ROGER FITCH ESQ • SATURDAY, JULY 29, 2017
Trumpcare - skinny repeal dies of starvation ... Pardons and impeachments ... The voter purge movement ... Ersatz war crime sees compensation for Mr Khadr ... Democrats need to get a grip ... From Our Man in Washington
THE Republicans' obsessive quest to blow up Obama's health insurance reforms seemed to crumble, before any Senate hearings or debate. Then, at the last hour, using the vote of the vice-president and a dying senator, Republicans proceeded to debate three discrete demolition proposals: "repeal-and-replace", straight-out repeal (more here) and the terrible idea of a "skinny repeal".
The sinister purpose was to produce a Senate Bill - any Bill - to send to the House for "reconciliation" with a truly horrible Bill. Gratifyingly, with the final - "skinny" - defeat, the whole project collapsed.
Repeal had been fiercely attacked in the media, who rightly saw it as about much more than government-mandated and subsidised private health insurance.
Through cruel cuts to Medicaid, "Health Care" Bills of Republicans would have destroyed health care in the very states where Republican legislators' constituents live (more here), defunding along the way rural hospitals, 62 percent of elderly nursing home patients, and essential home careservices. More here.
Republicans were also bent on stripping pre-existing conditions from insurance policies, a cruelty with no plausible explanation - except, perhaps, as payback for handsome corporate contributions (more here).
The worst proposal would have deprived 32 million Americans of their health insurance(more here), and could have resulted in 208,500 more deaths over ten years.
From the start, Republican schemes were about abolishing programs for the poor - the House Bill could have destroyed Medicaid, which Republican states also rely upon - in order to fund tax cuts for the rich.
When previous repeal attempts failed in the Senate, Mr Trump announced he would let "Obamacare" die, and his health secretary is already using money set aside to promoteObamacare to produce videos and other propaganda attacking it.
Government subversion could still cripple the program, even if it survives the predations of Republicans in Congress.
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The Bush Gang operated largely under cover of night; the Trump Team is a case of daylight robbery, playing out on TV before millions of witnesses.
With so many crimes, it's possible that (unlike Bush conspirators) some Trump villains could go to jail, unless pardoned by Mr Trump, who's presently considering pardoning himself. Pardons could, however, help the prosecution, be an obstruction of justice (more here), and even precipitate a constitutional crisis.
As talk grows of mass pardons, Lawfare has produced a long read on what constitutes an impeachable offence, and the Times has a newly-disclosed memo from the office of special counsel (and Bill Clinton nemesis) Kenneth Starr opining that presidents are indictable.
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Changing demographics are making Republicans a permanent minority in the US, and something must be done. The most obvious way is by obstructing potential Democrat votes, and a creative new way to do that is by unnecessarily or fraudulently cancelling voter registrations.
Aided and abetted by the Justice Department's Voting Rights division, three Republicans are leading a voter purge movement. One of them has been appointed to Donald Trump's "Election Integrity" commission.
With Vice President Pence as chair and Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach as his deputy, the bogus body was ostensibly set up to investigate (virtually non-existent) voter fraud, but at its first meeting, Trump demanded it find him "something".
Kris Kobach is the man behind Trump's voter fraud obsession. A notorious vote-suppressorand scourge of immigrants, Kobach will be top fox in the henhouse, simultaneously running an election fraud investigation and standing for Kansas governor (legal challenges are underway).
Joining Kobach will be Republican thugs of yesteryear such as former Ohio secretary of state Ken Blackwell - the man who set up and shepherded George Bush's Ohio-based theft of the 2004 election - and the infamous Bush Justice vote-annihilator, Hans von Spakovsky. More here on Horrible Hans.
The Fourth Horseman investigating "voter fraud" is Christian Adams, general counsel of an organisation that aggressively purges voters.
The Nation has more on the Kobach conspiracy, now beginning to backfire, even in Republican states, although Dahlia Lithwick thinks the chaos is intended and its own reward.
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The Canadian government has paid former Guantanamero Omar Khadr compensation of $10.5 million for its violation of his rights, and apologised.
Some media were mystified by the mean-spirited reaction of Canadian citizens to the Khadr payout and apology. It was hardly unprecedented: a Toronto paper cited Australia's (apology-free) settlement with Mamdouh Habib.
The best exposition of Khadr's case can be found in a 2013 video presentation by his Pentagon-appointed appellate counsel, Sam Morison. In 2017, Fitch found only one Canadian report that acknowledged the elephant in the room, the bizarre murder charge against a combatant legally responding to an attack:
"Under the laws of war, a combatant who kills another combatant cannot be charged with murder. That's called combatant immunity. Non-combatants who kill a combatant can be charged with murder, and they are entitled to the procedural protections owed to a criminal accused. Mr Khadr was treated neither as a combatant nor as an accused criminal. Instead, the United States invented a new war crime called "murder by an unlawful alien enemy combatant".
The new offence made it lawful for US soldiers to kill Mr Khadr, but made it a war crime if he killed a US soldier. This ersatz war crime was invented by the United States after his capture and then applied to his actions retroactively. No system governed by the rule of law does this."
The widow of the US soldier who, even if Omar Khadr threw the grenade, was legally killed, has lost her suit to freeze the compensation payout pending a proceeding to enforce a default Utah judgment for $US 134 million.
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Democrats are soft, and slow to react. They never expect Republicans to behave as badly as they do, or anticipate the particular path their treachery will take.
Fitch has always wondered why, in November 2000, Bill Clinton, a sitting president in full control of the government, did not send the National Guard or FBI to break up the Republican-engineered "Brooks Brothers Riot" in Miami, thus allowing Dade County election officials to complete their lawful recount of the Bush-Gore presidential ballots.
You'd think that, following an election with such a multifaceted - and successful - Republican theft strategy, Democrats would be prepared for the next Republican perfidy, and indeed, Obama seems to have learned from Clinton's inaction, though his efforts in 2016 proved ineffectual.
TIME has a document that shows the Obama administration was fully aware of the possible (cyber-hacking) quid pro quo that Donald Trump might receive from Russians on election day 2016, and had an FBI-military contingency plan in place for dealing with it.