Thursday, August 10, 2017

Last Call For Suppression With No Discretion

Republicans at the state level know that the Trump regime will never challenge them on outright voter suppression of registered Democrats and groups that vote Democratic in elections, so they've given up trying to be subtle about it as and are blatantly disenfranchising Democratic precincts in states like Indiana today.

State and local Republicans have expanded early voting in GOP-dominated areas and restricted it in Democratic areas, an IndyStar investigation has found, prompting a significant change in Central Indiana voting patterns. 
From 2008 to 2016, GOP officials expanded early voting stations in Republican dominated Hamilton County, IndyStar's analysis found, and decreased them in the state's biggest Democratic hotbed, Marion County.

That made voting more convenient in GOP areas for people with transportation issues or busy schedules. And the results were immediate. 
Most telling, Hamilton County saw a 63 percent increase in absentee voting from 2008 to 2016, while Marion County saw a 26 percent decline. Absentee ballots are used at early voting stations. 
Population growth and other factors may have played a role, but Hamilton County Clerk Kathy Richardson, a Republican, told IndyStar the rise in absentee voting in Hamilton County was largely a result of the addition of two early voting stations, which brought the total to three.

"It was a great concept to open those (voting stations)," Richardson said, adding that the turnout might have increased with the addition of even more voting machines.

Other Central Indiana Republican strongholds, including Boone, Johnson and Hendricks counties, also have added early voting sites — and enjoyed corresponding increases in absentee voter turnout. 
But not Marion County, which tends to vote Democratic, and has a large African-American population
During that same 2008-16 period, the number of early voting stations declined from three to one in Marion County, as Republican officials blocked expansion. 
Some Republicans blame the dearth of early voting in Marion County on a lack of local funding. "I have never received any type of message that the individuals in charge of Marion County have any interest in spending the money (to expand satellite locations)," said Jim Merritt, chairman of the Marion County Republican Party.

More early voting stations for Republican precincts in suburban white Republican counties, fewer early voting stations for Democratic precincts in urban black counties.

Any questions about how Republicans plan to maintain a stranglehold on local and state elections in the states they control now, regardless of demographics over the next generation?

Mike Pence helped the Indiana GOP win.

He's going to help them win in all 50 states.

He's going to do it by preventing black people from voting.

Do you get it now, guys?

A Fissile Missile Pissing Contest, Con't

Over at Foreign Policy, Jeffrey Lewis argues that North Korea won its game of nuclear chicken some time ago, and that the world will have little choice but to come to the negotiating table and give Kim Jong Un what he wants, no matter what Trump blusters about.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that North Korea has a large stockpile of compact nuclear weapons that can arm the country’s missiles, including its new intercontinental ballistic missiles that are capable of hitting the United States. That’s another way of saying: game over. 
Also: I told you so. 
There are really two assessments in the Post’s report. One, dated July 28, is that the intelligence community — not just the Defense Intelligence Agency, contrary to what you may have heard — “assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles.” The other assessment, published earlier in July, stated that North Korea had 60 nuclear weapons — higher than the estimates usually given in the press. Put them together, though, and its pretty clear that the window for denuclearizing North Korea, by diplomacy or by force, has closed. 
These judgments are front-page news, but only because we’ve been living in collective denial. Both intelligence assessments are consistent with what the North Koreans have been saying for some time, for reasons I outlined in a column here at Foreign Policy immediately after the September 2016 nuclear test titled, “North Korea’s Nuke Program Is Way More Sophisticated Than You Think: This is now a serious nuclear arsenal that threatens the region and, soon, the continental United States.” 
Authors rarely get to pick titles, and almost never like them, but I think the editors at FP got this one about right. It is about as subtle as a jackhammer, although even so the message didn’t seem to sink in.

The world must now deal with a nuclear North Korea, and it must deal with Pyongyang soon or risk a fatal miscalculation that could cost tens of millions of lives.

Let’s walk through the evidence. 
North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests. That is really quite a lot. Looking at other countries that have conducted five nuclear tests, our baseline expectation for North Korea should be that it has a nuclear weapon small enough to arm a ballistic missile and is well on its way toward testing a thermonuclear — yes, thermonuclear — weapon. 
A lot of people got the wrong idea after North Korea’s first nuclear test failed, and subsequent nuclear tests seemed smaller than they should be. There was a common view that the North Koreans, well, kind of sucked at making nuclear weapons. That was certainly my first impression. But there was always another possibility, one that dawned on me gradually. According to a defector account, North Korea tried to skip right toward relatively advanced nuclear weapons that were compact enough to arm ballistic missiles and made use of relatively small amounts of plutonium. That should not have been surprising; both Iraq and Pakistan similarly skipped designing and testing a more cumbersome Fat Man-style implosion device. The disappointing yields of North Korea’s first few nuclear tests were not the result of incompetence, but ambition. So, while the world was laughing at North Korea’s first few nuclear tests, they were learning — a lot. 
And then there is the issue of North Korea’s nuclear test site. North Korea tests its nuclear weapons in tunnels beneath very large mountains. When my research institute used topography data collected from space to build a 3-D model of the site, we realized that the mountains are so tall that they may be hiding how big the nuclear explosions are. Some of the “disappointments” may not have been disappointments at all, and the successes were bigger than we realized. I think the best interpretation of the available evidence is that North Korea accepted some technical risk early in its program to move more quickly toward missile-deliverable nuclear weapons. 
The fact that North Korea’s nuclear weapons used less fissile material than we expected helps explain the second judgment that North Korea has more bombs than is usually reported. The defector claimed that North Korea’s first nuclear weapon contained only 4 kilograms of the limited supply of plutonium North Korea made, and continues to make, at its reactor at Yongbyon. (For a long while, experts claimed the reactor was not operating when thermal images plainly showed that it was.) The North Koreans themselves claimed the first test used only 2 kilograms of plutonium. Those claims struck many people, including me, as implausible at first. But they were only implausible in the sense that such a device would probably fail when tested — and the first North Korean test did fail. The problem is North Korea kept trying, and its later tests succeeded. 
We also must take seriously that North Korea has perhaps stretched its supply of plutonium by integrating some high-enriched uranium into each bomb and developing all-uranium designs. North Korea has an unknown capacity to make highly enriched uranium. We’ve long noticed that the single facility that North Korea has shown off to outsiders seems smaller than North Korea’s newly renovated capacity to mine and mill uranium; we naturally wondered where all that extra uranium is going. (My research institute thinks it might be fun to estimate how much uranium North Korea enriches based on how much it mills, if you know anyone with grant money burning a hole in her pocket.) 
Unless the intelligence community knows exactly where North Korea is enriching uranium and how big each facility is, we’re just guessing how many nuclear weapons the country may have. But 60 nuclear weapons doesn’t sound absurdly high. 
The thing is, we knew all this already. Sure, sure it isn’t the same when I say it. I mean, I am just some rando living out in California. But now that someone with a tie and real job in Washington has said it, it is news. 
The big question is where to go from here. Some of my colleagues still think the United States might persuade North Korea to abandon, or at least freeze, its nuclear and missile programs. I am not so sure. I suspect we might have to settle for trying to reduce tensions so that we live long enough to figure this problem out. But there is only one way to figure out who is right: Talk to the North Koreans.

We don't really have much of a choice right now, do we?

Of course, we don't have much of a State Department or President right now either.  Hell, we don't even have an ambassador to South Korea.

I assume China, South Korea, and Japan will need to step up and handle this mess.  America doesn't even have the people to do so right now.  Our diplomacy is nearly worthless and the rest of the world will press on in spite of our apparently uselessness in situations like these.

Take your pick as to whom the Leader of the Free World title belongs to these days.  North Korea has just proven it's no longer the United States in that chair.

Fast-Growing Fascism

It's totally strange how the response to the nation's first black Democratic president was the Republican party going full-on authoritarian with white nationalism at its core and seeking to completely undo Obama's entire memory, let alone his presidential legacy.  No surprise then that years of "Democrat voter fraud!" screaming now has a majority of Republicans backing the end of federal elections should Dear Leader Trump declare so.

Slightly more than half of Republicans say they would support postponing the 2020 presidential election if President Trump proposed it to make sure only eligible American citizens can vote, according to a new survey. 
According to a poll published by The Washington Post, 52 percent of Republicans said they would back a postponement of the next election if Trump called for it. 
If Trump and congressional Republicans proposed postponing the election to ensure only eligible citizens could vote, support from Republicans rises to 56 percent. 
Pollsters found 47 percent of Republicans think Trump won the popular vote.

A majority of Republicans, 68 percent, also thinks millions of illegal immigrants voted in the presidential election and 73 percent think voter fraud happens somewhat or very often. 
The poll was conducted from June 5 to 20 among 1,325 Americans. The survey focused on the 650 respondents who said they identified with or leaned toward the Republican Party.

Clinton of course won the popular vote by 3 million or so, but apparently we've reached the point where open fascism and dictatorship is now acceptable to the majority of the voters belonging to the party in power as long as doing so maintains their power.

Needless to say, keep a close, close watch on Mike Pence's "Voter Integrity Commission".  That's where the real voter suppression will be in 2018 and 2020, I fully expect tens of millions of registered Democrats to have their voting registrations purged while Republicans cheer "democracy" in action.

Democracy was overrated anyway, right?

A body politic that elected and re-elected a black president has to be dismantled, of course.  It can never be allowed to happen again.  Trump, Pence, Kris Kobach and the rest of the GOP will make sure that it's all but impossible for the Democrats to win ever again.



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