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Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
October 1, 2019

Leaving California: Half of State's Voters Have Been Considering This

Half of the state’s registered voters admit to having given serious (24%) or some (28%) consideration recently to leaving California.

Only modest differences are seen across most major regional or demographic subgroups of the state. However, there are significant partisan and ideological differences when examining the opinions of voters giving serious consideration to moving out of state, as three times as Republicans and conservatives as Democrats and liberals report this.

The high cost of housing (71%) is the most common reason given by voters for wanting to leave California. However, high taxes (58%) and the state’s political culture (46%) are also prominently mentioned, particularly by Republicans and conservatives.

Another question in the poll updated a 50-year time series asking Californians how they would describe the state as a place to live.The results of the latest poll are somewhat more upbeat than recent past measures. Half the of state’s registered voters(50%) now describe California as “one of the best places” to live, up from 43% who felt this way in 2013, the last time this question was posed. However, here too, partisanship and political ideology play a prominent role, with Democrats and liberals nearly three times as likely as Republicans and conservatives to describe California as one of the best places to live.


October 1, 2019

Trump's Claims About Biden Aren't 'Unsupported.' They're Lies.

On Sept. 24, 2015, Geoffrey Pyatt, then the American ambassador to Ukraine, spoke in Odessa about the scourge of corruption. It was about a year and a half after what is sometimes called the Revolution of Dignity, when Ukrainians overthrew the kleptocratic, Russian-aligned regime of Viktor Yanukovych. The country was trying to move in a more liberal, European direction. Corruption, said Pyatt, threatened to hold the new Ukraine back.

Pyatt called out the office of Viktor Shokin, then the prosecutor general of Ukraine. “Corrupt actors within the prosecutor general’s office are making things worse by openly and aggressively undermining reform,” he said. Pyatt specifically lambasted Shokin’s office for subverting a British case against a man named Mykola Zlochevsky, Yanukovych’s former ecology minister.

In 2014, as part of a money-laundering investigation, British authorities froze $23 million Zlochevsky had in London. They requested supporting documentation from Shokin’s office. Instead, it intervened on Zlochevsky’s behalf. “As a result the money was freed by the U.K. court and shortly thereafter the money was moved to Cyprus,” said Pyatt.

“Shokin was seen as a single point of failure clogging up the system and blocking corruption cases,” a former official in Barack Obama’s administration told me. Vice President Joe Biden eventually took the lead in calling for Shokin’s ouster.


October 1, 2019

James Madison warned us that Trump is dangerously un-American

James Madison warned us that somebody as reckless as Donald Trump might come along.

Twice in recent days, Trump has called for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) to be hauled in for treason, which is punishable by death. Schiff’s crime? At a hearing last week, the Intelligence Committee chairman read a parody of Trump’s now-infamous telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The humor, unsurprisingly, was lost on someone with an exaggerated sense of victimhood and an ego made of eggshells. Trump rage-tweeted Sunday that Schiff’s “lies were made in perhaps the most blatant and sinister manner ever seen in the great Chamber. He wrote down and read terrible things, then said it was from the mouth of the President of the United States. I want Schiff questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason..... .” On Monday morning, Trump upped that outrageous demand by suggesting that Schiff actually be arrested for treason.

It has become so easy to dismiss such comments as hyperbole and bluster — just Trump being Trump — that we risk losing sight of how dangerous, how fundamentally un-American they are.


September 30, 2019

Trump is making America meek, churlish and inhospitable

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was a refugee. So was Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google; Andy Garcia, the actor; and Vladimir Nabokov, the novelist. So, for that matter, were Jesus, Joseph and Mary, who took refuge in Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath.

Until President Trump took office, no country’s welcome mat rivaled that of the United States, which year after year accepted and resettled more refugees that any other nation, and did so with broad bipartisan support. Accepting refugees has been an expression of American compassion, American global leadership and, not least, American self-interest. Many refugees — ambitious, determined, grateful — have invigorated their communities. And by resettling refugees, Washington has encouraged other countries to do the same, providing a relief valve for conflict zones across the world.

Now, as the Trump administration presses ahead with every means at its disposal to transform the United States into a fortress of exclusion, it has whacked the U.S. refugee program to the lowest level in its four-decade history. In setting a ceiling of 18,000 refugee admissions next year — a 40 percent cut from the current year’s admissions and down from about 85,000 that President Barack Obama admitted shortly before he left office — the administration has turned its back on American tradition, values and preeminence on the world stage.

Far from making America great again, Mr. Trump is making it meek, churlish and inhospitable.


September 30, 2019

With the Affordable Care Act's future in doubt, evidence grows that it has saved lives

Poor people in Michigan with asthma and diabetes were admitted to the hospital less often after they joined Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. More than 25,000 Ohio smokers got help through the state’s Medicaid expansion that led them to quit. And around the country, patients with advanced kidney disease who went on dialysis were more likely to be alive a year later if they lived in a Medicaid-expansion state.

Such findings are part of an emerging mosaic of evidence that, nearly a decade after it became one of the most polarizing health-care laws in U.S. history, the ACA is making some Americans healthier — and less likely to die.

The evidence is accumulating just as the ACA’s future is, once again, being cast into doubt. The most immediate threat arises from a federal lawsuit, brought by a group of Republican state attorneys general, that challenges the law’s constitutionality. A trial court judge in Texas ruled late last year that the entire law is invalid, and an opinion on the case is expected at any time from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The case could well put the ACA before the Supreme Court for a third time.

President Trump has dismantled as much of the law as his administration can, by expanding the availability of skimpy, inexpensive health plans that skirt ACA rules, for example, and slashing federal aid to help people sign up for coverage through ACA insurance marketplaces.


September 30, 2019

Trump Was Repeatedly Warned That Ukraine Conspiracy Theory Was 'Completely Debunked'

President Trump was repeatedly warned by his own staff that the Ukraine conspiracy theory that he and his lawyer were pursuing was “completely debunked” long before the president pressed Ukraine this summer to investigate his Democratic rivals, a former top adviser said on Sunday.

Thomas P. Bossert, who served as Mr. Trump’s first homeland security adviser, said he told the president there was no basis to the theory that Ukraine, not Russia, intervened in the 2016 election and did so on behalf of the Democrats. Speaking out for the first time, Mr. Bossert said he was “deeply disturbed” that Mr. Trump nonetheless tried to get Ukraine’s president to produce damaging information about Democrats.

Mr. Bossert’s comments, on the ABC program “This Week” and in a subsequent telephone interview, underscored the danger to the president as the House moves ahead with an inquiry into whether he abused his power for political gain. Other former aides to Mr. Trump said on Sunday that he refused to accept reassurances about Ukraine no matter how many times it was explained to him, instead subscribing to an unsubstantiated narrative that has now brought him to the brink of impeachment.

The latest revelations came as the impeachment inquiry rushed ahead at a brisk pace. The House chairman taking the lead said that the whistle-blower who brought the matter to light would testify soon and that a subpoena for documents would be issued early this week to Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer who spearheaded the effort to find dirt on Democrats in Ukraine. In a letter to the acting director of national intelligence, lawyers for the whistle-blower requested stepped-up efforts to ensure his safety, citing “serious concerns we have regarding our client’s personal safety.”


September 30, 2019

Car Bombers in Somalia Hit U.S. and European Military Bases

Source: New York Times

Car bombers attacked United States and European military targets in Somalia on Monday morning, officials said, and the Islamist extremist group known as the Shabab claimed responsibility for at least one of the assaults.

The first attack was on the Bale Dogle airstrip in the Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia. The United States military uses the base to launch aerial attacks on Shabab targets and to train Somali troops.

A suicide car bomber detonated a vehicle packed with explosives at the gate of the airstrip, according to Lt. Comdr. Desiree Frame, a spokeswoman for the United States Africa Command, and Yusuf Abdourahman, a security official with the Lower Shabelle regional administration. Bursts of gunfire could be heard across the base after the bombing, suggesting an ongoing attack on the base.

Commander Frame declined to say whether there were any casualties.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/30/world/africa/somalia-us-eu-attacks.html

September 30, 2019

Joe Biden's Digital Ads Are Disappearing. Not a Good Sign, Strategists Say.

Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidential campaign has sharply scaled back his online advertising, cutting spending so severely since August that he is now investing only a fraction of what his top rivals are on Facebook and Google, the two dominant internet platforms.

In a race where many voters are following politics on their smartphones, Mr. Biden’s pullback is an unusual and potentially worrisome sign about his appeal among the Democratic activists, young people and donors who are especially engaged on social media. Candidates rarely withdraw so much money from their online campaigns unless they are seeing weak results in online fund-raising, according to interviews with digital strategists.

As the candidates make their final pitches to donors before a quarterly fund-raising deadline at midnight Monday, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and other top rivals are outspending Mr. Biden online. He was only the sixth-biggest Democratic spender on Facebook ads in the seven days ending Thursday, even as he was at the center of a swirling national controversy involving President Trump, Ukraine and impeachment.

Instead, he has shifted his spending priorities toward traditional tactics like buying television ads in Iowa. But that strategy has not paid dividends so far: Ms. Warren, a leading rival for the 2020 nomination, recently surpassed him in a key Iowa poll.


September 30, 2019

What's the Matter With Republicans?

In a sane world, the reaction of Republicans to the “memorandum of telephone conversation” between President Trump and the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, combined with the whistle-blower complaint filed by an intelligence officer describing a White House cover-up, would be similar to the response of Republicans after the release, on Aug. 5, 1974, of the “smoking gun” tape that finally broke the Nixon presidency. Republicans would begin to abandon Mr. Trump, with senior figures urging him in private and in public to resign.

This may be asking too much of Republicans, who have lost their way in the Trump era. One might hope that some of the party’s elected officials would forcefully condemn the president on the grounds that there is now demonstrable evidence that he had crossed an ethical line and abused his power in ways even beyond what he had done previously, which was problematic enough.

But things are very different today than they were in the summer of ’74. Mr. Trump was on to something when he famously said, during the 2016 campaign, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, O.K.? It’s, like, incredible.” What most people took to be hyperbole turned out to be closer to reality.

This isn’t to say that some Republican members of Congress aren’t deeply uneasy with Mr. Trump’s conduct. A few, including Senators Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse, have expressed their concern. But many others, from Senator Lindsey Graham to Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, are aggressively defending Mr. Trump, going so far as to argue that the notes from his July 25 conversation with Mr. Zelensky are exculpatory.


September 30, 2019

Republicans, the Time Has Come

To the Republican members of the United States Senate:

You have always told us that you believe in the distinctive greatness of the United States of America. “America is different,” as Senator Marco Rubio has said. Ben Sasse likes to say that “America is an idea” — a commitment to universal dignity over brute power.

You have also told us that you went into politics to serve a higher purpose. Well, your moment has arrived.

The president of the United States is betraying his oath of office in the most fundamental way, by using the presidency for personal gain at the country’s expense. He has corrupted our foreign policy with grubby attempts to help himself that his own White House staff immediately recognized as improper. He is telling the world that America does not, in fact, stand for any higher ideal. Can you for a moment imagine the icons of your party, like Ronald Reagan or Dwight Eisenhower, risking the security of a country threatened by Russia, for the sake of smearing a political rival?

President Trump must go, and you — only you — have the power to make it happen.


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