Jun 142018
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

As an elementary school student attending PS #38 in Jersey City, New Jersey, this author has vivid memories of her school’s annual June 14th Flag Day celebration, where students whose families hailed from many countries paraded with their flags in a show of patriotism, hope and freedom. Americans should see plenty of those same feelings exhibited today as President Donald Trump (as well as House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, former congressman Billy Tauzin, and Louisiana-born Facebook Exec Campbell Brown) celebrates his birthday and a re-invigorated House Whip Steve Scalise returns to the Nationals ballpark to take on the Democrats just one year after his near-fatal shooting.

Scalise – whose new memoir is in the works – spent yesterday evening with Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and others at a big dollar fundraiser at D.C.’s Trump Hotel which raised $3.2 million for vulnerable House Republicans. A highly sought-after speaker and rainmaker, Scalise has rightfully earned a tremendous amount of national press for his against-all-odds comeback which could well land him in the speaker’s chair.

Trump, 74, the second most popular president among Republicans in this century, is not expected to attend tonight’s ballgame. Instead he is still basking in the afterglow of his disarmament discussions with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and probably will be strategizing how to ensure his package of laws that “dramatically cut the entire immigration system” slips through Congress despite significant opposition by Democrats and moderate Republicans. Though candidate Trump spoke in favor of legal immigration during the 2016 campaign, it appears that President Trump has “granted fewer visas, approved fewer refugees, and ordered the removal of hundreds of thousands of legal residents whose home countries have been hit by war and natural disasters,” according to USA Today.

Perhaps Trump’s biggest victory is how he has reshaped Republican Party identity with voters and dared all to oppose him or his policies. The New York Times calls today’s G.O.P. the “Party of Trump.” Several elections this week back up that headline including Congressman Mark Stanford’s surprise primary defeat in South Carolina (Sanford was openly disloyal to Trump) and the Virginia senate primary victory of far-right candidate Corey Stewart. These election results don’t mean that there isn’t political infighting by Republican members of Congress on issues including the tariffs, the defense bill, health care, and of course immigration.

The Washington Post reports that Republicans have embraced “the cult of Trump” as part of their new brand. The Republican Party seems to be united now “not by fealty to ideas or policies but to a man who defied the odds to win the presidency and who has magnetically drawn the party’s power base to himself.”

As President Trump continues to use social media to speak directly to the voters, his support by Republican elected officials and Republican leaning voters continues to grow. “They want the party to stand by the president and it is pointless to resist,” according to the Washington Post.

Only Democrats seem not to be afraid of crossing the President. Democrats are already seeing results from their efforts to support women candidates and candidates of color to engage and build their base. It will be up to the Democratic Party to help these new fledged candidates with money and other resources to make their campaigns successful.

Americans celebrate Flag Day because John Adams made an impassioned speech to the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777, that “the flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.” In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation establishing June 14 as Flag Day. President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress in 1949 to formally designate the holiday. There have been 27 official versions of the U.S. flags as new states joined the nation. June 14 is also the birthday of the U.S. Army.

AFRICAN-AMERICAN FEMALE JUDGES HAVE JOAN BERNARD ARMSTRONG TO THANK

African-American women judges have Joan Bernard Armstrong to thank for breaking the glass ceiling in 1974. Initially appointed by Governor Edwin Edwards, Armstrong – who will be buried this Saturday – was the first African-American woman elected judge in Louisiana. She went on to become the first African American appellate judge, the first woman and African-American on the appeals court. She rose to the position of chief judge before her retirement. Armstrong was the role model for a generation of women lawyers who previously only dreamed of being elected to the judiciary. She will be sorely missed.

MICHELLE OBAMA TO ADDRESS NATION’S LIBRARIANS IN NEW ORLEANS

Former First Lady Michelle Obama will debut her new book Becoming in New Orleans at the American Library Association Conference Friday, June 22. Obama’s book is scheduled for release in November, 2018. Academy award winning actress Viola Davis and Trombone Shorty are also on the conference schedule.

Danae Columbus, who has had a 30-year career in politics and public relations, offers her opinions on Thursdays. Her career includes stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board and former clients such as District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, City Council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, City Councilwoman-elect Helena Moreno, Foster Campbell, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

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