Out with the old kook, in with the new

“John Bolton’s ouster makes the world safer,” according to a headline in The Nation, but the analysis that followed was unpersuasive. Yes, the loony chickenhawk is gone but not his boss, who has launched a misguided trade war against China, trashed the nuclear deal with Iran, threatened to nuke North Korea, and encouraged Boris Johnson to destabilize the EU and destroy what’s left of the United Kingdom. How is the world safer?

“Why do you read that crap?” said Swamp Rabbit, who was looking over my shoulder at the story. “Why don’t you feed the cats, or pull up them weeds over there by the tomato patch?”

I told him it’s important to follow the mainstream news analysts. They usually reach the wrong conclusions from the facts they gather, but careful readers can use the same facts to piece together conclusions that make more sense.

“I’m gonna piece together some lunch from that pork roll I swiped at the SuperFridge today,” Swamp Rabbit said. “Stop by my shack if you want a sandwich.”

I told him no thanks, I had some Triscuits, I was reading up on who might be chosen to replace Bolton. Politico said Trump was looking at more than a dozen “generally conservative” candidates, some of whom have ties to Bolton or Fox News or the George W. Bush administration. The pick will be a “yes person,” according to an insider quoted in the article.

But we already knew all that, didn’t we? We knew the new national security adviser is likely to be as despicable as Bolton (one of the liars who helped start the disastrous war in Iraq by falsely claiming Saddam had WMD) though possibly not as overtly kooky. That he or she will be an ass-kissing neocon who will obey all orders from Trump, no matter how stupid or vile.

In the end it won’t matter who’s chosen. No one Trump hires could possibly be any more impulsive or vindictive than he is, and he has the final say on policy. The world will be no more or less safe.

I should have waded over to Swamp Rabbit’s place for that sandwich.

Footnote: Imagine a just world in which government officials and their toadies are held responsible for their roles in debacles like Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya, where hundreds of thousands of people died for nothing and trillions of dollars were wasted. All the Boltons would have been banished years ago. A lot of them would be in jail.

Memories light the corners of my mind

My favorite Iran-contra story? When the report was finished, it was pretty damning of Reagan and his minions. One of them had a brilliant idea: “We’ll write an executive summary that completely contradicts the findings! Reporters are lazy, they’ll never read the whole thing.” They were right. The only reporter who read it was I.F. Stone, and no one who mattered listened to him.

Rabid Rudy just won’t fade away

In 1951, Douglas MacArthur, grand poobah of the armies and supreme egomaniac, announced his retirement by telling Congress, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”

That was then.

Nowadays, old soldiers and politicians and grifters and lawyers fight to their dying breath to not fade away. For example, Rudy Giuliani spent a decade and a half praising himself for having been mayor of New York in 2001 when those two planes took out the twin towers. As Joe Biden famously said, “…There’s only three things [Giuliani] mentions in a sentence — a noun and a verb and 9/11…”

But something new has come up. Giuliani, who more than ever looks and speaks like a rabid chipmunk, has elbowed his way back into the news by becoming the new legal rodent on Donald Trump’s sinking ship, where he’s quickly proven to be even dumber than long-time Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.

On Wednesday night, Giuliani told Fox News talking head and Trump ass-wipe Sean Hannity that Trump had reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000 Cohen said he gave porn star Stormy Daniels to keep her from going public about having an affair with Trump. This, of course, directly contradicted Trump’s claim that he knew nothing about a payoff to Daniels.

Stormy’s hired gun Michael Avenatti reacted to Giuliani’s remarks by telling CNN “I said it weeks ago, I’m going to say it again: Mr. Trump will not serve out his term. No way. No how. He will be forced to ultimately resign. This is a bombshell.”

A bombshell Trump set off by scraping the bottom of the barrel to find a lawyer who will delay the inevitable. Giuliani is doing the opposite. We should thank him for not fading away.

Pistol-packing pol doesn’t mind dying

Now the senator came down here/Showing everyone his gun…
— Bob Dylan, “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again”

This guy isn’t a senator. He’s Rep. Ralph Norman, and he is fast, fast on the draw. So fast that he made the news last week by whipping out a loaded handgun while having “coffee with constituents” at a restaurant in Rock Hill, SC.

“I don’t mind dying, but whoever shoots me better shoot well or I’m shooting back,” he later said.

“I don’t mind dying” is a line from Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?” The narrator of the song is a boastful young rowdy looking to impress a girl named Arlene. Norman is a middle-aged Republican drone who’s also looking to impress Arlene, I guess.

The congressman told his coffee mates that he’d protect them with his gun. He vowed to not end up like Gabby Giffords, the ex-congresswoman who was shot in the head by some hombre while meeting with constituents in Arizona back in 2011.

But what if some bad guy had walked over to the table, picked up the gun, pointed it at Norman, and said “Who you gonna protect now, cowboy?”

Norman told reporters his intent was to demonstrate that “guns don’t shoot people; people shoot guns.”

One of them should have replied, “Anyone who would say something that stupid shouldn’t be allowed to have a gun, or hold public office.”

So Republicans are really worried about losing Texas

gop-texas

And Arizona, too, where they sent out similar mailers. Who could have guessed?

In response to the GOP email, J. Gerald Hebert, the director of the voting rights and redistricting project at the non-partisan, non-profit group, the Campaign Legal Center, sent a voter discrimination complaint to the Department of Justice on Friday calling for federal election monitors.

“Virtually every precinct in Tarrant County that is ‘Democrat-controlled’ is a majority-minority precinct,” Hebert’s complaint noted.

“The vote suppression efforts being made are cloaked in partisan rhetoric but are clearly targeted at Hispanic and African American voters in Tarrant County,” the letter said, while noting other “inflammatory” language in the email, like “..buy, steal, and cheat their way to victory…”

The Department of Justice confirmed to TPM it had received the complaint and was reviewing it, but would not comment further.

Hebert, in an email to TPM, called it a “a very serious matter,” while noting he also reached out to county officials about the GOP email.

“Intimidating voters for any reason violates federal law and we are prepared to take legal action, if necessary,” Hebert said. “The County officials running the election have primary responsibility to make sure the election is being run in conformity with all provisions of state and federal law.”

Tim O’Hare, the chair of the Tarrant County Republican Party, called the claims that the local party was encouraging racially discriminatory voting practices “hogwash.”

“It’s become the rallying cry of Democrats. Call racism at every turn, and what happens? The media will go run and write a story about it immediately,” O’Hare told TPM Wednesday.

The Tarrant County GOP’s email comes as Donald Trump has urged his supporters in stump speeches to act as vigilante poll watchers of sorts, prompting concerns that what will result is voter intimidation.

John McCain promises GOP will block Clinton’s SCOTUS nominees

800px-John_McCain_official_portrait_2009

This is how insane this election has become. John McCain, in his zeal to save the Senate from evil Democrats, said that Pat Toomey needs to be re-elected so they can block Clinton Supreme Court nominees. Or maybe he didn’t, depending. Initial reports say oh, yes, he will. Speaking on behalf of Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey,… Continue reading “John McCain promises GOP will block Clinton’s SCOTUS nominees”

Report: Bush ignored numerous warnings before invasion

Chilcot Inquiry Rally (6.7.16) (163)

The dirty hippies were right again. I’m sure none of us are surprised, exactly, but it’s still shocking to see it all laid out:

Last week, the independent British committee established to delve into the blunders that led to that country joining the Iraq misadventure released a report astonishing for its breadth and sobriety. It is no easy read—with 2.6 million words in 12 volumes, it explores every detail of the processes and decisions that cost the lives of 179 British servicemen and women. And since the goal of the inquiry was to determine what went wrong across the board, it provides information no Republican politician would allow anyone on Capitol Hill to dig up.

The report’s shocking conclusion is obvious: The White House, the Pentagon and, to a lesser extent, the State Department had no idea what they were doing.

Incompetence permeates the tale, with Bush officials arrogantly waving aside warnings and pleas for better planning. The march toward war took on an unstoppable political momentum as evidence piled up that this invasion would be a colossal catastrophe. Preconceptions—such as blithe dismissals of a humanitarian and governmental role in the invasion for the United Nations, as well as a disregard for day-after-war preparations in favor of gut feelings and slogans—undermined the chance for success. Records show the British considered themselves indispensable to the effort, if only to counter the Bush administration’s reckless planning, which officials in Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government derided as fantastical.

If you have the stomach for it, go read the rest.

Challenge to the Concept of “One Person, One Vote” …

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case if states should draw voting districts based on eligible voters, instead of total populations.

The case — Evenwel v. Abbott — stems from the 2013 redistricting of 31 seats in the Texas Senate, which was based on 2010 census population figures alone. Texas voters Sue Evenwel and Edward Pfenninger sued then-Texas Governor Rick Perry and then-Texas Secretary of State Nandita Berry for allegedly violating the “one-person, one-vote” principle of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause by not dividing districts in a manner that equalized both total population and voter population.

This principle requires that, “when members of an elected body are chosen from separate districts, each district must be established on a basis that will insure, as far as is practicable, that equal numbers of voters can vote for proportionally equal numbers of officials.”

The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the state, which argued that there was no legal basis for Evenwel and Pfenninger’s claims that the new election districts were unconstitutional.

Why is this being heard and possible consequences if the SCOTUS sides with Evenwel and Pfenninger’s claims…

A 1964 Supreme Court decision, Reynolds v. Sims, ruled that voting districts must contain very close to the same number of people. But the court did not say which people count.

Almost all state and local governments draw districts based on total population. If people who were ineligible to vote were evenly distributed, the difference between counting all people or counting only eligible voters would not matter. But demographic patterns vary widely.

If the challengers succeed, the practical consequences would be enormous, Joseph R. Fishkin, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin wrote in 2012 in The Yale Law Journal.

It would, he said, “shift power markedly at every level, away from cities and neighborhoods with many immigrants and many children and toward the older, whiter, more exclusively native-born areas in which a higher proportion of the total population consists of eligible voters.”

That sounds like a bit more of the erosion of representation of the people. Election Finance Laws, the Voting Rights Amendment, voter ID laws and the list goes on. I am just wondering where these Texas voters got this great idea

The organization behind the challenge, the Project on Fair Representation, also was the brainchild of other major Supreme Court cases challenging minority preferences. Among them: Fisher v. University of Texas, challenging the use of affirmative action policies in college admissions, and Shelby County, Ala., v. Holder, challenging a major section of the Voting Rights Act.

The challengers were backed by a half-dozen conservative and libertarian groups, an unusually large number for a case that had yet to be granted by the high court. But it appears they were persuasive.

I guess the “real constituency” is dying out and needs a boost of power.

Evenwel v. Abbott will be heard by the SCOTUS in the fall.

House scraps Border Bill…

House Speaker John Boehner cancelled the vote on the legislation designed to help alleviate some of the issues caused by the current border crisis. Among agreements that could not be reached were the amount of requested funding the President said was needed to deal with crisis and changes to the 2008 Child Trafficking law….

More than 57,500 unaccompanied children and teenagers have been apprehended after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally since October, overwhelming a system already plagued by backlogs and in need of significant resources. President Barack Obama requested $3.7 billion to deal with the crisis, and Senate Democrats proposed a $2.7 billion package. House Republicans introduced a bill to approve just a fraction of that sum — with the possibility of appropriating more funds later — with conditions many Democrats oppose, such as changing a 2008 law so unaccompanied minors from countries other than Mexico and Canada can be deported more quickly and sending the National Guard to the border.

The issue over the 2008 law, in particular, became a flashpoint in the debate. While the White House has voiced support for changing the law to allow for speedier deportations, most Democrats in Congress have voiced vehement opposition. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the bill an “unjust and inhumane proposal,” and Democratic members were urged to oppose it.

Statement issue by House Republican leadership…

This situation shows the intense concern within our conference – and among the American people – about the need to ensure the security of our borders and the president’s refusal to faithfully execute our laws.  There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries.

Huh, Mr. Speaker? Are you suggesting the President use an executive order?

“Senator Reid agrees with House Republican leaders’ statement that President Obama has the authority to take steps on immigration reform on his own,” Jentleson (Reid’s aid) said. “He’s glad Republicans have come around and hopes this means they’ll be dropping their frivolous lawsuit against the President, instead of continuing to waste the American people’s time and money.”

Update…

House Republicans resurrected their bill to address the crisis at the U.S-Mexico border late on Thursday, and they are delaying a planned five-week recess in an attempt to pass the revived bill before Congress leaves town for its August recess.

House GOP leaders led a conference meeting Thursday afternoon in which the decision was made to stay at least one extra day in Washington. House Republicans are planning to meet at a 9 a.m. conference. However, plans could change at any minute. The latest move followed a chaotic day on Capitol Hill where House leaders abruptly postponed a scheduled vote on the bill and then pulled it from the day’s schedule.

According to House Republican sources, House leadership heard from a number of dissatisfied members who said it was imperative to pass something before recess…

House Democrats wants GOP governors to explain rejecting Medicaid expansion…

TPM

House Democrats are demanding that some Republican governors, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, provide the documents behind their decision to reject Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.

House Oversight ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent requests Wednesday to Perry, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R).

“In order to better understand the basis for your opposition, I request that you provide … copies of any state-specific analyses, studies, or reports that you ordered, requested or relied on to inform your decision,” Cummings said in the letters.

He specifically asked for how much funding the states would forgo by rejecting Medicaid expansion, how much the states themselves would have had to pay, how many jobs would have been created with Medicaid expansion, and how many residents would have to forgo “preventive services and other medicare care” without expansion…

Minority Democrats have no subpoena power, and it’s not clear whether the governors will voluntarily comply with the request

I can almost bet if Georgia’s governor, Nathan Deal, had received one of these requests, he would not comply. Deal staunchly opposed the expansion and says the Federal Government will back out of the funding costing the state billions that would go to education (wink, wink.) Rural hospitals in Georgia are getting financially squeezed without this funding and in the past two years four rural hospitals have closed with as many as ten more will follow. This is an election year and Gov. Deal is having some extreme ethics issues as of late. In case he doesn’t get elected this November, the legislature last spring passed a law that any Medicaid expansion will have to be approved by the legislature preventing his opponent, Jason Carter, from accepting the expansion if elected.

I doubt any of the governors will comply at all; the minority party has no subpoena power. But, if any of them do, I can bet there is going to be some serious pretzel logic presented…