Friday, January 11, 2019

The GOP's Race To The Bottom

Just in case you've been under a rock for the last half-century or so, Republicans are screaming racists who go out of their way to selectively enforce laws to punish black and brown people.  GOP Rep. Steve King still doesn't understand what's so bad about white supremacy, and said as much this week.

Rep. Steve King addressed the controversy surrounding his statements about white nationalism and white supremacy in a New York Times article on the U.S. House floor Friday.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, yielded his time to the Iowa Republican as the House debated the southern border wall funding impasse. King used the time to say he "made a freshman mistake" talking with a New York Times reporter without recording the interview.

"But one phrase in that long article has created an unnecessary controversy," King said. "That was my mistake."

The quote that King said sparked "heartburn" appeared in the article published Thursday about King's role in the U.S.-Mexico border wall discussion and President Donald Trump's immigration policy.

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King told the Times reporter. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

On the House floor, King said the quote was taken out of context. King argued he was saying terms like white supremacist, white nationalist and Nazi were "almost always unjustly labeling otherwise innocent people."

"It was about how those words got plugged into our dialogue, not when the words became offensive, which is what the technical interpretation of it is," King said. "It's how did that offensive language get injected into our political dialogue."

I mean we've heard this before, it's standard white supremacist garbage to say things like this and then scream about context, political correctness and false accusations.  Giving King the benefit of the doubt when his own state's top newspaper has documented multiple racist statements he's made in office is pointless.

So the GOP's lone black lawmaker in Congress, Sen. Tim Scott, is concerned.

When people with opinions similar to King’s open their mouths, they damage not only the Republican Party and the conservative brand but also our nation as a whole. They want to be treated with fairness for some perceived slights but refuse to return the favor to those on the other side.

Some in our party wonder why Republicans are constantly accused of racism — it is because of our silence when things like this are said. Immigration is the perfect example, in which somehow our affection for the rule of law has become conflated with a perceived racism against brown and black people.

I do support border security not because I want to keep certain ethnicities out of our nation, but because I support enforcing our laws. I do not care if you come from Canada, France or Honduras, if you break our laws, there should be consequences. But it has become almost impossible to have a reasonable conversation along those lines. That’s in part why I laid out my agenda on civility, fairness and opportunity on Thursday on the floor of the Senate.

King’s comments are not conservative views but separate views that should be ridiculed at every turn possible. Conservative principles mean equal opportunity for all to succeed, regardless of what you look like or where you are from. It is maddening to see so many folks who believe this and have only good intentions in their hearts tarnished by these radical perspectives.

That is why silence is no longer acceptable. It is tempting to write King — or other extremists on race issues, such as black-nationalist Louis Farrakhan — as lonely voices in the wilderness, but they are far more dangerous than that. They continue to rip at the fabric of our nation, a country built on hope, strength and diversity. It is the opposite of civility and fairness and will lead only to more pain and suffering.

We have made significant progress in our nation, and while there is still work to do, we cannot let these intolerant and hateful views hold us back. This is a uniquely fractured time in our nation’s history, not our worst but far from our best, and it is only together that we will rebuild the trust we seem to have lost in each other.

Which would be funny if Tim Scott hadn't voted with Donald Trump 96% of the time over the last two years.

How Steve King is able to remain in Congress is because people like Tim Scott, when given the chance to act against racism and oppose the white supremacy that has taken over the party, still choose to side with the white supremacists.

It's Mueller Time, Con't

With former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen now set to testify publicly before House Democrats next month, the Trump regime is in full panic mode over the Mueller probe over the impending Mueller final report.  Rudy Giuliani is demanding that the White House be able to "correct" Mueller's findings before the report can be released.

Rudy Giuliani says President Trump’s legal team should be allowed to “correct” special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report before Congress or the American people get the chance to read it.

The claim, made in a telephone interview with The Hill on Thursday evening, goes further than the president’s legal advisers have ever gone before in arguing they have a right to review the conclusions of Mueller’s probe, which is now in its 20th month.

“As a matter of fairness, they should show it to you — so we can correct it if they’re wrong,” said the former New York City mayor, who is a member of Trump's personal legal team. “They’re not God, after all. They could be wrong.”

The special counsel's office declined to comment.

As ridiculous as that is, it's important to remember that there's a very good chance we'll never see Muller's final report.  David Corn:

The Justice Department guidelines under which Mueller is operating note that his final report explaining his prosecution decisions is confidential and gets delivered only to the attorney general. If the attorney general has recused himself in this matter, as former Attorney General Jeff Sessions did, then the report goes to the deputy attorney general, a position now occupied by Rod Rosenstein (who reportedly may soon leave the Justice Department). With the attorney general nomination of William Barr now pending, it’s unclear who will be in the Justice Department’s top chair—and who will be responsible for overseeing the Trump-Russia investigation—when Mueller is finished. But that’s the official who will get the report—whether it is a short roundup of the prosecutions or something more comprehensive—and he will not have to show it to the public. If the Justice Department does try to sit on the report, House Democrats will no doubt demand a copy. And it’s not difficult to envision a subsequent dust-up that could reach the Supreme Court. (The regulations, though, do note that if the attorney general at any time prevented the special counsel from pursuing an action because he believed it was “inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices,” the A.G. must report that to Congress at the end of the investigation.)

There is another possible—or parallel—scenario. Mueller has been investigating whether Trump obstructed justice. It remains a matter of legal debate whether a president can be indicted for a federal offense while in office. Justice Department policy says a president cannot be charged. Some legal scholars disagree. For instance, Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general contends that “generic DOJ opinions about whether a sitting President could be indicted do not create an ‘established Departmental practice’ about whether an individual could be indicted for successfully cheating in a Presidential election.” The courts have never settled this question. So what might Mueller do if he gathers information that supports a charge of obstruction related to Trump?

Mueller conceivably could submit his findings to Congress. In 1998, Starr did not indict President Bill Clinton. Instead, he handed a thick report to the House of Representatives. It was full of salacious details about Clinton’s affair with intern Monica Lewinsky and outlined grounds for impeachment. The GOP-controlled House quickly voted to present the report to the public. (This move backfired for the Republicans, who faced a backlash over their drive for impeachment and their release of Starr’s X-rated report.) Should Mueller decide that Trump may have committed obstruction of justice andthat the president cannot (or ought not) be indicted, he might follow Starr’s example and give a report on Trump’s alleged obstruction to the House Judiciary Committee for possible consideration of impeachment. (Could the Trump Justice Department block such a move? Hmmm.) It would then be up to House Democrats to decide whether to make such a report public. In other words, here it comes.

At this point, there are no indications whether there will be an explosive final report (or reports) or something minimal and narrow—and whether any report will reach the public. Peter Carr, Mueller’s spokesman, will only say, “All I can point you to is what the regulations say.”

These regulations do not guarantee the public will receive a full accounting. Providing the citizenry a complete account of the Trump-Russia scandal is actually the responsibility of Congress. But the Republicans on the House intelligence committee put on a clown-show investigation, and the Senate intelligence committee investigation is still underway with no signs of what it will ultimately yield. Neither of these committees have held a series of public hearings that such a subject warrants. (The Democrats who now control the House have signaled they will revive portions of the Russia investigation and will be mounting hearings.) House and Senate Republicans also blocked the creation of an independent commission to investigate the Russian assault on the election and to produce a public report.

So now many people are turning to Mueller to supply the full rundown on what happened. His primary mission, though, has been to search for crimes and prosecute those cases for which he believes he can win a guilty verdict. His job is not to inform the public. Mueller is a veteran G-Man looking to serve and deliver justice. A critical question is, can he also serve and deliver the truth?

Should the Roberts Court decide that publicly releasing the report would do terminal harm to the office of chief executive, then no, we will never see Mueller's report.

Unless he gives it to House Democrats...

Shutdown Meltdown, Con't

With Mitch McConnell adjourning the Senate for the weekend and refusing to allow any votes on House Democratic bills to reopen the government, this will now be the longest government shutdown in US history, and there doesn't seem to be any way out.  Exasperated Senate Republicans are starting to give in to Trump's emergency declaration scheme.

South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham issued a statement Thursday calling for President Donald Trump to invoke national emergency powers to fund his border wall. 
"Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi's refusal to negotiate on funding for a border wall/barrier -- even if the government were to be reopened -- virtually ends the congressional path to funding for a border wall/barrier," Graham said in a statement. "It is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction of a border wall/barrier." 
The statement from the key Trump ally came shortly after Graham said efforts to forge a deal with congressional Democrats had fallen flat. 
GOP senators gathered in Graham's office a day prior to discuss a deal that would bring an end to the ongoing government shutdown while securing money for Trump's proposed border with Mexico.

Trump killed that plan, and if anything, all indications are that his national emergency stupidity is going to happen, and soon.

President Donald Trump has been briefed on a plan that would use the Army Corps of Engineers and a portion of $13.9 billion of Army Corps funding to build 315 miles of barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border
, according to three U.S. officials familiar with the briefing.

The money was set aside to fund projects all over the country including storm-damaged areas of Puerto Rico through fiscal year 2020, but the checks have not been written yet and, under an emergency declaration, the president could take the money from these civil works projects and use it to build the border wall, said officials familiar with the briefing and two congressional sources.

The plan could be implemented if Trump declares a national emergency in order to build the wall and would use more money and build more miles than the administration has requested from Congress. The president had requested $5.7 billion for a wall stretching 234 miles.

Under the proposal, the officials said, Trump could dip into the $2.4 billion allocated to projects in California, including flood prevention and protection projects along the Yuba River Basin and the Folsom Dam, as well as the $2.5 billion set aside for reconstruction projects in Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from Hurricane Maria.

Taking money from California and Puerto Rico disaster reconstruction to build a section of the wall and declare victory seems like the most Trumpian plan ever.  After all, his supporters are furious that the shutdown isn't "hurting the people he needs to be hurting."  By pulling disaster relief money from those people he can accomplish both.

Expect this to happen soon, if not imminently.


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