijuana users and hard-working maids and janitors who have been in the U.S. without documents for decades waiting for the immigration reform that never came because he helped block it in the Senate.

But, what they actually got was a disingenuous “Gonzo Apocalypto” White Nationalist interested primarily in advancing his racially inspired agenda at the expense of the U.S. justice system and anyone who might stand in the way. Oh yeah, and a guy who is also very interested in “covering his own tail.” That’s why he didn’t hesitate to hire DC Lawyer Chuck Cooper to defend him once his continuing “memory lapses” came to light in the Russia investigation and things started “hitting the fan.”

A guy with no time for the rights of African-Americans Latinos, Immigrants, LGBTQ Americans, women, or apparently his subordinates and employees at the DOJ seems to have an excellent sense of his own rights and self-preservation. And, he isn’t so silent when it comes to an opportunity for slandering and diminishing the achievements of DACA recipients, Immigrants, sanctuary cities, asylum seekers, or people of color who are supposed to be entitled to justice and protection from his more or less “Whites only” DOJ.

PWS

02-06-18

 

Michael Paarlberg @ THE GUARDIAN: HOW WACKO & COUNTERPRODUCTIVE IS TRUMP/SESSIONS “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT? — Who Screws Their Friends & Productive Residents While Empowering Multinational Gangs? — “[MS-13] can’t really be described accurately as a single gang but is rather a network of gangs with little centralized authority and a franchised name, whose street value only increases with each press conference by Trump and Sessions. . . . There aren’t many beneficiaries of Trump’s immigration policy, but there’s at least one: MS-13 couldn’t have asked for a better president than Trump.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/02/trump-immigration-bogeymen-ms-13-chain-migration?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Paarlberg writes:

“In 1968, a British Conservative politician, Enoch Powell, made what became known as his “Rivers of Blood” speech. In it, he sounded an alarm about what he imagined to be an unchecked immigrant invasion of the United Kingdom, at a time when the country’s immigrant population had only grown from 5 to 6% in the previous decade.

Crime was low, less than one homicide per 100,000 residents, a tenth the rate of the US. Quoting a constituent, he foresaw the day when “the black man will have the whip hand over the white man”. In subsequent decades, immigration slowly inched upwards, but the scenario Powell envisioned failed to materialize.

Half a century later, we Americans live in a Powellesque moment in which politicians’ hysterical rhetoric surrounding immigration is completely at odds with the facts. President Trump, giving his own Rivers of Blood speech on Tuesday, painted a grim picture of a wave of hardened criminal immigrants, exploiting diversity visas and “chain migration”, running around the country murdering people left and right.

In reality, illegal immigration to the US is down, not up. Trump would like to take credit for this with his tough talk about walls, rapists, and “bad hombres” from Mexico, but the number of unauthorized immigrants in the country has been falling for the past decade, due not to xenophobic bluster but the Great Recession.

Net migration from Mexico is currently negative: more Mexicans are leaving the US than coming in, and have been doing so since the end of the Bush administration. In coming decades, most new immigrants to the US will not be from Latin America at all, but from China and India.

Violent crime, too, is down, way down: FBI statistics show violent crimes are just half of what they were in the early 90s. Trump would have you believe that immigrants are responsible for “tremendous amounts of crime”, but research shows immigrants commit less crime than native-born Americans.

In fact, it started in Los Angeles in the 1980s, was originally made up of adolescent stoners who listened to heavy metal, and only grew into a much larger and more vicious, officially designated “transnational gang” thanks to mass criminal deportations by the Clinton administration to poor countries that were ill-equipped to deal with the influx.

It can’t really be described accurately as a single gang but is rather a network of gangs with little centralized authority and a franchised name, whose street value only increases with each press conference by Trump and Sessions. And for all the hype, MS-13 is a relatively small player here. Its estimated US membership has remained constant for the past decade at around 10,000, or less than 1% of the 1.4 million gang members in the US: far smaller than the Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings, or Aryan Brotherhood.

Even the face tattoo image is out of date; MS cliques have been discouraging members from getting them after belatedly realizing it makes them easy to identify by police.

As for the origins of this nonexistent immigrant crime wave, Trump blames “chain migration”, the more menacing nativist buzzword for family reunification, the principle on which our immigration laws are founded.

“Chain migration” is actually a conservative idea: the Immigration and Nationality Act, which was passed in 1965, was sold to immigration restrictionists as a law which would preserve mostly white immigration while doing away with the overtly racist, eugenics-inspired quota laws it replaced. Because by 1965, most immigrants to the US were from Europe, it was assumed that giving preference to family members of current immigrants would restrict immigration from other parts of the world.

After all, it is a policy which upholds the family as a unit. Families, conservatives argued, were preferable to single men. They encourage stable employment, homeownership, participation in the community, and provide a source of private, non-state welfare for needy relatives. Families are what keeps people out of trouble, the kind Trump imagines immigrants are getting into, and which may actually happen if he succeeds in taking away this base of support.

It wouldn’t be the first time US immigration policy had the opposite of its intended effect, from Johnson’s 1965 immigration law to Clinton’s criminal deportations. Similarly, Trump’s recent decision to revoke TPS protection for over 200,000 legal immigrants from Haiti and El Salvador will only increase the number of unauthorized immigrants and lead to more unauthorized immigration in the future: mass deportations mean a loss of cash remittances from those immigrants to countries whose economies are heavily dependent on them, which will only worsen unemployment and send more migrants north.

Breaking up families also creates the conditions of insecurity under which predatory gangs thrive. In Central America, deportations from the US give gangs a new vulnerable population to recruit from. In the US, the loss of family networks and raids which push migrants into the shadows give them a new vulnerable population to extort. There aren’t many beneficiaries of Trump’s immigration policy, but there’s at least one: MS-13 couldn’t have asked for a better president than Trump.”

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

Pretty much what I’ve been saying all along! With their toxic mixture of ignorance, arrogance, incompetence, bias, White Nationalism, and racism, Trump, Sessions, Miller, and their sycophantic followers have been destroying American communities, weakening and dissolving American society, and empowering our enemies, foreign and domestic! Other than that, they’re a great bunch of guys.

The only folks happier than MS-13 about the Trump/Sessions regime and their “sell-out” of America and American values are Vladi Putin and his Oligarchs.

PWS

02-02-18

JAMELLE BOUIE @ SLATE: TRUMP, SESSIONS, MILLER & THE GOP RESTRICTIONISTS HAVE PUT GOOD OL’ 1920S RACISM AT THE FOREFRONT OF THEIR WHITE NATIONALIST IMMIGRATION AGENDA! –“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? . . . That is not what a good nation should do, and we need to get away from it.” — J. “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions, Attorney General of the United States of America & Unapologetic White Nationalist With A Long History Of Racism!

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/02/the-nativist-blueprint-for-trumps-immigration-plan.html

Jamelle writes in Slate:

“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.

portrait of Jamelle Bouie

Jamelle Bouie

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.”

Right on, Jamelle!

PWS

02-02-18

TAL @ CNN: DREAMERS, DEMS FACING UP TO HARD POLITICAL REALITY – NO PRESIDENCY, NO LEGISLATIVE MAJORITY = LITTLE LEVERAGE – Acceptable Compromise Appears Doomed To Remain “Dream” – For Now!

 

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/30/politics/democrats-vent-daca-frustrations-hispanic-caucus/index.html

“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.

Shutdown strategy

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.”

 

PWS

01-31-18

STATE OF DISUNION! — TRUMP TRASHES IMMIGRANTS, THREATENS TO DESTROY CIVIL SERVICE — “[A] Flabby, Divisive Speech” From A “Shell President!”

//wapo.st/2npUucB?tid=ss_mail&utm_term=.310b0dd6e5ef

E.J. Dionne, Jr., in the Washington Post:

“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.

Stay tuned!

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.

PWS

01-31-18

PUTIN’S PATSIES: GOP RAMPS UP PLAN TO OBSTRUCT JUSTICE AT JUSTICE – With McCabe Ousted, DAG Rosenstein Appears To Be Next Target In GOP’s Move To Subvert American Government!

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/28/us/politics/rod-rosenstein-carter-page-secret-memo.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

“WASHINGTON — A secret, highly contentious Republican memo reveals that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein approved an application to extend surveillance of a former Trump campaign associate shortly after taking office last spring, according to three people familiar with it.

The renewal shows that the Justice Department under President Trump saw reason to believe that the associate, Carter Page, was acting as a Russian agent. But the reference to Mr. Rosenstein’s actions in the memo — a much-disputed document that paints the investigation into Russian election meddling as tainted from the start — indicates that Republicans may be moving to seize on his role as they seek to undermine the inquiry.

The memo’s primary contention is that F.B.I. and Justice Department officials failed to adequately explain to an intelligence court judge in initially seeking a warrant for surveillance of Mr. Page that they were relying in part on research by an investigator, Christopher Steele, that had been financed by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Democrats who have read the document say Republicans have cherry-picked facts to create a misleading and dangerous narrative. But in their efforts to discredit the inquiry, Republicans could potentially use Mr. Rosenstein’s decision to approve the renewal to suggest that he failed to properly vet a highly sensitive application for a warrant to spy on Mr. Page, who served as a Trump foreign policy adviser until September 2016.

A handful of senior Justice Department officials can approve an application to the secret surveillance court, but in practice that responsibility often falls to the deputy attorney general. No information has publicly emerged that the Justice Department or the F.B.I. did anything improper while seeking the surveillance warrant involving Mr. Page.

Mr. Trump has long been mistrustful of Mr. Rosenstein, the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, who appointed the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and now oversees his investigation into Mr. Trump’s campaign and possible obstruction of justice by the president. Mr. Trump considered firing Mr. Rosenstein last summer. Instead, he ordered Mr. Mueller to be fired, then backed down after the White House counsel refused to carry out the order, The New York Times reported last week.

Mr. Trump is now again telling associates that he is frustrated with Mr. Rosenstein, according to one official familiar with the conversations.

It is difficult to judge whether Republicans’ criticism of the surveillance has merit. Although House members have been allowed to view the Republican memo in a secure setting, both that memo and a Democratic one in rebuttal remain shrouded in secrecy. And the applications to obtain and renew the warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court are even more closely held. Only a small handful of members of Congress and staff members have reviewed them.

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, whose staff wrote the memo, could vote as early as Monday, using an obscure House rule, to effectively declassify its contents and make it available to the public. Mr. Trump would have five days to try to block their effort, potentially setting up a high-stakes standoff between the president and his Justice Department, which opposes its immediate release.

The White House has made clear to the Justice Department in recent days that it wants the Republican memo to be made public. Asked about the issue on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Marc Short, the White House’s head of legislative affairs, said that if the memo outlined serious concerns, “the American people should know that.”

But Stephen E. Boyd, an assistant attorney general, warned in a letter last week to the committee’s chairman, Representative Devin Nunes of California, that it would be “extraordinarily reckless” to release a memo drawing on classified information without official review and pleaded with the committee to consult the Justice Department. He said the department was “unaware of any wrongdoing related to the FISA process.”

To obtain the warrant involving Mr. Page, the government needed to show probable cause that he was acting as an agent of Russia. Once investigators get approval from the Justice Department for a warrant, prosecutors take it to a surveillance court judge, who decides whether to approve it.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment, and a spokesman for Mr. Nunes did not reply to requests for comment. The people familiar with the contents of the memo spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details remained secret.

A White House spokesman, Hogan Gidley, said in a statement: “The president has been clear publicly and privately that he wants absolute transparency throughout this process. Based on numerous news reports, top officials at the F.B.I. have engaged in conduct that shows bias against President Trump and bias for Hillary Clinton. While President Trump has the utmost respect and support for the rank-and-file members of the F.B.I., the anti-Trump bias at the top levels that appear to have existed is troubling.”

Mr. Page, a former Moscow-based investment banker who later founded an investment company in New York, had been on the F.B.I.’s radar for years. In 2013, an investigation revealed that a Russian spy had tried to recruit him. Mr. Page was never charged with any wrongdoing, and he denied that he would ever have cooperated with Russian intelligence officials.

But a trip Mr. Page took to Russia in July 2016 while working on Mr. Trump’s campaign caught the bureau’s attention again, and American law enforcement officials began conducting surveillance on him in the fall of 2016, shortly after he left the campaign. It is unclear what they learned about Mr. Page between then and when they sought the order’s renewal roughly six months later. It is also unknown whether the surveillance court granted the extension.

The renewal effort came in the late spring, sometime after the Senate confirmed Mr. Rosenstein as the Justice Department’s No. 2 official in late April. Around that time, following Mr. Trump’s firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director in May, Mr. Rosenstein appointed Mr. Mueller, a former head of the bureau, to take over the department’s Russia investigation. Mr. Rosenstein is overseeing the inquiry because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself.

Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, who is close to Mr. Trump and House Republicans, signaled interest in Mr. Rosenstein this month as news of the memo’s existence first circulated, asking on air if Mr. Rosenstein had played a role in extending the surveillance. “I’m very interested about Rod Rosenstein in all of this,” he said.

In a speech on Friday in Norfolk, Va., Mr. Sessions appeared to wade into the debate. Without mentioning the Republican memo, he said that federal investigations must be free of bias, and that he would not condone “a culture of defensiveness.” While unfair criticism should be rebutted, he added, “it can never be that this department conceals errors when they occur.”

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

Man, “Ol’ Vladi P” must wake up with an ear-to-ear grin every single morning! How could it get any better for him!

First, notwithstanding a solid year of totally unpresidential performance, moronic Tweets, intentional divisiveness, blatant lies, wanton environmental destruction, attacks on American’s health, kleptocracy, overt promotion of income inequality, and abandonment of American world leadership, about one-third of American voters love having a puppet (even an evil and incompetent one) for a President! Sometimes in the former “Soviet Satellites” that the old KGB-man loved so much, the “chosen one” never, ever got to that support level!

And, as if that’s not enough, Vladi’s “GOP Fellow Travelers” are busy tearing down the fabric of the American justice system and at the same time insuring that nobody will ever get to the bottom of Vladi’s well-documented attempts to “tank” the American electoral system and the several already-documented (formerly) secret contacts between officials of the Trump campaign and Vladi’s chosen Russian agents.

“Wow,” Vladi’s thinking, “all my predecessors spent all that time, money, and trouble ‘weaponizing,’ building up our military, overthrowing pro-American governments, infiltrating, starting wars in third countries, and supporting terrorists. But, I’ve gotten all of this from the dumb Yanks pretty much for free — just the investment in some basic hacking equipment that most high school kids could have developed in the basement, a few juicy rumors about “HRC,” and some rubles converted to dollars to underwrite some fake “consulting contracts” and I’ve got these guys destroying American democracy and world leadership without me lifting a finger or firing a shot! I’m a genius,” thinks Vladi!

Leaving the question, if Vladi’s a “genius” what does that make us, our elected puppet President, and his enablers?

PWS

01-29-18

 

ICEMEN GONE WILD: MINDLESS, COUNTERPRODUCTIVE, CRUEL, WASTEFUL “GONZO” IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT IS THE ORDER OF THE DAY UNDER THE TRUMP/SESSIONS REGIME! — “Have discretion and humanity been dropped from the attributes that Americans can expect of their law enforcement agencies?”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/unshackled-by-the-trump-administration-deportation-agents-discount-basic-decency/2018/01/28/0785a7b2-013d-11e8-bb03-722769454f82_story.html

From the Washington Post Editorial Board:

“IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS Enforcement, the federal agency whose deportation agents have been unshackled by the Trump administration, has intensified its efforts to such a degree that cruelty now seems no impediment to its enforcement decisions, and common sense appears to play a diminishing role.

Recent months have brought news of one senseless detention and deportation after another. From all appearances, the agency seems to have embraced the idea that it is just to sunder established families and separate immigrant parents from their U.S.-born children — even in cases involving garden-variety technical violations of immigration rules.

Yes, the Obama administration also deported some longtime residents who had committed no serious offenses, but its deportation efforts were focused on criminals. By contrast, detentions of immigrants with no criminal records more than doubled in the first year of President Trump’s administration — to 13,600 in 2017 from 5,498 in 2016. Evidently seized by a vainglorious notion of its mission, ICE too often discounts basic decency as a guiding tenet.

How else to explain the detention and imminent deportation of a 27-year-old Ohio man, arrested for driving without a license, who is the only means of financial support, and one of just two trained medical caregivers, for a 6-year-old paraplegic boy (who also happens to be a U.S. citizen)? How else to explain the deportation of a construction worker in Michigan, the father of 10- and 3-year-old U.S.-born boys, who provided critical help to police in Detroit in their investigation of a shooting?

How else to explain the airport arrest and deportation of a 22-year-old female college student from Spain, visiting the United States for a vacation at the invitation of a librarian at Oregon State University, on grounds that she would give Spanish lessons to the librarian’s young son for a few weeks — work for which she lacked the right visa? How else to explain the deportation of a 39-year-old landscaper living in the Detroit suburbs, a father and husband of U.S. citizens, who had lived in the United States since age 10 and whose record was so unblemished that it didn’t even feature a traffic violation? How else to explain the Israeli undergraduate at the University of California at San Diego, a “dreamer” studying legally in the United States, who was detained upon trying to cross back into the United States minutes after his roommate made a wrong turn on the highway, unintentionally driving into Mexico?

In its boilerplate communiques, the agency defends its actions by insisting that it prioritizes bona fide threats to national security and public safety but exempts no category of “removable alien” from enforcement. Which raises a question: Have discretion and humanity been dropped from the attributes that Americans can expect of their law enforcement agencies?”

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

In answer to the Post’s question: YES, thanks exactly what has been happening in America since the very beginning of the Trump regime — starting with the “Muslim Ban” and continuing with a consistent White Supremecist agenda! Many of us have been saying that all along!

We already have the “New American Gulag” — expanded “civil” immigration detention in substandard, potentially even deadly conditions, in obscure “out of sight, out of mind” locations. There, individuals, many deserving legal protection from the US under our laws, are denied fair access to counsel and railroaded out of the country in what essentially are “mock court” hearings conducted by “judges” controlled by notorious White Nationalist Jeff “Gono Apocalypto” Sessions.

Sessions and his minions encourage the judges to view individuals in removal proceedings as “production numbers, possible fraudsters, and potential terrorists,” rather than as vulnerable human beings deserving of fairness, respect, and due process.

To complement the “New American Gulag,” we now have the “New American Gestapo,” headed by Acting Chief ICEMAN Tom Homan. It’s an internal police force that operates without rules, rhyme, reason, or humanity — in other words arbitrary “Gonzo” enforcement intended to terrorize ethnic (primarily Latino) communities.

And, in case you haven’t read about it, ICE now has the capacity to electronically track the whereabouts and driving patterns of every license plate in America —- including YOURS! Of course they say that they will only use it for “legitimate” law Enforcement purposes.

But, for the “New American Gestapo” everything is “legitimate” — boundaries on law enforcement conduct and misconduct went out the widow when the Trumpsters crawled in. Remember, Gonzo essentially told local police forces he really didn’t care what they were doing to the civil rights of African-Americans and other minorities as long as they were enforcing the law and bringing crime rates down!

This is why ICE is well on its way to becoming the most hated, distrusted, and least respected police force in America.

Had enough of the Trump Administation’s trampling on Constitutional rights, civil rights, human rights, and just plain old human decency in America! Join the resistance!

The “New Due Process Army” (“NDPA”) is out there every day fighting for the Due Process and the legal rights of everyone in America and standing up against the excesses of the Trump Administration. Join their effort today!

PWS

01-29-18

 

 

 

 

GONZO’S WORLD: SOMEBODY’S GOT TO DO TRUMP’S “DIRTY WORK” AT JUSTICE — GONZO WELCOMES THE CHANCE – “CHATTER ON THE STREET” SAYS HE’S BEEN TERRIFIC AT IMPLEMENTING RACIST, WHITE NATIONALIST AGENDA AND “DECONSTRUCTING” JUSTICE IN AMERICA! – Damage To Rights Of American Blacks, Latinos, Gays, and Other “Targeted Groups” Could Be Long Lasting!

“Dirty Work” by Steely Dan.

Check it out here:

http://www.metrolyrics.com/dirty-work-lyrics-steely-dan.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/01/23/its-looking-more-and-more-like-jeff-sessions-is-doing-trumps-political-dirty-work/?utm_term=.20948af9517b

Aaron Blake reports for the Washington Post:

“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.

The New York Times reported recently that a Sessions aide went to Capitol Hill last year seeking derogatory information about Comey at a time when Trump clearly had his eyes on firing Comey. (A Justice Department spokesman has denied this occurred.) There are also reports that the Justice Department is considering a revival of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, which Trump has repeatedly called for. And back in August, Sessions announced a ramped-up effort to root out leakers in the federal government — just days after Trump tweeted that Sessions had taken “a VERY weak position” on the issue.

(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.”

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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.

PWS

01-28-18

 

 

 

ELIZABETH BRUENIG @ WASHPOST: TRUMP & THE GOP WHITE NATIONALISTS ARE DECONSTRUCTING AMERICAN SOCIETY!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-promised-to-unite-americans-his-policies-leave-us-more-alone-than-ever/2018/01/25/d9b60e62-0155-11e8-bb03-722769454f82_story.html

Bruenig writes:

“At his inauguration, President Trump promised to renew the unity of the American people, claiming that “through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.” Then, Trump seemed intent on creating a reborn civic and social consciousness, and on empowering ordinary people against big government and big money.

And yet, Trump’s administration has ushered in a virulently antisocial politics that dissolves the most basic bonds and leaves individuals powerless against both market and state. Trump, like many populists of the right, gained a foothold by promising that a resurgent nationalism could make people feel cohesive, trusting and strong again. But like his right-leaning populist predecessors, he has offered only the imaginary bonds of nationalism — the illusion of fellow-feeling and homogeneity — even as his policies destroy the real and foundational bonds of family and community in the arenas of health care, immigration, labor and more.

. . . . In its amicus brief in support of unions, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops points out that the destruction of unions based on the loose interpretation of money as speech will render workers weaker than ever before. “Ironically then,” the bishops observe, “a misguided effort to protect one individual from government coercion would leave only individuals to stand against government (or economic) coercion.”

If only that world were really so far away. In reality, it is already here. What unites workfare, the annihilation of DACA and the war on unions is a totalizing individualism — the belief that people are essentially isolated individuals. That we are alone before we are together. That we are more and not less ourselves in total isolation. From that view flow policies that disregard or deny that people are, in fact, embedded in families, communities and industries, and that their bonds and obligations are powerful and ought to be respected and protected by the state. No politics issuing from that view can ever cultivate unity.

What Trump offered as an answer to the aching aloneness of Americans was nationalism, the exchange of an imagined community for actual ones, the promise of a mystic bond with people you’ll never meet even while the ones you know and love are deported, abandoned, dying. It was supposed to bring us together, supposed to make us strong. But his policies stand to leave us more alone than we’ve ever been, and in our solitude, weak.

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

First, it was Mexicans, Muslims, and undocumented workers. Then came Legal Immigrants, Latinos, African-Americans, LGBTQ individuals, demonstrators, the sick, the poor, women seeking to exercise their constitutional right to abortion, unionists, Liberals, and Democrats. Don’t see YOUR GROUP on the “hit list.” Just wait. It keeps expanding, Folks like Trump and his White Nationalist buddies can’t live without an “enemy of the day” to rally their “base.”

When the GOP White Nationalists decide that YOU no longer fit their image of America, who will be left to stand up for YOUR rights. Harm to the most vulnerable members of our community, and failure to stand up for them, harms and ultimately diminishes the humanity of all of us. And, that’s how free societies are “deconstructed and destroyed.” Stand up for everyone’s rights! Just say no to Trump and his White Nationalist Cabal!

PWS

01-26-18