Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian
WE Persist!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

JOIN the Climate Strike; Social Change CAN come quickly!

This week I learned that an expression I like to use is close but not as fully or directly on the mark as I had previously envisioned. "Empowerment cures apathy!"

On Wednesday, Master of Science student Zoe Stein presented a defense of her thesis at ASU's Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. Her paper is titled, A Future-Oriented Assessment of Attitudes Toward Urban Water Sustainability Transitions among Young, Ethnically-Diverse Urban Residents in Phoenix, Denver, and Las Vegas.

In other words, what it's reasonable to expect young people, including growing minority populations to believe, understand and think about how to adapt to likely approaching urban water shortages.

In response to my question, Ms Stein had a slightly different take. She told me that she found (or the survey data from Phoenix, Las Vegas and Denver suggest) that for the most part, the young people in her survey cared a lot about environmental issues. But they don't necessarily know what to do to make a difference.

So, if I were to fine tune my use of the expression, I'd probably start with understanding how to turn their passion into positive action is the key.

*****

Thursday evening the Wrigley Sustainability Institute presented the documentary Paris to Pittsburgh at the Alamo Drafthouse theater in Tempe.

Imdb.com carries this summary,
Paris to Pittsburgh brings to life the impassioned efforts of individuals who are battling the most severe threats of climate change in their own backyards. Set against the national debate over the United States' energy future - and the Trump administration's explosive decision to exit the Paris Climate Agreement - the film captures what's at stake for communities around the country and the inspiring ways Americans are responding.
The full movie is available on YouTube. Non-profit Interfaith Power and Light makes (free) screening events available in homes or theaters. In Arizona contact, AZIPL.org.

The post-viewing discussion included two other young women leaders with a bright future. Both of them are high school students working to organize the September 20, 2019 Climate Strike in Arizona.

With a byline including Greta Thunberg and another 46 youth activists, The Guardian published this letter,
We can’t stave off global heating by ourselves. Together, on 20 September, we can unleash mass resistance
We spent uncountable hours organising [organizing] and mobilising [mobilizing] when we could have just hung out with our friends or studied for school.
We don’t feel like we have a choice: it’s been years of talking, countless negotiations, empty deals on climate change and fossil fuel companies being given free rides to drill beneath our soils and burn away our futures for their profit. Politicians have known about climate change for decades. They have willingly handed over their responsibility for our future to profiteers whose search for quick cash threatens our very existence.
We have learned that if we don’t start acting for our future, nobody else will make the first move. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
Once again our voices are being heard on the streets, but it is not just up to us. We feel a lot of adults haven’t quite understood that we young people won’t hold off the climate crisis ourselves. Sorry if this is inconvenient for you. But this is not a single-generation job. It’s humanity’s job. We young people can contribute to a larger fight and that can make a huge difference.
So this is our invitation. Starting on Friday 20 September we will kickstart a week of climate action with a worldwide strike for the climate. We’re asking adults to step up alongside us. There are many different plans under way in different parts of the world for adults to join together and step up and out of your comfort zone for our climate. Let’s all join together, with your neighbours, co-workers, friends, family and go out on to the streets to make your voices heard and make this a turning point in our history.
This is about crossing lines – it’s about rebelling wherever one can rebel. It’s not about saying “Yeah, what the kids do is great, if I was young I would have totally joined in.” It doesn’t help, but everyone can and must help.
During the French revolution mothers flooded the streets for their children. 
[The Women's March on Versailles, which took place in October 1789, is often credited with forcing the royal court and family to move from the traditional seat of government in Versailles to Paris, a major and early turning point in the French Revolution. (citation added by the Arizona Eagletarian)] 
Today we children are fighting for ourselves, but so many of our parents are busy discussing whether our grades are good, or a new diet or what happened in the Game of Thrones finale – while the planet burns.
This moment has to happen. Last year’s UN intergovernmental panel on climate change’s special report on global warming was clear about the unprecedented dangers of going beyond 1.5C of global heating. Emissions must drop rapidly – so that by the time we are in our mid- and late-20s we are living in a completely transformed world.
But to change everything, we need everyone. It is time for all of us to unleash mass resistance – we have shown that collective action does work. We need to escalate the pressure to make sure that change happens, and we must escalate together.
So this is our chance – join us on climate strike this September. People have risen up before to demand action and make change; if we do so in numbers we have a chance. If we care, we must do more than say we do. We must act. This won’t be the last day we need to take to the streets, but it will be a new beginning. We’re counting on you.
The local organizing group group (Zero Hour Phoenix) can be reached on Twitter or Facebook.

Expect to read more details on the event(s) in Arizona as the date approaches.

*****

So, empowerment isn't necessarily only the cure for apathy but also for rudderless enthusiastic young (and old) people who need to know how to direct their energy, make goals, achieve some, fail some, regroup, then refocus to learn more, fail more and achieve more... We WILL persist until we (young and old) succeed.


Social change CAN come quickly

Monday, June 17, 2019

Our (Stacey) Champion again pushes AZ Corp Comm to S*** or get off the pot!

Today, through her attorney, Stacey Champion filed a request for decision in her ongoing challenge to APS' egregious (and for too many, deadly) 2017 rate increase. The 59-page submission includes recent media articles and columns. The pressure is on the Corp Comm to demonstrate it is no longer in the pocket of Dirty Money.








Reach Stacey at on twitter @ChampPR to show support. To help with the legal expenses, go here

Gerrymandering and the Supreme Court

It's not the adoption of objective (mathematical) standards to measure how bad a state has gerrymandered legislative or Congressional districts, but it IS a positive step. In other words, the war hasn't yet been won, but SCOTUS did declare a battle victory today.

SCOTUS Blog reporter Amy Howe today explained the Court's new opinion that threw out Virginia Republican's complaint on a five-year old lawsuit that had struck down gerrymandered districts on the basis of diluting African-American voters' influence.
Last week Virginia held its primary election for the state’s House of Delegates. It used a new map, which had been drawn with the help of a court-appointed expert after a federal court threw out the old one. The lower court ruled that 11 districts were the product of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering – that is, the legislators who drew the districts relied too heavily on race. Today a divided Supreme Court left that decision in place, ruling that the state’s legislature did not have a legal right – known as “standing” – to appeal the district court’s decision to the Supreme Court. The decision means that the state’s general election in November will likely go forward using the same new map.
The lawsuit that led to today’s decision was filed five years ago by residents of 12 different legislative districts in Virginia. They argued that by creating districts in which 55 percent of the voters were African-American, the legislature had diluted the strength of African-American voters in neighboring districts, giving Republicans an advantage there. A federal district court rejected the residents’ argument, but the Supreme Court sent the case back for the lower court to take another look at 11 of the 12 districts.
When the case returned to the lower court, the district court struck down the old map. Race, the district court concluded, had been the primary factor behind the design of each district, and the legislature had not shown that each district needed to have a voting-age population that was 55-percent African-American. When Virginia’s attorney general declined to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, the state’s House of Delegates did so instead, and the justices heard oral argument in March.
By a vote of 5-4, the justices today dismissed the House of Delegates’ appeal. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority, in an opinion that was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch.
The House of Delegates, Ginsburg explained, argued first that it had standing to appeal to the Supreme Court to represent Virginia’s interests. But Virginia law makes clear, Ginsburg emphasized, that only the state’s attorney general has the authority to represent the state in civil litigation. Indeed, Ginsburg noted, even if Virginia had given the House of Delegates the power to represent the state, the House of Delegates never indicated in the lower court that it was doing so; instead, “the House has purported to represent its own interests” throughout the case.
Ginsburg also rejected the House’s argument that it has standing to appeal in its own right. Addressing the House’s contention that it is “the legislative body that actually drew the redistricting plan” and would lose power to draw the new districts if a remedial order gave that power to the district court, Ginsburg observed that state law gives power over redistricting to the state’s General Assembly, “of which the House constitutes only a part.” This case is therefore different, Ginsburg reasoned, from a 2015 case in which the Supreme Court agreed that both houses of Arizona’s legislature could challenge the constitutionality of a referendum that gave authority over redistricting to an independent commission. Moreover, Ginsburg added, in the Arizona case the referendum permanently deprived the legislature of its role in redistricting, while in this case the remedial order “does not alter the General Assembly’s dominant initiating and ongoing role in redistricting.”
Ginsburg similarly dismissed the House’s argument that it had standing to appeal the district court’s order because the new maps would affect its membership: Even if that were true, she concluded, “the House as an institution has no cognizable interest in the identity of its members,” and changes to those members therefore would not provide the kind of harm that the House would need to have standing.
Justice Samuel Alito dissented, in an opinion that was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh. Alito would have held that the House did have standing because the use of the new court-ordered map would “harm the House in a very fundamental way.” In particular, Alito explained, “it is precisely because of the connections between the way districts are drawn, the composition of a legislature, and the things that a legislature does that so much effort is invested in drawing, contesting, and defending districting plans.” “To suggest otherwise, to argue that substituting one plan for another has no effect on the work or output of the legislative body whose districts are changed,” Alito posited, “would really be quite astounding.”
This post was also published on SCOTUSblog.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Elizabeth Warren and Bold Ideas... Will Face Obstacles; Fret Not; Keep your Vision UPWARD

On Thursday evening, I met a bright young Progressive activist. I asked her if or how Arizona will get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified. She didn't seem too confident... and she didn't seem despondent about it either. But she did say that we'll have to flip the Arizona Legislature first.

We were in a noisy restaurant, so it would have been difficult to pose a series of follow up questions to guide either of us in developing a plan then and there. Hopefully, there are plenty of others who ponder that very question already.
“The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.”
Holiday, Ryan. The Obstacle Is the Way (p. 7). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 
Seemingly a long time ago now, it was but weeks. The legislature, trying to wind down it's 2019 regular session, had a few days worth of brouhaha while some tried to force a vote on ERA ratification and very stubborn others dug their heels in to prevent it.

With the current composition of the state House and Senate, an actual vote may have passed the measure. GOP leadership in each chamber would have none of it, however, as they controlled what could be voted on and when. Rules are meant to be broken, at least sometimes. Well, Parliamentary maneuvers, like Discharge Petitions, exist to get around some rules... sometimes.

Regardless, concerning the ERA, obstacles still remain. In this case, they exist solely for the purpose of defining the path necessary to achieve the goal. Just like for two other obvious social constructs/injustices that the Founders failed to resolve at the birth of the Republic. Abolition of slavery, and women's suffrage.

The enactment of the ERA hence is as inevitable as abolition and universal voting rights. There are not enough Cathi Herrods to prevent passage forever. 

But I digress.

Ridding the Republic of the scourge of Trump is just as important and urgent. Yesterday evening I met others also. People just as upset over the current condition of American federal government and politics as I am.

A couple of them were not so optimistic about whether Trump could be defeated in 2020. Because of the ascent of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, I am optimistic. About that subject, journalist Matt Taiibi a day or so ago had a story published on Rolling Stone. Here are a few excerpts,
Elizabeth Warren’s Rise Is a Plus for Issue Politics — And a Bad Sign for Billionaires
Back in 2009, I called for Elizabeth Warren to run for president. I may have been the first media figure to do so. This was early in the Obama presidency, when he was beginning to renege on some of his progressive campaign promises (closing Gitmo, drug re-importation, etc.), but more importantly already showing an unwillingness to take on Wall Street after the crash.

Warren, a rare high-finance literate among national politicians, seemed like the person needed to lead an economic reform effort after the crash:
“We need someone … to re-seize the Party from the Wall Street interests that have come to dominate it … [Someone] who will know the difference between real regulatory reform and a dog-and-pony show, and will not be likely to fill a cabinet with bankers from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.”
I believed that then and now. I’d happily vote for Warren. When she was about to launch her campaign and a string of editorialists came out with pre-emptive broadsides warning she would “not enjoy an easy path” to the nomination because of a “darkening cloud” of controversy around her, I called it out as the cheap Beltway-press manipulation it was.
-----

All great victories, be they in politics, business, art, or seduction, involved resolving vexing problems with a potent cocktail of creativity, focus, and daring. When you have a goal, obstacles are actually teaching you how to get where you want to go—carving you a path. “The Things which hurt,” Benjamin Franklin wrote, “instruct.” -- The Obstacle Is the Way (p. 8)

----- 
The strength of Warren’s campaign is a series of detailed policy proposals aimed at correcting a series of corrupting inequities in American life. The first major proposal she released, on January 24th, was aimed at perhaps the biggest problem in American society: the wealth gap.
While working people almost all live off highly-taxed “income,” high net worth individuals mostly live off other revenue streams: carried interest, capital gains, inheritance, etc. Warren’s plan would create a net worth calculation that would hit households worth between $50 million and $1 billion with a 2% annual “ultra-millionaires tax.”
She has a similar plan for corporate tax, one that would wipe away the maze of loopholes big companies currently use, and force any firm that makes over $100 million in profits to pay a new 7 percent tax. “Amazon would pay $698 million instead of zero,” she says. “Occidental Petroleum would pay $280 million … instead of zero.”
Warren has also unveiled ambitious plans for cancelation of student debt and free college, universal child care and a new corporate accountability plan that would force high-ranking corporate executives to certify they’d conducted a “due diligence” inquiry, making it easier to prosecute them for misdeeds conducted under their watch.
She even created an “economic patriotism” plan that overtly targets many of the excuses for domestic job loss offered by her own party — automation, a “skills gap” or just blunt economic reality when trying to compete with cheaper labor abroad. She calls bull[shit] on it all. “No,” she writes, “America chose to pursue a trade policy that prioritized the interests of capital over the interests of American workers.”
She then laid out a series of plans that create “aggressive intervention on behalf of American workers,” create a “Department of Economic Development” and put an end to practices like corporations using public money for R&D, then eating the benefits in stock buybacks while exporting jobs. Her plan would give taxpayers an equity stake in publicly developed enterprises.
This idea has such broad appeal that it even had Tucker Carlson talking it up last week as he denounced companies that “wave the flag, but have no loyalty or allegiance to America.” She even got Carlson to rip Republicans, saying, “Republicans in Congress can’t promise to protect American industries. They wouldn’t dare.
Warren’s platform has a lot in common with some rivals — especially Bernie Sanders...
The two politicians do have some important differences, many of which were elucidated in a speech Sanders just gave on Wednesday at George Washington University. In it, Sanders explained why he calls himself a “Democratic Socialist,” a term Warren has not embraced. (She went out of her way in March to say, “I am a capitalist. Come on. I believe in markets.”)
Those inside the Sanders campaign would say the speech he gave this week — which explained his policies as a continuation of FDR’s “New Deal” — outlined the main difference between the two candidates.
An oversimplified view might describe Warren’s campaign as an effort to correct and more aggressively regulate the flaws of American capitalism, while also preserving the market-based system in which she does seem to genuinely believe.
Sanders, meanwhile, believes in “guaranteed economic rights for all Americans,” and is faster to place the solutions to problems he and Warren both identify in the hands of government. He believes health care, for instance, should be completely divorced from market considerations, and is less squeamish about disenfranchising private health insurance and other powerful lobbies. In fact, his campaign believes that any candidate who isn’t creating enemies is probably not proposing real change — as Sanders says, a Biden-esque “middle ground” platform “antagonizes no one, stands up to nobody, and changes nothing.”
The observation about the Democratic race that’s sure to be relevant when real bullets start flying in primaries is that Democratic voters are in schism: there is a corporate-funded, centrist wing and an oppositional/anti-corporate/anti-war wing.
Warren has smartly marketed herself as having a foot in both camps. She may very well prove a unifying figure — if that is possible, given how fierce the resistance would inevitably be to any real attempt to reorganize the banking, pharmaceutical and tech industries. A lot will depend on how much credibility she’ll muster with hardcore progressive voters, some of whom are already grumbling, for instance, about her unwillingness (to date) to confront the health sector via Medicare-for-All.
If she does win over those voters [and the Arizona Eagletarian believes she will], she’ll quickly end up with the opposite problem, i.e. Bernie’s current problem. If Warren is beating Biden by next January, and Sanders has fallen off, bet on this: the candidate who wants to tightly regulate banks, break up Amazon and Google and tax the hell out of the party’s biggest donors will once again find herself besieged by negative press, and questions about what the Times has already called her “difficult path to winning over moderates.”
Be not dismayed my friend--the Obstacle IS the WAY. "Polls are noise. Fights over issues are real. (Taiibi)"

However, Elizabeth Warren's motto, Nevertheless WE Persist, will carry the day.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

UPDATED: "I hate David and I hate this job" -- azcentral headline on story describing Ethics Report on Schweikert former Chief of Staff - UPDATED June 16,2019

Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ 06) presided over a slipshod office operation with financial oversight so weak that his former chief of staff [appears to have] managed to take home improper, extra pay that violated House ethics rules for years, a newly released investigation found.
WHY is that important? WHY is that not really an innocuous (series of) clerical error(s)?

Because it reveals the likely presence of clandestine financial (and political) leverage that compromises Schweikert's ability and willingness to provide honest representation for the legitimate interests of the lawful constituents (voters and other residents of the district he is supposed to serve).
Leverage: of course Arizona Eagletarian readers know what it means, but I provide the reference for emphasis. 
n., v. -aged, -ag•ing. n.
1. the action of a lever.
2. the mechanical advantage or power gained by using a lever.
3. power or ability to act effectively or to influence people.
4. the use of a small initial investment to gain a relatively high return.

v.t.
5. to exert power or influence on.
6. to provide with leverage.
7. to speculate in (invested funds) by using leverage.

Arizona Republic political reporter Ronald Hansen's story today provides some of the details of the newly released report of the Office of Congressional Ethics on Schweikert's former chief of staff Oliver Schwab.
Oliver Schwab may have collected $60,000 in outside pay over three years above what House rules permitted, and attended the 2015 Super Bowl in Glendale — with Schweikert, R-Ariz. — as part of a taxpayer-paid trip that was reported as official business, the report said.
There were other possible sources of income Schwab had that investigators could not examine during the probe that has dogged the five-term Republican congressman and his operations for more than a year.
Neither Schwab nor Schweikert cooperated with the probe, the report by the Office of Congressional Ethics said. Beyond them, numerous congressional staffers, Schwab's wife and others also refused to participate in the probe.
Apart from the alleged wrongful spending, the 424-page report released Wednesday paints the image of a congressional office simmering with discontent as Schweikert pondered a Senate run — he publicly considered in 2015 a primary challenge to then-Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. — and as Schwab took out his frustrations with Schweikert on other staffers.
"David was putting increasing pressure on (Schwab) to raise money because David wanted to run for the Senate," a former deputy chief of staff unnamed in the report who did cooperate, told investigators. "David was basically telling him, 'I need a million dollars if I'm going to run for the Senate.' I think that was weighing on him."
The former staffer said Schwab said: "I hate David and I hate this job," according to the report.
Schweikert is currently under investigation by the House Ethics Committee. The committee's probe is believed to overlap significantly with the matters outlined in the report on Schwab, who resigned last summer, ending the Ethics Committee's jurisdiction over him.
It is unclear when the investigation into Schweikert will conclude.
Currently, there are three declared Democratic challengers for the seat Schweikert currently holds. They are Anita Malik (who won the primary to challenge him in the 2018 general election), Stephanie Rimmer (who has run for that seat in the past, but not in 2018) and Hiral Tiperneni (who challenged Debbie Lesko in 2018 for the CD8 seat).

Schweikert and his political advisor Chris Baker have downplayed the ethics problems as mere clerical or bookkeeping errors.

Exhibit 1 (of 4) (the report) presents these conclusions,
  • Based on the foregoing information, the Board finds that there is substantial reason to believe that Mr. Schwab received income beyond the House’s outside earned income limit for senior staff. 
  • Based on the foregoing information, the Board finds that there is substantial reason to believe that Mr. Schwab made impermissible contributions to his employing Member through reimbursed personal outlays.
  • Based on the foregoing information, the Board finds that there is substantial reason to believe that Mr. Schwab made expenditures or received reimbursements from the MRA that were not for official expenses.
  • Accordingly, the Board recommends that the Committee further review the above allegations.
A number of potential witnesses (such as other key Schweikert staff and Schwab relatives) refused to comply with or declined to respond and/or provide testimony requested by the committee. The report further concludes,
Therefore, As discussed below, fourteen individuals or entities refused to cooperate with this review. The Board recommends the issuance of subpoenas to the following non-cooperative individuals and entities...
Links for Exhibits 2 through 4 include transcripts of testimony and other evidence obtained thus far in the investigation.

Much more drama to come. Stay tuned.

UPDATED to embed video from 12News.com Sunday Square Off

Monday, June 10, 2019

I, too, want to live in Elizabeth Warren's America: Personnel is Policy

A few days ago, New York Times opinion columnist Farhad Manjoo wrote,

[Rather than simply copy and paste the entire column (this time), I want to highlight one point he made. Or rather address one question he brought up.]
You might think I’m getting too giddy here. You might argue that policy ideas, especially at this stage of the game, don’t really matter — either because the public doesn’t care about substance, or because it’s unlikely that any president can get what she wants through a partisan, rigid Congress, so all these plans are a mere academic exercise.
My point is this: EVEN IF (future) President Warren does not have a friendly Congress, it will matter not nearly as much as people think.

First, because the incumbent has demonstrated clearly that he doesn't care and doesn't need Congress in order for him to do what he wants to do. Second, it was Senator Warren who explained in the NYTimes on January 29, 2016 one of the key reasons WHY that's the case. She didn't even mention the Unitary Executive Theory.

In her op-ed headlined, "One Way to Rebuild Our Institutions" she wrote
WASHINGTON — WHILE presidential candidates from both parties feverishly pitch their legislative agendas, voters should also consider what presidents can do without Congress. Agency rules, executive actions and decisions about how vigorously to enforce certain laws will have an impact on every American, without a single new bill introduced in Congress.
The Obama administration has a substantial track record on agency rules and executive actions. It has used these tools to protect retirement savings, expand overtime pay, prohibit discrimination against L.G.B.T. employees who work for the government and federal contractors, and rein in carbon pollution. These accomplishments matter.
Whether the next president will build on them, or reverse them, is a central issue in the 2016 election. But the administration’s record on enforcement falls short — and federal enforcement of laws that already exist has received far too little attention on the campaign trail.
I just released a report examining 20 of the worst federal enforcement failures in 2015. Its conclusion: “Corporate criminals routinely escape meaningful prosecution for their misconduct.” [If you think those 20 federal enforcement failures in 2015 are bad, what would you guess is happening with the current administration?]
In a single year, in case after case, across many sectors of the economy, federal agencies caught big companies breaking the law — defrauding taxpayers, covering up deadly safety problems, even precipitating the financial collapse in 2008 — and let them off the hook with barely a slap on the wrist. Often, companies paid meager fines, which some will try to write off as a tax deduction.
The failure to adequately punish big corporations or their executives when they break the law undermines the foundations of this great country. Justice cannot mean a prison sentence for a teenager who steals a car, but nothing more than a sideways glance at a C.E.O. who quietly engineers the theft of billions of dollars.
These enforcement failures demean our principles. They also represent missed opportunities to address some of the nation’s most pressing challenges. Consider just two areas — college affordability and health care — where robust enforcement of current law could help millions of people.
When the Education Management Corporation (EMDC), the nation’s second-largest for-profit college, signed up tens of thousands of students by lying about its programs, it saddled them with fraudulent degrees and huge debts. Those debts wrecked lives. Under the law, the government can bar such institutions from receiving more federal student loans. But EDMC just paid a fine and kept right on raking in federal loan money. [Perhaps as a result of Warren's linked report, EDMC, as indicated in the Bloomberg link, in June 2018 filed for voluntary liquidation.]
When Novartis, a major drug company that was already effectively on federal probation for misconduct, paid kickbacks to pharmacies to push certain drugs, it cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and undermined patient health. Under the law, the government can boot companies that defraud Medicare and Medicaid out of those programs, but when Novartis got caught, it just paid a penalty — one so laughably small that its C.E.O. said afterward that it “remains to be seen” whether his company would actually consider changing its behavior. [Subsequent federal lawsuit may settle for $1B]
Enforcement isn’t about big government or small government. It’s about whether government works and who it works for. Last year, five of the world’s biggest banks, including JPMorgan Chase, pleaded guilty to criminal charges that they rigged the price of billions of dollars worth of foreign currencies. No corporation can break the law unless people in that corporation also broke the law, but no one from any of those banks has been charged. While thousands of Americans were rotting in prison for nonviolent drug convictions, JPMorgan Chase was so chastened by pleading guilty to a crime that it awarded Jamie Dimon, its C.E.O., a 35 percent raise.
To be fair, weak enforcement is sometimes a result of limited authority. Despite the company’s history of egregious safety failures, for example, the former C.E.O. of Massey Energy was convicted only of a single misdemeanor in the deadly Upper Big Branch mine disaster that killed 29 miners in West Virginia in 2010, because federal mining laws are too weak. It’s on Congress to stiffen such penalties.
But in many instances, weak enforcement by federal agencies is about the people at the top. Presidents don’t control most day-to-day enforcement decisions, but they do nominate the heads of all the agencies, and these choices make all the difference. Strong leaders at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Labor Department have pushed those agencies to forge ahead with powerful initiatives to protect the environment, consumers and workers. The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, a tiny office charged with oversight of the post-crash bank bailout, has [HAD] aggressive leaders — and a far better record of holding banks and executives accountable than its bigger counterparts.
Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission, suffering under weak leadership, is far behind on issuing congressionally mandated rules to avoid the next financial crisis. It has repeatedly granted waivers so that lawbreaking companies can continue to enjoy special privileges, while the Justice Department has dodged one opportunity after another to impose meaningful accountability on big corporations and their executives.
Each of these government divisions is headed by someone nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The lesson is clear: Personnel is policy.
Legislative agendas matter, but voters should also ask which presidential candidates they trust with the extraordinary power to choose who will fight on the front lines to enforce the laws. The next president can rebuild faith in our institutions by honoring the simple notion that nobody is above the law, but it will happen only if voters demand it.

*****

American voters, if JD Vance's Hillbilly Elegy was even close to hitting the mark about why Trump got so many votes (and ultimately assumed the Office of the President), will make Elizabeth Warren the next President of the United States.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Well-behaved women... and Arizona's extreme heat

Well-behaved women seldom make history. -- Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, historian and 300th Anniversary University professor at Harvard.

Arizona has had a few women like that.

Today we have Stacey Champion.

Today is June 9, 2019. The National Weather Service has already issued the first excessive heat watch of the season for the Phoenix area to start in about 36 hours.
...EXCESSIVE HEAT WATCH NOW IN EFFECT FROM TUESDAY MORNING THROUGH THURSDAY EVENING... * WHERE...PORTIONS OF SOUTH CENTRAL ARIZONA INCLUDING THE PHOENIX METROPOLITAN AREA. * IMPACTS...INCREASE IN HEAT RELATED ILLNESSES, INCLUDING HEAT CRAMPS, HEAT EXHAUSTION, AND HEAT STROKE. HEAT STROKE CAN LEAD TO DEATH. * THREAT...VERY HIGH HEAT RISK...  A PERIOD OF VERY HOT TEMPERATURES, EVEN BY LOCAL STANDARDS, IS POSSIBLE... PREPARE FOR THE POTENTIAL OF EXTREME HEAT.
STAY INDOORS AND SEEK AIR-CONDITIONED BUILDINGS. DRINK WATER, MORE THAN USUAL... MONITOR THOSE WITH A HIGHER VULNERABILITY TO HEAT, INCLUDING SMALL CHILDREN. CHECK IN ON FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND NEIGHBORS, ESPECIALLY THE ELDERLY...  NEVER LEAVE KIDS OR PETS UNATTENDED IN CARS... SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HEAT-RELATED ILLNESS.
THE MOST SERIOUS ILLNESS IS HEAT STROKE, WHICH MAY INCLUDE: VOMITING; CONFUSION; THROBBING HEADACHE; DECREASED ALERTNESS OR LOSS OF CONSCIOUSNESS; HIGH BODY TEMPERATURE (ABOVE 105F); HOT, DRY SKIN; RAPID, WEAK PULSE; RAPID, SHALLOW BREATHING; SEIZURES. HEAT STROKE CAN BE DEADLY. TREAT AS AN EMERGENCY AND CALL 9-1-1.
Of course, in central and southern Arizona, we ALL have air-conditioning or swamp coolers, right? But even those don't provide relief when the electricity doesn't work.

Did you know that Arizona Public Service -- our state's largest electric utility (a monopoly with a protected franchise territory) -- cut the power to more than 110,000 customers in 2018? That was double the average number of cutoffs for each of the previous five years. Neither did I. That is, until Stacey Champion refused to shut up about it.

Laurie Roberts listened.
The state’s largest utility shut off power to customers unable to pay their bills 110,029 times in 2018, the first full year in which the 2017 rate increase went into effect.
That’s the equivalent of one in 10 customers left in the dark. It could be that some customers were disconnected more than once but an APS spokeswoman didn’t return my call to clarify the number.
Here’s what is clear. APS nearly doubled the number of customers it cut off in 2018 from the previous year.
Did you know that APS, prior to 2018, was required to report the number of electricity customers they cut off for non-payment? Neither did I. That is, until Stacey refused to shut up about it.


Arizonans currently have no protection for utility shut offs during extreme heat or cold. [Even though other states DO protect vulnerable populations* in such situations] We need to change that. Help us SAVE AZ LIVES. Air conditioning in Maricopa County especially, is not a luxury, it is literally a matter of life or death.
Our most vulnerable Arizona citizens need our support. Seniors on fixed incomes, folks with disabilities, pregnant women, those suffering from serious medical issues, and households with infants and young children. This is a bipartisan issue that needs to be addressed immediately, and allowing SB1542 to be heard and allowed to move through the democratic process at our State Legislature needs to happen. The Bill has been assigned to the Commerce Committee, and as Chair, Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita holds the cards as to whether or not it will be heard or move forward. After you sign this petition, please also consider emailing her directly through this legislative contact form, call her office directly at: (602) 926-4480 and ask that she hear SB1542, and then email your own Representatives as well to ask them to push for this important Bill to be heard.
Did you know that indoor heat-related deaths are increasing every year, and there is currently no legislation that prevents utilities from shutting off people’s AC during the hottest summer months? As an example, in July 2017, when Phoenix’s average high temp was 106.5 degrees F, Arizona Public Service (APS) shut off almost 7000 people’s power. SEVEN THOUSAND. And that was just in July…
People are dying and that is absolutely unacceptable. This is a public health crisis. Please sign and share this petition to Help us SAVE AZ LIVES.
The Arizona Legislature is no longer in session. SB1542 died when the session ended a couple of weeks ago. That bill would have prevented utilities from cutting off service, when freezing cold or temperatures above 99 degrees F are forecast, for vulnerable populations.

The bill never did get a hearing in a committee. I suspect the main reason for that was every sponsor of SB1542 was a Democrat and even though Republican majorities in both chambers are small this term, the GOP still holds the cards... and the power (in this case, the power of life and death).

What changed in 2018, other than APS no longer having to tell its hand-picked, store-bought regulators that they cut electricity to so many vulnerable Arizonans? You may have guessed it. Yes, that too was Stacey.
Arizona Revised Statute 40-246 allows customers to petition the Corporation Commission if they believe a utility is violating a commission order. If at least 25 utility customers sign on to a complaint, it triggers legal proceedings at the commission.
Champion submitted pages of signatures, and the petition had more than 430 signatures on Change.org Thursday afternoon. [and ultimately signed by more than 8,000 people]
Beside calling your Senator and Representatives, you can squawk to Governor Ducey by calling (602) 542-4331 and calling members of the Arizona Corporation Commission,

Bob Burns, Chair


Lea Marquez Peterson 

To address this problem statewide, legislation is required. The Arizona Corporation Commission does not regulate quasi-governmental utilities like Salt River Project.

Be like Stacey.

-----

* The link to the US Dept of Health and Human Services listing, despite saying AZ has temperature based protections, shows,
Utilities advised not to terminate residential service when the customer has an inability to pay and where weather will be especially dangerous to health (usually 32° F or below for winter and triple digits for summer) as determined by the Commission. There are also rules prohibiting disconnection of service for certain medical reasons. Several of Arizona's energy vendors enforce moratoriums with varying criteria.
That language contrasts with the next state (in alphabetical order), Arkansas,
Gas and electric service cannot be disconnected if forecast predicts a temperature of 32 or lower during the next 24 hours. No disconnect for elderly or disabled when temperature is >95, or medical emergency. No disconnect if customer agrees to deferred or extended payment agreement. (more)

Friday, June 7, 2019

YIKES! Tucker Carlson lauds Elizabeth Warren's Economic Patriotism plan

In the "even a broken clock is right twice a day" category, rightwing hatemonger and Fox channel staple Tucker Carlson noted,
Conservative Fox News host Tucker Carlson opened his primetime show Wednesday night by surprisingly lauding Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s recently released plan for “economic patriotism*,” all while blasting Republican policies.
Summarizing Warren’s proposal, which calls for an “aggressive intervention on behalf of American workers” and a new Department of Economic Development, Carlson—who has mockingly called Warren “Fauxcahontas” and “Lie-awatha” in the past—asked regular Republican voters if they would disagree with any of the things he just described.
“Was there a single word that seemed wrong to you? Probably not,” he noted. “Here’s the depressing part: Nobody you voted for said that or would ever say. Republicans in Congress can’t [won't, but for being owned by the Kochtopus] promise to protect American industry.
Saying the GOP is scared of “making the Koch Brothers mad,” Carlson told his viewers the “words you just heard are from Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.”
“Yesterday, Warren released what she’s calling her plan for economic patriotism,” the right-wing host said. “Amazingly, that’s pretty much exactly what it is: Economic patriotism.”
Praising her proposal for not mentioning “identity politics” but instead being “about preserving good-paying American jobs,” Carlson added: “Many of Warren’s policy prescriptions make obvious sense.”
“The U.S. government should buy American products and it should. We need more workplace apprenticeship programs. We see American companies take research and use it to manufacture products overseas like Apple did with the iPhone. She sounds like Donald Trump at his best.”
Fret not friends, Carlson didn't proclaim his love for Warren. He was able to separate his thoughts about the plan from his antipathy for the candidate herself, resorting to describing her thus,
a “gun-grabbing abortion extremist,” he [then] complained that the current political landscape is full of “trust-fund socialists” or “libertarian zealots.”
The solution, he said, would be some blend of economic nationalism and social conservatism.
“Why couldn't you have a party that is economically nationalist and socially conservative? Why is that so hard?” Carlson said, pivoting to blast Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for saying Republicans are “not fans” of tariffs.
“Imagine a more supercilious, out of touch, infuriating response,” he exclaimed. “You can’t, because there isn’t one.”
“In other words, says Mitch McConnell, the idea may work in practice but we’re against it, because it doesn’t work in theory. That’s the Republican Party, 2019. No wonder they keep losing. They deserve it. Will they ever change?”
Sen. Warren seems to have been one of the few Democratic presidential wannabes who has correctly read the electorate over the last four to six years and gotten to the bottom line.

Other of the candidates have seized on issues that matter to the overall American electorate (i.e. today Cory Booker addressing the affordable housing crisis) without chopping at the roots.

In the crowded field, Warren is the ONLY one who has thus far distinguished herself as a policy leader. She does so with a clear and resounding message that says she "gets" what the American people see and experience. That insight and understanding goes well beyond the economic indicators that chumps like Trump lean on.

What freaking difference does it make to Main Street Americans (who barely survive from paycheck to paycheck) that the Dow Jones Industrial Average might be rising because of corporate stock buybacks enabled by massive federal tax cuts?
* I have been a fan of Elizabeth Warren for a long time. Her combination of deep knowledge of how American capitalism works, her capacity to narrate the lived experience of American working families and tie it to radical reforms, and her sheer integrity are unsurpassed.
Her rollout of one brilliant policy proposal after another and her ability to connect those to a political understanding of the American situation has been just stunning. But Warren’s latest plan is in a class by itself, even for Warren. She calls it an Agenda for Economic Patriotism.
Warren’s proposal does nothing less than turn inside out the globalist assumptions pursued by the past several administrations, Democrat and Republican alike. Where they have pursued more globalization of commerce as an end in itself (and as a profit center for U.S.-based multinational corporations and banks), Warren’s goal is to bring production and good jobs home.
Even better, she knits it all together with a coherent plan, beginning with a new Department of Economic Development “with the sole responsibility to create and defend quality, sustainable American jobs.
The new Department will replace the Commerce Department, subsume other agencies like the Small Business Administration and the Patent and Trademark Office, and include research and development programs, worker training programs, and export and trade authorities like the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The new Department will have a single goal: creating and defending good American jobs.
Globalization didn’t just happen, Warren points out.
"America chose to pursue a trade policy that prioritized the interests of capital over the interests of American workers. Germany, for example, chose a different path and participated in international trade while at the same time robustly—and successfully—supporting its domestic industries and its workers."
Warren proposes that every tool of American national policy be directed towards the goals of reclaiming domestic industry and producing good jobs for American workers.
It’s not a question of more government or less government. It’s about who government works for.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Thank you Martha McSally

My thanks to Martha McSally, Arizona's Republican junior US Senator.

Last evening, on the 100th anniversary of Congress approving the language which became the 19th Amendment, McSally held a telephone town hall.

Unlike Congressman David Schweikert, she actually followed through for the event. Schweikert, last month, unfortunately did not allow this constituent -- even though I opted in -- to participate in his. And when I inquired about listening to a recording thereof, never heard back from David's staff.

Martha talked fast and talked most of the hour. For the first 25 minutes or so, Lindsey Graham joined her.

The most talked about item was immigration. Graham and McSally have legislation pending to stem the tide of asylum seekers coming to the US.

I was able to ask Martha to reflect on the 19th Amendment.

Anyway, it was interesting in a morbid sort of way to listen to the mostly bitter callers denounce immigrants. As for Martha, she sounded like a politician speaking around most issues. However, she and Graham do have pending legislation for which they hope to get Democratic buy-in to stem the tide of asylum seeking families from Mexico and points south thereof.

Nevertheless, I thank Martha for allowing me to participate.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The 19th Amendment changed the American electorate forever

Today (June 4, 2019) marks the 100th anniversary of the final Congressional vote passing the language of the 19th Amendment. In 1920, when three-fourths of the state legislatures had voted in the affirmative, the amendment was ratified.
The opening of the Amendment's text reads, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." [...]
The 19th Amendment emerged out of the Progressive Era in American politics, a period of increased social activism and economic reform during the first two decades of the 20th century. Suffragists like Jeannette Rankin, the first female member of the House of Representatives, brought greater attention to the rights of women. Certain states like California, Washington and Arizona passed their own legislation granting women either full or partial suffrage in the early 1910s. Wyoming was the first to do so in 1869, when it was still a territory.
The effort by religious zealots to overturn the landmark 1974 Supreme Court decision Roe v Wade in a state-by-state campaign has raised the level of anxiety and will no doubt lead to massive political backlash very quickly.

Republicans nationwide are poised to hasten a new era of female leadership which will change society even more.

Abortion Bans: 9 States Have Passed Bills to Limit the Procedure This Year
But 2019 is different, advocates on both sides said. Abortion opponents saw the appointment of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh last year as tipping the balance of the court in their favor, and state legislators were energized to pass more aggresive anti-abortion legislation.
“The appointment of Kavanaugh focused legislators across the country on abortion,” said Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst at the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. “It focused conservative legislators to pass abortion restrictions that they hope will be challenged and end up before the court, so the court can undermine or overturn abortion rights.”
“It is also focused progressive legislators like those in New York to pass laws that protect abortion rights in their own states,” she added. In January, New York enacted a measure that guarantees a “fundamental right” to abortion in the state.
There no doubt will be more women running for office. However, far more (and their male allies) will take to the streets in protest.

For a poignant analogy, America's intervention in Vietnam was disastrous because we were fighting an opponent driven to defend its homeland. Similar dynamics are most certainly at play with the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

"Nevertheless, she persisted," -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in February 2017, after he shut down Sen. Elizabeth Warren when -- during debate on confirming Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to the office of US Attorney General -- quoted Coretta Scott King from a letter the widow of MLK Jr wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986,
Civil rights leaders, including my husband and Albert Turner, have fought long and hard to achieve free and unfettered access to the ballot box. Mr. SESSIONS has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens in the district he now seeks to serve as a federal judge. This simply cannot be allowed to happen. Mr. SESSIONS' conduct as U.S. Attorney, from his politically-motivated voting fraud prosecutions to his indifference toward criminal violations of civil rights laws, indicates that he lacks the temperament, fairness and judgment to be a federal judge.
Sessions, in 1986, failed to be confirmed as a US District Court judge. And now Elizabeth Warren is running a very strong campaign to become the first woman to hold the office of President of the United States.

Isn't women's personal sovereignty a much more powerful force that will be fought for and defended than even what has been thus far encountered in military battle? Or perhaps in any political arena or courtroom? Stay tuned.

Monday, June 3, 2019

This is what Personal Sovereignty looks like

I found this essay posted on an old high school friend's Facebook page.  That friend is a woman, but she (as am I) is significantly older than 42. The essay is attributed to a person named Angie Ward Dykes. An internet search for Angie led me to a dead end.

Nevertheless, fiction or not, if this powerful statement of women's reality doesn't punch you in the gut, please do some serious reflection to figure out why.

Trigger Warning.
I'm about to hurt some feelings.
No, I'm not kidding.
Here goes:
I was 7 years old the first time a grown man touched me sexually without my consent. I'll spare you the gory details of how long that lasted and how many other times in my life I was touched, groped, or compromised in the name of sex.
I'll go further to say there are a few other things in my sexual history that were violent, traumatic, and absolutely devastating to my psyche but I am not willing to talk about those things here.
Just know that like almost 100% of the women I know, I am well acquainted with sexual trauma.
Why am I saying all of this, you ask?
I'll tell you: With everything going on politically and socially around abortion rights, the rage that was birthed in me at the age of 7 is snowballing into something murderous.
At the age of 7 I learned one concrete truth that almost 100% of women in this world are fed at some point in their lives: Your body belongs to whoever wants it and there's not a Goddamned thing you can do about it.
I've seen that meme going around that says something like "Ask any woman you know how old she was the first time someone sexualized her without her consent" and I cannot. fucking. stomach the truth in that question.
I'm 42 years old. I've got a huge network of friends from all backgrounds, all economic classes, all colors, all ages, living all over this world and ALL of those friends who have lived any time on this Earth as a woman have been sexually compromised.
All of them.
ALL of them.
What has this got to do with abortion, you ask?
The fact that I am being told now by the State of Georgia that my body does not belong to me.
Because people who ARE NOT ME voted on what I can do with MY BODY.
The fact that there are a throng of old white men in Alabama who want to throw a woman in jail for life for having an abortion even if she is raped.
And Texas looks soon to follow.
And then who (where) else?
I don't want to hear "what about the children" one more time.
I don't want to hear about your religious beliefs.
This has ZILCH to do with saving fetuses.
How do I know this?
When a woman is raped, the first thing that happens is that her character is questioned. Maybe she is outright called a liar. Maybe they ask what she was wearing.
Sometimes there is unequivocal PROOF that a woman was raped.
Sometimes it's caught on video.
Sometimes it's pretty white college boys raping unconscious women behind dumpsters.
Sometimes it's grown men bragging in an audio recording about "grabbing women by the pussy" and then getting elected President of this country.
Sometimes it's TWO sitting Supreme Court justices who have a documented history of attempted rape and sexual harassment.
Sometimes it's Planned Parenthood clinics being bombed by religious people claiming to do "God's Work".
See, if this abortion controversy was about "saving fetuses" the government would be pumping money into prenatal programs, fixing the water supply in Detroit [Flint] that is poisoning thousands of children, getting those immigrant children out of cages, educating police forces on not killing young men of Color, and about a million other ways you could "save a baby" that don't involve treating my vagina like Government Property.
In case it's not clear: Making abortion illegal is about criminalizing Womanhood.
If you're a woman and you support the government treating you like a broodmare for the system, then you're a fucking brainwashed, simple dumbass and you need to get off the Planet.
If you are a Father raising a child who will live in this world as a female, you better ask yourself what you want for them. You better look deep into your heart, past your religion, past the dogma and ask yourself if you want your child growing up in a world where sexual compromise starts at 7 or 6 or 2 or 32 and literally never ends until you die and is even sanctioned by the Government.
I am only ONE of the 100% of women I know who has lived through sexual trauma.
I am ONE woman in an endless sea of women who will tell you that abortion must be safe and legal.
I am ONE woman telling my story in hopes that someone out in the ether will think of what it feels like to be alive in a time when we are seriously talking about PASSING LAWS TO PUT WOMEN IN JAIL for seeking abortions.
I want you to ask yourself why men are not being prosecuted for contributing to unwanted pregnancies.
I want you to ask yourself why a rapist will spend less time in jail in the state of Alabama than a woman who has an abortion will under the new law.
I want you to ask yourself why it scares the shit out of people for women to have a goddamned choice over what happens with their body.
Being a woman is not a crime.
Repeat after me: BEING A WOMAN IS NOT A CRIME.
BEING. A. WOMAN. IS. NOT. A. CRIME. - Angie Ward Dykes.
*****

Why does this matter to me? Because I fathered one child. A daughter who now is grown and is a successful breadwinner for her family. She has a husband and two children (a girl and a boy in that order, age wise). I hold my daughter, son-in-law, granddaughter and grandson all in high regard and have deep respect for them. Also, for my ex-wife (without whom, I wouldn't have had the joy and responsibility for any of them). 

Personal sovereignty for ALL already breathing humans is something I will continue to passionately advocate, hopefully for many years to come. 

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Translating Robert Mueller's public statement

From News & Guts:

On May 29, special counsel Robert Mueller made his first and, he hopes, last comments on the investigation culminating in his report. “We chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself,” he said.
Those words cover 448 pages. They may speak to fellow lawyers, including me. But they’re not reaching a general public suffering from Trump fatigue, bombarded with disinformation, and accustomed to processing information in sound bites and tweets. If Mueller had stated his views in lay terms, he could have led with this headline: There’s plenty of evidence that Trump is a criminal. But I can’t indict him, so the House of Representatives must decide what to do next.
Translated into readily understandable English, here’s the rest of his message:
1. Forget what my boss, William Barr, told you about my report. I wanted Barr to use summaries that I’d prepared. Instead, he wrote his own misleading one, released it to the public, and sat on my report for a month.
2. Anyone saying that I found “No Collusion” is lying. (Vol. I, p. 2, Vol. II, p. 2)
3. Russia attacked the US presidential election to help Trump win. (Vol. I, p. 1)
4. Trump’s campaign embraced Russia’s effort and publicly denied the truth — that it had multiple contacts with Russia. (Vol. I, pp. 5-7, 66-173; Vol. II, pp. 15-23)
5. Anyone saying that I found “No Obstruction” is lying. (Vol. II, p. 2)
6. Trump made it more difficult to discover the truth. As a result, I don’t know the whole story about Trump and Russia. Neither does Congress or the public.  (Vol. I, p. 10)
7. Because of existing Justice Department policy, I couldn’t even consider charging Trump with a crime. The Constitution specifies the process for dealing with presidential wrongdoing: impeachment — not me or Barr. (Vol. II, pp. 1-2)
8. I haven’t written or said anything publicly about the counterintelligence aspect of my investigation. Congress and the public still don’t know if Putin has compromising information on Trump or others close to him. (Vol. I, p. 13) [Put another way, we don't know HOW MUCH compromising information Putin has on Trump]
9. My investigation was never a “Witch Hunt” or a “Hoax.” Many former Trump campaign officials are now behind bars; others face pending cases. (Vol. II, App. D)
10. Despite Trump’s persistent assertions to the contrary, Russian election interference was and is real; it should trouble every American patriot. (Mueller’s 5/29/2019 Statement, final sentence)
Mueller’s parting message to the House of Representatives: I’ve done my job. In accordance with the nation’s founding document, it’s time for you to do yours.
This is the eighth in a series of posts by Steven J. Harper on the Mueller report. The first seven installments are available herehereherehereherehere, and here.  Steve is the creator and curator of the Trump-Russia Timeline appearing at Dan Rather’s News & Guts and at Just Security. He’s an attorney, adjunct professor at Northwestern University Law School, and author of four books, including Crossing Hoffa — A Teamster’s Story (Chicago Tribune “Best Book of the Year”) and The Lawyer Bubble — A Profession in Crisis. He blogs at The Belly of the Beast. Follow him on Twitter (@StevenJHarper1).

Friday, May 31, 2019

Arguments against Impeaching Trump are BULLSHIT

Mehdi Hasan at The Intercept cut through the bullshit with this video (less than six minutes):





So, what is Speaker Pelosi so damn afraid of?


Sunday, May 19, 2019

Did you see what happened in Nevada this year? It can't happen here? Can it?

It can't happen here. Can it? That's something Sinclair Lewis pondered, more than a half-century ago about the hypothetical importation of Fascism into our country. Amazon says about Lewis's novel,
A cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy, it is an alarming, eerily timeless look at how fascism could take hold in America.
Ya think?

Digby, in addition to writing about Speaker Pelosi's reluctance to initiate impeachment inquiries or proceedings, starkly reflected on history that projects a darkened reality onto what several states have done this week to further stomp out the personal sovereignty of roughly half of the population.

Notably, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, and Ohio. In 2019. Several more states are poised to likewise pass laws intended to ban abortion rights, virtually or outright. But NOT Nevada.

Social media platforms are teeming with posts decrying moves by states ruled by misogynists. Thousands of people excoriate the audacity of theocratic fascists (such as the Center for Arizona Policy) who claim to be pro-life but abandon the concept once a human child takes her/his first breath.

But Digby highlighted the concept when she found Foreign Policy staff writer Amy MacKinnon's pieceWhat Actually Happens When a Country Bans Abortion?

Romanian orphans in a Bucharest orphanage shortly after the December Revolution in 1989. KEVIN WEAVER/GETTY IMAGES

As lawmakers in Alabama this week passed a bill that would outlaw abortion in the U.S. state entirely, protesters outside the statehouse wore blood-red robes, a nod to Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, in which childbearing is entirely controlled by the state. Hours later, the book was trending on Twitter.
But opponents of the restrictive abortion laws currently being considered in the United States don’t need to look to fiction for admonitory examples of where these types of laws can lead. For decades, communist Romania was a real-life test case of what can happen when a country outlaws abortion entirely, and the results were devastating.
In 1966, the leader of Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu, outlawed access to abortion and contraception in a bid to boost the country’s population. In the short term, it worked, and the year after it was enacted the average number of children born to Romanian women jumped from 1.9 to 3.7. But birthrates quickly fell again as women found ways around the ban. Wealthy, urban women were sometimes able to bribe doctors to perform abortions, or they had contraceptive IUDs smuggled in from Germany.
Yet Romania’s prohibition of the procedure was disproportionately felt by low-income women and disadvantaged groups, which abortion-rights advocates in the United States fear would happen if the Alabama law came into force. As a last resort, many Romanian women turned to home and back-alley abortions, and by 1989, an estimated 10,000 women had died as a result of unsafe procedures. The real number of deaths might have been much higher, as women who sought abortions and those who helped them faced years of imprisonment if caught. Maternal mortality skyrocketed, doubling between 1965 and 1989. [...]
“For many women, sexuality represented a fear and not a part of life that can be enjoyed,” Ilisei said.
Another consequence of Romania’s abortion ban was that hundreds of thousands of children were turned over to state orphanages. When communism collapsed in Romania in 1989, an estimated 170,000 children were found warehoused in filthy orphanages. Having previously been hidden from the world, images emerged of stick-thin children, many of whom had been beaten and abused. Some were left shackled to metal bed frames.
What would be reasonable to expect if the Draconian laws just passed in so many states are allowed to go into effect?

Beside women's marches with dramatically higher participation and likely casualties? More from the Foreign Policy article,
Romania’s abortion ban was compounded by a ban on contraception, which was not mentioned in the Alabama bill. But the Trump administration took a swipe at birth control in 2017 when it allowed employers to opt out of providing it as part of employee insurance plans on the grounds of religious belief. This decision was halted by a federal judge in January of this year.
The ultimate goal IS to have SCOTUS overturn Roe v Wade.

If they succeed with that goal, there will be further turmoil.

Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Perhaps the light at the end of the tunnel is coming from Carson City, Nevada.
Since Nevada seated the nation’s first majority-female state legislature in January [2019], the male old guard has been shaken up by the perspectives of female lawmakers. Bills prioritizing women’s health and safety have soared to the top of the agenda. Mounting reports of sexual harassment have led one male lawmaker to resign. And policy debates long dominated by men, including prison reform and gun safety, are yielding to female voices.
I'm in Arizona. Can THAT happen here? I think it can. I will celebrate when it does.

NOTE: Season 3 of The Handmaid's Tale premiers on HULU on June 5th.