Extreme Gerrymandering In Ohio Called Out

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CNN’s Reality Check w/John Avlon did a segment(11/19/21) featuring an extreme gerrymandering case currently playing out in Ohio. Back in 2018, Ohio voters overwhelmingly backed(75%) an amendment to the state’s constitution that would ensure redistricting was carried out in a bipartisan fashion. Ohio’s congressional district maps were to be drawn by a bipartisan 7-member redistricting commission. The idea behind a bipartisan redistricting commission was quite simple–to create competitive district maps which would in turn reduce political polarization. Basically, politicians will shy away from radical ideas/conduct if they know they can be easily beaten at the polls.

Well, it turns out Ohio Republicans have since reneged on their support for a bipartisan redistricting commission, and are now using the Republican-led state legislature to come up with an extremely gerrymandered map, one that will give them a 13-2 advantage in congressional seats(86%R-14%D), even though Trump’s 2020 win in Ohio was only 53%-45%. No reasonable person would ever conclude that Ohio is an 86R-14D state, yet this is exactly what the new congressional map being pushed by state Republicans attempts to achieve–a total fraud and willful disenfranchisement of Democratic-leaning voters.

Even more repugnant is the way the Republican-led Ohio state legislature ended up being responsible for drawing the congressional maps. According to John Avlon, Republican members of the bipartisan redistricting commission simply refused to show up for duty, thereby crippling the commission because it was unable to convene meetings. With the bipartisan commission deliberately crippled, the redistricting job fell back to the partisan Ohio legislature, which drew the extremely gerrymandered map–a sad state of affairs indeed.

John Avlon said: “Ohio Republicans just decided to disregard the state constitution and the will of the voters. A seven-member redistricting commission had a month to work on a fair map, but Republican members refused to participate, and so the commission couldn’t convene. The power to draw the lines fell back to the Republican-controlled state assembly, who proceeded to do exactly what the constitutional amendment forbade. They cracked and packed minority communities, dividing counties and cities for their own partisan advantage. For example, Hamilton County, home to Cincinnati, which voted for[President] Biden by a 16-point margin, will be divided into 3 congressional districts, with Black voters offset by White Republicans.”

This is just the latest example of how state Republicans are actively disenfranchising Democratic-leaning/minority voters while Democrats in Washington are still dithering over abolishing the filibuster, and coming up with a federal voting rights law. A federal voting rights law is the only solution to the rampant GOP gerrymandering.

Bottom line folks, time is of the essence. Democrats need to abolish the filibuster immediately and pass a federal voting rights law. The two Senate holdouts, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, must be confronted with this troubling Ohio gerrymandering case, and be forced to explain why a filibuster carve out for a federal voting legislation is not the appropriate way to go, given the dire circumstances.

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Fox News Sunday Host Grills Texas AG Ken Paxton About His Felony Indictments

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At his appearance on Fox News Sunday(11/14/21), Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was confronted with a question about his felony indictments, which his 2022 Republican primary challenger George P. Bush(Jeb’s son) argues, renders Paxton unfit for public office. A-G Paxton’s rattled and incoherent response to host Chris Wallace’s direct question shows that he did not expect such a question from Fox News.

A-G Paxton’s full interview on Fox News Sunday is available here, but the relevant clip is below.

Host Chris Wallace: “You face your own legal problems…You are under indictment on an allegation of securities fraud and you are also the subject of an FBI investigation because some former top officials in your own office accused you of bribery. George P. Bush, the son of Jeb Bush is running against you next year…Here’s what he says:’Our top lawyer needs to be above reproach. There shouldn’t even be a question of one’s character and competence for this important role.’ How big a problem do you think these allegations against you will be in your effort to win reelection?”

AG Paxton: “Look, I’ve been dealing with this kind of fight. When you go out and do the type of things that I’ve done, you are going to be challenged, you are going to have issues like this pop up. This happened 7 years ago, almost 7 years ago, I was reelected when it happened, and I think we’ve done a great job defending the state of Texas. That’s what I’m going to talk about…I’m going to continue doing my job.”

A-G Paxton’s rattled and incoherent response to this valid question basically boils down to (1) his felony indictments are the result of some vast left wing conspiracy, and (2) the fact that he got reelected even with the indictments means he’s innocent–both of which are bogus. In the eyes of the Texas public, it is A-G Paxton who’s the beneficiary of political favors. Simply put, no regular Texan would still be waiting for a criminal trial stemming from 7 year old indictments. Unless and until A-G Paxton’s indictments are resolved, either by being quashed, or by Paxton beating them at trial, he is simply not fit to continue serving as Texas’ top lawyer.

Bottom line folks, there was a time not very long ago, when public officials would swiftly resign if their character had been credibly called into question. Nothing credibly calls one’s character into question more than felony indictments. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton should save the Lone Star State from any further embarrassment by either stepping down now, or scrapping his reelection plans. There are many capable indictment-free Texans who can serve as Attorney General.

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Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo:”Texas Is Being Run From Maralago”

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Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo appeared on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show (09/24/2021), where she blasted elected Republicans in Texas for giving in to former President Trump’s baseless demands for an audit into the state’s 2020 election results. The decision by the Texas Secretary of State’s office to conduct an audit into the election results of Collin, Dallas, Harris and Tarrant counties, came literally a few hours after Trump’s demand, which led a visibly upset Judge Hidalgo to tell host Maddow that Texas was “being run from Maralago.”

Judge Hidalgo told Maddow:“We have to remember we had incredibly successful elections here in Harris County in 2020. We had innovations that led to record turnouts from both parties, the highest in 30 years, I mean it was beautiful, and since then, no evidence has come out that would in any way cause the need for this kind of audit. All we’ve seen is [former]President Trump exhorting the state, or [Governor]Abbott, to have this audit…The reality of it is Texas is being run from Maralago, and that is dangerous, and it’s not appropriate…it’s extremely concerning.”

Judge Hidalgo added that time had come for politicians in Washington to get off the sidelines, and actively join the fight against voter suppression in the states, telling host Maddow, “We need the federal government to act, I mean, this has gone too far… This should be another call to action. We’ve got the writing on the wall. We’ve got to get off our chairs and get moving on all this.”

Bottom line folks, as Judge Hidalgo correctly pointed out, time has come for some decisive action to be taken against these naked efforts by Republicans at the state level, to restrict the voting rights of minorities. Democrats in Washington cannot just sit on the sidelines, and watch their counterparts in Republican-led states like Texas, go to war against GOP’s efforts to restrict minority voting rights. Simply put, time has come for Democrats in Washington to finally do away with the filibuster, and institute a national voting standard geared towards making it easier for people to vote, as opposed to GOP’s scheme of limiting access to the ballot box. As Judge Hidalgo correctly put it, congressional Democrats need to “get off their chairs and get moving” on a comprehensive federal voting rights law.

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McConnell:”This Is One Of The Worst Foreign Policy Decisions In American History, Much Worse Than Saigon”

At his appearance on Fox News Sunday(08/29/21) to discuss the ongoing evacuation crisis in Afghanistan, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell(R-KY), slammed President Biden’s Afghanistan policy, calling it “one of the worst foreign policy decisions in American history, much worse than Saigon.” Senator McConnell added that Biden’s Afghanistan policy was worse than America’s pullout from Vietnam because when we left Vietnam, we did not have to worry about further attacks from the country.

Senator McConnell’s full interview on Fox News Sunday is available here, but the relevant clip is below.

Sen McConnell told host Chris Wallace:“This[Biden’s Afghanistan policy]is one of the worst foreign policy decisions in American history, much worse than Saigon, because after we left Saigon, there weren’t Vietnamese terrorists who were planning on attacking us here at home…”

Whether or not Biden’s Afghanistan policy is worse than Saigon, is a topic historians will feast over for years to come. Biden and fellow Democrats however, can bet on “worse than Saigon” being a popular attack line from Republicans, as we approach the 2022 elections. You heard similar attacks last weekend from Rep Liz Cheney(R-WY), and again this weekend from Senator Lindsey Graham, meaning the GOP intends to make Afghanistan a top campaign issue in 2022.

Bottom line folks, as Yours Truly warned from the onset of the Afghanistan debacle, a warning that was no doubt met with your eye roll, this is the kind of stuff that can destroy an administration.

TeamBiden needs to take these attacks by Senators McConnell, Graham, Sasse, Rep Cheney, and other establishment Republicans very seriously, and if that means keeping our troops longer in Afghanistan to prevent the Taliban from killing U.S. citizens, or our Afghan allies still trapped in the country, so be it. Leaving Afghanistan without coming up with a way to counter these establishment Republican attacks–“Biden abandoned Americans in Afghanistan”–will assuredly lead to major Dem losses in 2022. Plain and simple.

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Handy List Of The 20 GOP Senators Up For Reelection In 2022

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The 2022 midterm elections are fast approaching and Democrats cannot afford to lose both the House and the Senate to the GOP. Midterm elections traditionally favor the party out of power, so it’s reasonable to assume that Republicans have a good shot of recapturing both the House and the Senate in 2022. Recapturing the House especially favors Republicans given the fact that Republican-controlled states currently have an advantage when in comes to redistricting–they can add/redraw more congressional districts than Democrats.

Democrats however, cannot afford to lose the Senate, which is not affected by the redistricting process. If Democrats lose both the House and Senate in 2022, the Biden presidency will for all intents and purposes be over–at least until the 2024 general elections. Republicans are already abusing the filibuster to stifle President Biden’s legislative agenda, even without control of either chamber (House or Senate), so one can just imagine how reckless they will be, if they take over both the House and the Senate in 2022. Simply put, they will block all of President Biden’s legislative proposals and judicial nominations until the 2024 elections. The upcoming 2022 elections are therefore crucially important for the Biden-Harris agenda.

34 U.S. Senate seats are up in 2022. Out of these 34, 20 are currently held by Republicans, and 14 by Democrats. The map below gives a breakdown of the states where the 34 Senate elections will be held in 2022.

Republican Senators whose seats are up in 2022 include Richard Shelby(AL), Roy Blunt(MO), Rob Portman(OH), Pat Toomey(PA), Richard Burr(NC)–all of whom are retiring(open seats)–plus Lisa Murkowski(AL), Marco Rubio(FL), John Boozman(AR), Mike Crapo(ID), Todd Young(IN), Chuck Grassley(IA), Jerry Moran(KS), Rand Paul(KY), John Neely Kennedy(LA), John Hoeven(ND), James Lankford(OK), Tim Scott(SC), John Thune(SD), and Mike Lee(UT), Ron Johnson(WI)

Democrats are Mark Kelly(AZ), Alex Padilla(CA), **KDH SEAT, Michael Bennet(CO), Richard Blumenthal(CT), Raphael Warnock(GA), Brian Schatz(HI), Tammy Duckworth(IL), Chris Van Hollen(MD), Catherine Cortez Masto(NV), Maggie Hassan(NH), Charles Schumer(NY), Ron Wyden(OR), Patrick Leahy(VT) and Patty Murray(WA).

The U.S. Senate is currently tied at 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans so neither party can afford to lose a seat in 2022. Democrats have a good shot at picking up the open Pennsylvania seat, where incumbent Republican Pat Toomey is retiring. President Biden won Pennsylvania in 2020. Based on a recent Iowa poll showing unfavorable numbers for incumbent Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Senate seat may also be a potential pickup for Democrats. These two pickups for Democrats, would make up for the two Senate seats where they have the biggest vulnerability–Warnock’s Georgia seat, and Mark Kelly’s Arizona seat. While President Biden won both Georgia and Arizona in 2020, these two states have traditionally voted Republican in statewide elections.

Bottom line folks, even though the game plan for Democrats heading into the 2022 elections should be to retain both the House and Senate, special emphasis must be placed on retaining the Senate. Simply put, if the Biden-Harris administration is to survive beyond 2022, Dems must retain the Senate.

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