CASH IN THE APPLE FOR 09-07-17
By Cash Michaels
IRONIES OF IRONIES: At the time of this writing (Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.), former Pres. Barack Obama had not written a response to his successor’s ending of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Obama stated during his administration, otherwise known as “DACA.”
“DACA offered protection for young people who were brought to the United States as young children, the vast majority of whom know no other home than the United States,” NC Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1) said in a statement Tuesday. “Today, President Trump has failed to “show great heart” to the hundreds of thousands of young people whose lives are now in peril with the announcement that his Administration will end the DACA program. All DACA recipients grew up in America, are registered with our government, and have passed extensive background checks. More than 95 percent of DACA recipients are in school or in the workforce.”
“I am saddened by President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program because it will devastate lives, tear apart families, and disrupt our local communities. I am an original sponsor of bipartisan immigration reform legislation that would create a path to permanent legal status for Dreamers, and I call on Speaker Ryan to do the right thing and immediately bring it to the floor for a vote.”
Thus far we’ve heard a lot of lip service from Republicans, who are supposedly up in arms about Trump’s dumping of DACA too, so let’s see what happens. But back to Obama.
Recently there’s been a lot of desperate talk about Pres. Obama climbing bad into the rhetorical political fray, commenting from time to time about the outrageous and outlandish behavior of Pres. Trump.
Lots of people now see Obama as a principled man of reason who is highly respected. There are even some who wish openly that he would come back as president of the United States (he can’t, thanks to the US Constitution).
While some literally beg for Obama to come back to the national limelight to sort of balance the scales, there are others who counter that the 44th president of the United States should stay out of the limelight, no matter how tempting it may be to want to cuss Donald Trump out in that very special way that only an ex-president and a black man could.
The naysayers say if Obama were to climb right back into the lion’s den of political inequity, that might be exactly what Trump wants. Outside of “Crooked Hillary” there’s no one Trump would love to get into a public rumble with than the man Trump once openly accused of having a phony birth certificate.
Having someone special to consistently bash is Trump’s stock and trade. He’s got to have someone on a daily basis – be it the media (specifically CNN), the Democrats, or of course, “Crooked Hillary Clinton.”
And that’s probably the reason why Barack Obama, clearly a dignified man, should not publicly engage in a peeing contest The Donald. What is there for him to gain? How would doing so be healthy for his legacy? Who does Obama lead now who would benefit in the end?
More importantly, the former president has earned his time off. He’s sacrificed tremendously for the eight years he spent in office, and deserves, long with his wife Michelle, to live an enjoy life.
Sure Obama can tweet every once in a while, even playfully bait Trump, to remind him who the real president is.
Oh look, it’s 3 p.m. Tuesday, and a statement from the ex-president just came across the wire regarding Trump’s dumping of DACA!
“What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That’s how America has traveled this far. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union.”
Amen, Mr. Former President. Amen.
ATTY. ANITA EARLS
IGNORING RACE IN REDRAWING
DISTRICTS BIG GOP BLUNDER
By Cash Michaels
To many legal experts, it’s hard to believe that Republican legislative leaders deliberately redrew new voting maps for the state House and Senate – as ordered by a three-judge federal court – without incorporating race as one of the nine criteria guiding the process. Afterall, it was the abusive, and according to the US Supreme Court, illegal use of race by Republican mapmakers in drawing the 2011 redistricting plan that earned the ire of the federal court – namely the stacking and packing of black voters into 28 of 170 districts across the state in order to severely weaken their influence in legislative races, thus giving the GOP super-majorities in both houses.
Legal experts considered it “…the worst racial gerrymander in the country.”
So unpacking the problem by totally ignoring the abused element does little to render a satisfactory, let alone legal solution, many observers are saying, and they expect to hear that from the three-judge panel now that the redrawn maps have been submitted for review.
“It might be that you’re sending a message to this three-judge panel that you don’t take judicial letters very seriously, and that is not a message that I want to be part of,” Dan Blue, Senate Minority Leader (D-Wake), told Republicans during Senate debate last week. “If you haven’t solved [the racial gerrymander], the three-judge panel will solve it for you.”
“The Voting Rights Act requires consideration of race in certain circumstances so as not to ‘dilute’ the political power of racial minorities,” Illya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies with the Cato Institute, and editor-in-chief of the Cato Institute Supreme Court Review, told the conservative Carolina Journal.
At least 40 counties in North Carolina are legally under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, requiring that black voters in those counties be able to elect their own representatives. Republicans say that’s what they were making sure was done with the 2011 maps, but the courts countered that they went too far.
Legislative Republican leaders, like Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), co-chair of the House Redistricting Committee, insists that federal court order on the redrawing of the districts was clear. "The only way to comply," Lewis said, "is not to consider race in that process.”
“What the court said is in writing, and it’s not really open to interpretation,” countered Anita Earls, founder and executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, and an attorney representing the plaintiffs’ lawsuit against the GOP’s 2011 legislative maps in Covington v. the State of North Carolina.
“The notion that [Republicans] have some understanding that the court told them not to look at race, that’s just not true,” she maintained. “It’s really just lying. It’s in this alternative universe where we can say whatever we want to and facts don’t matter.”
Earls continued that in its order to draw districts the court said, “Any district that you draw at greater than fifty percent black, tell us why you believed it was necessary to draw the district at that percentage black. There’s no way this legislature can comply with that order unless they look at race. So this notion that we don’t want to look at race because the court told us [not to]…that’s just open defiance of what the court actually did tell them to do.”
“This theme that [Republicans] are going to be “colorblind,” well we’re not foolish. Those of us who’ve been advocating for racial justice have long known that this notion of “being colorblind is the way that you remedy discrimination, and reverse the decades of racial discrimination that black people have experienced in this country…,” well, we know that that’s a lie,” atty. Earls said.
“And that is the lie that they’re perpetuating, right now today, as they try to assert that they’re not looking at race, and the court told them not to look at race.”
Earls maintains that now even the redrawn maps are “…illegal under the state and federal constitutions.”
Earls says Guilford and Cumberland counties are at least two on the new Senate legislative maps where race “…continued to dominate.” On the House side, both Wake and Mecklenburg county districts were redrawn, but should not have been because there was no legal authority to do so.
Atty. Earls is reluctant to predict what exactly the three-judge federal court will ultimately do once it reviews the newly submitted GOP maps for review (the court could order a special master to redraw them), but she did promise one thing.
“What I can predict with certainty is that the plaintiffs in this case, and the plaintiffs in the NAACP [redistricting] case pending in state court, are committed to pursuing vindication of their rights as long as they can.”
She added that the extreme partisan gerrymandering the Republicans engaged in hasn’t been ruled illegal yet (the US Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a Wisconsin case about that in October), but she’s glad that a large coalition of progressive groups have come together to help fight the North Carolina case on that same issue.
ADAMS, BUTTERFIELD SUPPORT
IMPEACHMENT OF PRES. TRUMP
By Cash Michaels
Now that Congress is back in session, there are plenty of issues that lawmakers must address, including raising the national debt ceiling; financial relief for Texas after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey; and paying for that wall Pres. Trump still insists Mexico will ultimately underwrite…one way or another.
But amid that spoken agenda, is intense behind-the-scenes strategizing on the part of the 49-member Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to have Republican President Donald J. Trump impeached.
“When members return to Congress in September, the CBC will have a robust discussion on #Impeachment,” an August 22nd tweet from the CBC announced.
Impeaching a US president is the process in which a legislative body (constitutionally the US House) formally levels serious charges (indictments) against a sitting commander-in-chief. It is the first step towards the removal of a president from office. If a president is to be removed (or effectively convicted of said charges), then the US Senate votes accordingly. The most recent president to be impeached was Bill Clinton in December 1998, but the Senate acquitted Clinton in February 1999.
While things went sour fast between the CBC and Pres. Trump shortly after he took office in January, it was Trump’s moral equivocation between armed white supremacists and mostly unarmed counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va. on August 12th – a violent confrontation which resulted in the alleged murder of a counter-protester with a car driven by a neo-Nazi – that convinced members of the CBC, along with many Democrat and Republican colleagues, that neither Trump, nor key officials in his administration, possessed the moral standing to lead the nation.
And several days later, when the president doubled-down on his position by calling white nationalists “fine people,” the outrage from the CBC could not be contained.
“You can make an argument based on pure competency and fitness to serve, and that’s the conversation the caucus will have,” CBC Chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), told reporters during a teleconference two weeks ago, noting that the CBC was also committed to ridding white supremacists from the federal government, and certainly from the Trump administration.
“I never thought I would see the day when the president of the United States would openly defend white supremacists,” Rep. Richmond later said in a statement. “I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to hold this president accountable.”
North Carolina’s two black congresspeople were also outraged, and joined the CBC chair in saying so.
“President Trump has tragically become the divisive demagogue we feared he would be,” said Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC-12) in an August 16th statement, in which she also called Trump’s comments “erratic and despicable.”
“Upon election, he took a sacred oath to represent every American, regardless of race, religion, or creed yet sadly President Trump has failed at this most basic responsibility. Instead of being a steady leader in a time of national crisis, he has recklessly turned to the podium to once again make a mockery of the Presidency and of the citizens he swore to serve.”
“We can no longer justify or tolerate these actions,” Rep. Adams continued. “I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do what this President has failed to do. It is time for us to stand united and resolute in our efforts to fight racism, bigotry, and hate. In the absence of a true leader, Congress must step up and defend our progress, unify our nation, and hold this administration accountable.”
Rep. Adams’ Tar Heel colleague, Rep. G, K. Butterfield (D-NC-1), the immediate past chairman of the CBC, was equally disturbed.
“I was disappointed that President Trump waited two days before specifically condemning the Charlottesville terror attack and the violence perpetrated by white supremacist groups,” Butterfield said in an August 15th statement. “His failure to not immediately and powerfully condemn these terror groups by name was a clear message that he is supportive of or indifferent to their cause based on ideology or politics, either of which is unacceptable for an American president.”
Members of the CBC had met with Trump in March after he was inaugurated, but in June, they decided to cancel a followup meeting, saying that not only did they not see any evidence that he had acted on any of the important issues they had initially discussed, but that there was evidence of White House policies that would “affirmatively hurt Black communities.”
One such example was a followup conference the president is planning to have with the presidents and chancellors of historically black colleges and universities soon. The first was held last February.
Both representatives Richmond, and Adams, who is the co-chair of the HBCU Bi-partisan Caucus in Congress, asked Trump to cancel that gathering in the aftermath of his controversial comments about Charlottesville.
Richmond said the president’s remarks showed he has little concern for the welfare of black students or their communities.
“Not only do I think it should be postponed, it shouldn’t have been happening in the first place,” Richmond told reporters. “This White House isn’t serious about improving our HBCUs…They brought all those HBCU presidents to town, they took a picture in the Oval Office, and then they did nothing.”
Adams had equal condemnation.
"HBCU leaders came to the White House in February and presented a substantive and well-thought-out agenda with specific action-items for the administration to pursue immediately. Almost 180 days later, nothing has happened and no response has been given. It would be more productive to hear from the President directly or from his Secretary of Education about what progress they are making on the HBCUs' request before asking Presidents to come back to Washington for another photo-op.
Rep. Adams added, “I call on the President and [Education] Secretary DeVos to postpone this year’s conference until a serious effort has been made to advance issues important to HBCUs and their students.”
Apparently, due to a large number of cancelled appearances by HBCU officials, the conference, while is still scheduled, has been “downsized,” published reports say.
There were Democratic Party calls for Pres. Trump to be shown the door long before Chairman Richmond and the CBC joined the fray. Both Texas Rep. Al Green and California Congresswoman Maxine Waters (who recently spoke to the Durham Committee of the Affairs of Black People) have called for the impeachment of Trump (Green has actually drafted articles of impeachment on charges of obstruction), based largely on allegations of campaign collusion with the Russians stemming from the 2016 presidential campaign. An ongoing US Justice Dept. investigation is still probing those allegations.
“Am I concerned about high crimes and misdemeanors? Absolutely,” CBC Chair Richmond told reporters two weeks ago. “Am I concerned about this president’s fitness to serve? Absolutely.”
When asked last week if they agreed with their CBC chairman about the need for Pres. Trump’s impeachment, Congresswoman Adams said, “Like many people, I, too, am beginning to question if this President has the moral compass and capacity to lead.”
And Rep. Butterfield added, “It seems like a daily occurrence that Democrats, Republicans and the entire world are shocked by the president’s impulsive, divisive and dangerous behavior. “
“As investigations move forward regarding the Trump Administration’s ties to the Russian government,” Rep. Butterfield continued, “the evidence of unlawful collusion and the need for removal of this President appear to increase by the day.”
STATE NEWS BRIEFS FOR 09-07-17
STATE SUES CHEMOURS; EMAILS PROVE MCCRORY
ADMINISTRATION KNEW OF GENX POLLUTANTS
[WILMINGTON] Gov. Cooper’s administration filed suit Tuesday against Chemours, the Dupont-owned chemical company found to be allegedly polluting the Cape Fear River with GenX and other pollutants, from its Fayetteville plant upstream effectively poisoning the region’s water supply. It is believed that both companies have been discharging chemicals into the Cape Fear for nearly 40 years, though the practice was only made public this past June.
Chemours was informed by letter from the NC Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) that its permit to operate will be pulled in 60 days unless it stops its “ongoing misrepresentations and inadequate disclosures” pertaining to the dumping of GenX and other chemicals into the Cape Fear.
Researchers are still trying to determine what the long-term effects of drinking the contaminated water are.
While in recent Special Session, the Republican-led NC General Assembly appropriated $435,000 to help state agencies further investigate the GenX crisis. However Democratic lawmakers blasted the move, suggesting that it wasn’t nearly enough to adequately deal with the problem.
Ass all of his was unfolding came evidence that the DEQ under then Gov. Pat McCrory in fact knew about the GenX pollution problem as recently as November 2016, but said nothing to the incoming Cooper Administration about it.
According to published reports, Sec. Donald van der Vaart was in charge then before Gov. Cooper appointed Michael Regan as his successor. According to an Aug. 14th letter from DEQ and the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services to state House nd Senate leadership in November of last year, ““the previous administration” received a research report from the EPA and NC State University scientists regarding the Cape Fear watershed. This study, conducted in part by NC State professor Detlaf Knappe, showed GenX was present in the Lower Cape Fear and in untreated water at the Cape Fear utility. In 2013, the researchers found average levels of 631 parts per trillion of GenX in 37 samples of untreated water,” NC Policywatch recently reported. “The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority received the same study in May 2016, according to the letter.”
Emails between officials in the McCrory Administration about the GenX pollution report have also been released.