Monday, December 23, 2019

Holidaze: Israeli A Mess

Israel is headed for a major constitutional showdown as the country's highest court has ruled that the case to bar indicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from being eligible for office due to standing criminal charges against him will be heard on December 31.  Netanyahu is all but promising to ignore such a ruling against him.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu implied Sunday that the High Court of Justice did not have the authority to rule on a petition which claims that he is ineligible to assemble a government due to a pending indictment against him. 
“In a democracy, it is the people who decide who will lead them, not anyone else. Otherwise, it just isn’t democracy,” Netanyahu said in a video posted to social media shortly after the court’s announcement that it would hear the case.

The petition against Netanyahu’s potential reelection comes as the prime minister has been accusing prosecutors, the media, and the judiciary of working together in an effort to bring him down on trumped-up corruption charges. 
Last month, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced an indictment against Netanyahu in three corruption cases, which include charges of breach of trust, fraud, and, in the most serious case, bribery. 
The court’s decision to rule on the question of Netanyahu’s legal eligibility to stand for office appears set to spark a new round of political skirmishing, and will likely be used by Netanyahu’s campaign to advance his assertion that the legal system is staging an “attempted coup” in a bid to topple the right. 
One Likud lawmaker, Netanyahu ally MK Miki Zohar, threatened to weaken the court’s powers in the next Knesset term if it rules Netanyahu ineligible. 
“If the High Court issues a scandalous ruling that intervenes in political questions by declaring that Netanyahu is prohibited from forming a government, our answer will be clear and direct,” he wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “1. A supercession clause [allowing the Knesset to overturn the court’s rulings] will be [passed] in all three readings immediately after the next Knesset takes office. 2. The ruling will be canceled forthwith, allowing Netanyahu to form the government.

This is some pretty hefty stuff here, the US equivalent of Republicans in Congress threatening to pass a law allowing Congress to overrule any Supreme Court decision.  Not even the GOP is willing to go that far at this point, but it's painfully clear that Israel's Likud party is ready and willing to install Netanyahu as a populist dictator in order to maintain power.

In an alternate universe where Robert Mueller had the courage to recommend charges for Trump, and that we had a Justice Department willing to prosecute (and a Supreme Court willing to hear the arguments and decide on whether a sitting president could be charged) this is what we would be seeing on the Trump front.

Still, things are coming to a boil in Israel.  Should Netanyahu lose the petition and be disqualified, all bets are off as to what happens next.  Israel will hold another national election on March 2nd, and who knows where the country will be by then.

Holidaze: Here Comes The Judge(s)

If there's one decisive and lasting legacy that Donald Trump has won, it's his takeover of the federal courts.  They are lost to liberals for a generation, as many of us warned would happen, but we were told in angry response that "scaring people into voting for Hillary" would never work.

In a sense, it failed because the millions of people who shrugged and decided that a protest vote for Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, a write-in or a black space wasn't anything that would damage their rights personallyClinton only got 43% of the white 18-29 vote in 2016, Trump 47%, and another 10% picked neither.  Why the hell did any of us expect 25-year old white kids to give a damn about civil rights, women's rights, LGBTQ+ rights, or any of that?

No, the kids aren't alright.  Not in the least.  And that brings us to the courts we lost.

After three years in office, President Donald Trump has remade the federal judiciary, ensuring a conservative tilt for decades and cementing his legacy no matter the outcome of November's election.

Trump nominees make up 1 in 4 U.S. circuit court judges. Two of his picks sit on the Supreme Court. And this past week, as the House voted to impeach the president, the Republican-led Senate confirmed another 13 district court judges.

In total, Trump has installed 187 judges to the federal bench.

Trump's mark on the judiciary is already having far-reaching effects on legislation and liberal priorities. Just last week, the 5th Circuit struck down a core provision of the Affordable Care Act. One of the two appellate judges who ruled against the landmark law was a Trump appointee.

The Supreme Court - where two of the nine justices are conservatives selected by Trump - could eventually hear that case.

The 13 circuit courts are the second most powerful in the nation, serving as a last stop for appeals on lower court rulings, unless the case is taken up by the Supreme Court. So far, Trump has appointed 50 judges to circuit court benches. Comparatively, by this point in President Barack Obama's first term, he had confirmed 25. At the end of his eight years, he had appointed 55 circuit judges.

Trump's appointments have flipped three circuit courts to majority GOP-appointed judges, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York. The president has also selected younger conservatives for these lifetime appointments, ensuring his impact is felt for many years.

The executor of this aggressive push is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who is almost singularly focused on reshaping the federal judiciary, twice ramming through Senate rule changes to speed up confirmations over Democrats' objections.

"Leave no vacancy behind" is his mantra, McConnell has stated publicly. With a 53-to-47 Senate majority, he has been able to fill openings at breakneck speed.

Another Trump term and the civil rights era is over.  The voting rights era is over.  The women's rights and LGBTQ+ equality movements are over.  Roe is done.  The federal government will no longer be the guarantor of your rights as an American, your rights, your citizenship status, and what you will be allowed to do will solely be determined by what state you live in.

In other words, we go back to Jim Crow 1880s, or worse, the 1850s.

But again, for most young white Millennials and now white Gen Z kids voting for the first time?

Why should that matter?  Why shouldn't they vote for the party that will make them full citizens from the get-go?

It should be enough to do the right thing, but how can I expect someone to vote against their interests and care about people other than themselves?
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