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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

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Why Republicans Declared Open Season On American Voters

As a general rule, I don't agree with Republican lawmakers, since they're generally wrong. But after looking into one of their main issues, I have to agree with them: Our elections are being rigged.

Anyone who takes an honest look can see that the electoral process all across the country is being stolen in broad daylight — by Republican lawmakers. In state after state, GOP governors and legislators are on a rampage to rig the system so you can't vote. By "you" I mean African Americans, Latinx voters, Asian Americans, indigenous peoples and practically all other nonwhite citizens. And seniors, union members, poor people, students, immigrant families and others with a tendency to vote for Democrats. By fraudulently shouting that "you people" are engaged in massive, orchestrated campaigns to vote illegally, GOP officials insist that they must steal your democratic right to vote in order to protect the "sanctity" of the vote!

Bizarrely, they are actually confessing their own embarrassing weakness and political ineptitude. In short, they are practically shouting, "We can't win!" Their lineup of squirrelly, increasingly kooky candidates — and their anti-people, corporate-serving agenda — have no ability to draw majority support. So, their only hope to be elected is to jerry-rig America's democratic process with a slew of barriers, locks, red tape, bans and other gimmicks and shut millions of citizens out of their polling places.

It's both pathetic and disgraceful, but their 7 million-vote defeat in last year's presidential race has spooked the Republican majority into a stampede of voter-suppression initiatives this year, pushing new proposals in Congress, the courts and state legislatures. The Brennan Center for Justice reports that at least 235 bills have been introduced in 43 states to further obstruct Americans from casting ballots.

The new schemes are aggressively repressive, aimed at preventing absentee voting, cutting early voting, eliminating mail-in voting, restricting the number and convenience of polling locations, and otherwise making it hard for people to exercise their most basic right of citizenship. Some proposals target specific groups, such as disallowing voting booths on college campuses and preventing early voting on Sundays (when many Black churches provide rides to the polls following services). And some are flagrantly autocratic, such as an Arizona bill allowing legislators to toss the voters' choice in presidential candidate and declare another candidate the victor.

In February, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was roundly denounced for running off to a sunny luxury resort in Cancun, Mexico, during the deep freeze that devastated millions of his constituents. But I wasn't mad that Ted fled; I was mad that the government let him back into our country.

Cruz is, after all, the two-legged, maniacal, self-aggrandizing ego who arrogantly tried to discard the ballots of millions of voters in the presidential election. Then, in January, he amplified claims of voter fraud along with then-President Donald Trump, who duped a crowd of Trumpeteers into storming our nation's Capitol in an attempt to seize control of our government by force. Now, having failed to pull off his coup of clowns, the extremist wannabe autocrat is asking the Supreme Court to suppress the people's democratic will.

In particular, he has teamed up with the sour old corporate plutocrat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to insert themselves into an Arizona case involving discrimination, specifically meant to disenfranchise Latinx, indigenous Americans, and Black voters. Cruz and McConnell demand that the court's six Republican justices kill America's landmark Voting Rights Act by excising Section 2. It prohibits states from altering election rules to give minority voters less opportunity than Anglos to participate in the political process.

In 2016, Arizona's Republican lawmakers passed a nasty provision declaring that any ballot cast in the wrong precinct, no matter how valid the ballot, must be tossed in the trash, rather than merely being allocated to the voter's correct precinct. This almost entirely affects people of color, for GOP election officials play partisan games with them by frequently moving their voting places, often at the last minute with little notice. Ted and Mitch, however, see nothing nefarious in this sneaky cheat. Indeed, they want the court to nullify Section 2, allowing states to change the time, place, and manner of voting whenever they want, even if the changes hurt minority voters.

The theft of our democracy doesn't happen in a violent coup but in a thousand legalistic cuts by crooks like Ted Cruz. He's just one example of the gross, repugnant thievery by political thugs who're not just stealing people's birthright but stealing from America itself. To help reject their depravity — and see what they are doing in your state — go to CommonCause.org.

To find out more about Jim Hightower and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com

FBI Probing Contacts Between GOP Members And Capitol Rioters

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

America watched the events of the January riot and insurgency occur in real time. They saw Trump supporters pushing down police lines to swarm the Capitol grounds. Then watched as those Trump supporters swarmed up the Capitol steps. Watched them smash through the doors and windows. Watched them surge into the halls of Congress carrying zip ties and weapons. Watched them raid congressional offices and stroll the floors of both House and Senate while calling for the murder of Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi.

As more evidence about events of that day appears, what's clear is that America didn't come close to seeing all the violence and destruction brought on by those trying to roll back the revolution and crown Trump as America's king. New testimony from those present on that day, video not previously seen by the public, and evidence developed by investigation is revealing a situation that was even more violent, more destructive, and more threatening to the nation than was obvious from the jaw-dropping scenes that appeared on television screens.

And in addition to evidence of destructive violence, there is also increasing evidence of involvement from Republican officials. That includes both a State Department official now wanted for taking an active role in the violence, and increasing signs of coordination between those breaking into Congress and the Republican legislators inside.

As the Associated Press reports, emails, photos, and other documents collected from those present around the Capitol on January 6 is painting a more complete image of the actions of the pro-Trump insurgents. Taken as a whole, these documents show just how overwhelmed the Capitol Police were in the first moments of the assault, and how Metro D.C. Police and others who rushed in to help only ended up as part of a disorganized patchwork response as communications and control broke down.

Included in this material is the story of a pair of Arlington firefighters who came to the Capitol on January 6, and stuck around to assist the Capitol Police during what was expected to be a large protest. Instead, the two found themselves the only medics on the scene while operating right under the feet—and flagpoles—of an angry mob. Lost in the confusion and hemmed in by thousands of screaming Trumpists, the firefighters attempted to triage dozens of officers who had been injured, but had no way to get them to safety.

Meanwhile, police were trying to respond to dozens of different threats that seemed to be breaking out everywhere at once. Not only were violent extremists grappling with police and bashing their way into buildings, there were threats of potential snipers in trees, a report that the Proud Boys intended to destroy the local water supply, the pipe bombs at both the RNC and DNC headquarters, and reports of still more armed militia groups incoming. Police were unable to concentrate forces at the Capitol steps, because chaos seemed to be happening everywhere.

This explosion of violence may have appeared chaotic and overwhelming to the police, but it clearly did not happen without planning. And as CNNreports, some of that planning may have been coordinated by the people who police were literally dying to protect. During the investigations of Jan. 6 that have been launched in Congress, a number of Republicans—most notably senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz—have repeatedly expressed concern about the idea of the FBI looking into phone records of those in Congress. Hawley in particular has fumed about this "violation of privacy" in multiple hearings.

He may have good reason to be concerned. Because it appears that investigators are, in fact, checking out communications between members of Congress and some of the 300 people who have already been charged with crimes related to the insurgency. Some of this seems to be records showing that criminal insurgents claimed to be working in coordination with members of Congress. Which isn't surprising, considering that two of those arrested had this conversation on the Senate floor as they dug through senator's desk and ripped pages from reports.

Man 1: "There's gotta be something in here we can fucking use against these scumbags. This is a good one, him and Hawley or whatever. Hawley, Cruz."
Man 2: "Hawley, Cruz? I think Cruz would want us to do this... So I think we're good."

Investigators are not just looking at communications that took place on January 6, but contacts between officials and the attackers over the period leading up to the insurgency. That might finally produce some information about the large tour that Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) gave in the days just before the assault.

Those investigators might also want to take a look at the 2,000 page report compiled by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D_CA) that looks at the social media of her Republican colleagues over the weeks leading up to January 6.

"This review lists public social media posts from Members of the U.S. House of Representatives who were sworn-in to office in January 2021 and who voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election."

Lofgren's report includes not just social media comments that seem to be inviting violence, but those that encourage the Big Lie about "election fraud," as well as other elements, such as conspiracy claims related to QAnon. As Lofgren says, the report is "representative, but not exhaustive." Still, it is a handy reference to the lies, incitement, and more lies being pushed onto social media by Republicans in Congress. Also included in Lofgren's review are a number of statements from Republicans, particularly those in the House, that continue to support the Big Lie even after the assault on the Capitol.

Investigators are also looking into the funding of the extremists who attacked the Capitol. While Republicans frequently make false claims about "antifa buses" and Black protesters being sent to locations by a Jewish billionaire, the truth is that numerous militia groups really did meet up at a series of locations and coordinate their arrival in D.C. And it seems entirely possible that those operations were funded by Republican donors, just as the tea party protests were a decade earlier.

However, there's at least one Republican official whose role in the Jan. 6 attack doesn't require digging through phone records or social media. AsThe Washington Post reports, Federico Klein, a former State Department aide appointed by Donald Trump, was arrested Thursday on multiple felony charges. On January 6, Klein joined the insurgents confronting police in a tunnel beneath the Capitol. There he wrenched a riot shield away from one officer and used it to beat others. He also used that shield to hold open a door so that more insurgents could enter the building. At the time, Klein was an active employee at the State Department and enjoyed a Top Secret clearance. His appointment to the State Department followed a paid position in the Trump campaign.

Ron Johnson will not explain how Klein was actually a member of an antifa sleeper cell.

Lying About Garland, Cruz Gets Publicly Rebuked By Senate Judiciary Chairman

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) voted with many of his Republican colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee against confirming Judge Merrick Garland to be the next Attorney General, and did so in a speech designed for the Fox News and OANN cameras – and the fact-checkers. In short, most of Cruz's claims were lies, easily smacked down by Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL).

"Not only did he refuse to answer questions at the hearing," Senator Cruz said falsely, "not only did he refuse to answer questions for the record, but Judge Garland is also one of the few Biden Cabinet nominees refusing to take in person meetings with Senators – categorically refusing to take them. Multiple other Biden nominees are taking them."

Later Cruz stretched his falsehood into an outright and extended lie, claiming Judge Garland "essentially refused to answer all questions," and saying, "on question after question after question Judge Garland refused to answer virtually anything."

Judge Garland, who is 68, decided he did not want to risk in-person meetings during the pandemic. He offered to meet via Zoom, as Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin later explained to Cruz, noting that Cruz refused to meet on Zoom with him. Every Republican in the U.S. Senate in 2016 refused to meet with Garland when he was a Supreme Court nominee.

"If he's not willing to answer questions, now, before he's confirmed, the likelihood of his being willing to answer questions after he was confirmed is only smaller on the response to the questions," Cruz went on to say.

Again, Chairman Durbin reminded Cruz that Republicans sent Garland in writing nearly 850 questions, including 127 from Cruz. Garland answered them all. As he did in his in-person confirmation hearing, when he did not know the answer, he said so.


Chairman Durbin politely smacked down Cruz's claims.

In the end, Garland was reported positively out of committee, 15-7.

Watch Sen. Cruz:


#EndorseThis: Kimmel Highlights 'The Kings Of Conservative Comedy'

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), if somehow you haven't heard, is an annual convention where conservatives get together to complain about liberals, celebrate their bigotry, and, apparently, perform stand-up. So Jimmy Kimmel pulled together a highlight reel from the ridiculous "speeches" delivered there by top conservatives. It's "The Kings of Conservative Comedy," and it is hilarious," although not exactly as intended by the big stars like disgraced Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

As the GOP collapses into a Trump cult, the soundbites and personalities are ever more ludicrous. But how entertaining for the rest of us. Enjoy!