Ryan plans to steamroll Democrats with budget tool – While GOP leaders have made threats in the past to use reconciliation to repeal Obamacare, Ryan is making it clear he plans to use it when it counts

If Donald Trump is elected president and Republicans hold onto Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan is bluntly promising to ram a partisan agenda through Capitol Hill next year, with Obamacare repeal and trillion-dollar tax cuts likely at the top of the list. And Democrats would be utterly defenseless to stop them.

Typically, party leaders offer at least the pretense of seeking bipartisanship when discussing their policy plans. But Ryan is saying frankly that Republicans would use budget reconciliation — a powerful procedural tool — to bypass Democrats entirely. It’s the same tool Republicans slammed Democrats for using to pass the 2010 health care law over their objections.
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While GOP leaders have made empty threats to use reconciliation to repeal Obamacare in the past, Ryan is making it clear that this time he plans to use it when it counts. And he would likely have support from a Trump White House. Larry Kudlow, an economic adviser to the GOP presidential nominee, said he is also strongly urging Trump to embrace reconciliation in order to pass sweeping tax cuts.

Ryan peeled back the curtain on his strategy at a news conference after a reporter suggested he would struggle to implement his ambitious agenda next year. After all, it was noted, Republicans are certain to lack the 60 votes needed in the Senate to break Democratic filibusters on legislation. So Ryan gave a minitutorial on congressional rules and the bazooka in his pocket for the assembled reporters.
“This is our plan for 2017,” Ryan said, waving a copy of his “Better Way” policy agenda. “Much of this you can do through budget reconciliation.” He explained that key pieces are “fiscal in nature,” meaning they can be moved quickly through a budget maneuver that requires a simple majority in the Senate and House.

The GOP-controlled Congress passed a reconciliation bill last year that would repeal key parts of the health law, including effectively eliminating the individual and employer mandates and scrapping the Medicaid expansion, insurance subsidies for consumers and the medical device and Cadillac taxes. The bill was promptly vetoed by President Barack Obama, but it would serve as a road map to Republicans in 2017. The reconciliation process relies heavily on precedent, so now opponents of Obamacare already know what can pass muster with the Senate parliamentarian. Notably, the bill also defunded Planned Parenthood for one year, in a sign of how expansive a reconciliation bill can be.
Other pieces of Ryan’s “Better Way” policy agenda that could find their way into a reconciliation measure are controversial proposals to bring down the costs of Medicare and Medicaid or overhaul the food stamp program and housing assistance for low-income renters. Every line of the bill would face scrutiny from Democrats, but a skilled procedural tactician could overcome most parliamentary challenges.
Republicans would also set about rewriting the tax code through budget reconciliation. Asked if the procedure would be a good way to implement GOP tax plans, Kudlow responded, “Not good, fabulous.” Speaking for himself and not the campaign, Kudlow said reconciliation was “the fastest way in our judgment to get necessary pro-growth tax reform.” He said he has been encouraging that path to Trump and his staff all year, and that they were considering it.

(Excerpted from Politico 10/06/16)

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“Is this the president we want for our daughters?

“Mirrors” — Ad opens with a series of young girls looking in the mirror.SCRIPT : Donald Trump speaking: “I’d look her right in that fat ugly face of hers…She’s a slob … She ate like a pig … A person who’s flat-chested is very hard to be a 10…Does she have a good body? No. Does she have a fat [expletive]? Absolutely.” Interviewer asking Trump, “Do you treat women with respect?” Trump: “I can’t say that either.” Text at the end of the ad on screen reads, “Is this the president we want for our daughters?” http://bit.ly/2d2qyeM

(Excerpted from Politico Playbook 9/23/16)

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The U.S. cities with the most to lose if Donald Trump starts a trade war

Donald Trump has pledged to impose burdensome tariffs on goods imported from Mexico and China if elected — actions that experts have warned could provoke economic retaliation with potentially severe consequences for American workers. A new report suggests one reason these dire forecasts have not fazed his supporters.

While workers across the country risk being put out of a job under Trump’s policies, the report identifies several places where Americans would have the most to lose. Generally speaking, they are the major cities where Trump is especially unpopular.

The report, published by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, forecasts the economic effects of foreign countries’ possible responses to new tariffs imposed by a Trump administration. Overall, the predictions are grim. In a worst-case scenario, unemployment would increase to 8.6 percent by the end of Trump’s first term if the Republican nominee incites a full-blown international dispute over trade policy.

However, the authors of the report say it’s more likely that Beijing would retaliate against Trump’s tariffs with measures targeted to injure specific sectors of the U.S. economy, without the diplomatic headaches that would result from a broad tariff on all U.S. exports.

While these tactics would have a more modest effect on the economy in general, they would be extremely detrimental for the affected sectors.

Chinese retaliation would also negatively affect some blue-collar towns as well, depending on Beijing’s response.

For example, if China stopped purchasing aircraft built in the United States, many residents of cities such as Seattle, Wichita and Hartford would be out of work. The researchers project that 179,000 fewer Americans would be working in the industry if Chinese buyers stopped purchasing aircraft.

American agriculture is another sector that is vulnerable to retaliation. For instance, employment along the Mississippi River in the area surrounding Memphis would be devastated by a Chinese embargo on U.S. soybeans. In Sharkey County, Miss., for instance, an embargo could reduce employment by 40 percent.

The researchers also considered the possibility that China retaliates in kind, with a broad tariff like the one Trump has proposed. The disruption from a retaliatory tariff would be more acute and more widespread geographically.

In terms of the number of workers put out of a job, the worst effects would be indirect as overall economic weakness forced consumers to stay at home. In retail and wholesale trade, almost 600,000 fewer people would be working. In restaurants, the total would approach 250,000 workers in the worst-case scenario. Hospital employment would decline by close to 200,000 workers.

“People have a stake in this, and they may not even know it,” Noland said.

The ramifications of this kind of conflict would be especially severe in a few industries. For example, about 1 in 10 workers who make construction equipment, truck trailers, semiconductors or plastics would be out of a job, according to the forecast.

The consequences would be worst for workers who make high-speed drives and gears, 10.2 percent of whom would lose their jobs. This major industry produces components for dynamos in power plants. Metalworkers, aluminum producers and iron miners would also be negatively affected.

Besides the country’s most prosperous cities, a range of other kinds of places would be negatively affected by a broad tariff. Midwestern, industrial cities such as Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Louisville would record some of the greatest declines in employment in the worst-case scenario analyzed by the researchers.

(Excerpted from Washington Post 9/21/16)

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Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson is friendly and seems moderate. But then there’s this.

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson is a friendly guy, seems pretty moderate. But he could tank the economy.

That’s what trying to balance the budget all at once would do. Which, of course, is what Johnson says he would. He wants to cut spending by 20 percent next year to get the government back in the black, and then veto any legislation that would make the red ink return.

This probably wouldn’t end well. The problem is the Federal Reserve might not be willing or able to really counteract this. In normal times, you see, the Fed cuts interest rates when the government cuts the deficit so that the private sector can pick up the slack for the public sector. The Fed can’t cut interest rates right now, because they’re barely above zero. Now, it’s true that the Fed could print money instead — that’s how it stopped austerity from starting a recession in 2013 — but Johnson doesn’t want the Fed to do that. He’s said that quantitative easing, which is when the Fed buys bonds with newly created dollars, is just an attempt to “override the free market” that will only lead to “malinvestment, inflation, and prolonged unemployment.” And since he would not only get to pick two Fed members in 2017, but also a new Fed chair in 2018, what he thinks matters.

The result, in all likelihood, would be a lot more unemployment. A little math can give us an idea just how much. Start with how Johnson is proposing an immediate fiscal tightening of 3 percent of gross domestic product. Without any monetary offset from the Fed, that would hurt growth by, well, something like 3 to 4.5 percent of GDP. That’s because there can be a multiplier on government spending. In other words, money that Uncle Sam doesn’t pay you is money you don’t have to pay someone else who, in turn, doesn’t have money to pay another person. If we use the rule of thumb that every percentage point the economy grows less than it should adds half a percentage point to the unemployment rate, then Johnson’s plan would probably push joblessness up somewhere around 6.5 to 7.25 percent.

A Fed audit, something else Johnson supports, wouldn’t be much better. This is one of those ideas that sounds better the less you know about it. The truth is that the Fed has already been audited, and already publishes a weekly report on its balance sheet. If you want to see how many mortgage and Treasury bonds it owns, that information is all there. Not that Johnson seems to realize it. He thinks that a Fed audit might cause a “worldwide panic” once people found out what’s on the Fed’s balance sheet, including, he falsely believes, stocks. Although that’s not the real impetus for all this. No, that’s “auditing” the Fed’s policy decisions so that politicians can try to browbeat it into doing what they want — which, in this case, is raising rates.

The irony is that it’s the libertarian who wants us to become, in Fed policy, like Europe. Except that instead of calling for us to give everyone Medicare or paid family leave, Johnson wants us to cut our budget and cut back on monetary stimulus like they did. It didn’t work there — the euro zone’s unemployment rate is still in double digits — and it wouldn’t here.

(Excerpted from O’Brien, Washington Post 9/22/16)

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Ready, Aim — Voting

The hottest political ad of the season — I am not counting anything involving Triumph the Insult Comic Dog — is probably for the Missouri Senate, in which the Democratic candidate talks about … gun background checks.

Jason Kander, who served a tour of duty in Afghanistan, assembles an assault rifle blindfolded while saying that he believes “in background checks so the terrorists can’t get their hands on one of these.”

His opponent, Senator Roy Blunt, had been lambasting Kander for his failure to toe the straight National Rifle Association line. “I approve this message,” Kander concludes, swiftly finishing his eyes-closed assemblage, “because I’d like to see Senator Blunt do this.”

The race is close and Kander cites polls that show most voters are fine with background checks. (The people he talks to, he added, are more worried about college debt, which Blunt once blamed on the students’ “personal living standard.”)

Missouri elected a candidate who’s middle-of-the-road on guns, right after the State Legislature just set a record in the extremely competitive category of Loopiest N.R.A. Cave-In.

The massive Republican majority voted, for one thing, to eliminate all training requirements for concealed weapons permits. “I am in a real estate course,” said Jason Holsman, a state senator from Kansas City, in a phone interview during a class break. “Missouri law requires 72 hours of training before you can sell a house. Now, zero hours before you can carry a concealed gun.”

Actually, the N.R.A. went much, much further, and wiped out the permits entirely. Now, Missourians can just buy a gun and stick it in their pocket.

The new law also includes one of those “stand your ground” provisions. Now people walking around after dark could reasonably presume that anybody they ran into might have a concealed weapon, and would have a right to fire first if they felt physically threatened.

Thanks to Kander, the voters will at least get to hear a lively statewide debate about whether this is a good plan.

(Excerpted from Collins, New York Times 9/22/16)

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Kander: Time for Legislature to pass medical marijuana law

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, who is the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, said Thursday that it’s “time for the state legislature to step up” and pass a law allowing medical marijuana.

Kander came out in support of medical marijuana in a statement through the secretary of state’s office, not his Senate campaign. He was commenting on a judge’s ruling Wednesday that a proposal allowing medical marijuana in Missouri won’t go to voters because the number of petition signatures fell short.

“While supporters of this important proposal can try to put it on the ballot again in two years, I believe it is time for the state legislature to step up,” Kander said in the statement. “The Missouri General Assembly should pass legislation to allow medical marijuana so Missouri families that could greatly benefit from it don’t have to watch their loved ones continue suffering. If the legislature is not willing to do that, they should at least put the measure on the ballot themselves in 2018 to give Missouri voters the opportunity to decide on this issue.”

Stephanie Fleming, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office, said Kander does not take a public position on ballot initiative petitions until the process is complete, which was why he waited until Thursday to make the statement.

(Excerpted from Columbia Daily Tribune 9/22/16)

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Missouri senate no slam dunk as GOP spends to save Blunt

In an election with control of the Senate at stake, Republicans were counting on a win in GOP-friendly Missouri. Instead they’re suddenly plunging millions into the state to save incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt from a young challenger who assembled an AR-15 rifle blindfolded in a daring new ad.

Polls show the race is close, but Democrats argue the momentum is with Missouri’s 35-year-old secretary of state, Jason Kander, a former Army intelligence officer in Afghanistan.

Privately some Republicans voice dismay they have to intervene in the Missouri race to such an extent at a time when they’re defending incumbents in blue and purple states around the country.

Kander himself, in a phone interview with the Associated Press, said he is seeing increasing enthusiasm at his rallies. The gun ad, he said, certainly helped.
“Our message from day one has been that Missourians are frustrated with politics as usual in Washington and are ready for a new generation of leadership,” Kander said. “Clearly, that’s resonating.”

(Excerpted from News Tribune 9/22/16)

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Where did Donald Trump get his racialized rhetoric? The intersection of white nationalism, the alt-right and Ron Paul

Trump’s style and positions — endorsing and consorting with 9/11 truthers, promoting online racists, using fake statistics — draw on a now-obscure political strategy called “paleolibertarianism,” which was once quite popular among some Republicans, especially former presidential candidate Ron Paul.

But there’s no question that the paranoid and semi-racialist mien frequently favored by Trump originates in the fevered swamps that the elder Paul dwelled in for decades. Most people who back Trump don’t do so for racist reasons, but it’s incredible how many of the same white nationalists and conspiracy theorists to whom Ron Paul once catered are now ardent Trump supporters. It’s because Trump and Paul speak the same language.

Mainstream libertarians have been agonizing over this legacy among themselves for some time,hoping that either the elder or younger Paul would definitively denounce the movement’s racialist past, but no such speech has ever come. Instead, the paleolibertarian strategy concocted decades ago as a way to push for minimal government threatens to replace right-wing libertarianism with white nationalism.

The figure whose ideas unify Pauline libertarians and today’s Trumpists is the late Murray Rothbard, an economist who co-founded the Cato Institute and is widely regarded as the creator of libertarianism.

Nowadays, many libertarians like to portray their ideology as one that somehow transcends the left-right divide, but to Rothbard, this was nonsense. Libertarianism, he argued, was nothing more than a restatement of the beliefs of the “Old Right,” which resolutely opposed the New Deal and any sort of foreign intervention in the early 20th century.

There had always been some sympathy for racism and anti-Semitism among libertarians — the movement’s house magazine, Reason, dedicated an entire issue in 1976 to “historical revisionism,” including Holocaust revisionism. It also repeatedly ran articles in defense of South Africa’s then-segregationist government (though by 2016, the magazine was running articles like “Donald Trump Enables Racism”). But it was Rothbard’s founding of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in 1982 that enabled the fledgling political movement to establish affinity with the neo-Confederate Lost Cause movement.

(Excerpted from Sheffield Washington Post 9/02/16)

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Union decline lowers wages of nonunion workers The overlooked reason why wages are stuck and inequality is growing

Pay for private-sector workers has barely budged over the past three and a half decades. In fact, for men in the private sector who lack a college degree and do not belong to a labor union, real wages today are substantially lower than they were in the late 1970s.

In the debates over the causes of wage stagnation, the decline in union power has not received nearly as much attention as globalization, technological change, and the slowdown in Americans’ educational attainment. Unions, especially in industries and regions where they are strong, help boost the wages of all workers by establishing pay and benefit standards that many nonunion firms adopt. But this union boost to nonunion pay has weakened as the share of private-sector workers in a union has fallen from 1 in 3 in the 1950s to about 1 in 20 today.

Nonunion workers benefit from a strong union presence in their labor market in many ways. Strong unions set pay and benefits standards that nonunion employers follow. Those employers may raise pay for some workers to forestall an organizing drive, which leads to an upward adjustment in wages of workers above them, to maintain relative pay differentials (similar to the effects of minimum-wage increases).

Even absent organizing activities in their spheres, nonunion employers may also follow the standards that unions help establish through politicking for labor-friendly policies, instituting informal and formal rules governing labor conditions, and generally serving as a cultural force arguing for a “fairer share” for working men and women. (For example, highly unionized states helped lift minimum wages above the levels of states where labor was comparatively weak.) Higher pay in organized establishments increases competition for labor so that nonunion firms lift wages to prevent their employees from leaving for higher, union wages. And in setting wages, new market entrants often look to what industry leaders are doing; when organized labor was strong, many of these leaders were unionized.

Rebuilding our system of collective bargaining is an important tool available for fueling wage growth for both low- and middle-wage workers and ending the era of persistent wage stagnation.

Excerpted from Economic Policy Institute 8/30/16)

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Missouri mega donor spent another $2.3 million pushing ‘right to work’

Joplin businessman David Humphreys continues to spend big in the hopes he can fill the Missouri General Assembly with lawmakers who will finally pass a “right to work” law.

Humphreys and his family were busy in the run-up to the August primary supporting challengers to Republican incumbents who have historically opposed tougher regulations on labor unions. That includes pumping nearly $3 million into a political action committee called Committee For Accountable Government.

His efforts proved successful, as two incumbent House Republicans were defeated and his preferred candidates for the Missouri Senate emerged victorious in contested primaries.

Now he’s setting his sights on the November election, and in the past 10 days has doled out $2.3 million to various candidates, including a $1 million check to the Committee For Accountable Government.

His primary goal is a so-called “right to work” law, which would prohibit contracts that require workers to pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of employment. Supporters argue right to work would strengthen the state’s economy and encourage businesses to grow. Opponents say it would weaken labor unions, lower wages and compromise workplace safety.

Republicans have the votes to pass right to work, but not enough to override a governor’s veto. That’s why labor unions have poured their resources into the gubernatorial campaign of Democrat Chris Koster, who has pledged to oppose right to work.

In the same time period that Humphreys spent $2.2 million, various unions have given Koster a little more than $1 million.

(Excerpted from Handcock Kansas City Star 8/30/16)

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Black activists in missouri are fighting to preserve the right to vote

On November 8, Missourians will head to the polls to elect the president and a host of statewide officials in a deeply divided state. But this time, they will also be asked — in language that some have described as confusing — whether they want to amend their constitution to open the door to stricter voting laws. If passed, Amendment Six would give a second chance to HB 1631, which was vetoed earlier this summer by Gov. Jay Nixon after passing both state House and Senate. The proposed law aims to limit the forms of ID accepted at the polls to valid Missouri or federal IDs with photos and expiration dates — excluding currently accepted documents like college IDs, driver’s licenses from other states, expired IDs, voter registration cards, and utility bills. Voters without the required ID could sign a sworn statement affirming their identity and recognizing that such ID is “the law of the land” or they could cast a provisional ballot, not valid until they prove their identity.

There are an estimated 220,000 registered voters in Missouri without a state ID, according to Secretary of State Jason Kander, and they are disproportionately African-American, elderly, disabled, and poor.

(Excerpted from The Intercept 8/30/16)

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Very sad news: Liz Schmidt passed away this Friday (9/02/16) morning.


Her son, Fred pointed out,”Yesterday was (her) 87th birthday, and she was hoping to make it to Election Day. If she could have said, her last words would have been ‘get out and vote!'”

Arrangements will be announced when details become available

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The myth of ‘midnight regulations’

As the Obama administration comes to a close, talk of “midnight regulations” has all too predictably picked up in conservative policymaking circles.

The term technically refers to regulations issued in the final months of a presidential term that are subject to reversal by the next Congress and president under the Congressional Review Act. But the term has taken on a life of its own, with opponents of outgoing administrations branding any final
regulations as “midnight rules” in an attempt to delegitimize them based solely on their timing. For instance, one recent report criticized such regulations as “not thought through as carefully as other regulations.”

While there are a variety of nuanced iterations to these attacks, all of them are premised on the unsubstantiated myth that regulations issued in the final months and weeks of an administration are somehow rushed and inadequately vetted.

Listening to the critics, you’d think the president woke up the morning after Election Day and decided to enact as many new regulations as possible in a final frenzy of rulemaking before leaving office.
But a new report released in July by Public Citizen suggests that nothing could be further from the truth. Examining all economically significant regulations since 1999, the report found that rules issued during the presidential transition period spent even more time in the rulemaking process and received even more extensive vetting than other rules. They weren’t rushed at all—quite the opposite.
Rules issued during the transition period took, on average, 3.6 years to complete—longer than it takes for most people to earn a law degree—compared to 2.8 years for all other rules.

(Excerpted from Politico 8/30/16)

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Koster defends labor interests

Chris Koster, the Democrat who hopes to become Missouri’s next governor in the November general election, spoke on behalf of the working man Saturday night in St. Joseph.

Speaking before a large audience of pro-Democratic labor union members, Koster said it’s incumbent on voters to reject right-to-work laws as erroneous for bettering the state’s economy. The occasion for his address was the Northwest Missouri Central Labor Council Barbecue held at Callison Hall.

The gubernatorial candidate focused the virtual entirety of his remarks on labor issues.

“We’re talking about the need to keep right to work out of the state of Missouri and to keep wages of working families in the state right here in St. Joe at a good, sound level, so that they can raise families,” Koster said while summing up his speech.

Koster said Eric Greitens, his Republican opponent for the governor’s seat, represents “the blow-it-up wing of the Republican Party” and favors lowering wages in a belief that the economy will be stimulated.

“We think lowering people’s wages is bad for our state,” he added. “It’s one of the issues that is in play in this gubernatorial election.”

With just over 70 days left in the campaign, he worked to rouse election fervor among the friendly audience. He targeted what termed is a small group of Republicans and their vision of labor’s role, labeling right to work “a foolish mistake.”

“We all know that there is a lot at stake,” said Koster, Missouri’s current attorney general. “At the root of it, they just want to get rid of collective bargaining. I’ve been fighting them since I came to Jefferson City.”

(Excerpted fromSt. Joseph News-Press 8/27/16)

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Download September 2016 Newsletter

Click on the following link to read the newsletter in pdf format: BOCODemsNewsletterSep

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Missouri Republicans gearing up for another voter ID fight

A decade ago, Missouri Republicans began their quest to require voters to present a government-issued photo ID before casting a ballot.

Every time they’ve gotten close to succeeding, something has come along to put the kibosh on the idea — either a court ruling, a Democratic filibuster or Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto pen.

GOP leaders believe they’ll take the first step toward finally putting the issue to rest when they return to the Capitol next month to consider whether to override Nixon’s latest veto of a voter ID bill.

Then in November, voters will weigh in on an amendment to the state constitution allowing a voter ID law, a necessary second step in the process because the Missouri Supreme Court previously declared voter ID laws unconstitutional.

A decade ago, Missouri Republicans began their quest to require voters to present a government-issued photo ID before casting a ballot.

Every time they’ve gotten close to succeeding, something has come along to put the kibosh on the idea — either a court ruling, a Democratic filibuster or Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto pen.

GOP leaders believe they’ll take the first step toward finally putting the issue to rest when they return to the Capitol next month to consider whether to override Nixon’s latest veto of a voter ID bill.

Then in November, voters will weigh in on an amendment to the state constitution allowing a voter ID law, a necessary second step in the process because the Missouri Supreme Court previously declared voter ID laws unconstitutional.

(Excerpted from Hancock,Kansas City Star 08/26/16)

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Trump: Americans could be tried in Guantánamo

A President Donald Trump might push for Americans accused of terrorism to be tried in a military tribunal at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the Republican nominee told the Miami Herald on Thursday.

“I would say they could be tried there, that would be fine,” Trump said in a brief interview ahead of his speech to home builders in Miami Beach.

Under current federal law, it’s illegal to try U.S. citizens at military commissions. Changing the law would require an act of Congress.

(Excerpted from Miami Hearald 8/11/16)

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State agricultural associations support Koster

The latest group to pitch tent in the Koster camp is the Missouri Soybean Association. Its board of directors voted to endorse Koster for Governor on Thursday, Aug. 11.

“Chris Koster has shown he understands agriculture and what it takes to grow our state’s number one industry,” said Matt McCrate, Missouri Soybean Association president and a soybean farmer from Cape Girardeau County. “He has been a great partner to Missouri soybean growers and has committed to prioritize agriculture as our Governor.”

The Missouri Soybean Association’s endorsement of Koster comes on the heels of another huge endorsement — that of the Missouri Farm Bureau, one of the most influential rural organizations in the state. It had been decades since the Missouri Farm Bureau endorsed a Democrat running for Missouri governor.
The Missouri Corn Growers Association also pledged its support of Koster this week.

“Attorney General Koster’s record of supporting agriculture is unquestionable. We are confident he will continue to work in the best interest of Missouri’s farm families and are proud to support him in the race for Missouri governor,” aid MCGA President Morris Heitman, a corn grower from Mound City, Mo.

(Excerpted from Hannibal Courier Post 8/11/2016)

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The GOP must dump Trump

The Muslim ban, the David Duke denial, the “Mexican” judge flap, the draft dodger denigrating John McCain’s military service, the son of privilege attacking an immigrant Gold Star motherand the constant revisionism and lying about past political positions taken are but a few of the lowlights that have punctuated Donald Trump’s chaotic chase for the presidency.

Any one of these offenses would have disqualified any other candidate for president.

That appears to be changing. Post-convention polls show Trump falling behind by double digits both nationally and in must-win swing states like Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Virginia.

And the political ride will only get rockier for Trump in the coming days after he suggested that one way to keep a conservative Supreme Court after Hillary Clinton got elected would be to assassinate her or federal judges. Trump and his supporters have been scrambling wildly all day to explain away the inexplicable, but they can stop wasting their time. The GOP nominee was clearly suggesting that some of the “Second Amendment people” among his supporters could kill his Democratic opponent were she to be elected.

We are in uncharted waters but that does not mean that the way forward is not clear. It is.

  1. The Secret Service should interview Donald Trump and ask him to explain his threatening comments.
  2. Paul Ryan and every Republican leader should denounce in the strongest terms their GOP nominee suggesting conservatives could find the Supreme Court more favorable to their desires if his political rival was assassinated.
  3. Paul Ryan and every Republican leader should revoke their endorsement of Donald Trump. At this point, what else could Trump do that would be worse than implying the positive impact of a political assassination?
  4. The Republican Party needs to start examining quickly their options for removing the Republican nominee.

A bloody line has been crossed that cannot be ignored. At long last, Donald Trump has left the Republican Party few options but to act decisively and get this political train wreck off the tracks before something terrible happens.

(Excerpted from Scarborough Washington Post 8/09/16)

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Nuke fears grow over Trump

Nuclear security experts are nervous about the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency.

Former officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations are expressing concern over what they describe as Trump’s cavalier rhetoric about using nuclear weapons and potentially allowing them to be obtained by U.S. allies.

“This is the most dangerous thing that he has said, among many dangerous and stupid things,” said Mark Fitzpatrick, 26-year veteran of the State Department who worked on nonproliferation issues under former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
The narrative is damaging to Trump because it plays right into the hands of Hillary Clinton and her supporters, who say that Trump’s inexperienced hand makes him too dangerous a liability for the White House.
At the Pentagon on Thursday, President Obama responded directly to concerns that Trump was woefully unprepared to man the United States’ nuclear arsenal.

“Just listen to what Mr. Trump has to say and make your own judgment with respect to how confident you feel about his ability to manage things like our nuclear triad,” Obama said, referring to the three-pronged set of air, land and sea defenses that have been the backbone of nuclear weapons policy for a generation. During a Republican primary debate, Trump appeared not to be aware of the concept.

Earlier in the week, Obama called Trump “unfit” to serve as commander-in-chief, and his comments have been underlined by some Republicans.

Former Sen. Gordon Humphrey (R-N.H.) described Trump as a “sociopath” in an email to NBC News, calling him “pathologically insecure.”

“To imagine Trump in charge of our armed forces at a moment of crisis is frightening,” Humphrey added.

he Hill spoke to more than half-a-dozen nuclear weapons experts for this story. All expressed a level of concern or anxiety about Trump’s control of nuclear weapons and his leadership of global nonproliferation.

“This could really trigger nuclear wars that could end mankind. Is that what he wants?” said Fitzpatrick, the executive director of the U.S. office of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, who has been publicly critical of Trump in the past. “Talking about nuclear weapons the way he talked about it is not rational.”

Trump’s position on nuclear weapons were scrutinized again this week, following remarks by MSNBC “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican member of Congress, that the GOP nominee had repeatedly asked a foreign policy briefer why the U.S. could not use its vast nuclear arsenal.

“When it comes to nuclear weapons, [lack of] message discipline is a policy weakness,” added James Acton, co-director of the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who is unaligned on the presidential race.

Trump has been willing to talk more openly about the possibility of using nuclear weapons in a future conflict than other politicians before him.

Not only might he be willing to use nuclear weapons in a conflict in Europe, he has said, but he might employ them in a fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“Somebody hits us within ISIS, you wouldn’t fight back with a nuke?” he said on MSNBC in March.

The suggestion is a dramatic escalation in the conception of how nuclear weapons are used.

Trump has repeatedly tried to maintain an aura of unpredictability, claiming that there is power in keeping adversaries guessing. But there’s also a risk, his critics claim, if no one knows when the line is crossed.

“Uncertainty in this business is a dangerous thing,” said John Noonan, a former national security advisor to Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney who has opposed Trump’s campaign, on MSNBC this week. Noonan has signed an open letter from dozens of Republican national security officials pledging not to support Trump.

“It’s fundamentally dangerous.”

(Excerpted from The Hill 8/06/16)

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