Category Archives: Constitution

Latest on the Trump-Putin campaign investigation, and more

I picked a bad time to take a vacation to visit family. Shit hit the fan this week in Washington.

On Monday, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and destroyed the Trump administration’s false narrative about its handling of Gen. Michael Flynn lying about his foreign contacts. The Washington Post’s conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin has a good summary of the testimony. Sally Yates just threw the White House under the bus.

The Trump administration’s response for ignoring Yates’ warnings that Flynn was lying and not firing him for 18 days only after the Washington Post reported the story? “Baghdad Sean” Spicer claimed that Yates was a Democratic partisan and “painted her as essentially a double agent.” Sean Spicer says Sally Yates was a ‘strong supporter’ of Hillary Clinton. His evidence: Rumors. “The White House dismissed warnings about Michael Flynn from both President Obama and Yates, the former acting attorney general, because they were viewed as opponents with axes to grind.”

This no doubt is the same attitude that led the Trump administration’s disregard for President Obama’s personal warning to Donald Trump not to hire Gen. Michael Flynn. The “partisanship” in handling Gen. Flynn was a one-way street on the part of Team Trump, ignoring genuine concerns for U.S. national security.

CNN reports that federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn seeking business records, as part of the ongoing probe of Russian meddling in last year’s election. CNN exclusive: Grand jury subpoenas issued in FBI’s Russia investigation:

The subpoenas issued in recent weeks by the US Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, Virginia, were received by associates who worked with Flynn on contracts after he was forced out as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, according to the people familiar with the investigation.

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Save Our Schools Arizona referendum to overturn the ‘vouchers for all’ bill

For activists looking to channel their energy into something more productive than attending marches, their dance cards just got filled for the long hot Arizona summer. Time to get yourself a comfortable pair of walking shoes.

Last week former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods and former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson formed “Voters of Arizona” (no web site yet) to file referendums against the Chamber of Commerce organizations’ bills to effectively strip Arizonans of their constituional right to enact laws by citizens initiatives in Arizona. Expect to hear more about this in coming weeks.

Now the long anticipated referendum to overturn the “vouchers for all” bill passed by anti-public education Tea-Publcans in the Arizona legislature is ready to launch as well. The Arizona Republic reports, Parent group will seek to overturn Arizona school-voucher expansion:

Public-education advocates are launching a referendum campaign to halt the controversial expansion of Arizona’s school-voucher-style program.

Members of the group “Save Our Schools Arizona” said they will file paperwork this week and begin gathering signatures to refer their proposal to the November 2018 ballot. The group has planned a rally and news conference on Monday at 5 p.m. at the state Capitol.

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While you were sleeping, AZ legislature passes Ducey’s immoral budget

After a marathon session of back room deals and arm twisting among Tea-Publican legislators — to the exclusion of the Democratic minority who represent over 40% of Arizonans — Arizona’s Tea-Publican controlled legislature approved a budget in the wee hours of Friday morning when only a handful of reporters were left watching their dirty deed. This is how one-party autocracy works in Arizona.

“A budget is a moral document.” Ducey’s budget is immoral.

The Arizona Republic reports, Arizona lawmakers pass $9.8 billion budget:

Arizona lawmakers passed a $9.8 billion budget early Friday that provides 2 percent pay hikes for public-school teachers, a modest income-tax cut for residents and $1 billion in extra bonding authority for the state’s public universities.

The final spending plan for fiscal 2018 featured key elements Republican Gov. Doug Ducey outlined in January, as lawmakers began their work. But it also underwent significant changes at the hands of Republicans in the House and Senate. No Democrats voted for the budget.

“Arizona has passed a budget that prioritizes education, boosts teacher pay, and invests in our universities — all without raising taxes on hardworking Arizonans,” Ducey said in a statement minutes after the budget won final approval at 3:55 a.m. “For the first time in a decade, we are making significant and lasting investments to grow our state.”

Ducey won’t receive the budget bills until Monday, when the Senate is scheduled to send the final documents to his office. He is expected to sign them.

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Referendum to reverse the Chamber of Commerce assault on your constitutional right to pass laws by citizens initiatives

The Chamber of Commerce organizations got their lickspittle servants in our Tea-Publican controlled legislature and our “Koch-bot” governor to do their bidding in making it damn near impossible for citizens to exercise their constitutional right to make laws by citizens initiative. Buying a legislature and governor to do your bidding is the exclusive provence of our Plutocratic corporate overlords, and you will obey!

But now that this no good horrible legislative session is coming to an end, Former Attorney General Grant Woods and former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson are heading up a referendum campaign to refer up to three pieces of anti-citizen initiative legislation to the 2018 ballot.

Laurie Roberts of The Republic writes, Group filing to block initiative laws:

Memo to Gov. Doug Ducey and all of our esteemed leaders who worked so diligently this year to undermine one of our basic constitutional rights:

Not so fast.

Next week begins the citizen drive to overturn your efforts to make it more difficult, if not impossible, for Arizonans to exercise their right to make laws via initiative.

Voters of Arizona, a group headed by former Attorney General Grant Woods and former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson, are filing paperwork this week to block all three new laws from taking effect until voters can decide their fate in November 2018. The group also plans to file a lawsuit challenging two of the three bills.

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Boat Parade 4 Teachers on Tuesday at the Capitol

Last week House Majority Leader John Allen (R-Scottsdale) opened his mouth and inserted his foot by insulting teachers. Teachers get second jobs to buy boats, enjoy finer things in life:

Teachers in Arizona are getting second jobs not because they’re struggling to survive on their low pay, but because they want to enjoy the finer things in life, like boats, according to House Majority Leader John Allen.

“They’re making it out as if anybody who has a second job is struggling. That’s not why many people take a second job,” Allen said. “They want to increase their lifestyles. They want to improve themselves. They want to pay for a boat. They want a bigger house. They work hard to provide themselves with a better lifestyle. Not everyone who takes a second job does it because they’re borderline poverty.”

Allen, a Scottsdale Republican, made the remark as an explanation for the controversial comments he made during a vote Tuesday on a bill to allow more people without formal teacher training to teach at K-12 schools. The bill, SB1042, passed the House and is awaiting Gov. Doug Ducey’s signature.

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Shutdown Watch: spending agreement is a win for Democrats – see you in September (updated)

The Hill reports today, Congress strikes deal on funding for 2017 to avoid shutdown:

Congressional negotiators have signed off on a deal to fund the government through September, avoiding a shutdown of federal agencies over a dispute on President Trump’s border wall and other issues, according to two senior congressional aides.

The legislation does not provide funding for construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border or eliminate money for so-called sanctuary cities that do not fully cooperate with federal immigration law, according to a summary provided by a senior congressional aide.

Nor does it cut funding for Planned Parenthood.

These are major victories for Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who threatened to block the bill over such poison-pill riders.

[F]or Republicans, the measure provides $1.5 billion for border security and $15 billion in additional defense funding — though it’s short the $30 billion in supplemental military funding Trump requested in his budget blueprint.

The defense increase is matched by a boost to non-defense programs for a total of $30 billion in additional funding over the sequester level set by a previous budget deal. None of Trump’s $18 billion in non-defense cuts were included.

The National Institutes of Health, a priority of Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike, will see a $2 billion funding increase, to give it $34 billion total.

The deal protects 99 percent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget and increases clean energy and science funding in spite of Trump’s calls to cut all three priorities.

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