Friday, October 20, 2017

NY Times -- Why Democrats Need Wall Street


Many of the most prominent voices in the Democratic Party, led by Bernie Sanders, are advocating wealth redistribution through higher taxes and Medicare for all, and demonizing banks and Wall Street,” and that’s the way it should be.


The most powerful force in American politics is anti-establishment. On the right, it’s the authoritarian anti-establishment -- Bannon's vicious, nationalist, racist Trumpism. The only viable alternative is an anti-establishment democracy movement -- to get big money (and Wall Street) out of our politics, and reclaim our political economic system through fundamental reform. 

Douglas Schoen, author of the NY Times oped, Why Democrats Need Wall Street, “-- whom Dick Morris brought into the Clinton White House in 1994, advised Hillary Clinton in 2016, and is now a political columnist for Fox News -- is exactly wrong when he argues that Democrats need to become closer to Wall Street. His logic is why the Democrats are now in the minority almost all over America. And if they listen to him, they'll remain in the minority.

So, “If you want to understand the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of today’s establishment Democratic Party, I urge you to read this drivel that appeared recently on the oped page of the New York Times by Doug Schoen.


By Douglas Schoen

Trump’s threats amount to a First Amendment violation


Charges of violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution and First Amendment violations of free speech are some of the qualifying reasons for Trump’s impeachment.   

Trump thinks he is above the law, and apparently, his supporters and the Republican-led Congress think so too. Otherwise, they would have taken action. But seldom do they even speak-out.

Donald Trump has proved countless times in countless ways that he that he is unqualified, unstable, incompetent, and unfit to be the president of the United States. And, “from what little Trump has said explicitly about the Constitution, one would surmise that he has a love/hate relationship with it.

“[Trump] said in an interview with Fox News marking the first 100 days of his presidency that the whole American system of government is ‘a very rough system, an archaic system,’ adding that ‘it’s a really bad thing for the country.’ The context of Trump’s remarks came when he said, ‘I get things done, I’ve always been a closer.’  However, on the tough issues--immigration, debt, the tax system--he can’t ‘close’ because he heads only one of the three branches, with both Congress and the courts having their say. Trump believes that a dangerous and complex world requires that America have a ‘closer’ president but, [much to his consternation], the Constitution instead built walls. It is both a restraining and an empowering document,” -- according to Forbes.


Add another ground for a Trump impeachment: His threat Wednesday against NBC – tweeting that its broadcasting license “must be challenged” and “potentially revoked” because of NBC stories critical of him. He also suggested the NFL’s tax status be revoked if it continues to allow players to peacefully protest police brutality.

As Trevor Timm points out in the Columbia Journalism Review, Trump's threat itself violates the First Amendment.

In the recent case of “BackPage LLC vs. Thomas Dart," Dart, the sheriff of Cook County, Illinois, sent letters pressuring credit card companies to cut off payments to Backpage.com because some of the Backpage ads were for illegal sex-related products or services. Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit found that Dart – and any public official -- violates the First Amendment by seeking to shut down an avenue of expression through “threatened imposition of government power.”

Which is exactly what Trump is doing with NBC and the NFL. As Posner wrote: “[S]uch a threat is actionable and thus can be enjoined even if it turns out to be empty—the victim ignores it, and the threatener folds his tent.”

I think the NFL players union, or perhaps individual players, should sue Trump for violating their First Amendment rights. So should NBC. Presto: A high crime or misdemeanor under the Constitution, justifying impeachment.
  
NBC

By Trevor Timm

Kentucky and Tennessee Voters Reveal Why They Voted for Trump



Today I'm in Tennessee (I just met someone who knows Dolly Parton but that’s as close as I've come to my idol).

Kentucky and Tennessee voted for Trump. In my free-floating focus group over the last couple of days in both states, I’ve spoken with nearly 20 people who said they voted for Trump. Almost all of them told me this:

1. The reason they voted for Trump is they “hated Hillary” or “wanted to shake things up” in Washington, or "thought we needed a businessman."

2. They don’t like the job Trump is doing as president. (“He’s embarrassing,” “makes me ashamed,” “behaving like a child,” "chronic liar.")

3. Every one of them told me they regret voting for him (“never would have if I’d have known what an as*hole he is,” one told me).

4. They said their own personal economic position hasn’t changed from what it was last year, and Trump’s policies favor the rich (“he just cares about wealthy folk,” “said he’d drain the swamp and the swamp is worse.”)

5. Most are worried about Trump's mental capacity (“I don’t think the man has all his marbles,” “he could get us into a goddamn nuclear war,” "weird as hell,” “crazy as a loon.”)

6. Most don’t think he’ll finish his first term (“he’ll be impeached,” “kicked out,” “removed,” “he’ll resign.”)

7. Most don't trust him ("hasn't got a goddamn thing done," "blowhard," "huckster," "conman.")

8. Most would support a Democrat in 2020, if it was the “right” candidate ("both parties are rotten to the core," "sure, I'd vote for a Democrat," "used to be a Democrat but party got too liberal.")

9. Most said they’d support someone who “cleaned up the mess in Washington,” “got big money out of politics,” “made the system work for ordinary people.”)

10. Several of them told me that they'd support Medicare for all, or any system that lowered their health insurance costs. ("Spending a fortune for insurance," "insurance companies are the worst," "can't afford to insure my family.")

11. Several put education at the top of their list.

12. Not one of them supported spending money on a wall along the southern border of the U.S. ("stupidest goddamn idea I ever heard," "plain dumb," "guy ever heard of airplanes?")

More to come.

WSJ -- Judge Pushes Back Against Trump Administration’s View of Emoluments Clause

 Closely watched lawsuit by watchdog group targets President Donald Trump’s business ties

Donald Trump’s being exposed for the conman he is, using his presidency to increase his businesses’ bottom line. It’s most likely one of two reasons the man wanted to be President: promotion for his real estate business empire and to retaliate against former President Barack Obama for his roasting at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2011.

Trump’s supporters don’t see it that way, nor does the Republican Congress, but the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington are taking Trump to task in a lawsuit this week accusing him of violating the U.S. Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause. We can only hope that the lawsuit is productive in exposing Trump’s corruption.


The lawsuit charging Donald Trump with violating the Constitution's foreign bribery clause (or Emoluments Clause) got underway this week, and the judge in the case has already started poking holes in Trump's defense.

Justice Department lawyers argue in Trump's defense that millions of dollars in payments made by foreign governments to Trump's businesses don't break the law because they are commercial transactions, not direct compensation in exchange for government favors.

Baloney. Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Constitution explicitly bars the president from accepting "any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever” from foreign governments. It doesn't matter whether payments pass through the Trump Organization, the money still ends up in the president's pocket.

As the judge in the case asked, would it really make a difference if a foreign government bought a million dollars in hotdogs from the president’s hotdog-vending business instead of writing him a personal check? Even Trump's government lawyers conceded there's little distinction.

The other piece of their defense is that the president hasn't received the payments in exchange for government action, say for signing a treaty. Rubbish. The whole point of the clause is to prevent foreign governments from potentially gaining influence over our elected officials by showering them with gifts, tributes, and titles.

The case has only just gotten started and it will be months before a final decision is reached, but so far things don't look good for Trump.

But why is Trump being defended by the U.S. Department of Justice in the first place? The Department works for the United States, not for a president who violates the Constitution by taking foreign bribes.


By Joe Palazzolo

Thursday, October 19, 2017

WP --The Drug Industry’s Triumph Over the DEA


Many of us have pointed out that for Big Pharma to work to make people well and healthy without the need of prescription drugs or to work on their behalf to develop and produce prescription drugs that are affordable is not in their best financial interest.

For-profit companies will never consider the interests of consumers over profit. The drug company’s complicity in the opioid problem is an excellent example of just that.

In April 2016, at the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress effectively stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against large drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation’s streets.

By then, the opioid war had claimed 200,000 lives, more than three times the number of U.S. military deaths in the Vietnam War. Overdose deaths continue to rise. There is no end in sight.

A handful of members of Congress, allied with the nation’s major drug distributors, prevailed upon the DEA and the Justice Department to agree to a more industry-friendly law, undermining efforts to stanch the flow of pain pills, according to an investigation by The Washington Post and 60 Minutes. The DEA had opposed the effort for years.

The law was the crowning achievement of a multifaceted campaign by the drug industry to weaken aggressive DEA enforcement efforts against drug distribution companies that were supplying corrupt doctors and pharmacists who peddled narcotics to the black market. The industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and key members of Congress, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns.

The chief advocate of the law that hobbled the DEA was Rep. Tom Marino, a Pennsylvania Republican who is now President Trump’s nominee to become the nation’s next drug czar. Marino spent years trying to move the law through Congress. It passed after Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) negotiated a final version with the DEA.

Here’s the rest of the story:


By Scott Higham and Lenny Bernstein

Politico -- George W. slams Trumpism, without mentioning president by name (VIDEO)

'Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication,' Bush declared.


Former President George W. Bush offered an unmistakable denunciation of Trumpism Thursday without mentioning the president by name, urging citizens to oppose threats to American democracy. 

By chance, Bush was standing in the same spot at the Time Warner Center where former President Barack Obama made a similar plea for democracy and American leadership in late September, shortly after President Donald Trump had finished a belligerent, isolationist speech to the United Nations General Assembly, ” according to Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere.

Trump’s presidency has been in chaos since the day he took office. And, not only does his staff not trust him, but a majority of Americans don’t have confidence or trust in his leadership either.

Many Republicans are wising up to the fact that Donald J. Trump is not qualified to be President of the United Sates.

From the recent feud the President had with Senator Bob Corker, which spurred fellow-Republicans to register varying degrees of disgust, dismay, fury, and disappointment about the state of affairs in the White House to Senator John McCain’s condemnation of Trump’s 'half-baked, spurious nationalism,' and now former President George W Bush is speaking out against the policies of this President only adds credence to the blindingly obvious truth that something needs to be done.

 Here’s Politico’s Dovere’s report with full text of Bush’s speech on Trumpism:


By Edward-Isaac Dovere

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Hill -- McCain blasts 'half-baked, spurious nationalism' in emotional speech

  

John McCain is the only Republican Senator that we all should pay attention to. He is a Republican, yes, but what he says in a broader more general sense of what our country stands for, usually is right on point.

Here’s an example:

“We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent, -- Senator John McCain.

Robert Reich says of McCain's acceptance speech: “This is what the nation needs to hear. History will condemn those who remained silent.

When accepting the Liberty Medal Award last night from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, John McCain said this:

“To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of Earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”

John McCain, Robert Corker, Jeff Flake. They’ve had the backbone to tell America what Trump is doing to this country and the world. It is time for other Republicans to stand up and be counted, too.


By Brandon Carter

Vox -- President Trump admits he’s trying to kill Obamacare. That’s illegal.

  
Here Reich’s enthusiasm for Trump’s impeachment is exaggerated. It’s a bit of a reach to think this may be grounds for impeachment, but collectively with all the other appropriate grounds for impeachment, it could be part of the collection of things that may bolster political action.

It should now be clear that Trump’s only motive is to obliterate anything that has Obama’s stamp of approval. Whether he can do it legally or not, he doesn’t care.  

Robert Reich’s remarks regarding the illegality of Trump’s attempts to dismantle Obamacare.

This is another impeachable offense. Trump's all-out assault on the Affordable Care Act is not only cruel and unnecessary, it's a direct violation of his constitutional duties. Under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution, the president has an obligation to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” But Trump is unfaithfully executing the law by doing everything to ensure its failure.

As Yale law professor Abbe Gluck points out, Trump's efforts are illegal because:

1) The law has twice been upheld by the Supreme Court, so there's no reason to halt implementation on legal grounds.

2) Trump's motivation is clear. He has explicitly stated that his intent is to damage the law.

3) Nor has the Trump administration offered a justification for dismantling the law.

How much more clear does it need to be that Trump has no regard for the Constitution or the obligations he has sworn to uphold. Congress must hold him accountable for unfaithfully discharging his duties as president.


By Abbe Gluck

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

CT -- Trump declines to express confidence in drug czar nominee in wake of Post/‘60 Minutes’ probe

  
In response to the "60 Minutes" report on the opioid crisis that aired on Sunday night, and the revelation that Representative Tom Marino, Trump’s nominee for drug czar, helped steer legislation that made it harder to take legal action against big pharma, Donald Trump said he will declare a national emergency next week to address the opioid epidemic.

Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, Trump defended Marino as "a very early supporter of mine" and "a great guy." He said he had seen the reporting in question and that the White House would be reviewing the information.

The Washington Post provides some of the background information:

In April 2016, at the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress effectively stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against large drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation’s streets.

By then, the opioid war had claimed 200,000 lives, more than three times the number of U.S. military deaths in the Vietnam War. Overdose deaths continue to rise. There is no end in sight.

A handful of members of Congress, allied with the nation’s major drug distributors, prevailed upon the DEA and the Justice Department to agree to a more industry-friendly law, undermining efforts to stanch the flow of pain pills, according to an investigation by The Washington Post and “60 Minutes.” The DEA had opposed the effort for years.

The law was the crowning achievement of a multifaceted campaign by the drug industry to weaken aggressive DEA enforcement efforts against drug distribution companies that were supplying corrupt doctors and pharmacists who peddled narcotics to the black market. The industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and key members of Congress, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns.

The chief advocate of the law that hobbled the DEA was Rep. Tom Marino, a Pennsylvania Republican who is now President Trump’s nominee to become the nation’s next drug czar. Marino spent years trying to move the law through Congress. It passed after Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) negotiated a final version with the DEA.
  


By Ed O'Keefe, Scott Higham and Lenny Bernstein

SI -- Gregg Popovich Issues Blistering Takedown of ‘Soulless Coward’ Donald Trump (VIDEO)



The Spurs coach speaks about Trump’s latest outrage.

“We’ve all seen the San Antonio Spurs’ future Hall of Fame coach Gregg Popovich in a state of exasperation on the sidelines, or in postgame news conferences. Many of us have also heard him speak with great vexation and clarity about the direction of this country and the actions of Donald Trump, particularly on Trump’s “disgusting tenor and tone and all the comments that have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic.” But I have never heard this man more frustrated, more fed up, and more tense with anger than he was today,” -- The Nation.


Trump held a press conference today during which he excused his failure to make phone calls to the families of military members recently killed in action by claiming that many past presidents haven’t made such calls. It was another blatant Trump lie.

San Antonio Spurs' head coach Gregg Popovich--an Air Force veteran and arguably the best coach in the NBA, and famous for not liking to talk to reporters -- was so angered by the lie that he made an unsolicited call to “The Nation’s” David Zarin.

This is what Popovich said:

"This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner—and to lie about how previous Presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers—is as low as it gets. We have a pathological liar in the White House: unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day. The people who work with this President should be ashamed because they know it better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all."

Popovich said it all.

Here’s the story:


By Dan Gartland