The Dept. of Just Us: Cease and Desist!

Volunteer lawyers wait at the international arrival area for travelers detained at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on Friday, March 10, 2017. (AP Photo / Charles Rex Arbogast).

The Department of Justice is now insisting that lawyers helping immigrants shut down, and stop offering their services, because helping people, well, that’s a bad thing to do. This all hangs on a technicality, but one which is being exploited by the DOJ to remove legal help which is already scant on the ground for immigration matters. Immigrants do not have the right to legal representation here, which means that legal teams reaching out and offering help are doing it on their own time and dime. This is a devastating attack, yet another one which undermines one of those supposedly great pillars of America. It’s also outright white nationalism.

While the country has been fixated on President Trump’s firings, leaks and outbursts involving the Department of Justice, that agency has itself been stealthily attacking our democracy by telling good lawyers to stop representing people. Four weeks ago, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP)—a respected nonprofit in Seattle that represents immigrants in deportation proceedings—received a “cease and desist” letter from the DOJ threatening disciplinary action. The letter demanded that NWIRP drop representation of its clients and close down its asylum advisory program. The reason: a technicality, perversely applied. NWIRP is accused of breaking a rule that was put in place to protect people from lawyers or “notarios” who take their money and then drop their case.

Last week, NWIRP filed a lawsuit to defend itself against the DoJ’s order. What’s at stake extends far beyond NWIRP and the 5,000 people it serves every year. The outcome of this legal battle will profoundly impact access to legal representation for the tens of thousands of immigrants who apply for asylum in the United States every year and the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants whose cases are currently in front of an immigration judge.

Before I explain more, let’s step back for the context: You have no right to counsel in immigration proceedings. If you are not a citizen—or if the government merely alleges you aren’t—you can be taken from your home, jailed, and permanently deported without ever seeing a lawyer. This is perfectly legal. It happened to more than a million people under the Obama administration, which vastly expanded the machinery of deportation. (If you want this to be an “Obama was good, Trump is bad” story, sorry to disappoint.)

[…]

When lawyers rushed to airports this winter to protect our friends, our neighbors, and our Constitution, people cheered. The Trump administration took offense, and now those lawyers are in their cross hairs. The president is taking a sledgehammer to the pillars of our government: the FBI, the Justice Department, the federal courts. America, we are under attack.

The full story is here.

15 Million Dollars.

Chemical warfare, Turtle Island, Oceti Sakowin Camp, November, 2016. © C. Ford, all rights reserved.

New York Daily News writer Shaun King obtained audio where Energy Transfer Partners freely admitted that they worked closely with the Sheriff’s Association, and wow, did they ever. They became one and the same.

Water protectors who lived at camp can attest to ETP and law enforcement’s collusion and fraternization, but the record speaks for itself.

The Sheriffs’ Association has a $3.46 million dollar budget, according to tax forms. Some of this funding comes from corporate sources, like TigerSwan. TigerSwan maintains offices in Iraq and Afghanistan. TigerSwan’s CEO is a former adviser to the multinational private security firm, Blackwater. Blackwater was founded by Erik Prince, a Trump campaign donor and the brother of Betsy DeVos, the U.S. Secretary of Education. Besides funding the Sheriff’s Association, TigerSwan is in charge of Dakota Access intelligence and supervising overall security for the company. Tigerswan works for Dakota Access, while funding and partnering with the Sheriffs’ Association.

The Sheriff’s Association purchased military gear from the U.S. Department’s Defense Logistics Agency thanks to the Defense Department’s 1033 program. Think corporate welfare for the defense industry.

Wait, there’s more. Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren offered to reimburse North Dakota and Morton County for costs due to defending the Dakota Access Pipeline.

So why are U.S. taxpayers forking over $15 million dollars to North Dakota?

Despite the fossil fuel industry’s wishes, America is not an oil company with an army. We should not be bankrolling our own oppression.

Incidentally, the Dakota Access Pipeline is not even operational yet, and it’s already sprung a leak in South Dakota, just southwest of the Lake Traverse Reservation. End this foolishness.

Ruth Hopkins at Indian Country Today has the full story.

“What The Fuck Is That?”

© Getty Images.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has also responded to the idiocy of Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID).

“Like this guy, this congressman, you might as well say, ‘People don’t starve because they don’t have food.’ What the f— is that? What are you saying? How can you say that?” Harris asked during an interview with Pod Save America, a podcast run by former Obama staffers.

Harris, a freshman Democrat, appeared to be referring to Rep. Raul Labrador’s (R-Idaho) statement that “nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”

[…]

Asked what Democrats could do to slow the bill down now that it’s reached the Senate, Harris said its critics should “just speak the truth.”

“The truth is that these folks are playing politics with public health,” she said during the interview. “If Republicans want people to lose their healthcare, then the Republicans need to lose their job.”

She added that “[Republicans are] engaged in all this happy talk that is bull — not truth.”

Loud cheers for Sen. Harris being unafraid to speak up and out. The Hill has the full story.

Pink Floyd’s Pigs Will Fly!

Artist’s rendering – Flying Pigs on Parade over the Chicago River.

“Flying Pigs on Parade” is a visual response to the loud, illogical and frequently hateful expressions that polluted the presidential elections and that now define the actions of our U.S. leadership. 

One hundred years ago the Russian Revolution launched a series of events that would drastically alter the world. George Orwell used these events as the basis for his 1946 novella Animal Farm. The poignancy of the text has reverberated with many generations. We feel the message, once again, seems sadly relevant.

In 1977 Pink Floyd rendered their musical interpretation of the allegory into the concept album Animals in response to social-political conditions in late-70’s Britain. Like Orwell’s book, the interpretive messages of Animals have unfortunately become highly relevant again.

[…]

Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) has given us approval to replicate the original iconic Battersea pig in gold. Since we will have invested in the balloons, we intend to deploy the folly in other cities.

Flying Pigs on Parade is intended to first deploy in Chicago as a single day art installation. Most of the technical bits have been resolved. We are currently progressing through requirements for municipal approval, negotiating a float date in late summer.

We will need financial assistance in implementing the project.

(please see “DONATE” at top of page or our GoFundMe.com page)

If you can, help to spread the pigs all over! Flying Pigs On Parade. Donate!

Raw story has this also.

“At the end of the day, this is Donald Trump, and we don’t want to work with him.”

“At the end of the day, this is Donald Trump, and we don’t want to work with him,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego. | AP Photo.

My, my, look at that, some democrats have discovered their spine. Let’s hope this is resolve, not just pointless rhetoric. I will grant that like the rest of us, they were in shock and floundering around a bit, but it’s past time they came to a conclusion, a decision, and a plan of action. We the people have been very busy already, look at all the marches, the participation at town halls, the letter writing campaigns, petitions, and so on. And all that was done while we were still suffering shock. I suppose late is better than never.

Democrats couldn’t be less interested in the whole Jared Kushner vs. Steve Bannon drama, and they have given up on the idea that President Donald Trump’s son-in-law will push him to work across the aisle on tax reform or anything else.

The crisis of confidence they felt after Trump’s shocking win has faded and his record-low poll numbers have killed any incentive in their minds to suck it up and compromise with him.

“There is zero chance of any of this working out that way, and it doesn’t matter who you’re changing,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), who notes that many of his colleagues who once decried his absolute opposition to Trump now agree with him. “At the end of the day,” he added, “this is Donald Trump, and we don’t want to work with him.”

As far as Democrats are concerned, the idea of a moderate, post-partisan staff rising to guide Trump into building bridges with them — even for the sake of building actual bridges as part of infrastructure investments Trump talks about and they agree are needed — has now entered the realm of complete fantasy.

“This notion of the battle between Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon and who prevails is irrelevant in many ways to the policies,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), one of the chairs of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, about the discord among Trump’s most senior advisers. “What Democrats are responding to is the substance of the policies: It doesn’t matter who wins the internal battles in the White House.”

[…]

“Initially, people didn’t have a full appreciation of how he would conduct himself,” said Cicilline. “They thought, ‘He won, he wasn’t our choice, but he is our president.’ What I’m hearing from my constituents, even some who’ve been more ambivalent, [is] it’s really important to stand up and resist and try to mitigate the damage that he’s likely to cause.”

Cicilline said that’s reverberated among the other Democrats on the Hill he’s in touch with.

“People are really conflicted, because they want government to work, and they know that’s when we can produce good results, but I think that they’re beginning to lose confidence that this administration and this president are interested in getting things done.”

[…]

“Chameleons reflect the color that they’re on,” said Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. “He can reflect what is the hot flavor of the moment, but the reality is that this administration has got to go a long way to indicate that it’s really willing to work with people.”

Politico has the full story.

Sham and Stupidity.

We’ll start with the whole healthcare snarl, and the ongoing attempts at passing the Fuck You Care Plan. There are many obstacles to that vaunted repeal ‘n’ replace, a good many of them republicans, who are smart enough to realize that if they push for a repeal, their careers will be over. Easy enough to call just what will win in that scenario. Turns out, most politicians don’t, and didn’t want to do the repeal business, in spite of talking nonstop about it. A good many of them made noises about it, in order to secure elections, but they’d be happier if it all just faded away at this point. Byron York at The Washington Examiner has the full rundown.

Now, with a president who would sign an Obamacare repeal, there’s no way Republicans could get as many votes as last year.

“A pure repeal would get less than 200 votes,” said the second member quoted above. “It really is one of the biggest political shams in history — many of these members would not have been elected without promising repeal, and now they are wilting. Some are even complaining that [the Rep. Tom MacArthur amendment] pushes the bill too far right — even though is it far short of a full repeal.”

When repeal first failed last month, a number of commentators blamed the conservative House Freedom Caucus. In the days since, caucus members have made the case, convincingly, that they have shown an enormous amount of flexibility in trying to reach agreement with the Tuesday Group, made up of House GOP centrists.

Now, the centrists — a number of Republicans refer to them as “the mods,” for moderates — appear to be moving the goalposts, even as the conservatives offer concessions. Conservatives suspect the centrists were perfectly happy for conservatives to take the blame for killing the first bill, but now are showing their true colors by rejecting compromise on the second version. Whatever the circumstances, they don’t want to vote to repeal Obamacare.

The reason is fear. When the lawmaker said colleagues don’t want repeal “because of their district,” that was another way of saying the members are all representatives, and the voters they represent don’t want repeal. From The Hill on Thursday afternoon: “Many vulnerable Republicans are running scared. One moderate Republican was overheard in a House cafeteria this week telling an aide: ‘If I vote for this healthcare bill, it will be the end of my career.'”

Even among the more rabid contingent, King and Gohmert, et al., there’s an admission it most likely won’t happen. The Washington Examiner has the full story.

Moving on to another admission, about that stupid, fucking wall: “we know it’s dumb.”

The fact that few Republicans in the Capitol backed Trump’s strategy for the wall only strengthened Democrats’ resolve.

“Republicans in Congress don’t want the wall. And that is the most under-reported aspect of this whole skirmish,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). “Republicans in the leadership of both chambers actually hate that idea. They know it’s dumb.”

[…]

“The wall is broadly unpopular in the public. People would rather spend money on other priorities. And there’s unified Democratic opposition,” added Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “None of that changes in September.”

Politico has the full story.

One thing is more than clear: all the grass roots movements, all the protests, all the people demanding town halls, and showing up with questions? It’s working. Even the rethugs have gotten the message that in the current political climate, if you decide to ignore your constituents, your career isn’t going to flourish. Vive La Résistance!

A Few Words from Alan Cumming…

#ArtAgainstHate PLEASE SHARE by reposting, or volunteer if you would like to partake in this project. Help build a community with us by raising awareness of the bullying this administration is enabling. Find empowerment in the words they call you. In these chaotic times it’s easy to lose grasp of hope for this troubled country. Yet if we open our hearts and our minds to the lush array of souls and energy that surround us every day we can find common ground. And if we advocate others to try their best to learn just one positive thing about that person who may seem so alien on the surface, perhaps we all will discover that beneath the masks that we hide behind are actually more similarities than differences. And one by one, may we shed these words of hate that are spawned by fear of the unknown. #Model: @alancummingsnaps #Photographers: @StevenTrumon & @GINGERB3ARDMAN #MAKEUP: @makeupartbynoel #Retouch Collab: @shinehorovits #ArtistsAgainstTyranny #SpreadTheWord #LoveTrumpsHate #AmericaTheBeautiful #UnitedNotDivided

A post shared by Alan Cumming (@alancummingsnaps) on

#ArtAgainstHate PLEASE SHARE by reposting, or volunteer if you would like to partake in this project. Help build a community with us by raising awareness of the bullying this administration is enabling. Find empowerment in the words they call you. In these chaotic times it’s easy to lose grasp of hope for this troubled country. Yet if we open our hearts and our minds to the lush array of souls and energy that surround us every day we can find common ground. And if we advocate others to try their best to learn just one positive thing about that person who may seem so alien on the surface, perhaps we all will discover that beneath the mask we hide behind are actually more similarities than differences. And one by one, may we shed these words of hate that are spawned by fear of the unknown.

Source.

Taunting the Tiny Tyrant: Anti-Normalisation.

Loser City.

Loser City.

Peter Dreier at Alernet has an extensive article up about how effective anti-normalisation is against the Tiny Tyrant. This is an ego-bloated, extremely thin-skinned toadwart of a person. He lives for attention and aggrandizement, and little more. Every little jab leads to the Unpresident whirling into Mr. Tweet, unloading rage over something yet again. And just in case it’s missed peoples’ attention – those tweets are still coming from his personal Twitter account. He doesn’t go anywhere near the POTUS account, which is a telling action all on its own.

Now, it might not be the wisest of things to poke such an unstable character, but we can’t sit around doing nothing, either. As Mr. Dreier notes, resistance comes in many forms, and this is one of them, refusing the normalisation of fascism, refusing the normalisation of shite supremacy, refusing the normalisation of turning a democracy into a farce of a branded regime.

“Resistance” comes in many forms. In discussions about how to deal with the fear and alarm ignited by Donald Trump, no word has been used more frequently than “normalize.” Democrats and progressives engage in almost daily protest rallies to defy Trump’s agenda. But perhaps the most successful component of the anti-Trump movement has been its willingness to challenge his legitimacy. The popular slogan and hashtag “#Not My President” doesn’t mean that people think the November election results were rigged, but that Trump’s Electoral Vote majority doesn’t translate into a popular mandate and that his views and policies don’t reflect the popular will. The anti-Trump movement refuses to “normalize” a president whom they view as an authoritarian, even a neo-fascist, who violates that basic norms of democracy and the rule of law. By poking fun at Trump and exposing his narcissism, conflicts-of-interest, and pathological lies, his opponents are undermining his credibility and destabilizing his presidency as much as any marches and demonstrations.

[…]

The effort to not normalize Trump isn’t a conspiracy. It involves separate but overlapping components that, when viewed together, reflect a powerful effort to withhold from Trump the things he craves most: public approval and esteem.

The whole article is a good and informative read, recommended! Go have a read.

Do the Scandals Matter? Not to Trumpholes.

170322_scandals-1

Click for full size.

A poll done by Morning Consult and Politico shows that the constant quake of scandals simply don’t matter much to Trumpholes. If anything, it solidifies their faithfulness to the Tiny Tyrant. That’s a prime marker of how fascism operates, and it emphasises, starkly, just how much The Resistance and all manner of activism simply cannot stop, or slow down at all.

The full story is here.

Send in the Clowns: Trumpholes Threaten Artist.

billboard_1489794435389_8990922_ver1.0

Karen Fiorito.

A billboard sign depicting President Donald Trump's face next to explosions and dollar signs created with typography imitating Nazi swastikas went up in downtown Phoenix ON March 17, 2017. (Photo: Johana Restrepo/The Republic).

A billboard sign depicting President Donald Trump’s face next to explosions and dollar signs created with typography imitating Nazi swastikas went up in downtown Phoenix ON March 17, 2017. (Photo: Johana Restrepo/The Republic).

A menacing Donald Trump is gazing down on Phoenix’s Grand Avenue.

The president is flanked by mushroom clouds and swastikas configured like dollar signs.

“I think a lot of people are feeling this way and I’m just trying to express what I think is on a lot of people’s minds these days,” the billboard’s artist, Karen Fiorito, said Friday in an interview from her California home.

“Something that really concerned us was this idea of a dictatorship where things were going in a certain direction.”

But look closely at the mushroom clouds and you’ll see clown faces. There’s a Russian flag on Trump’s lapel.

“I tried to put a little bit of humor in things that are really dark and hard to take,” Fiorito said.

The billboard art was commissioned by the billboard owner, Beatrice Moore, a longtime patron of the arts on Grand Avenue.

“Some of these issues are so important you can’t not speak out,” Moore said in an interview.

The Trump billboard went up Friday at 11th Avenue and Grand, to coincide with the start of the annual three-day Art Detour event in downtown Phoenix. Moore said it would remain up as long as Trump is president.

Ms. Fiorito is now receiving death threats, a now common bit of behaviour on the part of those who simply cannot cope with any forthright criticism. The first comment in Ms. Fiorito’s tweet about the billboard going up:

Robbie England 
@buddhacatpress disgusting California filth, putting up this shit in my town is unacceptable! It WILL come down!

Oooh, her town! I guess it isn’t at all the town of the woman who commissioned the piece. And as a native Californian, Ms. England, have a nice cuppa Shut the Fuck Up, you intolerant bigot.

The willful ignorance on display in the Tweetstream is overwhelming, too. There was one person thinking she made a great point by saying “Trump refused a salary! He gave it to charity!” There’s just one little problem with that one – the Tiny Tyrant did no such thing, and won’t answer any questions as just when that money is going to find its way to a supposed charity.

The Response to Open White Supremacy.

Tucker Viemeister.

Tucker Viemeister.

Well, the response to Rep. Steve King’s open embrace of white supremacy has been, as Mrs. Slocombe would say, weak as water, weak as water!

In his Monday press briefing, Sean Spicer told a reporter who asked about Trump’s reaction to the tweet that he would have to check with the president to see what he thought. On Tuesday, Spicer clarified: “This is not a point of view he shares,” he said. That has been the White House’s only response.

Wow. There’s a bloodless response if there ever was one. Basically, a compleat non-response. The Tiny Tyrant doesn’t share that point of view, no, but all his actions speak to just how much he does share that view.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), initially responded to King’s comments through a spokesperson, who said “the speaker clearly disagrees and believes America’s long history of inclusiveness is one of its greatest strengths.”

Over 24 hours after King’s words hit Twitter, Ryan directly responded in a Fox interview, saying that he disagreed with King but that “I would like to think — and I haven’t spoken to Steve about this — I would like to think he misspoke, and it wasn’t meant the way it sounds, and I hope he’s clarified that.”

Oh, King misspoke. Right. I think it’s pretty damn clear that King did no such thing. He has held these views for decades, and he now feels supported enough to come right out with them, and stand by them without the slightest hint of apology. The apologetics have already started, with Nazis everywhere trying to somehow soften King’s words, and that no, his views aren’t really that stark, just y’know, he’s concerned and stuff.

For fuck’s sake, this wide open, blatant Nazism. We’re standing in it, folks, and it’s rising higher as you read. If you’re one of those people keeping their head down, ignoring everything, you’re going to drown in it first. Get that head up, open your eyes, pay attention, and get involved in The Resistance. This is seriously, horribly bad.

Via Think Progress.

Indigenous Activism Roundup.

Protesters gather outside of the White House. CREDIT: Natasha Geiling.

Protesters gather outside of the White House. CREDIT: Natasha Geiling.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Mni wiconi—”water is life”—appear to be empty words to the federal government, but they now constitute a battle cry for Native nations as they rise together in the U.S. capital today to voice their discontent with the Trump administration’s policies regarding indigenous rights and power.

[…]

Organizers also want the public to know that this gathering is not just about the Dakota Access Pipeline, even though it now serves as the symbol of all that’s wrong with the government-to-government relationship that tribes and the federal government are supposedly involved in. Tribes point to the Trump administration’s fast-track actions on the pipeline sans meaningful consultation and environmental review serving as the tipping point for Indian country by making a mockery of free, prior and informed consent—the right of every other sovereign nation in the world. They hope to make the point that the federal government, in going forward with the pipeline against the tribes’ wishes, abdicated its role as trustee to protect the tribes’ rights and resources, and violated their sovereignty and self-determination.

Full Story at ICMN. Think Progress also covers this story.

Tipis on the National Mall, near the White House, as water protectors gather for a march advocating for indigenous rights and a halt to environmental destruction. Kandi Mossett/Facebook.

Tipis on the National Mall, near the White House, as water protectors gather for a march advocating for indigenous rights and a halt to environmental destruction. Kandi Mossett/Facebook.

“The Standing Rock movement is bigger than one tribe,” the Standing Rock Sioux said. “It has evolved into a powerful global phenomenon highlighting the necessity to respect Indigenous Nations and their right to protect their homelands, environment and future generations. We are asking our Native relatives from across Turtle Island to rise with us.”

Full story at ICMN.

There is No O’odham Word for Wall.

TUCSON, ARIZONA—The Tohono O’odham Nation Executive Branch is firm on their stance against a border wall being built.

“[It’s] not going to happen,” said Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Edward Manual. “It is not feasible to put a wall on the Tohono O’odham Nation…it is going to cost way too much money, way more than they are projecting.”

TON Chairman Manuel went on to say, “It is going to cut off our people, our members that come [from Mexico] and use our services. Not only that we have ceremonies in Mexico that many of our members attend. Members also make pilgrimages to Mexico and a border wall would cut that off as well.”

ICMN has the full story.