Author Archives: AZ BlueMeanie

Political Calendar: Week of October 8, 2017

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Political Calendar for the Week of October 8, 2017:

Monday, October 9: Columbus Day (observed).

Monday, October 9: Last day to register to vote in Tucson City Council Election.

Monday, October 9, Noon: Democrats of Greater Tucson luncheon, Dragon’s View Restaurant (400 N. Bonita, South of St. Mary’s Road between the Freeway and Grande Avenue, turn South at Furr’s Cafeteria). New price: buffet lunch is $10.00 cash, $12 credit; just a drink is $3.50. Featured speaker is Kathy Hoffman, candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction. Next Week: Dr. Randy Friese (LD 9) on his reelection campaign and legislative issues.

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Cartoon of The Week

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This week in the GOP’s war on the civil rights of women and LGBTQ

The House on Tuesday approved a bill banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, advancing a key GOP priority for the third time in the past four years — this time, with a supportive Republican president in the White House. The purpose of the bill is to create a direct legal challenge to Roe v. Wade, which provides for access to abortion in the first 24 weeks.  With Trump’s backing, House approves ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy:

The bill, known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, is not expected to emerge from the Senate, where most Democrats and a handful of moderate Republicans can block its consideration. But antiabortion activists are calling President Trump’s endorsement of the bill a significant advance for their movement.

The White House said in a statement released Monday that the administration “strongly supports” the legislation “and applauds the House of Representatives for continuing its efforts to secure critical pro-life protections.”

The bill provides for abortions after 20 weeks gestation only when they are necessary to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest. Under the bill, abortions performed during that period could be carried out “only in the manner which, in reasonable medical judgment, provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive” — note, not the life of the mother — and would require a second physician trained in neonatal resuscitation to be present.

How Arizona’s congressional delegation voted:

Stricter Abortion Ban: The House on Oct. 3 voted, 237-189, to outlaw abortions after 20 weeks of fertilization on the belief that the fetus can feel pain by then. This repudiates Roe v. Wade’s ruling that abortion is legal up to viability that occurs at about 24 weeks or later. A yes vote was to pass HR 36

Voting yes: Martha McSally, R-2, Paul Gosar, R-4, Andy Biggs, R-5, David Schweikert, R-6, Trent Franks, R-8

Voting no: Tom O’Halleran, D-1, Raul Grijalva, D-3, Ruben Gallego, D-7, Kyrsten Sinema, D-9

Women’s Health Exemption: The House on Oct. 3 defeated, 181-246, a bid by Democrats to add an overall woman’s health exemption to HR 36 to go with exemptions already in the bill in cases of incest or rape or to save the mother’s life. A yes vote was to permit abortions after 20 weeks if necessary to protect the mother’s health.

Voting Yes: O’Halleran, Grijalva, Gallego, Sinema

Voting No: McSally, Gosar, Biggs, Schweikert, Franks

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U.S. loses jobs for the first time in 7 years in September

Steve Benen has the monthly jobs report for September. U.S. lost jobs last month for the first time in 7 years:

The job numbers were worse than anyone expected. While projections showed the U.S. economy adding about 80,000 jobs in September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the economy actually lost 33,000 jobs in September.

September jobs

It’s important to emphasize that these totals were heavily affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which depressed hiring. SeeHow Hurricanes Skewed September’s Job Numbers. [It’s also important to note that these numbers will be revised in future jobs reports, so the consecutive monthly gains streak could very well still be alive.] That said, the new job numbers still fell short of low expectations. What’s more, the combined job totals from July and August were revised down, and that can’t be attributed to hurricanes.

This is the first time the U.S. economy has lost jobs since September 2010 – seven years ago. It interrupts the longest streak on record of consecutive months in which the economy added jobs [This could change next month after revisions].

Here’s another chart, this one showing monthly job losses/gains in just the private sector since the start of the Great Recession.

September Private

Economist Jared Bernstein explains, Thanks to Harvey and Irma, payrolls fell last month, but underlying job market remains strong:

Payrolls contracted by 33,000 last month due to the impacts of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The unemployment rate, which BLS tells us was not affected by the storms, fell to 4.2 percent, its lowest rate in over 16 years, and it fell for “good reasons” last month, i.e., not because discouraged workers left the labor force. In fact, the closely watched labor force participation rate rose to 63.1 percent, its highest level since March of 2014.

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The madness of King Donald

Last week we learned that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in direct contact with North Korea in an effort to prevent the U.S. from stumbling into a renewed Korean war and possible nuclear conflict. Tillerson: U.S. is in direct contact with North Korea, is ‘probing’ talks:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States is in direct contact with North Korea and is looking into whether Kim Jong Un is open to talks.

The comment, made during a brief trip to China, was the first time the Trump administration acknowledged direct communication with Pyongyang.

“We are probing, so stay tuned,” he said.

“We ask, ‘Would you like to talk?’ We have lines of communications to Pyongyang. We’re not in a dark situation, a blackout. We have a couple, three, channels open to Pyongyang; we can talk to them; we do talk to them,” he said.

After publication of this Washington Post report, our always insecure egomaniacal Twitter-troll-in-chief took to the Twitter machine to undercut his Secretary of State. Trump tells Tillerson to quit “wasting his time” on North Korea:

The president’s latest tweets, a day after Secretary of State Tillerson confirmed the U.S. is in contact with North Korea.

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This is a pretty cavalier way to announce a foreign policy move with potentially massive implications.

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Amend the Constitution to reform the U.S. Senate

While the U.S. Supreme Court grapples with the question of ending partisan gerrymandering of House seats, little attention is paid to the truly undemocratic Senate where each state, regardless of population, has two senators, the result of the Connecticut Compromise between the large states which wanted equal representation in Congress based on population, and the smaller states that worried about losing autonomy to the larger states. The undemocratic nature of the Senate offended many of the framers but it was necessary in order to obtain ratification of the Constituion by the states. It was a compromise of political expediency that has long since outlived its purpose.

America has developed from a rural agrarian society in 1787 to an urban population overwhelmingly concentrated in large metropolitan cities. This has resulted in the United States now being a non-majoritarian democracy, in which small rural states weild a disproportionate share of political power over the majority living in more populous states.

Population Map

E.J. Dionne Jr., Norman J. Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann,the authors of “One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet-Deported,” explain this dynamic in an op-ed today, Why the majority keeps losing on guns:

Why does our political system make it impossible even to consider solutions to gun violence? After the massacre in Las Vegas that has so far taken nearly 60 lives and left more than 500 injured, the first reaction of the many politicians who carry water for the gun lobby was to declare it “premature” to discuss measures to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

The “premature” word echoed from President Trump’s White House on down, and those who used it were really saying that Congress would never enact even modest efforts to prevent mass shootings. This is damning evidence of the stranglehold that far-right lobbies have on today’s Republicans, who extol law and order except when maintaining it requires confronting the National Rifle Association.

But something else is at work here. As we argue in our book, “One Nation After Trump,” the United States is now a non-majoritarian democracy. If that sounds like a contradiction in terms, that’s because it is. Claims that our republic is democratic are undermined by a system that vastly overrepresents the interests of rural areas and small states. This leaves the large share of Americans in metropolitan areas with limited influence over national policy. Nowhere is the imbalance more dramatic or destructive than on the issue of gun control.

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