Friday, January 17, 2020

Last Call For Trump's Race To The Bottom, Con't

A new national poll of black Americans from the Washington Post finds the overwhelming belief that Donald Trump is a racist who has made racism worse in America, and that his regime has translated into a frightening time for those who are black.  Being black, I absolutely agree with the assessment, but remember that Trump is a symptom of a much larger issue.

More than 8 in 10 black Americans say they believe Trump is a racist and that he has made racism a bigger problem in the country. Nine in 10 disapprove of his job performance overall.
The pessimism goes well beyond assessments of the president. A 65 percent majority of African Americans say it is a “bad time” to be a black person in America. That view is widely shared by clear majorities of black adults across income, generational and political lines. By contrast, 77 percent of black Americans say it is a “good time” to be a white person, with a wide majority saying white people don’t understand the discrimination faced by black Americans. 
Courtney Tate, 40, an elementary school teacher in Irving, Tex., outside Dallas, said that since Trump was elected, he’s been having more conversations with his co-workers — discussions that are simultaneously enlightening and exhausting — about racial issues he and his students face everyday.

“As a black person, you’ve always seen all the racism, the microaggressions, but as white people they don't understand this is how things are going for me,” said Tate, who said he is the only black male teacher in his school. “They don’t live those experiences. They don’t live in those neighborhoods. They moved out. It’s so easy to be white and oblivious in this country.”

Francine Cartwright, a 44-year-old mother of three from Moorestown, N.J., said the ascent of Trump has altered the way she thinks about the white people in her life.

“If I’m in a room with white women, I know that 50 percent of them voted for Trump and they believe in his ideas,” said Cartwright, a university researcher. “I look at them and think, ‘How do you see me? What is my humanity to you?’ ” 
The president routinely talks about how a steadily growing economy and historically low unemployment have resulted in more African Americans with jobs and the lowest jobless rate for black Americans recorded. Months ago he said, “What I’ve done for African Americans in two-and-a-half years, no president has been able to do anything like it.”

But those factors have not translated positively for the president. A 77 percent majority of black Americans say Trump deserves “only some” or “hardly any” credit for the 5.5 percent unemployment rate among black adults compared with 20 percent who say Trump deserves significant credit.

In follow-up interviews, many said former president Barack Obama deserves more credit for the improvement in the unemployment rate, which declined from a high of 16.8 percent in 2010 to 7.5 percent when he left office.

Others said their personal financial situation is more a product of their own efforts than anything the president has done.

“I don’t think [Trump] has anything to do with unemployment among African Americans,” said Ethel Smith, a 72-year-old nanny who lives in Lithonia, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta. “I’ve always been a working poor person. That’s just who I am.”

It really does come down to black folk like myself wondering if a room full of white folks are oblivious to the black experience in 2020 or actively hateful of it, and I don't know which.  I learned long ago not to bring up politics in any conversation around here in NKY because then I learn the answer.

Coming For Comey

The Barr Justice Department, unable to find a crime to charge former FBI Director James Comey with in either their investigation into the Mueller probe or Operation Crossfire Hurricane into candidate Trump's Russia connections, has now decided that Comey has to hang for leaking classified info to the press in 2017.

Federal prosecutors in Washington are investigating a years-old leak of classified information about a Russian intelligence document, and they appear to be focusing on whether the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey illegally provided details to reporters, according to people familiar with the inquiry.

The case is the second time the Justice Department has investigated leaks potentially involving Mr. Comey, a frequent target of President Trump, who has repeatedly called him a “leaker.” Mr. Trump recently suggested without evidence that Mr. Comey should be prosecuted for “unlawful conduct” and spend years in prison.

The timing of the investigation could raise questions about whether it was motivated at least in part by politics. Prosecutors and F.B.I. agents typically investigate leaks of classified information around the time they appear in the news media, not years later. And the inquiry is the latest politically sensitive matter undertaken by the United States attorney’s office in Washington, which is also conducting an investigation of Mr. Comey’s former deputy, Andrew G. McCabe, that has been plagued by problems.

Law enforcement officials are scrutinizing at least two news articles about the F.B.I. and Mr. Comey, published in The New York Times and The Washington Post in 2017, that mentioned the Russian government document, according to the people familiar with the investigation. Hackers working for Dutch intelligence officials obtained the document and provided it to the F.B.I., and both its existence and the collection of it were highly classified secrets, the people said.

The document played a key role in Mr. Comey’s decision to sideline the Justice Department and announce in July 2016 that the F.B.I. would not recommend that Hillary Clinton face charges in her use of a private email server to conduct government business while secretary of state.

The investigation into the leaks began in recent months, the people said, but it is not clear whether prosecutors have impaneled a grand jury or how many witnesses they have interviewed. What prompted the inquiry is also unclear, but the Russian document was mentioned in a book published last fall, “Deep State: Trump, the F.B.I., and the Rule of Law” by James B. Stewart, a Times reporter.

A lawyer for Mr. Comey declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for the United States attorney’s office in Washington.

So we know what the Justice Department will be doing for 2020, which is harassing Comey and using these "old leaks" as justification to go through 2016 Obama-era FBI and DoJ files.  Of course our shiny object chasing press will go with it, and Trump will have a ready made smokescreen of "new allegations in the Comey investigation" to roll out whenever he needs to.

And of course, the questions will lead to "What did Joe Biden know?"

As Jon Chait writes, "Enough cases fit the pattern for it to have become unmistakable."

The Department of Justice has conducted several reviews of the Mueller investigation. The last one, conducted by Inspector General Michael Horowitz subjected its FISA warrants of Trump’s staffers to strict oversight, finding several errors. The problem is that the public had little basis of comparison to measure the errors — were they egregious, as Trump suggests, or ordinary sloppiness? Nobody knows what the ordinary level of sloppiness is, because FISA warrants don’t normally come under intense public scrutiny.

Meanwhile, Barr has appointed John Durham to undertake another even broader investigation into the FBI and the intelligence community’s Russia investigation. The probe appears to be aimed at other Trump antagonists, such as former CIA Director John Brennan. Barr has thrown his weight behind the probe, visiting foreign countries and asking their cooperation.

The Department has also pursued a case against former director Andrew McCabe for misleading the Department about media leaks. McCabe is another Trump target, who stood behind Comey after Trump fired him, has since then been the target of public and private abuse by the president. The potential charges have been hanging over McCabe’s head for so long that last month a court ordered the Department either to bring a case or drop it.

In theory, there would be nothing wrong with the Department of Justice tightening up its standards of conduct. But all the evidence points to the conclusion those standards are being raised only for Trump’s political enemies. The Department released batches of private texts by Lisa Page, including texts that had no political relevance, exposing her to personal embarrassment. Trump of course is the head bully, mocking Page repeatedly, including engaging in a simulated orgasm between her and the FBI agent with whom her affair was exposed in the texts. Page is suing the Department, but the Department is not bringing its own charges against the officials who undertook this obvious abuse.

Nor is the Department investigating the ubiquitous 2016 leaks about the Clinton email probe.The sentiment against Clinton among conservative FBI agents was at such a fervor that agents would openly cheer on colleagues investigating her with comments like “You have to get her” and “You guys are finally going to get that bitch.” They pressured Comey to bring charges by leaking constant stories to the right wing media. “FBI agents say the bureau is alarmed over Director James Comey urging the Justice Department to not prosecute Hillary Clinton over her mishandling of classified information,” stated a report in the Daily Caller. Giuliani was literally broadcasting his leaks from conservative agents on television.

This history is relevant for two reasons. First, those leaks were far more historically significant than any of the leaks that are currently being investigated. The anti-Clinton cabal was trying to force Comey to violate DOJ protocol and announce an investigation of a candidate leading up to an election, and they succeeded.

Second, the flagrant nature of the 2016 anti-Clinton leaks show just how unseriously the bureau has taken its rules on leaking. The behavior was so common precisely because everybody on all sides assumed the prohibition would never be enforced, which is what makes the new selective enforcement of strict anti-leaking protocol so obviously biased. It would be as if every car in Washington, D.C., driving even one mile over the speed limit was suddenly pulled over and subjected to the maximum penalty allowed by law.

Trump is not arbitrarily having his opponents arrested. He is doing something more subtle, but still extremely dangerous: using the Department of Justice to selectively hold his opponents to the most exacting levels of legal scrutiny that are not broadly applied. It doesn’t even matter that not every investigation brings charges, and the charges themselves probably won’t hold up in court. The time, expense, and reputational cost of the investigations will be damaging enough.

It's sad that we can see this coming a mile away, and it's still going to most likely work.

It's About Suppression, Con't

Florida's state Supreme Court has sided with state Republicans and Gov. Ron DeSantis that felons must pay back all court costs and restitution fees related to their sentences before being allowed to vote.

It came down to a question of wording, after Florida voters in 2018 approved amendment 4.

The amendment called for the restoration of voting rights for felons who were not convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense “after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole and probation.”

That statement led to more than a year of legislative and court battles over the meaning of “complete all terms”.

Gov. Ron DeSantis sided with a number of Republican lawmakers who asserted the amendment requires felons to pay all fines, fees and restitution before their voting rights are restored. Civil rights groups like the ACLU argued that amounted to an illegal poll tax designed to further disenfranchise a potentially large block of voters.

On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court finally dropped the gavel on the debate.

The justices issued an opinion advising the governor and the attorney general that the wording of amendment 4 – “complete all terms of their sentence” – does include all the money a felon is required to pay.

“The phrase 'completion of all terms of sentence' includes any period of incarceration, probation, parole and financial obligations imposed as part of an individual’s sentence. The financial obligations may include restitution and fines, imposed as part of a sentence or a condition of probation under existing Florida statute,” the justices wrote in their opinion.
It’s unclear how this ruling with affect felons who have already registered to vote.

There are nearly 1,500,000 felons in Florida.

That number includes one in five potential voters in the African American community.

Everything you need to know about what Republicans are doing here is summed up by a tweet from Gov. DeSantis.

You catch that? Voting is a privilege, not a right.  And only Republicans get to determine who is allowed to exercise that privilege.

That privilege doesn't extend to groups that primarily would vote Democratic.

Republicans replaced felony bias for 1.5 million Florida citizens with a legal poll tax.  It has nothing to do with voter ID or "integrity of the vote", it's just there to keep black and brown people from voting.

That's it.

That's all it ever was.


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