Trump Stains Ceremony Honoring Fallen Peace Officers With Self-Serving Partisan Politics

On Tuesday Donald Trump held another in his series of chest-thumping, apple pie, American values, theatrical affairs. He does these obviously manipulative farces to try to prove how much he cares about whatever issue he is exploiting that day. Generally it’s an issue he has never demonstrated any real concern for. Whether its veterans, who the coward with five draft deferments pretends to adore while slashing their benefits, or working people, who the New York “billionaire” rips off in business and with tax scams that mainly benefit the wealthy, Trump just loves putting on these cons to persuade his deplorable base that he’s on their side.

Donald Trump

The latest such event was the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service on held in Washington D.C outside the Capital. The service is an annual event that honors law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. It’s a worthy affair for any leader with an honest respect for the sacrifices made by our first responders. Unfortunately, this president’s honesty is as phony as a diploma from Trump University.

This is just the sort of event that Trump can show up for and rattle off some applause lines from his TelePrompted speech. He did just that with prepared phrases like “We will protect those who protect us” and “Every American heart bleeds blue.” He praised the fallen as “among the bravest Americans to ever live,” who “faced down evil,” and “did it all with courage.” These are unarguably appropriate tributes to men and women who lost their lives in the service of others. But it all seems so hollow when the speaker lacks any hint of emotion or sincerity.

The disingenuousness of Trump’s address was brought into full view when he reached a part that he, or his handlers, thought could be twisted into a political message that benefited him. He raised the subject of immigration and found a way to hype his ludicrous and ineffective border wall. And then he went further with a full-on, partisan rant that abandoned the theme of honoring the fallen and dived straight into naked politics:

“We are calling on Congress to secure our borders, support our border agents, stop sanctuary cities and shut down policies that release violent criminals back into our communities. We don’t want it any longer. We’ve had it. Enough is enough!”

This exploitation of a what should be a solemn memorial service is typical of the disrespect that Trump will show whenever he decides that his needs are greater than whatever occasion he is supposedly commemorating. Whatever he believes the merits are of the policies he advocates, they are not universally held, even among this assembly of law enforcement officers. Many in the field believe that the policies adhered to in so-called sanctuary cities actually save officers lives. They make it possible for immigrants to come forward when they’ve witnessed a crime and help to bring the perpetrators to justice.

It’s pitiful that Trump can’t hold his tongue for a few minutes to let the families and colleagues of fallen officers pay tribute to their loved ones. He has to turn it into an affair that brings the attention back to him and makes his own priorities the focus of the day. And for comparison, here is how a dignified president addresses the same event with respect and admiration for those who serve and their families:

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

President Barack Obama at the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service in 2015:

Court: Bill O’Reilly Can’t Suppress Past Sexual Harassment Settlements – Trump Should Be Worried

Disgraced former Fox News shill, Bill O’Reilly, has been reduced to running a little-visited video blog. His ranting is identical to the fact-averse garbage he spewed on Fox, but is only seen by a few hundred of Billo’s deadenders. For the most part he is too insignificant to bother reporting about. However, a recent court ruling could have ramifications that far exceed his puny reach.

Bill O'Reilly, Donald Trump

A federal court just ruled on a motion by O’Reilly to suppress his past sexual harassment settlements. The court ruled against O’Reilly’s motion to seal the settlement agreements he had previously imposed on multiple women who accused him of harassment. As CNN reported:

“Deborah Batts, the judge presiding over the defamation suit, ruled Tuesday that O’Reilly ‘has failed to present compelling countervailing factors that could overcome the presumption of public access’ to the agreements. Batts also said O’Reilly ‘has not even come close to rebutting this First Amendment presumption’ that favors public access to documents.”

It is likely that as a result of this, details of O’Reilly’s abusive behavior that were not known before will become public as this defamation suit proceeds. Not that that will have much impact on his perception by most Americans who already know that he’s a sleazeball. But the decision foreshadows circumstances that are certainly going to arise for Donald Trump.

Trump is also being sued for defamation by women who allege sexual harassment and/or abuse. Adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who has been litigating to rescind a Trump non-disclosure agreement, recently amended her suit to include allegations of defamation by Trump and his attorney, Michael Cohen. In addition, former Apprentice contestant, Summer Zervos, filed a lawsuit charging that Trump defamed her in the course of denying her allegation of sexual assault. Two weeks ago a judge denied Trump’s motion to dismiss the case.

In both the Daniels and Zervos suits, the defamation consisted of Trump’s public remarks disparaging his accusers as liars. So whether or not these women prevail in court rests on their ability to provide evidence that their assertions are true. Both have already demonstrated that that won’t be a problem. What’s more, there are at least a dozen other women who could file similar complaints.

Trump has adamantly denied that he engaged in any sexually inappropriate behavior. But he went further than that to declare himself the victim and his accusers of perpetrating “one of the great political smear campaigns in the history of our country.” Those comments, which were aimed at all of his accusers, are unambiguously defamatory. And he even threatened to file lawsuits himself:

“Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign. Total fabrication. The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.”

The ruling in the O’Reilly case portends the legal peril that Trump faces for his own abusive conduct. And his public, self-incriminating statements only make matters worse. It could mean that many of the allegations against him will be aired more fully as these lawsuits proceed. And finally the women he victimized will get the justice due them, and our Sexual-Predator-in-Chief will face the consequences of being a reprehensible jackass. For some idea of just how disgusting Trump is, watch the video below of the women he assaulted describing their ordeals.

Allowing Trump to remain in the White House sends a terrible message to all Americans, particularly women and girls. If Trump isn’t impeached for obstruction of justice, collusion with Russia, financial corruption, undermining the free press, or being a pathological liar and malignant narcissist, then his sexual depravity and criminality should be more than reason enough.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

WTF? Trump Statement on Flynn Guilty Plea Puts the Blame on – Wait For It – President Obama

Friday morning Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. It’s a charge emanating from the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. The relative minor infraction suggests the Flynn is fully cooperating with Mueller’s probe and has material evidence to trade for his leniency. In fact, Flynn’s statement explicitly references his “guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the Special Counsel’s Office.”

Donald Trump Michael flynn

However, there is more to his statement and plea bargain that is likely to make things very dicey for Donald Trump. That includes the fact that Flynn’s offenses took place while serving in the administration. Which should make it difficult for Trump to credibly put distance between Flynn and himself. But Trump, being Trump, couldn’t care less about making a rational assessment when it’s much easier for him to float ludicrous implications against his arch enemy, President Obama. The White released the following statement in response to the news of Flynn’s guilty plea:

“Today, Michael Flynn, a former National Security Advisor at the White House for 25 days during the Trump Administration, and a former Obama administration official, entered a guilty plea to a single count of making a false statement to the FBI.

Note the slyly worded attempt at misdirection: “and a former Obama administration official.” Does Trump really think he’s going to get away with this subliminal effort to blame Obama for the Flynn affair? Probably. He is just that nuts. And after all, Trump will have the assistance of Fox News to manipulate the narrative and shift the focus to his predecessor. But most Americans will simultaneously laugh and cringe when they see this transparent act of desperation.

For the record, Obama fired Flynn from his post as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. So he can hardly be held responsible for Trump later embracing him. What’s more, Obama personally warned then President-Elect Trump not to hire Flynn as his National Security Advisor. But Trump ignored that warning and hired him anyway. Only to push him out less than a month later.

With regard to Flynn’s “resignation,” it was accepted reluctantly by Trump, who continued to praise Flynn on his way out the door. “I don’t think he did anything wrong. If anything, he did something right,” Trump said about Flynn’s discussions with Russian officials. Trump commended Flynn for “doing his job,” and gushed that “I think he’s a fine man.” For Trump to now pretend that it was somehow Obama’s fault that he cozied up to a scoundrel like Flynn is further evidence of his failing mental state.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

The Trump administration is well aware of how flimsy their pivot to Obama is, and they are already floating alternative excuses. One suggests that Flynn’s lies (and by extension Trump’s) are no big deal because “everyone lies in Washington.” That’s the sort of justification that can only be proposed by a pathological liar. Therefore, it’s no big surprise that Trump is proposing it. During his campaign he promised to drain Washington of just this sort of swampiness. Of course, a quick glance at his administration, and his policies, reveal that to be just another one of the profusion of falsehoods he has unleashed since he took office.

Here are 11+ Reasons Trump Should Never Have Pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio

On Friday night, Donald Trump used the weekend, as well as Hurricane Harvey’s tragedies, to bury his latest despicable act. In seeking to satiate his racist base, Trump awarded the notorious birther and disgraced former sheriff, Joe Arpaio, a pardon for his federal crimes. Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt for violating a federal court order to stop racially profiling Latinos. He was found to have deliberately breached the constitutional rights of American citizens.

Joe Arpaio Donald Trump

The fact that Trump thinks these are pardonable offenses is definitive proof of his bigotry and support for fellow bigots. The white supremacists who make up much of his support were elated at the whitewashing of Arpaio’s vile criminality. (With an emphasis on “white”) But Trump’s exacerbation of the racial division for which he is largely responsible has not gone over well with everyone. Patriotic Americans who value equality and justice will not forget this affront to the rule of law.

One critic, a professor at Harvard University, makes a credible case that Trump’s pardon could itself be an impeachable offense. Add it to the list: Russia, obstruction of justice, financial corruption, the Emoluments Clause, cover ups and perjury, sexual harassment and assault.

As for Arpaio, he also has a list offenses. And his acceptance of Trump’s pardon carries with it an implicit confession of guilt. That can be used in civil cases against him going forward. The Phoenix New Times has been on the front lines of the Arpaio assault on humanity for twenty years. They posted a series of tweets linking to the horrific record of Arpaio’s unlawful regime. Here is just a taste of what they have been reporting for years:

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

The Phoenix New Times has many more examples of this official misconduct and heinous brutality. And by pardoning a cretin like Arpaio, Trump is effectively making himself complicit with those crimes. He is intentionally aligning himself with Arpaio’s disdain for the rule of law. And it is very likely he is also setting the stage for future pardons of his family, his partners in crime, and perhaps himself. Based on on his behavior to date, you can’t put anything past him.

Could Trump Be Prosecuted for Leaks Under New Department of Justice Directive?

The still nascent presidency of Donald Trump is rife with controversies and scandals. His financial conflicts of interests and unsavory connections to Russia have dominated his short tenure in office. Additionally, he has produced no legislative accomplishments. Most notably, the failure of his efforts to kill ObamaCare went down in flames. He has made no progress on immigration, taxes, terrorism, or his lame-brained border wall.

Rod Rosenstein Fox New

However, Trump regularly signals what issues are of most importance to him. And judging by the frequency of his tweets, it has little to do with matters critical to the nation. Rather, he is variously obsessed with either the media, last November’s election, or the torrent of White House leaks. Most experts agree that leaks occur when an organization is in disarray. But in Trump World it is blamed on a shadowy conspiracy of “deep state” saboteurs.

On yesterday’s edition of Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace interviewed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (video below). Much of the segment specifically addressed the question of leaks and what the Justice Department intends to do about them. Wallace sought to follow up on remarks made last week by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Those comments sparked some controversy for implying that journalists could be targeted for prosecution. Rosenstein walked that back a bit in the following exchange:

Wallace: Some of the people who engage in leaks, I don’t have to tell you, are not the members of the so-called ‘deep state’ or faceless bureaucrats inside intelligence agencies. They are White House officials. They are members of Congress. If you find any of them have committed these leaks – have disclosed classified information – will you prosecute?
Rosenstein: “What we need to look at in every leak referral we get, we look at the facts and circumstances. What was the potential harm caused by the leaks? What were the circumstances? That’s more important to us than who it is, than who is the leaker. So if we identify somebody, no matter what their position is, if they violated the law and that case warrants prosecution, we’ll prosecute them.
Wallace: Including White House officials and members of Congress?
Rosenstein: Including anybody who breaks the law.

If Rosenstein can be taken at his word, Donald Trump may be in even more trouble than previously thought. Leaks from any administration are made for a variety of reasons. It may be because someone is genuinely concerned about a course of action and has no other recourse to alter it. Sometimes a leaker is angling for position or acting out of vengeance. And sometimes leaks are deliberate attempts by the White House to disseminate information that it wants disseminated.

For example, Anthony Scaramucci, Trump’s short-lived communications director, recently outed his boss as a leaker. During an interview on CNN, Scaramucci defended Trump’s reluctance to concede that the Russians were responsible for hacking during last year’s election. He even offered “evidence” by way of an anonymous insider:

“You know, somebody said to me yesterday — I won’t tell you who — that if the Russians actually hacked this situation and spilled out those e-mails, you would have never seen it.”

That, of course, is grade AAA bullshit. Professional spies may be good at what they do, but they are not infallible. Scaramucci is suggesting that the Russians are so superior in their clandestine operations that their American counterparts are helpless yokels, incapable of facing off against the almighty Ruskies. But more important was what Scaramucci said next. After CNN’s Jake Tapper challenged Scaramucci’s hypocritical use of an anonymous source, the Mooch spilled the beans:

“How about it was – how about it was the President, Jake? I talked to him yesterday. He called me from Air Force One.”

So here we have a White House official admitting that the President was the source of a leak that disclosed inside information. Trump’s observations about the capabilities of Russian intelligence ought to be regarded as top secret. But this business was aired on national television at the behest of Donald Trump. On another occasion, Trump leaked classified data to Russian diplomats visiting the White House. This leak may have put intelligence assets of an ally at risk of discovery or termination.

Who knows what else the President might have leaked. Handing out information that advances the administration’s interest is an ago-old tactic. Dick Cheney did it to plant the lie that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And Trump has his own media operation headquartered in the White House and led by Breitbart News chairman, Stephen Bannon. Remember, this is the same guy who used to call newspapers and pretend that he was a publicist working for, well, himself.

So if Trump is later found to be the source of leaks to the media, will the Department of Justice keep their word and prosecute him? That’s an open question for the time being. They have not been especially anxious to pursue criminal investigations of the President. And, of course, Trump remains poised to fire anyone he thinks is getting too close to the truth. In the end, it may only be possible to obtain justice with a truly independent counsel, or a Democratic congress. Stay tuned.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

REPORT: Trump Considering Replacing ‘Beleaguered’ Attorney General Sessions With Rudy Giuliani

The past couple of weeks has seen Donald Trump becoming ever more buried in scandal and controversy. Much of it is related to the ongoing questions about his unsavory connections to Russia. However, lately there have been new concerns emanating from a floundering White House that increasingly sees itself as under siege. The anxiety is getting so intense that Trump tweeted a plea for Republicans in Congress to protect him.

Rudy Giuliani

Setting aside the fact that it is not the job of Congress to protect the President (they are a co-equal check and balance on the executive branch), Trump’s worries extend to his his cabinet, with which is he decidedly unsatisfied.

That is especially true of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Recently Trump castigated his former favorite shill in what appears to be an attempt to force his resignation. He told the New York Times that Sessions’ recusal from the Russia probe caused him to regret the appointment. That was followed by a leaked report revealing Sessions meetings with Russians. There is speculation that the White House was the source of that leak. And on Monday morning Trump referred to Sessions as his “beleaguered” attorney general. Ironically, it is Trump who is “beleaguering” him.

A report just published by Axios is stirring the waters even more. They are hearing talk of Sessions being replaced by Rudy Giuliani. That would be an astonishing development. Giuliani is one of Trump’s most strident supporters. It would be suspicious if he should be put in that position as Trump’s legal woes expand. His fierce loyalty to Trump make it impossible to imagine that he’d run the Justice Department with the necessary independence.

But there are other reasons to be concerned about Giuliani running the Justice Department. His background is rife with controversy in both his political and personal lives. And he has much in common with the darkest side of Donald Trump. For instance:

  • Giuliani is a confirmed Birther.
  • Giuliani is a serial adulterer.
  • Giuliani asserts that he would prosecute Hillary Clinton.
  • Giuliani is frequently on Fox News and officiated at the wedding of Roger Ailes.
  • Giuliani implemented the racist stop-and-frisk policy for New York policing.
  • Giuliani eliminated New York’s control and command center for emergency response. This hampered rescue efforts after 9/11.
  • Giuliani business clients include the Canadian company that is building the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
  • Giuliani gave a speech to the Iranian organization Mujahedeen Khalq, which was on a State Department list designating it a terrorist organization.
  • Giuliani has a personal reverence for Vladimir Putin, who he said, “makes a decision and he executes it quickly. And then everybody reacts. That’s what you call a leader.”

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Should Sessions be forced out as many insiders expect, Trump may lean on his pal Giuliani to do his dirty work at the Justice Department. The degree of sycophancy that Giuliani has displayed would make it likely he would willingly fire special counselor Robert Mueller. And stifling the investigations into his Russian affairs and finances is a top priority of Trump’s since he fired former FBI director James Comey. However, if any of this transpires there’s still a question as to whether Giuliani could be confirmed by the Senate. Even some Republicans might be wary of installing Trump’s consigliere as Attorney General.

LATE BREAKING: The Washington Post is reporting that Ted Cruz is also being considered as a replacement for Sessions. That would be a remarkable political turnaround for Lyin’ Ted whose father collaborated with JFK’s assassins. However, known as the most hated man in the Senate, he may find it even harder to get confirmation from his Senate colleagues.

Desperate Trump Tweet Accusing Hillary Clinton Proves He Doesn’t Know What ‘Illegal’ Means

As the walls continue to close in around the Donald Trump crime family, he’s resorting to ever more desperate outbursts. On his Sunday morning Twitter venting, the President let loose on several familiar topics. His act is getting so stale that it can be predicted with almost perfect certainty.

Hillary Clinton

Among the subjects gnawing at his ego today were his pitiful approval ratings that reached another new low. At thirty-six percent he is the most unpopular president in seventy years of polling. And yet, his comically rounded up tweet bragged that at “almost 40% [it] is not bad at this time.” That’s sort of true, it isn’t bad. It’s historically abysmal. And even as he sought to spin this poll as good news, he dismissed is it as “just about the most inaccurate poll around.” So in effect he’s saying “See how great I’m doing in this bullshit poll?”

Trump also took a perfunctory slap at the media, complaining about its “phony unnamed sources & highly slanted & even fraudulent reporting.” The man who allowed Russia to influence our election also charged that the media was “DISTORTING DEMOCRACY” (his caps). Never mind that Trump happily boasts about his own unnamed sources when they serve his purpose.

Perhaps the most ludicrous tweet of the morning, though, was the one that dug deepest into his desperation and paranoia. It’s a comment that harkens back to the classic campaign chants of “Lock her up.” That was when Trump was accusing Hillary Clinton of heinous acts of criminality that were never supported by facts. Trump tweeted this morning that:

This explains so much. Perhaps we now know why the Trump family so frequently engages in unlawful behavior. They clearly don’t know what the word “illegal” means. For instance, there is nothing illegal about getting questions prior to a debate. In fact, a competent debate prep team probably anticipates the questions in advance anyway.

Nor is it illegal to delete your own personal emails. Despite the controversy surrounding this, no one has ever proved that Clinton deleted any government documents. And that’s after FBI investigators scoured her servers and recovered many of the deleted emails.

Both of these allegations were leveled by Trump in defense of his unscrupulous son, Don. Daddy Trump is attempting to argue that his son’s treasonous collusion with hostile Russian operatives should be excused because Clinton deleted some emails and might have cheated in a debate with Bernie Sanders. Trump is obviously still obsessed with Clinton and can’t stop thinking about her and her popular vote victory. What’s more, he’s blaming the “fake” news media even though the evidence of Junior’s crimes came from his own emails. How ironic.

You have to wonder what Trump is thinking when he posts these tweets. Does he believe that they will exonerate him and his skeevy family? Does he think that he’s persuading anyone other than his glassy-eyed disciples that they’re all innocent? Can’t he read all of the replies on Twitter that are overwhelming opposed to his whining commentaries?

Trump is a president who is not only notching new lows in public opinion, he is losing the battle on almost every front. The same poll that showed him at thirty-six percent approval has other bad news for him as well. It shows that sixty percent of Americans think Russia did try to influence the election outcome. It also shows that sixty-three percent believe that meeting with Russians during the campaign was inappropriate. Other polls show that his agenda is almost universally despised. America hates his healthcare plan, his border wall, and his immigration ban.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

These are not split decisions. They are uncommonly large majorities that have concluded that Trump and his family are dishonest and untrustworthy. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the Republican Party recognizes the risk to their congressional dominance. That’s when they will start to turn on Trump in order to save their own political skins. And the good news is that they will almost certainly make that decision too late.

Supreme Court Ruling On Trump’s Muslim Ban Makes No Friggin’ Sense At All

Monday morning the Supreme Court announced that they will allow a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States to go into effect. The ban was part of an Executive Order by Donald Trump that was blocked by lower courts, rewritten, and blocked again. In the Supreme Court’s decision the ban will be partially reinstated until the the full court considers it in October.

Donald Trump

For the record, the Court did not side with Trump on the constitutionality of the ban. They only reversed the lower court decision to suspend the Order pending a final ruling. But there is a more important reason why the whole matter is absurd. In order to understand what’s wrong with this decision we need to look at what the Order originally called for. Which was this:

“I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order. […] The Secretary of State shall suspend the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days.”

Trump’s attempts to ban immigrants and refugees were limited in scope to 90 and 120 days respectively. That ban was was ordered on January 27, 2017. So it is has already been 150 days since the order was effective. His reason for imposing the ban was to review the processes and procedures related to immigration and the security considerations thereof. There was nothing stopping him from conducting that review for the past 150 days. Had he done so it would have been completed by now and the ban would be moot.

Why didn’t Trump conduct those reviews that he was so insistent were critical to national security? Why isn’t he conducting them now? If he really cared about the safety of the American people he would have done that while the courts were hashing out the Executive Order. This exposes the lie in his statement celebrating the Supreme Court’s temporary ruling. He said that “My number one responsibility as Commander-in-Chief is to keep the American people safe.” Obviously that wasn’t true. Because instead of fulfilling that responsibility, he did nothing at all. And that is pretty much the story for his entire short presidency.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Ted Cruz Tried to Outsmart Sally Yates at Senate Hearing on Russia – Got Smacked Hard

Monday afternoon the Senate judiciary Committee met for hearings on Donald Trump’s connections to Russia during his campaign and into his presidency. The star attraction was former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, whom Trump fired under suspicious circumstances. Yates had warned him that his then-National Security Advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn, might have been compromised by Russian operatives. So, of course Trump fired her, but didn’t fire Flynn until three weeks later.

Ted Cruz Sally Yates

The hearing was predictably partisan with Democrats sticking to the subject at hand, while Republicans tried to deflect to everything from alleged leaks, to Hillary Clinton’s email server. However, the most peculiar moments came during questioning by Sen. Ted Cruz (surprise). Although Cruz has long boasted of his debating skills, his exchange with Yates did not go well for him. Here is a condensed transcript of what occurred. [Note: the full video is posted below]

Cruz: Is it correct the the Constitution vests the executive authority in the President?
Yates: Yes.
Cruz: And if an Attorny General disagrees with a policy decision of the President – a policy decision that is lawful – does the Attorney General have the authority to direct the Department of Justice to defy the President’s orders?
Yates: I don’t whether the Attorney General has the authority to do that or not. But I don’t think that would be a good idea. And that’s not what I did in this case.

At that point Cruz asked Yates if she was familiar with a statute that he said was the binding authority for Trump’s executive order. He said that her refusal to comply with it was the reason for her termination. Then he read the statute as if declaring victory over his foe. But Yates responded in a manner that ought to have shut him up:

Cruz: The statute says, quote, ‘Whenever the president finds that the entry of any alien or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem appropriate.’ Would you agree that that is broad statutory authorization?
Yates: I would, and I am familiar with that. And I’m also familiar with an additional provision of the INA that says, ‘No person shall receive preference or be discriminated against in issuance of a visa because of race, nationality, or place of birth.’

Yates went on to point out that the section of law she quoted was promulgated after the statute that Cruz cited. It therefore took precedence. Cruz appeared not to be aware of any of that. So in a desperate effort to divert attention from his humiliation, he sought to baselessly accuse Yates of partisanship:

Cruz: There is no doubt the arguments that you laid out are arguments that we can expect litigants to bring, partisan litigants who disagree with the policy decision of the president.

Of course, Yates’ arguments were neutral statements of fact that Cruz just couldn’t rebut. Shortly thereafter, Cruz tried another tack wherein he met a similarly embarrassing fate:

Cruz: In the over two hundred years of the Department of Justice history, are you aware of any instance in which the Department of Justice has formally approved the legality of a policy and three days later the Attorney General has directed the department to not to follow that policy and to defy that policy?

Yates: I’m not. But I’m also not aware of a situation where the office of legal counsel was advised not to tell the Attorney General about it until after it was over.

Immediately after this exchange Cruz left the hearing room with his tail between his legs. He didn’t bother waiting until the hearing was over or listening to any of the other testimony. Clearly he was ashamed and unable to face his colleagues or the press. So he beat a hasty retreat. He might have been better off had he not shown up. And the same can be said of the rest of the GOP inquisitionists on the panel.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Watch Sally Yates and Ted Cruz spar here:

Trump’s Executive Order on Religious Liberty Gives Bigots a Free Pass to Discriminate

Much of the media today is over-indulging the White House’s short-term success in crippling ObamaCare. Never mind that the American people support it and today’s House vote is not expected to be repeated in the Senate. It’s a “W” in Donald Trump’s column that they are exploiting to the max.

Donald Trump

What is not being talked about is the executive order Trump signed earlier on Thursday. The purpose of yet another Trump executive order is being sold as an attempt to promote “Free Speech and Religious Liberty.” In reality it does neither. The language in the order itself betrays its true intent. It says that it:

“…protects the freedom of Americans and their organizations to exercise religion and participate fully in civic life without undue interference by the Federal Government.”

“…[mandates that] the Department of the Treasury does not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues.”

“…address[es] conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate.”

Taking a closer look at these objectives reveals something far more ominous than what the Trump administration suggests. The actual impact of the order is to allow religious institutions to use their tax-exempt status to advocate for political campaigns and policies. It attempts to reverse the “Johnson Amendment” which many faith leaders support. It also permits businesses to discriminate against individuals they regard as incompatible with their religious beliefs.

For the most part, the executive order is merely window dressing on the right’s Christian supremacy. It doesn’t alter existing law at all, which would require an act of Congress. Instead, it directs federal legal authorities to refrain from enforcing statutes that actually protect equal treatment under the law. In other words, businesses that refuse to service gays (or Muslims, or whoever) will get a free pass for prejudice. Churches that openly engage in political activity will not have their tax-exempt status reviewed by the IRS. Employers will be able to force their religious beliefs on employees (such as refusing contraceptive healthcare coverage) with impunity.

It should be noted that current law does not prohibit anyone from exercising their right to religious expression. Any business owner is free to express their beliefs so long as doing so does not infringe on the constitutional rights of others. Any representative of a religious institution can speak out on politics so long as it is not done in a facility that receives federal tax exemptions. If pastors want to turn sermons into political speeches they can simply decline tax-exempt status. Many people believe that the policy that grants religious organizations freedom from taxation should be revisited as an historical anachronism. But no one argues that political organizations should conduct their business tax-free.

Trump’s statements at the signing of the executive order (video below) were vaguely patriotic while disguising overtly prejudicial intent. “No American,” he said, “should be forced to choose between the dictates of the American government and the tenets of their faith.” He continued:

“We will not allow people of faith to be bullied, targeted, or silenced any more. And we will never ever stand for religious discrimination. Never ever.”

That coming from the same man who issued an executive order banning all Muslims from entering the country. Trump’s idea of religious freedom is limited to those who practice the American brand of Christianity. He supports business owners who seek to discriminate against gays. But he would oppose any business that insisted that all female patrons cover their heads. He also said that:

“For too long the federal government has used the power of the state as a weapon against people of faith, bullying, and even punishing Americans for following their religious beliefs.”

In reality, the federal government generally tries to insure that the practice of religious beliefs don’t infringe on anyone else’s liberties. The only bullying evident was by radical Christians who tried to prevent the construction of Mosques in their communities. What Trump is bothered by is the free exercise of beliefs by people who don’t subscribe to his faith.

This point was made clear in an open letter by more than 1,000 faith leaders who oppose Trump’s executive order. Their letter said in part that:

“Although it purports to strengthen religious freedom, what this order would actually do is misuse this freedom, turning it into a weapon to discriminate against broad swath[e]s of our nation, including LGBTQ people, women, and children in foster care.” […]

“The religious freedom upon which our nation was founded has allowed our country’s diverse religious landscape to flourish. The draft executive order flies in the face of that rich diversity by enshrining one religious perspective – on marriage, gender identity, health care, and the role of houses of worship in partisan politics – into law, above all others. This is neither what religious freedom means in the eyes of the law, nor what religion itself means to millions of Americans of faith.”

Trump’s attempt to govern by executive order, something he lambasted President Obama for, is typical of the authoritarian tendencies he has long exhibited. And in this case he is going beyond conventional authoritarianism to full fledged theological tyranny. Expect this executive order to suffer the same fate as his others that were overturned in court. The ACLU has already announced a court challenge.

[Update: The ACLU released a statement saying that they are declining to bring a suit at this time because Trump’s EO is “an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome” and is “fake news.” I don’t entirely agree, because a threat of non-enforcement still constitutes unequal treatment under the law. However it’s fun to see the ACLU essentially call Trump an impotent doofus]

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.