The Georgia legislature is about to give itself the power to override voters and remove county prosecutors from office for, um, reasons. The New York Times:
Two of the measures under consideration would create a new state oversight board that could punish or remove prosecutors for loosely defined reasons, including “willful misconduct.” A third would sharply reduce the number of signatures required to seek a recall of a district attorney. …
…In the Republican-controlled legislature, as of Friday afternoon, the prospects seemed favorable for the bills creating an oversight committee. They were dimmer for the recall election bill, which would lower the number of registered voters required to sign a petition to prompt a recall of prosecutors from the current 30 percent, which is standard for local elected offices, to just 2 percent. The measure was introduced after some high-profile Trump supporters in Georgia promoted the idea of a recall campaign against Ms. Willis, even though such an effort would be unlikely to succeed in Fulton County, a Democratic stronghold.
Of course this is all about shutting down Fani Willis. We don’t know how close she is to indictments. If this measure is signed into law, which is expected to happen in a week or two, I wonder if she’ll speed things up.
One of the guests on MSNBC last night mentioned that Georgia law already allows for the removal of corrupt prosecutors, although I couldn’t find anything more about that on the Web. But all over the country there are Republican legislatures moving to take over county and city departments and offices currently run by Democrats, often elected Democrats.
But this isn’t new. Back in 2011 I wrote about “Martial Law in Michigan.” Then Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-controlled legislature were passing laws that allowed them to cancel city governments and appoint “emergency” city managers with dictatorial powers. The cities so canceled tended to be places that had lost their industrial base, usually some auto manufacturing plants, and were struggling with much reduced tax revenue. And they also tended to have large Black populations that voted for Democrats. But the emergency managers often had no experience with running cities; they were cost-cutters. They swooped in and cut services, sold public parks to private companies, and famously destroyed the Flint water supply.
Here in Missouri the legislature just voted to put the St. Louis police department under the control of a state board rather than the mayor of St. Louis. The mayor of St. Louis, you might remember, is a Democratic Black woman, Tishaura Jones.
St. Louis has a big problem with violent crime. But a big reason for that is the state’s asinine gun laws. St. Louis desperately needs tougher gun control laws to get the gun violence under control, but the state won’t let the city toughen its own laws. Instead their solution is to put the city police department under control of a panel appointed by the state’s wingnut governor. The St. Louis police union is fine with this, of course. You might remember the St. Louis police department has some issues. Like this.
The state is also making another attempt to remove St. Louis prosecutor Kim Gardner, also a Black woman. The first time they were trying to protect Mark and Patricia McCloskey. That didn’t go anywhere. But recently there was a terrible incident in which a young woman lost her legs in an auto accident. The driver who caused the accident was under felony indictment for a 2020 robbery but was out on bond. And the driver’s case does reveal some sloppy work by the prosecutor’s office; he had violated bond multiple times yet somehow was still out, fallen through the cracks. So it’s going to be harder to protect Gardner this time. The governor plans to appoint someone to replace Gardner and won’t say if he will allow a special election to allow the people to choose their own prosecutor. I’m guessing not.
Back to the New York Times:
The proposals are part of a broader push by conservative lawmakers around the country to rein in prosecutors whom they consider too liberal, and who in some cases are refusing to prosecute low-level drug crimes or enforce strict new anti-abortion laws.
Republicans these days hate democracy. They hate voters. They want fascism.
While the recent CPAC convention was going on, never-Trump Republicans were having a smaller meeting nearby. The mood was bleak.
The former Bush speechwriter turned columnist David Frum compared their effort to reform the party to blazing a landing strip in the middle of the jungle and simply waiting for planes to land. Former congressional candidate Clint Smith, who switched his party affiliation from Republican to Independent to challenge Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), described his state’s GOP as a forest of trees killed by an invasive species of beetle that crawls under bark to poison from the inside. Panels for the event included “Looking to 2024: Hope and Despair — but Mostly Despair” and “Can the GOP survive?”
If it all felt a bit dark at times, it was a reflection of the mood of some headliners.
“Trump is a cancer that’s now metastasized,” said former Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), shortly after wrapping the latter panel. “So it’s going to kill the party more.”
Just to illustrate what we’re up against, Tucker Carlson (predictably) just released cherry-picked surveillance footage of the January 6 violence to argue that this was a peaceful protest. And just as predictably, the Right has bought it. The right-wing web sites today have all declared that Tucker has “debunked” the “myth” that the January 6 insurrection was violent. Just like good Nazis, they believe what they’re told to believe.
So, yes, we’re in big trouble here.