Sunday, September 2, 2018

Last Call For The GOP's Race To The Bottom, Con't

Less than a week into the Florida gubernatorial contest between Trump-loving GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis and Democratic Mayor of Tallahassee Andrew Gillum, who would be Florida's first black governor, and we've now had three "Southern Strategy" moments that would have made Lee Atwater proud.

On Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the winning in Florida's Tuesday primaries, DeSantis called Gillum "articulate" and warned Florida voters not to "monkey this up" by voting for his opponent.

DeSantis, whose rise to national prominence was bolstered by his frequent appearances on the network, praised Gillum on Fox News on Wednesday as “an articulate spokesman” for those holding “far-left views” but warned that he would be damaging to the state.

“The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state,” DeSantis said. “That is not going to work. That’s not going to be good for Florida.”

The use of language seen as containing coded racism prompted an extraordinary rebuke from the network.

DeSantis pulled a "who, me?" and walked the comments back, sort of, but then on Thursday white supremacists bought robocalls in Florida with an unmistakably racist message.

Racist robocalls targeting Andrew Gillum, the first black nominee for Florida governor from a major party, have been placed to residents from an out-of-state white supremacist entity.

Mr. Gillum, 39, the Tallahassee mayor and a progressive candidate who won an upset victory in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, will face Representative Ron DeSantis, 39, a Republican who embraced the style and policies of President Trump, in the November election.

In the audio of one robocall placed on Friday and obtained by The New York Times, a man pretending to be Mr. Gillum can be heard talking in the exaggerated accent of a minstrel performer. “Well hello there,” it begins, “I is Andrew Gillum.” He then talks for a little over a minute about mud huts and unfair policing practices, and asks repeatedly for the listener’s vote. In the background are the sounds of drums and monkeys.

The recording, reported on Friday by The Tallahassee Democrat, ends with a man saying that the message was paid for by the Road to Power, an Idaho-based website and podcast with white supremacist and anti-Semitic content.

It is unclear how many people received the robocalls, but Mr. Gillum’s campaign spokesman, Geoff Burgan, said that multiple people had reported them to the campaign. He called the message “reprehensible” and said it “could only have come from someone with intentions to fuel hatred and seek publicity.”

Now DeSantis, in an interview today, wasted no time going after Gillum again, accusing Gillum of being a "far-left fringe socialist" who will "turn Florida into Venezuela"

DeSantis told host John Catsimatidis in an interview airing Sunday on AM 970 in New York that Gillum, who is backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and advocates for more left-leaning proposals such as "Medicare for all" and abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is an "untraditional" opponent.

"I would say it's very untraditional for Florida, [though] not anything to do with me, I'm a solid conservative in the Reagan tradition and I've been supportive of the president's agenda," DeSantis said.

"This Andrew Gillum, he's on the far-left socialist fringe," DeSantis continued. "He's a Bernie Sanders, [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez type candidate."

"If you have a guy like this enacting a socialist agenda it's going to absolutely destroy all the progress that Florida has made," he added. "He wants to turn Florida in to Venezuela."

It hasn't even been a week yet, and we already have three ear-splitting racist dog-whistles in the race, one from actual card-carrying white supremacists in support of Ron DeSantis, a race which is now 100% about Gillum being black.

And we still have two months to go.

It's About Suppression, Con't

The Secretary of State for Kansas, and now gubernatorial candidate for November, our old vote-suppressing friend Kris Kobach, will imminently be under grand jury investigation for dereliction of duty in purposely failing to register voters in the 2016 election.

Douglas County will have to summon a citizen-initiated grand jury to investigate allegations that Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office mishandled voter registration information during the 2016 election, the Kansas Supreme Court said Friday.

In a one-page order signed by Chief Justice Lawton Nuss, the court denied Kobach’s request to review a Kansas Court of Appeals decision in June that said Lawrence resident Steven Davis had met the legal requirement for circulating petitions to summon a grand jury.

The Supreme Court did not provide any further explanation of its decision.

Davis, a Lawrence resident who ran unsuccessfully for the Kansas House in the 2016 and 2018 Democratic primaries, circulated petitions following the 2016 elections, calling for a grand jury to investigate whether Kobach or others in his office had engaged in “destroying, obstructing, or failing to deliver online voter registration,” as well as possessing falsely made or altered registration books, preventing qualified electors from voting, and “being grossly neglectful with respect to their election duties.”

Kobach’s office has rejected the allegations, saying they relate to a short period of time in 2016 when certain online voter registration systems were malfunctioning and that those problems have since been resolved.

Kobach himself, who is now the Republican nominee for governor, has dismissed the allegations as politically motivated.

Initially, Douglas County Judge Peggy Kittel dismissed Davis’ petition, saying he had not made specific enough allegations to suggest that crimes had been committed.

But in June, a three-judge panel of the Kansas Court of Appeals reversed that decision, saying Kansas statutes only require general allegations that, if proven to be true, would constitute crimes.

While the case was pending at the Court of Appeals, Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office withdrew the state as a party to the case.

Once the Court of Appeals ruled, Kobach asked the Kansas Supreme Court to review the matter, and he filed a motion to intervene, saying neither he nor his staff had been adequately represented in the Court of Appeals decision.

On Friday, though, the Supreme Court declined to review the matter, and in a separate order it denied Kobach’s motion to intervene as moot.

A spokeswoman for the Office of Judicial Administration said the grand jury will have to be summoned once the Court of Appeals issues what is called a “final mandate” in the case, but it was not immediately clear how long the appellate court has to do that.

These accusations are enormous, as they directly accuse Republican Secretary of State, Kansas's highest election official, of failing to register Democratic voters.  The fact that there's enough evidence to open a grand jury investigation at all should be the death knell for Kobach's run for governor, and for his entire political career.

And these are criminal acts, mind you.  Kobach could be headed for prison over this.  Granted, the grand jury investigation would take months and the following criminal case months as well, but it would be a sitting Governor under possible criminal investigation.  Like Missouri's criminal former GOP governor Eric Greitens, he'd have to resign.

Of course, even with a full indictment, Republicans can still be favored to win.  Just ask California GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter, under fraud and campaign finance charges, a man almost certainly headed for expulsion from the House and prison, but almost certainly headed for reelection first.

The corrupt GOP remains as long as we allow them to remain.

Sunday Long Read: Ten Years After The Nightmare

As we enter September, this month marks the ten-year anniversary of the housing collapse.  I started this blog as a result of that mess, moving from BooMan Tribune to my own place once it became clear that documenting the atrocities was going to be a part-time job in 2008.

Now in 2018, most Americans still haven't recovered from the financial disaster, and a second housing crisis now looms very large on the horizon.  We're still in the same mess we were, and at every turn, corporate and Republican forces have worked to keep us in the hole. Our Sunday Long Read at the Penny Hoarder goes over the details.

Heather and Rick Little learned in court that they would have to leave their home by Dec. 10 — just two weeks before Christmas.

The Littles knew the foreclosure was coming before the October 2008 hearing.

The bank was relentless with calls and notices and big fat envelopes, Heather remembers. She called and begged for help, but there was nothing the bank could do. “Nothing they would do,” she said.

She stopped trying to stall the foreclosure.

The day of the hearing, the Littles wheeled their daughter, Emma, then 19 months old, into the Manatee County, Florida, courthouse in her stroller. Their son, John, was in kindergarten that day.

The judge was sympathetic, Heather recalls. He asked them how much time they needed to pack up and move. The hearing took less than 15 minutes.

“There was no one around, thankfully,” she said, “because I fell apart.”

Their house became one of the 9 million homes that would go into foreclosure nationwide between 2007 and 2010.

The Littles went from hosting barbecues in their backyard with a swimming pool and outdoor kitchen to taking whatever they could get from local food banks.

A decade after the height of the Great Recession in 2008, people who lost homes and careers are still recovering.

For the Littles, life is more stable now, but the swimming pool and outdoor kitchen are long gone.

Today, the family’s backyard holds plastic pots where Heather grows fruits and vegetables — signs she still remembers what it felt like to question where their next meal would come from.

“We had nothing extra at the end of every month,” Heather said of the years after their foreclosure. “Nothing. Not even a dollar.”

Trillions in wealth was destroyed, and the recovery vastly favored those who already had wealth after 2008.  They got exponentially more wealthy, while the rest of us have put the American dream of homeownership and passing on a family place to our kids aside.

We're just trying to make the next rent payment.

President Obama did what he could, but it simply wasn't enough.  And after 2010, we hung him out to dry in favor of the "populist" GOP.  That mistake sealed the deal and left us in the lurch where we are now, ten years later.

And now Trump is in charge, and the reality is unless we break the GOP's hold on government in 2018, we're going to collapse again, and this time, America's not coming back.

The Old Pilot's Final Sendoff

Chuck Pierce notes that Sen. John McCain's funeral on Saturday was one final, gigantic, worldwide screw-you to one Donald John Trump, and nobody deserved the mass shunning more.

In the magnificent, lordly church-house, there were speeches and prayers. There were songs and hymns. There were bands and pipers and choirs and soloists. John McCain was given a national send-off in a National Cathedral and there was a great gathering of emotion that was almost frightening in its intensity because you knew that it was aimed at a solitary, angry, unbalanced man left back at the White House, at someone who nonetheless is the president* of the United States, with all the powers inherent to his office, a man who has created a situation in which he is an object of dislike and disrespect, because that is all that he's given to the world in return.

It was said almost immediately after the conclusion of the funeral ceremonies on Saturday that, for a few hours anyway, we were back in a familiar country with familiar customs and manners and norms, a country with institutions built to last. That may well be true. I felt it, too. But in back of that is the realization that all of us, including the deceased, had taken those customs, manners, norms, and institutions terribly for granted. We thought they could withstand anything, even a renegade president* in the pocket of a distant authoritarian goon. We let the customs, manners, norms and institutions weaken through neglect and now we are in open conflict with an elected president and, make no mistake about it, John McCain's funeral was a council of war, and it was a council of war because that's what John McCain meant it to be.

He deliberately made known to people that the president* was not welcome at any of the services. He deliberately chose the previous two presidents to deliver the formal eulogies. He deliberately created that scene in the Capitol rotunda at which Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Mike Pence, an unholy trio of Trumpist quislings, had to choke down their own cowardice and say how much they loved him and his irascibility. He deliberately created a mirror in which, if they still have an ounce of self-awareness, they could see the rot that has set in on their souls. Even at the end, John McCain knew what he was doing and he was a fearsome opponent. He wanted a pageant of everything this administration* has trashed and put up for sale, and that's what he got Saturday—a morality play shot through with Shakespearian portent and foreshadowing, a pageant of democracy's vengeance.

This is not to minimize the genuine affection and love that was on display. John McCain was a beloved figure to many of the people who came to bid him farewell. But there was so much subtext under the proceedings that the mantle shattered, and subtext became text, plain as the rain that fell and passed while the service continued. This was a funeral with more than one purpose—to celebrate the passing of John McCain and to summon a rebirth of politics that did not so much reek of grift and vodka

John McCain, a man better loved by Democrats than Republicans currently, was no saint.  I've said my piece about the man and his myriad failures, especially in the last ten years.   But in the end, for one day, he got to tell Donald Trump to go screw himself.

It was petty as hell, and Donald Trump understands the motivations of pettiness better than anyone on earth.  He went golfing instead, and everyone laughed at him.
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