Category Archives: IOKIYAR

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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Stormy clouds over the Trump White House: 60 Minutes and a court date

On March 6, 2018, adult film star Stormy Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, filed a lawsuit (and attached exhibits) (.pdf) to void a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) with Donald Trump, identified by the alias David Dennison in the NDA, drafted and entered into by Michael Cohen, the “top attorney” and “fixer” for the Trump organization, on October 28, 2016.

Stormy Daniels received $130,000 in payment (consideration) for the NDA through Essential Consultants, LLC, formed on October 17, 2016 by Cohen, to hide the true source of funds that Cohen claims that he paid from his own personal funds from his home-equity line of credit. Trump lawyer Michael Cohen says he paid Stormy Daniels with his home-equity line.

Note: This is a violation of the Rules for Professional Conduct for attorneys, which has resulted in complaints being filed against Michael Cohen (discussed below).

Earlier this week Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, made a settlement offer to Donald Trump and his attorney Michael Cohen: Stormy Daniels offered to return a $130,000 payment she received from President Trump’s lawyer in 2016, in a bid to speak freely about a months-long affair she alleges she and the president began having in 2006. The deadline to accept the settlement offer or to proceed to trial has since expired.

The trial court has now set the hearing date. Hearing set in Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit against Trump: The hearing date has been set for July 12 at the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The lawsuit said Trump never signed a hush agreement to keep Daniels quiet late in the 2016 campaign about an alleged sexual encounter between the two before Trump was president.

The lawsuit said Cohen had signed it on Trump’s behalf and therefore the agreement was void.

The lawsuit also accuses Cohen of continuing the efforts to “intimidate Ms. Clifford into silence and ‘shut her up'” by initiating a “bogus” arbitration proceeding last month without notifying Daniels or allowing due process.

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Republicans Recess as Students & #AZHouse Dems Stand in Silence for Gun Violence Victims

Rep. Isela Blanc welcomes the March for Our Lives students to the Arizona House.

More than 75 students took a day out of their spring vacation to visit the Arizona Legislature today, March 14, 2018, to advocate for safe schools and safe public places.

The students met with lawmakers in the morning and attended the Arizona House Floor Session in the afternoon. During the always-entertaining points of personal privilege, 24 Democrats stood up, introduced three or four of the students, read a short message to lawmakers from one of the students, and repeated their three demands: universal background checks on all gun sales, banning bump stocks, and more counselors not guns in schools.

After 24 introductions, 24 personal student messages to lawmakers and 24 re-statements of their three common and popular demands, Rep. Kirsten Engel (Dem #25) stood up and read a statement about today being the one-month anniversary of the Stoneman-Douglas High School Shooting and slowly read the name and age of each victim. At the end, she asked for 17 minutes of silence, one for each victim.

Speaker Mesnard said that there had been other tragedies, and every tragedy gets only one moment of silence. After a longish moment, Mesnard started the floor session, but the Democrats were still standing. When he realized that we weren’t going to sit, he recessed to allow the gallery to clear. The students all stood up and shouted “Never again!” several times. At the end, one young man shouted that lawmakers should do their jobs and protect them (paraphrasing). Why do Republicans shy away from common sense gun safety laws when they profess to be “pro-life”?

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#TaxCuts & Deregulation: How Did Your #AZHouse Rep Vote?

Arizona House

Speaker J.D. Mesnard visits the desks of Republican members who have not voted yet.

The volume of bills heard in the Arizona House this past week was down significantly from the crossover week flurry, but we still voted on some doozies.

Tax cuts, sales tax giveaways, deregulation on the edge of risky business, “efficiency savings,” and miscellaneous wacky bills abound.

The capital gains tax cut, which benefited only the wealthiest Arizonans, was a party line vote, with all of the Republicans voting for tax cuts for the 1%. Other than that, the tax giveaways have passed with bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition. Votes shift here and there depending upon the cost of the tax giveaway and the stated beneficiary, but the most consistent votes against giving away taxes are cast by Progressives and Libertarians– the same people who killed several tax giveaway bills in 2017. Several of these votes can be seen below the fold and in my Marijuana to Bump Stocks to Tax Giveaways: How did your #AZHouse Rep Vote? blog post from last week.

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