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GOP Packs Courts With Conservative Judges

McConnell preps new nuclear option to speed Trump judges. Politico: “President Donald Trump’s stream of judges is about to become a torrent. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his GOP caucus have long prioritized confirming conservative judges to lifetime appointments. But they’re about to accelerate their ability to unilaterally approve many nominees in dramatic fashion. The Senate is on track to confirm the 34th Circuit Court judge of Trump’s presidency in the next week and the GOP has three more ready for floor action; that would give Trump roughly 20 percent of the Circuit Court seats in the country after just two years in office. At this rate, McConnell and Trump could leave few, if any, vacancies there for a potential Democratic president in 2021. Even more alarming for Democrats, the GOP is also preparing to pull the trigger on the “nuclear option” and change Senate rules once again with a simple majority to allow much quicker confirmation of lower court judges in the coming months. ‘The committee is working to put [judges] out on the floor and as soon as they come to the floor the leader’s making it a priority to move them,’ said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, McConnell’s top deputy. ‘It’ll be a high priority for the foreseeable future. I mean, it’s one of the things we can do that we don’t need the House’s help with.'”

GM Permanently Ends U.S. Car Production

From $22 an hour to $11: GM job cuts in Ohio show a hot economy is still leaving parts of America behind. WaPo:cScott Mezzapeso had to do something last month he never imagined: call his ex-wife and warn her that he might not be able to pay child support on time. Mezzapeso has a tattoo of his daughter on his left arm and rarely misses her high school softball games, but money has become extremely tight. General Motors is shuttering its plant here, and Mezzapeso is one of roughly 5,400 casualties. Mezzapeso earned $22 an hour with good benefits at Magna, a GM supplier that made seats for the Chevy Cruze, but he was laid off last summer as the auto giant scaled back Cruze production and suppliers did the same. Now he makes $11 an hour working part time at Bruno Bros. Pizza, the only job he has found after months of sending out his résumé. With GM set to shut down production here Wednesday, Lordstown shows how the nation’s booming jobs market is still leaving vast segments of America behind.”

House Struggles Over Anti-Semitism Resolution

House’s anti-semitism resolution exposes generational fight over Ilhan Omar. NYT:” A formal condemnation of anti-Semitism that is up for a vote in the House this week has touched off a furious debate between older House Democrats and their young liberal colleagues over whether Representative Ilhan Omar is being singled out for unfair treatment over her statements on Israel. The resolution, likely to be voted on Thursday, grew out of Ms. Omar’s suggestion last week that pro-Israel activists were pushing “for allegiance to a foreign country” — a remark that infuriated leading Jewish members of the House, who say it played into the anti-Semitic trope of ‘dual loyalty.’ But progressives in the House and their allies have rallied to the defense of Ms. Omar, a freshman Democrat from Minnesota and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, who was hailed as a trailblazer. Speaker Nancy Pelosi told top Democrats on Tuesday evening that the resolution would also include language condemning anti-Muslim bias as well — a move advocated by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The rift emerging around Ms. Omar is easily the most serious since Democrats swept to House control in November, an ideological and generational divide that has grown fierce in recent days and threatens to overshadow the party’s legislative agenda. On one side are veteran Democrats like Representatives Eliot L. Engel, Nita M. Lowey and Jerrold Nadler — all of whom lead major House committees and all of whom are Jewish. They met over the weekend with Representative Steny H. Hoyer, the majority leader, and other Democrats in a frenzied effort to respond to Ms. Omar and emerged to push for the resolution. On the other side are younger members like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, and liberal groups like Justice Democrats and IfNotNow, a movement of young Jews dedicated to ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. They accuse Democratic leaders of singling out a woman of color while letting slide comments from Republicans that they deem racist, anti-Semitic or bigoted, including many from President Trump.”

White Supremacist Propaganda Rising

White supremacist propaganda at ‘record-setting’ levels, ADL report finds. NPR: “At first, you might not realize the flyer was put there by a white supremacy group. The poster, in shades of black, white and teal, features George Washington on horseback. The accompanying text reads: “‘European roots, American greatness.’ Flyers like this, posted across the country by American neo-Nazi and white supremacist group, Identity Evropa, are popping up far more than they used to. According to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League, white supremacy propaganda increased by 182 percent in 2018 compared to the year before. The increase in flyers and other propaganda reflects a relatively new strategy for hate groups, the ADL says. Under intense scrutiny, white supremacists are reluctant to show their face in public, so they’re relying more on leaflets and posters to spread hate without putting themselves at personal risk, it adds. ADL counted 1,187 incidents of propaganda in 2018, up from 421 incidents in 2017. While college campuses remain a primary target, most of that increase occurred off of college campuses, with 868 incidents in 2018, up from 129 the year before. The alt-right also uses banners to promote its message, the ADL said, counting 32 instances of white supremacist banners hung in high-visibility locations such as highway overpasses. Increased propaganda efforts ‘allow them to maximize media and online attention, while limiting the risk of individual exposure, negative media coverage, arrests and public backlash,’ the ADL wrote. The frequent subtlety of the flyers is intentional, and represents a shift in the way white supremacy groups are attempting to spread their ideology, the ADL reports. ‘If you know what you’re looking at, the white supremacists banners, stickers and fliers clearly convey racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia,’ ADL senior investigative researcher Carla Hill wrote in Politico. ‘But the messaging is not always overtly hateful.'”

Hate Groups At 20-Year High

Hate group count hits 20-year high amid rise in white supremacy, report says. NYT: “The number of hate groups in the United States rose for the fourth year in a row in 2018, pushed to a record high by a toxic combination of political polarization, anti-immigrant sentiment and technologies that help spread propaganda online, the Southern Poverty Law Center said Wednesday. The law center said the number of hate groups rose by 7 percent last year to 1,020, a 30 percent jump from 2014. That broadly echoes other worrying developments, including a 30 percent increase in the number of hate crimes reported to the F.B.I. from 2015 through 2017 and a surge of right-wing violence that the Anti-Defamation League said had killed at least 50 people in 2018. ‘We’re seeing a lot of bad trends,’ Heidi Beirich, the director of the intelligence project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said in an interview. ‘There are more hate groups, more hate crimes and more domestic terrorism in that same vein. It is a troubling set of circumstances.’ Ms. Beirich said the increase in extremist activity tracked by her team began in earnest in the early days of the 2016 presidential election, when anxieties over immigration helped propel President Trump to the White House. Before that, she said, the number of hate groups had fallen for three straight years. ‘Trump has made people in the white supremacist movement move back into politics and the public domain,’ Ms. Beirich said. ‘He is a critical aspect of this dynamic, but he is not the only reason why the ranks of hate groups are growing. The ability to propagate hate in the online space is key.’ The center said in a statement that most hate groups in the United States espoused some form of white supremacist ideology, including neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Confederates and white nationalists. It said the number of white nationalist groups jumped by almost 50 percent, to 148 in 2018 from 100. For the purposes of its study, the center said it considered any organization whose leaders, activities or statement of principles attacks an entire class of people to be a hate group.”

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