Sunday, April 4, 2021

A Whole New Ballgame, Con't

Both Republicans and Democrats in Georgia believe Major League Baseball's decision to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta this summer over GOP Gov. Brian Kemp's voter suppression laws will politically profit them, but as with baseball, only one side gets to win the game in the end.

Brian Robinson, a GOP strategist skilled in explaining the state’s Republican base to a mainstream audience, predicted it could be a singular moment in the 2022 race.

“The Democrats in one week have united a fractured Georgia GOP, rallied Republicans to Brian Kemp at a time when many had abandoned him and appalled the same independent voters who broke heavily toward them last year,” he said, before invoking Kemp’s likely 2022 rival.

“Stacey Abrams couldn’t have done more for Brian Kemp’s reelection hopes if she’d written a $10 million check to his super PAC.”

There was one Republican who didn’t stick to the same GOP script on Friday: Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan. In a statement, the former minor league pitcher said he disagreed with Commissioner Rob Manfred’s decision but respected the outcome.

Then Duncan repeated what he’s said since November: He criticized Trump for promoting lies about Georgia’s election, saying the post-election misinformation campaign “continues to manifest itself and divide our nation.”

“And now, misinformation surrounding Georgia’s new elections reform has furthered that divide – even reaching MLB baseball.”

To be clear, Duncan’s stance is no surprise. He was one of the first elected GOP leaders to loudly debunk the pro-Trump conspiracy theories, and it earned him the enmity of the former president. Earlier this year, he refused to preside over the vote on a previous, and more restrictive, proposal.

But Duncan’s comments raise even more questions about his chances in 2022, when he’s up for another term, and his plans to promote a “GOP 2.0.” As one senior Republican official posited, Duncan’s statement was a “weird way to announce you aren’t seeking re-election.”

State Democrats want to make Georgia the poster child for federal voting legislation that’s stalling in Congress, and party leaders hope the white-hot spotlight on the new law helps them build their case.

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, facing another election next year, said Friday’s fallout only proves the federal overhaul is needed more urgently. And Abrams, the once-and-likely-future gubernatorial candidate, called on corporate and political leaders to support the voting expansions pending in Congress to “mitigate the harm” in Georgia.

Georgia Democrats also have their eye beyond the U.S. Capitol and the Gold Dome. That’s one of the reasons they’ve stepped up their criticism of the new law and urged major corporations to publicly oppose it even though it’s already in the books.

Dozens of restrictive voting measures are pending in other states, and the pressure campaign aims to force local lawmakers to think twice before passing those laws in other state legislatures, too.

In Texas, for one, legislation that would limit early voting hours and restrict mail-in voting is gaining traction, while Florida legislators could soon consider a measure that would curb the use of drop boxes.

Democrats shaped the national narrative of Georgia’s election measure early, in part because they capitalized on proposed measures that included more far-reaching restrictions that never reached a final vote.

As Duncan, the GOP lieutenant governor, put it: Republicans “fell into the trap set by the left and allowed them to make the bill into something that it’s not.”

Now Democrats have their own challenge: At the start of what could be a growing boycott movement, how do they avoid getting blamed for the economic backlash? 


That's what's going to determine the political fallout over this, but remember that Republicans are the one who should be blamed for the outcome of this. Whether they are is another thing entirely.

Sunday Long Read: The Mission Was Impossible

Vanity Fair's Marc Wortman gives us this week's Sunday Long Read, and you folks know I can't resist a true heist story. For years the most daring and brazen thievery in Europe was carried out in the name of getting the most coveted prizes on the planet: rare books. And the crew that pulled off heist after heist made themselves look like movie stars, and the police like clowns.
"Impossible,” said David Ward. The London Metropolitan Police constable looked up. Some 50 feet above him, he saw that someone had carved a gaping hole through a skylight. Standing in the Frontier Forwarding warehouse in Feltham, West London, he could hear the howl of jets from neighboring Heathrow Airport as they roared overhead.

At Ward’s feet lay three open trunks, heavy-duty steel cases. They were empty. A few books lay strewn about. Those trunks had previously been full of books. Not just any books. The missing ones, 240 in all, included early versions of some of the most significant printed works of European history.

Gone was Albert Einstein’s own 1621 copy of astronomer Johannes Kepler’s The Cosmic Mystery, in which he lays out his theory of planetary motion. Also missing was an important 1777 edition of Isaac Newton’s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, his book describing gravity and the laws of physics. Among other rarities stolen: a 1497 update of the first book written about women, Concerning Famous Women; a 1569 version of Dante’s Divine Comedy; and a sheath with 80 celebrated prints by Goya. The most valuable book in the haul was a 1566 Latin edition of On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, by Copernicus, in which he posits his world-changing theory that Earth and the other planets revolve around the sun. That copy alone had a price tag of $293,000. All together, the missing books—stolen on the night of January 29, 2017, into early the next day—were valued at more than $3.4 million. Given their unique historical significance and the fact that many contained handwritten notes by past owners, most were irreplaceable.

Scotland Yard’s Ward was stunned. He couldn’t recall a burglary like this anywhere. The thieves, as if undertaking a special-ops raid, had climbed up the sheer face of the building. From there, they scaled its pitched metal roof on a cold, wet night, cut open a fiberglass skylight, and descended inside—without tripping alarms or getting picked up by cameras. “Dangerous work,” he says. “This is not something ordinary burglars try to accomplish.”

Then there was the loot. In a warehouse laden with valuables coming in and out of Heathrow for customs clearance, the thieves had taken their time in the darkness, more than five hours, to select from among hundreds of books—choosing the most precious ones. They made off with nothing else from the vast freight building except for some nearby tote bags—heavy satchels that they snatched from another shipping container. Ward tells me on a call from London, “You must have a lot of patience, strength, and ingenuity not to trigger the sensors and to get the books back through that hole in the roof.”

The items belonged to three respected rare book dealers, two in Italy and one in Germany. They had shipped their wares through Heathrow, bound for an antiquarian fair in California. Informed of the heist that day, Alessandro Bisello Bado, a dealer in Padua whose shipment had been pilfered, nearly fainted. He boarded the next flight to London. Walking inside the warehouse, he saw that nearly everything in the trunk was gone, more than $1.2 million worth. Michael Kühn, a Berlin-based dealer, couldn’t believe it at first. “I had never heard of so many books being stolen at once,” he says. Why these books? he wonders. “Insurance fraud? Somebody who wanted to harm one of us? A book lover who wanted to have one item and threw away the rest of the books to cover his intentions?” All he knew was that his losses might bankrupt him.

As Ward looked for answers, the thieves weren’t waiting. Over the next few days, they moved their bulky cache around the city. On February 5, a van pulled up at a London house. Soon the vehicle and the trove were on their way out of the country. Some of the burglars also left, by air. But new operatives flew in to replace them. That very night, the reconstituted team embarked on another brazen high-wire raid on a warehouse. Many more would follow—a dozen, in fact, mainly around London.

Scotland Yard raced to follow leads—and wondered where the burglars would strike next. The U.K. press, meanwhile, remained focused on the Frontier Forwarding break-in, dubbing it the “Mission: Impossible theft”—a tip of the hat to its similarities with the movie’s iconic scene in which Tom Cruise, as Ethan Hunt, suspended by a cable, breaks into a CIA vault.

Ward could see these weren’t random warehouse robberies. But why…books? Someone must have tipped them off. “They knew what they wanted,” he says. “There were plenty of other valuables nearby. They targeted the books deliberately.”

The Met Police assigned organized crime specialist Andy Durham to oversee the case while Ward and other detectives did what Durham calls the “grunt work.” But they had little to go on. They even checked to see if a circus had come to town, so acrobatic was the feat.
This story is a good one, so pull up a chair and sit a spell for a great detective story.

Retribution Execution, Con't

Georgia state Rep. Park Cannon, the Black lawmaker who was swarmed by Georgia state police and physically brought down for the crime of knocking on the door to the office where GOP Gov. Brian Kemp was signing the state's Jim Crow voting restrictions into law behind closed doors last month, now faces eight years in state prison on two felony charges.

Georgia state Rep. Park Cannon, who was arrested last week after attempting to gain access to the office where Gov. Brian Kemp was signing a controversial voting restriction bill into law, said Thursday that her actions were justified.

“I felt as if time was moving in slow motion,” Cannon said, fighting back tears as she described the details of the incident. “My experience was painful, both physically and emotionally, but today I stand before you to say as horrible as that experience was ... I believe the governor signing into law the most comprehensive voter suppression bill in the country is a far more serious crime.”

It was the first time Cannon has spoken publicly about the incident since her arrest. Video of her knocking on the door to Kemp’s office before being forcibly removed by police went viral on social media, drawing further attention to the new restrictions on voting.

Flanked by a handful of supporters and fellow Democratic lawmakers at the base of a mural of civil rights icon John Lewis in Atlanta, Cannon described the law as a “voter suppression bill” and said that with “one stroke of a pen” Kemp “erased decades of sacrifices, incalculable hours of work, marches, prayers, tears and ... minimized the deaths of thousands who have paid the ultimate price to vote.”

The Election Integrity Act of 2021, or Senate Bill 202, imposes new voter ID requirements for absentee ballots, limits the number of drop boxes across the state and gives state-level officials the power to take over county election boards, possibly allowing GOP officials to decide the ballot count in Democratic strongholds.

The bill, which Kemp signed into law just over an hour after it was passed in the General Assembly, also criminalizes passing out food or drinks to voters waiting in line.

Republicans say the law’s stricter requirements will ensure that future Georgia elections will be more secure, but Democrats contend it was designed to suppress the elderly and Black vote, and was written in direct response to GOP losses in the 2020 presidential election in the state as well as two runoff contests that handed Democrats control of the U.S. Senate. A record 5 million Georgians voted in the last election cycle.

Fortune 500 companies based in Georgia and others headquartered nationally, including Delta, Home Depot and Coca-Cola, have condemned the new election law.

In a Wednesday memo to Delta employees, CEO Ed Bastian said it was “evident that the bill includes provisions that will make it harder for many underrepresented voters, particularly Black voters, to exercise their constitutional right to elect their representatives. That is wrong.”

Cannon is now facing two felony charges from last week’s arrest — obstruction and preventing or disrupting a General Assembly session, according to the Fulton County Department of Public Safety website.

She told reporters Thursday that she is facing eight years in prison for those charges, which she called “unfounded.” Georgia Attorney General Christopher Carr did not respond to a request from Yahoo News for comment for this story
Republicans are now putting their political enemies in jail, folks, and for purely political reasons. History tells us that it only gets much worse from here.

Especially for Black folk, and specifically for Black women.

Park Cannon is going to made an example of for Democrats, Black folk, women, and Black women most of all around the country: know your place or white supremacy will put you in it by force.

"Lock her up!" is happening. It is real. Republicans are furious. Republicans know full well that the coalition of voters in Georgia that helped elect Joe Biden and did elect Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the Senate has to be destroyed.
Now they are going to put sitting Democratic lawmakers in jail in order to keep power. This is a very dangerous moment in our history, and one we don't come easily back from.
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