Category Archives: Ethics

(Update) The madness of King Donald – a ‘containment policy’ will not work

Last Thursday, President Trump told Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his top generals in a White House meeting that he wanted military options for North Korea at a “much faster pace.” Mattis urges military ‘to be ready’ with options on North Korea.

On Thursday evening, Trump with a group of military families and made a cryptic comment that this was “the calm before the storm.” What Did President Trump Mean by ‘Calm Before the Storm’?

President Trump was clearly looking to make some kind of news, but about what, exactly, was not clear.

* * *

Mr. Trump summoned reporters who were still at work to the State Dining Room, where he was throwing a dinner for military commanders and their spouses.

Gesturing to his guests, he said, “You guys know what this represents? Maybe it’s the calm before the storm.”

“What’s the storm?” asked one reporter.

“Could be the calm before the storm,” Mr. Trump repeated, stretching out the phrase, a sly smile playing across his face.

“From Iran?” ventured another reporter. “On ISIS? On what?”

“What storm, Mr. President?” asked a third journalist, a hint of impatience creeping into her voice.

When pressed to explain what he meant, Trump said: “You’ll find out.”

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

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.

Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 2.03.40 PM

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

Continue reading

Justice Kennedy is the key vote to ending partisan gerrymandering

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Gill v. Whitford on Tuesday, in which the justices will decide whether Wisconsin’s electoral maps are the product of an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.

From the oral argument transcript, it appears that Justice Anthony Kennedy is seeking an answer to end partisan gerrymandering, and he will be the decisive vote.  If so, he will be the author of the opinion in this case, and he will influence other redistricting cases from North Carolina, Virginia and Texas on the court’s docket.

Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog reports, Argument analysis: Cautious optimism for challengers in Wisconsin redistricting case?

The district court may have regarded this case as a “straightforward” one, but few justices seemed to share that sentiment today. That’s not particularly surprising, because the issue of partisan gerrymandering has deeply divided the Supreme Court in the past. Thirteen years ago, the justices rejected a challenge to Pennsylvania’s redistricting plan, with four justices agreeing that courts should decline to review partisan-gerrymandering claims, because it is too hard to come up with a manageable test to determine when politics plays too influential a role in redistricting. Four other justices would have allowed courts to review partisan-gerrymandering claims. That left Justice Anthony Kennedy, who agreed that the Supreme Court should stay out of the Pennsylvania case but suggested that courts could play a role in reviewing partisan-gerrymandering cases in the future if a workable standard could be found.

Continue reading

SCOTUS to hear partisan gerrymandering case today

This morning the U.S. Supreme court will hear oral argument in Gill v. Whitford, in which the justices will decide whether Wisconsin’s electoral maps are the product of an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.

Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog has a detailed preview of the legal posture of this case and the claims being assertedon appeal.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder writes at the Washington Post, Redistricting has broken our democracy. The Supreme Court should help fix it.

When the Supreme Court hears arguments today in Gill v. Whitford, contesting Wisconsin’s legislative map, it will have a chance to rein in an aggressive new breed of data-driven gerrymandering that divides communities and diminishes the voice of many Americans. The record is clear, and the Supreme Court must take this opportunity to protect the right to fair representation that is embedded in our Constitution and our values.

I’ve spent a lot of time with maps since finishing my term as attorney general and dedicating my time to a push for a fair redrawing of legislative districts. These maps — created as a result of some Republicans’ bad faith redistricting efforts after the 2010 Census — are impressive in their geographic creativity but destructive to the representative democracy that our founders envisioned. Republicans created a House seat in Ohio that is only contiguous at low-tide; a House seat in Virginia that can only be connected by a boat ride on the James River; and a House seat in Michigan that is shaped like a snake and designed to pack as many minority voters into one district as possible.

Many Republicans across the country have wielded the gerrymander to manipulate the people’s right to vote into unconscionable partisan advantage. In 2012, Democrats won 1.5 million more votes than Republicans in races for the  House of Representatives, yet Republicans gained a 234 to 201 seat advantage. In 2016, despite winning fewer than half of all votes for the House, Republicans still held an advantage of 241 to 194 House seats. A recent report from the Brennan Center for Justice found that partisan gerrymandering has created a “durable majority” of 16-17 seats for Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. Just seven states, where the maps were drawn and approved solely by Republicans, account for almost all of this bias.

Continue reading

The Plutocrat civil war for control of the GOP

There has been much reporting this past week about a GOP civil war. But this is really a civil war between the wealthy Plutocrat donors of the GOP over which one of them will control the party. It is a case study in how money — especially dark money — has corrupted our political system. This is what the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United and its progeny have wrought.

Stephen Bannon of Breibart News,and two of his longtime benefactors, Robert and Rebekah Mercer, are putting together a political coalition designed to ensure that the victory of a Republican insurgent in the Alabama senate primary this past week was just the beginning of the surprises that await the party establishment. The New York Times reports,  Alabama Victory Provides Blueprint for New Bannon Alliance:

Mr. Bannon brings to the effort the political and promotional skills he showed as President Trump’s chief strategist and advocate for populist stances on issues like immigration and trade. His benefactors, the billionaire hedge fund investor Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer, bring wealth and their own proven anti-establishment streak.

The obstacles Mr. Bannon and the Mercers face are formidable: the well-funded resistance of mainstream Republicans; a shortage of viable anti-establishment candidates like Roy Moore, the victor in Tuesday’s Alabama Republican Senate primary; an absence of political infrastructure for supporting them; and their own reputations for not always following through on big political plans.

But the Bannon-Mercer alliance is likely to be a potent factor in widening the divisions laid bare by the Alabama race and the intraparty battles that have crippled the Republican agenda in Congress. It could put Mr. Bannon and the Mercers on a collision course with not just the Republican establishment but with other donor-driven political organizations, including the one built by the billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch — and potentially with Mr. Trump.

Continue reading