Sunday, June 23, 2019

Last Call For The Last Week In June

Just a gentle reminder that the true bill for the "principled opposition" to Hillary Clinton comes due starting Monday.

The U.S. Supreme Court, approaching the end of its current term, is due to issue rulings in the coming days in major cases including the Trump administration’s bid to add a contentious citizenship question to the 2020 census and efforts by voters to curb the partisan manipulation of electoral district boundaries.

The court, which has a 5-4 conservative majority, has 12 cases left to decide during its current term, which began in October and is expected to conclude by the end of June, with some rulings scheduled to be issued on Monday.

Eagerly awaited rulings in legal challenges to the proposed census question and a practice called partisan gerrymandering could have enduring effects on elections for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislatures.

Critics have called the move by President Donald Trump’s Commerce Department to add a citizenship question to the census a Republican scheme to deter immigrants from taking part in the population count for fear of deportation. The aim, these critics have said, is to engineer a deliberate undercount of places with high immigrant and Latino concentrations, costing Democratic-leaning areas seats in the House to the benefit of Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.

The justices are hearing the administration’s appeal of a judge’s January ruling in New York blocking the question as a violation of a federal law called the Administrative Procedure Act. Two other courts subsequently blocked the question. During April’s argument in the case, the court’s conservative majority appeared to be inclined to rule in favor of Trump.

The administration has argued that adding a question requiring people participating in the decennial population tally to declare whether they are a citizen is needed to better enforce a voting rights law, a rationale that opponents called a pretext for a political motive.

A group of states including New York and immigrant rights organizations sued to prevent the question.

Separate cases from North Carolina and Maryland focus on whether the justices will empower courts to impose restrictions on partisan gerrymandering, the practice in which electoral districts are drawn purely to amplify the political power of the party already in control of a state’s legislature.

If, as I expect, both these rulings are 5-4 in favor of the conservatives on the Roberts Court, then tens of millions of people will eventually be disenfranchised in order to give the Republican party near permanent power.  Demographics as destiny means nothing if black and brown people lose the right to vote or to even exist in the country.

Of course, the people who three years ago said that they could afford to not vote for Hillary are the people who won't be hurt directly by SCOTUS this week, and in future Junes to come in the post-Kennedy Roberts Court era.

The rest of us get the bill starting tomorrow.

It's About Suppression, Con't

If you were expecting Florida's new state constitutional amendment to actually grant voting rights back to some 1.4 million convicted felons who served their time, you don't know the GOP very well.

Florida’s reputation as America’s tightest -- and wildest -- swing state should stay intact, as a battle over felons’ voting rights seems destined for the courts. At the least, it’s increasingly looking like Florida’s 1.4 million disenfranchised ex-convicts won’t be the potent voting bloc they might’ve been.

Seven months ago, almost two-thirds of voters approved Amendment 4, which restores registration rights to many felons. Florida had been one of three states, along with Kentucky and Iowa, where those convicted of a felony were permanently prohibited from registering without going through a lengthy clemency process, and many saw Floridians’ vote as bringing the state into the U.S. mainstream. Only those convicted of murder and sexual offenses still are excluded.

However, Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign a bill within days that critics say will blunt much of Amendment 4’s impact. The bill passed by the Republican-led Legislature would require felons to pay off restitution, court fees and fines before registering -- a move that voting rights advocates say could have a chilling effect. So far, the number of former inmates who have visited a local supervisor of elections office to register has been a modest 2,000, according to one estimate.
“There’s just no way to get around the fact that the Legislature did everything it could to undermine Amendment 4,” Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Florida. “I don’t think it’s consistent with the will of the voters, and it’s not consistent with the text of Amendment 4.”

Voting rights and civil liberties advocates mounted a well-funded campaign ahead of last year’s midterm elections to pass the voting rights amendment. A group called the Second Chances Florida campaign won over Floridians with stories of how ex-convicts -- renamed as “returning citizens” -- were eager to move beyond their troubled past. Behind the scenes, a political committee called Floridians for a Fair Democracy collected almost $27 million in checks and in-kind donations, according to state election records. 
Several progressive groups and individuals gave six or seven figures to the cause, including the ACLU, the Washington-based Sixteen Thirty Fund and ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s. It also won the endorsement of some conservative-leaning groups, including the Koch brothers-linked Freedom Partners, while a small group of critics gave Amendment 4 only token opposition. 
Despite an overwhelming victory at the polls, supporters face major obstacles in carrying out Amendment 4’s promise if DeSantis signs the bill. And, while some political scientists thought Democrats would see a boost from having more than a million felons eligible to register, that, too, looks questionable.

Forget "questionable".  With only 2,000 out of 1.4 million voters so far getting their right to vote back., and DeSantis about to sign a law into effect that will force every one of these felons to repay Florida thousands of dollars in order to be enfranchised, Republicans will easily be able to tangle up this mess until after 2020.

Republicans just recreated the modern poll tax, and in all likelihood they are going to get away with it.  For the vast majority of the state's felons who have served their time, they will never be able to vote, and since that accounts for a massive percentage of black and brown citizens in the state, that's fine with Florida Republicans. Only a handful of felons will ever get that right back.

It's vile and awful and racist, because Republicans are vile and awful and racist.

And they are winning.

Sunday Long Read: Another #MeToo Moment

In an excerpt from her memoirs being published next week, author and columnist E. Jean Carroll describes her life of writing for well over 50 years and brings us a list of her awful encounters with sexual assault, from a classmate at Indiana University, to a Girl Scout camp director, to former CBS head honcho Les Moonves, and also one more hideous slug of a cretin who assaulted her in a department store bathroom in 1996, a man by the name of Donald J. Trump.

Which brings me to the other rich boy. Before I discuss him, I must mention that there are two great handicaps to telling you what happened to me in Bergdorf’s: (a) The man I will be talking about denies it, as he has denied accusations of sexual misconduct made by at least 15 credible women, namely, Jessica Leeds, Kristin Anderson, Jill Harth, Cathy Heller, Temple Taggart McDowell, Karena Virginia, Melinda McGillivray, Rachel Crooks, Natasha Stoynoff, Jessica Drake, Ninni Laaksonen, Summer Zervos, Juliet Huddy, Alva Johnson, and Cassandra Searles. (Here’s what the White House said: “This is a completely false and unrealistic story surfacing 25 years after allegedly taking place and was created simply to make the President look bad.”) And (b) I run the risk of making him more popular by revealing what he did.

His admirers can’t get enough of hearing that he’s rich enough, lusty enough, and powerful enough to be sued by and to pay off every splashy porn star or Playboy Playmate who “comes forward,” so I can’t imagine how ecstatic the poor saps will be to hear their favorite Walking Phallus got it on with an old lady in the world’s most prestigious department store.

This is during the years I am doing a daily Ask E. Jean TV show for the cable station America’s Talking, a precursor to MSNBC launched by Roger Ailes (who, by the way, is No. 16 on my list).

Early one evening, as I am about to go out Bergdorf’s revolving door on 58th Street, and one of New York’s most famous men comes in the revolving door, or it could have been a regular door at that time, I can’t recall, and he says: “Hey, you’re that advice lady!”

And I say to No. 20 on the Most Hideous Men of My Life List: “Hey, you’re that real-estate tycoon!”

I am surprised at how good-looking he is. We’ve met once before, and perhaps it is the dusky light but he looks prettier than ever. This has to be in the fall of 1995 or the spring of 1996 because he’s garbed in a faultless topcoat and I’m wearing my black wool Donna Karan coatdress and high heels but not a coat.

“Come advise me,” says the man. “I gotta buy a present.”

“Oh!” I say, charmed. “For whom?”

“A girl,” he says.

“Don’t the assistants of your secretaries buy things like that?” I say.

“Not this one,” he says. Or perhaps he says, “Not this time.” I can’t recall. He is a big talker, and from the instant we collide, he yammers about himself like he’s Alexander the Great ready to loot Babylon.

As we are standing just inside the door, I point to the handbags. “How about—”

“No!” he says, making the face where he pulls up both lips like he’s balancing a spoon under his nose, and begins talking about how he once thought about buying Bergdorf ’s.

“Or … a hat!” I say enthusiastically, walking toward the handbags, which, at the period I’m telling you about — and Bergdorf’s has been redone two or three times since then — are mixed in with, and displayed next to, the hats. “She’ll love a hat! You can’t go wrong with a hat!”

I don’t remember what he says, but he comes striding along — greeting a Bergdorf sales attendant like he owns the joint and permitting a shopper to gape in awe at him — and goes right for a fur number.

“Please,” I say. “No woman would wear a dead animal on her head!”

What he replies I don’t recall, but I remember he coddles the fur hat like it’s a baby otter.

“How old is the lady in question?” I ask.

“How old are you?” replies the man, fondling the hat and looking at me like Louis Leakey carbon-dating a thighbone he’s found in Olduvai Gorge.

“I’m 52,” I tell him.

“You’re so old!” he says, laughing — he was around 50 himself — and it’s at about this point that he drops the hat, looks in the direction of the escalator, and says, “Lingerie!” Or he may have said “Underwear!” So we stroll to the escalator. I don’t remember anybody else greeting him or galloping up to talk to him, which indicates how very few people are in the store at the time.

I have no recollection where lingerie is in that era of Bergdorf’s, but it seems to me it is on a floor with the evening gowns and bathing suits, and when the man and I arrive — and my memory now is vivid — no one is present.

There are two or three dainty boxes and a lacy see-through bodysuit of lilac gray on the counter. The man snatches the bodysuit up and says: “Go try this on!”

“You try it on,” I say, laughing. “It’s your color.”

“Try it on, come on,” he says, throwing it at me.

“It goes with your eyes,” I say, laughing and throwing it back.

“You’re in good shape,” he says, holding the filmy thing up against me. “I wanna see how this looks.”

“But it’s your size,” I say, laughing and trying to slap him back with one of the boxes on the counter.

“Come on,” he says, taking my arm. “Let’s put this on.”

This is gonna be hilarious, I’m saying to myself — and as I write this, I am staggered by my stupidity. As we head to the dressing rooms, I’m laughing aloud and saying in my mind: I’m gonna make him put this thing on over his pants!

There are several facts about what happens next that are so odd I want to clear them up before I go any further:

Did I report it to the police?


Did I tell anyone about it?

Yes. I told two close friends. The first, a journalist, magazine writer, correspondent on the TV morning shows, author of many books, etc., begged me to go to the police.

“He raped you,” she kept repeating when I called her. “He raped you. Go to the police! I’ll go with you. We’ll go together.”

My second friend is also a journalist, a New York anchorwoman. She grew very quiet when I told her, then she grasped both my hands in her own and said, “Tell no one. Forget it! He has 200 lawyers. He’ll bury you.” (Two decades later, both still remember the incident clearly and confirmed their accounts to New York.)

Trump denies ever meeting Carroll.

The picture included in the excerpt is Trump meeting Carroll.  The only newspaper that even put this story on the front page this weekend was the Washington Post.

Here endeth the lesson.

Deportation Nation, Con't

So today's ICE terror sweeps have been postponed for the official reason that Dear Leader wants to give the Democrats two weeks to come up with a deal of some sort in order to prevent mass ICE raids.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called President Donald Trump Friday night and asked him to call off the Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation raids scheduled for Sunday, a source familiar with the call told CNN. 
Trump pulled back on the raids Saturday a matter of hours after he spoke in support of the coordinated arrests and deportations that were slated to hit 10 major cities. Trump announced via Twitter that he would delay for two weeks US raids to give Congress a chance to "get together and work out a solution" on the enforcement of his signature immigration policy. 
Trump and Pelosi spoke at 7:20 p.m. ET Friday night for about 12 minutes, according to the source. White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere confirmed a phone call took place Friday night between Trump and Pelosi. 
A senior Democratic aide said Trump is "trying to create leverage in a situation where he has none," adding that "it won't work."

President Donald Trump suddenly canceled on Saturday a planned US Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation targeting undocumented immigrant families from across the country that was set to begin in the pre-dawn hours on Sunday.

The operation details, which had been reported by multiple outlets, including BuzzFeed News, had set off an unprecedented level of preparation amongst immigrant advocates this week.

But in a tweet Saturday, Trump said that he had “delayed” the plan at the request of Democrats to work on a plan to solve issues at the border, including what he believes are inherent loopholes to the system.

“At the request of Democrats, I have delayed the Illegal Immigration Removal Process (Deportation) for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border,” Trump tweeted. “If not, Deportations start!”

However, two senior administration officials told BuzzFeed News that those within the administration believe acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, or his staff, leaked operational details and that is what ultimately put the ICE operation in jeopardy.
“Leaking the locations and details to stop the operation from happening not only harmed operational integrity, but it put the safety and well-being of his own officers in jeopardy,” said one senior administration official. “The ICE mission is enforcing the nation’s laws and ensuring those who are unlawfully present in the country are removed if ordered by a judge; this will leave an un-erasable mark on his tenure.”

DHS officials did immediately not respond to a request for comment on the matter.

So we have our scapegoat for when Trump was the one who tweeted these raids were coming last week.   I said Friday that the wild card was how sanctuary cities would react to being given a week's heads up on this, and the answer is that without the cooperation of local police and the cities being able to warn people, the raids would have not been the "shock and awe" that Trump wanted.

The plan now is to blame McAleenan, who took over for Kirstjen Nielsen in April, and testified to Congress that ICE needed much more funding amid low morale and needed personnel.  Trump apparently doesn't think McAleenan can do the job.

Former Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Thomas Homan on Saturday accused Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Kevin McAleenan of working against ICE’s objectives.

Homan, whom President Donald Trump recently appointed as his administration’s “border czar,” made the comments during a weekend appearance on Fox & Friends; he discussed the administration’s recently leaked plans to launch mass raids targeting undocumented families on Sunday.

“You’ve got the acting Secretary of Homeland Security resisting what ICE is trying to do,” Homan said. “In the Washington Poststory, and numerous media outlets, [McAleenan] does not support this operation. And I tell you what, if that’s his position then he’s on the wrong side of this issue. You don’t tell the men and women of ICE a day before they go out there to do this operation.”

Homan also strongly implied that McAleenan was the source of the information leaked to media outlets regarding Sunday’s planned raids and accused him of putting ICE officers in danger.

Expect McAleenan's resignation shortly, paving the way for somebody worse I guess.
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