Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Last Call For The Final Sessions

Amber Phillips at the Washington Post details the embarrassing and complete destruction of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III's political career at the singular hands of Donald Trump, and I couldn't be happier to see the Trump Touch Theory in full effect: everything the man touches transforms into dust.

If there was one establishment figure in Washington who understood Trumpism, it was Jeff Sessions. But Sessions is also the Washington figure who most clearly paid a political price for not seeming loyal enough to President Trump.

The longtime senator from Alabama, like Trump, leaned hard on anti-immigrant policies. It made him something of an outsider in traditional Washington politics, but Trump and Sessions worked together to change that.

Sessions was the first senator to endorse Trump, choosing him over other candidates like his Senate colleague Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).

Trump was just a few months into his campaign when Sessions stood with him onstage, giving the candidate a boost of legitimacy from Washington. When Trump won the White House, Sessions was rewarded by being chosen as Trump’s attorney general. And Sessions in return tried to relentlessly hammer home the two men’s tough-on-immigration rhetoric and policies.

But the relationship went wrong over the question of loyalty, or rather the president’s perception of loyalty. Sessions lost a runoff in Alabama on Tuesday in an attempt to return to his old Senate seat, and Trump was cheering his loss on from Washington, after insulting Sessions or urging voters to ditch him nearly every step of the way. Former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville won the nomination and will try to unseat Democrats’ most vulnerable senator in November, Doug Jones.

Trump has been humiliating Sessions for years, actually, even while Sessions was still his attorney general. The president seemed to view the prominent Cabinet position as one designed to protect him rather than to be the nation’s top law enforcement officer. Perhaps Trump was helped along by the fact that his attorney general was such a close political ally. Or perhaps Trump views key aspects of government as a means to the end of supporting him — a pattern we’ve seen since.

Trump felt he needed the most protection from the Department of Justice on an FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and any ties to his campaign — and he believed Sessions wasn’t there for him. Sessions had recused himself from overseeing the investigation because he played such a prominent role in the Trump campaign and had visited with the Russian ambassador during it.

Shortly after that, Trump fired the FBI director, and shortly after that, Sessions’s No. 2 appointed a special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, to take on the investigation. Trump uttered an expletive when he found out, according to Mueller’s report.

The Mueller report says Trump immediately turned his anger to Sessions. Trump later told the New York Times, “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else.” 
And the president spent more than a year insulting Sessions on Twitter, even making Sessions’s former Republican colleagues in the Senate uncomfortable with the public humiliation, before firing him and then doing what he could to make sure Sessions never came back to Washington.

Sessions will be back as a lobbyist emeritus I'm sure, but his political career has ended with all the ignominy he deserved.  He could have kept his Senate seat for another two terms, I'm sure.  Now? He'll be lucky to end up on a sinecure masthead somewhere if not retiring.

Donald Trump destroyed him, and Sessions allowed it to happen.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

Yesterday dozens of BLM protesters showed up at Kentucky AG Daniel Cameron's house in Louisville to protest Cameron's failure to bring charges or even to arrest the LMPD officers responsible for the murder of Breonna Taylor in March. Police responded quickly to the protest, rounding up 87 protesters and Cameron wasted no time in charging them with felonies.

More than 80 people were arrested while protesting outside a Louisville home owned by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron Tuesday night, several media outlets reported. 
The 87 demonstrators who were arrested had gathered on the lawn of the home in the Graymoor-Devondale neighborhood to call for action in the Breonna Taylor case, WDRB reported. 
The gathering was organized in part by the national Until Freedom organization, according to WAVE3 News in Louisville. 
Until Freedom shared live video on its Facebook page showing protesters marching and later seated in rows with arms linked on the lawn of the single-story home. 
A co-founder of the group, Linda Sarsour, who was among those arrested, told the Courier-Journal, “We are here to hold Daniel Cameron accountable and make sure that he does his job, because he is not doing his job.” 
Cameron’s office and the FBI have both been investigating the shooting death of Taylor, a 26-year-old Louisville EMT who was killed by police who were serving a no-knock warrant at her home March 13. Use of the warrants has since been prohibited in Louisville. 
Officer Brett Hankinson has been fired, but two other officers involved in the shooting, officer Myles Cosgrove and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, are still employed by the Louisville Metro Police Department. Protesters have been calling for criminal charges against the officers. 
Cameron issued a statement Tuesday night, saying “a thorough and fair investigation” is being conducted. 
“The stated goal of today’s protest at my home was to ‘escalate.’ That is not acceptable and only serves to further division and tension within our community,” he said in the statement shared by several media outlets. “Justice is not achieved by trespassing on private property, and it’s not achieved through escalation. It’s achieved by examining the facts in an impartial and unbiased manner. That is exactly what we are doing and will continue to do in this investigation.” 
WLKY reported that police warned the protesters to leave, and those who refused were charged with intimidating a participant in a legal process, second-degree disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing.

It's that "intimidating a participant in a legal process" charge that is utter fascism.  That's something usually reserved for jury or witness tampering, in Kentucky that's a class D felony with a 1-5 year prison sentence. To use that against protesters because Cameron is an officer of the court as AG is just outright fascism and a clear message of intimidation and state power, and proof that he's willing to throw as many BLM protesters in prison as needed in order to protect cops who kill.

Things just took a really bad turn here in Kentucky.  Collectively the people protesting are facing hundreds of years in prison, like this is a tinpot dictatorship.

Cameron is no different from Trump.  They're all fascists.

Texas As Primarily Kentucky

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

A long-shot Republican US Senate seat in a traditionally red state possibly in play this November, the Democratic primary front-runner, a white military veteran woman pilot who has a big out-of-state cash lead and growing national attention to her campaign suddenly finds herself facing a real fight on her hands from a Black state lawmaker from the state's largest city as he is peaking at the right time thanks to Black Lives Matter protests and his career as a criminal justice reformer, but the pilot may have banked enough of a mail-in ballot lead to win as the runoff primary was delayed due to COVID-19.

While Charles Booker came up short against Amy McGrath in Kentucky last month, the story also applies to Texas this month, where last night Air Force veteran helicopter pilot MJ Hegar faced off against state Sen. Royce West for the right to take on Republican US Senator John Cornyn.  As with McGrath, Hegar counted her chickens before they hatched and ran almost exclusively against Cornyn, while West ran on the protests of the last six weeks.

But the results were the same as Hegar survived with a 52%-48% win.

Air Force veteran Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar will officially face Sen. John Cornyn in November after winning out against state Sen. Royce West in Texas’s Democratic primary runoff on Tuesday. 
Hegar secured the endorsement not just from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee but also from major national groups including EMILY’s List, Everytown for Gun Safety, and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. She has long been the anointed candidate to take on Cornyn, and she was the top vote-getter in Texas’s Super Tuesday primary in March. 
On Tuesday, she again defeated West, a progressive fixture of Democratic politics in Texas. In the lead-up to the runoff, Hegar and her allies spent heavily to make sure they put the race away: According to the Texas Tribune, she, along with the DSCC and EMILY’s List, poured at least $2 million into ads in the Houston area over the last week of the race, outspending West 85 to 1.

That kind of spending might well have been necessary. According to Mark Jones, a political science fellow at Rice University, West had been gaining traction in the race, though Tuesday’s result shows it didn’t happen quite fast enough to get him over the line.
In particular, Jones said, the national movement following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis gave West a lift. “African American officeholders and political elites in the state,” he said, began to “really rally behind West in a way that they hadn’t in the original primary in March.” 
Hegar was always the favorite, however, and now she heads into the general election against Cornyn with about $1.6 million in the bank and a steep climb ahead of her. The Cook Political Report rates the Texas Senate race as “Likely R,” and Jones said he believes that’s “still pretty safe.” 
Texas is becoming less of a sure thing for Republicans: FiveThirtyEight’s polling average shows President Donald Trump in a dead-heat tie with Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the state, and one-time presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke came within a few points of unseating Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018. 
But Cornyn looks to be somewhat more popular in the state than his colleague in the Senate, never mind the president, and he’s running anywhere from 8 to 13 points ahead of Hegar in recent polling, so she’ll have her work cut out for her.

All of this sounds terribly familiar to me, and both Hegar and McGrath will probably end up losing by double digits.

Or maybe not.  Maybe not this year.  Even Mitch McConnell is spooked.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been crisscrossing Kentucky and delivering a sober analysis of the country's struggle with the coronavirus pandemic, imploring Americans to wear masks and warning in blunt terms that it's unclear how long the virus will continue to wreak havoc on the country. 
"Well regretfully, my friends, it's not over," McConnell said Monday at a hospital in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky. "We're seeing a surge in Florida and Texas and Arizona and yes, here in Kentucky." 
It's a far different message than what's being espoused by President Donald Trump, who boasts about the country's response, demands the economy reopen, rarely urges Americans to wear a mask and dismisses the virus' surge across the Sun Belt and the rise in cases in 37 states.
"It's going to take a while to get a vaccine," McConnell said back home this week, less than a week after Trump promised a vaccine "very, very soon" and in "record time."

McConnell, on the other hand, urges caution. 
"Remember once we get one or more vaccines we're going to need a massive number of doses, not just for our country, but for the whole world," he said, standing outside a hospital this week, holding his disposal facemask in his left hand. "For the whole world. A massive number of doses." 
On Tuesday, McConnell added in Henderson, Kentucky: "The earliest I've heard anybody suggest one could be available would be later this year, and that would be extremely optimistic."

Mitch is running from Trump on COVID-19.  He wants a Senate package and while his top priority is lawsuit immunity from COVID-19 lawsuits, he's moving forward on something I didn't think he would. Of course, he has thousands of Kentuckians and millions of Americans facing the end of COVID-19 unemployment benefits as convenient hostages for his demands, so who knows what will happen next week.

Maybe this is where Mitch and John Cornyn both lose to Democratic military veteran women pilots in November.


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