Posted on September 14, 2017 in Countdown

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When Trump announced he would rescind Obama’s DACA executive order in 6 months, The #Resistance was activated, and protests hit the streets of New York City,Washington, DCDenverLos AngelesAustinChicago, and other cities across the country. Immediately, Americans showed support for DREAMers, 91% of whom are employed, and many have no memory or connection to their country of birth. Indeed, a full 58% of voters feel DREAMers should remain in the US and be given a path to citizenship. With those numbers, surely this is a no-brainer for Congress, who will act immediately. Oh, nothing has happened? Oh Congress! We can always count on you to let the political moment for quick action pass, while the lives of families hang in the balance. Rep. Coffman (R-CO.) even stated, “With all the other things going on right now, it’s kind of put on the back burner.” In a fleeting moment of hope on Wednesday night, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer announced an agreement with the President on the matter, but Don’s early morning tweets smothered that hope like a wet blanket, denying any progress. The legislative lethargy and political games over DACA have inspired a countdown within Countdown, today marking 9 days since the September 5th announcement and 174 days to March 5, 2018 deadline for Congressional action on DACA. And while you wait, take a moment to partake in AAI’s Action Alert on DACA calling for passage of a clean DREAM Act now.


Fraudulent Fraud and the Frauds Fomenting It

Trump’s “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity” just held its second meeting to investigate the totally real and not-at-all-manufactured “problem” of voter fraud. The ACLU noted that there were more people serving on the commission than there were people convicted of voter fraud, but don’t let that distract you. Weeks before the meeting,  Commission Vice Chairman Kris Kobach claimed that “out of state” voters influenced New Hampshire’s 2016 senate race, but let’s ignore the reality that new residents and out-of-state college students are eligible to vote in New Hampshire, as that might undermine the fraud narrative a bit. A few days before the meeting, a commissioner appointed by Trump, William Gardner, was mentioned by the New York Times as speaking positively about Jim Crow-esque policies: “[Gardner] added that when burdens like poll taxes and literacy tests were imposed on citizens and registering often required a trip to the local courthouse, voter turnout was far higher than it is now.” Wait, who was counting then, and who were they counting? On a potentially related note, did you know that the witness list for this “election integrity” commission meeting was composed entirely of white men? One presentation to the panel suggested requiring all voters undergo the same federal background check system required to purchase firearms. That’s the punchline, folks.


Caught Lying About Your Age AND Questions About Your Resume

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division celebrated its 60th anniversary on Saturday, according to a press release from the Department’s Office of Public Affairs. But was the celebration premature? While September 9, 2017 did in fact mark 60 years since President Eisenhower signed into law the first civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, The Civil Rights Act of 1957 did not formally establish a civil rights division within the Department of Justice. What the law did do was enact voting rights protections and create the office of Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights and a federal commission. It wasn’t until December 9, 1957, three months later, that the Civil Rights Division was born. For all you Birthers, here’s a copy of the order from Attorney General William P. Rogers. Are we being pedantic? Sorry, not sorry. What we are sorry about: concerning developments within the Division itself, including the selection of John Gore as interim chief and the pending confirmation of Eric Dreiband to replace him. As private attorneys, both men have spent their careers defending clients against civil rights claims brought under the very laws their appointments would have them protect. So, given a choice between Gore and Dreiband, it looks like it’s out of the frying pan, into the fire.


Pants on Dumpster Fire

Remember when the Washington Post released leaked transcripts of conversations between President Trump and two foreign leaders? Well, a “beleaguered” Jeff Sessions has reportedly floated the idea of ordering lie detector tests for the entire staff of the National Security Council. Why? It could be because no one likes a leaker, or because Sessions is tired of getting bullied by the President on Twitter, and wants to get back into his good graces by catching the leaker (at this rate, it’s more like the gusher).  But who cares about a leaky hull when the captain seems bent on running the ship into the ground? Speaking of ships, Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act will sail into the sunset (are we trying too hard with the ships & the sailing?) this December, barring congressional reauthorization. 702, of course, is the section that permits warrantless surveillance of US citizens, and which (surprise) Sessions and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats are urging Congress to renew without reform. Lucky for us, House lawmakers have already brokered a bipartisan push for increased restrictions on government surveillance, but the fight is far from over. There is a joke somewhere in there about metaphorically joining the navy to fight this battle, but we’ve failed once above and we’re low on coffee, so… the end.


Israel’s War on Human Rights Orgs

Familiar with the saying “no good deed goes unpunished?” Well, set your figurative lens aside, it’s a literal truth this time. There is no legal or moral ambiguity with Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land: They are illegitimate in every way, a clear impediment to peace, and even constitute a war crime. So when a leading human rights organization like Amnesty International calls for the boycott of Israeli settlement products, one expects the Middle East’s “only democracy” to behave in the way it always behaved to peaceful calls for justice: Punishment! According to reports on Israeli press, Israel’s anti-boycott law will now be applied for the first time, and any Israeli who donates money to Amnesty International will be denied tax benefits. While this is obviously harmful to human rights advocates in Israel, there is a silver lining: Defenders of Israel’s occupation can no longer pretend to care about free expression or human rights. Now we just need to make sure that the misguided and more punitive anti-boycott law proposed in the US to shield Israel from accountability doesn’t succeed here, undermining our basic rights.


Bent on Chaos

The Trump administration’s insistence on taking the worst course of action possible on nearly every issue is creating a bit outrage fatigue for us (you may be feeling it too), so bear with us as we share more disturbing news: Myanmar’s atrocities against the Rohingya Muslims have now reached a point where the UN has called them “ethnic cleansing”, but the Trump admin’s response to it was Charlottesvillian, dispersing responsibility for the violence by not calling out the culprits. Elsewhere, Obama’s “Iran Deal” is working, and the UN nuclear watchdog is confirming that Iran is abiding by the agreement. But Trump’s UN ambassador signaled the administration is flirting with the strange idea of declaring Iran in violation of the agreement, and kicking the ball then to Congress to decide if the Iran Deal should remain in place. So we might undo a nuclear agreement that actually succeeded in making the world safer just because… Because we don’t have enough problems in the world? Can you imagine the message we’d be sending North Korea if we arbitrarily destroyed a successful deal that blocks a pathway for Iran to develop nuclear weapons? We get this president’s inclination towards chaos, but do we really have to spread it to every corner of the earth?