Category Archives: Constitution

Dark Days: America at the Abyss

How bad is it? Really bad. Abysmal. As in, staring into the abyss.

You could check the long list of clues to know that Trump engaged in criminal conduct on his way to the White House and after. Or you could just observe his behavior. From the repetition of “no collusion” a thousand times to the release of an inept memo against the warnings of his own Justice Department and FBI to the false equivalency attacks on Hillary Clinton to the firing of James Comey, everything Trump does screams “I’m guilty.”

But that’s not what brings us to the edge of the abyss. Richard Nixon’s criminality was on a par with Trump’s, as were his self-incriminating words (“I am not a crook”) and actions (Saturday Night Massacre).

In one crucial respect, Nixon was far more menacing than Trump. In my simple mind, the danger posed by an evil actor, by himself, is a function of two factors: (1) his level of moral turpitude — that is, his capacity for evil ends, and (2) his raw intelligence — that is, the means he possesses to achieve those evil ends. We could debate endlessly how Nixon and Trump compare on the first of those factors, but not the second. Nixon was an intellectual giant; Trump is a mental midget.

Ultimately, however, the danger presented by an evil actor is a function less of the actor than of the actor’s surrounding environment. And that’s what brings us so much closer to the edge today than we ever were in Nixon’s time. Continue reading

Do Arizonans believe in equal rights for all Arizonans, or not? Give HB 2586 a vote

Since at least 1994, to the best of my recollection, a bill has been introduced in the Arizona legislature to amend the Arizona Civil Rights Act to include protections for the LGBTQ community. (Many Arizonans falsely believe that such protections already exist). As I recall, there may have been one year the bill actually got a committee vote — and was defeated — but almost every year the bill does not even get a hearing in the GOP-controlled Arizona legislature.

This remains true even after the U.S. Supreme Court and the Arizona Supreme Court have recognized equal protection for same-sex marriages, and same-sex spouses have the same parental rights as opposite-sex spouses under Arizona law.  Another lawsuit enjoined a 2009 statute that made domestic partners of state employees ineligible for health benefits.

Too many Arizona Republicans resist “the arc of the moral universe [that] bends towards justice,” under “a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a Union that could be and should be perfected over time.”

To paraphrase Joseph Welch, “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, GOP legislators, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

The GOP-controlled Arizona legislature is, once again, kowtowing to the hateful lobbyist for religious bigots, Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy, whose undue influence over the Arizona legislature makes her “Arizona’s 31st Senator.” It’s time to revoke her status.

The Arizona Republic reports, Bill to bar discrimination against LGBT people can’t get a hearing:

For the first time ever, a proposal to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in Arizona has gained support from a Republican in the Legislature, along with GOP municipal leaders.

But that doesn’t appear to be enough to get a hearing at the Capitol.

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After Aqua Buddha shutdown, Congress passes bipartisan CR spending bill; Senate to take up DACA next week

You may have missed it overnight while you were sleeping, but we had the second government shutdown in history under one-party control of the government, this time due to the antics of Senator Aqua Buddha, Rand Paul (R-KY).

Aqua Buddha used the arcane rules of the Senate that allow a single senator to hold up business in the chamber to inveigh against the GOP embracing deficit spending (after he voted for the GOP tax bill in December that guaranteed deficit such spending). The dumbest shutdown ever:

Incensed that a bipartisan budget deal would balloon the national debt, Paul delayed a roll call on a long-term budget agreement until after the midnight deadline to fund the government.

That set in motion a shutdown that ultimately lasted just over six hours — even though Paul’s protest didn’t change a single word of the document, and he knew it wouldn’t from the very beginning.

“When Rand Paul pulls a stunt like this, it easy to understand why it’s difficult to be Rand Paul’s next door neighbor,” Rep. Charlie Dent told Politico. “The whole delay and filibuster exercise on the budget agreement is utterly pointless.” (The congressman was referring to an incident last year in which Paul’s neighbor Rene Boucher attacked Paul, breaking multiple ribs, in a landscaping dispute).

After Aqua Buddha’s publicity stunt finally ended, the Senate moved to pass the bipartisan budget deal. The House followed suit early this morning. Congress votes to end government shutdown:

The Senate passed the measure on a 71-28 vote shortly before 2 a.m.

The House vote, around 5:30 a.m., was 240-186. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) had urged her members to oppose the bill over the GOP’s failure to resolve the standoff over 700,000 Dreamers, but her efforts ultimately fell short. Seventy-three Democrats ended up backing the bipartisan package, which came after months of closed-door talks.

The defeat was a bitter one for Pelosi and other top Democrats, who have sought for months to tie a resolution of the fight over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to the budget caps negotiations.

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Brinksmanship in Congress with only one day to a government shutdown

So the GOP’s alleged boy genius and Ayn Rand fanboy, Paul Ryan, “the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin,” went ahead with his kabuki theater plan to pass his fifth temporary spending bill (CR) that everyone knows was DOA in the Senate. He no doubt wants credit for his farce. House passes stopgap spending measure with defense money:

House Republicans passed a spending package on Tuesday night that pairs a full year of defense funding with a temporary patch for the rest of the government, even as Senate leaders pursue a different plan to avoid a shutdown when funding runs dry on Thursday.

The continuing resolution (CR), which passed the House 245-182, would fund the Defense Department for the rest of fiscal 2018 and keep the rest of the government’s lights on until March 23. It also includes two years of funding for community health centers and extends several expiring health care programs.

But the defense-CR package is unlikely to fly in the Senate, meaning senators will need to rewrite the stopgap measure and “ping-pong” it back to the House.

Spending bills are supposed to originate in the House, but since that clown show is held hostage by the House GOP Freedom Caucus who are not serious about governing responsibly, the serious work of keeping the government functioning is being done in the Senate. Senate leaders see two-year budget deal within their grasp:

Top Senate leaders were working Tuesday to finalize a sweeping long-term budget deal that would include a defense spending boost President Trump has long demanded alongside an increase in domestic programs championed by Democrats.

As negotiations for the long-term deal continued, the House passed a short-term measure that would fund the government past a midnight Thursday deadline and avert a second partial shutdown in less than a month.

The House bill, which passed 245 to 182, would fund most agencies through March 23 but is a nonstarter in the Senate because of Democratic opposition.

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The White House is stonewalling the Trump-Russia investigations (Updated)

A highly anticipated House Intelligence Committee interview with Stephen Bannon has been postponed until next week the committee said on Tuesday, as negotiations continue over the terms of his appearance. Bannon’s House Intel testimony postponed:

Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, was expected to skip his scheduled appearance Tuesday before the House Intelligence Committee, according to sources familiar with his plans. The move sets the stage for a showdown with lawmakers who had issued a bipartisan subpoena for his testimony.

“This is unacceptable, and the Committee remains united on this matter — the Committee’s subpoena remains in effect and his interview has been rescheduled for next week. Testifying before the Special Counsel does not obviate Mr. Bannon’s obligations under the subpoena issued by the Committee,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, the committee’s ranking Democrat said on Tuesday in a statement. “Should Bannon maintain his refusal to return and testify fully to all questions, the Committee should begin contempt proceedings to compel his testimony.”

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(Update) More government shutdown theatrics this week?

These people are just not serious about governing responsibly. For them, everything is about producing propaganda grist for the mighty Wurlitzer of the right-wing noise machine.

Back in 2011 when the Tea-Publicans were holding the government hostage over a manufactured federal debt ceiling “fiscal cliff crisis” — something the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution requires Congress to increase to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its debts — the sequestration spending caps idea was born to resolve this manufactured “crisis.”

Spending cuts would apply to mandatory and discretionary spending in the years 2013 to 2021 and be in an amount equal to the difference between $1.2 trillion and the amount of deficit reduction enacted from the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. These spending caps would equally affect security and non-security programs. The automatic sequester provisions would go into effect in 2013 if Congress failed to produce a deficit reduction bill with at least $1.2 trillion in cuts.

At the time, everyone said Congress would never agree to the automatic sequestration caps, and yet, it became law, the Budget Control Act of 2011. Congress, of course, failed to do its job and we have been living under the automatic sequestration spending caps since 2013.

There have been repeated attempts to remove the sequestration spending caps on defense spending (while leaving the sequestration spending caps in place on domestic spending). Congress has agreed to several waivers of the spending caps over the years.

This long-running Kabuki theater is now central to the budget dispute in Congress to avoid a government shutdown at midnight on February 8.

The GOP’s alleged boy genius and Ayn Rand fanboy, Paul Ryan, the “zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin,” is siding with defense hawks and the radicals of the House GOP Freedom Caucus to bust the sequestration spending caps on defense spending while leaving the sequestration spending caps in place on domestic spending — a move Democrats oppose.

The point of this evil GOP bastard plan is to either roll weak-kneed Senate Democrats or to force them to vote against the House GOP spending plan and to shut down the government, so Tea-Publicans can beat their breasts and claim Democrats do not support our military and national defense. Or as President Trump trotted out yesterday, to assert they are “un-American” and to accuse them of “treason.”
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