Category Archives: IOKIYAR

A referendum on democracy itself is on the ballot

Let’s be perfectly clear: if a Democratic president had done what Donald Trump is currently doing in foreign policy, that president would be the subject of an impeachment proceeding right now as we speak. Republicans would have drafted an article of impeachment for treason, without doubt. But as always, IOKIYAR.

David Leonhardt of the New York Times sums it up nicely. Trump Tries to Destroy the West:

President Trump is trying to destroy [the Western] alliance.

Is that how he thinks about it? Who knows. It’s impossible to get inside his head and divine his strategic goals, if he even has long-term goals. But put it this way: If a president of the United States were to sketch out a secret, detailed plan to break up the Atlantic alliance, that plan would bear a striking resemblance to Trump’s behavior.

It would involve outward hostility to the leaders of Canada, Britain, France, Germany and Japan. Specifically, it would involve picking fights over artificial issues — not to win big concessions for the United States, but to create conflict for the sake of it.

A secret plan to break up the West would also have the United States looking for new allies to replace the discarded ones. The most obvious would be Russia, the biggest rival within Europe to Germany, France and Britain. And just as Russia does, a United States intent on wrecking the Atlantic alliance would meddle in the domestic politics of other countries to install new governments that also rejected the old alliance.

Check. Check. Check. Check. Trump is doing every one of these things.

He chose not to attend the full G-7 meeting, in Quebec, this past weekend. While he was there, he picked fights. By now, you’ve probably seen the photograph released by the German government — of Trump sitting down, with eyebrows raised and crossed arms, while Germany’s Angela Merkel and other leaders stand around him, imploring. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, wears a look of defeat.

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Democrats to run against the GOP’s culture of corruption

The first planks of the Democratic Party’s “A Better Deal” platform, released last year, focused on the party’s economic agenda.

Now with daily revelations about scandals of pay-to-play politics swirling around President Trump and his current and former aides, Democrats introduced new anti-corruption proposals last week billed as “A Better Deal for Our Democracy.” Democrats’ newest midterm pitch: A crackdown on corruption:

“Instead of delivering on his promise to drain the swamp, President Trump has become the swamp,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) during a rollout event on the Capitol steps.

While the new agenda was only sketched out in broad terms [last week], it includes proposals that would eliminate loopholes that allow lobbyists and lawmakers to buy and sell influence without the public’s knowledge, allow big donors to influence the political process through unreported donations and to improve elections by eliminating partisan gerrymandering and implementing automatic voter registration.

The message, the Democrats said: Elect us in November to “clean up the chaos and corruption in Washington.”

Democrats are going to need to hire the dwarf from O Brother Where Art Thou? who depicted the “little man,” with a “broom of reform” with which Homer Stokes promised to “sweep this state clean.” A broom is the perfect symbolism for the man who keeps crying “witch hunt!”

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AG Brnovich’s P.R. stunt over university tuition hikes rejected by the court

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported last year that “State support for students at Arizona’s three public universities has fallen by 53.8 percent since 2008, more than three times the national decline over the same period, according to a new report.” Arizona cuts to college student support still among steepest in nation. “Arizona’s 53.8 percent reduction was largest in the nation.”

The Arizona Board of Regents, forced to deal with our lawless Tea-Publican legislature’s abject failure to meet its constitutionally mandated duty to support public education, had to raise tuition and fees at the state’s universities in order to maintain operations and to keep the doors open:

Article XI, Section 6: The Arizona Constitution mandates a “system of common schools” that are “open to all pupils” and are “as nearly free as possible.”

Article IX, Section 3: The Arizona Constitution also mandates “(T)he Legislature shall provide by law for an annual tax sufficient, with other sources of revenue, to defray the necessary ordinary expenses of the state . . . “

Article XI, Section 10: The Arizona Constitution also mandates “taxation” to “insure proper maintenance of all state educational institutions.”

When Doug Ducey ran against Fred Duval for governor four years ago, rather than focus on the lawlessness of our Tea-Publican legislature, Ducey and his GOP allies built a campaign around blaming the Arizona Board of Regents,  former regent Fred Duval in particular, for skyrocketing tuition at the state’s universities. GOP ad blasts DuVal for tuition hikes.

It was perhaps the single most dishonest misdirection campaign ever run in the state of Arizona. Unfortunately, it succeeded with Arizona’s low-information voters.

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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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The porn star punks the president, seeks his deposition (Updated)

I am duly impressed by Stormy Daniel’s attorney, Michael Avenatti. He has totally outclassed the hapless Donald Trump and his shyster attorney, Michael Cohen. Avenatti is way smarter than these guys and their lawyers.

Avenatti set a litigation trap for them, and these cocky fools walked right into it. Stormy Daniels asks court to order deposition of Trump and his lawyer Michael Cohen:

Stormy Daniels’s attorney is asking a federal judge in California for permission to depose President Trump and his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen about the nondisclosure agreement (NDA) the porn actress says she signed to keep quiet about her alleged affair with the president.

Under the Federal Arbitration Act, Daniel’s is entitled to litigate in court whether there is a valid enforceable agreement subject to arbitration as a preliminary question. If there is, it goes to private arbitration.

In documents filed early Wednesday morning, Michael Avenatti said he was seeking to depose Trump and Cohen for no more than two hours each to find out whether Trump was aware of the agreement and whether he consented to it.

Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681 (1997), is the landmark United States Supreme Court case which established that a sitting President of the United States has no immunity from civil law litigation in federal court, against him or her, for acts done before taking office and unrelated to the office.

Avenatti has the right to depose Trump and Cohen, who are parties to the NDA that they are suing to enforce.

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GOP legislators preemptively nullify a ballot measure not even on the ballot yet

The Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona citizens initiative that is currently circulating in the state would amend the state constitution to require that half of all electricity generated by most utilities to come from renewable sources by 2030. Backers have until July 5 to get at least 225,953 valid signatures on petitions to put the issue to voters in November. The citizens initiative effort is funded by NextGen America, a political advocacy group set up by California billionaire Tom Steyer.

In a state which has a GOP corporation commission that was bought and paid for by “Kochtopus” dark money through its tentacle Pinnacle West, the parent company of Arizona Public Service, this is a threat to their continued dominance over Arizona. Arizona is the playground of far-right billionaires, not for left-wing billionaires, dontcha know.

So the “Kochtopus” got their Tea-Publican lickspittle lackeys in the Arizona legislature to preemptively nullify this ballot measure even before it has qualified for the ballot. This may be a first in Arizona for thwarting the will of the voters in service to their corporate masters. Bill to undermine possible renewable energy vote goes to governor:

Claiming they’re protecting Arizonans from a California billionaire, Republican lawmakers gave final approval Thursday to legislation to allow the state’s utilities to effectively ignore any new voter-mandated requirements for renewable energy.

On paper, HB 2005 does not forbid voters from considering the Clean Energy for Healthy Arizona amendment to the state constitution.

But this legislation, which Arizona Public Service admitted it helped craft, spells out that if the measure is approved, the maximum fine utilities could face for violating the provisions would be $5,000. And it could be as little as $100.

GOP lawmakers made it clear that the intent of HB 2005, which now goes to Gov. Doug Ducey, was to ensure that it would not matter if voters side with the initiative organizers.

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