Sunday, August 06, 2017

Under Donald Trump's rules, his grandfather Freidrich Trump would have been denied entrance to the U.S.

Not a dump

Not a dump

Recently, the current occupant of the White House claimed it was a “real dump.” In my life I have lived in many places. The worst was a trailer me and a couple young junior NCOs rented in Oak Grove, Kentucky, so we could get out of the barracks. It was so crappy the rats packed up and moved out—the cockroaches felt right at home. A close second would be the 20th replacement depot at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, where the shower drain was a hole in the floor, and it just drained out on the ground, but I was only there a couple days so that one does not count. I currently live in a modest two-bedroom home. It isn’t much, but it is mine (or it will be in 2041 when it is paid off). It is certainly not a dump.
The nicest place I have ever lived in was an old Victorian I used to own. It was falling apart, and had some odd quirks (like the second floor swaying when a train went by a block away), but it kept me busy on weekends with projects. I was especially proud of saving all the leaded glass upper sashes when I discovered the windows were rotting. I am sure the current White House occupant would call it a dump. None of the places I have lived have had the history of the White House, a residence I would certainly not call a dump.
The White House was designed by Irish Immigrant James Hoban in 1792, it was built with slave labor. George Washington never lived in the White House; the first occupant was John Adams, who moved in in November of 1800. Abigail Adams used the East Room to dry the presidential laundry.
Thomas Jefferson was the second president to live in the White House, and added the East and West Colonnades, which aided in concealing the laundry, stables, and storage. James and Dolley Madison moved in in 1809. They moved out, not by their choosing, on August 24, 1814 when the the British showed up, ate a meal, and then torched the place (talk about rude house guests). The Madisons would not move back into the White House. The Monroes would be the first presidential couple to move into the reconstructed White House in 1817. In 1824 the South Portico was added to the White House, and the North Portico was added in 1830.
In 1861, the Lincolns moved in, it is probably okay to say the place was a dump at that time.
Mary's fond hopes for a palatial new existence in Washington were in a way dashed almost as soon as she took up residence in March 1861. As Lincoln's clerk William O. Stoddard conceded, many once glittering areas of the house were run down; even the East Room had "a faded, worn, untidy look." Mary's visiting cousin Lizzie Grimsley thought the "deplorably shabby furnishings" looked like they had "survived many Presidents," although the house had been extensively refurbished twice in the previous decade. Concluding that it would be "a degradation" to subject her family and her guests—to such surroundings, the new first lady launched a monumental redecorating project, purchasing new carpets, draperies, wallpaper, furnishings, china, and books, and modernizing plumbing, heating, and lighting.
As with any government project, it went over budget—by 30 percent.
During Lincoln’s time security at the White House was not really a concern. In fact, there was an open door policy.
Virtually from Lincoln's first day in office, a crush of visitors besieged the White House stairways and corridors, climbed through windows at levees, and camped outside Lincoln's office door "on all conceivable errands, for all imaginable purposes." Neither custom nor security precautions shielded the president from his voraciously demanding public. Office-seekers were the biggest drain on the presidents time and energy—among them, his wife's own relatives—crowding the hallways all the way down the front stairs in an endless effort to importune him for lucrative government appointments.
After Lincoln was assassinated, his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, would not leave the White House for another five weeks:
"Bidding Adieu, to that house," she bitterly remembered,"would never have troubled me, if in my departure, I had carried with me, the loved ones, who entered the house, with me." Her memory of the White House was only that "all the sorrows of my life, occurred there."
Teddy Roosevelt moved into the White House after the assassination of President McKinley. In 1902 the White House was, according the the White House museum, “somewhat decrepit and cramped.” President Roosevelt was not a fan of the Victorian decor and wanted more if the original federalist design. That is not exactly what happened,
Work began in June  under the supervision of the architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White with Charles McKim personally in charge. McKim held little regard for historical elements, and worked fast to strip the house of most of its floors and cover over old walls with new plaster. By the end of the year, the job was complete, although the result was more Georgian than federal
McKim's most significant alterations were to remove the original grand stair in the west end of the Cross Hall what is today the north side of the State Dining Room—and make the side stair by the Entrance Hall a grander affair (to be redone again by Truman). He also added bathrooms on the second floor and installed new elevator and electric lights everywhere to replace most of the old gaslight fixtures.
That is not all that was done: the executive offices were moved from the second floor and into another building so that the family residence could be on the second floor. Roosevelt had the Victorian conservatories on the west side demolished and a one-story temporary office structure (the West Wing—so much for temporary) built which was connected to the residence by a colonnaded gallery that housed laundry and other housekeeping facilities. An East Wing was added for the first time.
President Taft made the West Wing permanent and added the Oval Office. President Hoover took advantage of a fire in the West Wing to make it larger, update the Oval Office, add air conditioning, and replace the 20-year-old furniture.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt further expanded the West Wing to what we know it today, and it has largely stayed the same. When President Truman took office, the White House was literally falling apart at the seams. In 1948 it was in danger of collapsing (this would be a dump). He had it gutted, and replaced the interior of the building, losing all of the original interior structure. Jacquelyn Kennedy would restore much of the White House in the early 1960s, presenting the restoration to the American public on TV on Valentine’s Day 1962.
Since 1962, the White House has been declared a museum, and minor updates have been made. Most notably, President Carter added solar panels, President Reagan removed the solar panels, and President Bush (43) added solar panels.
President Trump calls the White House a dump — likely because not every thing has cheap gold plating on it, or maybe because the original architect was an immigrant. The White House is a national treasure, not a dump. I have lived in a dump: I am sure that crappy ass trailer is still in Oak Grove and is still being rented out to unsuspecting soldiers. Maybe after Trump’s presidency and business empire collapse, he can rent it out, and find out just what living in a dump is like. I am sure he would feel right at home with the cockroaches living there.

Pro-democracy protesters in Poland wave the national and European Union flags

Pro-democracy protesters in Poland wave the national and European Union flags

Leading Off

In 2015, Poland's right-wing populist Law and Justice Party (abbreviated "PiS" in Polish) narrowly won an outright majority in parliament, which no party had ever managed since the collapse of communism in the early 1990s. Party chair Jarosław Kaczynski is neither prime minister nor president, but he controls PiS with an iron fist, making him Poland's leader in all but name. Following the example of Prime Minister Viktor Orban's increasingly authoritarian government in nearby Hungary, Kaczynski and PiS swiftly set about eliminating the rule of law in order to end liberal democracy and entrench themselves in power.
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This ongoing crisis boiled over in July when PiS tried to pass three major laws to neuter the independence of the judicial branch, which sparked widespread protests and condemnation from European Union officials—but so far little direct action by the E.U. itself. But in a surprising development, President Andrzej Duda vetoed two of these measures, while acceding to the third. While Duda is an independent, he was elected as a member of PiS two years ago and until now has generally toed the party line while in office.
The two vetoed measures would have allowed the country's minister of justice to fire any Supreme Court judges. They would have also given the governing majority the ability to control nominations for all judges, which are currently chosen by an independent institution. Since the justice minister already functions as Poland's chief prosecutor, these measures would have eviscerated any semblance of judicial independence in Poland.
However, these vetoes by no means represent any kind of crushing blow to PiS's scheme to destroy Polish democracy. The third bill, which Duda did sign, gives PiS the power to control the composition of lower courts, which will in turn determine which cases become available for the Supreme Court judges to take up on appeal. Furthermore, Poland has a separate court, distinct from its Supreme Court, that adjudicates questions of constitutionality. PiS sabotaged that body long ago, stacking the Constitutional Tribunal with friendly partisans immediately after 2015's elections while also curtailing the court's powers.
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WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 29:  U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) attend a panel discussion on an opioid and drug abuse in the Roosevelt Room of the White House March 29, 2017 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images)

We already knew that Donald Trump's new ban against transgendered troops in our nation's military came as a surprise to military leaders. Now we're learning that the impetus for the sudden policy change was considerably more crude than even detractors suspected.
The short version? Politico reports that Donald Trump announced a ban on transgendered military members because he was frustrated with the government's lawyers trying to explain the implications of such policies to him.
President Donald Trump’s White House and Defense Department lawyers had warned him against the transgender military ban for days. They were concerned about the ramifications of the policy, how military officials would respond and what legal backlash it could cause, two West Wing officials familiar with last month’s discussions said. The lawyers thought there would be plenty of time for more discussions and were analyzing arguments. Frustrated with being “slow-walked,” in the words of one White House official, the president took to Twitter last week — jarring many in the West Wing out of complacency and startling his lawyers, Defense Department officials and West Wing aides, who learned of the change in a series of tweets.
This is remarkable reporting, and paints a picture of Trump as exactly the sort of unstable, petty know-nothing that his worst critics feared. His advisers had come to him with a new policy request—originally, it seems to have been the Republican lawmakers' demands to bar the military from paying for gender transition and hormone therapies. The implications of this were being hashed out by administration and military lawyers at the time; at some point, in the White House, this evolved into a discussion of banning transgendered service members outright. Possibly, and this is speculation on our part, because it would require fewer words.
Apparently, however, it was these discussions themselves that set Trump off. Too dim or hotheaded to grasp the nuances of the issue and too impatient to tolerate substantive explanations of it with others, he instead lashed out with his new, most simplistic "policy" banning transgendered service members apparently as an attempt to stop his own staff from asking him further questions on it.
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Who will be the last man standing?

Who will be the last man standing?

Donald Trump thinks he can fire his way out of his mess.
Perhaps it isn’t much of a shock that the man who presided over 14 seasons of The Apprentice believes the key to his success as president is simply yelling “you’re fired” until his audience is satiated sufficiently to boost his ratings, but this particular management skill is increasingly proving to be the Achilles heel of his beleaguered presidency. A mere six months into his tenure, Trump has presided over not only a historically unpopular administration, but the most rapid turnover of any other executive branch in our nation’s history. Not even 200 days into its first season, the Trump train has already experienced a dozen unscheduled departures, and its lead engineer shows no signs of steering his “fine tuned machine” back onto the tracks.
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King's horses, And all the King's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again!
Though conventional wisdom continues to hope that each new staff change will give Donald Trump the “clean slate” he so desperately needs to get his presidency into gear, the regrettable truth remains that he is the root of his administration’s incurable dysfunction. As “Instability-in-Chief,” everything Trump touches becomes vulnerable to the same disorder and volatility that have plagued him and his inner circle for 71 years. His entire career and celebrity have been predicated on his propensity for shaking things up, rather than holding them together. He’s purportedly thrived in the business community in spite of his lifelong character flaws, but under the microscope of the U.S. presidency and its inescapable 24 hour news cycle, those flaws have become an albatross around his neck. They have also served as the predictable catalyst of his growing list of resignations, firings, and passive aggressive threats to cause more of the same.
From the short but tumultuous 10 day tenure of his mini-me anger translator, Anthony Scaramucci, and the 23 day stint served by disgraced former national security adviser Mike Flynn, to Reince Priebus’ thankless but more lengthy 189 days as Trump’s lifeline to the establishment GOP and Sean Spicer’s 183 days of alternative fact manufacturing, all the president's men are gradually disappearing. As seen on The Apprentice, the underlying reasons for each departure may vary, but the commonality among them is the mercurial man at the head of the table who ultimately decides their fate.
Be it a perceived lack of loyalty, a vengeful insult to President Obama, or a premeditated attempt to obstruct justice, Trump’s growing list of departures is a result and confirmation of his incapability of running any organization without interference from his numerous emotional and behavioral impairments. His administration is plagued by the toxic character of its chief executive, and his lack of insight and judgment is responsible for every “mistake” he and his employees make. Though he persists in laying the blame for his many failures on everyone from his predecessor to Hillary Clinton to the media and even his own son, his captive audience is also historically aware that the buck is supposed to eventually stop with the president.

As we eagerly await the final revelations of Robert Mueller’s special investigation, we will undoubtedly be inundated with comparisons of the corruption and dysfunction exemplified by the Trump and Nixon administrations. Among the many salient parallels will likely be the clarion call of executive branch instability and rapid staff turnover as a prelude to inevitable disaster. Just as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein did four decades ago, today’s investigative reporters are chasing Beltway leads (and leaks) in hopes of piecing together the timeline of criminal events that connects the actions of All the President’s Men to the president himself. They take this tack because Trump’s former employees are the proverbial canaries in his coal mine, and their fates are likely an ironic foreshadowing of his future. If we’ve learned anything from the rise and fall of Richard Nixon, it’s that presidents succeed or fail on the backs of those who succeed or fail at carrying out the chief executive’s orders.
Ultimately, a president’s character is revealed not only by the actions he takes alone, but the collective endeavors of the people with whom he chooses to surround himself. That so many of these individuals have so quickly become unwilling and/or unable to fulfill their obligations to Donald Trump (and the country) speaks volumes of his failed leadership and continued desecration of the office he holds. Though he remains intent on firing away the evidence of his incompetence and impropriety, it is indeed this steady stream of untimely departures that implicates him as the lead culprit of his own impending destruction.
“I've seen first hand that being president doesn't change who you are. It reveals who you are.” - Michelle Obama

Immigrants outside a building on Ellis Island
Immigrants at Ellis Island.

Immigrants outside a building on Ellis Island
Immigrants at Ellis Island.

From the podium of the White House press room, senior adviser Stephen Miller stridently stood before America and the world this week and essentially declared that as far as Donald Trump is concerned, the American dream is over.
The idea that this nation is a refuge for those seeking freedom, that we are open and welcoming to those who hope to improve not just their own station in life but the station of their children, and their children’s children? That is simply not something that our president is interested.
Under Trump’s proposed stricter immigration rules requiring proficiency in English and “high skills,” Trump’s own grandfather Friedrich Trump, who immigrated at age 16 and originally worked as a barber (a trade he had apprenticed in because he was considered too sickly to join his brothers and sisters in the grape fields), would not have been allowed into America from his native Germany.
This argument between Miller and CNN’s Jim Acosta is fairly jarring, but also illustrative of how deeply the people in this White House fail to understand exactly what America is—and, clearly, what it’s not.

“What you’re proposing here or what the president is proposing does not sound like it’s in keeping with American tradition when it comes to immigration,” Acosta pointed out. “The Statue of Liberty says ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.’ It doesn’t say anything about speaking English or being able to be a computer programmer. Aren’t you trying to change what it means to be an immigrant if you are telling them they have to speak English. Can’t they learn to speak English when they get here?”
Miller took offense to Acosta’s mention of the Statue of Liberty.
“I don’t want to go off on a whole thing about history here,” Miller said. “The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of light in the world. It’s a symbol of American liberty light in the world. The poem you are referring to is not part of the original Statue of Liberty. It was added later.”
Entry into America is not and has never been a “prize” you get for eating all your Wheaties. Miller talks as if there isn’t already a program for highly-skilled workers to immigrate to America. In fact, those high-skilled worker visas have traditionally gone not to ones who benefit America, but instead the persons who would be better benefited by America.
These are the various categories through which people can currently acquire a Green Card.
  • Green Card through Family
    • Spouse of a U.S. citizen
    • Unmarried child under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen
    • Parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old
  • Green Card through Employment
    • First preference immigrant workers:
      • Have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, or
      • Are an outstanding professor or researcher, or
      • Are a multinational manager or executive who meets certain criteria
    • Second preference immigrant workers:
      • Are a member of a profession that requires an advanced degree, or
      • Have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, or
      • Are seeking a national interest waiver
    • Third preference immigrant workers:
      • A skilled worker (meaning your job requires a minimum of 2 years training or work experience), or
      • A professional (meaning your job requires at least a U.S. bachelor's degree or a foreign equivalent and you are a member of the profession), or
      • An unskilled worker (meaning you will perform unskilled labor requiring less than 2 years training or experience)
  • Green Card as a Special Immigrant
    • Religious Worker
    • Abused Children
    • Afghanistan Translator or other Employee of U.S. Armed Forces
    • International Broadcaster or member of the Media
    • Employee of an international organization or Family member of a NATO employee
  • Green Card through Refugee or Asylee Status
  • Green Card for Human Trafficking and Crime Victims
  • Green Card for Victims of Abuse
    • The abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
    • The abused child (unmarried and under 21 years old) of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
    • The abused parent of a U.S. citizen
  • Green Card through Other Categories
  • Green Card through Registry
And just for the record, you don’t have to speak English to become a naturalized citizen.
As you can see, employability is already one of the factors involved in potentially obtaining a Green Card, but there are many other ways to do so through various methods and relationships. Miller’s proposal isn’t just changing our legal immigration system into something “merit”-based—it’s actually deleting and deprioritizing all of these other various avenues of access.
And then there’s this question: what exactly are they going to consider meritorious? Having a good education? Having a good, high-end skill? Having good “breeding?” And what is it with all this “assimilation” business?

In the above video Charles Blow attempts to get Jeffrey Lord to explain exactly what he means by requiring people to “assimilate” rather than—as Lord claims they do—"self-segregate.”
He seems ignorant (of course) to the reality that the Irish community was isolated in New York 150 years ago specifically because they were ostracized and shunned by others. He ignores that the Italian community was similarly shunned and reviled. That this “assimilation” he speaks of was simply their attempting, over the course of generations, to “fit in” and literally de-ethnicize themselves. To become not so Irish-like and not so Italian-like but Neeta's, more generic and bland. Safe. Non-threatening.
So they Americanized their names and dropped the more obvious ethnic elements, their children grew up speaking English rather than the old language, and the kids naturally adopted more American cultural elements rather than the habits from the old country. This is the way the system has worked, but apparently Jeffrey Lord doesn’t understand the core point that Blow is alluding to, which is that some of us here in America aren’t immigrants.
Black people—and that term is used in this case to isolate persons whose ancestors go back to before 1808 when Congress was first allowed to end the importation of slaves, as opposed to voluntary African immigrants—didn’t come here by choice. They, like the Irish, Italians, and Jews, were not originally invited to openly integrate into the whole of America. They didn’t “self-segregate.” They were very deliberately forced to segregate for nearly two centuries, but simply changing their names wasn’t enough to make them “fit in” and slide under the radar to escape the social ostracization faced by other ethnic groups.
And it’s not like they remained culturally stagnant during that entire time. They developed their own but still American culture through the unique use of language, which is different from the mainstream “assimilated” uses of language. Through music, through food, through clothing, through dance and art, they built an Africanized but also very American culture of their own. They developed, by force of necessity, their own American perspective, which continues to revitalize and energize the larger American culture.
So when Blow asks Lord about “assimilation,” what he’s really questioning is de-culturalization.
And Lord’s argument boils down to: Don’t be so ethnic. Don’t be so different. Don’t be so unique. Or to put it another way: be. more. generic and white, like the rest of us have trained ourselves to be.
Take a step back and think about that from the perspective of our First Nations, our native Americans who were here long before the European migration of English, French, Dutch, and Spanish who eventually laid claim this  these lands. Are they supposed to “assimilate” too? Into what? Into who? They should abandon their culture and heritage to be more appeasing and appealing to those who conquered and massacred their ancestors? Really, man?
Our Latino brothers and sisters in many cases aren’t really from “somewhere else,” either. Their history in the Western U.S. goes back 400 years to when the Spanish and Natives interacted, so they are of a hybrid heritage and culture, part native but also Spanish-speaking, and often Catholic.
If you are an immigrant from another part of the world, scraping off much of that old culture is not a threat to the continuance of that culture because it continues to exist somewhere else. But that’s not really the case for black Americans (as opposed to a more recent African immigrant), for Native Americans, and for many Latino Americans as well. If these people remove much of their own culture just to make others more “comfortable” (as many immigrants do when they assimilate), just where does that culture go?
Be that as it may, conservative commentator Anna Navarro gets right to the heart of this matter right here.

“This is yet one more wedge issue being fabricated by the Trump administration for the purpose of keeping his base happy,” Navarro told CNN host Anderson Cooper. “It is absolutely racist to award a point system.”
“I’d like to award points to people who don’t wedge and pit Americans against each other,” Navarro said.
“I live in a community which is full of people who came here without speaking English,” Navarro explained of her Miami neighbors. “Including myself, including Marco Rubio’s parents.”
“It’s absolutely racist and more than racist, it’s un-American,” Navarro charged.
Yeah, it absolutely is all that. It’s racist in the sense that it’s clearly giving priority to those who are already the most culturally like those in our business community. It’s certainly classist in that it favors those who have financial access to education and industry resources that can help them be high-skilled and high-value employees. And it’s also extremely, insultingly un-American.
It is completely blind and oblivious to people’s potential, and their ability to change and grow into something and someone far beyond who and what they may be right now. It ignores the fact that new and different perspectives can revitalize and re-energize us socially, culturally, and yes, also financially by presenting new ideas that can catch fire and spread, changing the nature and scope of who the rest of us are as nation.
If we had implemented this kind of policy 100 or more years ago, a 16-year-old Friedrich Trump wouldn’t have been allowed into the country, and his son wouldn’t have started a successful real estate empire in Queens, and his grandson wouldn’t have taken that business into Manhattan.
All of the millions upon millions of blue collar workers who immigrated in order to give their children the potential for a better, greater life—people like Friedrich—would see the gates of America sealed shut to them. They would be rejected. Branded insufficient. Failures.
And all that potential, would be lost, wasted. A future foreclosed.
This is literally the most heartless, selfish, myopic, anti-American proposal in at least a generation. It’s embarrassing and insulting. Let’s hope that Anna Navarro is correct, and that all the Americans in Congress who are the first- and second-generation sons and daughters of working-class immigrants—those who struggled and toiled in thankless, unglamorous jobs to give their children a greater future—will recognize this ridiculous proposal for what it is.

Sunday, Aug 6, 2017 · 2:04:24 PM EDT · Frank Vyan Walton
More evidence that this entire proposal is simply heartless xenophobia comes from Vox as they report that while Trump claims he wants fewer legal immigrants and for more of them to be “high skilled” his own Department of Homeland Security has increased the cap for H2B Visas per year from 66,000 to 81,000 and that his own companies in including Mar-A-Lago have submitted 76 more applications for low wage foreign workers.
On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security raised the cap on H-2B visas for foreign guest workers from 66,000 visas per year to 81,000.
On Thursday — just three days later — Trump’s properties told the Department of Labor that they wanted approval to hire 76 guest workers using those visas.
The policy change was surprising. Trump has criticized other guest-worker programs for supposedly taking away jobs from Americans. He has resisted calls from the tech industry to expand the H-1B visa program for high-skilled workers. He hasn't increased visas in the H-2A program for seasonal farmworkers, even though the agriculture industry has lobbied for it. He even delayed the launch of a startup visa program that Obama created to help foreign tech entrepreneurs start businesses in the United States.
This isn’t about helping American workers, this is about feeding hate and resentment.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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