Category Archives: Veterans

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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GOP is a Cancerous Entity that is Reactionary, Undemocratic, and Xenophobic

It has come to this. Today’s America (and Arizona)  is the result of 40 years of conservative southern strategizing, negotiating Faustian bargains with segregationist Democrats and the evangelical community. It is the result of dog whistle ads like the “Willie Horton” ad in 1988, obstructing two Democratic administrations on issues like infrastructure, healthcare, raising wages, and immigration that the people wanted. It is the result of gerrymandering congressional districts that give them majorities when the Democrats win the national vote, and embracing underhanded tactics with domestic and (in the case of 2016) foreign sources that “stole” the election from the people’s choice for President.

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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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21 Year Retired Air Force Veteran Master Sergeant and Civic Activist Michelle Harris seeks to turn the LD 13 Senate Seat Blue in November

Democratic LD 13 Senate Candidate Michelle Harris

With her husband as a campaign manager and 30 volunteers at her disposal, retired 21 Year Air Force Veteran Master Sergeant and local Civic Activist Michelle Harris is seeking the LD 13 Senate Seat this November in order to make it Blue. Her potential opponent, to be determined after the August 28 Primary, may be disgraced expelled State House Member Don Shooter. This well qualified and experienced Clean Elections candidate, with a compelling message and agenda, is one of many Democrats that will help shift the balance of power from Republicans in the November Elections.

Over water, coffee, croissants, and a very huge Blueberry Muffin at Mimi’s Café at Dysart and the I-10, Master Sergeant Harris enthusiastically relayed why she is the best candidate for the State Senate in LD 13 and the its residents whose territory stretches from Yuma in the South to Wickenburg in the North with parts or all of Glendale, Goodyear, Litchfield Park, Buckeye, and Avondale in between. Motivated to run because local state leaders from the district or the Corporation Commission did not take the time to address concerns in a either a timely (sewage rate increase) or any (school voucher expansion) manner, Harris wants to use the training and experience gained from her service in the Air Force to engage with all stakeholders on the needs of the district and solve problems in a consensus fashion. If she prevails this November, she will be the first Democrat in recent memory to win a legislative seat in this district.

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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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History, Role Reversal, and Hypocrisy this week in Quebec, Singapore, and Washington DC: Our Country May be at a Cross Roads in our Foreign Policy.

Throughout the history of our country since World World War Two, our Presidents have uniformly engaged in building and solidifying multinational alliances, over time, with like-minded nations that promoted democratic capitalism institutions and social justice ideals. They have also been fairly uniformly firm towards major potential adversaries, holding to the motto of “peace through strength” and engaging, again over time, with these nations in mutual economic and military understandings. Despite grievances from the occasional fringe element on both the right and left, this is how Presidents have largely conducted foreign policy since 1941. This is in danger of being turned upside down by President Donald Trump as he chastises our allies, threatens our multinational alliances, embraces our adversaries, and runs summits like an episode of a reality television show.

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