Sunday, July 29, 2018

Last Call For Trump Cards, Con't

Trump supporters are lost to Democrats right now, and Democrats should stop trying to win them over.

Nearly all Americans say Russian meddling in the 2018 midterm elections would be unacceptable, even if their party was the beneficiary of any interference. But the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign remains a divisive political issue, with Republicans more likely to doubt the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies and more likely to back the president, a new CBS News poll found.

Half of Republicans say that hearing criticisms of President Trump on the Russia issue makes them want to defend him more. Another 42 percent say they want to wait to see what the facts show.

Seventy percent of Republicans call the Russia investigation a "witch hunt," while Democrats call it a "critical" matter of national security (77 percent). Democrats, however, say they believe the issue speaks to the president's character (79 percent) as well as national security, but Republicans disagree, seeing it as a deliberate attempt to slow the president's agenda (81 percent) and feeling he is facing more resistance from the political establishment than other presidents have (86 percent). 

So there's some hope for the people who want to see what the facts show, right? As in "If the media was able to report on conclusive evidence against Trump" they'd change their minds, right?

Oh, never mind then.  They're lost.

The larger problem is the vast majority of Americans believe media is inaccurate.

So no, even if the media does report on such conclusive evidence, the majority of Americans probably won't believe it anyway.

This is why I keep saying that a political, not a legal solution to Trump, is the only way out.

With 100 days to go until the election, that's worth keeping in mind.

Trump's Race To The Bottom, Con't

The traffic sign that greets visitors on the south side of Ulysses, a tiny town in rural far north-central Pennsylvania, is suitably quaint — a silhouette of a horse-drawn cart reminding drivers that the Amish use the roads, too. But on the north side of town, along the main thoroughfare, is a far different display: a home dedicated to Adolf Hitler, where star-spangled banners and Nazi flags flutter side by side and wooden swastikas stand on poles.

White supremacy has had a continuous presence in Ulysses and surrounding Potter County since the Ku Klux Klan arrived a century ago, giving the town — with a population today of about 650 — improbable national significance. In the mid-2000s, it hosted the World Aryan Congress, a gathering of neo-Nazis, skinheads and Klan members.

This year, after a sting operation, federal prosecutors charged six members of an Aryan Strike Force cell with weapons and drug offenses, contending that they had plotted a suicide attack at an anti-racism protest. A terminally ill member was willing to hide a bomb in his oxygen tank and blow himself up, prosecutors said. The group had met and conducted weapons training in Ulysses.

Neo-Nazis and their opponents here say that white extremists have grown more confident — and confrontational — since the rise of Donald Trump. Two months before the 2016 presidential election, the KKK established a “24 hour Klan Line” and sent goody bags containing lollipops and fliers to hundreds of homes. “You can sleep tonight knowing the Klan is awake,” the message read. A regional newspaper ran Klan advertisements saying, “God bless the KKK.”

Local police said the group had not openly recruited in years.

Two weeks later, the area’s two neo-Nazi groups, the National Socialist Movement (NSM) and Aryan Strike Force, held a “white unity meeting” in Ulysses to discuss their response to Trump and plan joint action. One organizer would not say when the groups had last met, simply commenting: “It’s just a good time.”

Potter County is staunchly Republican and has voted Democratic once since 1888; Trump received 80 percent of the vote, tying with Herbert Hoover for the highest percentage won.

“I can tell you with certainty that since November 2016, activity has doubled, whether it’s feet on the street or money orders or people helping out,” said Daniel Burnside, 43, a woodcarver who owns the Nazi-themed home and directs the state chapter of the National Socialist Movement, a far-right group that was founded in Detroit in the mid-1970s. It has a presence in many states, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, and the NSM was among the groups taking part in the violent August 2017 rally in defense of Confederate statues in Charlottesville.

We have meetings every 30 days,” he said. “ There’s more collaboration.

The assholes are openly recruiting and meeting and they vote GOP.  It's weird, because Republicans will tell you the real racists are Democrats.  The KKK didn't get the memo, I guess.

Trump sure did however.

Both Sides Against The Middle, Georgia Edition

Kevin Sack and Alan Blinder at the NY Times preview the Georgia Governor's race, and apparently the state being governed by a white guy who has a big truck so he can haul illegals away is just as awful for the state as having...a black woman in charge.  What's a centrist to do?

The Republican won the nomination Tuesday after branding himself a politically incorrect conservative who would “round up criminal illegals” and haul them to the border in his very own pickup. The Democrat all but opened her campaign by demanding that the iconic carvings of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson be sandblasted off Stone Mountain.

Almost overnight, Georgia’s captivating governor’s race between Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams has taken on the dimensions of a defining moment, one that will, regardless of outcome, determine what the state represents and how it is perceived. That voters chose these two candidates reflects how Americans are embracing politicians on the basis of culture and identity, and how Georgia’s politics are catching up with its rapid demographic change: The nonwhite population has grown to 40 percent from 29 percent since 1990.

But Georgia’s political middle, long the dominant force behind the state’s thriving commerce and pragmatic leadership, suddenly finds itself all but abandoned

More starkly than in most midterm campaigns, the contest between Mr. Kemp, the two-term Republican secretary of state, and Ms. Abrams, a former Democratic leader in the State Legislature, has come to mirror the disorienting polarization of the Trump era and expose the consequences of a primary system that increasingly rewards those who appeal to the fringes.

So it's not a story about who will win, it's a story about who will lose: Georgia's white moderate center, who is under assault by the racist Trump right who nominated an immigrant-hating bigot and the equally awful "identity politics" left who nominated a Confederate-hating black woman.  Whoever wins, the state's "thriving commerce and pragmatic leadership" will be eliminated apparently.

Was this written by Third Way?

In Georgia, perhaps the Deep South’s most essential economy, the 2018 campaign is a point of demarcation. In the five decades since the death of legal segregation, the image-conscious state has been led by a succession of white male centrist governors — first moderate Democrats, then, for the last 16 years, right-leaning Republicans. They have more often than not been steady and bland, focused on improving education, corporate recruitment and job growth. The unemployment rate has declined by more than 6 percentage points since the current governor, Nathan Deal, took office in 2011.

But to date, neither Ms. Abrams nor Mr. Kemp has rushed to occupy that political space. With both candidates bolstered by huge wins in their primaries, there is no clear indication that either plans to abandon their base-driven strategies for a wholesale pivot toward the center. The race has come to be seen, in the words of Mr. Kemp at a Republican unity rally near Atlanta on Thursday night, as a battle for “literally the soul of our state.

"WHY WON'T THEY PIVOT TO THE MIDDLE?" they screamed into the abyss.

Ms. Abrams, 44, a brainy Yale Law graduate from Atlanta, has leveraged the prospect of becoming the country’s first female African-American governor to nationalize her campaign and its fund-raising. By contrast, Mr. Kemp, 54, is a drawling agri-businessman from Athens who has revived a populist style that has lain dormant in Georgia since the late 1960s. Both campaigns say they are committed to maximizing turnout by their most rabid supporters rather than moderating in order to broaden their appeal to centrists and independents.

Each side frames the election of the other in doomsday terms. Mr. Kemp, the Democrats fear, will take Georgia the way of North Carolina and Indiana, which were tarnished by recent legislative battles over issues like gay rights and the use of public restrooms by transgender people. Republicans warn that Ms. Abrams, who hopes to expand Medicaid health coverage for the poor and disabled, will raise taxes they have cut, reverse the state’s job growth, deplete its rainy-day surplus and threaten its superior bond ratings.

The "most rabid supporters" on Kemp's side are actual white supremacists.The "most rabid supporters" on Abrams's side are "people who think a giant monument to slavery is bad."

The story then goes on to quote several "moderates" and former Georgia politicians who think both candidates are terrible and that they don't think moderates in the state will vote at all because of the "partisanship".

Most of all, they worry about the state's "business climate" if either one is elected.

This is what passes for a politics story in the NY Times in 2018.

Ahh, but the much bigger problem that "moderates" and everybody in Georgia need to worry about is the fact that the Kemp is the Republican Secretary of State and believes Russian interference in the 2016 election was all but a hoax, and that he's taking no action to secure the state's voting systems against attack because he doesn't believe one is possible.

In August, 2016, when the scope of the Russian hacking effort was becoming clear to President Obama—and as he and his advisers struggled to find a response that would not undermine the legitimacy of the upcoming elections, or provoke the Russians to do more damage, or appear to confirm Trump’s assertion that the election was rigged—Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security at the time, suggested designating the American election system as “critical infrastructure,” a category that includes bridges and the power grid. This designation would enable D.H.S. to offer cybersecurity support to individual states. And this inflamed Brian Kemp.

Labelling elections as critical infrastructure, Kemp declared, opened the door for the federal government to “subvert the Constitution to achieve the goal of federalizing elections under the guise of security.” Georgia is one of only five states that uses voting machines that create no paper record, and thus cannot be audited, and the Center for American Progress has given it a D grade for election security. But, when D.H.S. offered cybersecurity assistance, Kemp spoke out against it. (Georgia has since accepted some help from D.H.S.)

“It seems like now it’s just the D.C. media and the bureaucrats, because of the D.N.C. getting hacked—they now think our whole system is on the verge of disaster because some Russian’s going to tap into the voting system,” Kemp said at the time. “And that’s just not—I mean, anything is possible, but it is not probable at all, the way our systems are set up.”

And yet, as it turned out, that was exactly the way the system in Georgia was set up. We know this because, a few days before Kemp blasted the D.H.S. and dismissed the D.N.C. hack, a young security researcher in Georgia named Logan Lamb began poking around the Web site of Kennesaw State University’s Center for Election Systems, looking for vulnerabilities. The Center was under contract with the Georgia secretary of state’s office—Kemp’s office—to program and test all the voting machines in the state, train state election workers, and distribute the state’s electronic voter-registration database to the counties. With the entire state election system housed in one place, the Center was a high-value, potentially vulnerable target. Lamb, who worked for an Internet-security company called Bastille, wanted to find out how vulnerable.

On the Center’s Web site, Lamb quickly discovered a trove of unsecured files—fifteen gigabytes’ worth. Among the files were lists of passwords that would allow election workers to sign into a central server on Election Day, and the systems that prepared ballots and tabulated votes. He also found software for the state’s “poll books,” electronic databases that are often used to verify people’s eligibility to vote, as well as a security hole through which he could download the entire database of the state’s 6.7 million registered voters. The files had been publicly exposed for so long that they were cached on Google. He also saw that the Center had failed to fix a well-known glitch in its content-management system through which hackers could take control of the site. A patch for this issue had been publicly available for two years.

Kemp's office will count the votes in November and will determine who is eligible to vote, by the way.  But the real problem is the divisive black lady is mean to Georgia's history, right?

Sunday Long Read: ICE In The Melting Pot

The country's largest single city of undocumented immigrants is NYC, and in the Trump era, that means the Big Apple is the biggest target around.  Now New Yorkers live in fear as ICE has descended upon the city with the mission to round up and deport hundreds of thousands, and the city is waging war to protect them.

An estimated half-million New Yorkers are undocumented. Whether they’ve lived here for two months or 20 years, they came to this city of immigrants—a place where more than a third of the population was born in another country—looking for the same things that have brought newcomers here for centuries: work and school opportunities, religious freedom, family, and a haven from violence, persecution, political upheaval, and natural disaster.

In this “sanctuary city,” the local government promises to defend New Yorkers regardless of status, restricting law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration agents (although not prohibiting it entirely, to the chagrin of many immigrant advocates). But in recent months, with headlines about terrified toddlers in “baby jails” and a president who refers to migrants as an “infestation,” it’s become increasingly clear: In the era of Donald Trump, even New York City doesn’t feel safe for the undocumented.

Now, these are everyday scenes in the city: An Ecuadorian man gets arrested while delivering pizza in Brooklyn. A Chinese father of two is detained during an interview to become a legal permanent resident. Across the boroughs, there have been reports of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents appearing in courthouses, workplaces, neighborhood streets, even a church, according to one advocacy group, sowing panic.

In the eight months after Trump’s inauguration, ICE arrests in the New York area jumped by 67 percent compared to the same period in the previous year, and arrests of immigrants with no criminal convictions increased 225 percent. During that time, ICE arrested 2,031 people in its New York “area of responsibility,” which includes the five boroughs and surrounding counties. These aren’t unprecedented numbers: ICE arrested almost four times as many people in New York City in 2010 as it did last year, and it picks up far fewer people here than in some other parts of the country.

Thanks to free legal assistance, in which the mayor has invested $30 million, according to the city, immigrant New Yorkers are more likely to be represented in court than many of their counterparts around the country. (Eighty percent in Queens versus, say, 39 percent in South Carolina.) Partly as a result, they’re less likely to get deported, according to data from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. Among the five U.S. counties with the highest volume of immigration cases, Queens had the highest proportion of immigrants who were granted deportation relief and the lowest proportion ordered removed from the country.

Despite all of that, Trump’s immigration crackdown has instilled a new level of fear throughout the city. Before he took office, many immigrants who were considered low priority for deportation—because they didn’t have criminal records, for example—were allowed to stay as long as they regularly reported to immigration authorities. But soon after his inauguration, Trump expanded the number of people considered a priority for deportation, and now, people whose only offense is staying in the country illegally are being flagged for removal.

For many immigrant New Yorkers, once ordinary activities are now fraught with dread.

Some immigrants who have been arrested by federal agents say they’ve been made to feel like criminals, subjected to inhumane conditions in overcrowded detention facilities while they await deportation proceedings, which can take months or even years. Meanwhile, their desperate families scramble to scrape together legal fees that easily reach thousands of dollars. Although many manage to stave off deportation with the help of a lawyer, others are not so lucky. Flown to unfamiliar countries where they may not have lived in decades, the deported often arrive with no money, no cell phone, no transportation, no place to stay. Back in New York City, their absence, often dizzyingly sudden, leaves children, spouses, parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, churches, and entire communities reeling—and wondering who could disappear next.

"All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and—if found removable by final order—removal from the United States," ICE spokesperson Rachael Yong Yow said. The agency takes abuse allegations very seriously and is "committed to ensuring that those in our custody reside in safe, secure, and humane environments," she added.

It’s perhaps no surprise that many immigrant New Yorkers, who for years have tried to do the right thing, such as paying taxes and checking in with ICE, are retreating into the shadows. “This Trump administration came in and immigrants, even the permanent residents, even the people who have their status, they have this fear. And the people who are undocumented, I think they realize it’s time to hide,” says Youngmin Lo, 35, an undocumented South Korean who is a pastor at Faith Presbyterian Church of Maspeth, Queens.

The Marshall Project and New York Magazine contacted more than 100 people around the city—immigrants, lawyers and advocates—to find out what life is like for undocumented New Yorkers in the age of Trump. There was the 23-year-old undocumented Dominican woman from the Bronx who was detained on her honeymoon in Niagara Falls. The Manhattan teenager who couldn't bring herself to tell her friends that her father was deported to Gambia. And the bright middle school student in Harlem who suddenly disappeared earlier this school year; an aunt told her principal that her family had fled to Canada to escape ICE. “Palpable fear has just become part of their lives at this point,” said Dr. Constance Bond of St. HOPE Leadership Academy Charter School in Harlem, about her students from immigrant families. As it has for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers.

And once the Roberts Court replaces Kennedy with Kavanaugh, the gates will be opened, and the Battle for New York will begin in earnest.

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