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Zorro

Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
September 9, 2019

Tethered to Trump, California's GOP hopes for a comeback in a solidly blue state

After crushing losses and a steep slide in voter registration, California Republicans gathered this weekend in the desert, hoping to plot a path back to relevancy in a state where shifting demographics and President Trump’s low approval numbers are continual challenges.

The convention, held at a Coachella Valley resort, featured a schedule that seemed to take a page from the Democrats’ 2018 playbook, with training sessions on registering voters, collecting ballots and engaging Latinos, blacks and millennials — all groups with whom Trump is unpopular. Behind the programming was Jessica Patterson, the first woman to chair the party, a Latina and millennial who promised to make the organization more inclusive and broaden its membership.

But Patterson’s goals could be a tall order for a party whose activist ranks have moved further right in recent years, and predominantly comprise those loyal to the president and his policies.

At a session billed as a training on how to engage “black and urban” voters, panelist Errol Webber said volunteers should point out the value of strong immigration laws to address “the displacement of black people in our communities from illegal aliens who are snapping up all the already scarce affordable housing.” After announcing his intention to run against Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), Webber called the congresswoman the “overseer of the black Democrat plantation.”

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-09-08/californias-gop-republicans-convention-trump

September 9, 2019

Kamala Harris proposes legalizing marijuana, ending bail, eliminating death penalty

Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris unveiled a proposal Monday to broadly reform the criminal justice system aimed at ending mass incarceration, helping felons reintegrate into society and increasing oversight of police and prosecutors.

The senator and former California attorney general plans to legalize marijuana, eliminate the death penalty for federal crimes, end federal mandatory minimum sentencing, scrap the cash-bail system, reduce the incarceration of juveniles, stop the use of private prisons and clear the nationwide rape kit backlog during her first term.

Many of these proposals would have been considered radical a decade ago, but are broadly in line with Democratic leanings today.

Harris “provides a comprehensive strategy to transform the criminal justice system to make it more fair, more effective and absolutely make it more equitable,” said Ron Davis, a Harris advisor and former police chief who served in President Obama’s administration.

https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2019-09-08/2020-candidate-kamala-harris-proposes-ending-bail-and-death-penalty

September 9, 2019

Water interests are fighting California's bid to block Trump's environmental rollbacks

California is close to adopting strict Obama-era federal environmental and worker safety rules that the Trump administration is dismantling. But as the legislative session draws to a close, the proposal faces fierce opposition from the state’s largest water agencies.

To shield California from Trump administration policies, lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow state agencies to lock in protections under the federal Endangered Species Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Fair Labor Standards Act and other bulwark environmental and labor laws that were in place before President Trump took office in January 2017.

Written by one of the most powerful politicians in Sacramento, state Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), Senate Bill 1 has strong support from some of California’s most influential environmental and labor organizations, including some that helped get Gov. Gavin Newsom elected.

But several of California’s water suppliers and agricultural interests, which also flex ample political muscle, oppose the measure. This coalition includes the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which has made SB 1 a top lobbying priority.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-09-07/california-trump-environment-federal-laws-water

September 9, 2019

Fox News, GOP media now warn of bloodshed if Democrats win in 2020

That's one way to try halt public debate in this country: by threatening mass violence and a bloody people's revolt in the streets. That's what conservative media voices, including those on Fox News, have done in recent days. Specifically, the reckless rhetoric has revolved around proposed new gun laws in the wake of America's latest string of mass shootings. Those are laws that would likely only be enacted if Democrats won the Senate and the White House in 2020.

If you take “people’s guns away from them, there’s going to be a lot of violence," The View’s Meghan McCain announced. "What you are calling for is civil war,” warned Fox News' Tucker Carlson. “What you are calling for is an incitement to violence." And that was just a sampling of the right-wing media hysteria last week.

These kinds of alerts about looming political violence if the opposition party wins power and passes laws in a democratic fashion represent the worst type of far-right insurrectionism. It's an ominous and long-held belief among conservatives and conservative media outlets that citizens need to be fully armed in order to one day wage war on the American government, as a kind of second American civil war. In other words, the reason the Second Amendment exists is not for self-defense, or to protect the rights of hunters and gun enthusiasts, but to enable citizens to go to war with the U.S. government, and to fend off a “tyrannical” turn at home.

"The core philosophy of the Three Percenter movement, whose adherents have engaged in violence, is that citizens would be justified in taking up arms to violently overthrow the government if the government enacted stronger gun regulations," Media Matters recently noted.

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/9/8/1883821/-Fox-News-GOP-media-now-warn-of-bloodshed-if-Democrats-win-in-2020

September 9, 2019

Trump to visit Baltimore Thursday, a city he called a 'rodent infested mess'

Source: Washington Post

Just weeks after lambasting Baltimore as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” President Trump will visit the Maryland city to huddle with congressional Republicans — a gathering that could draw local protests and reignite an ugly feud between the White House and the black-majority locality.

The White House confirmed Sunday that Trump would address House Republicans at their biennial retreat this Thursday. Republican lawmakers and aides — who chose the city for their three-day gathering before Trump decried it as “the Worst in the USA” — weren’t sure the president would want to attend.

Trump’s attendance could elate GOP lawmakers still licking their wounds from last fall’s midterm shellacking by the Democrats, who took the House majority. But it could also spark protests from residents and local leaders who are still simmering over Trump’s attacks on their city and don’t want him there.

Trump’s offensive on Baltimore started in late July, when he took to Twitter to accuse Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the House Oversight Committee chairman, of being a “brutal bully.” Cummings’s panel has unearthed deficiencies in the administration, including shortfalls in the security-clearance process at the White House and concerns about Trump’s decision to give his son-in-law Jared Kushner access to the nation’s top secrets.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-to-visit-baltimore-thursday-a-city-he-called-arodent-infested-mess/2019/09/08/170dc4ac-d252-11e9-ab26-e6dbebac45d3_story.html

September 8, 2019

Trump proves he's a better dealbreaker than dealmaker -- this time, with the Taliban

“Deals are my art form,” President Trump proclaimed in his ghostwritten book, “The Art of the Deal.” “Other people paint beautifully on canvas or write wonderful poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals.” It’s true that Trump likes making deals. He’s just not very good at it. In fact, he may be the worst dealmaker ever to occupy the Oval Office. The abrupt disintegration of his accord with the Taliban provides the latest evidence that he’s too impetuous and ignorant to be a successful negotiator.

Trump’s special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, was close to concluding a deal with the Taliban that would have allowed Trump to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and to proclaim that he had ended an 18-year-old war. Then on Saturday evening, Trump himself blew up immediate prospects of an agreement with a series of tweets announcing that he was withdrawing an invitation for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Taliban leaders to meet with him at Camp David because a Taliban car bombing in Kabul on Thursday had killed a U.S. soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Elis Angel Barreto Ortiz, along with 11 other people.

Disinviting terrorists from Camp David seems like a good idea. It’s appalling that Trump would have even considered hosting Taliban leaders just days before the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks plotted by their ally, Osama bin Laden. Imagine what Trump — who excoriated President Barack Obama for negotiating with the Taliban — would have said if Obama had invited them for a sleepover. But Trump’s explanation for the cancellation — as with most things he says — makes little sense.

The Taliban have been staging attacks throughout their negotiations with the United States — and Afghan and U.S. security forces have been carrying out operations against it. The United Nations reports that 1,366 civilians were killed and 2,446 wounded during the first half of the year. Maybe Trump cares only about U.S. casualties? Well, 16 additional U.S. troops have been killed by hostile action in Afghanistan so far this year. Sgt. Ortiz’s death was tragic but hardly a departure from the violent norm, because the Taliban never agreed to a cease-fire.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/09/08/trump-proves-hes-better-dealbreaker-than-dealmaker-this-time-with-taliban/

September 8, 2019

Trump Backs Down, Again and Again

On Aug. 7, the Trump administration quietly changed its immigration policy to end medical deferred action, a program that allows a small number of gravely ill immigrants to remain in the United States to receive lifesaving treatment. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services began sending notices to applicants that it would “no longer consider” such petitions, except from service members and their families. Applicants were warned that they had 33 days to leave the country or risk being deported and rendered ineligible for re-entry.

As news of the change trickled out, public outrage grew on social media and beyond. More than 100 Democratic lawmakers signed a letter to top immigration officials, demanding an explanation. How did the Trump administration respond? It reversed itself — at least temporarily. On Sept. 2, U.S.C.I.S. announced that it would reopen medical deferred-action petitions that had been pending as of Aug. 7.

Along with providing a reprieve for the people whose lives depend on this program, the turnabout is a reminder that the Trump administration can be — if not shamed — at least pressured into doing the right thing.

Of course, the president can also be pressed to do the wrong thing, as when, at the behest of the gun lobby and its congressional defenders, he has repeatedly flip-flopped on plans to pursue popular gun safety measures.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/08/opinion/trump-policy-reversals.html

September 8, 2019

San Diego military vets challenge California's weapon ban on batons

A recent wave of court decisions around the country have recognized the constitutional right of citizens to possess arms such as daggers, nunchucks and Tasers for self-defense, and now a pair of San Diego military veterans are challenging California’s ban on another weapon: the baton.

Striking weapons such as billy clubs, blackjacks, leaded canes and saps — described in a 1923 San Diego Union story as “weapons of the holdup man or thug” — have been outlawed in some form or other in the state since at least 1917.

“The Legislature obviously sought to condemn weapons common to the criminal’s arsenal,” a California appellate court wrote about the ban of such weapons in a 1965 ruling.

The law’s only exception extends to peace officers and certain licensed security guards who obtain a state baton permit.

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/courts/story/2019-09-08/san-diego-military-vets-challenge-californias-weapon-ban-batons

How very curious. Batons are prohibited from possession by ordinary citizens, but...

September 8, 2019

Boris Johnson will do anything for Brexit. Even destroy his own party.

This past week, in the most brutal internal act in its modern history, the British Conservative Party threw out 21 of its own lawmakers.

Old, respected, moderate Conservative members of Parliament were summarily ejected from the party — by text message — after they defied Prime Minister Boris Johnson and voted this week to stop Britain from leaving the European Union without a replacement trade deal in place to prevent economic chaos. Johnson’s new regime isn’t concerned with niceties like preventing economic chaos, though; it views politics not as a debate over ideas and policies, but as a form of trench warfare.

The Tory Party — one of the most successful and long-lasting political parties in the Western world — has turned itself into a hard-right organization operated with missionary zeal. That approach led Johnson to eradicate his own majority by expelling perceived apostates. By Wednesday, he was helpless to stop the passage of legislation preventing a no-deal Brexit and couldn’t even call an early election that might help him change the parliamentary math. In discarding everything but the most hardcore dogma, the Tories are slowly dismantling their own government.

What the week made clear is that the Conservative Party — like the Republican Party under President Trump — has mutated into the most extreme possible version of itself, one that regularly evokes the revolutionary notion of “the people” to justify outright nationalist policies. The political atmosphere on both sides of the Atlantic is so similar that it’s like one of those British films that’s been adapted in Hollywood for an American audience: The right wing in each country is following the same basic trend, the same dynamic, translated into local flavors.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/boris-johnson-will-do-anything-for-brexit-even-destroy-his-own-party/2019/09/05/6a64d96e-cff1-11e9-87fa-8501a456c003_story.html

September 7, 2019

Dare We Dream of the End of the G.O.P.?

Toward the end of his new book, “R.I.P. G.O.P.,” the renowned Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg makes a thrilling prediction, delivered with the certainty of prophecy. “The year 2020 will produce a second blue wave on at least the scale of the first in 2018 and finally will crash and shatter the Republican Party that was consumed by the ill-begotten battle to stop the New America from governing,” he writes.

It sounds almost messianic: the Republican Party, that foul agglomeration of bigotry and avarice that has turned American politics into a dystopian farce, not just defeated but destroyed. The inexorable force of demography bringing us a new, enlightened political dispensation. Greenberg foresees “the death of the Republican Party as we’ve known it,” and a Democratic Party “liberated from the nation’s suffocating polarization to use government to advance the public good.” I’d like to believe it, and maybe you would too. But should we?

This is not the first time that experts have predicted the inevitable triumph of progressive politics. Seventeen years ago, John Judis and Ruy Teixeira published “The Emerging Democratic Majority,” which argued that the country was on the cusp of a liberal political realignment driven by growing diversity, urbanization and gender equality. In sheer numerical terms they were right; between then and now the Republican Party won the presidential popular vote only once, in 2004. But Republicans still have more power than Democrats, and in 2017, Judis disavowed his book’s thesis, arguing that only populist economics could deliver Democratic victories.

As it happens, Greenberg, who became famous as Bill Clinton’s pollster in 1992 and consulted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, told me he used to “shudder” at the “Emerging Democratic Majority” analysis. “I’m used to campaigns in which you impact what’s going to happen,” he said. “The idea that it’s just going to happen because of trends is dangerous. And it was dangerous with Hillary.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/06/opinion/trump-democrats-2020.html

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