Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Last Call For It's About Suppression, Con't

While Russian influence in the 2016 elections definitely played a part in Trump's win, let's not forget that the most widespread and effective meddling two years ago were the GOP voter suppression efforts to keep black voters home.  Now Bloomberg News is reporting that the Trump campaign was involved directly in these efforts along with Steve Bannon and Breitbart.

Breitbart News landed an election scoop that went viral in August 2016: “Exclusive: ‘Black Men for Bernie’ Founder to End Democrat ‘Political Slavery’ of Minority Voters… by Campaigning for Trump.”

If the splashy, counterintuitive story, which circulated on such conservative websites as Truthfeed and Infowars, wasn't exactly fake news, it was carefully orchestrated.

The story’s writer—an employee of the conservative website run by Steve Bannon before he took over Donald Trump’s campaign—spent weeks courting activist Bruce Carter to join Trump’s cause. He approached Carter under the guise of interviewing him. The writer eventually dropped the pretense altogether, signing Carter up for a 10-week blitz aimed at convincing black voters in key states to support the Republican real estate mogul, or simply sit out the election. Trump’s narrow path to victory tightened further if Hillary Clinton could attract a Barack Obama-level turnout.

Bannon’s deployment of the psychological-operations firm Cambridge Analytica in the 2016 campaign drew fresh attention this month, when a former Cambridge employee told a U.S. Senate panel that Bannon tried to use the company to suppress the black vote in key states. Carter’s story shows for the first time how an employee at Bannon’s former news site worked as an off-the-books political operative in the service of a similar goal
Carter’s recollections and correspondence, which he shared after a falling-out with his fellow Trump supporters, provide a rare look inside the no-holds-barred nature of the Republican’s campaign and how it explored new ways to achieve an age-old political aim: getting the right voters to the polls—and keeping the wrong ones away. 
“If you can’t stomach Trump, just don’t vote for the other people and don’t vote at all,” Carter, 47, recalls telling black voters. It’s the message he says the Trump campaign wanted him to deliver. “That’s what they wanted, that’s what they got.” 
The work Carter says he did, and the funds he was given to do it, also raise questions as to whether campaign finance laws were broken. 
The group Carter founded, Trump for Urban Communities, never disclosed its spending to the Federal Election Commission—a possible violation of election law. In hindsight, Carter says, he believed he was working for the campaign so he wouldn’t have been responsible for reporting the spending. 
His descriptions of the operation suggest possible coordination between Trump’s campaign and his nominally independent efforts. If there was coordination, election law dictates that any contributions to groups such as his must fall within individual limits: no more than $2,700 for a candidate. One supporter far exceeded that cap, giving about $100,000 to Carter’s efforts.

Another potential issue is whether the unusual role played by the Breitbart reporter amounted to an in-kind contribution.

“There are some real problems here,” says Lawrence Noble, who served as general counsel at the FEC during Republican and Democratic administrations and is now senior director and general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan advocacy organization. “I would think this is more than enough evidence for the FEC to open an investigation.” 
The Trump campaign and the White House didn't respond to repeated requests for comment. Bannon dismissed allegations that he sought to suppress the black vote, blaming their lower turnout on Clinton. “When you ask them why they didn’t vote for her or why they didn’t turn up, it’s because they didn’t like her policies,” he told Bloomberg in an interview last week. Bannon didn't respond to separate requests to explain his involvement with Carter.

This worked well enough that it helped cost Clinton the Rust Belt states she needed to win.   The dirty tricks from "Black Men For Bernie" to sink Clinton made a lot of waves, especially when people like Joan Walsh called them out.  And surprise, all this time they were part of Steve Bannon's propaganda machine.

It's still going on in 2018.  Believe it.  And Trump of course has done nothing to protect our election system from this type of meddling.  He never will.

Don't fall for the same nonsense in 2018, folks.

BREAKING: Greitens Gets Gone

Missouri GOP Gov. Eric Greitens is resigning effective Friday amid twin scandals and almost certain impeachment and removal by the Missouri state legislature.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens announced on Tuesday he is stepping down effective at 5 p.m. Friday in the face of an impeachment effort, an adverse judicial ruling and and multiple criminal investigations.

"The last few months have been incredibly difficult for me, for my team, for my friends, and many, many people whom I love," he said, saying he was the victim of "legal harassment."

"I have not broken any laws or committed any offense worthy of this treatment," he asserted. "I love Missouri and I love our people. That love remains."

After the announcement, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, a Democrat who had lead the prosecution of felony invasion of privacy charges against the governor, said her office had reached a "fair and just resolution" with Greitens' attorneys.

While Gardner dropped the invasion of privacy charges earlier this month, Greitens still faces felony data tampering for using a charity donor list to raise campaign contributions.

"I have been in contact with the Governor’s defense team over the past several days," she said in a statement. "We have reached a fair and just resolution of the pending charges. We will provide more information tomorrow. "

The announcement came hours after damaging testimony by a former campaign aide to a House committee investigating Greitens, and a separate ruling by a judge forcing the governor's campaign and a dark-money group affiliated with Greitens to reveal fundraising information.

Greitens' decision means that Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, also a Republican, will become governor.

It certainly seems like Greitens stepped down in order to drop the sexual assault charges, which is not exactly justice but the best you could hope for from a red state impeaching a Republican governor.  Still, I have to wonder what becomes of the second batch of charges, mainly the campaign finance violations where Greitens allegedly used his veterans' charity as a donor list.

I guess we'll find out, this all happened pretty quickly this afternoon.

More as it develops.

The Maria Massacre

I'll make it simple for you.  The Trump White House lied about Hurricane Maria's death toll, and underestimated it by about 99%.  A new Harvard study found nearly 4,700 Americans in Puerto Rico died from the storm and the failure to provide relief and medicare care in the aftermath.

And those deaths are on Donald Trump's hands.

At least 4,645 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria and its devastation across Puerto Rico last year, according to a new Harvard study released Tuesday, an estimate that far exceeds the official government death toll, which stands at 64.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that health-care disruption for the elderly and the loss of basic utility services for the chronically ill had significant impacts across the U.S. territory, which was thrown into chaos after the September hurricane wiped out the electrical grid and had widespread impacts on infrastructure. Some communities were entirely cut off for weeks amid road closures and communications failures.

Researchers in the United States and Puerto Rico, led by scientists at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, calculated the number of deaths by surveying nearly 3,300 randomly chosen households across the island and comparing the estimated post-hurricane death rate to the mortality rate for the year before. Their surveys indicated that the mortality rate was 14.3 deaths per 1,000 residents from Sept. 20 through Dec. 31, 2017, a 62 percent increase in the mortality rate compared to 2016, or 4,645 “excess deaths.”

“Our results indicate that the official death count of 64 is a substantial underestimate of the true burden of mortality after Hurricane Maria,” the authors wrote.

The official death estimates have drawn sharp criticism from experts and local residents, and the new study criticized Puerto Rico’s methods for counting the dead — and its lack of transparency in sharing information — as detrimental to planning for future natural disasters. The authors called for patients, communities and doctors to develop contingency plans for natural disasters.

Maria caused $90 billion in damage, making it the third-costliest tropical cyclone in the United States since 1900, the researchers said.

That death toll equals the deaths from 9/11 (2,800 plus) and Hurricane Katrina (1,800 plus) combined.

These are Americans who died.

And eight months later Puerto Rico is still a disaster zone.  Donald Trump lied about it and they are still lying about it.

He is a monster.

Do we understand now what we're up against in November?  What the combination of the Republican pillars of austerity, racism, and government neglect leads to?  Do we get it now?

Are we going to go vote these assholes out before they kill us all or what?

The Blue Wave Rises, Con't

Yet another House Republican crashes and burns due to scandal as the House GOP caucus continues to disintegrate amid the blue wave.

Rep. Thomas Garrett (R-Va.) announced Monday that he is struggling with alcoholism and will abandon his run for a second term in Congress so he can focus on recovery and his family.

Garrett, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, is the 48th Republican to retire or announce they will not seek reelection to the House this year, according to a list maintainedby the House Press Gallery.

Many are leaving in anticipation of a strong Democratic performance in congressional races this fall and out of frustration with partisan politics in Washington.

Garrett, 46, was facing a robust challenge from his Democratic opponent, journalist and author Leslie Cockburn, who had raised more money and had more cash on hand than he had. In recent days, unnamed former staffers had accused him and his wife of mistreating staff who worked in his congressional office.

But in a videotaped statement, Garrett, a former Virginia state senator, said his departure from politics was spurred by his addiction.

“Any person — Republican, Democrat or independent — who has known me for any period of time and has any integrity knows two things: I am a good man and I’m an alcoholic,” Garrett said, fighting back tears. “This is the hardest statement that I have ever publicly made by far. It’s also the truth.”

His announcement caps a week of turmoil in Garrett’s Washington office, marked by the resignation of his chief of staff, Jimmy Keady; an online news report that Garrett was thinking about dropping his reelection bid; and a news conference Thursday in which he insisted he was running.

On Friday, a Politico report quoted four unidentified former staffers who accused Garrett and his wife, Flanna, of ordering staff to walk their dog, carry groceries or perform other personal tasks for the couple — a practice prohibited by House ethics rules.

We're coming up on a full fifth of the House GOP retiring this year in the wake of Trump.   And I'm convinced the majority of those now open seats will be going to Democrats in November.

The only way we start getting accountability for Trump is to win control of the House and Senate back.  Both would be excellent, but if we don't win at least one chamber, Trump is going to skate and most likely win re-election.

Should Republicans keep both chambers, Mueller and Rosenstein will be gone before Thanksgiving.  If anything, we have to win to force some semblance of oversight.  That means getting Millennials to vote, and that means Millennials running for office.

When Colin Allred, a 35-year-old former NFL linebacker-turned-congressional candidate, addressed two dozen student volunteers at a rooftop restaurant last week, he promised them that he knows millennials are more than avocado toast-eating social media obsessives.

“People think millennials just tweet … and complain, but you all are living proof that that’s not true,” Allred said. “You are the best part of this party.”

Allred — the newly minted Democratic nominee for a competitive House seat here— is part of a swell of young Democratic House candidates hoping to inspire higher turnout among fellow millennials in the midterm elections, when youth voting rates typically decline. At least 20 millennial Democratic candidates are running in battleground districts, a leap over previous cycles that could remake the party’s generational divide.

“I don’t recall a cycle with anything close to this number of younger candidates in recent times,” said Ian Russell, a Democratic consultant who served as the deputy executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Notably, younger candidates who actually have a good shot at winning – raising money, running professional campaigns.”

Currently, the average age of a member of 115th Congress — nearly 58 years old in the House and nearly 62 years old in the Senate — is among the oldest of any Congress in recent history, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. The youngest member of Congress, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), will turn 34 in July.

Stefanik was first elected at age 30. No woman has ever been elected to Congress in her 20s, but two 20-something Democrats — Sara Jacobs in Southern California and Abby Finkenauer in eastern Iowa — are serious contenders running in competitive districts. Illinois' Lauren Underwood, 31, and Ohio's Aftab Pureval, 35, have already won primaries to take on sitting GOP incumbents this fall.

“In my almost-decade as a pollster, I’ve had almost no clients younger than me," said Zac McCrary, a 37-year-old Democratic consultant. "Now I’ve got several this cycle."

“Right now, the instinct is to look for the antithesis of [President] Donald Trump, and so Democratic primary voters are defaulting toward women, younger rather than older,” McCrary added. “And those young candidates are more difficult targets because they don’t have decades’ worth of opposition research racked up.”

2018 and 2020 marks the torch being passed where more Millennials will be eligible to vote than Boomers.  Nothing was ever going to improve until Millennials got involved enough to vote.  It happened in 2006 and 2008 but hasn't happened since.  I hope it's a wake-up call.

Aftab Pureval is running here in Cincy to oust Republican Steve Chabot, and he has a real chance to win.  If America is going to break out of the Trump Era, it's going to start with Millennials going to the polls and winning primaries.


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