President Trump has fired the head of the Justice Department for the second time in ten days. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was fired for not supporting the Immigrant Ban. Earlier in the day she had sent a letter to her staff directing them not to defend in court the ban on immigrants.
The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel had approved Trump’s immigration ban before he issued it on Friday. However Yates wrote that as head of the Justice Department she had a broader responsibility “to always seek justice and stand for what is right.” She went on to state that she is not convinced that the ban is lawful. [Read more…]
Editor’s Note – Events are moving quickly. This initial story will be expanded on over time.
At Philadelphia International Airport and locations throughout the U.S., on Saturday and Sunday thousands of protestors demonstrated against President Trump’s ban on immigrants. There were frequent developments in Washington and the rest of the country as well.
Time Line, in Reverse Order
Tuesday, January 31st
Tuesday, 8 pm: Trump scheduled to announce his pick for the Supreme Court. This justice could be the crucial vote that decides the legality of Trump’s immigration ban.
Tuesday, Morning/Afternoon: Senate Democrats spoke at length about former Acting Attorney General Sally Yate’s courage in defying Trump. The Republican majority allowed them to speak, even though it delayed the vote to confirm Jeff Sessions as the new Attorney General. That vote is expected to take place on Wednesday, February 1.
Monday, January 30
Monday, Late evening: Yates is replaced by Dana Boente, who immediately reversed her directive. Meanwhile, Yates is still packing up her office after a 27 year career with the Justice Department.
Monday 9 pm: Attorney General Sally Yates has been fired for refusing to defend the ban. Earlier she had sent a letter to her staff explaining the she thought the ban was illegal and unjust. She wrote that the Justice Department would not defend the ban in court. [Read more…]
However, if Trump is consistent about one thing, it is inconsistency.
In the next press conference (referred to by the White House as the “first official press conference,” suggesting that the previous one somehow didn’t count), instead of re-litigating the inauguration, the administration decided to re-litigate the election. Although Trump won the electoral vote, his inability to win the popular vote remains a sore spot for him. [Read more…]
So much of the America I had taken for granted as recently as last week has disappeared.
President Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” feels increasingly appropriate, leading many Americans wonder if Trump will really remain President for four years of will one of the many scandals swirling around him lead to his impeachment, or if Trump’s erratic behavior and plummeting popularity will lead his cabinet to invoke Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.
Two executive orders were issued tonight. The first basically prohibits all government agencies from implementing any rules. They can send nothing to the Office of the Federal Register. Remember, while Congress passes laws, it’s the agencies that implement them, and they do so via regulations sent to OFR for public review and comment and then implementation. (Full memo after the jump.)
The second order basically allows Ben Carson to do anything possible to prevent the ACA from functioning. Again, full text after the jump. Welcome to North Korea — they are dismantling the Federal government, just like they said they would. And in answer to the question: why are you publishing this? I say: so that there is a record.
If you missed the opportunity to hear Georgia Congressman John Lewis, my hero, speak out at a Senate confirmation hearing last week, explaining why he cannot vote “yes” in favor of Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General of the nation, and why he will not participate in Donald Trump’s inauguration — well, you owe it to yourself to watch his remarkable speech in its entirety.
There is never an ounce of bitterness when John Lewis speaks, even when he talks about the vicious beating he received while peacefully marching from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, some 50 years ago, asking for voting rights. The right to participate in the democratic election process of the country he calls “home.”
But he knows all about suppression of voting rights, and he almost paid with his life when he marched peacefully in 1965 to try to gain the right to vote in Alabama. Several times I have had the privilege of being in Congressman Lewis’ company and I asked him how he could possibly avoid even a trace of bitterness when he recites his horrendous experiences in the segregated South.
His answer is always the same: He believes in non-violence.
Senator Cory Booker was also impressive on that second day of Senate hearings into the confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Booker made history as the first sitting Senator to speak out against the confirmation of a colleague of his in the Senate.
But his concern, like Lewis’ concern, was for having an Attorney General who would speak up and speak out for the rights of minorities, of poor people of those without a voice.
And then there was also on the panel Congressman Cedric Richmond, of Louisiana, the head of the Congressional Black Caucus, respectfully but sadly pointed out that having an icon like John Lewis testify at the very end of the hearings was like consigning “to the back of the bus” the six African Americans who testified.
And even though Senator Sessions was not required to sit through the many hours of testimony, it was a glaring omission that he absented himself from the hearing room when John Lewis et al were testifying.
My mother could not understand why three of the people who testified were in favor of Sessions, until I explained that those three had once worked for Senator Sessions and been on his payroll when he served as Attorney General of Alabama.
Neither Booker nor Redmond nor Lewis was the slightest bit vitriolic. They were just heartbroken that the highest legal officer in the land should be someone who had never spoken up for civil rights in the decades of his service in various positions. The three of them had no expectation that Sessions would suddenly turn into a champion for civil rights, especially since Donald Trump does not seem to be interested in the rights of people of color.
Lewis announced that he would not, could not participate in the Inauguration on Friday, as he did not consider Donald Trump the “legitimate President,” with everything that has been unearthed by the Intelligence community about the role played by Russian hackers. The tension between Trump and the various intelligence agencies has both Republicans and Democrats concerned, especially in these challenging times.
Lewis is like the conscience of the Congress, and some two dozen colleagues have followed his lead and bowed out of attendance on Friday at the White House ceremony. If they follow Congressman Lewis’ lead, they are doing this not out of spite, or vengeance, but because they are saddened by the prospect of someone’s assuming the Presidency who has not shown either respect or concern for people who are heroes in American history.
Perhaps you were as fortunate as I was to have seen Congressman Lewis in person most recently at the National Constitution Center a few months ago, when he was awarded the Liberty Medal. His voice is always gentle, but he always speaks passionately about his search for justice, for equality. He does respect the Office of the President, but he just believes that illegitimate means were employed either by Donald Trump or on Trumps’ behalf in order to secure the office.
Some day we will know the extent to which Russian hacking and Vladimir Putin meddled in our democratic process. In the meantime, though, I hope that President Trump will cease vilifying heroes like Congressman John Lewis simply because they disagree with him.
And because I, too, love America and value our democracy, I am praying that Donald Trump turns into a good President and respects the rights of all Americans. If Senator Jeff Sessions does become the Attorney General, I pray that he, too, will fight for the rights of all Americans.
Adapted from remarks given Monday in the rotunda of the Pennsylvania State Capitol.
This Hanukkah you may want to think twice before selecting Asher’s Chocolate as a gift. Instead of Hanukkah gelt, you may be sharing Hanukkah guilt because of the company’s owner and his history of public corruption.
However, let’s start by talking about the presidential election. On November 8, Americans may have thought that they were voting for the Clinton/Kaine ticket or the Trump/Pence ticket. However, in fact, they were voting for a slate of anonymous “electors” whose names do not even appear on the ballot in most states. [Read more…]
At that point, the House of Representatives will choose between the three candidates with the most electoral votes. These three would presumably be Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and whoever else has the most electoral votes.
Last week I had the idea to order DVDs of the 2004 film Manchurian Candidate – a fictional story of a candidate who is the puppet of a foreign country – and mail it to various Republican electors in the hopes of spurring a conversation about the allegations regarding Trump’s ties to Putin.
I sent the DVDs with the following brief message
Republican elector Charles Buckels of Lafayette, Louisiana responded by email as follows:
From: Charlie Buckels
Date: Fri, Dec 16, 2016 at 1:26 PM
Subject: Thanks for the DVD
Good movie. Have you seen Hillary’s America? It’s a better movie and it’s not fiction.
As BHO said, “elections have consequences”. We won, you lost. Get over it. If it would make you feel better I’d be happy to send you a participation trophy.
Even you will benefit from the opportunities that will be available TO ALL during the next 8 years of the Trump administration followed by 8 years of the Pence administration.
Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas
I’ll be proudly voting for Donald J Trump of New York
After Shabbat, I found the following note from Buckels in my inbox:
Thanks for writing. I agree that elections have consequences: Hillary ran a mediocre campaign and lost . I for one am not asking you to vote for her, and I doubt she’ll run for elected office again.
However, if Trump was involved with any of the Russian hacking then he should not step one foot into the White House.
I have no way to tell if the rumors about Trump are true, but you do.
You and your fellow electors should ask for an intelligence briefing and find out if there is credible secret evidence that Trump is involved in high crimes or misdemeanors.
Please see if you can get the kind of briefing that convinced so many Senators on the foreign intelligence committee then decide for yourself. I don’t know what the secret evidence shows since I am just a citizen.
Afterwards, if you are not convinced, then you should vote for Trump and Pence as Louisiana has urged you to do in great numbers.
If on the other hand it no longer appears to you that Trump can be trusted to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” then please vote your conscience and write-in the candidate of your choice. Perhaps you could write-in Pence for President (as well as Vice-President). Alternatively, you could keep your ears open and see what Republicans are getting chosen in the various states that vote before Louisiana. (I have the schedule.) You might want to support one of them in order to ensure that he ends up among the top three finishers who the House of Representatives will chose among.
Never having been in Indiana I don’t know too much about Pence, but if you are looking forward to a Pence administration, then in the event you find the classified evidence about Trump convincing, why not start 8 years of Pence right away!
I am available if you want to discuss this further. I would be glad to talk to you by phone or come out to see you in Lafayette or meet you in Baton Rouge.
Thanks again for devoting your time and energy to our democratic process.
I wonder if you were this concerned when BHO told the Russian official on an open mic to let Putin know that he, BHO, will have more flexibility after his reelection.
The Russians didn’t create her emails. Even you said she lost due to a bad campaign..
Donald J. trump will be sworn in on Jan 20th. I’m really happy about that. We have a good chance now to recover from the damage that BHO did to our country.
For those of us immersed in social media, there is an endless assault on our senses by happenings large and small.
The president-elect sends a Twitter message criticizing the leader of a local union of the United Steelworkers for doing a “terrible job” and sending American jobs abroad. The tweet goes viral, and the union leader receives random threats from people on the basis of no known facts whatsoever.
A baseless charge linking Hillary Clinton to sex crimes is tweeted by a retired army officer, now in line to be the national security adviser in the new administration. The tweet is part of a deluge of fake news that reaches a particularly susceptible reader in North Carolina, who goes out and shoots up a pizza parlor to “investigate” the charge.
Being lampooned on social media is particularly harmful because there is no effective redress. Even if you find the source, there is no way to reverse the damage. The hundreds or thousands of viewers are beyond reach. Social media also offers an enticing immediacy and anonymity. Retweeting takes just a few keystrokes. One need not know the original author nor have any independent opinion of the worth of the message.
However, it would be wrong to single out Twitter in this regard. Moving at a slightly slower pace, but still beating out all news media, is Facebook. And not far behind is talk radio, a continuing stream of facts, fiction and innuendo.
We can’t help but respect movie stars, politicians and even friends and neighbors who achieve high numbers of “followers.” But we know that the path to achieving those inordinately large numbers is often just flavored or off-flavor gossip.
In Jewish law, gossip is a serious sin. Lashon ha-ra, the evil tongue, is a temptation we must resist. Yet in an age of social media, gossip is always too easy, too nearby and seemingly too impersonal.
Devout Jews perceive the injunction of lashon ha-ra to include two obligations: First, not to speak evil or gossip about others. And second, not to listen to gossip, because it is understood that the listener is an enabler and hence an inextricable part of the sin. So upon hearing gossip, a Jew should cover his ears, at one time a familiar motion.
Is there a similar defense while tapping on a cell phone, clicking at a computer or listening to your car radio? If not, we need to invent one. Perhaps there should be a special button on our electronics to mute evil gossip. Until that button is invented, however, we need to observe the mitzvah of “lashon ha-ra” and strike an electronic pose comparable to covering our ears.