Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Last Call For Winning The Popularity Contest

Right-wingers are ripping their hair out over TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People for 2021. Sure, Trump and Tucker are on the list, but so are Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams, and Nikole Hannah-Jones, author of the 1619 Project as director Barry Jenkins explains.

Nikole Hannah-Jones is larger than life. She must be, for how else can one describe a journalist who catalyzes the debate over how a nation teaches its history?

This may be the sum effect of Nikole’s greatest work—The 1619 Project, an analysis of the legacy of slavery in the U.S.—but it is certainly not the sum of her. The journalist from Waterloo, Iowa, contains multitudes. She is the most emphatic laugh, the consummate ally, the staunchest critic. On Twitter, she is Ida Bae Wells, an allusion to her most direct antecedent, the trailblazing journalist Ida B. Wells. In 1892, Ms. Wells spoke across millennia of Ms. Hannah-Jones when she said, “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”

The light Nikole wields is titanic, a blinding beam that illuminates and scorches. In her light, the wounds of America’s original and subsequent sins are laid bare. With her light, the serrated flesh of this country’s past is both subject and predicate, a light wielded to both identify wounds and cauterize flesh.

In considering Nikole, my mind drifts to images of James Baldwin and Nina Simone smoking and smiling in an overly bright den. My mind goes here because like Nikole, Mr. Baldwin and Ms. Simone also wielded light and made plain a truth Nikole has lived—in shining her powerful and painful light in the preservation of Blackness, this wonderful woman is proof and testament to the unshakable spirit of Blackness
In fact, there are an awful lot of Black folks on the list this year, Simone Biles, Meghan Markle, Naomi Osaka, Ben Crump, N.K. Jemisin, Sherrilyn Ifill, Shonda Rhimes, Tracee Ellis Roo, Lil Nas X, and more.

I'm glad to see things looking up.

General Override

Fox News and the right-wing noise machine want to do to Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley what should have actually been done to former Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn: court-martial and prosecute him for treason.

When Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley goes before Congress on Sept. 28, he may face some of the most hostile questioning of any modern four-star general.

Driving the news: Newly released excerpts from "Peril" by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa — detailing secret moves by the nation's highest-ranking military officers to manage national security risks that he perceived Donald Trump posed in the final days of his presidency — are driving questions about whether Milley went too far.

The big picture: Republicans were already irate with Milley for playing a starring role in a string of recent Trump books. Even some of his friends are cringing over his extensive and high-profile scenes in these books and perceptions that he's participated on "deep background" with multiple authors. Extensive direct quotes attributed to Milley have led Republicans to accuse him of personally leaking to authors.

Details: The most explosive Woodward/Costa excerpts report on two phone calls the authors say happened between Milley and his Chinese counterpart — on Oct. 30 and Jan. 8. In the account, Milley reportedly assures the Chinese general that Trump would not attack China and that if Trump did decide to attack then Milley would give his Chinese counterpart a secret heads up. Milley has yet to respond to this latest reporting.

What they're saying: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, cited Woodward's and Costa's reporting in calling for President Biden to fire Milley, accusing him of working to "actively undermine the sitting Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces." 
"General Milley has attempted to rationalize his reckless behavior by arguing that what he perceived as the military's judgement as more stable than its civilian commander," Rubio said, calling that "a dangerous precedent" that "threatens to tear apart our nation's longstanding principle of civilian control of the military."

Behind the scenes: In mid-October 2020, top Pentagon officials grew concerned about intelligence they'd seen. It showed the Chinese were consuming their own intelligence that had made them concerned about the possibility of a surprise U.S. strike against China, three sources familiar with the situation tell Axios. 
One of the sources said: "I think they [the Chinese] were getting bad intelligence... a combination of 'wag the dog' conspiracy thinking and bad intel from bad sources."
Now frankly, Gen. Milley is a hero. But Republicans want his head, and they are pulling out all the stops to get it.  Multiple Republicans want him to resign, and a few are going so far as to want him court-martialed and sent up on treason charges.
Needless to say, the September 28th hearing is going to be vicious and ugly.

Empire State Gerrymandering

New York, unlike other blue states like California, isn't unilaterally disarming when it comes to redrawing congressional districts for 2022. The state is losing a district due to the census, but the GOP may soon find itself all but locked out of the US House delegation.

Seven years ago, New Yorkers voted decisively to empower a new bipartisan commission to do what self-interested politicians could not: draw new congressional district lines that were not gerrymandered to favor a particular party.

But as the panel prepares to unveil its proposed maps for the first time on Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers in New York and Washington are already laying the groundwork to cast them aside — plotting to use their supermajorities in Albany to draw new district boundaries for the next decade that might eliminate as many as five Republican-held seats.

The end result could drive one of the most consequential shifts in power in the country this redistricting cycle, the first since New York voters approved a 2014 ballot measure to curb gerrymandering.

Under the most aggressive scenarios, Democrats could emerge from 2022’s midterm elections with control of as many as 23 of New York’s 26 House seats in an all-out effort to prop up their chances of retaining control of Congress. For the first redistricting cycle in decades, Democrats control the Legislature and governor’s office, giving them the freedom to reshape districts without having to compromise with Republicans, who long held a lock on the State Senate.

“New York might be the biggest redistricting weapon for either party in the country,” said Dave Wasserman, a national elections analyst with the Cook Political Report.

Wielding it will almost certainly raise howls of protest from Republicans and expose Democrats to legal challenges and political charges that they are hypocritically turning their backs on the party’s promise to end gerrymandering, the practice that allows politicians to draw legislative lines in their party’s favor.

Just Monday, Chuck Schumer, the state’s senior senator and the Democratic majority leader in Washington, sought to rally senators on Capitol Hill in favor of a sweeping national elections bill that would override state laws like New York’s and outlaw “vicious gerrymandering, which further threatens to divide our politics.”

Yet with Republicans preparing to use their control of states like Texas, Florida and Georgia to pile up a dozen or more new red seats, Democrats seem intent on using New York’s laws to their advantage. Mr. Wasserman said that New York’s gains would likely be greater than others whose process was under single-party control, such as Texas, because those states have already been more thoroughly gerrymandered
N ew York is doing what Texas, Georgia, and Florida are planning to do, which is exactly what the US Supreme Court ruled two years ago. Federal Courts have no business deciding state redistricting unless there's obvious voter suppression based on race, as in North Carolina. And even then, federal courts have no authority -- none -- to draw maps.

This is the GOP reaping what they have sewn.
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