Sunday, February 17, 2019




Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of Peace, Justice, and Ecology

Contents:  Presidents’ Day Newsletter #3,  Feb. 18, 2019

Resistance to Trump’s National Emergency against Refugees
California AG
The Progressive Magazine

President Trump, Congress, and the Wall
Fram, Lucey, and Miller, AP Summary of Present Situation
“Why Congress Rolls Over for Trump” by Doug Sosnik.  Politico Magazine.  August 2, 2018. 

Balance of Powers Failing:  History of Weakening Congress
Mann, Thomas and Norman Ornstein.   The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track 
Presidential Power Increasing
Schlesinger, The Imperial Presidency
Crenson, Matthew and Benjamin Ginsberg.   Presidential Power: Unchecked & Unbalanced. 
Congress’s National Emergency Act




“California AG: States Will Sue Trump Administration ‘Definitely and Imminently’.”
Xavier Becerra vowed legal action against Trump’s national emergency declaration in the border wall fight.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra promised a lawsuit will be filed soon challenging President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency over border security.
In a Sunday interview on ABC’s “This Week, Becerra said the legal fight will be undertaken “definitely and imminently.”
“We are prepared,” he said. “We knew something like this might happen, and with our sister state partners, we are ready to go.”
Joining California in the suit, he said, will be Hawaii, Minnesota, New Mexico and Oregon.   MORE

Against the wall
The Progressive via 
Feb 16, 2019, 11:07 AM (1 day ago)

  1. Dear Progressive Reader,

    Trump’s declaration on Friday that he was “going to declare" a state of emergency (“I’ll sign the final papers as soon as I get into the Oval Office”) led California Representative Maxine Waters to say that Trump was “up against the wall” in taking action that Wisconsin Representative Gwen Moore called on Twitter “lawless” and “grounds for impeachment.” During his Rose Garden speech, Trump compared his action to that of other presidents (“something signed many times by other Presidents -- many, many times.”) This led Jud Lounsbury to chronicle the comparisons between the two most recent presidents made by Trump himself. Earlier, Ruth Conniff reported on two rallies held in El Paso, one led by Beto O’Rourke - a possible challenger to trump in 2020. “The dueling events set up the political battle for the coming campaign season,” she writes. “Either way, the wolves are at the gates. Chants of ‘USA! USA!’ and ‘fake news!’ can only keep them out for so long.”
      . . . .
    Norman Stockwell

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[EMERGENCY] We're suing Trump – again.
ACLU via 
Fri, Feb 15,  2019 3:41 PM (16 hours ago)

Dick —

President Trump declaring a phony national emergency demonstrates how willing he is to undermine the Constitution — and how eager he is to keep escalating his cruel, cynical and politically-motivated attack on immigrant families. We're not going to let him get away with it.

We will be taking Trump to court and challenging this dangerous threat to our democracy.  Now, we need your help to keep defending the rule of law and fighting for people's fundamental rights.

Donate now. Help the ACLU keep fighting to defend the Constitution and protect the rights of immigrants and asylum seekers.

Donald Trump and his administration have made clear just how far they are willing to go — how many barriers of law, democratic norms, and human decency they are willing to barge through — just to build the wall at the center of their attack on immigrants. But we're going to keep fighting back: Since Trump came to office, we've filed 207 legal actions against his administration and we filed two other lawsuits in just the past 24 hours.  . . .


Anthony D. Romero
Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director, ACLU
Revoke the emergency declaration [signature needed]
Fri, Feb 15, 12:54 PM (19 hours ago)
Dick, this is an all hands on deck crisis. Trump just completely, totally trampled on the Constitution by making an end-run around Congress to enact his white supremacist agenda.
There’s one way to stop this constitutional crisis: Get Congress to override Trump’s “emergency” declaration. That will require a two-thirds majority of both the House AND the Senate, and I won’t lie — it will be an uphill battle.
But if we can build a massive, immediate grassroots wave demanding ALL of Congress vote against Trump’s straight-up authoritarian power grab, then we have a real shot at winning the votes we need to stop this crisis in its tracks. And we have no other choice.
So Win Without War is banding together with a huge coalition of partner organizations to demand with one voice that Congress immediately end Trump’s dangerous fake state of emergency. And we need you with us.
By trampling on the Constitution, Trump is throwing open the door to supercharge his white supremacist attacks on immigrants, Muslims, and communities of color.
Under a state of emergency, Trump can try to: [1]
·  order the military to round up immigrants or stop protests in U.S. cities.
·  order the indefinite detention of people he designates as enemies.
·  freeze assets and block financial transactions of people who hire, house, or provide paid legal representation to asylum seekers.
·  block access to websites and social media tools or disrupt email communication. . . .
Thank you for working for peace,
Stephen, Michelle, Amy, and the Win Without War team
[1] The Atlantic, "What the President Could Do If He Declares a State of Emergency"
Win Without War is a project of the Center for International Policy.
1 Thomas Circle NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20005
(202) 656-4999 |
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Speaking out against Trump's state of emergency, ending child detention, and the
AFSC weekend reading Unsubscribe
7:31 AM (49 minutes ago)
AFSC weekend reading

TPS holders and their families went to Washington, D.C. thsi week to urge Congress to protect this vital program
Dear Dick,

We are a stronger, more secure country when we invest in community well-being, not walls; when we embrace those seeking refuge, not cast them out; and when we respect the human rights of all people.

Thank you to all those taking action to uphold those values – whether you wrote to Congress this week to say no to funding walls and anti-immigrant agendas, advocated for Dreamers and immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), or sent a message to President Trump about reuniting Korean and Korean-American families. We’re thankful for your advocacy.

Here are some more updates and resources to support your activism. 

AFSC speaks out against Trump’s state of emergency: The fact that the president is “circumventing congressional oversight to get billions more for his border wall is outrageous and illegal,” said AFSC’s Kathryn Johnson.

5 reasons to resist our government’s efforts to militarize border communities:  Border militarization has killed thousands of migrants and terrorizes communities while making no one safer.

Shut down Homestead detention center: AFSC is supporting a grassroots campaign to shut down a detention facility that houses 1,350 children seeking asylum in the U.S.

What you made possible for the migrant caravan: Here are some highlights from our efforts to respond to the migrant caravan, thanks to the generosity and compassion of the AFSC community.

TPS holders and their supporters continue to resist Trump’s attacks: Here’s what you need to know about this life-saving program. . . .  MORE

American Friends Service Committee
1501 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
United States

We condemn Trump's anti-immigrant emergency declaration
Mary Katherine Morn, UUSC 
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 11:05 AM (21 hours ago)
Dear Dick,

Just a few hours ago, the President declared a national emergency in a cynical move to advance his racist and xenophobic policies on immigration and seize funds for his needless, unpopular, immoral wall.

We need you today.

Please join UUSC in condemning this action and pressuring Congress to reverse this dangerous and illegitimate seizure of power before it creates more harm for families, communities, and our nation. 

Many have noted that yesterday was a heart-breaking Valentine’s Day, as we honored the dozens of families torn apart by gun violence in last year’s mass school shooting in Florida. Now, during a time when many are reflecting on the power to love one another and to care for each other, President Trump made clear his intentions to continue separating families at the border and denying asylum-seekers safety and care.

UUSC condemns these actions. Barriers, immigration detention, family separations, and deportation raids have already left a trail of broken hearts across the U.S.-Mexico border this year. The added border militarization contained in Trump’s order and Congress’s spending agreement will force even more families apart.

For months on end, we have witnessed the harm the Trump administration’s policies have caused to individuals and families fleeing desperation in their homelands. When they are met at our border with hatred and fear propagated by the lie of white supremacy and the dangerous ideology of white nationalism, we are outraged.

Even as there is so much to break our hearts, we are moved to action by compassion and love. The power of love is made real when we use our power, our voices, and our lives to demand respect and dignity for every person and the defense of human rights for all.

Let this be our belated Valentine’s message to our elected leaders.

In solidarity,
Rev. Mary Katherine Morn
President and CEO
Copyright © 2019, All rights reserved.
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

President Trump, Congress, and the Wall
Assoc. Press Summary of Situation
“President Trump declares national emergency over border wall”
By ALAN FRAM, CATHERINE LUCEY and ZEKE MILLER.   Friday, February 15, 2019
WASHINGTON -- Battling with one branch of government and opening a new confrontation with another, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency Friday to fulfill his pledge to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Bypassing Congress, which approved far less money for his proposed wall than he had sought, Trump said he will use executive action to siphon billions of dollars from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts for the wall, aides said. The move drew immediate bipartisan criticism on Capitol Hill and is expected to face rounds of legal challenges.
Trump made the announcement from the Rose Garden, as he claimed illegal immigration was "an invasion of our country."
President Trump explains why he is declaring a national emergency over border wall
Trump's move followed a rare show of bipartisanship when lawmakers voted Thursday to fund large swaths of the government and avoid a repeat of this winter's debilitating five-week government shutdown. Trump's insistence on wall funding has been a flashpoint in his negotiations with Congress for more than two years, as has the resistance of lawmakers in both parties to meeting the president's request. West Wing aides acknowledged there was insufficient support among Republicans to sustain another shutdown fight, leading Trump to decide to test the limits of his presidential powers.
The money in the bill for border barriers, about $1.4 billion, is far below the $5.7 billion Trump insisted he needed and would finance just a quarter of the more than 200 miles (322 kilometers) he wanted this year.

To bridge the gap, Trump announced that he will be spending roughly $8 billion on border barriers - combining the money approved by Congress with funding he plans to repurpose through executive actions, including the national emergency. The money would come from funds targeted for counterdrug efforts and military construction, but aides could not immediately specify which military projects would be affected.
Despite widespread opposition in Congress to proclaiming an emergency, including by some Republicans, Trump was responding to pressure to act unilaterally to soothe his conservative base and avoid appearing like he's lost his nerve on his defining promise to voters. Trump advisers on the campaign and inside the White House insist that, fulfilled or not, the promise of a wall is a winning issue for Trump as he heads into his re-election campaign as long as he doesn't appear to be throwing in the towel on it.
Word that Trump would declare the emergency prompted condemnations from Democrats and threats of lawsuits from states and others who might lose federal money or said Trump was abusing his authority.
In a sing-songy tone of voice, Trump described how the decision will be challenged and work its way through the courts, including up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
He said, "Sadly, we'll be sued and sadly it will go through a process and happily we'll win, I think."
President Trump says Democrats played election politics with border wall funding
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called it an "unlawful declaration over a crisis that does not exist" and said it "does great violence to our Constitution and makes America less safe, stealing from urgently needed defense funds for the security of our military and our nation. "
"The President's actions clearly violate the Congress's exclusive power of the purse, which our Founders enshrined in the Constitution," they said in a joint statement. "The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities in the Congress, in the Courts, and in the public, using every remedy available."

Trump’s Power over Congress
“Why Congress Rolls Over for Trump” by Doug Sosnik.  Politico Magazine.  August 2, 2018.
Doug Sosnik was a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton and co-wrote a New York Times best-seller on the future of politics in the United States.
Hardly once during the 18 months of the most unconventional presidency in American history have Republican leaders in Congress stood up forcefully to assert the power and prerogatives of the independent, co-equal branch of government that they control. Not only does President Donald Trump insult and bully his fellow party members, but his policies—on the budget, on trade, on Russia—also shred once-sacred conservative principles. Yet in response, the GOP congressional leadership has retreated in sullen compliance, or even, in many cases, seemed to exult in their surrender of dignity and principle.
It was once inconceivable that the leaders of the United States Congress would cede such authority to the executive branch. When I was a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton, we fought with Democrats in Congress almost as often as we fought with Republicans. Senators like Robert Byrd of West Virginia cared more about protecting their institution—its traditions and its power—than they did about defending the interests of a Democratic president. Byrd served more than half a century in the Senate, and carried a copy of the Constitution in his pocket. During Clinton’s impeachment trial, we worried not only about Senate Republicans but also Democrats, especially Byrd, who was adamant that the Senate not yield its constitutional authority merely because the president of the United States was a fellow party member.
Trump, however, does not have any Robert Byrds to fight. The next Democratic president probably won’t have any, either. There’s an underappreciated reason for Congress’ inability to stand up for itself: the mass departures of leading members who were more committed to the institutions of the House and Senate than they were to their political tribe.
In the Senate, 29 members with a staggering 557 years of seniority left office—due to deaths, appointments, retirements and election losses—between the beginning of 2008 and the 2010 midterm elections. By comparison, the entire Senate had only 1,042 years of experience at the beginning of this year. In the next Congress, there will be at most only 45 senators who were in office before 2011.
In the House, the turnover has been almost as dramatic. Next year, there will be at most 160 House members—barely a third of the body—who were elected before the 2010 midterms.
Many of the most senior members of the House are departing at the end of this year. With the retirement of Paul Ryan, Republicans will be electing their third speaker in three years (if they manage to maintain control). In addition to the speaker, of the 21 members who started this Congress as House committee chairmen, 10 will not be returning next year.
But it’s not just the party leadership. Back-bench tea party members are streaming out of the Congress, too. Of the 87 tea party members elected in 2010, nearly half have already left the House or have announced their retirements.
This dramatic turnover in the composition of Congress has occurred at the same time as the emergence of a newly rigid partisanship. The convergence of these two forces—an inexperienced Congress and political tribalism—has hastened the decline of institutional politics in our country, particularly in Congress. Loyalty to party is now the most important thing.
This is a bipartisan phenomenon. The Democrats made the first move when they weakened the power of the filibuster in the Senate by reducing the threshold from 60 votes to 51 votes for approval of President Barack Obama's executive and judicial nominees. Since then, Republicans have responded in kind—and then some.
Yet voters are to blame, too. Not long ago, ticket splitters—voters who cast ballots for a president and a member of Congress from two different parties—were a powerful constituency. In 1992, 100 House members were elected in districts where the voters supported the opposite party in the presidential election. As recently as at the beginning of the 101st Congress in 1989, 53 senators came from states where voters cast a majority of ballots for the president of the opposite party in the most recent presidential election. That gave these members of Congress an electoral incentive—in addition to an institutional one—to oppose the policies of an unpopular president.  MORE

CONGRESS from Its Beginning Power Decreasing

200 Years of Decreasing Congressional Power

Mann, Thomas and Norman Ornstein.   The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track (Institutions of American Democracy).    2006.   From Publishers Weekly

Until recently, one could be forgiven for thinking that the present Congress is essentially an arm of the Bush administration, according to Mann and Ornstein, nationally renowned congressional scholars from the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute, respectively. Their book argues persuasively that relentless partisanship and a disregard for institutional procedures have led Congress to be more dysfunctional than at any time in recent memory. Looking back to the arbitrary and sometimes authoritarian leadership of Democratic speaker Jim Wright and the Abscam scandals of the 1980s, the authors demonstrate how they presage the much worse abuses of power committed by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In outlining more than 200 years of congressional history, Mann and Ornstein sometimes allow just a sentence or two to explain the policies and philosophies of an important politician or even an entire party, even as they catalogue deviations from obscure points of procedure in extensive detail. Their book may be useful and enjoyable to the specialist, though recent conservative pushback on issues from the Harriet Miers nomination to warrantless wiretapping and immigration will make some wish the authors had had the opportunity to add a postscript.

Presidential Power Increasing
Arthur Schlesinger.  The Imperial Presidency.   1973.
 The powers of the presidency have vastly expanded, even in peacetime.  Mullins Main Library JK511 .S35 

Crenson, Matthew and Benjamin Ginsberg.   Presidential Power: Unchecked & Unbalanced.  Norton, 2007.   From Booklist
As envisioned by our founders, the office of chief executive was to exercise primarily a supervisory role, curbing the excesses of a popularly elected legislature. During wartime, of course, the powers of the executive were expected to increase. However, as Arthur Schlesinger indicated in The Imperial Presidency (1973), the powers of the presidency have vastly expanded, even in peacetime. Crenson and Ginsberg, both political science professors, explain the reasons and consequences. They convincingly assert that the decline in popular participation in our political life has led to a dangerous power vacuum, this manifesting itself most clearly in the diminished role of political parties in selecting presidential candidates. Instead, presidential candidates today are generally able to define themselves without being moored to the beliefs of their party; thus, if elected, they feel free to pursue their own agendas. At the same time, the public withdrawal from politics has undermined both the prestige and the power of Congress. The result is a great increase in the power of the presidency, abetted by an accelerating expansion of the bureaucratic state. Jay Freeman

Congress Gave the Presidency The National Emergencies Act
If Trump Declares An Emergency To Build The Wall, Congress Can Block Him. ... Under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, the president can declare an emergency for just about anything. ...Congress also gave itself the ability to terminate an emergency declaration.


Contents:  Presidents’ Day Newsletter #2 February 19, 2018
The Constitution
Separation of Powers,
J. William Fulbright, The Crippled Giant
(Fulbright’s The Arrogance of Power has been republished.)

Increasing the Power of the Presidency

Brands, Militarization of US Presidency, Wilson WWI

National Security, Secrecy, State Secret Privilege, and Nuclear Weapons

Authorization for the Use of Military Force. Representatives Adam Schiff and Barbara Lee

Stevenson, Militarization Afghan and Iraqi Wars


Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)

Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)