Category Archives: Corruption

SCOTUS to hear partisan gerrymandering case today

This morning the U.S. Supreme court will hear oral argument in Gill v. Whitford, in which the justices will decide whether Wisconsin’s electoral maps are the product of an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.

Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog has a detailed preview of the legal posture of this case and the claims being assertedon appeal.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder writes at the Washington Post, Redistricting has broken our democracy. The Supreme Court should help fix it.

When the Supreme Court hears arguments today in Gill v. Whitford, contesting Wisconsin’s legislative map, it will have a chance to rein in an aggressive new breed of data-driven gerrymandering that divides communities and diminishes the voice of many Americans. The record is clear, and the Supreme Court must take this opportunity to protect the right to fair representation that is embedded in our Constitution and our values.

I’ve spent a lot of time with maps since finishing my term as attorney general and dedicating my time to a push for a fair redrawing of legislative districts. These maps — created as a result of some Republicans’ bad faith redistricting efforts after the 2010 Census — are impressive in their geographic creativity but destructive to the representative democracy that our founders envisioned. Republicans created a House seat in Ohio that is only contiguous at low-tide; a House seat in Virginia that can only be connected by a boat ride on the James River; and a House seat in Michigan that is shaped like a snake and designed to pack as many minority voters into one district as possible.

Many Republicans across the country have wielded the gerrymander to manipulate the people’s right to vote into unconscionable partisan advantage. In 2012, Democrats won 1.5 million more votes than Republicans in races for the  House of Representatives, yet Republicans gained a 234 to 201 seat advantage. In 2016, despite winning fewer than half of all votes for the House, Republicans still held an advantage of 241 to 194 House seats. A recent report from the Brennan Center for Justice found that partisan gerrymandering has created a “durable majority” of 16-17 seats for Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. Just seven states, where the maps were drawn and approved solely by Republicans, account for almost all of this bias.

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The Plutocrat civil war for control of the GOP

There has been much reporting this past week about a GOP civil war. But this is really a civil war between the wealthy Plutocrat donors of the GOP over which one of them will control the party. It is a case study in how money — especially dark money — has corrupted our political system. This is what the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United and its progeny have wrought.

Stephen Bannon of Breibart News,and two of his longtime benefactors, Robert and Rebekah Mercer, are putting together a political coalition designed to ensure that the victory of a Republican insurgent in the Alabama senate primary this past week was just the beginning of the surprises that await the party establishment. The New York Times reports,  Alabama Victory Provides Blueprint for New Bannon Alliance:

Mr. Bannon brings to the effort the political and promotional skills he showed as President Trump’s chief strategist and advocate for populist stances on issues like immigration and trade. His benefactors, the billionaire hedge fund investor Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer, bring wealth and their own proven anti-establishment streak.

The obstacles Mr. Bannon and the Mercers face are formidable: the well-funded resistance of mainstream Republicans; a shortage of viable anti-establishment candidates like Roy Moore, the victor in Tuesday’s Alabama Republican Senate primary; an absence of political infrastructure for supporting them; and their own reputations for not always following through on big political plans.

But the Bannon-Mercer alliance is likely to be a potent factor in widening the divisions laid bare by the Alabama race and the intraparty battles that have crippled the Republican agenda in Congress. It could put Mr. Bannon and the Mercers on a collision course with not just the Republican establishment but with other donor-driven political organizations, including the one built by the billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch — and potentially with Mr. Trump.

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The GOP is failing the ‘Roy Moore Test’

Last week, disgraced former Alabama chief justice Roy Moore, twice removed from the bench for unethical conduct in violation of the judicial code of ethics, nevertheless easily won the Alabama special election GOP primary for U.S. Senate.  Moore was supported the by far-the right fringe, in particular, white nationalist Stephen Bannon from Breitbart News and his billionaire financier Robert Mercer, who are waging a war on the GOP “establishment.”

Moore served as a columnist for years at the right-wing conspiracy site  World Net Daily. Moore was a leading proponent of the “birther” conspiracy theory, which posited, without evidence, that former President Obama wasn’t born in the United States. Moore took exception to Rep. Keith Ellison’s (D-Minn.), a Muslim, taking his oath of office with his hand on the Quran. Moore questioned  Ellison’s qualifications to be a member of Congress” because, he wrote, Islam is “directly contrary to the principles of the Constitution.” (The Constitution prohibits a religious test for office). Moore has argued on multiple occasions that America’s secular shift is responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks and recent “shootings and killings.” He regularly rails against abortion, and argued in 2005 footage reported by CNN that homosexuality should be illegal. Roy Moore’s five most controversial remarks.

Roy Moore has been a household name for years among the Christian Right nationalists who want a theocracy in America. Yet Senate Republicans are pretending that they don’t know anything about him. Senate Republicans have never heard of Roy Moore:

Senate Republicans say they know almost nothing about Roy Moore, their wildly controversial candidate in the Alabama special election. But they really, really want him to be elected to the Senate.

What about Moore’s history of racially insensitive comments? Haven’t heard anything. Homophobic remarks? Nada. Moore’s claim that some American communities are living under Sharia law? Crickets. Moore’s statement that 9/11 happened “because we’ve distanced ourselves from God”? Nothing for you on that. Moore’s assertion that Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison shouldn’t be allowed to serve in Congress because he’s a Muslim? We’ll get back to you. Moore saying Mitch McConnell should be replaced as Senate majority leader? Uhh, zip.

[T]he only thing that matters for party leaders is what Moore does from now on — not what he’s done before. And that he wins the Dec. 12 runoff against Democrat Doug Jones.

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Puerto Rico is Trump’s ‘Katrina’ moment

The great and powerful Oz “Dear Leader” is off the rails again this morning, pissed that everyone is not bowing down before his magnificence and greatness and praising him with superlative adulations.

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Talking Points Memo reports Trump Attacks Critics Of Puerto Rico Aid Effort: ‘Politically Motivated Ingrates’:

President Donald Trump on Sunday renewed his attacks on “politically motivated ingrates” he claimed failed to recognize the United States’ relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

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Trump on Saturday blasted San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, whom he accused of “poor leadership ability,” as well as “others in Puerto Rico” who Trump claimed “want everything to be done for them.”

“The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” he tweeted.

On Saturday, she tweeted, “The goal is one: saving lives. This is the time to show our “true colors”. We cannot be distracted by anything else.”

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The Price is Right: Tom Price resigns over use of charter flights

The New York Times breaks the Friday news dump story that embattled Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has resigned under pressure on Friday after racking up at least $400,000 in travel bills for chartered flights. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out. Health Secretary Tom Price Resigns After Drawing Ire for Chartered Flights:

Already in trouble with Mr. Trump for months of unsuccessful efforts to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health care program, Mr. Price failed to defuse the president’s anger over his high-priced travel by agreeing to pay a portion of the cost and expressing “regret” for his actions.

In a statement, the White House said that Mr. Price “offered his resignation earlier today and the president accepted.”

It said Mr. Trump will tap Don J. Wright of Virginia to serve as acting secretary at midnight Friday. Mr. Wright currently serves as the deputy assistant secretary for health and as director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

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Ducey is a disaster for Arizona

Governor Doug Ducey, the ice cream man hired by Koch industries to run their Southwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Arizona, self-labels himself, for purely propaganda purposes, as “the education governor.”

The governor’s label would be a joke if his misguided policies did not come with serious and dire consequences for the actual condition of public education in Arizona.

Perhaps the governor should accept responsibility for his policies making Arizona the worst — that’s right, dead last — in public education, as the Republic’s Laurie Roberts describes. Arizona ranks as worst state to be a teacher:

Quick, what is the worst state in which to be a teacher?

If you said Arizona, give yourself a gold star.

WalletHub this week released its annual rankings for the best – and worst – states in  which to spend a career in the classroom. The financial services website compared the 50 states and Washington D.C., analyzing 21 key indicators, ranging from income growth potential to class size to safety.

The best states in which to be a teacher: New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, Pennsylvania.

The worst: Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, Hawaii and finally, down there in our usual spot at the bottom of the barrel, Arizona.

We ranked as one of the states with the highest turnover, the highest student-teacher ratios and the lowest spending per student.

And we ranked as dead last in the number of people expected to be competing for teacher jobs by 2024. Gee, I wonder why.

Lest you think things are looking up, two years ago Arizona ranked 49th  overall. Now, we’re 51st.

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