Thursday, August 1, 2019

Last Call For The Reach To Impeach, Con't

The pace at which House Democrats have come out in public favor of opening impeachment inquiries into Donald Trump has quickened since Mueller's testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees last month, and today the number of House Democrats in favor of beginning the road to impeachment eclipsed a majority of Nancy Pelosi's caucus.

The impeachment dam has broken.

More than half of House Democrats say they would vote to launch impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, a crucial threshold that backers said will require Speaker Nancy Pelosi to reconsider her steadfast opposition.

Though Pelosi has given no indication that even a significant majority of House Democrats embracing impeachment proceedings would shift her view, supporters of an inquiry argue that crossing the halfway mark among the caucus is a symbolic boost that could shift the political dynamic.

“The president’s repeated abuses have brought American democracy to a perilous crossroads," said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who announced his support on Tuesday. "Following the guidance of the Constitution — which I have sworn to uphold — is the only way to achieve justice."

The number of House Democrats who support impeachment proceedings passed the halfway mark — 118 out of 235 voting members now support the effort — on Thursday when Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida announced his support. Deutch was also the 23rd Democratic lawmaker to support impeachment proceedings in the days after former special counsel Robert Mueller testified to Congress, affirming publicly his damning evidence suggesting Trump attempted to obstruct justice.

Mueller's appearance reignited a push for impeachment proceedings among Democrats, who had been slowly gathering momentum for the effort since April. Though his testimony was at times halting, Mueller confirmed to lawmaker his report’s findings that Trump’s 2016 campaign welcomed Russian assistance and that Trump repeatedly attempted to undermine the investigation into Russia’s hacking and propaganda operation.

Perhaps more significant than the number of Democrats backing an inquiry are the identities of the members themselves. The latest additions include Reps. Mike Levin of California, Jennifer Wexton of Virginia and Jason Crow of Colorado, three freshmen who flipped Republican-held districts in November. Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, a member of Pelosi's leadership team, added her name to the list on Friday.

Engel, a veteran lawmaker from New York City, is also one of six committee chiefs tasked by Pelosi with investigating Trump's conduct. He's the second of those committee leaders, along with Rep. Maxine Waters of California, to publicly demand an impeachment inquiry. Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has privately advocated for one as well.

So again, it's not just safe blue seats with 30-point margins calling for moving ahead with impeachment, it's swing-district Dems and committee chairs joining in.  And more Dems are joining all the time now.

And in his op-ed at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel today, Rep.Ted Deutch argued that impeachment process is already underway.

In the past, a resolution directing the Judiciary Committee to consider impeachment was needed to grant the committee additional subpoena authority and financial resources. That was the official start of an impeachment inquiry.

But times have changed. In 2015, Republican leaders gave committee chairs broad subpoena powers — powers that Chairman Nadler retains today.

No additional step is required. No magic words need to be uttered on the House floor. No vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry is necessary.

The Judiciary Committee officially started its investigation into the abuse of power by President Trump on March 4, 2019. The stated purpose was to consider all constitutional remedies for presidential misconduct, including impeachment. In every meaningful way, our investigation is an impeachment inquiry. The Judiciary Committee already has the power to refer articles of impeachment to the whole House.

The Trump Administration has taken unprecedented and unconstitutional actions to ignore congressional subpoenas and pressure witnesses not to appear. President Trump has turned the White House into a black box. The Justice Department fabricated a theory of blanket immunity and distorted claims of executive privilege. The Administration wants to silence the witnesses to the President’s obstruction.

But the American people deserve to hear from former White House Counsel Don McGahn, under oath, about when the President ordered him to fire Mueller. And from Corey Lewandowski about when he was asked to narrow the scope of the investigation to protect the President. And from former Attorney General Jeff Sessions about President Trump’s pressure campaign to take back control of the investigation.

If the suggestion that we are already in the midst of an impeachment inquiry sounds farfetched, look to last week’s court filings by the House counsel. To break the administration’s stonewalling, the House lawyers explained that the Constitution gives the House “a constitutional power of the utmost gravity—recommendation of articles of impeachment.” Since Department of Justice policies won’t allow the prosecution of a sitting President, only the House of Representatives can ensure that the President is not above the law.

As we told the court, we already have the power. We don’t need a vote. We need President Trump to stop obstructing.

For better or worse, the impeachment train is leaving the station, and picking up steam.

Our Little Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

This is a bit of a long one, lots of information to cover that's all connected.

We start with how last weekend's deadly shooting in Gilroy, California has become just another blip on the radar. Another mass shooting, another young white supremacist terrorist, another body count, another easily-purchased rifle, and an entire executive branch dedicated to gaslighting all of it. The signs were there, and they were again ignored.

Authorities searching the Nevada home of Gilroy Garlic Festival shooter Santino William Legan found extremist materials, according to a law enforcement source.

The discovery came as detectives are trying to determine a motive in the Sunday attack at the famed food festival. The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, did not provide details about the materials found or whether they provided clues as to a motive.

Detectives have been looking through his social media, electronic devices and computer hardware but are still struggling to understand why he opened fire, killing three and leaving 12 hurt, the sources said.

“Our preeminent and principal concern is motivation, ideological leanings and was he affiliated with anyone or any group,” said Craig Fair, FBI assistant special agent in charge of counterintelligence at the San Francisco office.

At a news conference Tuesday, officials said the attack appears pre-planned but that the motive is still unclear.

“We have no reason to believe at this point he was targeting any protected characteristics or any class,” Fair said. “We continue to try and understand who the shooter is and what motivated him and if he was aligned with any particular ideology.”

During the attack, someone shouted a pivotal question as he unleashed round after round from his AK-47-style assault rifle: Why are you doing this?” He simply replied: “Because I am really angry!”

“Everyone wants to know the answer: Why?” Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said. “If there’s any affiliation with other people, or groups of people, that could potentially pose a threat in the future, that all plays in.”

I don't believe anyone on Earth who has paid attention to mass shootings in the the era of the Stochastic Terrorist-in-Chief is "struggling to understand" the killer's motive.  He shot up a group of people because it was terrorism. He was radicalized by a death cult dedicated to "making America great again" by removing those who are deemed unworthy of inheriting it.

The "Good Guy with a Gun" theory failed as well.  Police were already at the scene because it was a public festival, so there was already a significant law enforcement presence on-site and the officers were able to go after the gunman in under 60 seconds.

The gunman still shot 15 people, killing three, before he was taken out.

Meanwhile, the death cult continues to do things like using Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's face on a billboard to sell firearms.

The sign warns of the “4 Horsemen” — typically a reference to biblical imagery symbolizing the end of the earth: conquest, war, famine and death.

But the North Carolina billboard that went up over the weekend does not depict horsemen. It shows photos of the freshman congresswomen also known as “the Squad”: Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. The billboard calls the progressive Democratic members of Congress “idiots” and is signed by “the Deplorables.”

Cherokee Guns, a Murphy, N.C., gun shop located about a mile away from the sign, took responsibility for the billboard. An image shared to the shop’s Facebook page Sunday went viral this week and drew a sharp rebuke from the women pictured, as well as anti-gun violence advocates. The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence on Monday called the billboard “violent rhetoric.”

“Threats against members of Congress, particularly minority members are [trending upward] and it is driven by the president’s racial rhetoric,” the group wrote. “This is dangerous!!!”

For the congresswomen, the menacing billboard is just another high-profile threat — one of many they say has inundated them since they took office in 2018.

“How the hell is this not inciting violence?” Tlaib asked in a Wednesday evening tweet.
In her own tweet, Pressley called out Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), whose district, she noted, houses the shop. She implored Meadows to “do the right thing.”

You would think that Republicans in Congress would be even slightly sensitive to things like this, considering a sick bastard tried to kill Republican Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana a few years ago at a softball practice.  Scalise was badly injured and a Capitol Police officer was killed.

And nobody has been a larger cheerleader of making rifles easier to purchase than Scalise himself.

Except for maybe Donald Trump.  Tonight he'll be here in Cincinnati spreading his hatred.

President Donald Trump’s latest rally will be a test for both candidate and crowd.

The Cincinnati gathering Thursday night will be Trump’s first since his audience chanted “Send her back!” about a Somali-born congresswoman during a July rally in North Carolina , raising the prospect of a 2020 presidential campaign increasingly fought along racial lines.

The chant about Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota by a roaring Greenville crowd rattled Republicans and left Trump wavering over how to respond. He let the chant roll at the rally, expressed disapproval about it the next day and later retreated from those concerns.

Since then, Trump has pushed ahead with incendiary tweets and a series of attacks on a veteran African-American congressman and his predominantly black district in Baltimore. Heightening the drama, Trump’s Ohio rally will come on the heels of a pair of debates among the Democrats who want to replace him and will take place against a backdrop of simmering racial tension in the host city of Cincinnati.

All eyes will be watching both the Ohio crowd’s behavior — and how Trump reacts. Even his closest advisers seem uncertain as to what may transpire.

“If it happened again, he might make an effort to speak out about it,” Vice President Mike Pence said recently.

Republican Rep. Steve Chabot, who represents a Cincinnati-area district, said Wednesday he hopes the crowd will avoid such chants this time, and he thinks Trump will react more quickly if does happen.

“I would discourage the crowd from doing anything inappropriate and I think saying something like that would be inappropriate,” Chabot said. “I would hope that the president would silence the crowd, tell them, ‘Hey, don’t do that, there’s no place for that. It’s not helpful, it’s not right.’”

Spoilers:  The chant will happen again.  Trump won't stop it.  And it will keep getting worse.

Eleven years ago, here in Cincinnati, I saw candidate Barack Obama and I had hope like I never had before. Tonight, here in Cincinnati, is where Greenville's trial balloon of white supremacy officially becomes the Trump 2020 rally platform.

And that hope is opposed by dread.  But not totally drowned by it, as the FBI is actually paying attention to Trump's stochastic terrorism and now considers it a threat.

The FBI for the first time has identified fringe conspiracy theories as a domestic terrorist threat, according to a previously unpublicized document obtained by Yahoo News.

The FBI intelligence bulletin from the bureau’s Phoenix field office, dated May 30, 2019, describes “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists,” as a growing threat, and notes that it is the first such report to do so. It lists a number of arrests, including some that haven’t been publicized, related to violent incidents motivated by fringe beliefs.

The document specifically mentions QAnon, a shadowy network that believes in a deep state conspiracy against President Trump, and Pizzagate, the theory that a pedophile ring including Clinton associates was being run out of the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant (which didn’t actually have a basement).
“The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread, and evolve in the modern information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts,” the document states. It also goes on to say the FBI believes conspiracy theory-driven extremists are likely to increase during the 2020 presidential election cycle.

The FBI said another factor driving the intensity of this threat is “the uncovering of real conspiracies or cover-ups involving illegal, harmful, or unconstitutional activities by government officials or leading political figures.” The FBI does not specify which political leaders or which cover-ups it was referring to.

President Trump is mentioned by name briefly in the latest FBI document, which notes that the origins of QAnon is the conspiratorial belief that “Q,” allegedly a government official, “posts classified information online to reveal a covert effort, led by President Trump, to dismantle a conspiracy involving ‘deep state’ actors and global elites allegedly engaged in an international child sex trafficking ring.”

This recent intelligence bulletin comes as the FBI is facing pressure to explain who it considers an extremist, and how the government prosecutes domestic terrorists. In recent weeks the FBI director has addressed domestic terrorism multiple times but did not publicly mention this new conspiracy theorist threat.

And now we're getting into the FBI versus the Trump regime, in a fight for the soul of the nation, over domestic terrorism stoked by the man in the Oval Office.

This will not end well.

How To Jury Rig A Gerrymander

With the Supreme Court killing any court role in stopping gerrymandering, states are turning to redistricting commissions in order to draw less partisan maps. Of course, Michigan Republicans are doing everything they can to kill the state's new redistricting commission, and former GOP Scott Walker is leading the charge.

Republicans are suing to stop Michigan’s new citizen redistricting commission before it begins, alleging the voter-approved amendment is “blatantly unconstitutional” and discriminates against participants based on political service or family ties.

A high-stakes federal lawsuit filed Tuesday morning with the U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids seeks to invalidate Proposal 2, block implementation and prevent the independent commission from drawing new legislative and congressional district maps for the 2022 election cycle.

Instead, whichever political party wins control of the state Legislature next year would lead that process in 2021 but need approval from Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Republicans drew existing lines in 2011 and currently hold majorities in the Michigan House and Senate.

The legal action is backed by the Fair Lines America Foundation, a nonprofit with ties to the National Republican Redistricting Trust. The suit was filed on behalf of 15 Michigan residents who would be excluded from serving on the commission under the new rules.

“Any reform, no matter how poorly conceived, must achieve its goals without infringing on the basic rights guaranteed to all of us by the Constitution,” said Scott Walker, the former Wisconsin governor who is now finance chair for the GOP redistricting group, in a statement.

“Michigan’s new redistricting commission falls short of that standard by punishing the people of Michigan for exercising those rights — or for being related to someone who has.”

The amendment to the Michigan Constitution prohibits service on the commission by anyone who in the last six years was a partisan candidate, elected official, political appointee, lobbyist, campaign consultant and officer or member of the governing body of a political party.

It also excludes a parent, child or spouse of any of those individuals

It's a stupid lawsuit, under that logic, every single Michigander who's not selected for the commission has a right to sue the state.  But let's not forget what Michigan Republicans managed to accomplish: the most gerrymandered state in the nation.

A Nov. 7 Metro Times tally of unofficial Michigan Secretary of State and Wayne County Clerk's Office vote totals found State House Dem candidates received a total of 2,092,164 votes in the 2018 midterm. Republicans received 1,917,150 votes — an advantage of about 175,000 for Democratic candidates.

Still, Republicans will hold a 58-52 majority in the State House during the next term.

In the State Senate, our preliminary count found Democrats received 2,062,494 votes while Republicans received 1,945,209 — an advantage of about 117,300 for Dems. Still, the GOP will hold a 22-16 majority next term. 
Democrats got 52% of state House votes but won only 47% of seats.  In the state Senate, Democrats got 51% of votes but only 42% of seats.

And Republicans will sue all the way to the Supreme Court in order to keep a permanent redistricting majority they can manipulate decade after decade.


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