Saturday, October 17, 2020

Last Call For It Backfired On Them

How I know the Trump regime's internal polling numbers out in Western states are abysmal? It took less than 24 hours for the White House to completely reverse its position on denying California federal disaster declaration for the state's record-setting wildfires this fall. See if you can spot the giveaway.

The federal government has reversed course on California's request for a disaster declaration for wildfires that have burned swathes of land across the U.S. state since early September.

The Trump administration had initially ruled against delivering the aid, before later approving it on Friday.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday afternoon he had spoken to President Donald Trump by phone and said he had approved the request. "Grateful for his quick response," Newsom said.

"The Governor and [House Minority] Leader [Kevin] McCarthy spoke and presented a convincing case and additional on-the-ground perspective for reconsideration leading the President to approve the declaration," deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement.

Gonna stop you right there as you have all the info you need as to why the lightning-fast turnaround happened. 

The answer is Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the House GOP minority leader and Representative of California's 23rd district, which includes Bakersfield and the San Joaquin Valley, some of the areas hardest-hit in this year's wildfires. In particular, CA-23 contains Sequoia National Park and the Sequoia National Forest, both ravaged by flames earlier this year in the Castle fire in September.

CA-23 may be the reddest district not only in California but on the entire West Coast at R+17 by Cook Political Report reckoning, a capital reason as to why Kevin McCarthy is an elected in a state like California, but even his ass would be toast if he went along with Trump denying McCarthy's own constituents disaster money after the fall wildfires that California just had. Rural California is pretty red, and they got hit the hardest by the blazes. It wasn't downtown LA that burned down, folks, as much as the Trumpies would like to believe.

McCarthy and what's left of the California GOP would have been completely vaporized at the polls in a couple of weeks if this hold-up held up, so yes, McCarthy almost certainly made the pitch to Trump, and Gavin Newsom is smart enough to go with it to help his state.

Remember, it's not hard to appeal to Trump if you play to his ego, and McCarthy bringing Newsom to Trump, hat in hand? Yeah, Trump will take that and gloat, the idiot. Newsom will suck it up, and McCarthy might actually keep his seat and his job.

Would be a shame if Republicans in California lost seats anyway though.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

I love how Trump supporters are acting like the entire Russian disinformation campaign over the last five years was somehow a ghost story when the evidence is overwhelming (and I've documented a hell of a lot of it on this very blog) and the fact that the Russians are currently trying to use the Trump regime to spread disinformation against Joe Biden right now, as we speak, through Rudy Giuliani and his ridiculous Russian handlers.

US authorities are investigating whether recently published emails that purport to detail the business dealings of Joe Biden's son in Ukraine and China are connected to an ongoing Russian disinformation effort targeting the former vice president's campaign, a US official and a congressional source briefed on the matter said. 
The conservative-leaning New York Post claimed in a series of articles this week that it obtained "smoking-gun" emails about Hunter Biden and his dealings in Ukraine. CNN has not determined the authenticity of the emails. 
President Donald Trump and his allies have used this topic to smear the Bidens over the past year and seized on the recent articles to attack Biden in the final weeks of the presidential election. The specific new allegations touch on the same topics as the Kremlin's ongoing disinformation campaign against the Bidens, which the US intelligence community said this summer was intended to weaken Biden's candidacy against Trump. 
The FBI is leading the investigation, the official and congressional source said. NBC was first to report the inquiry. 
The probe is part of a larger investigation into Russian disinformation that dates back to before the impeachment inquiry last fall. The alleged disinformation campaign is aimed at tying the former vice president to his son's dealings with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, according to US officials familiar with the matter. 
The New York Post says it obtained the emails through two Trump confidants: His personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his former chief strategist Steve Bannon. 
Giuliani has openly coordinated with a known Russian agent to promote disinformation about the Bidens. The Washington Post reported Thursday the White House, and Trump personally, were warned in 2019 that Giuliani "was being used to feed Russian misinformation" to the President. Separately, Bannon was recently charged by the Justice Department with orchestrating a million-dollar fraud scheme and accused of deceiving thousands of donors to his nonprofit. 
In a Fox News interview Friday, Giuliani said Trump never mentioned the warning to him and that he hasn't been told by US intelligence officials that he is peddling Russian disinformation. 
Several experts on foreign disinformation quickly warned that there were major red flags about the articles published by the New York Post, including Giuliani's involvement, the changing stories about how the emails were obtained, and the digital metadata of images posted by the newspaper. 
The US government announced last month that one of Giuliani's Ukrainian allies is an "active Russian agent" who has targeted Western media with "false and unsubstantiated narratives" about alleged "corruption" by the Bidens. 
Facebook and Twitter took unprecedented steps Wednesday to slow the spread of the articles, triggering a wave of outrage from Trump and Republicans.
Like I said, by my count this is post two-hundred sixty one of the Russian To Judgment series of posts since July 2016, and I expect I'll be continuing to write about the subject for some time to come. We're going to be dealing with the fallout from having the Russians completely compromise the US government over the last four years (and in some cases, far longer, thanks Ed Snowden!) for decades to come.

A Supreme Count Of The Country

If confirmed, Amy Coney Barrett's first major case as a Supreme Court Justice could very well be the Trump regime's plan to eliminate undocumented immigrants from the official Census count, which would almost certainly cost states like California, Illinois and New York multiple Congressional districts, as well as billions in yearly federal funding.

The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will review President Trump’s attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants when calculating how congressional seats are apportioned among the states.

The unprecedented proposal could have the effect of shifting both political power and billions of dollars in federal funds away from urban states with large immigrant populations and toward rural and more Republican interests.

A three-judge panel in New York said that Trump’s July 21 memorandum on the matter was “an unlawful exercise of the authority granted to” him by Congress. It blocked the Commerce Department and the Census Bureau from including information about the number of undocumented immigrants — it is unclear how those numbers would be generated — in their reports to the president after this year’s census is completed.

The justices put the case on a fast-track, and said they will hold a hearing Nov. 30. By then, it will likely be a nine-member court again, if Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed, giving the court a 6 to 3 conservative majority. The administration says timing matters, because it must present the plan to Congress in January.

It is unclear whether the matter would divide the court along ideological lines, but the issue is another mark of how the once-a-decade census has been transformed from a largely bureaucratic exercise into the centerpiece of a partisan battle.

The Supreme Court earlier this week agreed with the Trump administration that it could stop the count of Americans, despite fears that the coronavirus and other problems will lead to an undercount of minorities and those in hard-to-reach communities. Lower courts had said the count should continue until the end of the month. But that might have made it heard to get the information to Trump by year’s end — a timetable that carries additional importance in an election year.

In 2019, the justices rejected the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the census form, which experts said would discourage participation by both legal and undocumented immigrants. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the 5-to-4 decision, saying the administration did not follow proper procedure for introducing the question, and that its rationale was “contrived.”

“President Trump has repeatedly tried — and failed — to weaponize the census for his attacks on immigrant communities,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, which is a party to the litigation. “The Supreme Court rejected his attempt last year and should do so again. The legal mandate is clear — every single person counts in the census, and every single person is represented in Congress.”

The latest controversy involves the constitutional mandate that apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives be based on the “whole number of persons in each State.” That has been interpreted to mean every resident, regardless of immigration status.

But this summer, Trump issued a memorandum that said, for the first time, “it is the policy of the United States to exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status.”

Trump’s memorandum indicated he believed that some states would be getting more congressional seats than deserved — California was implied but not named — because of their numbers of undocumented residents.

Trump directed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to provide him with two sets of numbers, one that includes unauthorized immigrants and one that does not, “to the maximum extent feasible and consistent with the discretion delegated to the executive branch.”

Even the administration does not indicate how that would be accomplished, as the census does not ask about citizenship. “The Census Bureau is still evaluating the extent to which, as a practical matter, administrative records pertaining to immigration status can be used to identify and exclude illegal aliens from the apportionment population count,” acting solicitor general Jeffrey B. Wall said in a filing to the Supreme Court.

This is going to most likely be a disaster, and most likely with Barrett we will see five votes to eliminate more than a century of precedent. If this ruling is broad enough, it could all but require proof of citizenship for anything and everything that the government provides as a service or benefit. Even if the question remains limited to the Census, it will cost blue states as many as a dozen House seats, and any seats reapportioned during redistricting where Republicans control the process will almost certainly see Democratic districts eliminated completely.

In other words, it could completely remake the House, possibly tilting the House towards the GOP for a decade or more.

This is what actual judicial activism looks like.

It's Not About Suppression Anymore, It's Voter Subtraction

Ibrim X. Kendi writes in The Atlantic that the GOP is about voter subtraction, and the Democrats are (mostly) about voter addition. But in 2020, voter subtraction is the only thing the GOP has going for them, and if Biden loses, you can look to the vile success of these efforts by a broken Republican party to remove millions of votes.

Republicans are literally subtracting untold numbers of individual votes as they suppress the overall Democratic vote. GOP voter subtraction preceded Trump, but not as the GOP’s sole lifeline. For most of the post-civil-rights era, the Republican Party has also been attracting and adding voters, putting the Democratic Party on the defensive after half a century of New Deal dominance.

But in recent years, Democrats have been more likely than Republicans to follow the demographic and ideological shifts of American voters, moving somewhat away from the bipartisan political bigotry of fears, fairy tales, and lies that especially attracted white voters. Republicans, by contrast, have doubled down on those politics under a president who refuses to condemn white-supremacist domestic terrorists, hardly pays taxes, denies racism and climate change, bashes dead soldiers, mocks Christians and disabled people, tells Americans not to let COVID-19 dominate their lives, berates and allegedly assaults women, calls Hispanic immigrants rapists and animals, claims that Muslims hate America, and suggests that unhappy Black people should go back to their urban hells and shithole countries—all the while saying he’s the least racist person anywhere in the world, and making money off of his presidency with impunity. Trump has alienated rising numbers of young voters, voters of color, feminist voters, anti-racist white voters, and Americans who desire presidential decency. Trump has alienated almost everyone except his shrinking base.

Trump’s game of alienation has made voter subtraction the existential game of the Republican Party. Subtracting voters at any cost is all that is saving the Republican Party from political death. Trump’s Republican Party must kill votes in order to survive.
On March 8, 2019, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed the For the People Act. The bill would have enacted a series of major reforms: automatic voter registration, early voting, automatic registration of felons completing their sentences, Election Day registration, and independent state commissions to redraw congressional districts. By the year’s end, House Democrats had also voted to reinstate the 1965 Voting Rights Act and federal oversight of state election laws to protect against voter subtraction and suppression.

The Democratic Party has primarily played a game of voter addition. Primarily, not totally. To maintain power, centrist Democrats have engaged in voter subtraction to fend off their primary opponents, opposing online voting and reducing the voting age to 16.

But although Democrats supported both voter-addition bills, almost all House Republicans opposed them. McConnell, the Senate majority leader, ignored them; instead of becoming law, the bills died in the Senate. In the meantime, Republican state lawmakers continued to pass voter-subtraction bills. Republican secretaries of state have been aggressively subtracting millions of names from the voting rolls, even as GOP legislators have made it harder for citizens to register to vote.

And this is the issue. The evidence exists that Trump's 2016 victories in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Florida were manufactured from voter subtractionWe're already seeing it happening now with rejected mail ballots, long lines at early voting polling places, and onerous burdens placed on voters by states and backed by courts. Millions of voters nationwide have been kicked off rolls, and millions more will have their votes thrown out, maybe enough to give Donald Trump the win.

And the massive majority of voters removed from registration are Black and brown, and Republicans damn well know it.

The future of the republic depends on us overcoming these barriers, but then again that's been true for 400 years.
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