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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 13,316

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Trump may be running the sleaziest presidential campaign ever

Opinion by Max Boot

I’m old enough to remember when the Republican Party was known as the “party of ideas.” That was in the 1980s. Since then it has become the party of pseudo-scandals.

The change occurred, as the Princeton historian Julian Zelizer documents in his book “Burning Down the House,” because of the efforts of Newt Gingrich, then a Republican backbencher, to bring down House Speaker Jim Wright in the late 1980s. Casting about for dirt he could use, Gingrich focused attention on the fact that the speaker had published a book that was bought in bulk by lobbyists. While the book deal looked bad, it was not against the law or House rules. But it didn’t matter: Gingrich thundered that Wright was “the most corrupt speaker in the 20th century” and compared him to Mussolini. Wright was pressured into resigning, Gingrich soon became speaker himself, and the GOP was off to the races.

Since then, the Republican Party, in cahoots with media partners such as Fox “News” and Rush Limbaugh, has manufactured one pseudo-scandal after another: Vince Foster’s suicide, Whitewater, Mena airport, John Kerry’s Swift Boat service, Barack Obama’s birth certificate, the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s emails, among others.

The process has been turbocharged under President Trump, who is even more ruthless and unscrupulous than Gingrich. The former reality-TV star won the 2016 election by defaming a former secretary of state and first lady as “Crooked Hillary” and demanding that she be locked up for unspecified offenses. Now he is trying to run the same playbook on Joe Biden.


May be running?

Trump campaign flouted agreement to follow health guidelines at rally, documents show

The start of President Trump’s rally was still hours away when it became clear that his campaign would not keep its promise.

In the days leading up to the Sept. 30 event in Duluth, Minn., local officials had privately pressed the campaign to abide by state public health guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, documents show. In response, the campaign signed an agreement pledging to follow those rules, limiting attendance to 250 people.

On the day of the rally, however, Trump supporters flooded onto the tarmac at Duluth International Airport. They stood shoulder to shoulder, many without masks.

“We have been notified that the 250 person limit has been exceeded,” an airport representative emailed a campaign official late that afternoon. “This email serves as our notice of a contract violation and we are requesting you remedy the situation.”


Despite rhetoric, GOP has supported packing state courts

Republican claims that Democrats would expand the U.S. Supreme Court to undercut the conservative majority if they win the presidency and control of Congress has a familiar ring.

It’s a tactic the GOP already has employed in recent years with state supreme courts when they have controlled all levers of state political power.

Republican governors in Arizona and Georgia have signed bills passed by GOP-dominated legislatures to expand the number of seats on their states’ respective high courts. In Iowa, the Republican governor gained greater leverage over the commission that names judicial nominees.

“The arguments being advanced now by Republican leaders — that this is an affront to separation of powers, that this is a way of delegitimizing courts — those don’t seem to be holding at the state level,” said Marin Levy, a law professor at Duke University who has written about efforts to expand state high courts.


Along California's ring of fire, residents face decades of danger, destruction

In the haze outside his family trailer, he stubs out a cigarette and stares off across the hospital parking lot in Clovis where he has hitched up for now, pondering his future in California.

Just weeks before, Mark Van Aacken, 40, was living his idyll. He and his wife owned a home on a 5-acre parcel of white firs, dogwoods, ponderosas, sugar pines and incense cedars. Their 7-year-old twin girls roamed free, riding bikes, exploring the woods. On weekends, they packed their heavily modified Grand Cherokee — one-ton axles, 40-inch tires — and low-geared it up boulder-strewn Jeep trails to camp next to blue alpine lakes. That high granite country was where he found those moments of natural bliss at the heart of California’s promise.

But now his home in Shaver Lake is gone, taken by the flip side of that promise: disaster. The Creek fire torched not only the house but every single tree on his property.

“We moved up there for the forest. And now it’s not there.”

He is feeling lost and in limbo, like so many others besieged by the worst fire season on record.


Big banks entrusted money to GardaWorld. It secretly lost track of millions.

Brian Newell had been a manager at one of GardaWorld’s armored truck branches for about a year when a high-ranking supervisor called in 2018 with a bizarre order: Load all the coins stored at his branch in Connecticut onto a truck bound for Massachusetts.

Auditors from Bank of America were coming to Garda’s Dedham, Mass., branch to count money that Garda was being paid to protect.

And some of it was missing.

Newell’s Stratford, Conn., branch was relatively small. It held about $20,000 in coins belonging to Bank of America and two other banks, Newell said in an interview. He sent it all.

A few days later, Newell said, he learned it hadn’t been enough.


The Radicalization of a Small American Town

The change has occurred so slowly that at times I hardly noticed it.

By Brian Groh

LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. — For 20 years, off and on, I’ve lived in this small, blue-collar town about 30 minutes west of Cincinnati. My grandparents, immigrants from Germany, bought my old farmhouse, on 15 acres, during World War II. I’ve always felt that this town embodies much of what I love about the Midwest: friendliness, a lack of pretension and a prevailing sense of decency among neighbors.

A few weeks ago, I met up with a good friend, an 84-year-old retiree named Frank, who lives nearby. He told me that he’d put up a “Biden-Harris” lawn sign, and within 36 hours it had been stolen. In response, his girlfriend taped another sign to the inside of their ranch home’s front window. Frank immediately took it down. “The chair I like to sit in is right there,” he explained. “The next time they come, I’m afraid it might be a brick, or a bullet.” Just a few years ago, I would have said that Frank was overreacting. Now I’m not so sure.

Over the past four years, my hometown has become radicalized. This is a loaded word, but it’s the only way to describe it.

As recently as 2008, I saw Bill Clinton speak at our community center, where the crowd was so large that people had to listen to him from loudspeakers in a nearby firehouse. The mood was electric. “People are broke at the end of every month,” he said. “This has to change.” He promised that with Democratic leadership, it would. An aggressive new energy policy would bring jobs, with higher incomes.


This Is Why Republicans Fear Change

The party’s survival depends on frozen politics.

By Jamelle Bouie

It is not actually clear that new states are on the agenda should Democrats win in November. House Democrats have passed a bill to admit the District of Columbia as a state, and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nydia Velázquez of New York have introduced a bill to let Puerto Ricans hold a binding referendum on their future, but Senate Democrats are still somewhat silent on the issue.

Nonetheless, congressional Republicans have raised the specter of new states as they fight to defend their majority in the Senate.

In June, after the House passed its D.C. statehood bill, Senate Republicans went on a tear against the measure, with Lindsey Graham of South Carolina condemning it as an unconstitutional power grab that would “empower the most radical agenda in modern American politics.” Later, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, used his time at the Republican National Convention to warn of dire consequences should the District become a state.

They want to defund the police and take away your Second Amendment rights. They want free health care for illegal immigrants, yet they offer no protection at all for unborn Americans. They want to pack the Supreme Court with liberals intent on eroding our constitutional rights. And they want to codify all this by making the swamp itself, Washington, D.C., America’s 51st state. With two more liberal senators, we cannot undo the damage they’ve done.

More recently, on Fox News, Graham — fighting an unusually tough battle for re-election against his Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison — warned of a “parade of horribles” should Republicans lose the Senate and the White House. “If they win, it is not going to be about a health care debate,” he said, referring to the last period of unified Democratic control in 2009, “they are going to structurally change the country to make it harder for a Republican to get elected president. They are going to make D.C. a state, altering the balance of power in the Senate.”


The latest sheer idiocy from conservative homophobes: Boycotting Oreos

Credit the group One Million Moms with spurring me to brave covid-19-struck Washington, D.C., and make a beeline to the grocery store to purchase some Oreo cookies.

I could do no less in light of a scurrilous campaign the organization has launched against Oreo and its parent company, Mondelez International.

Not to be confused with the Million Mom March gun-safety organization, OneMillionMoms.com is an online ministry of the American Family Association, a self-described “conservative, pro-family” organization based in Tupelo, Miss.

One Million Moms is out of sorts because Oreo has joined with the nonprofit PFLAG — an organization of supportive parents, families and allies of LGBTQ people — to release “Rainbow Oreos.” These are described as cookies filled with Oreo cream in the colors of the Pride flag, and the company has launched the new product with a moving ad depicting a daughter and her partner introducing their relationship to her parents.


Spin, hyperbole and deception: How Trump claimed credit for an Obama veterans achievement

President Trump has told mistruths about the 2014 VA Choice Act more than 156 times, seeking to deny the contributions of rivals including Barack Obama and John McCain.

The first time President Trump claimed false credit for the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act — which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2014 — was on June 6, 2018. That day, as Trump signed the Mission Act, a modest update to the bipartisan VA Choice legislation, he seemed to conflate the two.

“So it’s now my great honor to sign the VA Mission Act, or as we all know it, the Choice Act, and to make Veterans Choice the permanent law of our great country,” the president said, standing in the Rose Garden. “And nobody deserves it more than our veterans.”

In the coming weeks, Trump began systematically erasing from the legislation’s history not just Obama but also the late senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who not only co-sponsored the VA Choice Act but also was so instrumental in passing the Mission Act that he is one of three senators for whom the act is officially named.

That didn’t stop Trump from falsely claiming — as he did at a tank factory in Lima, Ohio, in March 2019 — that McCain, his frequent political rival, failed to make any progress on the VA Choice Act.


Trump's newest executive order could prove one of his most insidious

Opinion by Editorial Board

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S newest executive order, signed without fanfare this week, could prove one of his most insidious.

The directive from the White House, issued late Wednesday, sounds technical: creating a new “Schedule F” within the “excepted service” of the federal government for employees in policymaking roles, and directing agencies to determine who qualifies. Its implications, however, are profound and alarming. It gives those in power the authority to fire more or less at will as many as tens of thousands of workers currently in the competitive civil service, from managers to lawyers to economists to, yes, scientists. This week’s order is a major salvo in the president’s onslaught against the cadre of dedicated civil servants whom he calls the “deep state” — and who are really the greatest strength of the U.S. government.

The administration grounds its action in the need to rid itself of “poor performers.” Certainly, there’s room for reform to the cumbersome process required to remove those who fall short of standards. But this president’s criteria for determining satisfactory performance begin and end with personal loyalty. The White House admitted last winter to seeking to purge from payrolls those deemed insufficiently reliable — the “bad people,” in Mr. Trump’s words. The protections for career civil servants currently in place at least put some roadblocks on that path, hence this legally dubious plan to erase those protections with a touch of organizational sleight of hand. Not only will politically motivated firing become easier, but it will also be easier to hire those who meet Mr. Trump’s standards: obsequiousness and, more often than not, a lack of qualifications. With no competitive process in place, leaders can appoint whom they please — or rather, who pleases them.

The order is so vaguely written it is unclear exactly who would fall into the category it conjures up. It is clear, though, that the targets are the cream of the civil service crop — precisely those who have frustrated the administration in its attempts to impose its agenda over ethics, evidence and good sense. Think of the Federal Aviation Administration employee evaluating whether an airliner is safe to fly, or the federal prosecutor deciding in a sensitive case whether to seek an indictment. Think of the Food and Drug Administration employee evaluating the efficacy of a vaccine.

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