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Friday, June 15, 2018

Immigration Meltdown


The Trump administration continues to institute policy that dehumanizes people fleeing refuge and asylum who want to enter the U.S. 




More and more reports show gruesomely terror-like practices at the Texas-Mexican border. Children, as young as one year-old, are being taken from their mothers. One reporter told of a child being ripped away from its mother as it was being nursed.

Reporters took to the White House briefing room on Thursday to ask about such border practices and were met with a non-chalant, empathyless response from Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Brian Karem, Editor of The Montgomery County Sentinel, took Huckabee-Sanders (a parent of young children) to task asking her if she any "empathy" for what was happening to the children at the border. What happened next had many shaking their heads in disdain.

Here is a readout of that exchange as prepared by Democracy Now!
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “Hey, Brian, I know you want to get some more TV time, but that’s not what this is about.”
Brian Karem: “It’s not that! It’s not about that. It’s about you answering a question, Sarah. Honestly, answer the question. It’s a serious question. These people have nothing. They come to the border with nothing. And you throw children in cages. You’re a parent! You’re a parent of young children. Don’t you have any empathy for what they go through?”
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “Jill, go ahead.”

U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions (powered by the Trump administration) used the Bible to justify the actions of border patrol agents' practices and has recently issued a 'zero tolerance on illegal immigration. He also justifies the practice by referencing Romans 13.

“I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law,” Sanders said “That is, actually, repeated a number of times throughout the Bible.”
[See also: As Sanders states "it is biblical to enforce the law", former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manifort has been ordered to prision.]

Unforunately, America has seen this kind of treatment of those it deems the least of these. As they saying goes, we've seen this movie before.

Let us not forget that children were ripped away from parents during slavery, all the time. Children were sold off by slave holders to other slave holders - a practice that was legal throughout the United States. Slave holders used the Bible to justify this practice as well.

This go 'round, it's the war on illegal immigration and that is almost, always against people of color: Mexicans and Latinos, Africans, Muslims.

Lady Liberty/New York's Ellis Island where many European immigrants
found solace in America, with little conflict, or being called 'illegal'. Above quote by Emma Lazarus.
These so-called illegal immigration practices do not occur with immigrants coming into the U.S. from European countries. One will be hard pressed to find such inhumane treatment of immigrants coming to the U.S. - illegally - from Norway (the country the president upholds), or the country of origin for the president's wife, Melania (aka Melanie), who hails from Novo Mesto, Slovania, or even immigrants from Trump's beloved country of Russia.

Tough immigration policies are placed upon those who are feared will 'take over' the country. They are the people who cause radical groups to stage rallies like those in Charlottesville, Virginia in an attempt to save what they believe is a country beholden only to them. (See what Jorge Ramos had said about that.) They are the people who prompted an American presidential candidate to run on a  promise to 'make America great again', and they are the people who inspired the 1990 Public Enemy hit song, Fear of A Black Planet.

They are also the people who continue to spawn articles like The Browning of America to show that America, in as little as two decades, will look very different.

Is the browning of America, illegal?

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

SOTU Excerpts (as prepared for delivery)

As President Donald Trump prepares to give his first State of the Union address tonight, here are excerpts of what he plans to address. (As prepared for delivery, from the White House)


•       Together, we are building a SAFE, STRONG, and PROUD America.

•       We want every American to know the dignity of a hard day’s work; we want every child to be safe in their home at night, and we want every citizen to be proud of this land that we love.

•       Just as I promised the American People from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history.

•       Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the Middle Class and small businesses.

•       Since we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses – many of them thousands of dollars per worker. 

•       This is our New American Moment.  There has never been a better time to start living the American dream.

•       Tonight, I want to talk about what kind of future we are going to have, and what kind of nation we are going to be. All of us, together, as one team, one people, and one American family.

•       Americans love their country. And they deserve a government that shows them the same love and loyalty in return.

•       For the last year we have sought to restore the bonds of trust between our citizens and their government.

•       In our drive to make Washington accountable, we have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in history.

•       We have ENDED the war on American Energy – and we have ENDED the War on CLEAN COAL.  We are now an exporter of energy to the world.

•       America has also finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies, our jobs and our nation’s wealth.

•       America is a nation of builders. We built the Empire State Building in just one year – isn’t it a disgrace that it can now take ten years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?

•       I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve. 

•       Struggling communities, especially immigrant communities, will also be helped by immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American Workers and American Families.

•       So tonight I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, to protect our citizens, of every background, color, and creed.

•       As we rebuild America’s strength and confidence at home, we are also restoring our strength and standing abroad.

•       Last year I pledged that we would work with our allies to extinguish ISIS from the face of the earth. One year later, I’m proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated almost 100 percent of the territory once held by these killers in Iraq and Syria.  But there is much more work to be done. We will continue our fight until ISIS is defeated.

•       Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation. I will not repeat the mistakes of the past Administrations that got us into this dangerous position.

Trump State of the Union Guests Identified

President Donald J. Trump Meets with State of the Union Guests


President Donald J. Trump welcomes State of the Union honored guests, from left to right, Robert Mickens, Evelyn Rodriguez and Elizabeth Alvarado and Freddy Cuevas, to the Oval Office at the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, in Washington, D.C. The State of the Union guests will be seated with First Lady Melania Trump, as they are recognized by President Trump during his speech. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)



President Donald J. Trump welcomes State of the Union honored guests U.S. Marine Cpl. (Ret.) Matthew Bradford, and his wife and child, to the Oval Office at the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, in Washington, D.C. The State of the Union guests will be seated with First Lady Melania Trump, as they are recognized by President Trump during his speech. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)



President Donald J. Trump welcomes State of the Union honored guests, Supervisory Special Agent CJ Martinez, right, of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit, to the Oval Office at the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, in Washington, D.C. The State of the Union guests will be seated with First Lady Melania Trump, as they are recognized by President Trump during his speech. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)


President Donald J. Trump welcomes State of the Union honored guests, Albuquerque, NM, police officer Ryan Holets and family, to the Oval Office at the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, in Washington, D.C. The State of the Union guests will be seated with First Lady Melania Trump, as they are recognized by President Trump during his speech. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)



President Donald J. Trump welcomes State of the Union honored guests, Preston Sharp and family, to the Oval Office at the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, in Washington, D.C. The State of the Union guests will be seated with First Lady Melania Trump, as they are recognized by President Trump during his speech. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)



President Donald J. Trump welcomes State of the Union honored guest, U.S. Coast Guard aviation electronics techcian Ashlee Leppert, right, to the Oval Office at the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, in Washington, D.C. The State of the Union guests will be seated with First Lady Melania Trump, as they are recognized by President Trump during his speech. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)



President Donald J. Trump welcomes State of the Union honored guests, Sandy Keplinger, left with her brother Steve Staub of Staub Manufacturing Solutions, and their employee,  skilled welder Corey Adams , to the Oval Office at the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, in Washington, D.C. The State of the Union guests will be seated with First Lady Melania Trump, as they are recognized by President Trump during his speech. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)



President Donald J. Trump welcomes State of the Union honored guests, Corey Adams, a skilled welder for the Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Ohio, to the Oval Office at the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, in Washington, D.C. The State of the Union guests will be seated with First Lady Melania Trump, as they are recognized by President Trump during his speech. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)



President Donald J. Trump welcomes State of the Union honored guest, David Dahlberg, a fire prevention technician in California, to the Oval Office at the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, in Washington, D.C. The State of the Union guests will be seated with First Lady Melania Trump, as they are recognized by President Trump during his speech. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)



President Donald J. Trump welcomes State of the Union honored guest, Jon Bridger, founder of the Cajun Navy, to the Oval Office at the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, in Washington, D.C. The State of the Union guests will be seated with First Lady Melania Trump, as they are recognized by President Trump during his speech. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

###

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The government... is closed for business: Here's why.

The United States government is officially closed for business - as of January 19, 2018.

Happy New Year.

After not reaching an agreement late Friday night on several issues including DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that would protect immigrant children from being deported to countries of their supposed origin, republican and democratic representatives allowed for a government shutdown, instead.

Who's to blame for the shut down?

Seemingly, there's enough blame to go around.

The White House has issued a statement on the shutdown which lays blame on Democrats, calling the government closure 'The Schumer Shutdown', casting Democrats as "losers."

"Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown. Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans. We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators. When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform. During this politically manufactured Schumer Shutdown, the President and his Administration will fight for and protect the American people."

The Democrats blame the House, Senate and White House-controlled Republicans for the government shutdown and have issued their own statements via social media.

"This will be called the #TrumpShutdown, tweeted Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer.

"There is no one who deserves the blame for the position we find ourselves in more than President Trump."

U.S. Senator (and potential 2020 presidential candidate) Cory Booker also took to Twitter to express his concern over the shutdown.

"The Republicans control the White House, Senate & House. With that power comes a basic responsibility to keep the government open. 

Tonight they failed, and now the American people will suffer. #TrumpShutdown



What will the government shutdown look like?

The Washington Post gives a detailed report of government agencies that will be affected by the  shutdown and reveals which government employees will still work and which employees will get sent home, possibly without pay.

You can read their report here.

The military is one organization being affected by the shutdown. 

Vice President Pence, traveling to Cairo and the Middle East said the military is defending the country without getting "paid right away." 

"You have troops headed down range to Kuwait for six month and they are anxious about the fact that they aren't going to get paid right away."

In his official statement, Pence said, 

“Our administration worked in good faith to put a bipartisan deal on the table that would strengthen our borders, end chain migration, eliminate the visa lottery, and deal compassionately with DACA. But rather than solve problems, Democratic leadership preferred a shutdown that has dangerous consequences for our national defense. Their action tonight — or lack thereof — is unconscionable. Our administration will do everything within our power to support the brave men and women in uniform who stand on the front lines of freedom. But as of tonight, due to a completely avoidable government shutdown, they’ll stand their post without pay.”

Despite this, Pence then told service members he met in Shannon, Ireland during a refueling stop to "stay focused on their mission."

"We'll get this thing figured out in Washington", he said.

Speaking to reporters Pence said service members "deserved better" and again called the shutdown "unconscionable." 

The shutdown coincides with the president celebrating his first official year in office. 

"The Democrats wanted to give me a nice present", he tweeted

Trump blamed then-president Barack Obama for the 2013 government shutdown saying, "In 25... in 100 years from now when they talk about the government shutdown, they're going to be talking about the president of the United States."

As the current president, Trump has taken a different stance.

"The Democrats are more concerned with illegal immigrants than our great military or our safety at our dangerous southern border", Trump added. 

Trump gave a Rose Garden statement Thursday in support of the Right To Life. On Monday he is expected to give remarks on school choice and on his recent tax cuts, which he is lauding a success. 

It can be expected that he will also remark on the 2018 government shutdown.


Monday, June 5, 2017

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Personnel to Key Administration Posts

The White House announces intent to nominate the following to the key posts within the administration.

Nominees include Brian Benczkowski, Steve Bradbury and Carlos Muñiz.

Brian Allen Benczkowski of Virginia to be an Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, Department of Justice. Mr. Benczkowski is a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP whose practice focuses on litigation and white collar criminal defense, including government and internal investigations. He has over 10 years of diverse public service experience in the federal government, including key leadership positions both in the U.S. Department of Justice and on Capitol Hill.  Prior to joining Kirkland in 2010, Mr. Benczkowski served as the Republican Staff Director for the Committee on the Judiciary of the U.S. Senate, where he was the top advisor and strategist to Republican members of the committee for legislative, oversight and nominations matters. Previously, Mr. Benczkowski was the Chief of Staff for the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General. As the principal legal, policy and political advisor to the two senior leaders of the Department of Justice, he was responsible for overall direction of the Department, including operational, policy and public relations efforts. Mr. Benczkowski also served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs, where he managed DOJ's relationship with Congress. During this time, he was responsible for directing the Department's response to congressional investigations and requests for information and documents, and preparing numerous witnesses and nominees for testimony before Congress.

Steven Bradbury of Virginia to be General Counsel of Transportation. Mr. Bradbury is a litigation partner at Dechert LLP in Washington, D.C., where his practice focuses on regulatory enforcement and investigations, rulemaking and judicial review of agency actions, appellate cases, and antitrust matters.  He has extensive experience with automotive safety and airline competition issues, including before the Department of Transportation.  From 2005 to 2009, Mr. Bradbury headed the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he advised the executive branch on a wide range of constitutional and statutory questions, and where he received the Edmund J. Randolph Award and the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service, among other awards.  Before serving in the Justice Department, Mr. Bradbury was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP for ten years.  He clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court and for Judge James L. Buckley on the D.C. Circuit.  Mr. Bradbury graduated magna cum laude from Michigan Law School and received his B.A. from Stanford University. 

Robert Charrow of Maryland to be General Counsel of Health and Human Services. Mr. Charrow is a principal shareholder in the Washington, D.C. office of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, where he specializes in litigation arising under the Administrative Procedure Act, the federal regulation of healthcare, and federal appellate litigation. Before joining Greenberg Traurig in 2002, he was with the law firm Crowell & Moring.  Previously, he served as the Deputy and then Principal Deputy General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He supervised the chief counsel for the various agencies within the Department, including the Health Care Financing Administration (now CMS), Office of Inspector General, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Public Health Service. Mr. Charrow received his law degree from Stanford University in 1969 and did his undergraduate work in physics at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California.

Carlos G. Muñiz of Florida to be General Counsel at the Department of Education. Mr. Muñiz is an attorney and consultant at McGuireWoods. His prior experience in government includes serving as Deputy Attorney General of the State of Florida and as Deputy General Counsel to the Governor of Florida. He earned degrees from the University of Virginia and from Yale Law School. After law school, he served as a law clerk to Judge José A. Cabranes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and to Judge Thomas A. Flannery of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Mr. Muñiz and his wife reside in Tallahassee, Florida, with their three children.

Peter Louis Oppenheim of Maryland to be Assistant Secretary for Legislation and Congressional Affairs at the Department of Education. Mr. Oppenheim is currently the Education Policy Director and Counsel for the majority staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. During his tenure on the Senate HELP Committee staff, Mr. Oppenheim was instrumental in negotiations leading to the enactment of several landmark education laws, including the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013. Previously, Mr. Oppenheim was Senator Lamar Alexander's (R-TN) Legislative Counsel, advising the Senator on education, labor, and pensions issues. Before working on the Hill, Mr. Oppenheim was a Managing Associate in the education and workforce practice at the Carmen Group. Mr. Oppenheim also served as a public policy research assistant for former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA), a finance coordinator for the Republican Governors Association, and a project manager for the Republican National Committee. Mr. Oppenheim earned a B.A. from Colby College and a J.D. cum laude from the American University Washington College of Law.

Joseph Otting of Nevada to be Comptroller of the Currency at the Department of the Treasury. Prior to his nomination, Mr. Otting had a long career in financial services working for a number of highly regarded regional banks. Most recently he served as managing partner of Ocean Blvd LLC and Lake Blvd LLC. Mr. Otting previously served as President and CEO of OneWest Bank N.A and Vice Chairman of U.S. Bancorp. Mr. Otting holds a B.A. from the University of Northern Iowa and is a graduate of the School of Credit and Financial Management at Dartmouth College.

David P. Pekoske of Maryland to be an Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration. Mr. Pekoske has extensive operational and command experience through a distinguished career with the U. S. Coast Guard, where he retired as the Vice Commandant.  In this key leadership position within the Department of Homeland Security he was the Coast Guard’s second-in-command and chief operating officer.  Before that, he was Commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area and Coast Guard Defense Forces West. Throughout his career, he worked closely with the men and women in Federal, State, and local law enforcement and public safety organizations to protect the American people. Since retiring from the Coast Guard, he has been an executive in the government services industry leading business units that provided homeland security and intelligence related services.  Additionally, he has been a member of the adjunct faculty at American University and been active in many organizations that advance military, veterans, and national security issues. Mr. Pekoske has a Master of Business Administration degree from the Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Master of Public Administration degree from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. He is a graduate of the U. S. Coast Guard Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree.

Charles Douglas Stimson of Virginia to be General Counsel of the Department of the Navy. Mr. Stimson currently serves as a Senior Legal Fellow and Manager of the National Security Law Program at The Heritage Foundation, where he leads the foundation's research efforts related to national security law issues including the Law of Armed Conflict, FISA, military law, War Powers, military commissions, and U.S. detention and interrogation policy. He also specializes in criminal law and homeland security. Mr. Stimson also serves as a Captain in the United States Navy Judge Advocate Generals Corps (JAG), reserve component, and is currently the Commanding Officer of the Navy Appellate Government unit. Previously, Mr. Stimson was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs under President George W. Bush, and an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. In addition, he served as a Vice President for Private Equity Mergers & Acquisitions at Marsh McLennan. Mr. Stimson holds a B.A. from Kenyon College, a J.D. from the George Mason University School of Law, and attended Harvard University and Exeter University in England. 

Owen West of Connecticut to be an Assistant Secretary of Defense, Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict. Mr. West most recently served as Partner, Head of Global Natural Gas Trading and Co-Head of Global Power Trading at Goldman Sachs & Co., where he designed and managed this international risk business. Previously, Mr. West served as an infantry platoon commander, reconnaissance platoon leader, and combat advisor in the United States Marine Corps, where he was twice deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is the author of three books and dozens of articles on military affairs and adventure sports. Mr. West was also a director of the Positive Coaching Alliance, a director of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Mr. West is a graduate of Harvard University, and the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

David Steele Bohigian of Missouri to be Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Mr. Bohigian is the Managing Director of Pluribus Ventures, an advisor to financial services firms and growth companies. Earlier, he served on the core management team of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund. Prior to Bridgewater, Mr. Bohigian founded E2 Capital Partners, which developed new financing models for energy efficiency projects. Mr. Bohigian previously served as an Assistant Secretary of Commerce and served as a Managing Director of Idealab and as a partner at Jefferson Partners, a Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm. He received his law degree from Washington University in St. Louis and a journalism degree from Washington & Lee University. 

Ray Washburne of Texas to be the President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Mr. Washburne is the President and CEO of Charter Holdings, a private real estate investment company based in Dallas.  He is the co-founder and co-owner of M Crowd Restaurant Group, which owns and operates Mi Cocina, Taco Diner and The Mercury restaurants.  Mr. Washburne is the President and Managing Director of Highland Park Village in Dallas.  Mr. Washburne received his B.A. from Southern Methodist University.

Hundreds of groups pen letter to Trump to end assault on human and civil rights

Hundreds of civil and human rights groups have penned a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to "end his systematic assault on civil and human rights."

Led by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 99 other such groups that include The Human Rights Campaign, the A. Philip Randolph Institute and the AFL-CIO, the groups maintain that the Trump administration has been making generous cuts to several civil rights organizations.

“It’s clear that President Trump and his administration is attempting to roll back civil and human rights across the board. That will not stand,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference.

The administration has vehemently cited his intent to "repeal and replace" Obamacare and what the administration deems as "high cost" health care. It has also promised an increase in spending for the following governmental agencies, as cited by OMB director Mick Mulvaney.

In an off-camera briefing on the FY18 budget Mulvaney in late May, 2017 told reporters that the administration is working to increase funding on "national security", "border security" ("bricks and mortar for a wall"), "technology people", and "infrastructure at the border."

[Group objects Trump's infrastructure plan]

Mulvaney also cited an increase in several other areas, among them law enforcement.

"It also means more money for law enforcement at the federal and the state levels.  It means more money for veterans, more money for school choice", Mulvaney said.

With the increase in funding in the above-mentioned areas, groups like the AFL-CIO are concerned
their organizations will see a decrease in funding to support increases elsewhere.

“We believe in an America that is inclusive, fair, and just for all people – and we demand that this White House and the agencies work – as we all must – to continue to build an America as good as its ideals. Only then can we continue to make America great", said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference.

The group's letter reads as follows:

Dear President Trump:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 national advocacy organizations, and the 99 undersigned organizations, we stand united in expressing our profound concern that the civil and human rights of all Americans are being drastically undermined by your administration’s proposed deep cuts to key civil rights office budgets, the withdrawal of numerous important civil and human rights policies, and the appointment of officials who appear bent on retreating from statutory civil and human rights agency priorities. We call upon your administration to reverse these disturbing trends, and to demonstrate a far greater commitment to the civil and human rights of all people in this country and to the federal laws created to protect them.

Extending equal opportunity in education, employment, housing; protecting the right to vote; reducing hate violence and racial disparities in the criminal justice system; preventing discrimination in health care; and advancing economic security are not simply legal obligations that your administration must meet. Our nation’s civil and human rights laws are a testament to who we are today as a country, a sign of the tremendous progress we have made throughout our history, and a pledge we make to future generations to continue moving ever closer to our ideals of fairness and equity for all. For decades, and for compelling reasons, the vigorous enforcement of these laws has been a core federal responsibility, and should never be seen as optional or as a matter of politics.

Our concerns were recently exemplified by an article in The Washington Post, detailing recent steps your administration has taken to retreat from our nation’s longstanding commitment to civil rights enforcement. The examples cited in that article – such as the proposed elimination of the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, the end of the environmental justice program at the Environmental Protection Agency, and threats of drastic staff cutbacks in the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights – are only the most recent signs that your administration is engaged in a significant rollback of civil rights enforcement. They build upon a record that already borders on the unconscionable, which includes a discriminatory Muslim ban, limits on the use of consent decrees to reform troubled police departments, the revival of a failed war on drugs, support of an intentionally racially discriminatory voter ID law, the formation of an illegitimate “election integrity” task force to attempt to justify voter suppression efforts, increased prosecutions and mass deportation of undocumented immigrants, proposed defunding of Planned Parenthood, the signing of an executive order that endorses discrimination under the guise of religious liberty, freezes on affirmative litigation, and the rollback of guidance clarifying protections for transgender students.

We were stunned to hear a White House spokesperson claim, in the Post article, that your administration “has an unwavering commitment to the civil rights of all Americans.” Your administration’s actions to date demonstrate the opposite. We urge you to reverse course, before more individuals and communities are harmed, by resolving to take the following steps:
  • Enforce the law. Federal agencies must vigorously respond to complaints of civil and human rights violations, and must uphold the vital federal role of enforcing our civil and human rights laws and ensuring vulnerable communities are protected from discrimination. 
  • Preserve existing policies. In recent years, federal civil rights offices have issued numerous policies and procedures to clarify the obligations of affected individuals, employers, and governmental entities under federal civil and human rights laws. These must be maintained.
  • Nominate and appoint qualified individuals. We urge you to ensure that individuals chosen to lead civil rights offices have a demonstrated record of support for federal civil rights laws and marginalized communities. Individuals who are unfamiliar with or hostile to our nation’s civil rights laws and their purpose have no place leading offices charged with protecting people from discrimination.
  • Prioritize data collection. A key component of civil rights enforcement, in many agencies, is continuing to collect, and make available to the public, disaggregated data to determine existing patterns and to promote better future compliance with federal hate crime and nondiscrimination laws.
  • Condemn bigotry and violence. Law enforcement agencies and community-based organizations have documented a significant increase in bigotry and hate crimes. We urge you to establish a White House hate crime task force to coordinate federal agency response.  You and all members of your administration should use your bully pulpit to clearly condemn bias-motivated violence and bigotry targeting people based on race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability at every opportunity. 
Our vision of an America as good in practice as it is in promise is fundamentally undermined by your administration's apparent agenda of nothing less than an all-out, systemic assault on the progress our country has made since the New Deal. Our nation should honor equal protection for all, view its diversity as its strength, and strive to be an inclusive place where all in America can live, work, study, and participate in our democracy as free and equal people. We call on you and your administration to take affirmative steps to halt the problematic policies and initiatives we have outlined, and to provide positive leadership on these issues in order to promote inclusion and respect for the basic rights and dignity of every person in America.

Sincerely,

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
9to5, National Association of Working Women
A. Philip Randolph Institute
American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity
American Association of People with Disabilities
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
American Civil Liberties Union
American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Unions (AFL-CIO)s
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees
American Federation of Teachers
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Americans for Financial Reform
Amnesty International USA
The Andrew Goodman Foundation
Anti-Defamation League
The Arc of the United States
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - AAJC
Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
Augustus F. Hawkins Foundation
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Center for Community Change Action
Center for Law and Social Policy
Center for Reproductive Rights
Center for Responsible Lending
Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism-California State University, San Bernardino
Common Cause
Communications Workers of America
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
Equal Justice Society
Equality Federation
Family Equality Council
Feminist Majority
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
GLSEN
Human Rights Campaign
Human Rights First
interACT
Interfaith Alliance
International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies
Justice in Aging
Lambda Legal
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
League of United Latin American Citizens
League of Women Voters of the United States
Legal Aid at Work
MALDEF
Matthew Shepard Foundation
Muslim Advocates
NAACP
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Inc.
National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE)
National Association of Social Workers
National Bar Association
National Black Justice Coalition
National CAPACD
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Center for Youth Law
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC)
National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)
National Council of Churches
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council of La Raza
The National Council on Independent Living
National Disability Rights Network
National Education Association
National Employment Law Project
National Employment Lawyers Association
National Fair Housing Alliance
National Health Law Program
National Hispanic Media Coalition
National Immigration Law Center
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
National LGBTQ Task Force
National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC)
National Organization for Women
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Urban League
National Women's Law Center
OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates
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(Source)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

President Trump blames the media (again) while admonishing Coast Guard grads to "never give up."

Lauds his work as president.

President Trump took his blame-the-media speech to New London, Connecticut Wednesday where he gave the commencement address to the 2017 graduating class of U.S. Coast Guard.

The president admonished the graduates to "never give up", suggesting he won the presidency because he never gave up his fight against "unfair" events, "especially by the media."

"Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media", Trump said.

"No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.  You can’t let them get you down.  You can’t let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams."

The president told the graduates they "will find that things happen to you that you do not deserve and that are not always warranted.  But you have to put your head down and fight, fight, fight.  Never, ever, ever give up.  Things will work out just fine", he said.

Trump may be wondering if his tenure as president will 'work out just fine' as he has come under fire by the media (and by Democrats and Republicans alike) for his charge with Russia and his firing of then-FBI Director James Comey. Trump is accused of asking Comey to end an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and his ties with Russian officials.

[See: Dems call for impeachment of President Trump]
[See also: President Trump said Comey told him, three times, he was not  under investigation]

Trump lauds his work since becoming president.

Not all of the president's remarks were about his relationship with the media. He also praised the Coast Guard for their work, while lauding his own.

"I’ve accomplished a tremendous amount in a very short time as President", Trump said.

"Jobs pouring back in to our country; a brand-new Supreme Court justice; a historic investment in our military; border crossings are down more than 70 percent in just a short period of time (by a lot); we’ve saved the Second Amendment, expanded service for our veterans, and we are going to take care of our veterans like they’ve never been taken care of before", he said to audience applause.

[See: Trump's jobs claim fact checked].

And there are more claims the president said he has done since becoming president (parts truncated, see entire speech here).

"I’ve loosened up the strangling environmental chains wrapped around our country and our economy; we’ve begun plans and preparations for the border wall, (which he claims "is going along very, very well"); we’re working on major tax cuts for all, and we’re also getting closer and closer, day-by-day, to great health care for our citizens.

[See latest article on rising health care rates]

"And we are setting the stage right now for many, many more things to come", the president said to an enthusiastic audience.

With what the Trump administration has already brought in such a short period of time, more Americans may wonder if they can handle Trump's claim of "more to come", and wonder if America is really "winning like never before"?

New

President Trump responds to news Robert Mueller pegged to investigate U.S. elections tampering by Russia.

"As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know – there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity.  I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.  In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country.