Tuesday, January 31, 2017

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45's Empire Strikes back

January 31, 2017
It’s clear the extremism is strong with this Administration: As of last night, President Trump executed Order 66 fired the Acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, and the Acting Director of Immigration Enforcement, Daniel Ragsdale. Yates was terminated for telling the Justice Department that she would not defend Trump’s Muslim ban because she was not “convinced that the executive order is lawful.” Shortly after her statement, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced that “Sally Yates has been relieved.” The reasons behind Ragsdale’s firing are less clear.
Trump’s quick removal of acting heads of agencies is not only shocking, it’s dangerous. The Trump Administration has made it clear that they are making room in the ranks for their extreme cabinet nominees. The administration replaced Ragsdale with Thomas Homan, who was responsible for the agency’s enforcement and removal operations. Making clear the administration’s motives, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said Homan had led efforts “to identify, arrest, detain, and remove illegal aliens.” Instead of Yates, a woman who stood up to a president to defend the Constitution, Trump wants Senator Jeff Sessions at the helm of the Department of Justice. Sessions is racistincredibly anti-immigrant, and likely had a hand in crafting the Muslim ban. It’s time for everyone to join the resistance against Trump’s extremism. Let’s make sure the Senate can #StopSessions before his fear of Muslims and immigrants leads us (even farther) down the path to the dark side.

And on the 7th day, Trump violated the first amendment prohibitions against a state religion

By Mark Sumner
Saturday Jan 28, 2017 · 8:30 PM EST

How do you destroy a democracy? You do it fast. You do it while people still think traditions have meaning. You do it while people still expect policies to be followed. You do it while people still believe that institutions have value. And if it takes coming in on a weekend to erase democracy … you make that sacrifice.

On Friday, Donald Trump signed an executive order abruptly cutting off travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations. But Trump’s order avoided nations where he does business as well as those that were home to the 9/11 terrorists. If the religious bigotry wasn’t obvious enough, Trump followed up by making it clear that Christian refugees get special treatment while Muslims are left behind—a blatant violation of the first amendment.

Trump’s order was so poorly planned and executed that the result wasn’t just clearly immoral, it was also confused and chaotic. With not just refugees, but ordinary immigrants, including many who were already working in the United States, caught up in the misrule.

Watching not just US policy, but the last grains of the nation’s moral standing scrawled away with Trump’s bigoted order didn't bother Republicans. Who found they had something to say on every topic — except that of families torn apart, legal immigrants stranded in airports, and people who had put their lives on the line to serve with the United States being denied the admission they were promised.

But Democratic legislators did come forward and continue to speak out against Trump’s “xenophobic” order and in defense of the people trapped between two worlds by a regime that would rather frighten Americans with the boogeyman of nonexistent danger than uphold the values that truly made America great.

As Trump signed a new brace of executive orders (including one that invites the Secretary of Defense to take another look at torture), Trump was asked about his Muslim ban. His response was to deny that it is a Muslim ban and also to deny the evidence of world-snarling f*ck up visible on every television screen.

And above all this was a reminder to Democrats that there is no nominee, no policy, no subject on which they should support Trump.

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White, Conservative, Christian Friends — I Wish You Really Were Pro-Life

10/13/2016 04:09 pm ET | Updated Oct 13, 2016

John Pavlovitz
Pastor and Writer

You tell me that you’re voting for Donald Trump for one reason: because you’re pro-life.

Despite everything you’ve seen and know about this man (much of which you openly lament), you say that you just can’t support someone who doesn’t share your burden, and that you’re voting solely this issue.

Life, you say is the ultimate deal breaker for you.

I wish that were true.

I actually don’t believe you’re pro-life, I believe you’re anti-abortion, which is a far more selective and convenient defense of Humanity. From where I’m standing it seems as though “Life” for you, comprises a very narrow demographic — one that bears a striking resemblance to you. The unborn are easy to advocate for because you can idealize them into something palatable to you, something benign and comfortable, something in your own image.

You see, it’s not that you’re really pro-life, you’re pro-straight, white, Christian fetuses.

I can tell by how often your heavy burden for the sanctity of life evaporates upon delivery. In so many cases this compassion really has a nine-month expiration date, as if life begins at conception but ends upon leaving the birth canal. The completion of that third trimester is actually the shelf life of your passionate regard for much of the living.

From where I’m standing it seems as though ‘Life,’ for you, comprises a very narrow demographic — one that bears a striking resemblance to you.
Because if that life you say you so treasure, one day converts to Islam, you label it dangerous, you see it as a threat, you applaud suggestions of its expulsion, you deny it open worship.

If that life eventually comes out as LGBTQ, you condemn its soul, harass it in your workplace and church, try to prevent its marriage, tell it where and when it can use a public bathroom. You bully it and drive it to suicide.

If that life has brown skin and wears baggy pants and gets gunned down during a traffic stop, you not only have little grief over its loss, but readily blame it for its own execution.

If that life is strapped to a prison gurney and pumped full of drugs that will cease its lungs from expanding while its terrified mind comprehends it all, you celebrate the occasion as justice being served — after a last meal you resent having to pay for.

If that life has to endure its formative years in overcrowded, grossly underfunded public schools, you tell it to “pull itself up by its own bootstraps,” while nestled in the cloistered, privileged gated community of a Suburbia where bootstraps come with a birth certificate.

If that life has working parents who can’t make a living wage, you label it a lazy, unproductive drain on society always looking for handouts and trying to work the system to its advantage.

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Today I shed a tear for the country I know and love, the one I believe still beats in the heart of most of its citizens.

The United States became the most powerful nation in the history of mankind not merely on the basis is its fearsome military, as lethal and well trained as that may be. It wasn’t solely based on its unprecedented economic engine, as dynamic and far-reaching as that may be. America’s greatness was forged by a Constitutional compact of grand and universal ideals that the country has tried to live up to ever since.

For generations, we have been an imperfect but vital beacon of freedom to a world too often wandering and failing in moral confusion. But that ultimate strength has dimmed considerably in light of the recent actions on immigration from the new President Donald Trump. We are turning around desperate refugees. We are singling out men, women, and children on the basis of their faith – and we are doing all of this with a randomness and capriciousness that defies reason.

A colleague of mine used the term “heartless” to describe so much of the President’s executive actions. Sadly, I found it an apt and dispiriting diagnosis—especially when faced with the results of his executive order on immigration. For over the years, I have seen that our greatest American leaders extol empathy rather than condemnation.

They have known that in a complicated world, it is best to make policy choices with a scalpel – not a hacksaw. Sometimes, when our national security is threatened at the level of World War II, all-out conflict is the only recourse. But those instances are by far the exception.

From Vietnam, to the Iraq War, from Japanese internment camps to the centuries-long persecution on the basis of race and ethnicity that almost toppled our democratic experiment, broad strokes channeling our least compassionate and most jingoistic impulses have always made us weaker rather than stronger.

Today, in the wake of his one-man decision to wreck and reverse immigration policy so suddenly, there is chaos and confusion mixed with heartbreak and fear. A well thought-out, measured overhaul of immigration policy, with organized-in-advance measures to implement that is one thing—and one that perhaps a majority of Americans would support.

But this mess, created overnight, is quite another. With this, we have embolden our enemies who want to see nothing else than to compete in a world of moral relativism. In the Cold War, our struggles over civil rights fed into the propaganda of the Soviet Union – as our new actions fuel the extremism Mr. Trump claims to be attacking.

Too many people during the campaign explained away Mr. Trump’s irresponsible rhetoric as metaphors and euphemisms. These are not concepts he understands. Serious foreign policy experts know that this is a boon for our enemies and undermines our democratic principles. But too many Republican leaders in Congress, even ones that denounced the Muslim ban during the campaign, stand by cheering it now. History will mark their names, as it marks this moment.

This will be challenged in the courts, who may very well strike it down. But damage, real damage, has been done to our global image. I believe Vladimir Putin is smiling, and would-be global powers like China see a vacuum forming that they will be eager to fill.

I still remain optimistic that the vast majority of American people will recoil and speak out at this unwise policy. But whether we like it or not, as the detentions and impediments already springing up make all too real, this is the stated de facto policy of the United States today. Every day that it goes on, every day the chaos, confusion and heartbreak deepens, America loses more pieces of its soul and standing in the world.
~Dan Rather

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Ferguson residents still at risk while police fail to comply with reform

Rss@dailykos.com (kelly Macias) · Friday, January 27, 2017, 7:26 pm

Here we go again. After being investigated by the Justice Department after the police shooting death of Michael Brown in 2014, the Ferguson Police Department was found to routinely violate the civil rights of its black residents. Among some of the DOJ findings—the circulation of racist emails by city officials, unconstitutional stops and arrests, imposing unduly harsh penalties for missed payments or appearances, and maximizing city revenue by encouraging officers to ticket more people.

Apparently, institutionalizing thuggery and abuse wasn’t enough. Now the Ferguson Police Department has added contempt and noncompliance to its arsenal. The Associated Press reports that city officials missed deadlines in what was supposed to be an agreement with the DOJ to reform its policing practices.

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Donald Trump Has Already Made America Great Again

By Bridget Phetasy
January 20, 2017

I realize this is the unpopular opinion in most of my liberal peer circles, but I’m optimistic about President Donald Trump. In my opinion, he’s already made America great again. Before you start composing my death threat, let me explain why.







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The CDC canceled a climate change event. Al Gore will host it instead.

Julia Belluz · Thursday, January 26, 2017, 4:18 pm

Gore to Trump: "Climate shouldn’t be a political issue."

Remember on Monday, when the Washington Post broke a story that officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had abruptly canceled a long-scheduled meeting on the health risks of climate change? If you missed it, the CDC didn’t give a reason why, but it was clear it had to do with the new Trump administration’s doubtful stance on climate change.

Well, the event is back on with a new host: former Vice President Al Gore, of An Inconvenient Truth fame.

According to a press release, Gore, along with the American Public Health Association, the Harvard Global Health Institute, and a number of other health and environment groups, will hold a one-day meeting on February 16 at the Carter Center in Atlanta — a scaled-down version of the original three-day CDC event.

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What the hell is going on at the EPA right now?

Brad Plumer · Thursday, January 26, 2017, 3:18 pm

It’s safe to say there’s an enormous amount of panic — and confusion — about what’s going on with the Trump administration and the Environmental Protection Agency right now.

Over the past few days, we’ve seen reports that Trump’s team ordered EPA employees not to speak to the press or use social media for a period of time. They’ve imposed a (temporary) freeze on new grants and contracts. Trump’s political appointees even reportedly asked the EPA to remove parts of the agency’s climate change website — before receiving pushback from career staffers and then clarifying publicly that they merely planned on “scrubbing [the website] up a bit, putting a little freshener on it.” Within the agency, morale among career staff is low.

Now, on one level, the initial media furor around these stories has been a little overblown. It’s really not that unusual for a new president to come in and put agency actions on hold temporarily while political appointees get a feel for their departments — and figure out how to align agency actions and messaging with the administration’s policy priorities. That’s the benign interpretation of many of these moves.

Indeed, Trump’s spokespeople have clarified that many of these EPA “blackouts” are likely to be short-lived — both the freeze on grants and the political review of outgoing scientific press releases are expected to be lifted by Friday, January 27.

Some of the disarray here may stem from the fact that Trump’s transition team got a later start and moved more slowly than Bush’s or Obama’s did. In previous transitions, for instance, an incoming administration would’ve reviewed EPA grants and contracts before the inauguration — so there wasn’t a need to suddenly freeze new grants on week one, explains Scott Fulton, who was the EPA’s general counsel during the Obama administration and is now president of the Environmental Law Institute.

But on another level, even if some of the early outrage has been overheated, it’s hardly a mystery why there’s a lot of dread and uncertainty about the EPA right now. You just have to look at what happened at the agency during the George W. Bush years — and also at what Trump’s team have explicitly said they want to do. The idea that we could very soon see a Trump “war on science” at the agency is hardly unfounded.

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Trump plans visits to U.S. cities, finds they don't want him anywhere near them

Rss@dailykos.com (kelly Macias) · Thursday, January 26, 2017, 10:18 am

It’s less than a week into Trump’s term as POTUS and he can’t go anywhere without being reminded that people did not actually vote for him.

Not only did they not vote for him, they kind of hate him. No, they actually hate him—no “kind of” about it.

The day after his inauguration he was officially welcomed to Washington with the largest protest in U.S. history. And people aren’t done yet. On Tuesday there were more than 100 Stop Trump protests conducted around the country. And now in the latest example of organized resistance, Philadelphia, otherwise known as the City of Brotherly Love, plans to show Trump on Thursday just exactly what they think of him.

President Trump’s visit to Center City on Thursday will be met with traffic, parking, and pedestrian restrictions as well as a large contingent of protesters…

A group on Facebook was organizing a lunch-hour “die-in” on Thursday to protest Trump’s proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The protesters will gather at Thomas Paine Plaza across the street from City Hall and then march to Loews, where they will fall to the ground.

A “Queer Rager” dance party to protest the proposed health care repeal was planned for outside the Loews on Wednesday night.

An immigrant-rights group from New York was planning to send protesters to Philadelphia on Thursday morning.

Protests, queer dance parties, and die-ins, oh my! Imagine organizing the resistance so that these types of events greet him in every American city he visits. What would it do to his fragile little ego then?

Poor, sad demoralized little Trump, reminded every day that he is hated by the country that didn’t actually elect him.

Oh, well. Since we know his favorite thing is himself, we could always send him this sweet elephant dung greeting card with his image on it to make him feel better. Loser!


Texas GOP Rep. Slams Trump's Wall: It's 'Unnecessary' And Too Expensive

Caitlin Macneal · Thursday, January 26, 2017, 9:07 am

After President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive action ordering the construction of a wall along the United States' border with Mexico, Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) issued a scathing statement criticizing Trump's order.

"The facts have not changed. Building a wall is the most expensive and least effective way to secure the border," Hurd said in a Wednesday statement. "Each section of the border faces unique geographical, cultural, and technological challenges that would be best addressed with a flexible, sector-by-sector approach that empowers the agents on the ground with the resources they need. A wall may be an effective tool in densely populated areas, but a variety of tools are needed between Brownsville, Texas and San Diego, California."


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