Category Archives: Military

A crony capitalist ‘kitchen cabinet’ at Mar-a-Lago runs the VA – the Trump swamp

Republicans and their allies (e.g., The Arizona Republic) generated public outrage in recent years over the Phoenix VA health-care system scandal: An Arizona Republic Investigation. It led to staff at the Department of Veterans Affairs being fired, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin resigning (or was he fired?) over his travel expense scandal. David Shulkin says he was fired. The White House says he quit.

So it is rather surprising that this new investigative report from ProPublica is barely receiving a mention today in the news. It appears that our “Dear Leader” has a crony capitalist “kitchen cabinet” at Mar-a-Lago — none of whom have military service or experience in running a large federal agency — being allowed to dictate policy and personnel at the VA. This is the next big VA scandal. The Shadow Rulers of the VA:

Last February, shortly after Peter O’Rourke became chief of staff for the Department of Veterans Affairs, he received an email from Bruce Moskowitz with his input on a new mental health initiative for the VA. “Received,” O’Rourke replied. “I will begin a project plan and develop a timeline for action.”

O’Rourke treated the email as an order, but Moskowitz is not his boss. In fact, he is not even a government official. Moskowitz is a Palm Beach doctor who helps wealthy people obtain high-service “concierge” medical care.

More to the point, he is one-third of an informal council that is exerting sweeping influence on the VA from Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida. The troika is led by Ike Perlmutter, the reclusive chairman of Marvel Entertainment, who is a longtime acquaintance of President Trump’s. The third member is a lawyer named Marc Sherman. None of them has ever served in the U.S. military or government.

Yet from a thousand miles away, they have leaned on VA officials and steered policies affecting millions of Americans. They have remained hidden except to a few VA insiders, who have come to call them “the Mar-a-Lago Crowd.”

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Anita Malik hopes to defeat embattled Representative David Schweikert for the Congressional Seat in District Six this November.

Congressional District Six Democratic Candidate Anita Malik

In November, voters in Arizona and across the nation will go to the polls to elect new members to the House of Representatives and a third of the United States Senate. In this first election after the contest that thrust popular vote loser Donald Trump into the White House, Democrats will seek to build on the Congressional gains they achieved in 2016 and reach out to a surging group of enthusiastic voters who want a new direction for the country.

Needing 25 Representative seats, Democrats see this election as a major opportunity, with clear majorities rejecting the Republican program and Trump in particular, to gain control of the House for the first time since 2010. One of the seats Democrats hope to “flip” is the one occupied by Arizona Congressional Six Incumbent David Schweikert. Congressional District Six in Arizona includes all or parts of Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Carefree Cave Creek, Fountain Hills, Glendale, and Phoenix. Currently embattled in a political scandal that has seen the departure of his chief of staff, three Democrats are vying this year to be the candidate to defeat him this November. They are Anita Malik, Heather Ross, and Garrick McFadden.

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Putting America Last: The Historic Failure of Walls

Historically, walls separating nations do not work as well as intended over the long term. Photo of Gaza/Israel boundary courtesy of the New York Times.

Walls delineating boundaries between nations or barriers for defense have stood since the dawn of human history. Wall Street in Manhattan, for example, received its name because Dutch settlers erected a walled defense against the Native American tribes they had wronged with unprovoked genocidal type raids.

If one wants to visit Christopher Columbus’s house in Genoa Italy, not far from it is the old city walls of Genoa, which is now surrounded by modern buildings. Everyone has heard of the Great Wall of China, the walls of Jericho and Troy, and the Berlin Wall. All of these barriers were created for either defense, to keep people out, or to keep people in. What does history tell us about these walls?

It tells us that while walls may be necessary to preserve boundaries and prevent invasion, they are not foolproof and eventually doomed, thanks to human ingenuity, to failure.

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Making Sense of “Family Separation” of Asylum Seekers

By Michael Bryan

As have millions of Americans, I have felt deeply and instinctually that the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy, that has resulted in separating thousands of children of all ages from their parents, is immoral, inhumane, and probably a violation of the law.

In an attempt to clarify my own thoughts I have been doing a good deal of reading on the subject. I thought that many of you might be interested in following the same path as I, so I wrote less of a think piece and more a pathfinder on the subject. You might try reading the same material as I and see if you view things differently than I at the end.

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“The Blue Wave Starts Here” as Maricopa County Democrats Gather at the Summer Convention

Photo courtesy of Maricopa County Democratic Party

About 700 excited and enthusiastic Democratic activists, including many candidates, precinct captains, and Legislative District chairpersons, filled the auditorium at the Performing Arts Center of Horizon High School in Paradise Valley on June 30 to attend the Summer Convention of the Maricopa Democratic Party.

They heard speakers including the County Party Leadership, Maricopa County State Representatives Kelli Butler and Mitzi Epstein, House Representative Ruben Gallego, the three Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates (Farley, Fryer, and Garcia), Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, and Guest Speaker Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon.

Maricopa County Democratic Party Chair Steven Slugocki speaking at June 30 Maricopa County Summer Convention; photo courtesy of Maricopa County Democratic Party.

The gathered assemblage conveyed an optimistic mood, cheering when Maricopa County Party Leader Steven Slugocki proclaimed that the “Blue Wave starts here” in the “largest Battleground County.”

He happily reported that the Democratic Party has surged in growth since 2016, citing examples of the quadrupling in the number of Precinct Captains in some Legislative Districts (with LD 18, for example exploding with 254 of which I have to disclose I am one) and legislative offices.

Slugocki also relayed that there has been a surge in the number of candidates. In 2014, the Democrats recruited 55 people to run and there were some positions where Republicans ran unopposed, today there are 75 people running and all legislative offices are being contested. LD 23 was singled out for being the district that gathered the most ballot signatures and LD 12 for the most voter registrations.

Read: LD 23 State House Candidate Eric Kurland sees 2018 as a Referendum on Public Education.

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Federal judge issues a preliminary injunction against family separation policy; 17 state attorneys general sue Trump administration

The ACLU’s class action lawsuit Ms. L v. ICE to end immigrant family separation and immediately reunite children and parents has reached a pivotal point. The San Diego Union Tribune reports, San Diego federal judge orders separated children reunited with parents within 30 days:

A San Diego federal judge issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday at the request of the American Civil Liberties Union that calls for all children affected by the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy to be reunited with their parents within 30 days.

In a toughly worded opinion, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw wrote “the facts set forth before the court portray reactive governance — responses to address a chaotic circumstance of the government’s own making. They belie measured and ordered governance, which is central to the concept of due process enshrined in our Constitution.

“The unfortunate reality is that under the present system migrant children are not accounted for with the same efficiency and accuracy as property. Certainly, that cannot satisfy the requirements of due process,” he added.

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