Category Archives: Constitution

Beg your pardon, but this is obstruction of justice hiding in plain sight

Last Friday, Donald Trump’s consigliere Michael Cohen was in court on a motion to suppress evidence seized in a raid by the FBI on his office, home, and hotel room, and a bank deposit box. (It did not go well for him on Monday).

Trump called Cohen on Friday to “check in,” according to two people briefed on the call. Depending on what else was discussed, the call could be problematic, as lawyers typically advise their clients against discussing investigations. Trump Sees Inquiry Into Cohen as Greater Threat Than Mueller.

This could be viewed as witness intimidation or tampering, or even suborning perjury. “Don’t say nothing, Mikey. You keep your mouth shut! You know whadda mean?

Federal prosecutors revealed Friday that Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months and that they have impaneled a grand jury to probe his business dealings.

Donald Trump sent another message to Michael Cohen on Friday to keep his mouth shut: he pardoned Scooter Libby, who was convicted of one count of obstruction, two counts of perjury and one count of lying to the FBI about how he learned of Valerie Plame’s identity and whom he told (leaking classified information, Valerie Plame was a nonofficial cover (NOC) CIA spy, putting her life and those of all her known associates and contacts at risk). Jurors Convict Libby on Four of Five Charges.

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After Prop. 123, ‘we don’t get fooled again’

You can smell desperation coming from the governor’s office on the ninth floor.

Last year Gov. Ducey’s budget gave teachers a 2 percent raise over five years, or put another way, they would get a four-tenths of a percent raise per year over five years.

The legislature eventually settled on one percent last year — this was actually a one-time bonus — and one percent this year, with no promises for future pay raises.

The peasants should be grateful that we gave them anything.”

But now there is a national teachers revolt that has rocked West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and the grassroots educators group #RedForEd in Arizona is threatening a walkout of their own. Arizona teachers demand 20 percent raises, more money for students:

Frustrated and desperate, Arizona educators are demanding 20 percent pay raises to address the state’s teacher crisis and have threatened to take escalated action if state leaders don’t respond with urgency.

Besides the 20 percent teacher raises, educators’ demands are:

  • Restoring state education funding to 2008 levels. Arizona spends $924 less per student in inflation-adjusted dollars today than it did in 2008, according to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. Restoring education funding to that level would cost the state about $1 billion.
  • Competitive pay for all education support professionals, such as teachers’ aides and paraprofessionals. Dollar figures for this weren’t specified Wednesday.
  • A “permanent” step-and-lane salary structure in which teachers are guaranteed annual raises and steady advancement in wages.
  • No new tax cuts until the state’s per-pupil funding reaches the national average. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 figures, the most recent available, Arizona spent $7,489 per pupil compared with the national average of $11,392.

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Illinois Senate votes to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment

In 2017, the state of Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. 38 states are required for ratification.

While the Arizona House voted to recess rather than debate the ERA this week, the Illinois Senate voted to ratify the ERA. Illinois Senate approves federal Equal Rights Amendment, more than 35 years after the deadline:

The Illinois Senate on Wednesday voted to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, renewing a push from decades ago amid the #MeToo movement to guarantee that rights can’t be denied because of a person’s sex.

The vote came about 36 years after the amendment appeared to die after just 35 states ratified it, three short of what was needed by the 1982 deadline. That means Illinois’ approval could be largely symbolic. Still, advocates have pushed for a “three-state solution,” contending Congress can extend the deadline and the amendment should go into effect if three additional states vote in favor.

Note: First enacted in 1972 by Congress, the ERA legislation required that the measure be ratified by three-fourths of the states (38) within seven years. That deadline was later extended 10 years to 1982. There was federal court litigation over the deadline extension at the time. But the U.S. Constitution contains no time limit for ratification of constitutional amendments. In fact, subsequent to the ERA the 27th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting immediate congressional pay raises was ratified 203 years after its introduction. This called into question the soundness of  earlier federal court decisions on the ERA deadline. It is still a contested legal issue. Congress can also vote to remove the deadline language, and a bill has been introduced to do so.

The amendment passed on a vote of 43-12, with no debate on the Senate floor. It now heads to the House, where sponsoring Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, says he is working to build support but warned it’s far from a “slam-dunk.” The House and Senate each have voted in favor in the past, but it has yet to clear both in the same year.

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Governor Ducey disses Arizona teachers, inviting a teacher walkout

Reminder: Today is another #RedForEd Wednesday, wear red in support of Arizona’s embattled teachers.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports, Ducey to meet with ‘decision makers,’ not teachers to talk about salaries:

Gov. Doug Ducey won’t meet with the leaders of two teacher groups to talk about salaries and related issues even as they are taking the first steps toward a walkout.

The governor’s statement comes less than a week after a request by Noah Karvelis of Arizona Educators United and Joe Thomas of the Arizona Education Association “to begin a negotiation process to resolve the #RedForEd demands.”

That includes not just the 20-percent salary increase to compete with neighboring states but also restoring education funding levels to where they were a decade ago.

It also comes as Arizona Educators United, a grassroots group of teachers, is working with its member teachers to set a date for walkout to get the attention of Ducey and legislators and show they are serious.

Ducey, in essence, has written off both groups as irrelevant to his own education funding plans.

“We’re meeting with the decision makers,” the governor said, meaning school superintendents and other officials. “And we’re going to continue to meet with the decision makers.”

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GOP legislators reject equal rights for women, because abortion (Updated)

This week Arizona’s GOP legislators reaffirmed, once again, that they believe women are second-class citizens who do not enjoy the full panoply of rights that white men do (they’re not convinced that men who are minorities do either), because abortion.

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley proposes the Equal Rights Amendment.

On Tuesday, Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley (D-Tucson), for the second year in a row, attempted to use a procedural maneuver to bring up a bill for debate on approving the Equal Rights Amendment. And for the second year in a row, white men moved to adjourn the House rather than debate the bill and take a vote.

The Republic reports, On Equal Pay Day, Arizona Republicans block vote on Equal Rights Amendment:

Democrats in the Arizona Legislature fell short Tuesday in their attempt to force a vote on ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

For the second consecutive year, they failed to persuade Republicans to allow debate on the ERA — a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that broadly guarantees equal rights between men and women.

State Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, D-Tucson, tried to use a procedural move to bring an ERA resolution to a vote in the House of Representatives, but the House adjourned before that could happen.

Hannley said she chose Tuesday to push the issue because it marks Equal Pay Day, the day on the calendar when the average American woman’s earnings catch up to what a male peer earned in 2017.

Nationally, women earn about 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. In Arizona, women earn about 82 cents for every dollar.

‘No time limit on equality’

“Arizona women want equal pay for equal work,” Hannley told fellow lawmakers. “Let’s make history. There is no time limit on equality.”

But Majority Leader John Allen, R-Scottsdale, intervened to prevent a vote on Powers Hannley’s motion. His motion to recess the chamber for the day passed 32-25, along party lines.

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Secretary Madelaine Albright warns of creeping fascism

Former Secretary of State Madelaine Albright has first-hand experience with fascism. She was born in 1937 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Her diplomatic father supported the country’s democratic leaders. After the signing of the Munich Agreement in September 1938, the disintegration of Czechoslovakia at the hands of Adolf Hitler forced the family into exile. Albright spent the war years in Britain, while her father worked for the Czechoslovak government-in-exile.

Albright and her family moved back to Prague after the end of World War II. But the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia took over the government in 1948, with support from the Soviet Union, and as an opponent of communism, her father was forced to resign from his position. The family emigrated to the United States in 1948, applying for political asylum.

This is a woman who knows of which she speaks from life experience. Over the weekend she wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times, Will We Stop Trump
Before It’s Too Late?

To guard against a recurrence [of fascism], the survivors of the war and the Holocaust joined forces to create the United Nations, forge global financial institutions and — through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — strengthen the rule of law. In 1989, the Berlin Wall came down and the honor roll of elected governments swelled not only in Central Europe, but also Latin America, Africa and Asia. Almost everywhere, it seemed, dictators were out and democrats were in. Freedom was ascendant.

Today, we are in a new era, testing whether the democratic banner can remain aloft amid terrorism, sectarian conflicts, vulnerable borders, rogue social media and the cynical schemes of ambitious men. The answer is not self-evident. We may be encouraged that most people in most countries still want to live freely and in peace, but there is no ignoring the storm clouds that have gathered. In fact, fascism — and the tendencies that lead toward fascism — pose a more serious threat now than at any time since the end of World War II.

Warning signs include the relentless grab for more authority by governing parties in Hungary, the Philippines, Poland and Turkey — all United States allies. The raw anger that feeds fascism is evident across the Atlantic in the growth of nativist movements opposed to the idea of a united Europe, including in Germany, where the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland has emerged as the principal opposition party. The danger of despotism is on display in the Russia of Vladimir Putin — invader of Ukraine, meddler in foreign democracies, accused political assassin, brazen liar and proud son of the K.G.B. Putin has just been re-elected to a new six-year term, while in Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, a ruthless ideologue, is poised to triumph in sham balloting next month. In China, Xi Jinping has persuaded a docile National People’s Congress to lift the constitutional limit on his tenure in power.

UPDATE: On Sunday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, who has set about transforming this former Soviet bloc member from a vibrant democracy into a semi-autocratic state under one political party’s control, won a sweeping victory in national elections on Sunday by securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament. He now has the power to change the Constitution and further bend the nation to his will. Hungary Election Gives Orban Big Majority, and Control of Constitution.

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