Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Last Call For Coming For Your Healthcare, Again, Con't

A three-judge appellate panel heard augments today by several Republican attorneys general that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, and the two GOP-appointed judges on the panel appeared to have heavy skepticism that the law should be allowed to continue.

A federal appeals court panel grilled Democratic attorneys general on Tuesday about whether Obamacare violates the U.S. Constitution, as it weighs whether to uphold a Texas judge’s ruling striking down the landmark healthcare reform law.

The judges focused on whether the 2010 Affordable Care Act lost its justification after Republican President Donald Trump in 2017 signed a law that eliminated a tax penalty used to enforce the ACA’s mandate that all Americans buy health insurance.
Republicans have repeatedly tried and failed to repeal Obamacare since its 2010 passage. The Justice Department would normally defend a federal law, but the Trump administration has declined to take that position against a challenge by 18 Republican-led states.

“If you no longer have a tax, why isn’t it unconstitutional?” Judge Jennifer Elrod, who was appointed to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals by Republican President George W. Bush, asked attorneys for the Democratic officials defending the law during a hearing in New Orleans.

A coalition of Democratic state attorneys general led by California’s Xavier Becerra stepped up to defend the law. The U.S. House of Representatives intervened after Democrats won control in November’s elections during which many focused their campaigns on defending Obamacare.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is not expected to decide on Tuesday whether to overturn or uphold the ruling by a federal judge in Texas last year that the entire ACA was unconstitutional.

An appellate ruling declaring Obamacare unconstitutional could prompt an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, opening the door for the top court to take up the issue in the midst of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. 

Republicans have been trying to destroy the Affordable Care Act for nine years now.  Making health care and millions of Trump voters losing health coverage the top issue of 2020 seems like a pretty stupid idea, but Republicans are clearly counting on Democrats to vote to overturn it and surrender to a GOP "replacement" bill rather than risk a loss at SCOTUS, where this will be headed either way.

We'll see what the judges do later this year, and how quickly this case gets to SCOTUS.

It's Time To Ditch Mitch

Kentucky Democrat Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot who rose to national prominence last year in her failed campaign for Congress against Republican Andy Barr, is turning her sights on a new target: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. 
In a three-minute video released Tuesday, McGrath said McConnell has "bit by bit, year by year, turned Washington into something we all despise." 
"I'm running for Senate because it shouldn't be like this," McGrath added. 
McGrath's candidacy marks a significant recruiting coup for Democrats. She emerged as an unlikely fundraising juggernaut in her congressional race, bringing in millions of dollars after her campaign released a biographical video that went viral, and becoming a Democratic celebrity in the process. 
McGrath will have her work cut out for her, however. President Donald Trump won Kentucky by nearly 30 points in 2016, and his presence at the top of the ticket in 2020 will likely help drive Republican voters to the polls 
McGrath failed to win her House race in 2018 against Barr, who won by about 3 points, despite being outspent by McGrath by nearly $3 million. 
In the race against McConnell, McGrath appears poised to run as a moderate seeking to break the partisan gridlock in Washington. In an interview Tuesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," McGrath said she had watched the Democratic presidential debate and was concerned that many candidates were positioning themselves too far to the left on issues like health care. 
Meanwhile, McConnell has shown himself to be a canny and ruthless opponent. In 2014, he beat back a much-hyped rival, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, in a 15-point victory. 
McConnell's team welcomed the challenge from McGrath. 
"Amy McGrath lost her only race in a Democratic wave election because she is an extreme liberal who is far out of touch with Kentuckians," said McConnell campaign manager Kevin Golden. "Comparing President Trump's election to 9/11, endorsing a government takeover of healthcare, and calling the wall 'stupid' is a heckuva platform that we will be delighted to discuss over the next sixteen months." 
On "Morning Joe," McGrath conceded that McConnell "has been formidable" after more than three decades in the Senate. But, she added, "this is a different race." 
"The things that Kentuckians voted for Trump for are not being done," McGrath said. "He's not able to get it done because of Mitch McConnell."

Here's McGrath's announcement video, and it's a great one.

I don't know if she can win. I don't know if any Kentucky Democrat can beat Mitch McConnell. But we have to try, and McGrath is the best chance we've had in a while.  She still has to get past the primary, but she's got my vote already for that next May.

But Mitch now has 15 months to call her extreme and socialist and weak and to fill voters' heads with the glory of defending Trumpland from the Evil AOC menace, and in a state where Trump won by nearly 30 points, he can all but say "You're not seriously going to elect this bitch over me, right?" and get away with it.

But you want the plan to get rid of Mitch McConnell?  Her name is Amy McGrath.

Help her win.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Why yes, the Russians absolutely created the idiotic and completely false Seth Rich conspiracy theory to hurt Hillary Clinton in 2016, and the corrupt GOP and their FOX media arm gladly made themselves accomplices in helping a foreign power sabotage our elections in order to gain power.

In the summer of 2016, Russian intelligence agents secretly planted a fake report claiming that Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was gunned down by a squad of assassins working for Hillary Clinton, giving rise to a notorious conspiracy theory that captivated conservative activists and was later promoted from inside President Trump’s White House, a Yahoo News investigation has found.

Russia’s foreign intelligence service, known as the SVR, first circulated a phony “bulletin” — disguised to read as a real intelligence report —about the alleged murder of the former DNC staffer on July 13, 2016, according to the U.S. federal prosecutor who was in charge of the Rich case. That was just three days after Rich, 27, was killed in what police believed was a botched robbery while walking home to his group house in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C., about 30 blocks north of the Capitol.

The purported details in the SVR account seemed improbable on their face: that Rich, a data director in the DNC’s voter protection division, was on his way to alert the FBI to corrupt dealings by Clinton when he was slain in the early hours of a Sunday morning by the former secretary of state’s hit squad.

Yet in a graphic example of how fake news infects the internet, those precise details popped up the same day on an obscure website, whatdoesitmean.com, that is a frequent vehicle for Russian propaganda. The website’s article, which attributed its claims to “Russian intelligence,” was the first known instance of Rich’s murder being publicly linked to a political conspiracy.

“To me, having a foreign intelligence agency set up one of my decedents with lies and planting false stories, to me that’s pretty outrageous,” said Deborah Sines, the former assistant U.S. attorney in charge of the Rich case until her retirement last year. “Maybe other people don’t think it’s that outrageous. I did ... once it became clear to me that this was coming from the SVR, then that triggers a lot of very serious [questions about] ‘What do I do with this?’”

The previously unreported role of Russian intelligence in creating and fostering one of the most insidious conspiracy theories to arise out of the 2016 election is disclosed in “Yahoo News presents: Conspiracyland,” a six-part series by the news organization’s podcast “Skullduggery” that debuts this week on the third anniversary of Rich’s murder.

The Russian effort to exploit Rich’s tragic death didn’t stop with the fake SVR bulletin. Over the course of the next two and a half years, the Russian government-owned media organizations RT and Sputnik repeatedly played up stories that baselessly alleged that Rich, a relatively junior-level staffer, was the source of Democratic Party emails that had been leaked to WikiLeaks. It was an idea first floated by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who on Aug. 9, 2016, announced a $20,000 reward for information about Rich’s murder, saying — somewhat cryptically — that “our sources take risks.”

At the same time, online trolls working in St. Petersburg, Russia, for the Internet Research Agency (IRA) — the same shadowy outfit that conducted the Russian social media operation during the 2016 election — aggressively boosted the conspiracy theories. IRA-created fake accounts, masquerading as those of American citizens or political groups, tweeted and retweeted more than 2,000 times about Rich, helping to keep the bogus claims about his death in the social media bloodstream, according to an analysis of a database of Russia troll accounts by Yahoo News.

Speaking publicly about the case for the first time, Sines, the former prosecutor, said that the Russian conspiracy-mongering vastly complicated her efforts to solve the murder by forcing her and the Washington, D.C., police department to investigate a blizzard of false allegations in order to make sure there was nothing to any of them. “To waste your time investigating BS is just horrible,” said Sines.

The Russian-inspired conspiracy theories also have had a devastating effect on the Rich family, especially after the theories migrated to alt-right websites and, ultimately, primetime Fox News shows. As they did so, there were repeated suggestions by alt-right commentators that the DNC staffer’s parents and brother were concealing information about his conduct.

“You’re used, you’re lied to, you’re a pawn in your own son’s death,” said Mary Rich, Seth Rich’s mother, who, along with her husband, Joel, was interviewed for the podcast. “I wish they had the chance to experience the hell we have gone through. Because this is worse than losing my son the first time. This is like losing him all over again.

The Russians did this to hurt Clinton and to help get their preferred candidate, Donald Trump, into the White House.  The entire Republican Party went along.  And we knew this a year ago.

But oh well, it doesn't matter, right?

Let's not strengthen our election defenses and media against Russian propaganda to help Trump.
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