Friday, October 19, 2018

Last Call For Meat The Press, Con't

The Saudis are apparently going ahead with their...umm..."explanation" of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi's "unfortunate death" and Donald Trump shrugs and says he finds the tale credible.

Saudi Arabia said Saturday that Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi journalist who disappeared more than two weeks ago, died after an argument and fistfight with unidentified men inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Eighteen Saudi men have been arrested and are being investigated in the case, Saudi state-run media reported without identifying any of them.

State media also reported that Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, the deputy director of Saudi intelligence, and other high-ranking intelligence officials had been dismissed. They did not say whether the men’s firing had a connection to the Khashoggi case or whether they were being investigated for playing a role in it.

Saudi Arabia has offered various, changing explanations for Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance — initially claiming that he had left the consulate alive.

But international outrage mounted as Turkish officials leaked lurid details from their own investigation suggesting that he was murdered inside the consulate and dismembered by a team of 15 Saudi agents who flew in specifically to kill him.

The case has battered the international reputation of the kingdom and its 33-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who has sought to sell himself to the world as a young reformer shaking off his country’s conservative past. But suspicions that such a complicated foreign operation could not have been launched without at least his tacit approval have driven away many of his staunchest foreign supporters.

The Trump administration had built strong ties with Crown Prince Mohammed, seeing him as a strong partner in its ambitions to counter Iran, forge a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, and reconfigure the Middle East.

In a statement, the White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the United States “acknowledges” the announcement from Saudi Arabia “and that it has taken action against the suspects it has identified so far.”
“We will continue to closely follow the international investigations into the tragic incident and advocate for justice that is timely, transparent and in accordance with all due process,” the statement said. 

So now we get to see if the Saudis get away with this.

Every indication of course is that they will.  The EU won't do anything, Congress will eventually go supine, and the Saudis will spread some money around to lobby for forgiveness.  By January things will be back to normal and it will be because "wise" King Salman has stepped in to "contain" his son.

So grave is the fallout from the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi that King Salman has felt compelled to intervene, five sources with links to the Saudi royal family said.

Last Thursday, Oct. 11, the king dispatched his most trusted aide, Prince Khaled al-Faisal, governor of Mecca, to Istanbul to try to defuse the crisis.

World leaders were demanding an explanation and concern was growing in parts of the royal court that the king’s son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to whom he has delegated vast powers, was struggling to contain the fallout, the sources said.

During Prince Khaled’s visit, Turkey and Saudi Arabia agreed to form a joint working group to investigate Khashoggi’s disappearance. The king subsequently ordered the Saudi public prosecutor to open an inquiry based on its findings.

“The selection of Khaled, a senior royal with high status, is telling as he is the king’s personal adviser, his right hand man and has had very strong ties and a friendship with (Turkish President) Erdogan,” said a Saudi source with links to government circles.

And so everything will be back to normal.

Until the next journalist is killed. 

But then, of course, that will be the new normal.

It's About Suppression, Con't

I said back in June that the Supreme Court decision that found Ohio's voter purges to be legal meant that red states were going to continually disenfranchise millions of black and Latino voters and black and Latino votes, every election cycle, every time, until they are stopped.  

North Carolina is doing it, eliminating early voting by making it as prohibitive as possible, and only recently was stopped from purging millions of voters through a loophole by a federal judge.

Georgia too has voter purge laws that remove voters for a host of reasons, possibly the worst ones in the nation, and GOP Secretary of State Brian Kemp is using every one of them to disenfranchise as many black voters as he can so he can win his race for governor against Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams.

Georgia officials removed an estimated 107,000 people from voter rolls because they decided not to vote in prior elections, according to a new report.

An APM Reports analysis found the voters were removed under the state's "use it or lose it" law, which starts a process for removing people from voter rolls if they fail to vote, respond to a notice or make contact with election officials over a three-year period.

After that three-year span, those who don't vote or make contact with authorities in two elections can be purged from the voter rolls under the Georgia law.

Such laws, generally enacted by GOP governments, have been growing more common, with at least nine states now having them, according to APM Reports.

And of course, the overwhelming majority of these purged voters were black and registered as Democrats

Kemp is Georgia's secretary of state, and his office oversees elections. Abrams has argued that Georgia laws and Kemp's office have acted to suppress the votes of African-Americans in the state. Kemp says his office is following Georgia law and that he has acted to prevent voter fraud.

The two are locked in a tight race that could be decided by a relatively small number of voters.

The APM investigation concluded that many people struck from voter rolls under "use it or lose it" laws do not know that they have been dropped and are likely to be surprised if they are turned away from the polls on Nov. 6.

 Surprise!  You have to fill out a provisional ballot, which means Kemp's office will find a way not to count it, since he's still in charge of counting all the votes for the contest.

That's right.  Kemp has yet to resign or recuse himself from overseeing his own election.
Oh, but it gets worse.  Unless your absentee ballot signature perfectly matches that of your voter registration form in the judgment of Kemp's office, your vote is thrown away.

Say you live in Georgia. You’re eager to vote in this year’s election—a tight race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Trump acolyteBrian Kemp—so you fill out an absentee ballot and mail it in. Then, days or weeks after the election, you receive a notice in the mail. The signature on your absentee ballot, it explains, looked different from the signature on your voter-registration card. So an election official threw out your ballot. There is nothing you can do. Your vote has been voided.

If Georgia’s signature-mismatch law remains in effect through the November election, this fate will befall thousands of would-be voters. The statute directs elections officials to apply amateur handwriting analysis to voters’ signatures and reject any potential “mismatch.” Nearly 500 ballots in Gwinnett County alone have already been rejected for mismatch, a disproportionate number of them cast by minority voters. Now the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia is suing, demanding that the state give all citizens an opportunity to cure ballots rejected for mismatch. Its suit will help determine how successfully Georgia will suppress minority votes in the upcoming race.

And Kemp's office is definitely targeting black voters in Atlanta for this methodology of disenfranchisement.

That’s the case in Georgia. The epicenter of the current mismatch crisis is Gwinnett County, the most diverse county in the state. While Gwinnett has just 12 percent of the state’s total mail-in ballots, it’s already responsible for 40 percent of statewide rejections this election cycle. Voters who cast absentee ballots very early may receive their rejection letters before Election Day, which allows them to try again by voting in person. But there is no requirement that the state send these letters speedily, so many receive them far too late. And even worse, there is no procedure by which a voter can cure her ballot—by, say, verifying her identity to an election official. If she wants to cast a ballot that counts, she must start from the beginning. And if the election is over, she has no ability to exercise her right to vote.

The ACLU argues that this scheme violates due process. It’s well established that qualified voters have a liberty interest in casting a ballot that counts, and so the government must provide some process before depriving citizens of that right. Georgia grants them none. Under long-standing Supreme Court precedent, courts must decide “what process is due” by weighing the interests at stake, the risk of violating those interests, the value of additional safeguards, and the burdens they will impose on the government.

The ACLU should win this suit.  But guess who gets the final say?

The Supreme Court.

Stay tuned.

The Problem Child

With just weeks to go before the 2018 midterms, I've noticed, this week especially, a number of articles describing the "Hillary Clinton problem" that Democrats have.  Daily Beast columnist Liz Mair makes it very clear that she wants Clinton not only gone from the spotlight, but from gone from Democratic politics altogether.

Hillary remains caught up in the delusion that the only reason she lost in 2016 was because of Russian interference. She does not seem to have fully processed the fact that she lost the electoral college, the only vote that counts. She touts the fact that she got nearly three million more votes than Trump while conveniently leaving out that her tally of the vote still fell well below 50 percent.

Both of the major party nominees in 2016 were so unlikable, flawed and—let’s be candid—unethical that lots of us just couldn’t pull the lever for her even if we couldn’t stand Trump. According to a study from American National Election Studies, the words most associated by voters with Hillary in 2016 were “experienced liar.” Is it logical that she’d want to rehab her image, given all this? Perhaps. Is it possible? No. Do we need to watch her try? Definitely, definitely, definitely not.

That might be especially the case if you’re a Democrat.

Hillary’s continual pursuit of limelight and headlines ensures that the image of the Democratic Party remains an outdated, outmoded, and frankly despicable for far too many voters.
This comes at a time when leading Democrats are attempting to focus voters’ attention on the future—2020, and beating Trump—and jostling for the role as the new party leader.

It also undercuts Democrats’ positioning as the only party that really cares about #MeToo and that will fight for survivors, a contrast Dems are only too keen to spotlight in the wake of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court and ongoing allegations about President Trump’s treatment of women. Only sheer partisan convenience could allow someone to insist that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony is credible while downplaying the numerous allegations of mistreatment (and worse) made by women against Bill Clinton.

For the Democratic Party, about the best that can come of this latest Clinton revival is that no matter how unpalatable any of its leading lights—Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Cory Booker, or others—are individually, they’ll look like downright appealing the longer Hillary hangs about.

Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus is somewhat less aggressive towards Clinton, but she still wants her gone.

Speaking of Bill Clinton, there was his wife on CBS’s “Sunday Morning,” being asked about workplace conduct in the clarifying light of the #MeToo movement. “In retrospect, do you think Bill should’ve resigned in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal?” asked correspondent Tony Dokoupil.

Clinton, without hesitation: “Absolutely not.

Dokoupil: “It wasn’t an abuse of power?”

Clinton: “No, no.”

Dokoupil: “There are people who look at the incidents of the ’90s and they say, ‘A president of the United States cannot have a consensual relationship with an intern, the power imbalance is too great.’ ”

Clinton, interjecting mid-sentence: “Who was an adult. But let me ask you this: Where’s the investigation of the current incumbent against whom numerous allegations have been made and which he dismisses, denies and ridicules?”

Who was an adult . How can she say that, as if that is relevant in any way? Lewinsky’s technical adulthood is no defense for Bill Clinton’s behavior — in the workplace, as her superior (not to mention president), as a man old enough to be her father. And whatever the reasons for Hillary Clinton’s instinctive defense of her husband’s behavior then, her summary dismissal of it now diminishes her claim to feminism.

Would it not be possible for her to choke out something like: “We’ve all had some time to think about this and, yes, this was unacceptable workplace behavior. I don’t think a president who was elected by the country should have resigned over it, but I also think this conduct was seriously wrong.”

But this is not, it never has been, in Hillary Clinton’s emotional repertoire. She does not cede a millimeter; like Trump, she is allergic to apology. Like Trump, she is prone to whataboutism. If what Bill Clinton did was wrong, why does it matter if what Trump has done is wronger, if indeed it was? Whataboutism is an argument for losers, whichever side deploys it.

And so we are left with this depressing juxtaposition: a president who never hesitates to stoop in demeaning women. And a should’ve-been-president who is a champion for women, except those mistreated by her husband. If Trump never fails to infuriate, Clinton consistently disappoints.

NY Times op-ed board member Michelle Cottie says Democrats cannot bury Clinton quickly enough to get her out of the midterm picture.

This is the sort of moral arrogance and self-justification that has long troubled even many Democrats about Mrs. Clinton. The former first lady, turned senator, turned secretary of state may have been one of the most qualified nominees ever to run for president. But widespread ambivalence about her among not only swing voters but also her own base set the stage for her to lose the presidency to arguably the least qualified individual ever to hold that office.

Two years since that loss, Mrs. Clinton remains broadly unpopular. As of late September, her favorability rating still hovered at 36 percent, down several points from where it was at the time of the election.

Mrs. Clinton remains a singular obsession of Mr. Trump and his followers. The higher her profile, the more Republican leaders can use her as a rallying point for their voters. Months ago, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee boasted of his party’s plan to hang her around Democrats’ neck in the midterms: “We’re going to make them own her.”

Hillary Clinton is a woman of extraordinary achievement who has earned the right to share her views on whatever topic she sees fit. But this close to Election Day, discussing hot-button issues in national interviews is nothing but problematic for her party — and, ultimately, her own legacy. She and Mr. Clinton are set to begin a series of joint speaking appearances soon after the elections. Perhaps she could save her more incendiary observations for then.

Politico's Annie Karni goes so far as to describe "the Clinton problem" for Democrats and to ask if anybody has the "courage" to stand up to her and intervene.  They want her fundraising abilities...but not her.

The strange position Clinton currently occupies is perhaps best illustrated by her relationship with the Andrew Gillum campaign. On election night, Hillary and Bill Clinton both called the Tallahassee mayor, who is seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party and who spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2016, to congratulate him and offer themselves as surrogates for anything he needed in his gubernatorial campaign, a source familiar with the call said. Since then, the Gillum campaign hasn’t invited Bill Clinton to do anything—closed- or open-door. And the campaign experienced some blowback from liberals for announcing that Hillary Clinton would campaign for Gillum.

“Even Hillary voters don’t want to see or hear from her again,” Miami filmmaker Billy Corben tweeted.

Clinton was widely reported to be joining Gillum on the trail. But a spokesman for the Gillum campaign clarified that she was only supporting the candidate through closed-door fundraisers. It was not clear whether the plans had changed.

Most of the incoming requests for Clinton are to raise money, said one former adviser familiar with her plans. She’s been working closely with Gov. Howard Dean, who has partnered with her on her PAC, Onward Together.

“The real future in this party is under 35, and that’s what we’re funding,” Dean said in an interview. “She’s the best fundraiser in the Democratic Party, and she’s pretty far-sighted. We’ve been working together to connect her donor base to all these young groups. What you’re seeing is that we’re facilitating the takeover of the Democratic Party by people who are under 35 years old. This is a big piece of what she is doing politically.”

But despite being the first woman to clinch her party’s presidential nomination, Clinton is seen as a discordant fit to publicly stump for many young, progressive female candidates. She has received some requests to campaign, in places where she is seen as a surrogate who can move suburban women to come out and vote. Earlier this month, for instance, she participated in a roundtable event with J.B. Pritzker, the Democratic candidate for governor in Illinois.

In 2020, however, it remains to be seen who wants to campaign with her, and how much.

“If I was running, I could see certain circumstances in which she could be helpful, from a rally perspective, in certain locations, on a limited basis,” said Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who has shot to fame representing porn star Stormy Daniels and who is considering a presidential bid of his own. He added: “I think there’s still a lot of people that support her, and for that reason she could certainly play a positive role in some capacity in 2020.”

Personally, the reaction to Clinton getting involved by the Village media, who has literally despised her and wanted to destroy her politically for well over two decades, is way over the top and only making things worse.  Like it or not, she is who the Democratic voters chose in the primaries. I do not understand the incandescent hatred for her.

Having said that...having said that.

Perhaps this isn't the best time for her to be picking fights.


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