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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

POLITICO Massachusetts Playbook: GOP jockeying – GALVIN/ZAKIM debate tonight – CLINTON, BIDEN headed to Vineyard




GOP jockeying – GALVIN/ZAKIM debate tonight – CLINTON, BIDEN headed to Vineyard





08/14/2018 07:05 AM EDT
By Lauren Dezenski (ldezenski@politico.com@laurendezenski) and Brent D. Griffiths (bgriffiths@politico.com@BrentGriffiths)

GOOD MORNING, MASSACHUSETTS.

DIEHL CONTINUES TO HAVE WACK-A-DINGS ENDORSING HIM AND FUNDRAISING 
FOR HIM! PRETTY SCARY!

GOP JOCKEYING - Two of the three Republicans angling to take on Sen. Elizabeth Warren may have skipped a debate last night, but all three are working down to the wire — in their own ways — to define their bids ahead of the September 4 primary.
State Rep. Geoff Diehl, for starters, has Herman Cain in town for a fundraiser. It's set to take place at Howie Carr's home in Wellesley later today. The former presidential candidate and creator of the 9-9-9 tax plan — who quit the 2012 race amid sexual harassment allegations — is just the latest nationally connected Republican brought in by Diehl's team in the primary. And as Diehl seeks to maintain his frontrunner status among likely Republican voters, he's also brought in former White House press secretary Sean Spicer andMaine Gov. Paul LePage as fundraising draws.

John Kingston, a wealthy philanthropist who has maintained the most money in his war chest of the Republican primary contenders thanks to his own personal wealth, is out with a new TV ad today. The ad singles out Warren for "already running for president," and, "Like too many Massachusetts politicians, she'd rather skip the Fenway franks and instead eat Iowa corn dogs." Kingston officially gave notice on Friday that he'd not attend the upcoming WGBH debate, and Diehl had maintained he would not participate if all three candidates weren't involved. It now appears certain that last week's Boston Herald debate will be the only debate with all three Republicans in the primary.

Beth Lindstrom, meanwhile, was the lone candidate to sit for a debate with WGBH's Greater Boston. She's sought to hammer Diehl over accepting a pay raise in the House while also railing against it. Throughout the debate and on the campaign trail, Lindstrom has worked to walk the fine line with supporting aspects of President Donald Trump's agenda while not coming off as an unconditional Trump supporter. She spoke in support of Trump's tax cuts, and said she'd ultimately vote for Trump again in 2020.

Have a tip, story, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for the Playbook? Get in touch: ldezenski@politico.com.

TODAY - Secretary of State Bill Galvin and Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim meet in their first televised debate, airing on WGBH's Greater Boston at 7 p.m. - Rep. Seth Moulton delivers a keynote speech at Kettle Cuisine for the groundbreaking on their $20M capital investment. Moulton will also appear on WGBH's Boston Public Radio - A replica of the new Red Line car goes on display at Boston's City Hall Plaza this afternoon (and will move at roughly the same speed as the Red Line does during peak commuting time).

ON THE STUMP -
- "Voter registration deadline for 2018 Massachusetts state primary is Wednesday, Aug. 15," by Shira Schoenberg, MassLive.com: "The deadline to register to vote in the Sept. 4 Massachusetts primary is this Wednesday. That is also the last day for a voter to change their party registration. Someone registered as a Democrat can only vote in the Democratic primary, while a registered Republican can only vote in the Republican primary."


- "Baker is officially running for reelection. Here's a fact-check of his first big campaign speech," by Joshua Miller, Boston Globe: "Governor Charlie Baker formally kicked off his reelection campaign over the weekend with a speech framing himself as a thrifty steward of taxpayer dollars who had spent almost four years reforming state government to better serve Massachusetts' 6.9 million residents. Thematically, the Republican didn't break any surprising ground, building on how he framed his successful 2014 campaign for the corner office."

- "GOP Senate Candidate Beth Lindstrom Distances Herself From Trump But Says She Would Vote For Him In 2020," by Maddie Kilgannon, WGBH: "Beth Lindstrom was the lone Republican vying for the nomination to challenge Senator Elizabeth Warren to accept Greater Boston's invitation to debate on-air. Appearing Monday for a discussion with Jim Braude, Lindstorm was quick to put distance between herself and President Donald Trump and stressed that she is not a 'career politician,' which is how she described her Republican opponent Geoff Diehl."

- "In Senate race, Beth Lindstrom knocks Geoff Diehl over legislative pay raise," by Shira Schoenberg, MassLive.com: "U.S. Senate candidate Beth Lindstrom is calling on her Republican primary opponent state Rep. Geoff Diehl to return the money he received from a legislative pay raise last year. Diehl was one of the main opponents of the legislative pay raises, voting against them and speaking out against them in a public letter and on the House floor."

- "Ayanna Pressley Wants to Shake the Democratic Party Again," by Gabriel Debenedetti, New York Magazine: "It took almost no time for Ayanna Pressley to be proclaimed, over and over, 'the next Ocasio-Cortez.' The shoe almost fits. Almost. [Rep. Michael] Capuano is also far better prepared than Crowley, who largely wrote off his challenger until the last second. Whereas New Yorkers foresaw no trouble for Crowley and thus didn't mobilize for him, the tight race in Massachusetts is no surprise to local power-brokers who know Pressley well."

- "Political Notes: Clinton, Biden plan Vineyard appearances," by Geoff Spillane, Cape Cod Times: "Martha's Vineyard is earning its reputation as a Democratic power island this summer. Former President Bill Clinton will take the stage Aug. 22 at the Martha's Vineyard Performing Arts Center in Oak Bluffs as part of the Martha's Vineyard Author Series. Joe Biden, Obama's vice president, also is heading to the island to headline a fundraiser for the Protecting Our Vote PAC, according to Buzzfeed News."

- "Two candidates bucking the incumbents-rule rule," by Bruce Mohl, CommonWealth Magazine: "When it comes to the Massachusetts Legislature, voters won't have a lot of choice this fall, either during the primary on September 4 or the general election in November. Seventy-eight percent of the 200 candidates running for the House and Senate will face no opposition in the primary. In today's Codcast, we talk to two Democrats challenging incumbents from their own party - Samantha (Sam) Hammar of Melrose, who is taking on Sen. Jason Lewis of Winchester, and Ted Steinberg of Needham, who is running against Rep. Denise Garlick of Needham."

DATELINE BEACON HILL -
- "In Bryon Hefner case, Senate said witnesses would be confidential. Judge says confidential means just that," by Matt Stout, Boston Globe: "A Superior Court judge on Monday blocked prosecutors' bid for the names of witnesses who cooperated with an internal probe of the state Senate's former president, Stanley C. Rosenberg, saying he respects the chamber's promise to protect their identities. The decision is a blow to Attorney General Maura T. Healey's office, which argued the records could provide a window into additional potential victims as it prosecutes Rosenberg's husband, Bryon Hefner, on multiple charges of sexual assault."


GEE, CHARLIE! LOOK AROUND AND LOOK AT THE STATISTICS, LOOK AT THE RATES OF INCARCERATION.....
OR TRY SITTING IN A COURTROOM WHERE THE WHITE KID GETS A LOWER BAIL, LOWER SENTENCE THAN THE BLACK KID. 
AWAITING A MOTION ON A CIVIL CASE, I WATCHED AS THE WHITE KID GOT PROBATION FOR HIS 2ND DUI WHILE ON PROBATION FOR HIS FIRST DUI - HE HAD JUST TURNED 21.  
IT'S NOT JUST A SINGLE JUDGE WHO ERRED - IT'S THE SYSTEM!

- "Gov. Charlie Baker defends cops from Sen. Liz Warren's 'racist' remark," by Sean Philip Cotter and Books Sutherland, Boston Herald: "Gov. Charlie Baker became the latest politician to push back on U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren's comments that the criminal-justice system is "racist ... front to back," giving a full-throated defense of police. 'They absolutely feel like they've been on the wrong end of a lot of the rhetoric that's gone on in this country for quite a while,' Baker said when pressed by the Herald yesterday about Warren's statements."

THE TSONGAS ARENA -
- "3rd District candidates unveil policies," by Lisa Kashinsky, Eagle-Tribune: "With less than a month until the 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary, candidates are pushing out out policy plans and ramping up efforts to reach voters. The past week has seen the roll-out of an affordable housing platform from Democrat Dan Koh, an environmental plan addressing climate change from state Rep. Juana Matias, D-Lawrence, and a policy for meeting the care and financial needs of seniors from state Sen. Barbara L'Italien, D-Andover."

- "3rd District Dems hit N.H. for vacationers' votes," by Hillary Chabot, Boston Herald: "At least one desperate Democratic candidate is prepared to target voters across state lines — campaigning in New Hampshire if she has to — as rivals in the 3rd Congressional District scramble to drum up interest for a primary election set for the day after Labor Day. 'A fair amount of voters from Greater Lowell, and not just Lowell but the surrounding towns, will be spending that last summer weekend up in Hampton and Seabrook,' said Lori Trahan, who was an aide to former U.S. Rep. Martin T. Meehan. "

- "Congressional Hopeful Chandler Opens Haverhill Campaign Office," by Allison Corneau, WHAV: "Haverhill native Alexandra Chandler is counting down the days until the September 4 congressional primary, opening the doors to her city campaign headquarters over the weekend on Main Street. Vying to succeed Niki Tsongas to represent the 3rd district, which includes Haverhill, Chandler joined supporters and campaign staff on Saturday to open Team Chandler's HQ in the Walgreens Plaza at 306 Main St."

- "Release: Pepperell Selectmen endorse Rick Green for Congress," from the Green campaign: "Pepperell Selectmen Lisa Ferolito, Roland Nutter, and Bill Greathead endorse Rick Green, candidate for Congress in the Third District of Massachusetts, saying that he is a proud Pepperell native and family man, a successful entrepreneur who can create jobs here at home, and a man of character who is running to serve the people of his community. Nutter, Greathead, and Ferolito said that Green, a Pepperell native and the co-founder of 1A Auto, is a skilled businessman who has experience creating jobs for Third District residents. They also praised his character and his strong history of community involvement in Pepperell. They noted that he is running for the right reasons: to advocate for the needs of the men and women of the Third District."

THE WARREN REPORT -
- "Two Elizabeth Warren aides are headed for N.H. Does this mean something?" by James Pindell, Boston Globe: "US Senator Elizabeth Warren will stand for re-election in Massachusetts in less than three months, but two of her aides have already decamped to New Hampshire — home of the first-in-the-nation primary — for key roles with state Democrats. Warren's former campaign press secretary, Gabrielle Farrell, and a former regional director with her Senate office, Adrienne Viarengo, have recently started jobs at the New Hampshire Democratic Party, stoking speculation that Warren may be preparing for a presidential run in 2020."

LOOK AT THE FACTS AND STATISTICS THAT DEFINE RACISM. 
RATHER THAN ATTACKING REALITY, EFFORTS SHOULD BE DIRECTED AT REDUCING 
RECIDIVISM AND INTERCEPTING AT-RISK YOUTHS BEFORE THEY ENTER THE 'SYSTEM.'  THE FOCUS SHOULD BE ON SOLUTIONS. 

- "Sen. Elizabeth Warren's 'uninformed rhetoric' on American criminal justice doesn't help, Essex DA Jonathan Blodgett says," by Gintautas Dumcius, MassLive.com: "Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett joined state law enforcement officials in decrying Sen. Elizabeth Warren's description of the US criminal justice system as 'racist' from 'front to back.' Blodgett, the prosecutor for northeastern part of Massachusetts and the president of the National District Attorneys Association, said in a Facebook post that he has reached out to Warren, a fellow Democrat."

- "Campaign Notebook: Warren's campaign sidesteps abortion tweet," by Mark Sullivan, Telegram & Gazette: 'Abortion is not 'killing babies,' unless you have a kindergartener's comprehension of basic biology.' That was the tweet posted Sunday morning by Lauren Duca, a Teen Vogue columnist who is scheduled to share the stage with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., at a 'Rise Up for Roe' rally in Boston on Monday."

MOULTON MATTERS -
- "Seth Moulton: Not planning for 2020 run for president," by Brooks Sutherland, Boston Herald: "Despite speculation driven in part by increased involvement in 2018 congressional races nationally and endorsements from military leaders, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton says he's not planning a run for president in 2020. Moulton (D-Salem) told the Herald yesterday that he's simply focused on winning back the House."

WOOD WAR — Herald: "BRING IN THE FEDS!" "ANGEL ABOVE" — Globe: "Agencies set 'trap' to deport, suit says," "Study. Study. Study. Then call a consultant," "A lifeline, frayed in VA dispute," "Dueling images for the MBTA," "US Gymnastics seeks to regain balance."

THE LOCAL ANGLE -
- "For the first time in 10 years, the MBTA balanced its operating budget," by Gintautas Dumcius, MassLive.com: "The fiscal year that ended in June was projected to carry a $30 million deficit within the MBTA's $2 billion operating budget. But with the books closed on fiscal year 2018, officials with the public transit agency say that deficit is gone, through cost controls and revenue growth, despite declining ridership. The victory lap could be short-lived since the next fiscal year just started - FY 2019 began in July 2018 - and could end with a return of what they call a structural deficit. "

- "The mayor of Somerville says he's never again drinking Sam Adams beer after company founder met with President Donald Trump," by Gintautas Dumcius, MassLive.com: "Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone says he plans to never again touch Sam Adams beer after Jim Koch, the founder of Boston Beer Co., met with President Donald Trump. Koch was among 13 executives who had dinner with Trump last week at the president's New Jersey golf resort, according to the Boston Business Journal."

- "Home-health provider cuts off services to veterans when the VA fails to pay its bills," by Brian MacQuarrie, Boston Globe: "Homebound with diabetes, heart disease, and other ailments, the 68-year-old Army veteran finally found a lifeline three months ago from a private home health provider recommended by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Then on Friday, the veteran was on his own again. The health care provider discontinued its services for Ron and 15 other New Hampshire veterans who are housebound or cannot venture outside without assistance."

MAZEL! - Kate Kelly, chief of staff for state Rep. David Linsky, was married on Friday August 10 to Jesse Craddock.

THE HOME TEAM DID NOT PLAY YESTERDAY

FRESH OUT OF THE GATE - THE LATEST EPISODE OF THE HORSE RACE: Democrats are taking on Democrats in this week's episode of The Horse Race. First, Andy Metzger of State House News Service details some tension between Senate President Karen Spilka and Speaker of the House Bob DeLeo in the wrap up of legislative loose ends. 

Then the Dorchester Reporter's Jennifer Smith returns to breakdown this week's debate between incumbent Congressman Mike Capuano and his primary challenger Ayanna Pressley. Plus, State House News Service reporter Matt Murphy checks back in on the race for secretary of state, and whether or not challenger Josh Zakim has sustained any momentum against incumbent Bill Galvin. 

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Spencer Ackerman | Julian Assange Went After Former Ally, Barrett Brown. It Backfired Epically.


DEAR RUSSIAN TROLLS: 

SINCE YOU'RE CRAWLING ALL OVER MY INCONSEQUENTIAL BLOG......

YOU MIGHT FIND THIS ARTICLE OF INTEREST...BUT THEN YOU KNEW IT ALREADY.

LOOKS LIKE Concord Management and Consulting LLC and Evgeny Prigozhin are in DEEP DOO!


Prosecutors contend Concord is controlled by Evgeny Prigozhin, a businessman identified by Russian media as being close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and who U.S. officials have said has extensive ties to Russia’s military and political establishment.
The company is one of three entities, along with 13 Russian individuals, indicted by the special counsel’s office in an alleged criminal and espionage conspiracy to tamper with the 2016 U.S. election, boost Trump and disparage his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.




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13 August 18 PM
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Spencer Ackerman | Julian Assange Went After Former Ally, Barrett Brown. It Backfired Epically. 
Barrett Brown and Julian Assange. (photo: EJ Enriquez/Alex Winter/Field of Vision/Getty Images/RSN)
Spencer Ackerman, The Daily Beast
Ackerman writes: "A botched power play by Julian Assange has led to a split within a key organization supporting whistleblowers and leaves the WikiLeaks founder more isolated than ever among his core constituency of radical transparency activists."
READ MORE

FBI agent Peter Strzok. (photo: Roll Call)
FBI agent Peter Strzok. (photo: Roll Call)

FBI Fires Peter Strzok, Political Lightning Rod Who Criticized Trump
Philip Ewing, NPR
Ewing writes: "The FBI has fired an embattled special agent who was removed from the Russia inquiry after internal investigators discovered he had criticized then-candidate Donald Trump in text messages with another bureau official."
READ MORE

Robert Mueller. (photo: AP)
Robert Mueller. (photo: AP)

US Judge Allows Mueller Case Against Russian Company to Proceed
Reuters
Excerpt: "A U.S. judge on Monday backed Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the federal Russia investigation, allowing a case to proceed against a Russian company accused of helping fund a propaganda operation to sway the 2016 presidential election in Donald Trump's favor."
READ MORE

A group of protesters rally against 'fake news' outside CNN's headquarters. (photo: unknown)
A group of protesters rally against 'fake news' outside CNN's headquarters. (photo: unknown)

'Not the Enemy of the People': 70 News Organizations Will Blast Trump's Attack on the Media
Cleve R. Wootson Jr., The Washington Post
Wootson writes: "The editorial board of the Boston Globe is proposing that newspapers across the nation express their disdain for the president's rhetoric on Aug. 16 with the best weapon they have: their collective voice."
READ MORE

Christine Hallquist, 62, former CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative, is one of four Democrats seeking the party's nomination for Vermont governor in the 14 August primary election. (photo: Wilson Ring/AP)
Christine Hallquist, 62, former CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative, is one of four Democrats seeking the party's nomination for Vermont governor in the 14 August primary election. (photo: Wilson Ring/AP)

Vermont Primary Could Pave Way for First Transgender Governor in US
Adam Gabbatt, Guardian UK
Gabbatt writes: "If Christine Hallquist can win Tuesday's Democratic primary, and go on to run for Vermont governor, it will be the first time in history that Americans will be able to vote for a transgender woman for such a senior political role."
READ MORE

Fisherman Jimmy Lalla, 36, moves a bike at his home near the water in Woodland, Trinidad. He and the first mate on their fishing vessel fled a pirate attack by jumping overboard; the boat's captain was kidnapped and is still missing. (photo: WP)
Fisherman Jimmy Lalla, 36, moves a bike at his home near the water in Woodland, Trinidad. He and the first mate on their fishing vessel fled a pirate attack by jumping overboard; the boat's captain was kidnapped and is still missing. (photo: WP)

"They Be Pirates": An Old Scourge Is Reappearing in the Caribbean
Anthony Faiola, The Washington Post
Faiola writes: "In the flickers of sunlight off the cobalt blue of the Caribbean sea, the vessel appeared as a cut on the horizon. It sailed closer. But the crew of the Asheena took no heed."
READ MORE

New Zealand's Whanganui River. (photo: Jason Pratt)
New Zealand's Whanganui River. (photo: Jason Pratt)

Granting Legal Rights to Rivers: Is International Law Ready?
Mara Tignino and Laura E. Turley, The Revelator
Excerpt: "Last year, four rivers were granted legal rights: the Whanganui in New Zealand, Rio Atrato in Colombia, and the Ganga and Yamuna rivers in India. These four cases present powerful examples of the increasing relevance of rights-centered environmental protection."
READ MORE

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FOCUS | Rumors That Mueller Is on the Ropes Have Been Greatly Exaggerated: Judge Ellis Knows What He's Doing in the Manafort Trial




Reader Supported News
13 August 18
It's Live on the HomePage Now:
Reader Supported News


FOCUS | Rumors That Mueller Is on the Ropes Have Been Greatly Exaggerated: Judge Ellis Knows What He's Doing in the Manafort Trial 
Paul Manafort. (photo: Getty Images)
Cristian Farias, New York Magazine
Farias writes: "Count me among the skeptics who doubt that Ellis's scoldings and outbursts during the first two weeks of Paul Manafort's trial in Virginia, as reported in the press, mean much of anything in the grand scheme."
READ MORE

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FOCUS: Stephen Miller Is an Immigration Hypocrite. I Know Because I'm His Uncle.




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13 August 18
It's Live on the HomePage Now:
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FOCUS: Stephen Miller Is an Immigration Hypocrite. I Know Because I'm His Uncle. 
Stephen Miller. (photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
David S. Glosser, Politico
Glosser writes: "Let me tell you a story about Stephen Miller and chain migration. It begins at the turn of the 20th century in a dirt-floor shack in the village of Antopol, a shtetl of subsistence farmers in what is now Belarus."
READ MORE   


If my nephew’s ideas on immigration had been in force a century ago, our family would have been wiped out. 
et me tell you a story about Stephen Miller and chain migration.
It begins at the turn of the 20th century in a dirt-floor shack in the village of Antopol, a shtetl of subsistence farmers in what is now Belarus. Beset by violent anti-Jewish pogroms and forced childhood conscription in the Czar’s army, the patriarch of the shack, Wolf-Leib Glosser, fled a village where his forebears had lived for centuries and took his chances in America.
He set foot on Ellis Island on January 7, 1903, with $8 to his name. Though fluent in Polish, Russian, and Yiddish he understood no English. An elder son, Nathan, soon followed. By street corner peddling and sweat-shop toil Wolf-Leib and Nathan sent enough money home to pay off debts and buy the immediate family’s passage to America in 1906. That group included young Sam Glosser, who with his family settled in the western Pennsylvania city of Johnstown, a booming coal and steel town that was a magnet for other hard-working immigrants. The Glosser family quickly progressed from selling goods from a horse and wagon to owning a haberdashery in Johnstown run by Nathan and Wolf-Leib to a chain of supermarkets and discount department stores run by my grandfather, Sam, and the next generation of Glossers, including my dad, Izzy. It was big enough to be listed on the AMEX stock exchange and employed thousands of people over time. In the span of some 80 years and five decades, this family emerged from poverty in a hostile country to become a prosperous, educated clan of merchants, scholars, professionals, and, most important, American citizens.
What does this classically American tale have to do with Stephen Miller? Well, Izzy Glosser is his maternal grandfather, and Stephen’s mother, Miriam, is my sister.
I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, who is an educated man and well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family’s life in this country.
I shudder at the thought of what would have become of the Glossers had the same policies Stephen so coolly espouses— the travel ban, the radical decrease in refugees, the separation of children from their parents, and even talk of limiting citizenship for legal immigrants— been in effect when Wolf-Leib made his desperate bid for freedom. The Glossers came to the U.S. just a few years before the fear and prejudice of the “America First” nativists of the day closed U.S. borders to Jewish refugees. Had Wolf-Leib waited, his family would likely have been murdered by the Nazis along with all but seven of the 2,000 Jews who remained in Antopol. I would encourage Stephen to ask himself if the chanting, torch-bearing Nazis of Charlottesville, whose support his boss seems to court so cavalierly, do not envision a similar fate for him.
Like other immigrants, our family’s welcome to the USA was not always a warm one, but we largely had the protection of the law, there was no state sponsored violence against us, no kidnapping of our male children, and we enjoyed good relations with our neighbors. True, Jews were excluded from many occupations, couldn’t buy homes in some towns, couldn’t join certain organizations or attend certain schools or universities, but life was good. As in past generations there were hate mongers who regarded the most recent groups of poor immigrants as scum, rapists, gangsters, drunks and terrorists, but largely the Glosser family was left alone to live our lives and build the American dream. Children were born, synagogues founded, and we thrived. This was the miracle of America.
Acting for so long in the theater of right wing politics, Stephen and Trump may have become numb to the resultant human tragedy and blind to the hypocrisy of their policy decisions. After all, Stephen’s is not the only family with a chain immigration story in the Trump administration. Trump's grandfather is reported to have been a German migrant on the run from military conscription to a new life in the USA and his mother fled the poverty of rural Scotland for the economic possibilities of New York City. (Trump’s in-laws just became citizens on the strength of his wife’s own citizenship.)
These facts are important not only for their grim historical irony but because vulnerable people are being hurt. They are real people, not the ghoulish caricatures portrayed by Trump. When confronted by the deaths and suffering of thousands our senses are overwhelmed, and the victims become statistics rather than people. I meet these statistics one at a time through my volunteer service as a neuropsychologist for the Philadelphia affiliate of HIAS (formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), the global non-profit agency that protects refugees and helped my family more than 100 years ago. I will share the story of one such man I have met in the hope that my nephew might recognize elements of our shared heritage.
In the early 2000s, Joseph (not his real name) was conscripted at the age of 14 to be a soldier in Eritrea and sent to a remote desert military camp. Officers there discovered a Bible under his pillow which aroused their suspicion that he might belong to a foreign evangelical sect that would claim his loyalty and sap his will to fight. Joseph was actually a member of the state-approved Coptic church but was nonetheless immediately subjected to torture. “They smashed my face into the ground, tied my hands and feet together behind my back, stomped on me, and hung me from a tree by my bonds while they beat me with batons for the others to see.”
Joseph was tortured for 20 consecutive days before being taken to a military prison and crammed into a dark unventilated cell with 36 other men, little food and no proper hygiene. Some died, and in time Joseph was stricken with dysentery. When he was too weak to stand he was taken to a civilian clinic where he was fed by the medical staff. Upon regaining his strength he escaped to a nearby road where a sympathetic driver took him north through the night to a camp in Sudan where he joined other refugees. Joseph was on the first leg of a journey that would cover thousands of miles and almost 10 years.
Before Donald Trump had started his political ascent promulgating the false story that Barack Obama was a foreign-born Muslim, while my nephew, Stephen, was famously recovering from the hardships of his high school cafeteria in Santa Monica, Joseph was a child on his own in Sudan in fear of being deported back to Eritrea to face execution for desertion. He worked any job he could get, saved his money and made his way through Sudan. He endured arrest and extortion in Libya. He returned to Sudan, then kept moving to Dubai, Brazil, and eventually to a southern border crossing into Texas, where he sought asylum. In all of the countries he traveled through during his ordeal, he was vulnerable, exploited and his status was “illegal.” But in the United States he had a chance to acquire the protection of a documented immigrant.
Today, at 30, Joseph lives in Pennsylvania and has a wife and child. He is a smart, warm, humble man of great character who is grateful for every day of his freedom and safety. He bears emotional scars from not seeing his parents or siblings since he was 14. He still trembles, cries and struggles for breath when describing his torture, and he bears physical scars as well. He hopes to become a citizen, return to work and make his contribution to America. His story, though unique in its particulars, is by no means unusual. I have met Central Americans fleeing corrupt governments, violence and criminal extortion; a Yemeni woman unable to return to her war-ravaged home country and fearing sexual mutilation if she goes back to her Saudi husband; and an escaped kidnap-bride from central Asia.
President Trump wants to make us believe that these desperate migrants are an existential threat to the United States; the most powerful nation in world history and a nation made strong by immigrants. Trump and my nephew both know their immigrant and refugee roots. Yet, they repeat the insults and false accusations of earlier generations against these refugees to make them seem less than human. Trump publicly parades the grieving families of people hurt or killed by migrants, just as the early Nazis dredged up Jewish criminals to frighten and enrage their political base to justify persecution of all Jews. Almost every American family has an immigration story of its own based on flight from war, poverty, famine, persecution, fear or hopelessness. These immigrants became the workers, entrepreneurs, scientists and soldiers of America.
Most damning is the administration's evident intent to make policy that specifically disadvantages people based on their ethnicity, country of origin, and religion. No matter what opinion is held about immigration, any government that specifically enacts law or policy on that basis must be recognized as a threat to all of us. Laws bereft of justice are the gateway to tyranny. Today others may be the target, but tomorrow it might just as easily be you or me. History will be the judge, but in the meanwhile the normalization of these policies is rapidly eroding the collective conscience of America. Immigration reform is a complex issue that will require compassion and wisdom to bring the nation to a just solution, but the politicians who have based their political and professional identity on ethnic demonization and exclusion cannot be trusted to do so. As free Americans, and the descendants of immigrants and refugees, we have the obligation to exercise our conscience by voting for candidates who will stand up for our highest national values and not succumb to our lowest fears.



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