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GOP Cancelling Presidential Primaries In At Least Four States

Trump allies in Nevada, South Carolina, Arizona, and Kansas are plotting to deny Republican voters the opportunity to reject Trump in a primary contest, Politico reported Friday. Republican officials in all four states are planning on scrapping their primary elections next year, granting Trump their support rather than allowing voters to choose.

Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), who is challenging Trump for the Republican nomination, told Politico that the moves “show that Trump is afraid of a serious primary challenge because he knows his support is very soft.”

Walsh also vowed to “loudly call out this undemocratic bull on a regular basis.”

Another Republican, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, is also challenging Trump for the nomination and was upset about states canceling their nominating contests. “We don’t elect presidents by acclamation in America,” Weld told Politico. “Donald Trump is doing his best to make the Republican Party his own personal club. Republicans deserve better.”

Rumbles about protecting Trump from any and all challengers first began in December 2018, when South Carolina officials broached the idea of canceling their Republican primary to protect Trump.

Fears that a Republican challenger could embarrass Trump continued into January when an RNC delegate from the Virgin Islands sent a frantic email to colleagues worried about “calculated political treachery” of some Republicans intent on “destroying our party and denying President Trump re-election.”

In February, Maryland’s Republican Gov. Larry Hogan blasted fellow Republicans for “unprecedented” efforts to block any and all challengers to Trump.

“It’s very undemocratic,” Hogan said at the time. “I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve been involved in the Republican Party for most of my life. It’s unprecedented.”

Hogan briefly toyed with the idea of challenging Trump, but later abandoned the notion.

Republican officials claim their decisions are based on cost savings, rather than helping Trump save face.

“It would be malpractice on my part to waste money on a caucus to come to the inevitable conclusion that President Trump will be getting all our delegates in Charlotte,” Michael McDonald, Nevada GOP Chairman, told Politico. While Trump won the Nevada caucus in 2016, more than half of Republicans in the state wanted a different candidate.

If McDonald and other Republican officials have their way, Republican voters in Nevada, South Carolina, Arizona, and Kansas will not have an opportunity next year to show their support — or disdain — for Trump.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

 

Photo Credit: Mayberry Health and Home

More Evidence Of Republican Disdain For Democracy

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

Show up for a protest, and end up losing your home, car, and retirement account? How about losing everything over just being at a meeting or on a conference call?

Arizona State Senator Sonny Borrelli (R-AZ) has introduced an amazing bit of legislation into the Arizona senate, which has already passed—it’s in the House now. The bill would hyper-criminalize any sort of organized political dissent if any person involved with that dissent (including, presumably, agent provocateurs) were to engage in even minor “violence,” so long as that violence harms the “property,” regardless of value, of any person — including a corporation.

They’re doing this by expanding the Arizona RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) law to include conspiracy to “riot” among the offenses RICO can be used against. Not unlike parts of the Patriot Act being used against wannabe terrorists, the RICO laws are a powerful blunt instrument that have been used successfully to take down mobsters who have done a very good job of insulating themselves from their crimes.

Inspired in part by the takedown of Al Capone for tax fraud and mobster Rico “Little Caesar” Bandello, the 1970 federal law was one of the first to, in a really big way, make it possible for prosecutors to go after an entire “group” of people, rather than having to target criminals one at a time. As such, it relies heavily on previous laws that had defined “conspiracy” to be a felony.

And much like Richard Nixon used the nation’s drug laws to break the backs of the anti-war and civil-rights movements, Senator Borrelli and his Republican friends apparently want to break the back of anti-GOP, anti-Trump protests with the same type of police-state overkill.

This is merely a new twist on an old Republican strategy.

In 1999, John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s former domestic policy chief, told Dan Baum in an interview with Baum about Nixon’s war on drugs:

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

The war on drugs was devastatingly successful, and continues to be: Nixon and his successors have locked up large parts of the African American community nationwide (leaving many unable to vote for the rest of their lives), and drug busts (often setups) were used with spectacular success at the local level against SDS and other anti-war activists in the 1960s and 1970s.

Now the power of another law (RICO) designed to deal with organized crime (and expanded in recent years to include “terrorism” and “animal activism”) is about to be mobilized in a similar fashion against anybody who supports any anti-Republican demonstrations (that cause any “property damage”) in Arizona.

As you can read in the proposed law, the realm of crimes into which RICO can now be applied has been expanded from “terrorism” (a recent addition) to “riot,” which, itself has been redefined to include: “A person commits riot if, with two or more other persons acting together, such person recklessly uses force or violence or threatens to use force or violence, if such threat is accompanied by immediate power of execution, which EITHER disturbs the public peace OR RESULTS IN DAMAGE TO THE PROPERTY OF ANOTHER PERSON.” (All-caps from the actual text of the proposed law.)

The new law also adds in the current Arizona “riot” law (13-2903) which essentially defines “riot” as the use of “force,” and redefines “force” as anything that “disturbs the public peace.” Using a bullhorn? Chanting?  Singing? Or merely meeting and planning to do same (“threat” with the ability of “immediate power of execution” meaning you have the ability to stand outside and sing)? You’re disturbing the public peace.

AZ 13-2903 reads: “A person commits riot if, with two or more other persons acting together, such person recklessly uses force or violence or threatens to use force or violence, if such threat is accompanied by immediate power of execution, which disturbs the public peace.”

So, let’s say the local chapter of #Indivisible or #OurRevolution or #BlackLivesMatter is planning (“threatening” under this law) to bring a group of people to the offices of Senator Borrelli or any of his GOP colleagues, or just to march through downtown Phoenix to protest Trump’s bigoted policies after a particularly outrageous Executive Order.

And let’s further imagine that somebody who wants to shut down that group has infiltrated it (be they from the police, the Klan, or the Black Block). The protest happens, and the infiltrator throws a stone and breaks a window. Or some people complain that their “peace” has been “disturbed,” even if no rocks were thrown.

And you donated $25 to the group that organized the protest (but had no idea a violent infiltrator was going to show up). Or you went to a meeting of the group. Or you were on a conference call for protest planning. Or you were in the crowd on the day the stone was thrown or the “peace” was “disturbed.”

Under the civil asset forfeiture laws, being used hand-in-glove with the new RICO law, everything you own can now be seized – instantly, and before you’re even convicted of anything. And once you’ve admitted you were a “co-conspirator” – you donated, showed up, were on the call, or even a member of the chat-room – you’re now facing serious time in prison.

So, as is usually the case with RICO prosecutions, the prosecutors bring you in and offer you a deal: help us bust the leadership, and we’ll let you go. So you end up being the stone-thrower at the next demonstration. Or you go to prison.

And, in the meantime, the local or state police department has already converted your home, car, and retirement accounts into cash and used them to buy a new tank for the police station.

And to the inevitable clueless-to-their-privilege white person who says, “Riot laws aren’t controversial and they’d never use laws like this so broadly; that would be wrong,” please talk with any person of color and ask how the “uncontroversial” drug, loitering, and, for G-d sake, even taillight laws have been enforced.

The families of Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Samuel DeBose, and Sandra Bland (among thousands of others), and increasingly in Trumpworld, anybody who looks Hispanic or Muslim, or even has a Muslim-sounding name like the son of Muhammad Ali, can tell you something about selective enforcement of the law in America.

This is not what democracy looks like.

Thom Hartmann is an author and nationally syndicated daily talk show host.

IMAGE: Protesters walk in the streets downtown during another night of protests over the police shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Democrat Defeats Anti-Immigrant Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio

PHOENIX (Reuters) – Veteran Arizona lawman Joe Arpaio, a Republican who gained national prominence for his hard-line stance against illegal immigration, conceded defeat on Tuesday in his bid for a seventh term as the sheriff of the state’s most populous county.

Unofficial results showed that Arpaio, self-proclaimed as “America’s toughest sheriff,” lost to Democratic challenger and former Phoenix police officer Paul Penzone by about 10 percentage points in the race for Maricopa County sheriff.

With 71 percent of precincts counted, Penzone had 563,059 votes to 459,683 for Arpaio.

In a statement, Arpaio, 84, thanked the people for their faith and support over the years and the hard work and dedication of his employees.

“Tonight, the people have spoken,” he said. “And while (wife) Ava and I are disappointed in the results, we respect their decision.”

Penzone, who narrowly lost to Arpaio in 2012, said the election results made a statement that could be heard nationwide.

“No matter where we come from or what we look like or what our beliefs are, we’re all entitled to respect,” Penzone told supporters in declaring victory. “I want to restore that respect, that transparency and that confidence to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.”

The loss by the embattled sheriff came as he was facing a criminal contempt charge for violating a court order stemming from a 2007 case that found his office guilty of racial profiling.

A federal judge in Phoenix ruled that Arpaio and his deputies had stopped and detained Latino motorists solely on the suspicion they were in the country illegally for 18 months after an order to cease those operations.

Federal prosecutors alleged that the sheriff’s conduct was criminal and recommended he face up to six months incarceration if found guilty at trial.

He had lashed out at President Barack Obama’s Justice Department for what he said was playing politics and charging him so close to the election, vowing he would be cleared of any wrongdoing.

Because of the looming legal woes and court setbacks, political observers predicted this would be Arpaio’s toughest election test. An opinion poll last month showed him down by nearly 15 percentage points.

At noon on Tuesday, several hundred students from two heavily Latino high schools walked out of class and onto the streets to urge voters to end Arpaio’s more than two decades in office.

(Reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix; Editing by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles)

IMAGE: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio  in Anthem, Arizona, U.S. January 9, 2013. REUTERS/Laura Segall/File Photo

Supreme Court Order: Arizona May Enforce Ballot Collection Law

(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday ordered an Arizona state law that restricts the collection of ballots by third parties back in place for Tuesday’s election, a victory for Republicans in an intensifying state-by-state legal battle over access to voting.

The Supreme Court granted a stay of a U.S. appeals court ruling that on Friday had temporarily blocked Arizona from enforcing the law that prohibits advocacy groups from collecting completed early ballots from voters and delivering them to election offices as part of get-out-the-vote efforts.

The stay will remain in effect pending a final disposition of the appeal by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court order said. The appeals court has scheduled oral arguments in the case for January.

Polls have shown Republican Donald Trump with a small lead in Arizona over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential race.

Democrats have accused Republicans of enacting state laws intended to make it harder for minorities and others who tend to back Democratic candidates to cast ballots. Republicans have called these laws necessary to guard against voting fraud.

Arizona late Friday filed an emergency appeal asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow it to enforce the law Arizona’s legislature approved earlier this year.

Plaintiffs in the case, including the Democratic National Committee, argued the law is unconstitutional because it unfairly impacted the ability of minorities to vote.

In asking the Supreme Court to deny a stay, the plaintiffs said reinstating the law “would expose Arizonans who are presently engaged in ballot collection and do not learn of this court’s ruling to a felony conviction and criminal sanctions.”

(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; editing by Grant McCool and Franklin Paul)

IMAGE: A general view of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington June 8, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria