Commentary, Trump Administration

Trump’s stunning corruption hits another new low with latest pardons

President Donald Trump (Photo by Drew Angerer | Getty Images)

The New York Times headline told it like it is yesterday when it explained that President Donald Trump’s latest spate of  pardons amounted to “Efforts [to] Help a Who’s-Who of Political and Corporate Convicts.”

This is from the story:

“President Trump, citing what he said was advice from friends and business associates, granted clemency on Tuesday to a who’s who of white-collar criminals from politics, sports and business who were convicted on charges involving fraud, corruption and lies — including the financier Michael R. Milken.

The president pardoned Mr. Milken, the so-called junk bond king of the 1980s, as well as the former New York City police commissioner Bernard B. Kerik and Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., a former owner of the San Francisco 49ers. He also commuted the sentence of Rod R. Blagojevich, a former Democratic governor of Illinois.

Their political and finance schemes made them household names, and three received prison terms while Mr. DeBartolo paid a $1 million fine.”

Meanwhile, Philip Bump of the Washington Post put it this way in assessing Trump’s action:

“It’s remarkable that one facet of Trump’s defense during the impeachment trial was that his interactions with Ukraine were both appropriate and centered on his desire to uproot official corruption. It was an indefensible claim on its face, given that the extent of the corruption for which Trump had expressed any concern was that allegedly surrounding former vice president Joe Biden, a potential 2020 opponent of Trump. But Trump’s flurry of presidential acts of clemency on Tuesday truly makes clear how indifferent he is about misbehavior by public officials — particularly when considered alongside his past pardons and commutations.”

In other words — as if we didn’t already know it all too well — Trump’s actions are those of an utterly dishonest and unprincipled man. His pals are crooks and dictators and it continues to amaze on a daily basis that not a single prominent Republican politician, save for Senator Mitt Romney, possesses the guts to stand up to him.

Commentary

Update from Nevada: Here’s the deal with the caucuses

In case you’ve wondering what the deal is with the Nevada presidential primary caucuses (which wrap up this Saturday the 22nd), be sure to check out the ongoing coverage of our sibling news outlet, the Nevada Current.

As the Current’s outstanding editor Hugh Jackson explained in his morning email update today, the situation is sub-optimal, but life will go on:

I voted, er caucused, or cast my preferences, or whatever we’re calling it, and it didn’t suck. It took about an hour and 45 minutes at NSEA HQ on Harmon Sunday afternoon. The weather was nice. The three-step process once you get through the doors is … inelegant. Yes, getting the early votes counted and properly and appropriately aligned with choices of participants on caucus day might end up being a big fat mess (see the national stories linked below). Or it might not. As I keep saying, we don’t know, so we should go through the process anyway and, you know, see what happens. Early voting (er, caucusing or whatever) continues today and tomorrow.

One other thing… to reiterate, I loathe caucuses. The tragic irony of the frustration with the caucus process — and not just this cycle — is that administering elections is actually something Nevada state and local election officials generally do quite well. But caucuses are run by the party, not state and local election officials. It’s like we’re lumbering along in some old beater Chevy that may or may not be road safe, hoping it’ll get us from point A to point B, even though we’ve got a Ferrari in the garage. Oh well. Last time, hopefully.

Meanwhile, Current reporters have filed multiple news stories about the caucuses and where things stand, including:

So you want to caucus? Here’s what you need to know.

By Michael Lyle
Feb. 15, 2020

Early voting starts Saturday.

Following Iowa and New Hampshire, Nevada will be the third state to weigh in on the Democratic presidential nomination. Deemed “the First in the West,” Nevada’s Caucus Day is Feb. 22.

Instead of a government-run primary election, where voters cast ballots privately inside a voting booth, Nevada is one of four states and three territories, that, on caucus day, requires residents to publicly declare their preferred candidate.

Ahead of caucus day, Nevada is the first state to allow participants to early caucus, which will run Feb. 15 through Feb. 18.

Caucusgoers must be registered with the Democratic Party, but same-day registration will be offered during early caucusing and on caucus day. 

All caucus materials will be available in English, Spanish and, for the first time, Tagalog.

Nevada, which is also the first majority-minority state in the nomination process with a rising Asian American Pacific Islander population and a one-third Hispanic population, will have more than 80 early caucus locations as a way to reach diverse voting pockets. 

[Read more…]

and…

Klobuchar defends record as prosecutor, Buttigieg snipes at MfA at Latino forum

By Jenniffer Solis
Feb. 14, 2020

Fresh off strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar Thursday began facing the uphill battle of winning over Latino voters in Nevada.

“The road to the White House goes through the barrios and towns of Latino America,” said Domingo García, national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), opening a forum in Southern Nevada where Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Tom Steyer made remarks in person, and Bernie Sanders participated via video conference.

“I think the Latino population in Nevada can take the lead in showing which candidate has appealed to our community the most and will be poised to win the Latino vote in California and Texas on Super Tuesday,” said Garcia in an interview with the Current.

In 2020 Latinos will be the largest minority voting block, Garcia said, predicting in a crowded field with four major candidates, the Latino vote would be decisive.

[Read more…]

The chief apparent lessons: a) It’s too bad that such an important state still uses the caucus system, but the results should be informative, and b) thank goodness North Carolina never went down this route.

Commentary, Trump Administration

Here’s the danger at the heart of Trump’s meddling in the judiciary

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins was absolutely right about this much: President Donald Trump has learned his lesson. And he’s learned it by heart.

Thanks to the Senate’s cowardly abdication of its responsibilities two weeks ago, the Republican president now feels absolutely emboldened to trample on what few constitutional norms remain standing in Washington D.C.

In the barely 14 days that have elapsed since Collins, of Maine, and her fellow Republicans acquitted Trump on the two impeachment articles sent over from the U.S. House, the authoritarian-in-chief purged the White House of perceived critics; demanded a reduced prison sentence for a crony (with the apparent acquiescence of his own attorney general); and declared Friday that he has “a legal right” to intervene in court cases.

Writing in the Washington Post on Friday, columnist Eugene Robinson compared Trump’s Washington to the banana republics he’d covered during a four-year stint as the newspaper’s South American correspondent from 1988 to 1992.

“There has been considerable hyperventilation, some perhaps by me, about the grave harm Trump is doing to our democratic institutions,” Robinson wrote, adding that he was not hyperventilating now. “Public faith in justice is a delicate, precious thing. Once squandered, it is incredibly hard to regain.”

I’m not hyperventilating now either. There is a profound difference between the daily, schoolyard bullying that’s sadly become just a routine part of the former reality television star’s administration, and his direct, incredibly damaging, and ongoing assault on the judiciary.

It’s already well-established that when Trump isn’t treating the law like his personal plaything by issuing pardons to such friends and supporters as former Maricopa County, Ariz. Sheriff Joe Arpaio, he’s insulting or undermining judges and courts he believes should bend to his will.

That includes U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whom Trump disparagingly referred to as “Mexican” in 2018, despite the fact that Curiel was born in Indiana. Trump has also used the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, as a personal punching bag because it’s dealt Trump a series of legal setbacks on some of his most radioactive proposals.

“I mean, it’s really sad when every single case filed against us is in the 9th Circuit,” Trump told a gathering of governors at the White House in 2018, according to CNN. “We lose, we lose, we lose, and then we do fine in the Supreme Court. But what does that tell you about our court system? It’s a very, very sad thing.”

What it would tell anyone with even the most cursory knowledge of the judiciary is that the system is working. Courts follow law, and they follow precedent, not the political whims of whoever’s sitting behind the Resolute Desk, or whichever party commands a majority on Capitol Hill.

That’s why it was possible in 2008, for instance, for the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whom no one would mistake for a fire-breathing progressive, to simultaneously declare that, while the U.S. Constitution provided for an individual right to bear arms, the government still had a compelling and legitimate role in regulating them. Read more

Commentary

The best editorial of the weekend takes Lt. Gov. Forest to task for “irresponsible” statements

In case you missed it, the Greensboro News & Record did a fine job over the weekend of reminding us once more of how detached from reality and utterly “irresponsible” North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest was with his recent absurd MLK Day attacks on Planned Parenthood in which he accused the women’s health organization of trying to “destroy the Black race.”

In an editorial entitled “Saving black babies,” the the authors put it this way:

“There’s a lot wrong with Forest’s irresponsible statements. For starters, he was pushing a divisive political agenda at an event honoring a man who died promoting racial justice and equality. King also supported the work of Planned Parenthood and was honored with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Margaret Sanger award.

And even though Forest declared what he was saying was ‘just the truth,’ it’s an account that’s repeatedly been shown to be misleading, not to mention taken out of historical context.”

After explaining the truth about Planned Parenthood matriarch Margaret Sanger and the complex views that many American leaders — both Black and white — held about eugenics a century ago, the editorial puts Forest in his place this way:

“Forest could do a lot more good for black babies by supporting the expansion of Medicaid in North Carolina….

A recent study finds that states that have expanded Medicaid so more low-income adults can get health insurance have seen the quickest declines in deaths of black infants. North Carolina is one of only 14 states that hasn’t taken advantage of the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid.

Medicaid makes a difference because it helps low-income mothers — many who work but don’t have insurance — afford prenatal care, a major factor in preventing infant deaths. Medicaid also helps mothers get crucial care and advice after giving birth.

Forest is a staunch opponent of the Medicaid expansion that would do a lot more to save black babies than he’ll accomplish by railing at Planned Parenthood.

That, Mr. Forest, is ‘just the truth.’”

Click here to read the entire editorial.