Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Trump's racist policy keeps getting worse - babies and toddlers now in 'tender age' concentration camps

Scriber needs a day off but first I want to point you to today’s post by AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona concerning the Trump policy of separating children, even babies, from their parents: The Trump administration’s defense of the indefensible goes off the rails (updated). At the end he provides an update.

Before that I’ve got another observation. Last night at the very end of the Rachel Maddow show (MSNBC), as she was preparing to hand it over to Lawrence O’Donnell (The Last Word), she got a “just in” note and she started to report on it. She could not finish. She choked up. In tears. And turned away from the camera unable to speak. Lawrence stepped up and started his show a couple of minutes early.

That’s a first. Rachel is one tough lady accustomed to reporting on some of the most gruesome events. So what would trigger that emotional response? The just-in was a report on the Trump administration facilities for babies and toddlers taken from their mothers at the border. HUNDREDS of them sequestered in camps now rebranded by the administration as “tender age”. See her subsequent tweets here and a video of it here.

It keeps getting worse.

UPDATE: The Washington Post editorial board correctly notes The Trump administration created this awful border policy. It doesn’t need Congress to fix it.

[I]t is simply not correct, as Ms. Nielsen suggested Monday, that Congress must act before the crisis of families being separated can be solved. As Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C) said: “President Trump could stop this policy with a phone call . . . If you don’t like families being separated, you can tell [Homeland Security], ‘Stop doing it.’ ”

Instead, CNBC reports Trump told the National Federation of Independent Businesses’ 75th anniversary event in Washington today:

“We want to end the border crisis by finally giving us the legal authorities and the resources to detain and remove illegal immigrant families altogether and bring them back to their country.”

Trump has defined the GOP as the “mass deportation party.” His policies also oppose legal immigration.

“Now think of all that aid that we give to some of these countries,” he said. “Well, I’m going to go very shortly for authorization that when countries abuse us by sending their people up — not their best — we’re not going to give any more aid to those countries.”

That last one was a head banger. The day before on MSNBC former Homeland Security head Jeh Johnson noted that the way to stop asylum seekers is to fix the problems in those countries. And now we have the president doing exactly the opposite, making matters worse by withholding aid. And you know what else? In response to his threat the room erupted in cheers.

The Blue Meanie wrote about Trump “This is a racist consumed by his hatred.”

Scriber extends that charge to the NFIB: “These are racists consumed by Trump’s hatred.”

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Ripping families apart by Trump and his totalitarians is 'an affront to the American people'

Quotes of the Day:
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” - Jesus (quoted by Michael Gerson).
“They look so innocent. They’re not innocent.” - Donald Trump.

Last night (06/18/18 09:00PM), Rachel Maddow reported that Trump accelerates rate of taking migrant kids from parents. “Rachel Maddow reports on the growing outrage over the Donald Trump administration’s policy of forcibly removing children from their parents when they seek asylum in The United States, and notes that the rate at which children are being removed and placed in camps increased from an average of 43 [perday] last month to 67 as of this month.

The outrage and the push-back against Trump’s separation policy that rips families apart grows. Laura Bush Shames Donald Trump and the Republican Party Over Border Policy. So do all other living former and present (!!!) first ladies. ABC News has that story in All 5 first ladies speak out against family-separation immigration policy. Perhaps not surprisingly, Sen. John McCain takes exception to the Trump policy and demands it stop - right now: Immigrant family separations against US values.

The Trump administration’s current family separation policy is “an affront to the decency of the American people” and contrary to principles and values upon which the nation was founded, Republican Sen. John McCain says.

McCain tweeted Monday night that the administration has the power to rescind this policy and “should do so now.”

However, Trump is defending that policy while (falsely) blaming Democrats for it. And the head of Homeland Security doubles down on law enforcement without mercy but with a load of hypocrisy and even heresy.

The Daily Star’s front page feature reports that “Immigration outrage rises, but Trump won’t back down” (at tucson.com as Trump defiant despite rising outrage over border separations).

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said, “We will not apologize for the job we do or for the job law enforcement does, for doing the job that the American people expect us to do.”

In an appearance before the National Sheriffs’ Association in New Orleans, Nielsen said: “Illegal actions have and must have consequences. No more free passes, no more get out of jail free cards.”

That last one is highlighted by Michael Gerson (Washington Post) in Trump administration defends border cruelty with heresy (reprinted in the Daily Star this morning).

This policy debate has also demonstrated the broad streak of extremism at the center of the Trump administration. “It was a simple decision by the administration,” explained presidential adviser Stephen Miller, “to have a zero-tolerance policy for illegal entry.” Simple. Simple if you are untroubled by nagging empathy. Simple if you are hardened against the temptation of mercy. Simple if you have lost the ability to feel anger when abused children weep. One gets the impression that Miller, Trump and White House chief of staff John Kelly regard the anguish of migrant children as evidence of a good day’s work.

This is a contagion. In a recent poll, a strong plurality of Republicans (46 percent) supported the policy of family separation at the border. They have been given permission for their worst instincts by the leader of their party — a party whose right flank is now held by the neo-Confederate protesters at Charlottesville.

Dehumanization has a natural progression. It starts by defining a whole race or ethnicity by its worst members — say, rapists or criminals. It moves on to enforce generally applicable laws and rules that especially hurt a target group. Then, as the public becomes desensitized, the group can be singled out for hatred and harm. It is the descent, step by step, into a moral abyss.

And the head of Homeland Security chose to walk right into that abyss.

Those were some of the themes in the reporting today. Following are excerpts from reports expanding on those themes.

David Brooks reports on The Rise of the Amnesty Thugs

Ripping children away from their parents is the most cinematically cruel part of the Trump immigration policy, but it is not the most telling part. The most telling part is what happened to Ludvin Franco.

Franco was an unauthorized immigrant who had been working in this country for over a decade. His wife, Anne, is from a Pennsylvania Dutch family that has been in this country for generations. They were married in 2013 and have three American children, Max, Javier and Valentina.

In the spring of 2017, Franco got in a minor traffic accident near his Pennsylvania home. A few weeks later as he was leaving for work, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement swarmed him, took him away and deported him to Guatemala. He watched the delivery of his third child through the screen of his cellphone, 3,200 miles away.

This is an example of ICE going after a perfectly productive member of society. I got the anecdote from a series of reports that Deborah Sontag and Dale Russakoff did for ProPublica and The Philadelphia Inquirer. They found that 64 percent of the immigrants arrested by ICE in the agency’s Philadelphia region had no prior criminal conviction.

Sontag and Russakoff capture the fabric of immigration enforcement today: a van-load of men coming back from an Alcoholics Anonymous gathering detained by a state trooper after a routine traffic stop; a magisterial district judge in Camp Hill, Pa., pre-empting a Tajik wedding by calling ICE on the groom and best man, who were led away in handcuffs; work sites raided, with the Latinos separated from everybody else and lined up face to the wall; police officers who ticket Hispanics at a rate of twice or even five times their share of the population.

There are 11 million unauthorized immigrants in this country. Every past administration has used some discretion in targeting whom to deport. They targeted those who were destroying society, not building it. They tried to take account of particular contexts, and they tried to show some sense of basic humanity.

But today, discretion and humanity are being stamped out. The Trump administration has embraced a “zero tolerance” policy. In practice that means that all complexity has to be reduced to uniformity. Compassion is replaced by a blind obedience to regulations. Context is irrelevant. Arrests are indiscriminate. All that matters is that the arrest numbers go up, so human beings in the system are reduced to numbers.

What’s most significant is this: The Trump administration immigration officials have become exactly the kind of monsters that conservatism has always warned against.

BTW - I’ve long maintained that the Republican party is not truly conservative. We can have a conversation, a debate, over conservatism. But we cannot have a conversation about conservatism with Trumpists because their policies are autocratic and hence anti-conservative. Brooks continues.

For centuries, conservatives have repeated a specific critique against state power. Statism, conservatives have argued, has a tendency to become brutalist and inhumane because a bureaucracy can’t see or account for the complexity of reality. It tries to impose uniform rules on the organic intricacy of human relationships. Statist social engineering projects cause horrific suffering because in the mind of statists, the abstract rule is more important than the human being in front of them. The person must be crushed for the sake of the abstraction.

This is exactly what the Trump immigration policies are doing. Families are ripped apart and children are left weeping by the fences constructed by government officials blindly following a regulation.

This illustrates something crucial about this administration. It is not populated by conservatives. It is populated by anti-liberal trolls. There’s a difference.

People like Stephen Miller are not steeped in conservative thinking and do not operate with a conservative disposition. They were formed by their rebellion against the stifling conformity they found at liberal universities. Their primary orientation is not to conservative governance but to owning the libs. In power they take the worst excesses of statism and flip them for anti-liberal ends.

Here’s how you can detect the anti-liberal trolls in the immigration debate: Watch how they use the word “amnesty.” Immigration is a complex issue. Any serious reform has to grapple with tangled realities, and any real conservative has an appreciation for that complexity. But if you try to account for that complexity before an anti-immigration troll, he or she will shout one word: Amnesty!

Maybe we should find some arrangement for the Dreamers? Amnesty! The so-called moderate House immigration bill? Amnesty! Keeping families together? Amnesty!

This is what George Orwell noticed about the authoritarian brutalists: They don’t use words to illuminate the complexity of reality; they use words to eradicate the complexity of reality.

Look at how the Republican candidates for the G.O.P. Senate nomination in Arizona answered questions about a provision to keep families together at the border. They responded with inhumane abstractions: “I try not to get swayed by what the emotions are or the pressure,” Martha McSally said. “Compromising on the rule of law to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants is the wrong path to take,” Kelli Ward replied.

“Amnesty” has become a club the trolls use in their attempt to stamp a rigid steel boot on the neck of the immigration debate. It’s the sign of a party slowly losing its humanity.

And the thing is that the inhumane group of Republicans are the only demographic group to support Trump’s policy of ripping families apart. AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona documents the divide in Senate Republicans are complicit in Trump’s evil.

Holding children as hostages is evil, and Republicans are complicit in his evil.

Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to this immoral, cruel and inhumane family-separation policy, except for one distinct group of Americans — you guessed it — members of the personality cult of Donald Trump. The GOP backs Trump on separating families at the border — which is all he cares about.

Two-thirds of Americans oppose Trump’s family-separation policy:

A new poll from Quinnipiac University shows that the policy is unpopular among Americans — with one big exception.

GOP supports Trump's policy
Republicans support trump's separation policy,
but no one else does

Two-thirds of the country, 66 percent, oppose Trump’s policy, according to the poll. That includes 6 in 10 men and 7 in 10 women.

As is often the case, though, there’s a wide split by party. A majority of Republicans approve of the policy, while 6 in 10 independents and 9 in 10 Democrats oppose it.

Republicans are the only group broken out in Quinnipiac’s polling to support the policy. But other demographic groups that are central to Trump’s base show stronger support for the move. Whites without college degrees, for example, are 11 points more likely to support it than whites with degrees. White men are 13 points more likely to support it than white women. …

Immigrant advocates have long said that the children, primarily from Central America, are fleeing violence in their home countries and seeking safe harbor in the United States. But the Trump administration has used their plight to justify cracking down on [asylum] policies that allow these migrants to be released and obtain hearings before immigration judges, rather than being deported immediately. Trump warns against admitting unaccompanied migrant children: ‘They’re not innocent’ (April 2018).

“We have the worst immigration laws of any country, anywhere in the world,” Trump said at the roundtable held at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center. “They exploited the loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors.”

Trump added: “They look so innocent. They’re not innocent.”

If Republicans can support such evil against young children, what other atrocities are they willing to accept and support from their Dear Leader?

We have a dangerous element in this country, and it is not immigrants. It is the members of the personality cult of Donald Trump.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Illustrated News Flash - 4 in 5 Republicans have joined The Cult of Trump

Trump's cult
GOP bows to Trump

We’ll get to the Mournday Mourning Illustrated News in a moment. First, let’s reflect on The Cult of Trump.

Back in January I asked, and answered, Will America ever be great again? Not so long as the Grand Obstruction Party holds power.

Will America ever be great again?

It certainly won’t be after another three years of Trump. Ann McFeatters in Friday morning’s Daily Star details what Trump already has done to us in just one year, Taking the measure of Trump.

Many Americans have regarded Donald Trump as a buffoon or a bankruptcy-prone business guy with a flair for reality TV who ultimately would do little harm. Many now think he is the most dangerous president in U.S. history.

McFeatters provides a list (that I’ve condensed) of reasons to have such a fear:

Trump disparages the rule of law, is systematically ruining Americans’ vital respect for the integrity of institutions, made the country a laughingstock among former allies, taunts North Korea’s unstable dictator, is unpatriotic, is undermining the role of the federal government, is using the presidency to make millions, has declared war on the First Amendment, does not know what he is doing, is still trying to ban and deport immigrants because of their religion, is stacking the courts with people who are loyal to him, and he believes he is above the law, is widening the gap between rich and poor, and is about to complete one year of a four-year term.

And all that was before he trashed the G7 and embraced a murderous dictator (Kim) and dumped military readiness exercises on the advice of another enemy of the U.S. (Putin). So will the GOP finally wake up and reign in Trump?

Trump is unpopular, more than just about any other president the polls tell us. He is reviled by progressives and held in low regard by independents. However, most Republican voters still support him. The Gallup poll, Presidential Approval Ratings – Donald Trump, from the last week of 2017 has the numbers. Overall Trump’s approval stands at 39%. (The average approval for other presidents at this point in their term is 64%. Trump’s approval is the lowest by far of any of the last nine presidents.) However, when party affiliation is considered we get a different picture. Only 9% of Democrats approve of Trump, and only 34% of independents approve. But a whopping 82% of Republicans approve of Trump.

So I suspect that the Republican leaders in Congress continue to suck up to Trump because they know their base. As long as Trump goes along with the GOP agenda, Republicans will not turn on him no matter what the evidence says about his character and no matter how much more damage Trump will do to our nation. The question then becomes whether the much-anticipated 2018 blue wave will be powerful enough and durable enough to overcome the Republican advantages mentioned by Krugman.

What this means, among other things, is that expecting the GOP to exercise any oversight or constrain Trump in any way is just foolish at this point. Massive electoral defeat – massive enough to overwhelm gerrymandering and other structural advantages of the right – is the only way out.

Like other cult leaders, Trump demands and receives absolute loyalty by meting out punishments to those critics seen to be disloyal. Read the report by Jonathan Tamari of The Philadelphia Inquirer: Primary results show the GOP is all in on Trump (reprinted in the Arizona Daily Star, June 17, 2018).

In the election of 2018, don’t count on congressional Republicans to do anything to reign in Trump.

Now on to today’s Illustrated News from the AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona.

The horror of the Trump 'zero tolerance' policy. Will parents and children ever be reunited?

Trump's child abuse policy
Trump's zero tolerance policy is institutionalized child abuse

This Heartbreaking photo of crying 2yo captures horror of Trump border policy was featured at the web site, newshub.co.nz.

A heart-breaking photo of a two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker crying as her mother is taken into custody has captured the horror of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance policy” towards undocumented immigrants.

The White House announced the policy in April. Any adults who have been referred to Homeland Security for illegal entry into the US now have their children take from them while their cases are adjudicated, a process that can take months or years.

The extraordinary picture was taken by John Moore, a Pulitzer Prize winner and Getty photographer. (Photo credit: Getty)

“As a father myself, this photograph was especially difficult for me to take,” Mr Moore said on Instagram.

“The mother told me they had been traveling for a full month and were exhausted.”

The woman and her daughter had just crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico and were being transported to a US Customs and Border Protection processing centre.

“She was told to set the child down while she was searched. The little girl immediately started crying,” Mr Moore told Getty photography website Foto.

He said the woman and her daughter were taken into custody with a group of about 20 others, mostly women and children.

"I could see on their faces that they had no idea what was about to happen.

“I doubt many of these families knew about the Trump administration’s recent policy on separating parents from children at the border.”

US officials have confirmed that over a six-week period, 1995 children were separated from their parents or legal guardians under its new ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy.

That number equates to 46 children a day.

US President Donald Trump has claimed the family separations are the fault of the opposition Democrats. Numerous news outlets in the US have called this false, including CNN, the New York Times and Pulitzer-winning fact-checking site Politifact.

And before we move on, I’ll bet you didn’t notice my source for the above snippets and photo. The web address ends in “NZ”. That’s New Zealand, folks. Trump keeps racking up the overseas PR points.

What happens once the kids are separated from their parents? Who knows? This is not an administration that practices foresight.

In Tucson court, immigrant parents still left guessing about kids’ whereabouts reports the Daily Star’s Curt Prendergast (titled “Progress lacking in effort to join kids, parents” in the June 17 print version).

The really sad story of the Trump “zero tolerance” keeps getting worse. Under Trump’s policy, children are forcibly removed from their parents. Now we learn that those parents cannot learn the whereabouts of their children. The government either cannot or will not find out where the kids are.

For the 51st time in the last month, a parent wanted to know the whereabouts of her child. And for the 51st time, the authorities in federal court in Tucson did not tell her.

Flor Berillos de Lopez pleaded guilty to crossing the border illegally June 10 near Lukeville with her 15-year-old daughter, who was taken from her by the Border Patrol hours before Berillos’ June 12 hearing at U.S. District Court in Tucson.

“They were separated this morning and she does not know where her child is,” defense lawyer Joe Machado told Magistrate Judge Bernardo P. Velasco during an Operation Streamline hearing, a fast-track prosecution program for illegal border crossers.

The exchange came a week after Magistrate Judge Bruce G. MacDonald told federal prosecutor Christopher Lewis to call the agency responsible for the children and report back with a way for parents to know where their children are.

On June 6, U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Cosme Lopez said prosecutors in Tucson were working with law enforcement and the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which places children split from their parents in foster care or with family members, to develop a “mechanism” to keep parents informed about their children.

A week later, Lopez said he was “unsure” what was happening with the mechanism.

The Daily Star’s editors have a thing or two to say about the Trump policy and what it says about America in Sunday’s editorial: Trump family separation plan reeks of his failure.

Almost 2,000 children. That is the ongoing human toll of suffering the United States is wreaking on children ripped from their parents because our Congress and president are too feckless to come up with a decent, humane and workable immigration policy.

The cost of our American leaders’ incompetence is being paid in the cries of toddlers taken from their parents and warehoused in federal custody because their families made the desperate calcuation that the real risk of violence, murder or destitution at home was higher than the dangerous journey north from Central America or Mexico.

Is this the United States we want? We say loudly and firmly: No.

President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and anyone who tries to whitewash, downplay or defend this inhumane action is complicit in this outrage.

The estimate is now almost 2,000 children have been separated from their parents by immigration officials and placed in federal custody since the policy started in April. They are housed in large facilities, such as a converted Walmart building, without knowing what’s happening or where their parents are — and their parents don’t know where their children have been taken.

Immigration as a campaign issue, and the demonization of immigrants, are hallmarks of the Trump administration.

And this, traumatizing young children and prosecuting their parents on a federal immigration misdemeanor, if they’re first-time crossers, is their solution.

Read that again: Institutionalized child abuse is the best they could come up with.

Sessions, who has turned to the Bible to justify the policy, has said that any blame to be had for separating families falls on the parents who brought their children into the U.S.

Immigrating is a life-or-death decision for a parent trying to survive and protect their children. Sessions acts as if the parents’ decision was to bring their rowdy kids along to a dinner party uninvited.

Even Trump on Friday tried to pretend his administration’s family separation policy isn’t of its own making, and blamed Democrats.

Trump and Sessions are not the only owners of this humanitarian travesty. The GOP itself is complicit. It demands of itself absolute loyalty to Trump, the cult leader, and now performs political executions on its own members who dare to call out Trump and his minions for what they are.

To get up to date on the punishments meted out to the less Trumpian Republicans, read the report by Jonathan Tamari of The Philadelphia Inquirer: Primary results show the GOP is all in on Trump (reprinted in the Arizona Daily Star, June 17, 2018).

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Absent economic progressivism, workers' wages slip while the rich get richer

The United States is the most economically unequal of industrialized countries. It’s not getting any better. American workers are losing ground even though the economy is roaring. So where does the wealth go? To the already wealthy reports the Washington Post, For the biggest group of American workers, wages aren’t just flat. They’re falling.

The average hourly wage paid to a key group of American workers has fallen from last year when accounting for inflation, as an economy that appears strong by several measures continues to fail to create bigger paychecks, the federal government said Tuesday.

For workers in “production and nonsupervisory” positions, the value of the average paycheck has declined in the past year. For those workers, average “real wages” — a measure of pay that takes inflation into account — fell from $22.62 in May 2017 to $22.59 in May 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

This pool of workers includes those in manufacturing and construction jobs, as well as all “nonsupervisory” workers in service industries such health care or fast food. The group accounts for about four-fifths of the privately employed workers in America, according to BLS.

The fall in those wages has alarmed some economists, who say paychecks should be getting fatter at a time when unemployment is low and businesses are hiring.

“This is odd and remarkable,” said Steven Kyle, an economist at Cornell University. “You would not normally see this kind of thing unless there were some kind of external shock, like a bad hurricane season, but we haven’t had that.”

Falling wages
Declining worker share of corporate income

The falling wages promise to exacerbate historic levels of U.S. inequality. Within the labor force, it means workers who were already making less are falling further behind. And if private laborers as a whole are seeing their earnings flatten while the economy as a whole grows at an annual rate of more than 2 percent, that means the gains are going almost exclusively to people already at the top of the economic ladder, economists say.

"The extra growth we are seeing in the economy is going somewhere: to capital owners and people at the top of the income distribution,” said Heidi Shierholz, director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute and a former chief economist at the Labor Department, noting workers’ share of corporate income remained relatively low as of January. “And what we’ve seen is in recent period a much higher share of total income earned going to owners of capital.”

Economics of Progressivism

At its general membership meeting this last Friday (June 15th), alliance4action hosted Alison Jones whose research talk was titled “The Economics of Progressivism.” The video is on YouTube. Progressive policies, she argued, are good for the economy because they encourage recirculation of money especially by those who buy things. Trickle-up (my word, not hers) economics does the opposite, effectively sequestering money among the rich.

The gangbuster video of Jones’ talk is about 30 minutes. Replete with shocking data made simple by cool explanatory graphics, it’s a good investment of your time.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

WH admits to no empathy for children torn from parents at border

Question of the Day: "Come on Sarah. You’re a parent. Don’t you have any empathy…?” - Brian Karem asked of Sarah Huckabee Sanders in WH press briefing.

Answer of the Day: No! - Scriber.

Jen Hayden at Daily Kos reports on that amazing press briefing in which Sarah Suckabee Handers defended the Trump administration ripping children from their parents. Sparks flew in the press briefing room as heartless White House defended imprisoning border kids.

"You’re a parent, Sarah, come on!” Sarah Huckabee Sanders took a brief (and I mean very brief) couple of minutes to take questions from the White House press corps. Amid widespread reports of breastfeeding babies being taken from their mother’s arms and infants and young children being held indefinitely in prison-like conditions, reporters hammered Sarah Sanders for answers. All they got was deflection, lies and an astonishing reference to the Bible. Yes, Sarah Sanders said taking children from their parents and locking them up in cages inside a former Walmart is just what the Bible ordered.

First, CBS reporter Paula Reid asked Sanders about the administration’s decision to tear families apart, pointing out this is a policy put in place by the Trump administration, and that there is no law requiring families be ripped apart and separately incarcerated. Sanders tried to swat her away, but Reid kept at it. As Sanders again tried to change the subject, Playboy Magazine reporter Brian Karem interjected to press even harder.

The question was in response to a speech made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier in the day. Seriously, you have to watch this evil, evil use of the Bible to justify tearing families apart.

And Sarah Huckabee Sanders, daughter of a so-called Christian minister, also wielded the Bible in defense of questions from the White House press corps. It’s just sick. When CNN’s Jim Acosta tries to dig deeper, she calls him “dumb.”

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: When the history of America is told, this will indeed be one of the darkest chapters. Pure evil.

We really are living America’s darkest hours.

You need to go to Hayden’s report at Daily Kos to view the video. They are indeed a “must watch.”

Washing machine prices tell the story on the dotard's trade war

Washing machine prices increase
Effect of Trump tariff on washing machines

Catherine Rampell, columnist for the Washington Post, reports the history of global washing machine competition to explain why Trump’s tariffs are already backfiring. (h/t Jana Eaton)

Often a graph tells the whole story, or at least most of it. That spike on the right hand side is the net effect of Trump’s one-man trade war.

Rampell reports from Clyde, Ohio, home of the world’s largest washing machine factory - and part of a county that voted for Trump by 23 points.

Before steel and aluminum tariffs alienated our allies, before President Trump suggested car imports threatened our “national security,” before that 1,000-plus-item list of Chinese goods targeted for new tariffs, there were washing machines.

Yes, washing machines.

It seems almost quaint today, but the U.S. washer industry was one of the first sectors that Trump decided to rescue through an aggressive, no-holds-barred tariff. And now that a few months have passed, the industry offers a useful preview for how Trump’s tough-on-trade strategy can backfire for many of the U.S. companies, consumers and workers he wants to help.

You can read the history of the washing machine’s role in the Trump Trade War after the break. Rampell concludes:

This spring, laundry equipment prices skyrocketed 17 percent, the biggest increase on record. It’s hard to see how higher prices expand shoppers’ choices.

When you aggregate all those price increases across the 10 million washers sold annually in the United States, consumers will collectively pay hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for each job supposedly created or saved. Which is many multiples of what factory workers typically earn.

And it’s not even clear how safe their jobs are at this point, given the rest of Trump’s trade agenda. After all, his tariffs didn’t stop with washing machines.

Those metal tariffs have left steel prices more than 50 percent higher in the United States than they are in China or Europe. This is bad news for U.S. companies that purchase steel — including to manufacture washing machines, which are essentially big steel boxes.

Perhaps worse, our furious trading partners are now striking back by placing new tariffs on U.S. goods. Among the products that both the European Union and Canada have targeted for retaliation?

You guessed it: U.S.-made washing machines.

But more is on the way.

The Guardian reports that US-China trade tensions escalate as Trump approves $50bn of tariffs - as it happened.

US President Donald Trump is pressing ahead with plans to impose 25% tariffs on $50bn of Chinese imports, raising the prospect of a trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
* Markets falter as Trump’s escalates trade tensions
* China vows to match US tariffs but warns both parties will be hurt

If you want to know how badly this will go for the U. S. workers and economy, take the case of the washing machine as a harbinger.

Sorry, Clyde, Ohio. You don’t get a do-over for the 2016 election.

Political cartoonist fired for Trump cartoons, truth swept aside in new barrage of Trump's lies

Goebbels quote
The free press again is under attack:
Substitute Trump for Goebbels

Political cartoonists are one of the bulwarks we have against Goebbelsian propaganda machines. But they become fewer and fewer each year as political criticism gives way to authoritarian dictates. Trump started out being characterized as a buffoon. He was taken to task for being a “moron.” Now it is clear that he is an existential threat to our democratic republic. He is supported by 80% of those in the hollowed out shell of a once great political party - in spite of the well-documented fact that he lies about 7 times per day, and that number increases by the day.

Trump’s latest lie is to blame the Democrats for his own “zero tolerance” policy that forcibly separates children from their mothers. Separated at the Border From Their Parents: In Six Weeks, 1,995 Children, the NY Times reports.

"I hate the children being taken away,” Mr. Trump told reporters on Friday morning in front of the White House. “The Democrats have to change their law — that’s their law.”

A short time later, he wrote on Twitter, “The Democrats are forcing the breakup of families at the Border with their horrible and cruel legislative agenda.”

But Mr. Trump was misrepresenting his own policy. There is no law that says children must be taken from their parents if they cross the border unlawfully, and previous administrations have made exceptions for those traveling with minor children when prosecuting immigrants for illegal entry. A “zero tolerance” policy created by the president in April and put into effect last month by the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, allows no such exceptions, Mr. Trump’s advisers say.

Remember that Goebbels also said “The truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

How can all that be anything other than a target of political cartoonists?

What authoritarians have in common is to view the free press and its reporters and opinionators as their enemy. Trump fits that mold. After meeting with North Korean dictator, Trump calls press America’s ‘biggest enemy’. Left unchecked, it’s only a matter of time until the free press, the people’s voice, is gradually silenced, ground down under the jack-boots of Trump the dictator and his Gobbelsian propagandists. Here is an example.

Fired political cartoonist Rob Rogers tells his story in a NY Times op-ed: I Was Fired for Making Fun of Trump.

After 25 years as the editorial cartoonist for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, I was fired on Thursday.

I blame Donald Trump.

Well, sort of.

I should’ve seen it coming. When I had lunch with my new boss a few months ago, he informed me that the paper’s publisher believed that the editorial cartoonist was akin to an editorial writer, and that his views should reflect the philosophy of the newspaper.

That was a new one to me.

I was trained in a tradition in which editorial cartoonists are the live wires of a publication — as one former colleague put it, the “constant irritant.” Our job is to provoke readers in a way words alone can’t. Cartoonists are not illustrators for a publisher’s politics.

When I was hired in 1993, The Post-Gazette was the liberal newspaper in town, but it always prided itself on being a forum for a lot of divergent ideas. The change in the paper did not happen overnight. From what I remember, it started in 2011, with the endorsement of the Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor, which shocked a majority of our readership. The next big moment happened in late 2015, when my longtime boss, the editorial page editor, took a buyout after the publisher indicated that the paper might endorse Mr. Trump. Then, early this year, we published openly racist editorials.

Things really changed for me in March, when management decided that my cartoons about the president were “too angry” and said I was “obsessed with Trump.” This about a president who has declared the free press one of the greatest threats to our country.

After so many years of punch lines and caricatures, skewering mayors and mullahs, the new regime at The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette decided that The Donald trumped satire when it came to its editorial pages.

Our own “ink slinger”, David Fitzsimmons, has a lot to say about The travails of a fellow ink slinger silenced for doing his job.

Rob’s nightmare began when Block Communications, the owner of the Post-Gazette, promoted a Trump disciple, Keith Burris, to the position of communications vice president, editor, editorial director.

“MAGA propaganda minister” would be a more precise title.

The first clue the Post-Gazette was radically shifting appeared in January when Burris penned a bizarre editorial, “Reason as Racism.” It was panned by readers as the intellectually disingenuous work of a Trump apologist. The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh called the piece “extraordinary in its mindless, sycophantic embrace of racist values and outright bigotry espoused by this country’s president.”

Then Burris began pulling Roger’s powerful anti-Trump cartoons. A tsunami of complaints flooded the newsroom, and protesters appeared outside the building. Indifferent to the rabble, Burris bore down on transforming a once-great American newspaper’s editorial pages into a propaganda sheet for the president, the petulant boy king who just this week called the press “America’s greatest enemy.”

These are perilous times for voices like Rob Rogers; times that moved the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists to issue this statement: “We take this opportunity to remind all editorial page editors that their responsibility is to the readers (among whom in Pittsburgh, Rogers cartoons are wildly popular) and to the open and ongoing search for truth in contending opinions. The editorial pages are a public forum, not a members-only private resort in Florida.”

As the president’s ratings creep up, the lickspittles in Congress line up to kiss Trump’s ring, the right-wing media machine beats its mighty chest and the president’s satirical critics are hammered, I wish the talented Mr. Rogers continued success in spite of the terrible challenges ahead. The same goes for our democratic republic.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Citing 'vast lawbreaking' New York sues Donald J. Trump Foundation

Today (June 14) we learned from The Washington Post and the New York Times that the State of “New York is suing the Trump foundation, accusing it of vast lawbreaking. It wants to bar the president and his children from serving on charities.” (NY Times email, Thursday, June 14, 2018 10:57 AM EST).

Let me start be recapping some of my blogging about the Trump Foundation during the 2016 campaign.

What the Trump Foundation is and is not, what it does and does not

During the 2016 campaign I wrote several pieces about the Trump Foundation. Here, in short form, is the chronology

Monday, August 29, 2016 The speech Hillary should give about the Clinton Foundation Reporting on the Clinton Foundation and the Trump Foundation - why they are different in mission, magnitude, and results. The Clinton Foundation raises and expends hundreds of millions of dollars on charitable enterprises around the world - all operated by the foundation. The Trump Foundation is “non-operational” meaning that it functions as a pass-through channeling donated funds to other entities.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 Trump Foundation is Trump’s personal slush fund …

For months, Donald Trump’s foundation, ostensibly created to help the New York billionaire manage his charitable giving, has faced a series of allegations, most notably an illegal campaign contribution in support of Florida’s attorney general – while she was considering an investigation into Trump’s so-called “university.”

Sunday, September 25, 2016 Trump and the truth: His charitable giving

This is just one more area in which Trump and his representatives lie to the American people. John Cassidy of the New Yorker pulls together the facts - numbers that prove, when it comes to philanthropy, Donald Trump to be a penny pinching piker. Equally importantly, it appears that his foundation has recently been making donations of a political nature to other “charities.”

Thursday, December 29, 2016 The Trump Foundation in the Mind and Mouth of the Master of Mendacity

… charitable foundations abide by strict rules when it comes to what they spend money on. And political donations are illegal. It is now well known that the Trump Foundation crossed that line when it gave money to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s campaign. One of the consequences is that the Trump Foundation is now under investigation by the New York Attorney General.

One requirement of causation is an antecedent-consequence relationship: Bondi asks for money, gets money, and drops investigation of Trump University. But perhaps more seriously, it looks like someone at the Trump Foundation, tried to cover up the Bondi donation by listing it as a nonexistent donation to that Kansas charity.

Monday, June 12, 2017 Making money on kids with cancer and other toons

The Daily Intelligencer (NY Magazine) puts the question: Did the Trump Organization Make Money From Eric Trump’s Cancer Charity? The answer? Yes. “… In reviewing filings from the Eric Trump Foundation and other charities, it’s clear that the course wasn’t free–that the Trump Organization received payments for its use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization. Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament. … Additionally, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which has come under previous scrutiny for self-dealing and advancing the interests of its namesake rather than those of charity, apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization. …”

Here’s the original reporting, complete with the answer and evidence, on How Donald Trump Shifted Kids-Cancer Charity Money Into His Business from Forbes magazine.

For example: "… the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which has come under previous scrutiny for self-dealing and advancing the interests of its namesake rather than those of charity, apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization.’

It is this co-mingling of business, political, and charitable finances that is now causing more legal trouble for Donald Trump.

New York state sues Trump Foundation

Here are snippets from the Times’ report that N.Y. Attorney General Sues Trump Foundation Over Sweeping Violations.

The New York State attorney general’s office filed a scathingly worded lawsuit on Thursday taking aim at the Donald J. Trump Foundation, accusing the charity and the Trump family of sweeping violations of campaign finance laws, self-dealing and illegal coordination with the presidential campaign.

The lawsuit, which seeks to dissolve the foundation and bar President Trump and three of his children from serving on nonprofit organizations, was an extraordinary rebuke of a sitting president. The attorney general also sent referral letters to the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission for possible further action, adding to Mr. Trump’s extensive legal problems.

The lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, culminated a nearly two-year investigation of Mr. Trump’s charity, which became a subject of scrutiny during and after the 2016 presidential campaign. While such foundations are supposed to be devoted to charitable activities, the complaint asserts that Mr. Trump’s was often used to curry political favor or settle legal claims against his various businesses, and even spent $10,000 on a portrait of Mr. Trump that was hung at one of his golf clubs.

The $10,000 portrait was one of several examples of the foundation being used in “at least five self-dealing transactions,” according to the attorney general’s office, violating tax regulations that prohibit using nonprofit charities for private interests.

"As our investigation reveals, the Trump Foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality,” said Barbara D. Underwood, New York’s attorney general, who has been on her job little over a month. “This is not how private foundations should function and my office intends to hold the foundation accountable for its misuse of charitable assets.”

The attorney general’s office is seeking $2.8 million in restitution, and the foundation and its directors could face several million dollars in additional penalties, depending on how the court rules. The office is also seeking to bar the president from serving as a director, officer or trustee of another nonprofit for 10 years. Likewise, the petition seeks to bar Mr. Trump’s three eldest children, Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric, from the boards of nonprofits based in New York or that operate in New York for one year, which would have the effect of barring them from a wide range of groups based in other states.

The foundation was explicitly “prohibited from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of a candidate,” the complaint notes, adding that Mr. Trump himself signed annual I.R.S. filings, under penalty of perjury in which he attested that the foundation did not engage in political activity. “This statutory prohibition is absolute.”

But roughly $2.8 million was raised for the foundation at a 2016 Iowa political fund-raiser for the Trump campaign. At the time, Mr. Trump skipped a Republican debate and set up his own event to raise money for veterans, though he used the event to skewer his opponents and celebrate his own accomplishments.

After the event, his foundation “ceded control over the charitable funds it raised to senior Trump campaign staff, who dictated the manner in which the foundation would disburse those proceeds, directing the timing, amounts and recipients of the grants,” according to the complaint.

Allowing the campaign to control the spending of the foundation’s charitable funds represented coordination between the two entities, as well “as an improper in-kind contribution of no less than $2.823 million (the amount donated to the foundation) to the campaign,” according to the lawsuit.

Ms. Underwood, who is a career prosecutor rather than a politician, recently accused Mr. Trump of “undermining the rule of law” with his pardon practices. She made the comment when she announced she was continuing an effort begun under Mr. Schneiderman to change New York’s double jeopardy law so that state and local prosecutors would have the power to bring criminal charges against aides to President Trump who have been pardoned.

Canadian parliament and WH communications team dump Trump

When it rains it pours #1

The Daily Kos reported that the Canadian Parliament Votes Unanimously To Condemn Trump.

O, Canada!

These are fighting words from our neighbor to the north. This is a real headline. Something this insane would have been unthinkable, or hilarious, until very recently. Our staunchest and oldest ally has voted to condemn the clownish buffoon who occupies the Oval Office thanks to Vova Putin.

Canada’s House of Commons on Monday unanimously condemned President Trumpand his aides on for attacks targeting the country’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Lawmakers approved a motion that rejected “disparaging ad hominem statements by U.S. officials which do a disservice to bilateral relations,” Reuters reported.

The symbolic move came after Peter Navarro, the White House National Trade Council director said there is a “special place in hell” for any leader who engages in bad faith diplomacy with Trump.

For some reason Navarro decided this wasn’t the best idea after all and apologized. I guess Canada is not accepting it! But hey, it looked good for Kim, right? As someone on Twitter said- “how stupid do you have to be to piss off Canada?”

When it rains it pours #2

Mark Sumner at Daily Kos reports that Trump’s communication team dissolves as Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Raj Shah plan to leave.

[CBS News is reporting][cba] that Press secretary [Sarah Suckabee Handers] and principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah have both let it be known that they’re preparing to leave. Sanders expects to get out by the end of the year. Shah has not yet set a date.

The task of defending Donald Trump’s shifting statements and daily lies first fell to Sean Spicer. The podium was then attended by Anthony Scaramucci, whose term was so short he was gone before he officially began. Though it may seem as if Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been there for a decent slice of forever, she’s actually been on the job less than a year. She started at the end of July in 2017. Still, she’s outlasted Spicer, who made it only six months before leaving his home in the bushes to run for the exits.

In a sense, Sanders has excelled in the position—if that sense is demonstrating a willingness to aggressively bend reality to cover any error, reversal, or outright lie spread by Trump, and to join in attacking the media and firing off streams of deflections and unconnected statements whenever reporters attempt to press. Even when caught in a straightforward lie, or when forced to backtrack to cover up Trump’s shifting alibis, Sanders has charged on with a kind of bitter enthusiasm. Except when she hasn’t. Because this White House has often chosen to handle the daily press briefing by just not having one.

To replace Sanders, it appears that Trump has … no one. No one at all.

“Nobody wants to come in,” a source close to the administration said. “So they’ve gone through two rounds and now they’re at third tier of people who are just lucking out – battlefield promotion ends up promoting people who aren’t qualified for the position.”

Barack Obama had only three press secretaries in eight years. Trump will match that number in two. And probably brag about it.

Mrs. Scriber thinks that you need a special kind of person to stand there at press briefings and lie, lie, lie.

So do I. How about …

Mooch! Time for the comeback.

Maybe Colbert has the inside track on the Foochure of the Mooch. The NY Times reports in its evening briefing that ‘on “The Late Show,” Stephen Colbert welcomed an odd couple that we might be seeing more of in the future: Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels, and Anthony Scaramucci, the short-lived White House communications director.’ The buzz is that they might be auditioning for a joint talk show.

And, on top of it all, …

When it rains it pours #3

New York has sued the Trump Foundation charging ‘vast lawbreaking’ and has sent referrals to the IRS and FEC for possible additional actions. See my other post today.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Three reasons why we don't want Rodney Glassman on the Corporation Commission - incompetent, corrupt, oportunistic

Rodney Glassman
This guy you don't want on the ACC

Quote of the day: “Everything I need to know about Donald Trump, I learned from Rodney Glassman.” - Blake Morlock.

Of all the people running for public office in 2018, the one you definitely do not want is this guy, Rodney Glassman. Glassman, you see, has switched parties from Democrat to Republican and is now running for the Arizona Corporation Commission. As if the scandal-plagued ACC does not have enough problems.

You might remember Glassman from his failed 2010 run for U. S. Senate challenging John McCain. I do. He struck me as 100% genuine. Genuine snake oil, that is.

But don’t take just my word for it. This morning I call your attention to two must-reads dissecting Glassman’s history. The first is from Joel Feinman (cross-posted by Bob Lord at Blog for Arizona).

Rodney the Ungood
Posted on June 13, 2018 by Bob Lord | 1 Comment
[cross-posted from Pima Liberator]
By Joel Feinman
Note to BfAZ readers: In the annals of political takedown pieces in Arizona, this piece should have a secure place. Upon reading it, I emailed the author, Joel Feinman, and asked if I could share. And the target, Rodney Glassman, is so deserving. Those of you with sizable social media followings, please share.

American politics has vomited up some truly repellent characters as of late, but few are as soulless as Arizona Corporation Commission candidate Rodney Glassman. Trying to explain who and what Rodney is to people who have never heard of him can be challenging. A polite commentator might describe Rodney as a lawyer with a colorful past, who has been active in Arizona politics for many years as a Democrat and now as Republican. Others who are less polite and more judgmental could describe him as a supremely egotistical and morally corrupt individual, who would join any party and advocate for any cause, as long as doing so would advance his political career by the radius of a single electron.

Feinman’s answers to Glassman’s three claims are just as blunt. “Qualified” is incompetent. ”Principled” is corrupt. "Conservative” is opportunistic.

Glassman re Giffords
What Glassman did when Gabby got shot

With respect to the latter claim, consider this.

Rodney began life as a Republican when he first moved to Tucson from California in 1997. He transitioned to Independent in 1999, then Democrat in 2000, and has recently switched back to the Republican party as a candidate for the Arizona Corporation Commission. Throughout his career, opportunism has been the name of Rodney’s game. When Rodney worked for Rep. Grijalva, sat on the Tucson City Council, and ran for U.S. Senate he was an environment-protecting, Planned Parenthood-loving, pro-labor progressive Democrat. After his unsuccessful U.S. Senate race, Rodney launched a failed bid for Arizona Democratic Party Chair in 2011. Ever the class act, two days after Congresswoman Giffords was shot on January 8, Rodney sent out an email exploiting the tragedy.

Writing in his column “What the Devil won’t tell you” at the Tucson Sentinel, Blake Morlock asks Can Candidate Glassman prove that he’s grown up? Morlock’s answer: The candidate this columnist got to know has no place in public office

I’ll put it this way: Everything I need to know about Donald Trump, I learned from Rodney Glassman.

The rich kid who needs the affirmation. The egotist with a short attention span who thinks everything is about him and blames his staff and others for his own shortcomings. The absolute lack of policy chops.

You gotta read Morlock’s column to get an understanding of why we really, really want to stop Glassman’s political career right here, right now.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Research report - Krysten Sinema's votes reveal progressive values ...

… but her staff needs to work on people skills.

GV News Editor Dan Shearer published an editorial in the June 3rd edition, Campaign 101: How not to do it. He was quite critical of Rep. Krysten Sinema (AZ CD9) and some of her staff. Here is a sample.

Sinema is a Democrat running for U.S. Senate. She’s up against a doesn’t-have-a-chance candidate in the primary and is raking in the campaign donations. A lot of people believe in her.

I received a call from a campaign aide last week who said Sinema would be in Green Valley and would like to come by the paper. No problem, I said.

Then she told me I’d have all of 15 minutes with her.

Not enough, I said. I need at least a half hour. I explained that we don’t endorse, but if candidates care enough to come through our community, we’ll meet with them and write a column about where they stand on the issues, particularly those specific to us.

She listened politely, then said that Rep. Sinema had official congressional duties mixed with campaign work and was really, really busy.

Here is another sequence.

… I asked what Sinema would be doing in Green Valley. She avoided the question the first time. Then I pressed. And pressed again. She seemed evasive and uncomfortable, so I took a wild guess: Private meeting with donors?

She neither confirmed nor denied. It’s not surprising. Money-grubbing is a necessary evil in politics.

You have to read the editorial to get the complete picture of his gripes, but here are some of my observations. First, in my prior life, I dealt with newspaper editors and reporters. My lesson learned was to be very nice to those folks. They were just as busy as I was. Moreover, they wield the power of the pen. You do not want to piss them off. Sinema’s staffer has yet to learn that most valuable lesson. The second observation concerned those evasions. In the absence of disclosure, many things other than the truth are possible and inferable. Shearer’s “wild guess” is one of those inferables. Third, I received an invitation to the “private meeting” stating that an RSVP was required for admission. (I did not attend.)

In the June 10 edition of the GV News, State Senator Andrea Dalessandro replied in the following letter to the editor.

Sinema supporter

I was disappointed in a recent editorial regarding Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema’s visit to Green Valley (“Campaign 101: How not to do it,” June 3). In my view, it was a complete mischaracterization of her time spent in our region. And I would know how her time was spent because I hosted the Congresswoman in my home.

At no point did she make a request for money. She introduced attendees to her background, the challenges her family faced, and how she draws upon her career working with Arizona students and families and her own life experience to get results for our state. Importantly, she also fielded questions.

I know that Congresswoman Sinema doesn’t need me to come to her defense — but I do feel the need to raise my voice when it’s on my turf. I hope that my home is a welcoming place. I may not be able to hold all of Green Valley in my living room, but I was happy to bring together dozens and dozens of Arizonans to meet a strong, independent-minded female candidate for U.S. Senate. I look forward to her returning to our region as the campaign continues and will be proudly standing with her in November.

Andrea Dalessandro, Sahuarita

Whether Shearer’s editorial was “a complete mischaracterization” I leave to you to decide. I’ve got another set of questions about this “strong, independent-minded female candidate for U.S. Senate” and why our LD2 Senator Dalessandro “will be proudly standing with her in November.” To address these questions I consulted public sources of voting records.

Ballotpedia “is the online encyclopedia of American politics and elections. Our goal is to inform people about politics by providing accurate and objective information about politics at all levels of government. We are firmly committed to neutrality; here’s why. Ballotpedia’s articles are 100 percent written by our professional staff.”

Sen. Dalessandro’s voting record based on several score cards reported in her Ballotpedia entry seems to me to be about as close to a true progressive as you can get. On the left, organizations like Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club give her perfect scores. On the right, organizations like Americans for Progress and Center for Arizona Policy give her failing grades. I took a sample of several of those scores and calculated a median of about 93% progressive.

For Sinema’s record in the U. S. House, I used 538’s Tracking Congress In The Age Of Trump. An updating tally of how often every member of the House and the Senate votes with or against the president. One measure is “how often a member votes in line with Trump’s position.” Sinema scores 57.3% and is the third highest Democrat in the House in voting with Trump.

However, that percentage is misleading. Here is why. The percentage includes lots of bills that provide stop-gap funding to keep the government running or that deal with other budgetary matters. Votes for these kinds of routine bills will tend to inflate the percentage score - assuming we all want to keep our government running. (Disclosure: I’ve used that percentage score to criticize other candidates before. Now I have to reevaluate that practice.)

Instead of using the overall percentage we need to look at votes on legislation that matter to progressives, for example, denying funding for Planned Parenthood, punishing sanctuary cities, increasing the availability of guns, repeal of Dodd-Frank, and repeal of regulations that provide for clean air and water. I pulled the records for 33 such bills from January 1, 2017 to present. I counted the number of instances in which Sinema voted against legislation supported by Trump. Her score was 85% opposed to Trump’s position.

You might ask how good is that score. To establish bounds on that measure I used the same method to compute the progressive scores for Raul Grijalva (AZ CD 3) and Martha McSally (AZ CD2). Grijalva scored a perfect 100% opposed to Trump’s positions and McSally, voting almost entirely with Trump on everything, scored 3%. (By the way, Trump’s score on the same measure was a perfect 0%.)

At the time of this writing, it appears that a likely match-up for the AZ U. S. Senate seat will be between Sinema and McSally. When it comes to deciding on how to vote, if you want ideological purity, you could point to the difference between Sinema and Grijalva (100% - 85% = 15%) and stay home. But if you want to flip that seat held by Republican Jeff Flake to a Democrat, you should focus on the difference between Sinema’s progressive score vs. that of McSally (85% - 3% = 82%) and Get Out to Vote.

Singapore update - Trump's concessions get him nothing while Kim enjoys good PR at home in NK

Our worst fear about Trump’s narcissism is his susceptibility to praise. As I and others have written before, once you understand that, then manipulating Trump is easy. We don’t know what happened when the two leaders were in a one-on-one private meeting. But what we now know is that Kim walked away with Trump’s commitment to stop the military exercises with South Korea, Trump’s promise of North Korean security guarantees, and nothing changed with respect to NK’s nuclear program other than Kim’s “commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” reports Reuters in Historic Trump-Kim summit ends with promise, light on substance. And what did Trump get? Nada.

“President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” the statement said, referring to North Korea by the initials of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

But the most important thing was another win for Kim and a loss for Trump. They met as co-equals. The interspersed flags was a stark reminder of the entrance of North Korea onto the world stage. And Donald Trump put them there.

With respect to our military presence on the Korean peninsula and the military exercises with South Korea, Trump’s rhetoric was straight out of a North Korean playbook. Trump calls them “provocative” and “war games” reports Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) in Trump echoes North Korean rhetoric on military exercises.

Perhaps the most notable substantive development from Donald Trump’s summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un was the American president’s latest concession: Trump announced that he’s curtailing scheduled military exercises with our South Korean allies.

Consider, for example, what the Republican told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. From the network’s transcript:

“[W]e’re not gonna play the war games. You know, I wanted to stop the war games, I thought they were very provocative. But I also think they’re very expensive. We’re running the country properly, I think they’re very, very expensive. To do it, we have to fly planes in from Guam – that’s six and a half hours away. Big bombers and everything else, I said, ‘Who’s paying for this?’ I mean, who pays, in order to practice.

“So one of the things that I suggested and I wanna do is we’re going to stop the war games, unless for some reason, we’re unable to go further.”

Similarly, at his press conference, Trump three times called the military exercises “very provocative,” adding, “I think it’s inappropriate to be having war games.” The president went on to say “like to be able to bring” U.S. troops home from South Korea.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but if North Korean officials had literally written the talking points for the White House, they probably would’ve sounded similar to this. Kim Jong-un is the one who condemns joint U.S./South Korea military exercises as “provocative” and “inappropriate.”

And now the sitting American president is saying the same thing, effectively endorsing North Korean propaganda – handing Kim another concession in exchange for very little.

Rachel spoke to retired four-star Navy Admiral James Stavridis, a former supreme allied commander of NATO, about the developments last night, and he said something that stood out for me.

“We ought to remember,” Stavridis explained, “our troops are there, not as an act of goodwill toward South Korea, they’re there to enhance U.S. influence in the region, to ensure that we keep those sea-lanes of communication open, that our trade can flow freely, that we have a voice in the events there…. They’re not there as an act of goodwill; they’re there to accomplish U.S. national security objectives.”

Someone really ought to let the president know.

The problem is that Trump may not be capable of knowing that or even knowing that he got snookered. (Look it up.) That’s the conclusion by Nicholas Kristof at the NY Times. Kristof’s headline was equally blunt: Trump Was Outfoxed in Singapore (h/t Jana Eaton)

It sure looks as if President Trump was hoodwinked in Singapore.

Trump made a huge concession — the suspension of military exercises with South Korea. That’s on top of the broader concession of the summit meeting itself, security guarantees he gave North Korea and the legitimacy that the summit provides his counterpart, Kim Jong-un.

Within North Korea, the “very special bond” that Trump claimed to have formed with Kim will be portrayed this way: Kim forced the American president, through his nuclear and missile tests, to accept North Korea as a nuclear equal, to provide security guarantees to North Korea, and to cancel war games with South Korea that the North has protested for decades.

In exchange for these concessions, Trump seems to have won astonishingly little. In a joint statement, Kim merely “reaffirmed” the same commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula that North Korea has repeatedly made since 1992.

“They were willing to de-nuke,” Trump crowed at his news conference after his meetings with Kim. Trump seemed to believe he had achieved some remarkable agreement, but the concessions were all his own.

The most remarkable aspect of the joint statement was what it didn’t contain. There was nothing about North Korea freezing plutonium and uranium programs, nothing about destroying intercontinental ballistic missiles, nothing about allowing inspectors to return to nuclear sites, nothing about North Korea making a full declaration of its nuclear program, nothing about a timetable, nothing about verification, not even any clear pledge to permanently halt testing of nuclear weapons or long-range missiles.

Kim seems to have completely out-negotiated Trump, and it’s scary that Trump doesn’t seem to realize this. For now Trump has much less to show than past negotiators who hammered out deals with North Korea like the 1994 Agreed Framework, which completely froze the country’s plutonium program with a rigorous monitoring system.

Trump claimed an “excellent relationship” with Kim, and it certainly is better for the two leaders to be exchanging compliments rather than missiles. In a sense, Trump has eased the tensions that he himself created when he threatened last fall to “totally destroy” North Korea. I’m just not sure a leader should get credit for defusing a crisis that he himself created.

There was also something frankly weird about an American president savaging Canada’s prime minister one day and then embracing the leader of the most totalitarian country in the world.

Incredibly, Trump told Voice of America that he had this message for the North Korean people: “I think you have somebody that has a great feeling for them. He wants to do right by them and we got along really well.”

It’s breathtaking to see an American president emerge as a spokesman for the dictator of North Korea.

All this is to say that Kim Jong-un proved the more able negotiator. North Korean government officials have to limit their computer time, because of electricity shortages, and they are international pariahs — yet they are very savvy and shrewd, and they were counseled by one of the smartest Trump handlers of all, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea.

My guess is that Kim flattered Trump, as Moon has, and that Trump simply didn’t realize how little he was getting. On my most recent visit to North Korea, officials were asking me subtle questions about the differences in views of Mike Pompeo and Nikki Haley; meanwhile, Trump said he didn’t need to do much homework.

Whatever our politics, we should all want Trump to succeed in reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and it’s good to see that Trump now supports engagement rather than military options. There will be further negotiations, and these may actually freeze plutonium production and destroy missiles. But at least in the first round, Trump seems to have been snookered.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Kirkpatrick CD2 residency claims challenged by Heinz supporters in court filing

FYI.

Dylan Smith at the Tucson Sentinel reports that CD2 candidate Dr. Matt Heinz wants to boot Kirkpatrick off primary ballot over residence claims. Local Dems file to kick ex-congresswoman off candidate list.

A trio of Tucson-area Democrats is trying to narrow the CD 2 primary field by getting the apparent front-runner booted off the ballot. Those pressing a lawsuit challenging the nominating petitions filed by Ann Kirkpatrick are supporters of candidate Matt Heinz, who said he backs the legal move.

The 13-page suit claims that Kirkpatrick, a former congresswoman from Flagstaff, doesn’t live in Tucson as she stated in her petitions to earn a spot on the August ballot.

The challenge, filed in Maricopa County Superior Court on Monday, alleges that Kirkpatrick and her husband instead live in Phoenix near his law office.

Congressional representatives are not required by the U.S. Constitution to live in the district they are elected from — they only must reside in the state — but the suit drafted by Phoenix attorney Craig Morgan wants to have Kirkpatrick’s name pulled off the list of Democratic primary candidates, with a judge tossing out any nominating petitions that include addresses in Southern Arizona.

The suit claims that “Kirkpatrick claims to actually reside in Southern Arizona. However, Kirkpatrick does not actually reside in Southern Arizona, but instead resides in Maricopa County …. Kirkpatrick has defrauded, misled, and confused the electorate….”

The suit, filed on behalf of Tucson-area voters Thomas Elias, his wife Regina Mireles-Elias, and Tuan Vo, maintains that Kirkpatrick’s nominating papers are “invalid.”

Vo is a public supporter of Heinz, a former state legislator who lost the 2016 general election to U.S. Rep. Martha McSally. Vo has contributed $5,400 to Heinz’s campaign in this cycle, federal campaign finance records show. Mireles-Elias and her husband were featured in Heinz’s campaign commercials last year, along with Tuan, the candidate said.

A spokesman for Kirkpatrick’s campaign, Rodd McLeod, said emphatically Monday afternoon that “Ann Kirkpatrick lives in Tucson.”

She’s lived in Tucson since last spring. She rented a house on Woodspring (Drive), and then moved to an apartment on Shannon (Road) that she shares with her son," McLeod said.

“Apparently to run in District 2, you need to live in District 3,” McLeod said, referencing a home owned by Heinz that sits in the cross-town congressional seat held by U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva.

McLeod said Monday that Kirkpatrick “has been followed around. The suit says something about her getting mail — what are you doing, looking in her mailbox?”

Kirkpatrick has a large lead in the fundraising race.

A statement released by Heinz said he was “supporting” the legal challenge to Kirkpatrick’s candidacy, accusing her of “fraudulent activities” and “lies and cover-up” about where she lives. Spokesman Brian Robinson acknowledged that Heinz’s campaign is funding the lawsuit.

Heinz’s campaign has for a year drawn attention to Kirkpatrick’s decision to register to vote and declare her candidacy in Southern Arizona last July, carefully avoiding the term while invoking the spirit of the “carpetbagger” charges made against her by Republicans.

Also in the race on the Democratic side are Mary Matiella, a former assistant Army secretary seeking elected office for the first time; and political newcomers Billy Kovacs, Barbara Sherry and Yahya Yuksel. Former state representative and ex-Tucson City Councilman Bruce Wheeler is again running in the Democratic congressional primary.

Joe Ferguson at the Daily Star has more in details in his report, Locals seek to oust Kirkpatrick from CD2 race, say she doesn’t live in Tucson.

The 13-page filing seeks to kick Kirkpatrick off of the ballot for Congressional District 2, arguing that she lied on her nominating petitions by listing two Tucson addresses when in fact she doesn’t live in Southern Arizona.

The claim offers a detailed narrative backed with a paper trail that shows Kirkpatrick and her husband, Roger Curley, actually live in Phoenix near the law offices where Curley works.

Craig Morgan, an attorney representing the Tucson voters, told the Arizona Daily Star that he has overwhelming evidence that Kirkpatrick went to great lengths to trick voters in Congressional District 2.

“It is a case about being honest with the electorate,” Morgan said.

No federal law requires Kirkpatrick to live in the district, but that isn’t the crux of the legal argument designed to nullify the signatures for the ballot.

“Our statutes do require you on certain forms, which are your nomination paperwork and petitions, to list your actual address, and there is a reason for that — people need to know where you live,” Morgan said.

Brian Robinson, the campaign manager for the Heinz campaign, said the Kirkpatrick team doesn’t seem to understand the problem.

“The fact that Ann lives in Phoenix and comes to Southern Arizona for special occasions isn’t the issue,” he said.

“The problem is that she lied about it and swore in official documents that her lies are the truth.”

The filing requests that that the judge nullify nominating petitions, bar her from being on the primary ballot in August and prevent her from running as a write-in candidate in the fall.

A spokesperson for Kirkpatrick, Rodd McLeod, said one of Kirkpatrick’s political rivals — emergency room Dr. Matt Heinz — is funding the baseless legal claim.

“Nobody is surprised by another false attack by Matt Heinz, who hasn’t won a campaign in years due to his negative GOP-style politics,” McLeod said. “Ann Kirkpatrick lives in Tucson in District 2, not in District 3 where Matt lives.”

Stay tuned for more developments

Monday, June 11, 2018

Illustrated Gnus, uniformed unicorns, and other toons to start your week. It can't be worse than last week, right?

Here are some of the themes from the Mournday Mourning funnies from AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona.

Sung to the tune of The CandyMan (Sammy Davis Jr.)
Who can take tomorrow (who can take tomorrow)
Dip it in the dirt (dip it in the dirt)
Enjoy the sorrow while causing more and more hurt
The Family Man (the Family Man)
The Jeff Sessions Man can (the Jeff Sessions Man can)
The Donald Trump Man can

John McCain
McCain's revenge:
Trump's disrespect comes back around
  • Trump once took a knee - begging to dodge the draft

  • Trump sings God Bless America, It’s All about Me!

  • par·don
    ˈpärdn
    noun

  • the action of forgiving or being forgiven for an error or offense.
    and Trump wants this judgment of guilt for himself? Go figure.

  • King Donald the First channels King George the Third. And we thought that the American revolution settled all that. Silly us!

  • What’s taught in Trump University math class: G7–1 = G6 +1

  • What’s taught in Trump University American history class: Canadians burned down the White House during the war of 1812.

  • Trump takes aim at perceived enemies: Canada, Mexico, Europe, America.

  • Imposing tariffs, Trump enters the belly of the beast (aka China)

  • Empty school scores A+ from DeVos

  • Pruitt uses staff to score a Chik-Fil-A franchise for wife, claims God is on his side.

  • I am an atheist. I am a baker. I bake cakes. But not for Evangelical Christians. It’s legal. The Supreme Court told me so.

  • Trump heralds the Singapore Summer Summit by performing the Nukey Pukey.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Scriber's significant digit - 10,000,000

King Trump
Everything you need to know about
what Trump learned from King George III

10 million words is what you already know about Trump’s monarchist ambitions. 10 million words is what this Time cover conveys about that.

FYI - in case you’ve forgotten why we had a revolution against another king, see King George III.

America, We've Got a Problem - Putin's Puppet

Odd man out
Odd man out at G6+1
as Trump & Bolton face off the world

Trump Says U.S. Will No Longer Be ‘Piggy Bank That Everybody’s Robbing’

President Trump said on Saturday that he had brought up with America’s closest allies the dramatic prospect of completely eliminating tariffs on goods and services, even as he threatened to end all trade with his counterparts if they didn’t stop what he said were unfair trade practices.

Speaking to reporters at the end of a contentious weekend meeting of the Group of 7 nations in a resort town outside of Quebec City, Mr. Trump said that eliminating all trading barriers would be “the ultimate thing.” But he railed about what he called “ridiculous and unacceptable” tariffs on American goods and vowed to get rid of them.

“It’s going to stop. Or we’ll stop trading with them. And that’s a very profitable answer, if we have to do it,” Mr. Trump said, adding, “We’re like the piggy bank that everybody’s robbing, and that ends.”

Several of the leaders responded aggressively to Mr. Trump’s demands — as they have repeatedly in public — listing their own complaints about American policies on tariffs and other trade measures, the official said. Several countries have said publicly they will retaliate against the United States’ new steel and aluminum tariffs with increased tariffs of their own.

“If they retaliate, they’re making a mistake,” Mr. Trump said, suggesting that the trade imbalance between the United States and those countries would make tariff increases more destructive for their economies.

Well, may be not. That’s an incredibly myopic view. Trump apparently is unaware that “those countries” know how to protect themselves, as Catherine Rampell explains in her column, Trump is waging a trade war in the dumbest way possible.

President Trump says we need to be “smarter” in how we deal with other countries. And yet his approach to extracting concessions from our trading partners has proved very, very dumb.

Notwithstanding Trump’s Twitter declarations, trade wars are neither good nor easy to win. In a trade war, every side loses, experiencing lost jobs, crippled businesses and higher prices for consumers. We learned that the last time we had a full-blown global trade war — in the 1930s after Congress passed sweeping tariffs that exacerbated the Great Depression.

Even so, it’s possible for some countries in a trade war to lose more than others. And that’s the position Trump is leaving the United States in, by taking perhaps the worst possible approach to economically bullying other countries.

U.S. steel prices have risen nearly 40 percent since the start of the year, and are now more than 50 percent higher than in both Europe and China, according to the S&P Global Platts benchmark price assessment for hot-rolled coil, the bellwether product.

But that’s not the only reason these tariffs are going to hurt us a lot more than they hurt everyone else. The bigger problem is how other countries, including our friends and military allies, are responding to our protectionist measures.

Collectively Canada, the European Union, Mexico, Russia, India, Japan and Turkey have already announced $40 billion worth of retaliatory tariffs on U.S.-made products. The scale of these retaliatory tariffs isn’t what’s most concerning; it’s the composition. These other countries have been far more strategic about which U.S. products they choose to target than we apparently were in launching this trade war.

these other countries have tried to pick and choose products that their businesses and consumers can easily obtain elsewhere. In fact, when the E.U. recently revised its list of U.S. products subject to retaliation, it decided to remove some items for which non-American close substitutes apparently weren’t available, as the Economist’s Soumaya Keynes pointed out.

Even worse for Trump, these angry countries are choosing products with political sensitivities in mind. Hence the appearance of Kentucky-made bourbon, Iowa-farmed pork, Wisconsin-manufactured motorcycles and Ohio-made washing machines on these lists.

In short: Our trading partners have fine-tuned the art of minimizing their own pain — and maximizing ours.

Trump clearly believes he’s being “tough” with these other countries, and protecting American jobs, with his ineptly-designed tariffs. In fact, he’s putting many more jobs in other industries at risk. A report released this week by the Trade Partnership, a consulting and research firm, estimated that *the ratio of jobs lost to jobs gained from Trump’s trade actions will be about 16 to 1*: 26,280 steel and aluminum jobs gained, compared with 432,747 jobs eliminated throughout the rest of the economy.

And that’s presumably not even counting any of the hundreds of jobs now held by Trump’s fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill. [Zinger!]

So Trump is alienating our strongest and (previously) most loyal allies. He is doing so even at the cost to our own economy measured in higher prices and lost jobs.

Why?

Daivd Taintor at Talking Points Memo reports that [Trump Seems To Really Want Russia Back In The G–7: ‘It Would Be An Asset’] Trump says.

For the second time in two days, President Trump called for Russia to be let back into the G–7.

Russia was kicked out of the global summit over its invasion of Ukraine. But Trump, who has asserted a decisively pro-Russia posture, said Saturday at the G–7 in Canada that it would be an “asset to have Russia back in.”

“This used to be the G–8, not the G–7, and something happened a while ago where Russia is no longer in,” Trump told reporters. “I think it would be an asset to have Russia back in. I think it would be good for the world. I think it would be good for Russia. I think it would be good for the United States. I think it would be good for all of the countries of the current G–7. I think the G–8 would be better. I think having Russia back in would be a positive thing. We’re looking for peace in the world, we’re not looking to play games.”

That little “something” just happened to be the invasion and annexation of a piece of a neighboring country’s territory. Nothing has changed since that would justify such a conciliatory move to restore Russia to a G–8 (or maybe a G–7+1 if the US stays in).

So I ask again, why?

Josh Marshall, also at Talking Points Memo, has the answer: We’ve Got a Problem. A Big Problem.

There are certain frameworks and situations in the law in which it does not matter why something happened, it simply matters that something has demonstrably happened, to establish the point, making the finding or act. I have thought for some time that we face a similar situation with the man who currently holds the U.S. Presidency. Over the course of 16+ months, President Trump has acted consistently and with some success to destabilize and break up the western alliance (both its formal manifestation in NATO) but also its less formal dimensions in trade and other partnerships. He has also worked consistently on really every front to advance the interests of Russia.

The last twenty four hours of attacks on our closest allies capped by President Trump’s seemingly out of the blue demand to bring Russia back into the G–7 (making it again the G–8 which it was for most of the post-Cold War era until Russia was expelled over the annexation of Crimea) simply brings the matter into a newly sharp relief. If candidate Trump and President Putin had made a corrupt bargain which obligated President Trump to destabilize all U.S. security and trade alliances (especially NATO, which has been Russia’s primary strategic goal for 70 years) and advance the strategic interests of Russia, there’s really nothing more remotely realistic he could have done to accomplish that than what he has in fact done.

We have a President who clearly got a great deal of assistance from Russia in getting elected. We can argue about how important it was to his victory. But the reality of the help is not in any real dispute. His campaign at a minimum had numerous highly suspicious contacts with people either in the Russian government or acting on behalf of the Russian government while that was happening. That is a very generous interpretation. He’s doing all the stuff he’d have been asked to do if such a corrupt bargain had been made. At a certain point – and I’d say we’re clearly at or past that point – it really doesn’t matter whether we can prove such a bargain was made. I’m not even sure it matters whether it was explicit or even happened. The bank robber helped the teller get the job and now the teller just won’t seem to lock the safe or even turn on the alarm. We can debate forever whether the teller is just absent-minded or has some odd philosophical aversion toward locks. The debate may be unresolvable. It truly doesn’t matter.

What does matter, in addition to waging all out war on our domestic institutions, whacking back our social safety net, relaxing rules that provide for our health and well-being, and trashing our nation’s law enforcement, Trump’s negative actions toward our global friends and allies play right into Putin’s hands.

And that’s why AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona calls Trump “Putin’s puppet”.