Category Archives: Justice

Conservatives lament the moral decay of the GOP under Donald Trump

Two important opinion pieces recently from conservative pundits on the moral decay of the GOP under Donald Trump. People who approve of Trump do so *because* of his behavior in office, not despite it.

First, Michael Gerson of the Washington Post writes, Trump deepens the moral damage to the GOP:

Repetition is the enemy of maintaining proper distinctions. It is a short road from being serially outraged to being slightly bored to being completely inured.

Thus many are likely to find the pardon of former Arizona county sheriff Joe Arpaio to be just another . . . something. Just another public feeding of President Trump’s base; or just an additional shiny distraction from real issues; or just one more cause for head-shaking and shoulder-shrugging; or just further evidence of the tawdry political company kept by the president of the United States.

This would be a mistake. This presidential action is not “just” anything. Following his expression of sympathy for the “very fine people” attending a white- supremacist rally in Charlottesville — who were, he said, defending “our history and heritage” — Trump must have known his next move would be highly symbolic, either as a retreat from prejudice or as its affirmation. What followed with the Arpaio pardon constitutes the most forthright racist incitement of the Trump era.

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An authoritarian vision of ‘law and order’

The Washington Post reports that Trump to restore program sending surplus military weapons to police:

Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 4.13.52 PMPresident Donald Trump plans to resume the transfer of surplus weapons, vehicles and other equipment from the nation’s military to its state and local law enforcement agencies, reviving a program that was sharply curtailed by President Barack Obama two years ago. The program launched in 1990 but was greatly limited after public reaction to images of heavily militarized police in the streets of Ferguson, Mo., and other sites of civil unrest.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the move Monday morning at the Fraternal Order of Police convention in Nashville, and said the president would do so by executive order. The police union had lobbied for the restoration of the program, and Trump said he would do so during his campaign.

“The decision to restore the flow of military weaponry to civilian law enforcement was the latest move by the Trump administration both to stake out a hard-line stance on law and order as they view it, and to undo actions by the Obama administration which were unpopular in some quarters of law enforcement.”

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Trump Tower Moscow, a tower of lies from Trump (Updated)

As a candidate for president (and since), Donald Trump has repeatedly denied that he had any business interests in Russia. Here’s what we know about Donald Trump and his ties to Russia; Donald Trump’s Many, Many, Many, Many Ties to Russia.

This, of course, was a lie. And it was known to be a lie at the time. On Sunday, the Washington Post reported Trump’s business sought deal on a Trump Tower in Moscow while he ran for president:

While Donald Trump was running for president in late 2015 and early 2016, his company was pursuing a plan to develop a massive Trump Tower in Moscow, according to several people familiar with the proposal and new records reviewed by Trump Organization lawyers.

As part of the discussions, a Russian-born real estate developer urged Trump to come to Moscow to tout the proposal and suggested that he could get President Vladimir Putin to say “great things” about Trump, according to several people who have been briefed on his correspondence.

The developer, Felix Sater, predicted in a November 2015 email that he and Trump Organization leaders would soon be celebrating — both one of the biggest residential projects in real estate history and Donald Trump’s election as president, according to two of the people with knowledge of the exchange.

Sater wrote to Trump Organization Executive Vice President Michael Cohen “something to the effect of, ‘Can you believe two guys from Brooklyn are going to elect a president?’ ” said one person briefed on the email exchange. Sater emigrated from what was then the Soviet Union when he was 6 and grew up in Brooklyn.

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DACA program ‘Dreamers’ are threatened by GOP anti-immigrant politics

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program granted permission to stay and work to about 800,000 immigrants who were brought illegally into the United States as children by their parents or other adults. (Another 200,000 young people have sought DACA status since Trump became president in January.)

Because of their young age, these children have no legal culpability for illegal immigration. Many of them have been raised as U.S. citizens, this is the only country they have known, and they have no memories of nor connections to their place of origin.

Since attacking DACA on the campaign trail, Donald Trump has pledged to keep the DACA program alive, calling recipients, also known as Dreamers, “absolutely incredible kids” who deserve compassion. In late April, he told the Associated Press that young people covered by the program could “rest easy” because his priority was deporting criminals. “This is a case of heart,” he said.

That was then, this is now. DACA children can’t vote, so now they are expendable to GOP anti-immigration politics.

NBC News reports that President Donald Trump appears likely to pull the plug on DACA. Trump Likely to End DACA Immigrant Program:

Administration officials said Friday that the Homeland Security secretary, Elaine Duke, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions discussed the program with senior officials Thursday during a meeting at the White House. Sessions has been a consistent opponent of the program.

Trump is said to be weighing whether to let DACA gradually expire or end it immediately, but the officials said it is not yet clear which option Trump may choose.

The program “continues to be under review,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, told reporters Friday.

Civil rights groups warned that canceling DACA would play into the hands of white supremacists.

“It would be a grave moral and legal error,” said Vanita Gupta, director of the Leadership Conference on Human Rights and former head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division under President Barack Obama.

“Killing the DACA program as the Trump administration’s first post-Charlottesville move would be absolutely shameful,” Gupta added. “We must not allow the hate violence that we saw on the streets of Charlottesville to become the guiding force for policy making.”

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Collaborators in Trumpism, the new American Fascism

A must-read column today from the New York Times‘ Paul Krugman on Fascism, American Style:

As sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., Joe Arpaio engaged in blatant racial discrimination. His officers systematically targeted Latinos, often arresting them on spurious charges and at least sometimes beating them up when they questioned those charges. Read the report from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and prepare to be horrified.

Once Latinos were arrested, bad things happened to them. Many were sent to Tent City, which Arpaio himself proudly called a “concentration camp,” where they lived under brutal conditions, with temperatures inside the tents sometimes rising to 145 degrees.

And when he received court orders to stop these practices, he simply ignored them, which led to his eventual conviction — after decades in office — for contempt of court. But he had friends in high places, indeed in the highest of places. We now know that Donald Trump tried to get the Justice Department to drop the case against Arpaio, Trump Asked Top Aides Months Ago if Arpaio Case Could Be Dropped, Officials Say, a clear case of attempted obstruction of justice. And when that ploy failed, Trump, who had already suggested that Arpaio was “convicted for doing his job,” pardoned him.

By the way, about “doing his job,” it turns out that Arpaio’s officers were too busy rounding up brown-skinned people and investigating President Barack Obama’s birth certificate to do other things, like investigate cases of sexually abused children. Priorities!

Let’s call things by their proper names here. Arpaio is, of course, a white supremacist. But he’s more than that. There’s a word for political regimes that round up members of minority groups and send them to concentration camps, while rejecting the rule of law: What Arpaio brought to Maricopa, and what the president of the United States has just endorsed, was fascism, American style.

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Trump pardons his partner in crime, crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio (Updated)

The Trump administration has made prodigious use of the “Friday night news dump” since taking office. And with much of the nation distracted by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and the potential natural disaster of catastrophic flooding to occur over the next several days,  the Trump administration announced, among other moves, the first presidential pardon issued by President Trump to former Maricopa County Sheriff crazy Uncle Joe Arpaio. President Donald Trump pardons former Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

It was not a pardon issued in the “regular order” of how pardons are issued by the Department of Justice, Standards for Consideration of Clemecy Petitioners, but rather was a patently political pardon issued by the president to a political supporter and friend — Trump announced his intentions at his Phoenix campaign rally — a dispensation if you will, to Trump’s partner in crime in the racist Obama “birther” movement and his anti-immigrant nationalism movement.

Arpaio was found by the court to have singled out people based on their race for disproportionate law enforcement scrutiny with his immigration sweeps, which violated their constitutional civil rights and the fundamental principle of equal justice under the law.

Arpaio was ordered by the Court to cease and desist, and his office agreed to a consent agreement with the Department of Justice to monitor his compliance. Arpaio defiantly violated the court’s order and that agreement. Arpaio had a legal duty to obey the court’s order while appealing it. Arpaio was properly found guilty of criminal contempt of the court’s order.

Trump’s pardon of Arpaio sends the message that some people are above the law if they have friends in high places in the White House.

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