Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Atlantic: Will Donald Trump Destroy the Presidency?

There are those who say we should unite behind Donald J Trump and support those in Congress who the voters duly elected. They say it’s unpatriotic not to support the President. It’s an attitude that will certainly destroy our country.

The reputation of the United States is already in serious decline and the free world no longer looks toward America for leadership.  

Moreover, if Americans unite, nothing would get done in our country. It’s the unhampered give and take of debate that makes a democracy.

To blindly support the President of the United States -- particularly this President -- and the kind of government that he is creating is, in essence, rejecting America's core values and human values and it’s not being patriotic.

The Atlantic’s Jack Goldsmith writes, “Donald Trump is testing the institution of the presidency unlike any of his 43 predecessors. We have never had a president so ill-informed about the nature of his office, so openly mendacious, so self-destructive, or so brazen in his abusive attacks on the courts, the press, Congress (including members of his own party), and even senior officials within his own administration. Trump is a Frankenstein’s monster of past presidents’ worst attributes: Andrew Jackson’s rage; Millard Fillmore’s bigotry; James Buchanan’s incompetence and spite; Theodore Roosevelt’s self-aggrandizement; Richard Nixon’s paranoia, insecurity, and indifference to law; and Bill Clinton’s lack of self-control and reflexive dishonesty.

Donald Trump is a norm-busting president without parallel in American history,” Goldsmith writes. “He has told scores of easily disprovable public lies; he has shifted back and forth and back again on his policies, often contradicting Cabinet officials along the way; he has attacked the courts, the press, his predecessor, his former electoral opponent, members of his party, the intelligence community, and even his own attorney general; he has failed to release his tax returns or to fill senior political positions in many agencies; he has shown indifference to ethics concerns; he has regularly interjected a self-regarding political element into apolitical events; he has monetized the presidency by linking it to his personal business interests; and he has engaged in cruel public behavior. The list goes on and on.”

If we let this man have his way he will destroy our country and its presidency.

Here’s the story:

By Jack Goldsmith

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

NY Times: Teachers Get Baseball Bats to Confront Shooters in Pennsylvania District

When schools decide to arm teachers with guns or think that baseball bats, stones or bullet-proof backpacks will protect our children from an active shooter, it just shows how ridiculous the gun situation is in the United States. And it’s more than the murder of children -- it’s also America’s overall problem with mass murder and the day to day violence that plagues our society as a result of a violent culture obsessed with guns.

Moreover, it’s more than enacting stricter gun safety and ownership legislation. And it’s more than banning the sale of semiautomatic weapons.

We have an epidemic of gun violence because there is a proliferation of guns in the United States as a result of the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights. If we want to get rid of the gun problem, it will be necessary to repeal the Second Amendment.

It would mean making the use of a gun a privilege and not a right.

To make it work, for example, Police Departments could house guns and issue as needed permits for use on shooting ranges or for hunting. Personal protection with a gun, in theory, should not be needed, but a need could be assessed by local law enforcement and a permit issued. Permits would be issued for single-action handguns and long guns -- or shotguns -- with very limited ammunition capacities.

The latter leaves out the specifics: like by whom and how would the guns be purchased. But smart people can find a way. One thing is for sure if Americans believe it can’t happen it never will.  

Repealing the Second Amendment and banning gun ownership is the only way to bring to zero the chances our children and the rest of us would be murdered by a gun. It can be done, but It will take the will of the American people to make it happen.

By Christina Caron

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Think Progress: Ivanka Trump’s clothing company will be spared from tariffs, thanks to her dad

In a tit-for-tat exchange of tariffs on China imports that started with a tariff on steel and aluminum, Donald Trump has increased his proposed tariff to $100 billion on Chinese goods following China’s retaliatory $50 billion tariffs on goods imported from the United States.

However, imports of cloths manufactured in China are exempt from Trump’s tariffs.  It’s interesting because one of those manufacturers is Trump’s daughter and closest adviser, Ivanka Trump.

Ivanka is directly benefiting from her father’s decision to target China with tariffs. Excluding her company is clearly a conflict of interest. And, it’s particularly disturbing that Ivanka has avoided legal action associated with her business interest because of her White House position.

Ivanka Trump, who is working in an unpaid capacity at the White House, is still getting compensation of at least $1.5 million from the Trump Organization. Her brand makes about $1.5 million annually, according to RawStory.

Here’s Think Progress’ Rebekah Entralgo’s story:

By Rebekah Entralgo

Sunday, April 1, 2018

WaPo: Laura Ingraham takes an Easter break amid David Hogg controversy and advertiser revolt

Laura Ingraham, Fox News’ host of “The Ingraham Angle,” conveniently took an Easter week vacation on Friday amid controversy over her mocking David Hogg, one of the student-activists who became a voice for gun control after a shooter murdered 17 people at his high school in Florida last month.

On Wednesday morning of last week, Ingraham tweeted a link to a story on the right-wing news site Daily Wire that said Hogg was a “gun rights provocateur” and wrote, “David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it,” Ingraham tweeted. “(Dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA … totally predictable given acceptance rates.)”

Hogg urged his 700,000 Twitter followers to contact Ingraham's advertisers and press them to boycott her show.

As of Friday night, 14 companies have said they will no longer advertise on Ingraham's show.

In an essay posted Saturday, Professor Robert Reich, in part, writes, “For Ingraham and Fox News, such cruel, ad-hominem attacks are typical. Vitriol helps boost ratings. After all, Fox is a central part of Donald Trump’s America. And Trump, like Fox News, has made bullying and humiliating people into an art form.”

Here’s Professor Robert Reich’s essay in full:

Friday, March 30, 2018

LA Times: EPA poised to scrap fuel economy targets that are key to curbing global warming

In February, Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump’s administrator responsible for protecting the environment argued that global warming might be beneficial.

And his boss has repeatedly questioned the science of climate change. Since his inauguration, Trump has progressively moved away from the progress made in the growth of clean renewable energy resources. He and Pruitt have repealed many of the environmental regulations meant to protect us from businesses creating dirty air and water.

"We have ended the war on American energy," Trump declared in his State of the Union address, "and we have ended the war on beautiful clean coal. We are now very proudly an exporter of energy to the world."

Now, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to rollback Obama-era greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy regulations for cars and SUV’s. The regulations were aimed at boosting the average fuel economy for passenger cars and SUVs to 55 miles per gallon by 2025.

A weakening of automobile standards would be a win for car manufacturers but not for those who want to protect our air and water.

Here’s the story:

By Evan Halper

Thursday, March 29, 2018

John Bolton's Curious Appearance In A Russian Gun Rights Video

It was a serious mistake for Donald Trump to appoint John Bolton, former Ambassador to the United Nations under George W. Bush, as national security adviser.

Bolton s appointment is a mistake for the United States, but good for Trump since Bolton holds Trump’s same belligerent views. Bolton is eager to go to war to settle international differences rather than by diplomatic means, and is willing to lie, as Trump is, to achieve that goal as he did concerning whether Iraq had nuclear weapons and helped Bush’s push for war with Iraq.

Moreover, in 2013, Bolton was asked to record a video by former NRA President David Keene. At the time, Bolton was a member of the NRA’s international affairs subcommittee.

Bolton’s video was presented at a round-table organized by The Right to Bear Arms in Russia, a group co-founded by Russian politician Alexander Torshin.

And interesting enough, Torshin is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the deputy governor of the Bank of Russia.

Torshin said his ties to the NRA provided him access to Donald Trump and the opportunity to serve as a foreign election observer in the United States during the 2012 election. He has cultivated ties with leaders of the National Rifle Association over the last six years to leverage those connections and has gained even deeper access into American politics.

These revelations come amid news that the FBI is investigating whether Torshin, the deputy governor of the Bank of Russia, illegally funneled money to the NRA to assist the Trump campaign in 2016.” NPR

 Here’s the story:


By Tim Mak

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Reuters: Keep shouting, don’t become anesthetized, pope tells young people

Our young people don’t feel safe in their schools. Active shooter drills that mirror a live shooter in a school, and instructing students how to respond to that event, only traumatizes students. Guns should be kept out of our schools. Teachers, janitors, or other school personnel should not be armed. Making an armed fortress out of our schools also traumatizes our kids. And, these childish ideas that claim more guns will make schools safer are ridiculous.  Moreover, it would not be needed if Congress would only sufficiently act to protect our students and country from gun violence by enacting strong federal gun regulations.

So young people across America, demanding an end to gun violence and new firearm restrictions, made their feelings known.

Fulfilling a commitment made shortly after the mass murder in February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which left 17 people dead and 14 others injured, hundreds of thousands of students and other protesters across America staged a very successful “March for Our Lives” on Saturday. About 800 of these events took place around the world.

“Many Democratic politicians enthusiastically embraced their cause, while most Republicans maintained conspicuous silence.” And there were some, like Florida’s Senator Marco Rubio, one of 45 Senators who voted against universal background checks, who said, “I respect their views and recognize that many Americans support certain gun bans. However, many other Americans do not support a gun ban. They too want to prevent mass shootings, but view banning guns as an infringement on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens that ultimately will not prevent these tragedies.”

Note: “March for Our Lives” were not supporting a”gun ban.”

Reuters reported, “The Pope’s Palm Sunday sermon focused on how important it is to listen to the messages coming from new generations.

“The temptation to silence young people has always existed.

“There are many ways to silence young people and make them invisible. Many ways to anesthetize them, to make them keep quiet, ask nothing, question nothing. There are many ways to sedate them, to keep them from getting involved, to make their dreams flat and dreary, petty and plaintive.

“Dear young people, you have it in you to shout. It is up to you not to keep quiet. Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders, some corrupt, keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: Will you cry out?

“The young people in the crowd shouted, ‘Yes!’

It’s important to recognize the power of young people. They are the world’s future. As they so clearly demonstrated on Saturday, they are our future leaders. Old people carry a lot of unwanted baggage that doesn’t lead to progress. To create change, and for our country and the world to evolve, we need to let younger generations lead the way.

As demonstrated on Saturday, they do not need our guidance.

Here's the story:

Reuters: Keep shouting, don’t become anesthetized, pope tells young people

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Court of King Donald

The Economist
In June of last year, Donald Trump held a public cabinet meeting. Trump praised himself for all of his believed accomplishments. This followed with each cabinet member, compliant with the wishes of their King, praised the man to whom they are subservient.

Vice President Mike Pence thanked Trump and said how “deeply humbled” he was to be in his presence. Pence said that Trump “had restored American credibility on the world stage.”

At a White House celebration, Senator Orrin Hatch speaking about the passage of the tax bill told Trump he is "living up to everything I thought you would." 

He also said, “I have to say that this is one of the great privileges of my life to stand here on the White House lawn with the president of the United States, who I love and appreciate so much. … We’re going to make this the greatest presidency that we’ve seen not only in generations, but maybe ever.”

And, like a King, Trump and his family are benefiting from Trump’s presidency by finding creative ways to line their pockets; It’s a “profit center for a nepotistic, money-grubbing family,” according to the Washington Post

 And “The new Trump doesn’t worry that his approval ratings continue to be in the cellar. By his measure, he’s come out on top: His cable-TV ratings are huge. Fox News loves him. He dominates every news cycle. The pre-selected crowds at his rallies roar their approval.” Robert Reich

Reich says on his Facebook page, “Trump is moving into a new and more dangerous phase. Before, he was constrained by a few “adults”-- Rex Tillerson, Gary Cohn, H.R. McMaster, and John Kelly -- whom he appointed because he thought they had some expertise he lacked. Now he’s replacing them with a Star Wars cantina of toadies and sycophants who will reflect back at him his own glorious view of himself, and help sell it on TV.

Narcissists are dangerous because they think only about themselves. Megalomaniacs are dangerous because they think only about their power. A narcissistic megalomaniac who’s also president of the United States -- is about as dangerous as they come.

Here’s Reich’s story:

By Robert Reich

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Trump Administration's Continuing War on National Parks

 The damage to our National Park Service will be catastrophic
 if Trump gets his way

The day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, Utah’s four congressmen and two Senators requested Trump to abolish the protections of two of Utah’s 13 national parks and monuments. They claimed the protections were federal overreach to deprive Utahans of their land.

Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are the two Utah sites of which are just a few of America’s preserved monuments that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended to open up in order to allow exploitation by capitalist. The land occupied by these two monuments has been reduced by about 85 percent.

Here’s the reason Trump is so hellbent to overturn those protections.

At the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner, Barack Obama went after Trump, ridiculing him for questioning his place of birth and legitimacy to be President, and made jokes about Trump’s experience to lead the country as president.

Many say it was the moment Trump decided to run for President. Trump wanted to get back at him, and the only effective way to do that was to replace him as President.

You see, it was President Obama who protected Bears Ears National Monument through presidential proclamation on December 28, 2016. Trump overturned that ruling on December 4, 2017

Trump, in remarks at the Interior Department, characterized the creation of national monuments by Obama as “an egregious abuse of power” and suggested the review could result in turning some federal lands, or monuments, back over to the states.

Even in the face of Trump’s frenetic efforts to erase other parts of Obama’s legacy on multiple policy fronts, his call for “ending abuse of monument designation” stands out. No president has ever revoked a national monument named by a predecessor. No president has ever tried.”  National Geographic 

The result of abolishing environmental protections and abolishing the protections of America’s special places by turning over its national parks and monuments to developers does not “Make America Great Again”; it diminishes it.

By Dana Hunter

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Atlantic: Is America on the Verge of a Constitutional Crisis?

Americans should be concerned that Donald Trump is constantly badgering the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They should be concerned over the firing of FBI Director James Comey, FBI Deputy Director Andy McCabe, and from all indications, Trump is setting himself up to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It would seem only a guilty person would go to the extent Trump has to interfere in the Russian investigation.

McCabe, after a 22-year career, announced his retirement in January. All those who knew McCabe say he was a committed and capable civil servant. He has played a major role in the Russian investigation into whether there was collusion between Trump and Russian President Putin in helping Trump win the 2016 election.

And then after months of bullying McCabe, at the behest of Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe less than two days before he would be eligible for early retirement benefits.

It clearly shows the vindictiveness and cruelty of this man who occupies the Oval Office.

Ostensibly, “McCabe was questioned as part of a wide-ranging internal inquiry into the F.B.I.’s handling of the Clinton investigation and other matters. During the internal investigation, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, Mr. McCabe ‘lacked candor -- including under oath -- on multiple occasions.’ That is a fireable offense, and Mr. Sessions said that career, apolitical employees at the F.B.I. and Justice Department agreed that Mr. McCabe should be fired.” The NY Times

Now the big question is what will happen if Trump fires Robert Mueller?

The Atlantic’s Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes write, “As the Trump presidency approaches a troubling tipping point, it’s time to find the right term for what’s happening to democracy.