New Orleans contractors begin dismantling confederate monuments amid death threats and protests

It’s been a long time coming but the city of New Orleans has finally started the process of dismantling four controversial monuments representing the Confederate and Jim Crow eras of history. On Monday night, amid death threats and protests, contractors wore helmets and flak jackets and were supervised by nearby police officers as they proceeded to tear down reminders of a racist past—one that many continue to celebrate and hold on to in the name of “Southern Pride.” In fact, earlier this month, Republican Louisiana Lt. Gov. William “Billy” Nungesser petitioned Donald Trump directly for help to ensure that the monuments got enough funding to keep them exactly where they are. But, luckily, Democratic Mayor Mitch Landrieu and advocates for removing the monuments won out.

“We will no longer allow the Confederacy to literally be put on a pedestal in the heart of our city,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. […]

Mayor Landrieu said that “relocating these Confederate monuments is not about taking something away from someone else. … This is about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile — and most importantly— choose a better future.”

Of course, choosing a better future devoid of racism isn’t exactly ideal for some Republicans. Conservative Republican Corey Stewart, who is running for governor of Virginia, is all about embracing his confederate heritage and doesn’t want anyone telling him or any other Southerner what to do with their monuments.

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California judge blocks Trump’s anti-sanctuary cities executive order

The hugest, most winningest first 100 days ever. From Bloomberg:

A San Francisco judge barred enforcement of President Donald Trump’s executive order withholding funds from so-called sanctuary cities that fail to comply with federal immigration demands by shielding undocumented immigrants.

San Francisco and its Silicon Valley neighbor, Santa Clara County, on Tuesday both won preliminary injunctions blocking the Jan. 25 edict by Trump who declared sanctuary jurisdictions cause “immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our republic.” The city and county argued the president’s order violated the Constitution and threatened to deprive them of funding for local programs.

The federal government may ask the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco to overturn the ruling.

As America’s Voice noted, despite Trump and Jeff Sessions’ legally questionable threats and claims, “sanctuary cities are safer than cities that aren’t as friendly to immigrants. This is because cities with pro-immigrant policies see better relationships between immigrant communities and the police. Immigrants aren’t as afraid to report crimes.” 

This is just the latest defeat for Trump, who has been so desperate for a win—any win—as his first 100 days approached that he’s even boasting about all the executive orders he’s signed as president, something he repeatedly criticized former President Obama for doing. Now it also appears he’s even given up his border wall fantasy.

Talk about the art of the squeal.

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Hate group leader: Our allies ‘are now very well placed’ in the Trump administration

Yes, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign emboldened white supremacists and extremists, with a wave of hate crimes sweeping the nation in the immediate days following his popular vote loss to Hillary Clinton. White nationalists like Steve Bannon and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have found a new home in the administration, and as the New York Times recently noted, a number of lesser known but equally deplorable anti-immigrant voices have joined right alongside them:

Mr. Trump’s senior White House adviser, Stephen Miller, worked tirelessly to defeat immigration reform as a staff member for Senator Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general. Gene P. Hamilton, who worked on illegal immigration as Mr. Sessions’s counsel on the Judiciary Committee, is now a senior counselor at the Department of Homeland Security, the parent agency of the Border Patrol and ICE, where Mr. Feere is working. Julia Hahn, who wrote about immigration for Breitbart — with headlines like “Republican-Led Congress Oversees Large-Scale Importation of Somali Migrants” — has followed her former boss, Stephen K. Bannon, to the White House as a deputy policy strategist.

Daniel Tichenor, an immigration politics scholar at the University of Oregon, called it “highly unusual” in the post-World War II era to have proponents of sharply reduced immigration in such high-ranking positions.

“You would have to go to the 1920s and 1930s to find a comparable period in which you could point to people within the executive agencies and the White House who favored significant restrictions,” Mr. Tichenor said.

The ghoulish Miller helped Bannon draft Trump’s failed Muslim bans, and was personally responsible for derailing the second one in court after boasting on cable news that “fundamentally, you’re still going to have the same basic policy outcome.” Not the smartest bunch, but dangerous nonetheless. Miller’s extremism stretches back years, with neo-Nazi Richard Spencer calling him a college buddy and high school classmates recalling him making numerous racist remarks about Latinos and other people of color. No wonder he’s received such high praise from Trump and Sessions.

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Is Karen Handel afraid to be seen with Trump at the NRA convention in Atlanta this week?

Is Karen Handel willing to appear with Donald Trump? Handel, the Republican running against Jon Ossoff in the special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, says yes … in general. When it’s a more specific question about an event with an upcoming date and a local address, she’s not as eager to give an answer.

Trump will be in Atlanta on Friday for the NRA’s annual convention, which seems like a prime opportunity for Handel to be seen with him and appeal to the gun-loving crowd. But Handel hasn’t said she’ll be there. Despite her claim that “He is the president of the United States of America. Of course I’ll be seen with him,” she’s dragging her feet.

Why isn’t Handel jumping at the opportunity to be seen with her party’s president, a man who has done a fundraising email for her and promoted her candidacy on Twitter? It’s almost like she’s embarrassed or afraid of being tied too closely and publicly to Trump.

Can you chip in $3 to help Jon Ossoff defeat Karen Handel?

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WSJ/NBC News polling: Americans’ support for immigration at record level

Popular vote loser Donald Trump’s approval rating among the American public is the lowest of any president at this point in his term, according to recent polling from Gallup. Immigrants, however, are a hell of a lot more popular than him, and by a landslide:

Six in 10 Americans said immigration helps the nation more than it hurts—up 6 points since the last sounding, in September 2016. One-third of people in the survey said immigration hurts more than it helps.

The result, which marks the highest level of support for immigration dating to at least 2005, comes as Mr. Trump is asking lawmakers to fund a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico and has twice signed executive orders, blocked by federal courts, suspending entry from certain countries.

Both parties, by contrast, showed increasing support for immigration. Among Democrats, those who saw immigration as beneficial grew 10 points, to 79%, between December 2015 and April of this year. Among Republicans, it grew 9 points, to 37%; 53% of Republicans viewed immigration as harmful to the U.S.

Among independents, the share viewing immigration as beneficial grew by 16 points since late 2015, to 63%.

“It seems the more American people listen to Donald Trump and his administration rail against immigrants, the more they support the immigrants,” notes immigrant rights group America’s Voice.

Despite Trump’s racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric, an overwhelming majority of Americans are in favor of giving undocumented immigrants with deep ties to the US a chance to continue building their lives, families, and homes here. “March CNN polling found that 90% of Americans, including 87% of Republicans, back an earned path to citizenship,” according to America’s Voice.

Meanwhile, Americans have consistently opposed Trump’s failed Muslim bans and “big, beautiful” wall, and by significant majorities. In fact, the wall, which was mostly confined to the dank corners of the fringe right before getting endorsed by Trump during the election, got less popular. It’s gotta smart for a guy who cares so much about ratings and crowd sizes.

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Sally Yates to finally deliver public testimony about the Trump-Russia connection on May 8

Sally Yates was originally scheduled to appear before the House Intelligence Committee in a public hearing over a month ago. It was to be the committee’s second such hearing, following the one in which FBI Director James Comey rocked Republican expectations by revealing that, yes indeed, there was an active, ongoing investigation into Trump’s Russia connections within the FBI.

At the time, rumors swirled around Yates’ possible testimony, which was said to contain some hard to ignore information on how the White House had kept then National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in place despite repeated warnings from Yates. There were even suggestions that the hearing might be cancelled, specifically to keep Yates from making a public disclosure about what she knew.

Interesting—Jeremy Bash implies Sally Yates had revelations for House Intel about when she told WH that Flynn lied. Nunes nixed the hearing.

Then committee chair Devin Nunes did his from-the-White House, to-the-White House briefing and series of press conferences and, what do you know, the hearing where Yates was scheduled to testify really was cancelled, along with every other hearing before the committee.

But Sally Yates is going to make that public appearance last, on the other end of Capitol Hill.

Former acting attorney general Sally Yates is scheduled to appear at a congressional hearing next month on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a Senate committee announced Tuesday.

Yates is to appear May 8 along with James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, at an open hearing of the crime and terrorism subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

So while Yates may have moved from the House to the Senate, it seems we’ll finally get a chance to hear if what she has to say was reason enough for the actions taken by the White House and Devin Nunes.

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