Thursday, August 31, 2017

HuffPost -- The Opioid Epidemic Is A National Public Health Emergency (VIDEO)

A presidential declaration of emergency is needed, and failure to take action is not an option.

By Susan Blumenthal, M.D. and Emily Kaplan
Drug overdoses continued to increase significantly in the first nine months of 2016 despite increasing public awareness.

In the United States, the overall rate of opioid overdoses in that year reached an all-time high of 10.3/100,000 people, but the epidemic has hit some areas of the country far harder than others.

A study published earlier this week in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reports that the number of drug overdoses between 2008-2014 involving opioids was likely underestimated by 24% and heroin overdoses were likely underestimated by 22%. The economic cost of opioid use in America is an estimated $78.5 billion annually. In communities hit hard by the opioid epidemic, each day brings more babies born addicted to this substance because their mothers used the drug during pregnancy, sends more children with addicted parents into the foster care system, and sentences more drug offenders to overflowing jails. A multitude of health complications affecting multiple organ systems – such as hepatitis, HIV and cardiovascular problems – can occur as a result of opioid use.

It is a tragedy for my state of Vermont. It is a tragedy all over this country. The opioid abuse epidemic in our country is a public health emergency that must be addressed. In 2016 alone, drug overdoses likely killed more Americans in one year than the entire Vietnam War,” -- U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.

Politico -- Mueller teams up with New York attorney general in Manafort probe

The cooperation is the latest sign that the investigation into Trump's former campaign chairman is intensifying.

New York’s attorney general Eric Schneiderman is now working with special counsel Robert S. Mueller in the probe of financial transactions involving Paul Manafort.

This sends an important message to Trump: Trump can’t give Manafort an “advance” pardon in order to reduce Mueller’s ability get Manafort to squeal on Trump. A president’s pardon power doesn’t extend to state crimes, but only to offenses against the United States (Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution).

Clever, -- Robert Reich.

Here’s the introduction to the story by Politico’s Josh Dawsey:

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is working with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on its investigation into Paul Manafort and his financial transactions, according to several people familiar with the matter.

The cooperation is the latest indication that the federal probe into President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman is intensifying. It also could potentially provide Mueller with additional leverage to get Manafort to cooperate in the larger investigation into Trump’s campaign, as Trump does not have pardon power over state crimes.

The two teams have shared evidence and talked frequently in recent weeks about a potential case, these people said. One of the people familiar with progress on the case said both Mueller’s and Schneiderman’s teams have collected evidence on financial crimes, including potential money laundering.

No decision has been made on where or whether to file charges. “Nothing is imminent,” said one of the people familiar with the case.

Manafort has not been accused of any wrongdoing and has previously denied it. A spokesman for Manafort didn’t return phone calls seeking comment.

By Josh Dawsey

Business Insider -- Over a quarter of the members on Trump's cybersecurity advisory council have resigned en masse

Eight out of the 28 members on the White House's National Infrastructure Advisory Council, which advises the US Homeland Security Department on cyber-security and the protection of infrastructure.and responsible for overseeing the response to emerging cyber threats, resigned last week.

The letter that advisers submitted to the White House cited several reasons for leaving, including President Donald Trump's controversial response to the riots in Charlottesville that were sparked by white supremacists; Trump's decision to withdraw from the landmark Paris climate deal; and his "insufficient attention" to possible cyber threats posed to American infrastructure, including its election systems.

Trump's actions, the letter said, "have threatened the security of the homeland I took an oath to protect." It added that the administration's actions "undermine" the "moral infrastructure of our Nation" which "is the foundation on which our physical infrastructure is built."

The resignations come after Mr. Trump disbanded two business advisory councils following a flurry of resignations from chief executives over his response to the neo-Nazi rally in Virginia.

Though Trump has at times spoken about addressing "the cyber," he has been reluctant to address perhaps the most pressing cybersecurity threat the US currently faces: Russia.

By Sonam Sheth

NY Times -- How to Get Rich in Trump’s Washington

His presidency has changed the rules of influence in the nation’s capital — and spawned a new breed of lobbyist on K Street.

So much for draining the swamp. Former Trump aides are cashing in on their connections to the administration as lobbyists. Overnight these political operatives went from obscurity to the top of Washington food chain, pulling in huge consulting contracts and scores of new clients.

Companies are forking over tens of thousands of dollars, far above the going rate for traditional lobbying firms, for their access to the administration. One billionaire even offered a Trump insider a million dollars for a photo with the president in the Oval Office.

The big dollar fees are paying off. Oil refiner Citgo recently secured a special exemption from new sanctions on Venezuela.The company's lobbyists are none other than former Trump aides: Barry Bennett and Bud Cummins, who were paid $160,000 to lobby the White House.

At the same time, Trump has granted staffers-turned-consultants unprecedented access to the White House. For example, former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski takes rides on Air Force One even as he builds his consulting business.

These lackeys also have a hand in foreign affairs, arranging phones calls with heads of state, coordinating official visits, and brokering meetings. Their clients include Albania, Saudi Arabia, the Czech Republic, and others.

In order to avoid certain disclosure requirements, Trump's swamp creatures operate as an "advisory" service, a loophole that allows them to avoid registering as a lobbyist. Trump is turning this country into a kleptocracy, where members of his inner circle have access to the levers of power for their own profit,” -- Robert Reich

By Nicholas Confessore

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

NY Daily -- Houston police Sgt. Steve Perez drowns in flood while heading to work during Harvey (VIDEO)

By Christopher BrennanLarry Mcshane
Veteran Houston police Sgt. Steve Perez was hell-bent on doing his job amid the perils of Tropical Storm Harvey — and it killed him.

The 34-year cop’s body was found Tuesday around 8:20 a.m. by a team of divers assigned the grim task of locating the fallen hero, a tearful Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said.

The officer’s concerned wife had urged him to just stay home Sunday morning.

She tells me, ‘I told him not to go to work. I really didn’t want him to go,’ recounted Acevedo. And his response was, ‘We’ve got work to do.’

Trump talks about crowds, TV while visiting Texas for Harvey Perez headed toward his station in the pitch-black darkness, driving into the torrential rains about 4 a.m. Sunday.

The sergeant, who died just two days before his 61st birthday, spent 2 1/2 hours trying to make it through flooded roads to his assignment in downtown Houston.

On his way to his backup station in Kingwood, Perez drove into a 16 1/2-foot deep underpass — only to discover too late that the darkened passage was completely flooded.

The bravery, courage, and generosity of people in southeast Texas – first responders, medical personnel, police, ordinary people – is breathtaking. Whenever you despair that America has become selfish, angry, and hateful, consider what has been happening in Houston and Louisiana, -- Robert Reich.

And, from News and Guts Facebook post, The next time someone uses the word fake news or say reporters are the enemy, remind them of the unbelievable work correspondents are doing in Texas right now. In some cases, it's even life-saving work. That was the case today as CNN reporter Drew Griffin rescued a man, from a submerged car, just seconds before a live shot.

BI -- Trump just reauthorized police to use high-tech military gear

Robert Reich appropriately calls it “Dumb.”

From Business Insider’s Daniel Brown:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Monday that President Donald Trump plans to loosen federal restrictions on local police agencies obtaining surplus weapons and equipment from the US military. The weapons transfer program, called the 1033 Program, was established by Congress in 1990, and has since allowed local law enforcement agencies to acquire more than $5.4 billion in weapons and equipment, according to the Washington Post.

Former President Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2015 that restricted certain weapons from being transferred, like grenade launchers, because he worried that these weapons and equipment could create an us versus them mentality, like in the events in Ferguson, Mo.When Sessions made the announcement in front of the Fraternal Order of Police, he reportedly received a roaring applause.’”

Trump is rolling back limits on providing local law enforcement agencies surplus military gear. Dumb.

We’ve seen, in places like Ferguson, Mo., how the militarization of police departments can escalate tensions and cost innocent lives. When President Obama barred the transfer of military equipment to police in 2015, he said “we've seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there's an occupying force as opposed to a force that's part of the community that's protecting them and serving them. It can alienate and intimidate local residents and send the wrong message."

The only reason for Trump to rescind Obama’s directive is Trump’s continued scorn for communities of color. Police departments around the country should reject Trump's offer of military weapons. They should instead pursue partnerships with communities, which have proven far more effective in reducing crime and de-escalating tensions than weapons of war.

In just the last three days Trump has demeaned transgender people by pursuing his military ban, and pardoned former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio after he was convicted of violating the laws he was sworn to uphold. And now the militarization of our police. Trump’s cruel bigotry seems to know no bounds.

By Daniel Brown

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Business Insider -- Trump reversed regulations to protect infrastructure against flooding just days before Hurricane Harvey

Apparently, President Donald Trump’s sole purpose is to obliterate all of former President Barack Obama’s directives. His recent executive order revokes Obama’s Federal Flood Risk Management standards.

From Business Insider’s Eliza Relman:

Ten days before Hurricane Harvey descended upon Texas on Friday, wreaking havoc and causing widespread flooding, President Donald Trump signed an executive order revoking a set of regulations that would have made federally funded infrastructure less vulnerable to flooding.

The Obama-era rules, which had not yet gone into effect, would have required the federal government to take into account the risk of flooding and sea-level rise as a result of climate change when constructing new infrastructure and rebuilding after disasters.

Experts are predicting that Harvey -- the most powerful storm to hit the US since 2004 -- will cost Texas between $30 billion and $100 billion in damage.

And in the coming days, Congress will be called upon to send billions of federal dollars to help with the state's recovery and rebuilding efforts.

But because of Trump's rollback of President Barack Obama's Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, experts across the political spectrum say much of the federal money sent to Texas is likely to be wasted on construction that will insufficiently protect against the next storm.

Forbes -- Gilead-Kite: A Breakthrough. A $12 Billion Deal. Another Expensive Drug

Gilead Sciences, the leading maker of drugs for HIV and hepatitis C, made an expensive and gutsy move into the cutting edge of cancer treatment this morning, spending $11.9 billion in cash to buy Kite Pharma, the developer of a treatment that attacks tumors by genetically modifying patients’ own white blood cells.

The deal recasts both Gilead, a company focused on viruses and tumors, and the field of cell therapy for cancer, which now will be guided not by start-ups but by larger, established pharmaceutical firms. (Kite’s closest competitor: Novartis.) It also sets the stage for a dramatic few months during which both the Kite product and the Novartis one are expected to reach the U.S. market at an extraordinary price. The treatments are expected to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per patient, and to conform to the unavoidable narrative of pharmaceutical innovation: medical breakthroughs at sky-high prices.

Robert Reich writes that Gilead has used this strategy before to overprice lifesaving drugs. In 2011, the company purchased drug maker Pharmasset to obtain the rights to a new medication for hepatitis C. Gilead then proceeded to price the medication, Sovaldi, at $1,000 a pill, generating $12 billion in the first year. A congressional inquiry later found that Gilead executives priced the drug well above what was necessary to make a profit. Those involved in the pricing decision were focused on how much they could gouge patients and health plans, not the cost of manufacturing.

Yet, despite public outcry and attention from Congress, nothing has changed. There are still essentially no controls on drug prices in the United States and Gilead could set whatever price it wants for Kite's new cancer drug. We must rein in Big Pharma.

By Matthew Herper

WP -- Putin saw the Panama Papers as a personal attack and may have wanted revenge, Russian authors say

Little by little, the intrigue of Russiagate gets more and more interesting. Here’s the latest from the Washington Post:

Russian journalists Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan first published The Red Web: The Struggle Between Russia's Digital Dictators and the New Online Revolutionaries in 2015. In that book, the pair used investigative reporting and sharp analysis to show how the Kremlin was using the Internet to its advantage.

Two years later, Russia's alleged use of covert online operations became a topic of discussion all around the world. And so Soldatov and Borogan began investigating again.

Now they have released a new version of their book that includes an additional chapter on the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The new chapter provides important context about Russian President's Vladimir Putin's possible motivations — as well as evidence of apparent links between WikiLeaks and the Kremlin, and details of the ongoing fallout in Russia.

WorldViews conducted an interview about this new chapter with Soldatov and Borogan over email. The new edition of the book came out last week in the United States.

Read more from the Washington Post’s interview:

SL Post -- Illinois governor signs automatic voter registration law

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a measure Monday allowing automatic voter registration in Illinois.

Illinois joins more than half a dozen other states with some form of automatic registration, which proponents say boosts civic participation.

"This is good bipartisan legislation and it addresses the fundamental fact that the right to vote is foundational for the rights of Americans in our democracy," Rauner said at a Chicago bill signing ceremony attended by voter rights groups and Democratic lawmakers. "We as a people need to do everything we can to knock down barriers, remove hurdles for all those who are eligible to vote, to be able to vote."

This is a major victory for voting rights and democracy. Congratulations to Illinois on enacting automatic voter registration. We need to make sure that on a national level, every American over 18 is registered to vote automatically, so that students and working people can make their voices heard at the ballot box. Enough with cowardly politicians protecting themselves by suppressing the vote. The way we fight it is to make it easier for people to exercise their right to vote,” -- Senator Bernie Sanders.

By Sophia Tareen, Associated Press

Monday, August 28, 2017

LA Times -- Violence breaks out at Berkeley protest

Robert Reich summarizes the violent protest at Berkeley:

The LA Times reports that thousands of counter-protesters took to the streets of Berkeley today where they clashed with a handful of Trump supporters, leading to violent clashes and at least 14 arrests.

According to the LA Times, some anti-facist protesters, known as Antifa, pounced when Joey Gibson, founder of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer, showed up with his crew. They beat one man with a shield and another person wearing an American flag. Some Antifa protesters also threatened to break the cameras of anyone who filmed them, including journalists. One reporter tweeted that he had been pepper sprayed in one scuffle.

According to the Washington Post, black-clad anarchists attacked at least five people. More than 100 hooded protesters, with shields emblazoned with the words “no hate” and waving a flag identifying themselves as anarchists, busted through police lines.

If these reports are correct, the Antifa and black bloc anarchists have given Trump supporters exactly what they wanted in coming to Berkeley: footage of violence perpetrated against them.

How stupid can they get?

No one cannot expect to reduce hate with more hate, or contain violence with more violence.

(YouTube video capture)

By James Queally, Paige St. John, Benjamin Oreskes, David Zahniser

NY Times -- Trump Forges Ahead on Costly Nuclear Overhaul

The Air Force has announced it will develop a highly stealthy nuclear cruise missile at an estimated cost of $25 billion. The missile will force the Russians and the Chinese to accelerate their own programs, so what’s the point?

Couldn’t that $25 billion could be better used providing, say, affordable high-quality preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds? Research shows the longterm value of high-quality preschool for both children and their communities. Isn’t this more important to the long-term strength and security of the United States?--Robert Reich

The NY Times reports, “ . . . the Air Force announced major new contracts for an overhaul of the American nuclear force: $1.8 billion for initial development of a highly stealthy nuclear cruise missile, and nearly $700 million to begin replacing the 40-year-old Minuteman missiles in silos across the United States.

While both programs were developed during the Obama years, the Trump administration has seized on them, with only passing nods to the debate about whether either is necessary or wise. They are the first steps in a broader remaking of the nuclear arsenal — and the bombers, submarines and missiles that deliver the weapons — that the government estimated during Mr. Obama’s tenure would ultimately cost $1 trillion or more.

Even as his administration nurtured the programs, Mr. Obama argued that by making nuclear weapons safer and more reliable, their numbers could be reduced, setting the world on a path to one day eliminating them. Some of Mr. Obama’s national security aides, believing that Hillary Clinton would win the presidential election, expected deep cutbacks in the $1 trillion plan.

Mr. Trump has not spoken of any such reduction, in the number of weapons or the scope of the overhaul, and his warning to North Korea a few weeks ago that he would meet any challenge with “fire and fury” suggested that he may not subscribe to the view of most past presidents that the United States would never use such weapons in a first strike.

We should, of course, upgrade our nuclear arsenal while there is a nuclear threat, but at the same time reduce the number of nuclear weapons. As of 2016, the United States estimate of nuclear weapons is 6,970, of which 1,750 are operational. The question is how many do you need to be a deterrent. It is estimated, according to ploughshares that the U.S. government could instantly massacre 2.88 billion people and leave most of the rest slowly dying in a nuclear wasteland. I would call that a bit excessive?

An unarmed Minuteman missile
at a former launch facility near Wall, S.D.

Credit Jim Lo Scalzo/European Pressphoto Agency

By David E. Sanger And William J. Broad

WP -- Trump’s business sought deal on a Trump Tower in Moscow while he ran for president

While Donald Trump was running for president in late 2015 and early 2016, his company was pursuing a plan to develop a massive Trump Tower in Moscow, according to several people familiar with the proposal and new records reviewed by Trump Organization lawyers.

Remember Trump saying, again and again, he had no business dealings in Russia?

Well, it turns out that Trump was actively pursuing significant commercial interests in Russia at the same time he was campaigning to be president. The new information, scheduled to be turned over to congressional investigators soon, also suggests additional contacts between Russia-connected individuals and Trump associates during his presidential bid.

In late 2015 and early 2016, Trump’s company was pursuing a plan to develop a massive Trump Tower in Moscow. As part of the discussions, a Russian-born real estate developer urged Trump to come to Moscow to tout the proposal and suggested that he could get President Vladimir Putin to say “great things” about Trump.

The developer, Felix Sater, predicted in a November 2015 email that he and Trump Organization leaders would soon be celebrating — both one of the biggest residential projects in real estate history and Donald Trump’s election as president, according to two of the people with knowledge of the exchange.

Sater wrote to Trump Organization Executive Vice President Michael Cohen “something to the effect of, ‘Can you believe two guys from Brooklyn are going to elect a president?’ ” said one person briefed on the email exchange. Sater emigrated from what was then the Soviet Union when he was 6 and grew up in Brooklyn.

The noose continues to tighten.

By Carol D. Leonnig, Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman

Sunday, August 27, 2017

WP -- Trump gives new meaning to the Friday night news dump, enraging his critics

President Trump remains a “disruptive force.” And, Chief of Staff John Kelly, especially in considering the behaviors of the man he serves, did what a really good Chief of Staff would do: dump a whole lot of stuff when there’s a hurricane coming.

Shortly after the Arpaio pardon, Trump tweeted that the federal government had approved a disaster declaration for Texas.

As a monster hurricane not seen on American shores in over a decade bore down on Texas on Friday night, a tsunami of news out of Washington was also on its way.

President Trump, in the space of four hours, made official a ban on transgender people serving in the military, pardoned a controversial sheriff accused of racial profiling and parted ways with polarizing aide and conservative media darling Sebastian Gorka.

The announcements were made in the evening hours as the nation focused on Hurricane Harvey, which threatened catastrophic damage to areas along the Gulf Coast, giving new meaning to the Friday night news dump strategy that has long been a staple for Washington politicians looking to bury controversial decisions.

It was very risky, because if the hurricane is as bad as the experts were predicting, then he’s opening himself up to a lot of potential criticism,” said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist and former aide to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). “But very little that Trump does surprises me any longer. He’s proven to be very unpredictable and to not act within the norms of other politicians.”

Like most aspects of Trump’s presidency, the perceived news dump enraged his detractors and buoyed his most ardent supporters, while leaving open the question of how it will be received by voters who don’t fit neatly into either camp.

Some Republicans said the timing of the announcements reflected the current state of the White House — new Chief of Staff John F. Kelly trying to instill more order even as the president remains the most disruptive force.

By Abby Phillip

The Hill -- Trump exempts Citgo from Venezuela sanctions

Robert Reich commented on his Facebook page regarding Venezuela sanctions. But first some introductory excerpts from The Hill’s Timothy Cama and Megan R. Wilson.

President Trump is exempting Citgo Petroleum Corp., owned by Venezuela’s government, from the financial sanctions imposed Friday on the country.

The latest set of sanctions is meant to punish the government of President Nicol├ís Maduro as it moves to rewrite the country’s constitution and consolidate his power. To that end, the sanctions seek to exclude the Venezuelan government from the United States’ economy, including its markets and capital, and to make sure the U.S. does not assist the Maduro government.

But Citgo, an oil refiner, retailer and transporter based in the United States and owned by the government’s Petr├│leos de Venezuela, will get to operate largely as normal.

The Trump administration has tightened sanctions on Venezuela, but one company has escaped the new rules. Under a special exemption, oil refiner Citgo can still do business with the petroleum-rich country. The company's lobbyists in Washington are none other than former Trump aides: Barry Bennett and Bud Cummins. Their consulting firm received $160,000 to lobby the White House, the Treasury Department, the Justice Department, and the Energy Department. Citgo also contributed $500,000 to Trump's inauguration.

Drain the swamp? Former Trump aides are cashing in on their connections to the administration as lobbyists. At the same time, Trump has granted staffers-turned-consultants unprecedented access to the White House. For example, former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski takes rides on Air Force One even as he builds his consulting business. Trump is turning this country into a kleptocracy, where members of his inner circle reap the benefits at the expense of the American people.

By Timothy Cama and Megan R. Wilson 

Current Affairs -- Wait, Do People Actually Know Just How Evil This Man Is?

Joe Arpaio’s reign was two decades of intimidation, cruelty, and abuses of power…

If anyone wants to know what this abusive man did -- the man who Donald Trump called "an American patriot," that Donald Trump just pardoned: Joe Arpaio -- needs to read this comprehensive piece from Current Affairs’ columnist Nathan Robinson.

Here’s part of what Robinson wrote:

If you are a Trump supporter, the president has just pardoned “America’s toughest sheriff,” a man who was willing to fight illegal immigration using any means at his disposal. If you are a liberal, Trump has pardoned a despicable racist, a man who spent decades casually violating the civil liberties of Latinos. And if you are a balanced and neutral news organization, Trump has pardoned a “controversial” sheriff who faced “accusations of abuse” and “defied a court order.” These are the terms on which the debate about Arpaio is had: is he a vindictive bigot who neglected his prisoners or a steely lawman who dared to enforce immigration policy when the Feds wouldn’t? (Perhaps we’ll just call him “polarizing.”)

But none of these perspectives actually capture the full truth about Joe Arpaio. And I am worried that even those who detest Trump and are appalled by this pardon do not entirely appreciate the depth of Arpaio’s evil, or understand quite how indefensible what Donald Trump just has done is. Frankly I think even Trump may not fully realize the extent of the wrongdoing that he has just signaled his approval of. And I think it’s very important to be clear: the things Joe Arpaio is nationally infamous for, the immigration crackdown and the tent city, these are only the beginning. The word “racist” isn’t enough. The word “abusive” isn’t enough. Joe Arpaio’s actions over the course of his time in office were monstrous and sickening. As Arpaio’s officers were harassing, detaining, and beating citizens and non-citizens alike, with jail employees routinely calling inmates “wetbacks” or leaving them to die on the floor, Arpaio let hundreds of serious sexual abuse cases go uninvestigated, in one case resulting in a child being continually raped. He was not just a “tough” sheriff, but a cruel and incompetent one, faking clearance reports for serious crimes while abusing the power of his office to arrest and intimidate journalists, judges, and county officials. Some of Arpaio’s acts bordered on the psychopathic: in a deranged re-election plot, Arpaio oversaw a scheme to pay someone to attempt to assassinate him, even supplying the man with bomb-making materials, so that he could entrap the fake “assassin” and send him to prison, ruining the hapless man’s life. Arpaio treated the Constitution with contempt, inflicting what the Mayor of Phoenix called a “reign of terror” upon the city’s Latino community. Anybody with a hint of a conscience should be revolted by both Arpaio’s record and Trump’s pardon.

Robinson concludes his piece with this excerpt:

It really does seem as if people do not quite appreciate just how evil Joe Arpaio truly is. If they did, this pardon would not just be ill-advised, it would be toxic. There would be no controversy. As it is, however, Arpaio remains “controversial”: some say he’s a bigot, some say he’s a righteous vigilante. But what people need to say is the truth, which is that Joe Arpaio is not only a bigot, but a vicious sadist who abused his power more than perhaps anyone else to hold public office in the United States during the 21st century.

By Nathan J. Robinson

Robert Reich -- Trump’s pardon to Sheriff Joe Arpaio violates the Constitution and the rule of law

Joe Arpaio, the infamous former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, was pardoned by President Trump on Friday. Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt for violating a court order requiring him to stop racially profiling Latinos during traffic stops and detentions. He had faced up to six years in prison.

Arpaio's aggressive tactics became the model for anti-immigrant demagogues, including Trump. In fact, Arpaio was one of Trump's earliest supporters, endorsing him for president early in the campaign.

Just as with Trump Charlottesville remarks, he is intent on dividing America for political gain.

“This is another example of how far Trump will go to embolden hate in America for his own benefit. Shame on him, and all his enablers.

“Shame on every one of us who doesn't do everything possible to lawfully remove from office this loathsome man and utter disgrace of a president.”

Trump’s pardon to Sheriff Joe Arpaio violates the Constitution and the rule of law. Add this to the list of Trump's impeachable offenses.

1. Arpaio wasn’t convicted “for doing his job,” as Trump said at his Phoenix rally last Tuesday. He was convicted for doing the opposite of his job. He violated the law and then ignored court orders to stop violating it.

2. The Constitution requires that a president faithfully execute the law. Pardoning a sheriff for disobeying federal law is not faithfully executing the law.

3. Pardons are typically granted either to provide mercy or correct a miscarriage of justice or on more general grounds of public policy. None fits here. Arpaio hasn't even yet been sentenced. And his flagrant abuses of office to search and jail Latinos violated public policy and worsened race relations.

From the New York Times:

The House speaker, Paul Ryan, on Saturday criticized President Trump’s pardon of the former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, making him the most prominent Republican to voice concern about the message the president had sent regarding his commitment to the rule of law.

“The speaker does not agree with this decision,” a spokesman for Mr. Ryan, Doug Andres, said in a statement. “Law enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States. We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon.”
(you tube video capture)

By Andrew Rudalevige

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Hill -- Roger Stone: Politicians voting for Trump's impeachment 'endangering their own lives' (VIDEO)

By Brandon Carter
Roger Stone, an American political consultant, lobbyist, strategist, and a longtime confidant to President Donald Trump, noted for his use of opposition research for candidates of the Republican Party, predicted during an interview with TMZ Thursday there would be a "spasm of violence" tantamount to civil war if the president were brought under impeachment charges by Congress.

“Try to impeach him. Just try it,” Stone said. “You will have a spasm of violence, an insurrection in this country like you have never seen before. Both sides are heavily armed, my friend.”

Stone said members of Congress who are advocating for Trump’s impeachment need to “get over it.”

Stone has a history of forecasting violence for those opposing Trump. During the lead-up to the 2016 Republican National Convention, when Trump was seen as a prohibitive favorite to lock up the Party's presidential nomination, and despite fears that establishment party officials might seek to steer delegates away from Trump, Stone threatened to reveal where delegates who flipped on Trump were staying during the convention,” according to Politico’s Cristiano Lima.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't bother you with rubbish spewing from the mouths of longtime Trump advisers like Roger Stone, who are the bottom-feeders of American politics. But Stone's prediction of armed insurrection if Trump is impeached and threat that politicians voting for Trump's impeachment will endanger their lives is consistent with everything else we've seen Trump do to stir up his followers.

The Hill -- Gorka leaves White House post

Sebastian Gorka, special assistant to President Trump, is no longer working at the White House.

According to Gorka, he resigned out of frustration of being surrounded by people who had no interest in making America great again. But the scuttlebutt is that he resigned after he was told by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly that his security clearance was revoked.

Without a security clearance, it would be impossible for Gorka to continue as special assistant to President Trump. He, therefore, submitted a letter of resignation in which he wrote, “. . . the best and most effective way I can support you, Mr. President is from outside the People’s House."

In his first month in the White House, the retired four-star Marine [John Kelly] has been behind the purge of both Bannon, a chief strategist, and communications director Anthony Scaramucci. Gorka, a former national security editor at Breitbart and an ally of Bannon's, was widely suspected to be his next scalp."

Steve Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News and Gorka will continue to support Trump

After his departure from the White House, Bannon said, “If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents -- on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America.”

(video screen capture)

By Julia Manchester, Katie Bo Williams

Vox -- Trump just pardoned the infamous anti-immigrant ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio

The rise, fall, and resurrection of “America’s toughest sheriff.”

From Vox’s Dara Lind:

President Donald Trump pardoned former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Friday night — a controversial move to aid an early endorser who in many ways pioneered Trump’s brand of anti-immigrant politics.

Pardoning Arpaio — who was convicted of contempt of court in July for continuing to engage in aggressive immigration enforcement in defiance of a 2011 court order, before he is even sentenced — was an unusual move, to say the least. But it makes a tremendous amount of sense for Trump.

Not only is the president doing a favor for Arpaio, who helped validate Trump among the immigration hardliners who have since become a large share of his base; it sends a powerful message to sheriffs around the country who are worried that cooperating with federal immigration authorities could get them into trouble with the courts as well.

With the pardon, Trump mobilized immigrants-rights groups and made establishment Republicans nervous. It’s the kind of culture war milieu in which Trump thrives.

Arpaio was convicted of violating a judge’s order by doing something the Trump
administration’s trying to pressure sheriffs around the country to do now

By pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Trump has again made clear he will use the powers of the presidency to defend racism and discrimination. The thousands of people terrorized and brutalized by Arpaio's illegal actions deserve justice. No one in America should live in fear,” -- Senator Bernie Sanders.

By Dara Lind

Robert Reich: We’re Paying for Trump’s Lifestyle While he’s Doing Nothing to Help Ours

Secret Service spent $7,100 renting luxury portable toilets for Trump's Bedminster trip

Earlier this week we learned that the Secret Service has already run through its entire year's budget to protect Trump and his family. Now, we know where some of that money has gone.

The agency spent:

1) $7,100 to rent luxury portable toilets during Trump's recent vacation at his Bedminster golf club.

2) $60,000 on golf cart rentals at Trump's properties.

3) $12,000 for Trump to attend the Super Bowl.

These figures, of course, are small in comparison to what the agency has spent to ferry Trump's children around the world on business trips. For example, Eric Trump's junket to Uruguay cost the agency over $100,000. Other jaunts on the taxpayers' dime have included the Dominican Republic, Dubai, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

To anyone who voted for Trump, you’re paying for his lifestyle while he’s doing nothing to help yours.

By Jessica Estepa