Thursday, October 11, 2018

Last Call For The Blue Wave Rises, Con't

In the House at least, things continue to get worse for the GOP as Republicans are scrambling to save their most important districts (like Pete Sessions in Texas) from surprise Democratic wins and abandoning more and more of the races they feel they've already lost.

As they brace for losses in the House of Representatives, Republican Party leaders are racing to reinforce their candidates in about two-dozen districts, trying to create a barricade around their imperiled majority
. They are pouring money and effort mainly into moderate suburban areas, like Mr. Sessions’s seat, that they see as critical to holding the chamber by even a one-seat margin. And they have begun to pull millions of dollars away from Republican candidates who have fallen substantially behind in once-competitive races.

Republicans steering the House effort, who insisted on anonymity to discuss party strategy, believe that by intensifying their efforts in a smaller number of districts, they can limit Democratic gains to perhaps 20 seats on Nov. 6 — just short of the 23 seats Democrats need to take over the House. Party leaders are counting on a surge of energy from conservative voters to repel Democrats in many of the redder districts on the House map, so that they can concentrate their advertising on teetering purple seats.

Republicans in Congress and the White House see a Democratic takeover in the House as a mortal threat, potentially allowing the opposition party to bring the Republican agenda to a halt and launch far-reaching investigations that could put the Trump administration under siege.

The Republicans know that if the Democrats get the House back, the game is over.  They will sacrifice whoever it takes in order to save that crumbling majority.

Party strategists said several other incumbents must recover quickly or risk losing funding, including Representatives Peter Roskam of Illinois and Mimi Walters of California, who represent white-collar suburbs near Chicago and Los Angeles, respectively.

Former Representative Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia, a former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said the G.O.P. might be helped by the renewed energy of its base following the battle over Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, but he added that independent voters remained a challenge.

“You want to hold your losses to 20 or 22,” Mr. Davis said, underscoring Republicans’ vanishingly thin margin for error. “This is the kind of year where Republican are going to have to give up on some races and they’re going to have to make some hard choices.”

Matt Gorman, a spokesman for the Republican committee, said the party is continually “evaluating the best way to use our resources and the best paths forward” to defending the House.

“Our number-one goal, above all, is keeping the majority,” Mr. Gorman said.

In a memo circulated to Republican donors this week, Corry Bliss, who helms the Congressional Leadership Fund, a powerful super PAC supporting House Republicans, laid out the party’s precarious position. Mr. Bliss said the Supreme Court fight had boosted Republican enthusiasm and a few vulnerable incumbents were looking stronger in polling, including Representatives Will Hurd of Texas and Andy Barr of Kentucky.

But Mr. Bliss said Republicans were facing a “green wave” of Democratic money, as Democratic challengers raise enormous sums online and donors like Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, pour millions into anti-Republican ads.

Democrats have the money to play both offense and defense,  Republicans are reduced to defense, and in smaller and smaller numbers. They can give away 22 seats at most, and they are looking to stack those unfortunates as a wall of bodies to protect the rest.

We'll see if it works.  If the Democrats can break through that wall, the Republicans could lose it all.

Meat The Press, Con't

It's looking more and more like Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered the disappearance of Washington Post columnist and Saudi dissident Jamal Kashoggi, who is by all accounts, extremely not among the living anymore.

The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered an operation to lure Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from his home in Virginia and then detain him, according to U.S. intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plan.

The intelligence, described by U.S. officials familiar with it, is another piece of evidence implicating the Saudi regime in Khashoggi’s disappearance last week after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say that a Saudi security team lay in wait for the journalist and killed him.

Khashoggi was a prominent critic of the Saudi government and Mohammed in particular. Several of Khashoggi’s friends said that over the past four months, senior Saudi officials close to the crown prince had called Khashoggi to offer him protection, and even a high-level job working for the government, if he returned to his home country.

Khashoggi, however, was skeptical of the offers. He told one friend that the Saudi government would never make good on its promises not to harm him.

“He said: ‘Are you kidding? I don’t trust them one bit,’ ” said Khaled Saffuri, an Arab American political activist, recounting a conversation he had with Khashoggi in May, moments after Khashoggi had received a call from Saud al-Qahtani, an adviser to the royal court.

The intelligence pointing to a plan to detain Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia has fueled speculation by officials and analysts in multiple countries that what transpired at the consulate was a backup plan to capture Khashoggi that may have gone wrong.

A former U.S. intelligence official — who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter — noted that the details of the operation, which involved sending two teams totaling 15 men, in two private aircraft arriving and departing Turkey at different times, bore the hallmarks of a “rendition,” in which someone is extra­legally removed from one country and deposited for interrogation in another.

In other words, the Saudis used the US rendition playbook and black-bagged a very vocal critic of the Saudi regime.  The Trump regime is desperately trying to make it look like the Saudi Crown Prince was a "reasonable guy" instead of, you know, ordering and carrying out the assassination of a US citizen, because thanks to the Magnitsky Act, Trump now has to find a way to either clear the Crown Prince's name or impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia, something that would kind of wreck his son-in-law Jared Kushner's arms deal.

A man who spends his time demonizing journalists is tacitly giving the green light to his authoritarian allies to deal with journalists in whatever way they want to, and Trump will absolutely look the other way on this. Regardless of the motive to silence Khashoggi, we now have three oppressive, anti-press regimes responsible for his disappearance and most likely his murder: the Saudis, the Turks, and the Americans.

It's About Suppression, Con't

Heidi Heitkamp is finished.

Not because of her courageous vote against Brett Kavanaugh, but because thousands of Native American voters in North Dakota just became ineligible to vote thanks to...the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a lower-court order requiring voters in North Dakota to present certain forms of identification and proof of their residential address in order to cast a ballot in next month’s elections. A case challenging this requirement on behalf of the state’s sizable Native American populations alleged that the requirement would disenfranchise tribal residents, many of whom lack the proper identification and do not have residential addresses on their identification cards.

The Supreme Court’s order will likely make it harder for Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, considered the most vulnerable Democrat in the Senate, to retain her seat in November. Heitkamp won her seat by less than 3,000 votes in 2012 with strong backing from Native Americans, and she is the only statewide elected Democrat. North Dakota Republicans began changing voting rules to make it harder to cast a ballot months after Heitkamp’s victory six years ago. Republicans have claimed the changes to voter ID requirements are intended to stop voter fraud, even though in-person fraud is exceedingly rare.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was sworn in on Monday, did not partake in the decision, and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan dissented.

North Dakota’s 2017 voter law ID was challenged by Native residents who alleged that the law disproportionately blocked Native Americans from voting. In April, a federal district court judge blocked large portions of the law as discriminatory against Native voters. “The State has acknowledged that Native American communities often lack residential street addresses,” Judge Daniel Hovland wrote. “Nevertheless, under current State law an individual who does not have a ‘current residential street address’ will never be qualified to vote.” According to the website of the Native American Rights Fund, which represents the plaintiffs, many native residents lack residential street addresses because “the U.S. postal service does not provide residential delivery in these rural Indian communities.”As a result, tribal IDs use P.O. boxes, which are not sufficient under North Dakota’s new law—a specification that seems designed to disenfranchise native voters. Hovland’s ruling was in place during the primaries this spring.

But in September, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the law to go into effect. The Supreme Court upheld that ruling Tuesday. In her dissent, Ginsburg argued that the Supreme Court’s order was at odds with one of the top court’s most frequently invoked doctrines on election law: not to change the rules right before an election. By allowing a different set of ID rules in the general election from in the primary, Ginsburg warned, the court was risking widespread confusion and disenfranchisement.

“The risk of voter confusion appears severe here because the injunction against requiring residential-address identification was in force during the primary election and because the Secretary of State’s website announced for months the ID requirements as they existed under that injunction,” Ginsburg wrote. “Reasonable voters may well assume that the IDs allowing them to vote in the primary election would remain valid in the general election. If the Eighth Circuit’s stay is not vacated, the risk of disfranchisement is large.”

Ginsburg noted that according to the factual record of the case, about 20 percent of voters likely to try to cast a ballot in the midterms will lack the required identification. Another “approximately18,000 North Dakota residents also lack supplemental documentation sufficient to permit them to vote without a qualifying ID,” she noted.

A great many of those voters who will lose their right to vote, one month before the election, will be Native Americans who backed Heitkamp.  She's done.  She will lose by double digits now, because tens of thousands lost their vote in North Dakota.

Meanwhile in Georgia, GOP Secretary of State Brian Kemp, running for Governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, is in the middle of stealing that election by also disenfranchising tens of thousands of Democratic voters.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s (R) office is blocking 53,000 people from registering to vote, according to records obtained by the Associated Press, a huge number that could sway his gubernatorial race against Democrat Stacey Abrams.

As TPM laid out this morning, Kemp has used a controversial “exact match” program to approve or block voter registrations that disproportionately impacts minority voters.

Now we know exactly how many people that might affect this election. According to the AP, fully 70 percent of the voter applications that are being held up by Kemp’s office are from black people.

It’s unclear how many of these voters will be able to get on the rolls by Election Day, though if past is prologue Kemp will manage to keep many if not most of them from voting.

The secretary of state has waged a years-long battle against voting rights groups in the state, regularly going after minority voter registration efforts, while purging voting rolls and making it harder for many people to vote.

This figure shows how much impact that could have. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s (R) 8-point reelection margin in 2014 was just 200,000 votes total. Abrams and Kemp have been statistically tied in most public and private polls. Whether or not these voters get on the rolls could determine who wins the election.

Republicans will keep making it harder and harder to vote until only rich, old, retired white people can.  Do we not get this?


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