Saturday, June 4, 2016

Great speech, Hillary.

As Matthew Yglesias points out in his very fine piece on Vox, Hillary Clinton's speech, where she "eviscerated" Donald Trump was aimed at center-right voters who are looking for some way to avoid voting for Trump.  He says that liberal Democrats will be disappointed in the speech but that it is smart strategy.    She's aiming for that 70% landslide.   Another time, she'll make other speeches full of policy ideas for her liberal and progressive voters.   This one was to bring in another group.

Yglesias is right.   The media commentary has been great

Huffington Post:  Hillary Clinton Eviscerates Donald Trump In Her Best Speech Yet. 

New York Magazine:  Hillary Clinton Argues That Giving Nuclear Codes to Ill-tempered Ignoramus Would Be Mistake. 

Vox:  Hillary Clinton rolled out the anti-Trump argument that could deliver a landslide. 

PoliticusUSA:  Hillary Clinton Just Turned Trump Into A National Joke In Epic Foreign Policy Smackdown. 

Slate:  Hillary Clinton Just Kicked Trump in the Shins. 

Business Insider:  Hillary Clinton just delivered one of her strongest arguments yet against Donald Trump. 

New York Daily News:  Hillary Clinton beats Donald Trump to a deserved pulp;  She exposes him as a dangerous and unstable would-be commander-in-chief. 

The New Republic:  Donald Trump has never looked weaker.
             [ouch !!   that one's going to get under his skin] 

Slate:   Clinton Bluntly Mocks Trump's Foreign Policy Ideas Simply by Restating Them. 

Reuters:  Clinton casts Trump as dangerous clown in caustic speech on foreign policy. 

Washington Post:  Hillary Clinton just proved she is very good at taunting Donald Trump.

In fact, she taunted him where it hurts, his tweets, saying "He's probably sending out one right now."   And he was.    You've just read some of what the media said.   Here's The Donald's lame reply:
"Bad performance by Crooked Hillary Clinton! Reading poorly from the telepromter! She doesn't even look presidential!"
Hillary Clinton just did what 16 Republican candidates couldn't do.    She got the best of Donald Trump.   His response is pathetic.  Despite what he said, hers was a fantastic performance, expertly delivered, and she has never looked more in command.


PS:   Latest poll released late yesterday shows Hillary Clinton with an 11% advantage over Donald Trump.    That's a big change in just the last week, when they were essentially tied in some polls.   It's also becoming clear that this new strategy is a winning one:   don't focus on policy differences with Trump, because he has none that last for more than a day or two.   In this speech, what she focused on is his incompetence to be president, his lack of preparedness but, even moreso, his disqualifying temperament.   The beautiful thing about this line of attack is that his response proves the point.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Trump Univ. program was fraud, says NY Atty. Gen.

Here's the "Trump University" scandal in a nutshell, from an article by Igor Bobic, Associate Politics Editor, Huffington Post:

"New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Thursday took aim at the now-defunct Trump University, which has been accused of being a scam.

“'In New York, we have laws against business fraud, we have laws against consumer fraud,' Schneiderman said.  'We have a law against running an illegal, unlicensed university. This never was a university. . . . [You can't just call something a university] . . . without actually qualifying and registering, so it was really a fraud from beginning to end.'

"'Trump University, an unaccredited for-profit company launched by presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump in 2005, offered courses in real estate and investment.  Documents unsealed by a federal judge earlier this week pertaining to a lawsuit against the venture revealed how its salespeople were told to deliberately mislead potential customers, manipulate their emotions and ignore their concerns about parting ways with, in some cases, tens of thousands of dollars.

“'It’s fraud. This is just straight up fraud. It’s like selling people something you say is a Mercedes and it turns out to be a Volkswagen,' Schneiderman added in a separate interview on MSNBC’s 'Morning Joe.' . . .

"He added: 'Donald Trump’s sole role was in marketing. He was the pitchman. We have the videos of him making these false promises. He was not involved in the curriculum. He never met or trained the instructors [as claimed in their sales pitch]. But he was clearly in charge of pitching this scam university to people, convincing them that it was his personal secrets and saying things like ‘come to the weekend seminar.’ ‘Learn what it took me a whole lifetime to learn in real estate.’ ‘You can get rich, too.’ That was his role.

"Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton had similar words about the venture on Wednesday, during a rally at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. The former secretary of state claimed Trump would scam voters in the November election in the same way Trump University took advantage of its students.

“'Trump and his employees took advantage of vulnerable Americans, encouraging them to max out their credit cards, empty their retirement savings, destroy their financial futures – all while making promises they knew were false from the beginning,Clinton said.   'This is just more evidence that Donald Trump himself is a fraud. He is trying to scam America the way he scammed all those people at Trump U.'”
*   *   *
Remember back last fall when someone brought this up in a debate?   Trump brushed it off as "just a civil suit.   I could settle it easily, but I don't want to settle."   In fact, it is a $40 million, class action suit involving about 5,000 former students who claim not to have gotten what they were promised.  The Dallas Morning News reports that a similar lawsuit against Trump was proposed in Texas but was killed for political reasons by then Attorney General Greg Abbot, who is now the Republican governor. 

The documents released by the judge this week contain damaging evidence of the preditory tactics.  This prompted Trump to attack the judge's integrity and qualifications at a press conference.   He called the judge "a hater.  A Trump hater and 'very unfair.'"   This is after the judge had earlier shown deference to Trump by agreeing to delay the trial until after the election.    Then on top of it all, Trump attempted to smear the judge by claiming that he "is a Mexican."   In fact, he was born in the U.S.

Some lawyers are saying that there are grounds for holding him in contempt of court for these remarks.      Eric Schneiderman is no light-weight.   He has won judgments against some of the heavy-weights in the financial world.   Trump also lashed out at him, calling him "a political hack."    This could blow up in his orange face if he doesn't tone it down.


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Muslim group crowd-funding good works

Last summer, during the Muslin period of Ramadan, I wrote (July 9, 2015) about a web site run by a group of American Muslims called   It makes it possible for various groups in the global Muslim community to raise money for good works through online crowd funding One project is providing bikes for Afghanistan orphans.   Another encourages and supports people adopting refugees who have had to leave their homes.

The one last summer that got my attention was raising funds to help rebuild the African-American churches that had apparently been burned by hate-crime arsonists.  The web site released this follow up as the new season of Ramadan is starting (June 6th).

In the three years it has been operating, has raised nearly $10 million through crowd-funding for over 700 projects in 49 countries.

For Americans, who have little knowledge about Islam, this is a small window into the peaceful, charitable, and respectful nature of 99.9+% of the world's 1.2 billion MuslimsThe group calling itself Islam State is not Islam.   These good people at LaunchGood, along with my friend Axil, my neighbor Amir, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), and millions more good people -- these are the faces of Islam.   My respect for them continues to grow.

Ramadan is a time of fasting . . . but it is much more.   It is a time for reflection and good works, for volunteering time and giving help to others.    It is also a time for renewing ties to family and community.


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The markets speak on Donald Trump's candidacy

Interesting paradox regarding Donald Trump's presidential candidacy and the free market, which Republicans tout as their political philosophy.

A report out Friday suggested that notoriously skittish stock markets seem unaffected by the possibility of a Trump presidency.   They based this on the fact that the stock markets showed barely a change in the week following his latest delegate wins, giving him the required 1237 delegates.

Now that could be interpreted several ways.   One could be that stock investors don't think it would affect the economy very much one way or the other.   Or it could be that they don't think Trump will win, so why let it affect what you buy and sell?

A bit more dramatic data is supplied bu the UK's Daily Mail: 
Reservations at Trump hotels have plummeted by more than half since Donald Trump began his presidential campaign.   This is based on data from the travel firm Hipmunk.

Bookings have declined by 74% at the Trump Solo in New York and 71% in Las Vagas to the less severe 17% in Atlantic City and a slight increase of 4% at the Trump Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk.
Do we dare take this as an encouraging sign, akin to the market driven polls?  Whatever, I think not wanting to stay in a Trump hotel is more of a negative vote than what stocks people buy.   One is an investment decision.   The other could mean:   "I just don't want to have anything to do with this man and what he stands for -- so I don't want to stay in his hotel."


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

How NOT to unite the Republican party

Responsible Republican politicians must be tearing their hair -- trying to unite their party with Donald Trump as the presumptive nominee.   And they would like a little cooperation from him.   Instead, he just went to New Mexico and insulted their governor, Susanna Martinez, who just happens to be:
   1.  Republican
   2.  A woman
   3.  Hispanic
   4.  A rising star in the Republican Party
   5.  Chair of the Republican Governors Association
   6.  Frequently mentioned as a VP possibility
Former House GOP Leader Tom DeLay told MSNBC:  "I have no other word for it: it's just stupid politics ... and it just blows my mind. Where is he going to get his coalition to win?”

Way to go, Donald.   OK, so she didn't come to your rally, and she has not endorsed you.   But you just made everything worse (except for the Democrats, that is.)


Monday, May 30, 2016

States can't sue Obama over bathroom memo just because they don't like it; they have to show harm

An ACLU spokesman said "it's nothing more than a "political stunt."   Yet, attorneys general in twelve states are spending taxpayer money to sue President Obama over the administration's memo on bathroom policy, claiming that he has over-reached his authority over the states.

The ACLU clarified that the suit, as currently written, will not get a hearing because the plaintiffs lack standing to sue.  “The Supreme Court has made clear that one cannot sue an agency just because they disagree with the agency’s guidance.  If these attorneys general disagree with the agency’s interpretation of what the federal ban on sex discrimination means, they can make that argument to the court when it arises in a real case.”

James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT Project says that therehave been no disruptions, increases in public safety incidents, nor invasions of privacy related to protections for transgender people. . . .

"The federal agencies named in this lawsuit have not changed existing obligations under the law. Our civil rights laws, including Title VII and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, have long prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex, and federal courts and agencies have long recognized that this includes protections for transgender people."

That's right.   Federal courts have already ruled favorably on protection for trans people in civil rights laws.   This is not an Obama creation.


GOP senators pay no price for blocking Garland?

Sen. Orren Hatch (R-UT), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said this in a statement released by his office:
Like many of my Senate colleagues, I recently met with Chief Judge Merrick Garland . . . .  I have known Judge Garland for many years and think highly of his character and credentials. He has an excellent reputation among lawyers and fellow judges alike.  I met with Judge Garland as a personal friend and out of respect for his position as a distinguished federal judge.  Our meeting, however, does not change my conviction that the Senate should consider a Supreme Court nominee after this presidential election cycle.
The problem is that Senator Hatch did not have this meeting with Judge Garland until the day after this statement was published.   Suggests that Hatch's mind was made up before the meeting, doesn't it?    Ah . . . politics.

We all know, and some Republicans have even admitted, that's what it is . . . simple politics.   That, if the parties' power roles were reversed, they would be arguing the exact opposite.

Think about it.   How blithely everyone is just accepting that power politics are preventing the important functioning of the highest court in our governmentEspecially when one side is so clearly in the wrong according to the constitution.    The only consequences will be at the ballot box -- and there are so many other factors to consider, it may not even sway many votes.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Repairing the Constitution on six important issues

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens' new book, Six Amendments:  How We Should Change the Constitution, proposes remedies to court rulings that have "knocked the U.S. Constitution out of whack."  Stevensays: "I am confident that the soundness of each of my proposals will become more and more evident, and that ultimately each will be adopted." 

1.  Supremacy of federal laws over state laws:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges and other public officials in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

2. Political Gerrymandering: 
Districts represented by members of Congress, or by members of any state legislative body, shall be compact and composed of contiguous territory. The state shall have the burden of justifying any departures from this requirement by reference to neutral criteria such as natural, political, or historic boundaries or demographic changes. The interest in enhancing or preserving the political power of the party in control of the state government is not such a neutral criterion.
3. Campaign Finance:  would reverse the devastating effects of Citizens United.
Neither the First Amendment nor any other provision of this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit the Congress or any state from imposing reasonable limits on the amount of money that candidates for public office, or their supporters, may spend in election campaigns.
4. Sovereign Immunity:
Neither the Tenth Amendment, the Eleventh Amendment, nor any other provision of this Constitution, shall be construed to provide any state, state agency, or state officer with an immunity from liability for violating any act of Congress, or any provision of this Constitution.
5. Abolishing the Death Penalty: by adding five words (in bold) to the Eighth Amendment:
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments such as the death penalty shall be inflicted.
6. Gun Control: To restore the Second Amendment to its original meaning, and to return the power of regulating firearms to state and local governments, Stevens would add these five words (in bold) to the Second Amendment.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia, shall not be infringed.
I would welcome the opportunity to vote for every one of these amendments to our Constitution.