Sunday, July 14, 2019

Last Call For It's All About Revenge Now, Con't

Meanwhile, House GOP Intel Committee ranking member Devin Nunes is over at FOX News, openly calling for Mueller and the those who dared to investigate Donald Trump's Russia ties to be jailed.  Screenshot of the story, won't give them the pleasure of a link.

Mueller's team were all "dirty cops" according to Nunes, and if Attorney General Barr doesn't send them to jail, no Republican will trust him again.

This is an outright threat in response to the Dems calling a vote for Barr to face contempt of Congress on Tuesday.

House Democrats will vote next week on criminal contempt charges against Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena over the 2020 census, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday.

The vote — the second time a sitting attorney general would be found in criminal contempt by the House — has little real-world impact as Barr almost certainly won't face criminal charges from the Justice Department over efforts to include a citizenship question.

But the symbolic value would be high, as Democrats have already approved a civil contempt resolution against Barr for failing to respond to a subpoena to testify about former special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russia election interference. Mueller will testify before the House Judiciary and Intelligence panels next Wednesday.

While the Supreme Court ruled the administration cannot include the citizenship question on the census, President Donald Trump is still trying to do so by executive order, which will lead to more legal battles.

Robert Mueller is expected to testify on July 24th.  We'll see if that actually happens.

They're Coming For Your Obamacare Again, Con't

Republicans are openly saying they want millions of Americans to lose their health coverage while cheering on the Texas lawsuit contending the ACA's constitutionality, but once again, after nearly ten years of trying to destroy the law, the GOP still has no plans to replace it heading into the 2020 elections.

After a decade of trying to gut Obamacare, Republicans may finally get their wish thanks to a Trump administration-backed lawsuit. Its success would cause chaos not only in the insurance markets but on Capitol Hill. And Republican senators largely welcome it — even if they don’t know what comes next.
“I’m ready for it to succeed,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.). “I would love to get back in and actually deal with health care again.”

“Do I hope the lawsuit succeeds? I do,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.). “What I wish is we had some idea where we are going if it does succeed, as it looks more and more like it might.”

Even Republicans not known for taking a hard line are eager for a forcing mechanism to take on Obamacare.

“I have a plan that I would be delighted to have Congress pick up and go forward with,” added Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) of a proposal to protect pieces of the law. “Necessity is the mother of acceptance. I hope that we reach that necessity and that would propel my proposal to see a good deal of support.”

Both Cramer and Romney said GOP discussions were picking up about how to step in if the law falls after a U.S. appeals court indicated last week it could kill all or part of the law, though the Supreme Court would have the final say. Democrats and Republicans are also working on a modest package of bills intended to lower health care costs.

But when it comes to major changes to Obamacare, the parties aren’t talking.

Democratic leaders have no intention of working with the GOP since they want the Affordable Care Act to survive. And there’s no reason to think that Senate Republicans could unify on a replacement to the law after previously failing to do so.

“If it did succeed, I would be very concerned,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) of the lawsuit. “I don’t think there’s a plan in place to take care of individuals who’ve been using the exchanges to purchase their insurance or who have been covered under the Medicaid expansion. I’m just hoping the court doesn’t strike it down.

Democrats are ready to hammer Republicans if the law gets taken down because of the GOP lawsuit. Democrats took back the House last year in large part because of their focus on health care.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the GOP’s stance “repeal without a replace.”

“Every plan Republicans have put forward has failed to maintain the protections offered under the current law,” he said. “It's pretty simple: If you care about maintaining protections for people with preexisting conditions, you don’t demand they be taken away.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a close Schumer ally, added, “They better do something. If not, this is all on them. This is all on Mitch McConnell.

Healthcare is the one area where the Democrats win hands down, and if the GOP lawsuit does win and SCOTUS blows up the ACA, it's all on the Republicans.  They'll never be able to put a plan together in time.

And millions will suffer, a lot of them Trump voters.

We'll see if that's enough to shock them out of their racism...but I doubt it.

Sunday Long Read: It Doesn't Make Census

This week's long read is Charles Bethea's New Yorker profile of Stephanie Hofeller, the estranged daughter of the late GOP master gerrymandering guru Thomas Hofeller, whose death last year led to discovering her father's plans to rig the Census permanently in favor of the Republican Party.

At around half past nine on the last day of September, Stephanie Hofeller was parked at a Speedway in Kentucky, where she lives, when she got a strange sense that she should Google her father, whom she hadn’t seen in more than four years. One of the first results that popped up was an obituary in the Times, which had been published six weeks before. “Holy shit,” Hofeller said to a friend who was in the car with her. “My father’s dead.” She did some more Googling, to make sure it wasn’t a hoax—given her father’s notoriety, she figured it might be. “I remember feeling a lot of things,” Hofeller told me recently. “It’s hard to decide how you feel when you find out a parent you had that kind of deeply fraught history with is dead.” She added, “I’d spent so long considering him a dangerous enemy to me and the country.”

Thomas Hofeller, who died in August, at the age of seventy-five, was raised in San Diego and served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. In the early eighties, after completing a doctorate in political science at Claremont Graduate University, he became the R.N.C.’s data-operations manager. In that position, he began to grasp how the redrawing of political maps could usher in a sweeping tide of Republican power in state legislatures. Congressional redistricting became his specialty; the Times obituary referred to him as “the Michelangelo of the modern gerrymander.” The former congressman Lynn Westmoreland worked closely with Hofeller on Republican redistricting efforts in Georgia between 2000 and 2010. “Redistricting is the science of politics,” Westmoreland told me. “It’s also a blood sport for adults, because it controls ten years and it controls peoples’ lives. It’s the purest form of brass-knuckle politics that there is. And, of the people I worked with over many years, Mr. Hofeller was the go-to guy, the best.” He added, “When you do this for forty years, as Tom did, you’re not just doing it for the moment. You’re trying to prepare for legal challenges, to anticipate what changes could be made, population growth and decline, the winds of the political environment in states and districts. Tom, he understood it all.”

Hofeller preferred to keep the details of his work private and to avoid paper trails. “E-mails are the tool of the devil,” he explained to fellow-operatives. Still, he did leave some documentation behind. About a week and a half after Stephanie learned of her father’s death, she made a trip to her parents’ retirement home, in Raleigh, North Carolina, where her mother, Kathleen, still lives, looking for keepsakes. She later described the visit in a deposition for a lawsuit concerning legislative redistricting in North Carolina. In her father’s bedroom, she found a jewelry box, which had been hers as a child. She also found four external hard drives and eighteen thumb drives that had belonged to her father. One of the drives was labelled “NC Data.” Hofeller took the drives to the hotel where she was staying and began to scan the contents of the devices, which contained some seventy-five thousand files. She found early photographs of her two children—buried treasure, she called them in the deposition—and a music recording that she’d made, as well as letters she’d written. She also found a number of files related to her father’s work.

A couple of weeks after Hofeller’s visit to her parents’ home, Chris Morden, a lawyer in Raleigh who had done estate planning for Thomas and Kathleen Hofeller in 2016, filed a petition to have Kathleen Hofeller deemed legally incompetent. The petition cited Kathleen’s recent victimization in a “gift card payment scheme,” and an alleged attempted transfer of money to India, a country to which Kathleen has no apparent connection. The petition also reported that Kathleen “is believed to be under influence of previously estranged child.” In response to the petition, an interim guardian was appointed.

“There was my mother, with all of her accounts frozen, scared to death, as only a competent person can be in that situation,” Stephanie wrote to me in an e-mail. “How could I proceed? I was not my father’s colleague, not his co-worker, or vetted friend, not even his son, only his daughter and an ordinary citizen—free from the naïveté that Tom Hofeller had ever been an honest man.” In the deposition, Stephanie said that she was worried that many lawyers in Raleigh would be more concerned about her father’s political work than about her mother’s well-being. And so she called the Raleigh office of Common Cause, a nonpartisan watchdog group focussed on government accountability, to ask for a referral. The group was the plaintiff in a gerrymandering lawsuit challenging legislative maps for North Carolina that had been drawn by her father.

It was just a few days before the midterm elections, and the Common Cause office was particularly busy. When Stephanie told the group’s executive director in the state, Bob Phillips, on the phone, that she was Thomas Hofeller’s daughter, he assumed she was going to yell at him and blast the organization’s efforts. “Then, of course, the conversation quickly became something different,” Philips told me. “It wasn’t about our case. It was about her need to get an attorney for a hearing a few days later, for her mother, regarding her father’s estate and a potential guardian that was going to be appointed. She felt like everyone was against her in Raleigh. The people around, connected with her dad, were all against her. She had no one she could really trust.”

Phillips referred her to Jane Pinsky, the person who, as Hofeller recalled, “probably knew more Raleigh lawyers than anyone else on his staff.” Pinsky agreed to help, and she and Hofeller spoke multiple times on the phone. In the course of those conversations, Hofeller expressed her frustration with what her mother was going through and what she saw as the political motivations of those involved. She mentioned a recent column in the Raleigh News & Observer, in which the journalist David Daley, who has written extensively about gerrymandering, was quoted as saying, “It wouldn’t surprise me at all if on a hard drive somewhere in Raleigh Tom Hofeller has another set of gifts for legislators.” In fact, Hofeller told Pinsky, she had multiple hard drives that had belonged to her father. She didn’t know, she says, that the drives could be used in Common Cause’s litigation—the case she knew about, Rucho v. Common Cause, was already on its way to the Supreme Court. But the group, it turned out, had just filed another gerrymandering lawsuit.

On February 7th, a settlement was reached regarding Morden’s petition of incompetency. The interim guardian was dismissed; Kathleen Hofeller agreed to put most of her assets into an irrevocable trust overseen by a neutral trustee. She was not deemed incompetent. (Morden declined to comment for this story; his law partner, Nickolas Sherrill, listed as the attorney on Morden’s petition, did not respond to requests for comment.) Six days later, the plaintiff’s attorneys in Common Cause’s new case, Common Cause v. Lewis, subpoenaed Thomas Hofeller’s old hard drives.

And the rest is our current history.  Chief Justice Roberts scrapped the DoJ's legal defense of the citizenship question based on the Hofeller hard drives, and it may have saved the least for now.

We'll see if it holds.

Deportation Nation, Con't

Fear and anxiety spread through immigrant communities nationwide over anticipated federal raids aimed at detaining and deporting thousands of people accused of remaining illegally within the United States.

Immigration reform advocates said that communities around Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco were being targeted by raids expected to start Sunday and last through at least Thursday.

“It’s almost like getting ready for a hurricane – it’s that state of alarm that people are feeling,” said Melissa Taveras of the Miami-based Florida Immigrant Coalition. “People are asking, ‘Is it OK for us to go work? Is it OK to take our kids to school?’”

The raids are different from routine Immigration and Customs Enforcement detentions, and advocates for immigrant communities say the raids appear designed to sow terror and discord among the approximately 2,000 families expected to be targeted, especially in light of news reports of some detainees dying in custody.

“It terrorizes the community,” said Milli Atkinson, legal director of the San Francisco Immigrant Legal Defense collaborative in San Francisco. “It’s really going to impact our community to see that happen, because with any detention they’re separating the men and the women and the children.”

The Trump administration argues the nation's immigration laws have long been ignored, and that tougher enforcement is necessary because Congress has failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform. The president on Friday said the raids would primarily target immigrants who have already been convicted of other crimes.

In Denver, Mayor Michael Hancock said city police officers would avoid helping ICE agents but said city human service workers were on alert to assist any minor children left behind if their parents are arrested.

In many cases, immigrants who lack legal permission to remain in the United States have minor children who are U.S. citizens. That puts officials in liberal cities like Denver or San Francisco in the tough position of opposing the ICE raids themselves but still having to manage the consequences.

It's that last part that's the key.  Trump is expecting images of misery and fear, to both feed to his base as red meat and to terrify the rest of us.  He's also expecting cities to become overloaded with cases of US citizen kids with parents rounded up by Trump's ICE goons, and having to care for them.

The ICE raids are just the beginning.  Expect them to get much larger and much more violent, with regular immigration checkpoints around the nation.

And the victims won't be limited to just undocumented, either...
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