Today is Easter Sunday for non-orthodox Christians. It is their celebration of Jesus Christ coming back from the dead. It is early Thursday afternoon as I write this article. The President is on his way to Mar-a-Lago (via Ohio) and I’m (somewhat dangerously) assuming major antics are done for the week; at least those emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The biggest story of the week (which got little attention from the for-profit media) is the Republican resurrection of their voter suppression efforts with a slightly new twist. Let’s explore.
The Wilbur Ross-led Commerce Department announced that it has assented to the Jeff Sessions-led Department of Justice and will include a question about citizenship in the 2020 Census. Attorney General Sessions claimed he needed the data in order to better enforce what remains of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That is about as convincing as a Donald Trump, “Believe me”.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders defended the move by saying that the question had been included in every Census since 1960 with the exception of 2010. (The implication being that Obama is the culprit.) While perhaps not an out-and-out lie (I’m being generous; it’s Easter); it is certainly a distortion of the truth. The citizenship question has been on the long form Census during that period of time. However, only about 16% of the population is counted via the long form. (Just in case any mathematically challenged Paul Ryan type Republicans are monitoring my site today that means it never effected 84% of the population.)
The reason the Trump-led Republicans included the question is to suppress the vote by undercounting the population in the 2020 Census. Especially in today’s climate they expect Hispanics to be less likely to respond and thereby be counted with the inclusion of the citizenship question. If that is the case it will cost Congressional districts in California and Texas among other states. The census is a count of the number of people who live in America, not the number of them who are citizens. The number of residents, not eligible voters or citizens, determine congressional district allocation. The GOP certainly doesn’t want any more California House members and is in good shape in Texas as long as the Hispanic vote is suppressed. In many cases Census data is also used to allocate federal government assistance. If Hispanics are undercounted that translates to more aid for red districts.
Taking the politics and lies out of the discussion for a moment, what good is an inaccurate count? Much research uses Census data as its base. Under the old computer GIGO axiom, if your data is flawed your conclusion will also be.
The good news on this front is that within hours of the announcement California Attorney General Xavier Beccera filed suit and was soon joined by over ten of his peers. This could well be another situation where the courts will overrule Don Trump and his Capos.
Speaking of Capos, Don Trump fired another last week. David Shulkin is out as VA Administrator and Rear Admiral Ronny (not Ronnie) Jackson was nominated to take his place. If the name (and misspelling) is somewhat familiar that is because Admiral Jackson is President Trump’s White House physician. By all accounts Dr. Jackson is a nice guy and was well liked when he served George W. Bush and Barack Obama in the same capacity. I, along with many others, assume that Trump likes him because of his defense of Trump’s state of health in a press conference which was great material for a Saturday Night Live skit.
Trump has (and undoubtedly will again) made worse nominations but questioning Jackson’s qualifications for the post are legitimate. The VA has some 360,000 employees and is notoriously difficult to run. One of the jokes around Washington is that heading the VA is where careers go to die. It’s a tough job and getting tougher. Nice guy aside, giving the job to “Dr. I judge the President’s mental fitness via a test whose questions and answers are readily available online” and have never run a large organization appears to be a recipe for disaster. I predict he will be confirmed. Republicans won’t fight Trump on this and many Democrats will not be willing to vote against a flag grade officer.
I’ll close out with a story that flew almost completely under the radar but could be huge. Federal District Court Judge Peter J. Messitte ruled that DC Attorney General Karl Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brain Frosh have standing to sue Trump for violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution. This is huge considering that similar lawsuits have died early in the process due to lack of standing. We are early in the process and I’m sure Trump will appeal the ruling. If this ruling stands the implications could be gigantic in proportion. They could include Trump’s tax returns and business records being subject to discovery and ultimately Trump’s removal from office. Keep this on your radar screen.
To all my Polish readers: Swieconka is over, enjoy Easter and get ready for Dyngus Day. That’s a trifecta for you!
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