Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Last Call For An Indefensible Decision

Donald Trump is more than happy to make America suffer as much as possible until he gets his border wall with Mexico, and if that means diverting billions in funding (illegally by the way) from existing Pentagon base repair, construction, refit and maintenance project to his silly wall, then so be it.

The Pentagon's announcement that it will divert $3.6 billion in military construction funds to help fund President Donald Trump's border wall has sparked bipartisan anger from lawmakers who learned Wednesday that their states will be impacted by the decision. 
Domestically, just under $1.8 billion is being shifted away from projects in 23 states and three US territories. 
Additionally, the Pentagon will defer more than $1.8 billion in military construction projects overseas to free up over $3.6 billion in funds for 11 wall projects on the southern border with Mexico, according to a complete list obtained by CNN Wednesday. 
In total, 127 domestic and overseas projects are being put on hold to help fund the wall that Trump initially promised would be paid for by Mexico. 
Among the sites affected are facilities used to store hazardous waste, repair Navy ships and conduct cyber operations, that had been identified as being in need of repair or additional construction. 
Puerto Rico was among the hardest hit of all US states and territories as it will see more than $400 million in funding for planned military construction projects diverted to the wall under the Pentagon's plan. 
Trump has consistently sparred with Puerto Rican officials while he's been in office following 2017's Hurricane Maria. 
"Most of the projects in Puerto Rico were a result of Hurricane Maria," a senior US defense official told CNN. 
"We've got a rebuild effort that we have ongoing here and I mentioned these projects aren't scheduled to award for more than a year. These are projects that we have on the list something we can use now and backfill, we've got time to do that." 
Overseas, $771 million in projects at various locations in Europe will be impacted. These projects, including airfield upgrades and staging areas in Eastern Europe, are meant to improve the defense of US allies from Russian threats. 

So we have two of Trump's favorite targets to harm: Puerto Rico and NATO.  We're coming up on two years since Hurricane Maria savaged Puerto Rico, and Trump is still doing everything in his power to cut them off.

Meanwhile, US bases in Eastern Europe are getting short changed just as Russia's ramping up nuclear weapon production as the IMF treaty between Washington and Moscow is dead.

Trump's pettiness is now the chief driver of both foreign and domestic policy.

The Blue Wave Returns, Con't

The rush of Texas Republicans heading for the exits is now a deluge.

Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) announced Wednesday that he will not seek reelection in 2020, making him the fifth Texas Republican to do so.

“Serving my country as the Representative of the hardworking Texas families in the 17th Congressional District has been an honor and one of the greatest privileges of my life,” he said in a statement. “When I originally announced that I was running for Congress in 2009, I was firm in my commitment that I would run for six or fewer terms. After much prayer over the past few days and following conversations with my wife, Gina, during that time, I have decided that my current term will be my last.” 
According to the Cook Political Report, Flores’ district, the 17th, leans Republican and voted for President Donald Trump with about 55 percent of the vote. 
Flores follows in the footsteps of his fellow Texans GOP Reps. Kenny Marchant, Will Hurd, Pete Olson and K. Michael Conaway.

This is now pants-wetting panic time for the Texas GOP.  Flores easily won in 2018 by 16 points.  There's no way his seat is in any real trouble.  Flores could have stayed as long as he wanted.  But he's gotten a taste now of the future, a House GOP with 269 pounds of ugly orange fat choking it, and increasingly a permanent position in the House minority.

If there are safe Texas GOP seats heading for the lifeboats, then 2020 is going to be a tsunami.

And everyone knows it.

The Gerrymandering Battle Rages On

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts may have removed federal courts from having any role in gerrymandering fights back in June, but all that means is that by leaving these battles to the states that the state courts can now play for keeps, as the NC GOP just found out the hard way.

North Carolina’s political maps for the state legislature are unconstitutional and must be redrawn before the 2020 elections, a court has decided. 
A panel of judges struck down the maps Tuesday, in a 357-page ruling that focused on the level of political partisanship used to draw them. The maps were drawn in 2017 to replace previous maps, drawn in 2011, that had also been ruled unconstitutional. Both sets of maps were drawn by North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature. 
The judges found that “The North Carolina Supreme Court has long and consistently held that ‘our government is founded on the will of the people,’ that ‘their will is expressed by the ballot.’” 
And that fact helped the judges conclude that the maps violated the state constitution because “it is the carefully crafted maps, and not the will of the voters, that dictate the election outcomes in a significant number of legislative districts and, ultimately, the majority control of the General Assembly.” 
Tuesday’s decision may be the final word in this legal battle, since at least one top Republican lawmaker said he doesn’t plan to appeal the ruling. 

“This is a historic victory for the people of North Carolina,” said Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause North Carolina, one of the groups that sued to overturn the maps. “The court has made clear that partisan gerrymandering violates our state’s constitution and is unacceptable. Thanks to the court’s landmark decision, politicians in Raleigh will no longer be able to rig our elections through partisan gerrymandering.” 
The three-judge panel was unanimous in its ruling. The panel consisted of two Democrats — Paul Ridgeway of Wake County and Alma Hinton of Halifax County — and one Republican, Joseph Crosswhite of Iredell County. 
“The conclusions of this Court today reflect the unanimous and best efforts of the undersigned trial judges — each hailing from different geographic regions and each with differing ideological and political outlooks — to apply core constitutional principles to this complex and divisive topic,” they wrote.

Of course, the battle in NC is far from over, as Republicans overwhelmingly have control of the state House and Senate to redraw the maps, but thanks to the Roberts Court, NC Republicans can't cry foul.  The entire reason this ruling came about was that the GOP won in June, forcing the federal ruling against NC's gerrymandered districts to go back to state court. 

And hey, given that the federal and state judges found massively, overwhelming evidence of gerrymandering so egregious that it violated North Carolina's state constitution, it was a no-brainer (although not a given) that the state court this time would find the same thing.

Redrawing Pennsylvania's districts made a huge difference a few years ago.  Now it seems North Carolina will get a turn at fairness.


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