Wednesday, 30 November 2016

America begins to gird for battle against Trump's ideological excesses - Part 2

STATEMENT, 15 November 2016:
As scholars of Jewish history, we are acutely attuned to the fragility of democracies and the consequences for minorities when democracies fail to live up to their highest principles.  The United States has a fraught history with respect to Native Americans, African Americans and other ethnic and religious minorities.  But this country was founded on ideals of liberty and justice and has made slow, often painful progress to achieve them by righting historic wrongs and creating equal rights and opportunities for all.  No group has been more fortunate in benefiting from this progress than American Jews.  Excluded by anti-Semitism from many professions and social organizations before the Second World War, Jews in the postwar period became part of the American majority, flourishing economically and politically and accepted socially.  There are now virtually no corners of American life to which Jews cannot gain entry.  But mindful of the long history of their oppression, Jews have often been at the forefront of the fight for the rights of others in this country.
In the wake of Donald Trump’s electoral victory, it is time to re-evaluate where the country stands. The election campaign was marked by unprecedented expressions of racial, ethnic, gender-based, and religious hatred, some coming from the candidate and some from his supporters, against Muslims, Latinos, women, and others.  In the days since the election, there have been numerous attacks on immigrant groups, some of which likely drew inspiration from the elevation of Mr. Trump to the presidency of the United States.
Hostility to immigrants and refugees strikes particularly close to home for us as historians of the Jews.  As an immigrant people, Jews have experienced the pain of discrimination and exclusion, including by this country in the dire years of the 1930s. Our reading of the past impels us to resist any attempts to place a vulnerable group in the crosshairs of nativist racism.  It is our duty to come to their aid and to resist the degradation of rights that Mr. Trump’s rhetoric has provoked.
However, it is not only in defense of others that we feel called to speak out.  We witnessed repeated anti-Semitic expressions and insinuations during the Trump campaign.  Much of this anti-Semitism was directed against journalists, either Jewish or with Jewish-sounding names.  The candidate himself refused to denounce—and even retweeted--language and images that struck us as manifestly anti-Semitic.  By not doing so, his campaign gave license to haters of Jews, who truck in conspiracy theories about world Jewish domination.
We condemn unequivocally those agitators who have ridden Trump’s coattails to propagate their toxic ideas about Jews. More broadly, we call on all fair-minded Americans to condemn unequivocally the hateful and discriminatory language and threats that have been directed by him and his supporters against Muslims, women, Latinos, African-Americans, disabled people, LGBT people and others. Hatred of one minority leads to hatred of all. Passivity and demoralization are luxuries we cannot afford. We stand ready to wage a struggle to defend the constitutional rights and liberties of all Americans. It is not too soon to begin mobilizing in solidarity.
Mika Ahuvia, University of Washington
Allan Amanik, Brooklyn College of CUNY
Karen Auerbach, Brandeis University
Leora Auslander, University of Chicago
Eugene M. Avrutin, University of Illinois
And 193 more signatories

Jonathan Greenblatt, director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
You Do Not Represent Us: An Open Letter to Donald Trump

Dear Mr. Trump:

At the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, students are taught to represent the highest levels of respect and integrity. We are taught to embrace humility and diversity. We can understand why, in seeking America’s highest office, you have used your degree from Wharton to promote and lend legitimacy to your candidacy.

As a candidate for President, and now as the presumptive GOP nominee, you have been afforded a transformative opportunity to be a leader on national and international stages and to make the Wharton community even prouder of our school and values.

However, we have been deeply disappointed in your candidacy.

We, proud students, alumni, and faculty of Wharton, are outraged that an affiliation with our school is being used to legitimize prejudice and intolerance. Although we do not aim to make any political endorsements with this letter, we do express our unequivocal stance against the xenophobia, sexism, racism, and other forms of bigotry that you have actively and implicitly endorsed in your campaign.

The Wharton community is a diverse community. We are immigrants and children of immigrants, people of color, Muslims, Jews, women, people living with or caring for those with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ community. In other words, we represent the groups that you have repeatedly denigrated, as well as their steadfast friends, family, and allies.

We recognize that we are fortunate to be educated at Wharton, and we are committed to using our opportunity to make America and the world a better place — for everyone. We are dedicated to promoting inclusion not only because diversity and tolerance have been repeatedly proven to be valuable assets to any organization’s performance, but also because we believe in mutual respect and human dignity as deeply held values. Your insistence on exclusion and scapegoating would be bad for business and bad for the American economy. An intolerant America is a less productive, less innovative, and less competitive America.

We, the undersigned Wharton students, alumni, and faculty, unequivocally reject the use of your education at Wharton as a platform for promoting prejudice and intolerance. Your discriminatory statements are incompatible with the values that we are taught and we teach at Wharton, and we express our unwavering commitment to an open and inclusive American society.

Signed by 4,028 members of the Wharton community as of 6 November 2016. 

This letter reflects the personal views of its signatories only and is not affiliated with the Wharton School. The Wharton School takes no political position and does not comment on its students, alumni, or faculty.

Democratic Congresswoman for 5th District of Massachusetts Katherine Clarkmedia release, 17 November 2016:

Washington, D.C. -- Congresswoman Katherine Clark has introduced legislation to ensure that U.S. Presidents are required to resolve any conflicts of interest with regard to financial interests and official responsibilities. Current law prohibits federal office holders from engaging in government business when they stand to gain profit. The President and Vice President are currently exempt from this statute. 
Clark’s Presidential Accountability Act removes this exemption and requires the President and Vice President to place their assets in a certified blind trust or disclose to the Office of Government Ethics and the public when they make a decision that affects their personal finances. 
This issue has been elevated to greater importance as concerns of conflicts of interest have surfaced in the first week of the President-elect’s transition period. From the Trump Organization’s federal contract to operate the President-elect’s hotel in the Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington, D.C. to the scale of his debt to foreign banks, the President-elect’s business interests present an unprecedented level of conflict. Trump has also appointed his children to serve in leadership positions on both the President-elect’s transition team and his businesses. 
Clark’s Presidential Accountability Act prohibits the President from engaging in government responsibilities from which they or their families can benefit financially.
“The President of the United States has the power to affect how our tax dollars are spent, who the federal government does business with, and the integrity of America’s standing in a global economy,” said Clark. “Every recent president in modern history has taken steps to ensure his financial interests do not conflict with the needs of the American people. The American people need to be able to trust that the President’s decisions are based on the best interests of families at home, and not the President’s financial interests.”
Previous American presidents including Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have all used some form of blind trust or placed their assets in an investment vehicle over which they had no control.
Full text of H.R. 6340 can be found here.
The Hill, 23 November 2016:

A number of Democratic Electoral College electors are planning to use their votes to undermine the election process in opposition to President-elect Donald Trump,
Politico is reporting.

Some electors are lobbying their Republican counterparts to vote for someone other than Trump in an attempt to deny him the 270 votes required to elect him, according to the news outlet.

They are also contemplating whether to cast their votes for someone other than Hillary Clinton, like Mitt Romney or Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio).

With at least six electors already vowing to become "faithless," the defection could be the most significant since 1808, when six Democratic-Republican electors refused to vote for James Madison, choosing vice presidential candidate George Clinton instead.

The electors acknowledge that it is unlikely that they will be able to block Trump from gaining office, Politico reported, but they are optimistic that their effort will raise enough questions about the Electoral College to reform or abolish it.

"If it gets into the House, the controversy and the uncertainty that would immediately blow up into a political firestorm in the U.S. would cause enough people — my hope is — to look at the whole concept of the Electoral College," one of the electors told Politico.

It’s unclear how many, if any, Republicans have signed on to the effort.

Twenty-nine states legally require their electors to obey the results of the popular vote in their state.

The Washington Post, 25 November 2016:

An election recount will take place soon in Wisconsin, after former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein filed a petition Friday with the state’s Election Commission, the first of three states where she has promised to contest the election result.

The move from Stein, who raised millions since her Wednesday announcement that she would seek recounts of Donald Trump’s apparent election victories in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, came just 90 minutes before Wisconsin’s 5 p.m. Friday deadline to file a petition…..

Trump secured a total of 1,404,000 votes in Wisconsin, according to the commission; Clinton had 1,381,823.

In the end, Stein, who secured 31,006 votes in Wisconsin, was not the only presidential candidate to demand a recount. Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, the Reform Party nominee who got 1,514 Wisconsin votes, also filed a recount petition, according to the state’s Election Commission.

To be on the safe side, the group of experts urged a recount — but it was Stein’s campaign that ended up demanding one, soliciting at first $2.5 million and later up to $7 million to fund the recounts. As of Friday evening, Stein’s campaign reported taking in over $5.25 million in recount-related donations — the most by a third-party candidate in history.

Wisconsin has the first deadline of the three states in question. If Stein’s campaign wishes to file recount petitions in the other states as promised, she must do so by Monday to meet Pennsylvania’s deadline, and Wednesday to meet the Nov. 30 deadline in Michigan.

In a statement, Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Michael Haas guessed that the cost and complexity of the recount would be in excess of the state’s last recount in 2011, which carried a price tag of more than $520,000. In that recount over a state Supreme Court seat, the commission had to recount 1.5 million votes — about half the 2.975 million ballot votes that were cast during the 2016 presidential election.

Jill Stein website as of 30 November 2016:

Congratulations on meeting the recount and legal costs for Wisconsin and Pennsylvania! Raising money to pay for the first two recounts so quickly is a miraculous feat and a tribute to the power of grassroots organizing.
Now that we have completed funding Wisconsin's recount (we filed on Friday) and fundraising for Pennsylvania's voter-initiated recount (due Monday), we will focus on raising the needed funds for Michigan's recount (due Wednesday). The breakdown of these costs is described below!

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