Friday, August 25, 2017

Last Call For Pardon The Catastrophe

As he has threatened to do several times over the last month, Donald Trump has now followed through on his first pardon: former Arizona Sherriff Joe Arpaio.

Trump has granted a presidential pardon to former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, of Maricopa County, Arizona. The memo mentions his "admirable" and "selfless public service." 
Arpaio is being pardoned for criminal contempt charges for disobeying a 2011 court order that ordered him to stop detaining people based on his suspicions they were undocumented immigrants in what critics have called racist and discriminatory practices.  
Arpaio served as a sheriff from 1993-2016 until he was defeated last year. He endorsed Trump's presidential candidacy in January 2016 and appeared with him at campaign events. 
Why it matters: Choosing Arpaio as the first pardon will enrage half the country, but Trump won't care. The way Trump sees it, he genuinely believes an injustice was done to Arpaio and he sees this as helping somebody who was loyal to him throughout the campaign. Trump viewed Arpaio's support -- along with Jeff Sessions' -- as crucial to solidifying his credentials on being tough on the border.

There's also a second reason Trump did this: to send a message to anyone wavering in loyalty to Trump over Russia that he can and will clear them of any wrongdoing with a wave of his hand.  I'll have more on that tomorrow, but for guys like Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, people facing real legal jeopardy because of Trump, the signal sent tonight is unmistakable.

And it should be a huge alarm to those who think Trump will resign or go quietly, or will go at all.  This is Trump not giving a damn about rule of law.  He is the law in America now, and he is daring anyone to challenge him.

Race To The Bottom, Con't

Democratic strategists are still telling Democrats to abandon race as an issue in 2018 and 2020 and why not? Actually talking about race and having a black president led to the Dems getting wiped out, losing white voters, and the election of Trump.  It's not like black and Latino votes matter, right?

Nancy LeTourneau explains as Dem strategist Mark Lilla has a new book out on how Dems need to drop "identity politics" and embrace "electoral politics", which is apparently "attempt to win by being realistic about a 75% white electorate that doesn't think it should have to deal with race right now or ever, thanks."

There are a lot of other portions of Chotiner’s interview with Lilla that are interesting. But for right now I’d like to jump to the end of the transcript because I think it sheds light on where the differences among liberals right now are grounded. It starts when Lilla says that “there’s been a kind of slightly hysterical tone about race that leads us to overestimate its significance in particular things.” Chotiner questions whether it’s an overreaction when we now have a president who won’t condemn neo-Nazis, and Lilla responds with this:

No, no, overreacting in the sense that we are thinking that it’s moving more than it’s moving. That’s psychologically not how it works. Marxists are much more on-point here. Their argument has always been that people become racist—and there are lots of reasons why they do, but the people who might be on the edge are drawn to racist rhetoric and anti-immigrant rhetoric because they’ve been economically disenfranchised, and so they look for a scapegoat, and so the real problems are economic. I think they’re closer to the truth right now than to think that somehow just some racist demon is directing everything in this country. It’s just not where the country is. 
That is the classic split between those on the left who are socialists vs. the anti-racists. It is also the kind of thing that got Bernie Sanders into trouble in the Democratic primary before he got schooled by people in the Black Lives Matter movement and stopped making overt statements about how classism is what undergirds racism. 
Let’s be honest. In a rational world it is hard to come up with a logical reason for racism—especially if you are looking for one true explanation. A lot of (mostly white) people solve that problem by suggesting that it is a result of economic disenfranchisement. There is a layer truth to that, especially since Republicans have been dog whistling that message to white people for decades now. 
But a lot of the current disagreement among liberals is based on the fact that there are those who don’t buy that argument and see it as a rationalization for back-benching the very real issue of racism. There are a whole host of questions that such a view doesn’t even begin to address. For example, how does it explain racism among the upper classes? How does it explain the persistent discrepancy of outcomes in everything from criminal justice to employment to education to health that tend to be systemically rooted and persist regardless of the economic plight of white people
Lilla gives a nod to the idea that are a variety of things that cause racism, but he seems to think that there are those who are racist only due to economic disenfranchisement. Then he steps all over that concession by making a grand dichotomy between the Marxist view and a “racist demon that is directing everything,” making it seem like we have to chose one or the other. 
Things like racism are social constructs that, over the decades, have built up via factors that are irrational as well as systemic. They become cultural norms with feedback loops that are self-reinforcing. As I have attempted to study this issue, I find that identifying one expression of racism is like peeling back one layer of an onion—only to reveal the next one, and the next one, and the next one. 
All of this is to say that Lilla has identified but one layer on which the construct of racism has been built. If he stops there and assumes that enough white people will dispense with racism when their economic plight is improved, he is very badly mistaken.

And this is the argument I keep making: racism keeps happening in good times and bad, in war and in peacetime, in boom times and in bust, and I'm tired of people saying "Well if we just addressed economic inequality for all then racism would take care of itself" when that's never going to be true and we have 400 years of evidence to the contrary (and that's just in America).

Nancy is 100% correct here.  The possibly hurt feelings of white Obama-Trump voters are somehow the most fragile, important things Democrats need to protect rather than the lives of the people who have stuck with the party for decades.

"But you'll never win without white voters like meeeeeeee" they scream, "so listen to meeeeeeeee".

That's not how it works, and I really hope we're able to prove that in 2018.

Unfortunately, that midterm is looking so gerrymandered that even with a nearly ten point generic ballot lead, Dems basically have no hope of winning the House back.

Deportation Nation, Con't

Trump's been having it both ways on deportations lately, by slaking the thirst for blood by the base with headlines of ICE raids on soccer fields and school parking lots and by punishing sanctuary cities by cutting off federal law enforcement grants. But Trump has also continued Obama's DACA program, sparing some 750,000 people brought to the US as kids from deportation.

Trump's red state allies are now sick of this, and will sue the Trump regime to end DACA unless Trump ends the program and begins immediate mass deportations of hundreds of thousands of DACA enrollees.

President Donald Trump has been unusually cautious about his plans for so-called Dreamers, but he’s running out of time to make up his mind.

Ten conservative states have threatened to sue the administration in order to kill off the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a 2012 initiative that has granted work permits to nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants. They’re trying to replicate their legal tactic from more than two years ago, when a broader coalition of GOP-led states successfully stopped a more expansive program for millions of undocumented immigrants before it even began.

That means DACA, which President Barack Obama began five years ago this month, is confronting its gravest danger yet. And one of the biggest questions — will Trump defend the program in court — is still anybody’s guess.

Trump is facing pressure from his conservative allies to kill the initiative, but the hard-liner-in-chief has said that he wants to approach Dreamers “with heart.” Meanwhile, it’s also not clear how Trump would fare in court if he does defend the program, even as an early September deadline to act looms.

Legal experts believe if Texas and the nine other states do file a lawsuit to halt DACA, they’ll win — particularly if the same federal judge that blocked the broader immigration program under Obama, Judge Andrew Hanen, oversees the latest legal challenge.

Stephen Legomsky, who was chief counsel at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services when the Obama administration launched DACA, said Hanen’s “extreme, extreme hostility” to Obama’s 2014 executive actions on immigration “was a matter of public record.”

“If Judge Hanen allows them to tack on a DACA challenge, no doubt he will enjoin DACA,” said Legomsky, now a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis. “It is more difficult to disrupt an ongoing successful program. … All that said, given the judges they’re likely to have, I think they have a very tough challenge.”

Either way, I would expect the Dreamers to be in real trouble and soon.   No doubt Republicans like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott want headlines of mass deportations and fearful, angry immigrants saying that they'll never be stupid enough to trust the federal government again.

Which is the point.


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