Category Archives: Constitution

Sen. Bob Corker: Trump ‘has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate’

Senator Bob Corker is a “Reconstructed” Southerner from the former Confederate state of Tennessee. He rejects the institutional racism, violence and terrorism of white supremacy that is the heritage of slavery and Jim Crow in the old South.

Sen. Corker is the first GOP senator of whom I am aware to finally come out and say what everyone is thinking and knows to be true: Trump has not demonstrated ‘stability’ or ‘competence’ to lead effectively:

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has been one of the most outspoken GOP Trump critics in Congress, expressed displeasure with Trump’s response to the deadly weekend violence in Charlottesville and warned that if the president does not change his behavior, “our nation is going to go through great peril.”

The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful,” the senator told reporters in Tennessee. “And we need for him to be successful.”

Corker’s remarks came on a day when at least two other Republican senators — Tim Scott (S.C.) and Dan Sullivan (Alaska) — also faulted the president. Scott, the only African-American Republican in the Senate, said in an interview with Vice News that Trump’s “moral authority is compromised.”

In his interview with Vice News, Scott said: “What we want to see from our president is clarity and moral authority. And that moral authority is compromised when Tuesday happens. There’s no question about that.” Tuesday was when Trump said, “I think there’s blame on both sides.”

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Pandora’s Drone

By Michael Bryan

Note: This is a think piece that has been languishing in my drafts for some time. I am publishing now in order to see what, if any, feedback readers may have, not in response to any current events, although it does briefly touch upon the terrorist attack in Charlottesville in my last revision.

In a complete reversal of American norms before 2001, Americans have come to expect that our foreign, sub-state political foes will be dealt with by assassination. That might seem a shocking assertion, but the policy of targeted killings of those identified as enemies of the United States by drone can only be euphemized, not denied. Bush and Obama placed such assassinations at the heart of our military strategy against those groups and individuals seen as a terrorist threat to America, and regardless of who the President might be, that tool will not be disposed of unless its use is wholly rejected by Americans. Given that no great outcry or mass movement has yet denounced the continued use of drone assassination in our foreign policy, it seems very likely to continue. In fact, Donald Trump has re-authorized the CIA to carry out its own drone strikes, lowering accountability and reporting requirements in place under Obama, when only the military was empowered to carry out lethal drone operations.

Our desire for the perception of safety and demand of bold action by our leadership against possible terrorist threats has swamped any scruple we may once have held against merely murdering our geo-strategic enemies. We have always killed in war, but killing specific people, and all persons believed to be members of designated organizations, anywhere they may found, even in countries we are not hostile to, is a new thing entirely. But no modern politician will run the risk of being accused of not having done everything possible when the next mass casualty attack on American soil comes, as it inevitably will, therefore a tactic that began as an expedient use of a new technology in a crisis seems to have become the centerpiece our de facto anti-terrorism strategy.

Americans seem to have decided that extra-judicial state murder, even of some American citizens, is justified in our fight against terrorism. Despite the fig-leaf of “due process” of review within the executive branch that was constructed around the practice by the Obama administration, targeted drone strikes and so-called signature strikes on suspected terrorist activity are extra-judicial executions, pure and simple. We may hide behind the fiction that we are “at war” with some ill-defined terrorist organizations and thus those killed are “enemy combatants,” and any innocents killed as a result are unfortunate “collateral damage”, but this only semantics. Since we are not going invade Pakistan, or Somalia, or Yemen, or Syria, or (re-re-re-invade?) Iraq, or any of the other failing or weak states where terrorist cells might find sanctuary, in order to end the threat of these sub-state organizations pose to our security, we are going to continue to fight these “wars” with proxies, intelligence assets, and drone strikes. We will continue to make targeted killings, i.e. murder, a key component of our foreign policy.

My point is not to suggest an alternative, or even to suggest that the policy is necessarily wrong or immoral. There may be no more effective, more politically acceptable, or more morally inoffensive alternative. My point is to question what effect this will have on the evolution American political culture, and on the normative behavior of governments visa-vis their own citizens – including our own toward us.

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The GOP’s descent into authoritarianism

This is not your father’s GOP. The carcass of the Republican Party has been hollowed-out by the parasitic radical extremist fringe elements of the far-right. These are the “double high authoritarians” that John Dean warned about in his 2006 book, Conservatives Without Conscience. See Michael Bryan’s 2006 book review, John W. Dean, “Conservatives Without Conscience”.

They have now coalesced around a demagogue, a professional grifter and con man given to conspiracy theories and appealing to the worst human instincts: racism, bigotry and fear of others and the unknown. Add white nationalism, fundamentalism and political party tribalism, and it forms a toxic brew.

Supporters of Donald Trump are willing to allow him to fulfill his dream of becoming an authoritarian despot, like his pal Vladimir Putin, and rejecting American democracy in favor of “Dear Leader,” according to two new polls taken this week.

Laurie Roberts writes at the Arizona Republic, Would Trump supporters really nix free speech and democracy?

Just how far are Republicans willing to go in their support of President Donald Trump?

Pretty darn far, it seems. Scary far.

They actually believe Trump’s spiel

According to a recent academic survey of 650 Americans who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, nearly half (47 percent) say Trump won the popular vote in 2016. Sixty eight percent believe that millions of illegal immigrants voted.

Meanwhile, 52 percent said they would support postponing the 2020 election if Trump said it needed to be delayed until the country can make sure that only eligible American citizens are voting.

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Now comes the attempt to prevent the Save Our Schools Arizona referendum from qualifying for the ballot

I mentioned in a comment that last week the right-wing Public Integrity Alliance was claiming that the Glendale Elementary School District personnel and Save Our Schools Arizona violated rules regarding the use of public resources to influence political campaigns in their referendum campaign against the “vouchers on steroids” bill passed by our Tea-Publican legislature, and signed into law by our Koch-bot Governor Ducey. Non-profit alleges campaign volunteers, school district violated election laws.

Now the big guns of the right-wing are rolling out their attacks to try to prevent the referendum from qualifying for the ballot. The Arizona Capitol Times reports, Voucher expansion on hold as effort to kill campaign begins:

School voucher expansion legislation is on hold after Save Our Schools Arizona delivered, by the group’s count, 111,540 signatures today to refer the law to the 2018 general election ballot.

A yellow school bus decked out in SOS Arizona banners carried the signatures to a loading deck below the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office. Volunteers in red SOS Arizona shirts loaded wagons full of petition boxes, and children dressed as professionals carted them to the building.

Beyond the spectacle, spokeswoman Dawn Penich-Thacker (above) was clear that the effort to quash the expansion of the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Account program was far from over.

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Court says legal challenge to Chambers’ new restrictions on your constitutional right to citizens initiatives is not yet ripe

It appears that the Arizona Chambers of Commerce have succeeded in limiting your constitutional right to pass laws by citizens initiatives by having their lickspittle Tea-Publican servants in the Arizona legislature enact their package of bills, which were dutifully signed by our Koch-bot Governor Ducey.

The petition drive for a referendum on these new restrictions collapsed a few weeks ago due to lack of finances.  The groups behind the referendum put all their eggs in one basket, seeking a court ruling blocking the new restrictions.

On Tuesday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens refused to block a new state law making it easier for opponents to challenge citizen initiatives, but she sidestepped the decision on whether the law violates the state Constitution on the grounds of the “ripeness” doctrine.

The Ariona Capitol Times reports, Judge won’t block new law Arizona targeting initiatives:

The ruling from Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens said opponents of the law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature haven’t yet been harmed because there are no pending initiatives that would be affected by the new standard.

“The Court finds this matter is not ripe for judicial review,” Stephens wrote. “Plaintiffs believe House Bill 2244 will affect their future initiative efforts but this Court finds that expectation is not sufficient to make this matter ripe for judicial review of the constitutionality of HB 2244.”

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White nationalists making immigration policy in Trump White House

Donald Trump played to nativist and racist fears in the 2016 campaign by focusing heavily on illegal immigration: “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will make Mexico pay for that wall.

However, Trump’s alt-right campaign advisors, Steven Bannon and Stephen Miller, are also opposed to legal immigration.

On Wednesday, Trump, GOP senators reintroduced a bill to slash legal immigration levels (this is a modified version of a bill submitted in February that went nowhere):

Trump appeared with Republican Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.) and David Perdue (Ga.) at the White House to unveil a modified version of a bill the senators first introduced in February to create a “merit-based” immigration system that would put a greater emphasis on the job skills of foreigners over their ties to family in the United States.

The legislation seeks to reduce the annual distribution of green cards awarding permanent legal residence to just over 500,000 from more than 1 million.

The bill also gives a preference to those who speak English.

The bill faces dim prospects in the Senate, where Republicans hold a narrow majority and would have difficulty reaching 60 votes to fend off a filibuster. But the president’s event came as the White House sought to move past a major political defeat on repealing the Affordable Care Act by pivoting to issues that resonate with Trump’s core supporters.

White House alt-right advisor Stephen Miller attended the White House press briefing with Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to explain and defend the bill, and wound up being the story with his outrageous behavior.

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