Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Last Call For The Blue Wave Rises, Con't

With just under two weeks to go until the special election in Pennsylvania's 18th congressional district, the Cook Political Report crew moves the race from Lean R to Toss Up as Democrat Conor Lamb closes in on Republican state Rep Rick Saccone.

There's no doubt part of the problem for the GOP in PA-18 is the national political climate. During January, following the passage of the tax cut bill, Republicans had cut Democrats' lead in generic congressional ballot polls in half. But during February, Democrats' lead has returned to close to double digits, a turnaround that was in progress before the Parkland school shootings.

However, the climate alone wouldn't be enough to push a district as Republican as the 18th CD into the Toss Up column. After all, Trump is still a net asset to the GOP here, and Nancy Pelosi is unpopular. What's made the race so close, many Republicans admit, is that Lamb has simply proven to be a stronger candidate than Saccone. 
As a 33-year-old veteran from a prominent Irish-Catholic Pittsburgh political family, Lamb is well-positioned to tap into Western Pennsylvania's ancestral Democratic roots (Democrats still enjoy a slight voter registration edge in the 18th). He emphasizes protecting Social Security and Medicare from cuts, says he won't support Pelosi and talks about strengthening background checks without calling for new gun laws. 
Saccone, a 60-year-old mustachioed former Air Force counter-intelligence officer, hasn't made any major blunders. But he hasn't raised the resources to tell voters his life story as effectively as Lamb, and after seven years in Harrisburg, he can't credibly run as a political outsider. Moreover, Saccone's votes for right-to-work legislation have angered unions, still an important constituency in this part of the state.

Former GOP Rep. Tim Murphy, who won eight elections here before resigning in October upon the disclosure of an extra-marital affair, had solid working relationships with labor groups and routinely won the endorsement of the AFL-CIO. In this race, the state AFL-CIO chapter has snubbed the Republican and endorsed Lamb.

Yes, in a district where Donald Trump won by 20 points, the Democrat is running away from Nancy Pelosi.  Blue Dogs do that.  Not every constituency looks like Nancy Pelosi's district in San Francisco, but every House district in the country has Democrats in it somewhere who want to be represented by Dems and vote for them every election.

I'd move heaven and earth to have Conor Lamb here in KY-4 to take Tom Massie's ass down, his grousing about Pelosi and NRA support aside, because as much as you guys may not like Blue Dogs, a lot of us live in red states where 2018 means the Blue Dog or the Trump-supporting Republican asshole who wants to destroy the place completely.

I'll take the Blue Dog every single time.  I'm going to root for the Democrat in the race, thanks.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

The heat is back on Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner as a new Washington Post story contends that America's friends and rivals are more than eager to take advantage of Kushner's inexperience to manipulate him...and Trump.

Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter.
Among those nations discussing ways to influence Kushner to their advantage were the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico, the current and former officials said.

It is unclear if any of those countries acted on the discussions, but Kushner’s contacts with certain foreign government officials have raised concerns inside the White House and are a reason he has been unable to obtain a permanent security clearance, the officials said.

Kushner’s interim security clearance was downgraded last week from the top-secret to the secret level, which should restrict the regular access he has had to highly-classified information, according to administration officials.

H.R. McMaster, President Trump’s national security adviser, learned that Kushner had contacts with foreign officials that he did not coordinate through the National Security Council or officially report. The issue of foreign officials talking about their meetings with Kushner and their perception of his vulnerabilities was a subject raised in McMaster’s daily intelligence briefings, according to the current and former officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

Within the White House, Kushner’s lack of government experience and his business debt were seen from the beginning of his tenure as potential points of leverage that foreign governments could use to influence him, the current and former officials said.

They could also have legal implications. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has asked people about the protocols Kushner used when he set up conversations with foreign leaders, according to a former U.S. official.

This is pretty big stuff.  Kushner's Top Secret clearance has been revoked, meaning he can no longer be a party to Trump's daily intel brief.  Kushner was basically using that information over the last year to try to cut side deals for his own real estate empire in NYC.  The notion that such an arrangement meant he was prime blackmail material for every foreign intelligence agent on earth apparently didn't occur to anybody in the White House until the last week or so.

And in the wings, Robert Mueller is watching Jared Kushner very closely.

Veteran journalist Carl Bernstein claimed Tuesday night that White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is “in the crosshairs” of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation after the president’s son-in-law had his security clearance downgraded.

“Jared Kushner is in the crosshairs of special prosecutor Mueller’s investigation, which is focused in part on Jared Kushner like a laser,” Bernstein said on CNN's “Anderson Cooper 360.”

And there is every expectation in the White House and among lawyers that are representing other people in Mueller’s investigation that Jared Kushner has many, many strikes lining up against him in the Mueller investigation,” the Watergate reporter continued.

Donald Trump Jr. is a complete meathead, the eldest son passed over for leadership, but really Jared has always been the Fredo Corleone of this tale, the one playing his side game to prove how smart he is only to not realize how much he's been played by everyone else.  In the end, Fredo becomes too much of a liability to the family and Michael Corleone has him taken care of.

I only wonder when Trump tosses Jared to Mueller in order to save his own ass.  Everyone who works with Trump eventually gets thrown to the wolves.

Immigration Nation, Con't

I've long said that the Trump regime won't stop at trying to deport undocumented immigrants, it's going to go after documented permanent residents too.  For these assholes, everyone admitted to the country since the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 has to go along with all their children and grandchildren, and "birthright citizenship" has to be ended.

The Roberts Supreme Court, now with Justice Merrick Garland Neil Gorsuch, took a big step Tuesday towards allowing the Trump regime to permanently detain the country's tens of millions of documented immigrants with a terrible ruling.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that immigrants, even those with permanent legal status and asylum seekers, do not have the right to periodic bond hearings. 
It's a profound loss for those who were appealing their indefinite detention by the government. Many are held for long periods of time. On average, they are detained 13 months after being picked up for things as minor as joyriding. Some are held even longer. 
As we wrote in June 2017, the case "has implications for legal permanent residents that the government wants to deport because they committed crimes and for asylum seekers who are awaiting a court date after turning themselves in at the border. Immigrants' advocates contend that many of these immigrants have a right to be free on bail until their case is heard." 
But the court wrote in its 5-3 opinion Tuesday, "Immigration officials are authorized to detain certain aliens in the course of immigration proceedings while they determine whether those aliens may be lawfully present in the country." 
The majority opinion was penned by Justice Alito and joined by the court's conservatives. (Justice Kagan did not participate. She recused herself, stemming from work she had done as President Obama's solicitor general.) 
The decision reversed a Ninth Circuit ruling and the court remanded it for the Ninth to reconsider the case. 
Justice Breyer reading from his dissent, a rare move for the court that indicates just how passionately he disagrees with the majority opinion. 
The case has implications for legal permanent residents the government wants to deport, because they committed crimes and asylum seekers who are awaiting a court date after turning themselves in at the border. Immigrant advocates contend that many of these immigrants have a right to be free on bail until their case is heard.

The five conservatives on the Roberts Court made it clear that they do not, meaning that the Trump regime can now safely start disappearing documented and undocumented immigrants into the ICE deportation system, and permanently detain those who can't be deported.

If you were wondering what was going to be done with all the construction of new immigrant detainment centers by the Trump regime, well, they just got the green light to start filling them up.  If the Trump regime decides to round you up and deport you, away you go.


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