Friday Reads: “Something wicked this way comes …”Posted: November 18, 2016
Welcome to the start of an Orwellian Dystopia. Will the Vichy Democrats enable the demise of Civil Rights? How many of us will stand up to defend our Bill of Rights?
A man deemed “too racist” to be a Federal judge by a judiciary committee led by Senate Republicans during the Reagan years has just been nominated to the be the nation’s head enforcer of Civil Rights law. Jeff Sessions “once joked that he only took issue with the KKK’s drug use and referred to civil rights groups as “un-American.”
The man who President-elect Donald Trump will nominate as the 84th attorney general of the United States was once rejected as a federal judge over allegations he called a black attorney “boy,” suggested a white lawyer working for black clients was a race traitor, joked that the only issue he had with the Ku Klux Klan was their drug use, and referred to civil rights groups as “un-American” organizations trying to “force civil rights down the throats of people who were trying to put problems behind them.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), an early Trump supporter who has been playing a major role on the Trump transition team, met with the president-elect in New York on Thursday. In a statement, the Trump team said the president-elect was “unbelievably impressed” with Sessions.
On Friday morning, Trump and Sessions confirmed that Sessions had been offered the attorney general position.
J. Gerald Hebert remembers Sessions’ time as the top federal prosecutor in Mobile, Alabama, well. Speaking to The Huffington Post earlier this month, Hebert said he was stunned that an Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a possibility.
More than three decades ago, Hebert was in his 30s and working on voting rights cases for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. He was based in D.C. but spent time in Alabama working with Sessions, who was a U.S. attorney in Ronald Reagan’s administration.
“He was very affable, always wanting to have a conversation, a cup of coffee,” Hebert said. “Over the course of those months, I had a number of conversations with him, and in a number of those conversations he made remarks that were deeply concerning.”
After Sessions was nominated to be a federal judge in 1986, Hebert appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify about these remarks. It was unusual for a career DOJ lawyer to testify about a judicial nominee’s character, and Hebert said at the time that he did so with “very mixed feelings,” telling senators he considered Sessions “a friend.” Hebert told them Sessions had “a tendency to pop off” and that he was “not a very sensitive person when it comes to race relations.”
HuffPost reviewed a transcript of the Sessions’ 1986 confirmation hearings. In this selection, Hebert testified that he had once relayed comments about a white lawyer being described as a race traitor, and that Sessions had responded by saying “he probably is” …
The ADL CEO has announced he will register as Muslim if such a registry–as promised by the future Trump Administration–is enacted. Many Jewish Americans are concerned with the threat of laws that remind them of Europe’s awful past.
The head of an organization dedicated to combating anti-Semitism says he will register as a Muslim should President-elect Donald Trump create a national database for the religion’s followers.
“The new administration plans to force Muslims to register on some master list,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), told listeners at the group’s Never is Now Conference in New York Thursday, according to Haaretz. “As Jews we know what it means to be forced to register.
“I pledge to you that because I am committed to the fight against anti-Semitism that if one day Muslim-Americans are forced to register their identities, that is the day this proud Jew will register as Muslim. Making powerful enemies is the price one must pay, at times, for speaking truth to power.”
Trump supporters have floated a registry of Muslim immigrants as part of efforts to combat radical Islamic terrorism, but officials with his transition team have denied any such plans.
Greenblatt added Americans must reject all forms of discrimination regardless of which minority group it targets.
“No one has an excuse for excusing intolerance. We must stand with our fellow Americans who may be singled out for how they look, where they’re from, who they love or how they pray,” he said
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), an immigration hard-liner who has been advising Trump, said Wednesday that transition policy advisers were debating the merits of such a database.
Many Holocaust survivors are as traumatized by this election as sexual assault survivors and victims of abuse.
The dramatic increase in anti-Semitism and hate crimes since Election Day is a horrifying flashback for veteran Jewish Americans.
“It’s a very traumatic time for survivors and their families,” said Eva Fogelman, PhD, a New York-based, licensed psychologist and a pioneer in the field of Holocaust survivor post-traumatic stress disorder.
“There’s been a definite spike in anxiety among survivors in the past week,” Fogelman added. “They witness hate speech and anti-Semitic symbols from their childhood follow them here, and it triggers a relapse in their trauma. One of my patients said, ‘I lived through one Hitler, I don’t want to live through another.’”
Though sleeplessness and nightmares about their wartime experiences are the most common symptoms, intense fear of leaving and losing one’s home is another.
Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, an Army veteran, will become Trump’s CIA director if confirmed by the Senate. He is a Tea Partier.
He’s a supporter of the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk data collection program and sought to restore the agency’s access to the data it had already collected under the Patriot Act from its inception through late last year.
Pompeo is also one of the most vocal critics of the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.
Pompeo, who grew up in the traditionally Republican enclave of Orange County, California, founded Thayer Aerospace, a company that made parts for commercial and military aircraft. After selling Thayer, he became president of Sentry International, a company that manufactures and sells equipment used in oil fields.
He was elected to Congress in 2010 on a wave of tea party support and with backing from the Koch Industries political action committee. The Wichita-based conglomerate’s PAC is well known for its support of conservative candidates.
Though Pompeo is generally known for his opposition to Obama administration policies, he’s occasionally given heat to some fellow Republicans. Last year, his name was floated as a potential rival to Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to become House speaker.
Trump’s choice for NSA is a horrifying pick also. He’s got contacts with US enemy states.
But Flynn has also shown an erratic streak since leaving government that is likely to make his elevation disconcerting even to the flag officers and senior intelligence officials who once considered him a peer.
Flynn stunned former colleagues when he traveled to Moscow last year to appear alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin at a lavish gala for the Kremlin-run propaganda channel RT, a trip Flynn admitted he was paid to make and defended by saying he saw no distinction between RT and U.S. news channels such as CNN.
Flynn said he used the trip to press Putin’s government to behave more responsibly in international affairs. Former U.S. officials said Flynn, seen dining next to Putin in photos published by Russian propaganda outlets, was used as a prop by the autocratic leader.
Flynn was forced out of his job as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 over concerns about his leadership style. After the ouster, he frequently lashed out in public against President Obama and blamed his removal on the administration’s discomfort with his hard-line views on radical Islam.
Spurning the decorum traditionally expected of retired U.S. flag officers, Flynn became a fervent campaigner for Trump and was given a high-profile role speaking before the GOP convention, an appearance in which he led the crowd in “lock her up” chants against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Flynn’s behavior drew the ire of former colleagues and superiors, including retired Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who made Flynn his top intelligence officer during critical stretches of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
I’m trying to regain my nerve to fight all this but I feel like I’m getting way too old to do much good. However, if Paul Ryan has his way, I will likely be on the ice floes.
Here’s some advice from Sarah Kendzior who has:
…. studied authoritarian states for over a decade, I would never exaggerate the severity of the threat we now face. But an American kleptocracy is exactly where president-elect Trump and his backers are taking us. That’s why I have a favor to ask you, my fellow Americans.
We’re heading into dark times. This is how to be your own light in the Age of Trump.
She has many suggestions but this was the most poignant. I think we must hold on to our values and be prepared to defend them.
That voice is your conscience, your morals, your individuality. No one can take that from you unless you let them. They can take everything from you in material terms – your house, your job, your ability to speak and move freely. They cannot take away who you truly are. They can never truly know you, and that is your power.
But to protect and wield this power, you need to know yourself – right now, before their methods permeate, before you accept the obscene and unthinkable as normal.
My heart breaks for the United States of America. It breaks for those who think they are my enemies as much as it does for my friends. You still have your freedom, so use it. There are many groups organizing for both resistance and subsistence, but we are heading into dark times, and you need to be your own light. Do not accept brutality and cruelty as normal even if it is sanctioned. Protect the vulnerable and encourage the afraid. If you are brave, stand up for others. If you cannot be brave – and it is often hard to be brave – be kind.
But most of all, never lose sight of who you are and what you value.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?