Friday Reads: Crazy continues but January is coming

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

The nation’s overwhelmed electoral system is still delivering women to Congress and possible recounts.



45707316_1080749098770173_4246451701906669568_nRemember hanging chads?  Well, Florida is about to do it to us again for both the Senate and Gubernatorial races there.  Uncounted votes are still out there in Florida and Arizona.   This is about as good of a headline as any to start the day.  It’s from The Daily Beast and the keyboard of Will Sommer. “Republicans Freak Out as New Ballots Threaten Florida Senate Win”.

As the Republican margin in Florida’s U.S. Senate race narrowed and the contest headed toward a manual recount, everyone from elected Republicans to online conspiracy-mongers began screaming foul on Thursday night.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is clinging to a roughly 34,000-vote lead over Sen. Bill Nelson (D), held a press conference at the Florida governor’s mansion in which he called on law enforcement to launch an investigation and announced that he and the National Republican Senate Committee were bringing a lawsuit against officials in Broward County, where many votes are still being counted.

In other words, the state governor used his state-funded official residence to launch legal action against his own state’s election officials about an election he was a candidate in.

That was merely the formal legal tip of the brewing Republican pushback.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) had a social media meltdown, claiming in a long series of tweets that Democratic lawyers had come to Broward to “change the results of the election.”

It’s no wonder Florida gets to be the butt of every national joke.  I mean really. Can’t they ever get elections right?  From local TV station “local 10”:  Broward County elections supervisor explains why it’s taking so long to count ballots.”

As Broward County appears to be at the epicenter of another recount, Supervisor of Elections Dr. Brenda Snipes is on the defensive about how her office has handled Tuesday’s election results.

Snipes, who has been at the helm of Broward County elections since 2003, had a testy exchange with Local 10 News investigative reporter Jeff Weinsier during an interview Thursday.

The embattled elections supervisor was surprised by reporters as she stepped out of a bathroom and asked about the status of the recount.

“Could I please get a moment to go into the room and find out?” Snipes asked the group huddled around her. “OK, when I come back I’ll let you know.”

“But, Dr. Snipes, it is now Thursday,” Weinsier said. “We are still counting ballots in Broward County.”

“We’re counting five pages or six pages for each of the people who voted,” Snipes said.

“But other counties have been able to do it,” Weinsier said.

“But other counties didn’t have 600,000 votes out there,” Snipes shot back.

“Well, Miami-Dade did,” Weinsier said.

“Well, have you been inside my — never mind, let me go check. I’ll check,” Snipes said.

“But it’s a serious issue. It always seems like…” Weinsier said before Snipes interrupted him.

“It’s a serious issue with me,” she told him. “I’ve been doing this now since Oct. 22.”

“But if it’s a serious issue with you…” Weinsier said, only to be interrupted again.

“We ran 22 sites, we ran 14 days, we ran 12 hours, we had a big vote by mail (during early voting), so don’t try to turn it around to make it seem like I’m making comedy out of this,” Snipes replied.

Then Snipes walked away.

She later confirmed that 205 provisional ballots in the county are being looked at Thursday by a canvassing board.

This isn’t the first time Snipes has come under scrutiny for her office’s seemingly mismanagement of ballots.

First Lady Michelle Obama speaks to members of the class of 2016 in her final commencement speech as first lady, Friday June 3, 2016, during commencement at CCNY in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

The Tampa Bay TImes is live blogging the recount/count events.  We finally got rid of Scott Walker. Can we get rid of Rick Scott  now?

9:05 — Rick Scott is also suing Palm Beach County. Here’s the lawsuit.

9:00 — Rick Scott filed suit against Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes over the county’s delay in completing its count of the votes from the midterm election. Scott sued as a candidate for the U.S. Senate, not in his capacity as governor of Florida.

Scott followed up by lashing out at Snipes in an extraordinary press conference at the Governor’s Mansion on Thursday night.

Broward County lags the rest of the state in completing the first, crucial phases of counting ballots from Tuesday’s midterm election. As of 8 p.m. Thursday, the same time the governor summoned reporters to the mansion, Broward County was the only one of the state’s 67 counties that had not reported to the state that it had completed its tabulation of early votes. Early voting ended Sunday in Broward.

Read the full recap of Scott’s press conference here.

8:55 — Republican House Speaker-designate Jose R. Oliva today released the following statement:

” I fully support and commend the Governor for directing FDLE to investigate. The power of the vote is only as strong as the trust in the count. With each new ballot ‘found’ that trust erodes.”

8: 46 — Andrew Gillum tweets his response to Rick Scott’s lawsuit.

Mr. @FLGovScott — counting votes isn’t partisan — it’s democracy.

Count every vote.

8:34 — Sen. Bill Nelson responded to Gov. Rick Scott’s late-night announcement through a statement from his spokesman Dan McLaughlin.

“The goal here is to see that all the votes in Florida are counted and counted accurately. Rick Scott’s action appears to be politically motivated and borne out of desperation.”

8:31 — “I am proud to be the next Senator for the great state of Florida,” Rick Scott said.

Scott ends the press conference without taking any questions.

8:30 — “Some believe this is simply rank incompetence. That is certainly true,” Rick Scott said. But it would be naive to think they are overruling the will of the voters, he adds.

Scott is asking for law enforcement to investigate immediately and he will use every legal options necessary, he said.

This race is tight and will hopefully cut into the Republican’s senate majority when finally called.

Suspense and uncertainty now hang over the supertight U.S. Senate race, which has Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican candidate Martha McSally separated by just 9,610 votes, according to updated election results.

The results were updated after 5 p.m. Thursday, the first time since election night that the tallies had been substantially updated.

Sinema was leading as of 6:20 p.m. She had 932,870 votes,representing 49.10 percent of the total reported votes while McSally had 923,260 votes, or 48.59 percent. Green Party candidate Angela Green had earned 43,838.

It’s too soon to know who will ultimately prevail.

With tens of thousands of outstanding ballots, the campaign managers for both teams conveyed confidence, with each saying the remaining ballots would favor their candidate.

After Sinema’s lead widened Thursday, McSally’s campaign manager, Jim Bognet, predicted Sinema’s lead would “disappear.” In a written statement, he said outstanding ballots in Maricopa County arrived on days when early GOP turnout was higher than the votes reflected in Thursday’s results.

“With half a million ballots left to count we remain confidence that as votes continue to come in from counties across the state, Martha McSally will be elected Arizona’s next Senator,” Bognet said in the statement.

I’m peppering today’s posts with pictures of former First Lady Michelle Obama because her book is out and it’s going on my reading list.  Among the things she discusses are her trouble getting pregnant and how awful the placeholder in the oval office behaves.  She slams Trump.  This is from WAPO and the keyboard of Krissah Thompson.

The first-lady memoir is a rite of passage, but Obama’s is different by virtue of her very identity. “Becoming” takes her historic status as the first black woman to serve as first lady and melds it deftly into the American narrative. She writes of the common aspects of her story and — as the only White House resident to count an enslaved great-great-grandfather as an ancestor — of its singular sweep.

In the 426-page book, Obama lays out her complicated relationship with the political world that made her famous. But her memoir is not a Washington read full of gossip and political score-settling — though she does lay bare her deep, quaking disdain for Trump, who she believes put her family’s safety at risk with his vehement promotion of the false birther conspiracy theory.

“The whole [birther] thing was crazy and mean-spirited, of course, its underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly concealed. But it was also dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks,” she writes. “What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington? What if that person went looking for our girls? Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this I’d never forgive him.”

It is the most direct and personal language she’s used about him. Trump reacted angrily Friday, jabbing his finger as he told reporters that “she got paid a lot of money to write a book and they always insist that you come up with controversy. Well, I’ll give you a little controversy back. I’ll never forgive him for what he did to the United States military by not funding it properly. It was depleted. . . . She talked about safety. What he did to our military made this country very unsafe for you and you and you.”

The notoriously private first lady speaks openly about a miscarriage which is a difficult conversation for any woman.  It’s perhaps another first step for a first lady who made history with a lot of firsts.

Former first lady Michelle Obama said she felt “lost and alone” after suffering a miscarriage about 20 years ago, during an exclusive interview with “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts.

“I felt like I failed because I didn’t know how common miscarriages were because we don’t talk about them,” Obama said. “We sit in our own pain, thinking that somehow we’re broken.”

She added, “That’s one of the reasons why I think it’s important to talk to young mothers about the fact that miscarriages happen.”

The free press is finding reasons for the Congress to refuse to recognize Mark Whitaker’s take over of the DOJ.  I would like to say that I am a Whittaker with two ‘ts’ and it takes two ‘ts’ to get to truth and integrity.  Here’s Jonathan Swan writing for Axios.

Matt Whitaker has been acting attorney general for just one full day but he’s already under extreme pressure.

Why it matters: President Trump, who shocked even some of his senior most staff with the hasty timing of his firing of Jeff Sessions, threw Whitaker into an immediate political and legal storm. The White House expected opposition from Democrats but the blowback is widening and now includes a growing body of conservative legal opinion.

  • Within hours of his appointment on Wednesday, Congressional Democrats began calling on Whitaker, a Trump loyalist, to recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation because of comments about the Mueller probe that Whitaker made last year before he became Sessions’ chief of staff.
  • Whitaker wrote last year that the Mueller investigation was dangerously close to becoming a “witch hunt,” and during a TV appearance reportedly imagined a scenario in which the “attorney general doesn’t fire Bob Mueller, but he just reduces his budget to so low that his investigation grinds to almost a halt.”
  • The N.Y. Times fronts a story by Charlie Savage, “At Justice Dept., A Boss Who Held Courts in Disdain”: Whitaker “once espoused the view that the courts ‘are supposed to be the inferior branch’ and criticized the Supreme Court’s power to review legislative and executive acts and declare them unconstitutional.”

A new problem emerged yesterday. Prominent attorneys Neal Katyal and George Conway wrote a New York Times op-ed in which they argue Trump’s appointment of Whitaker is illegal because the Constitution dictates that anyone serving in a “principal role” must be confirmed by the Senate.

  • “Conway and Katyal raise valid constitutional concerns,” said John B. Bellinger III, a partner at Arnold & Porter, who previously served as a senior White House lawyer and as the State Department Legal Adviser in the George W. Bush Administration.”
  • “The problem is not only that Mr. Whitaker does not already hold a Senate-confirmed position, it’s not even clear that he qualifies as an Executive branch ‘officer’ who may be asked by the President to assume the duties of Acting Attorney General because he was not an ‘officer’ exercising significant authority in his position as Chief of Staff.”
  • “In addition to politicizing the Department of Justice, the President is running a serious risk that any formal actions taken by Mr. Whitaker could be subject to legal challenge and declared invalid.”
  • “It would have been less controversial,” Bellinger told Axios, “and less legally risky if the President had named the Deputy Attorney General, or Solicitor General, or an Assistant Attorney General as Acting Attorney General.”

Trump’s case: There are respected lawyers arguing that Trump is well within his legal rights to appoint Whitaker as acting attorney general, as Axios’ Stef Kight and Alayna Treene report. (See their arguments.)

  • Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores emailed: “The VRA [Vacancies Reform Act] was passed in 1998 and Acting Attorney General Whitaker’s appointment was made pursuant to the procedures approved by Congress.”

Be smart: Trump likes and trusts Whitaker, and a source close to the president told Axios he could easily imagine Trump appointing Whitaker as Sessions’ permanent replacement.

  • But Whitaker’s path to Senate confirmation is filled with obstacles.

He needs to go.  Massive protests were held all over the world and the country last night.

Good news for the environment comes from the pen of a Judge. From the Hill “Judge blocks Keystone XL pipeline”  The reason is just terrific.

A federal judge blocked the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline Thursday, saying the Trump administration’s justification for approving it last year was incomplete.

In a major victory for environmentalists and indigenous rights groups, Judge Brian Morris of the District Court for the District of Montana overturned President Trump’s permit for the Canada-to-Texas pipeline, which the president signed shortly after taking office last year.

Morris’s ruling repeatedly faulted the Trump administration for reversing then-President Obama’s 2015 denial of the pipeline permit without proper explanation. He said the State Department “simply discarded” climate change concerns related to the project.

The decision once again throws into doubt the future of the 1,179-mile Keystone XL, which for much of the decade since its proposal by TransCanada Corp. has been a lightning rod in national energy policy.

The Trump administration had tried to argue that federal courts didn’t even have the right to review Trump’s approval, saying that it extended from his constitutional authority over border crossings. The court rejected that argument.

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

So there’s a lot out there today in this time of hourly breaking news.  We can discuss it down thread.  I’m just waiting for January and Auntie Maxine, and Nancy and Elijah and all those banging gavels right now.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

24 Comments on “Friday Reads: Crazy continues but January is coming”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Well, that took awhile and I still didn’t get enough or everything! Have a good weekend!!!


  2. dakinikat says:

  3. bostonboomer says:

    • dakinikat says:

      No wonder he’s melting down. He realizes the law is closing in on him and the trump family crime syndicate

    • NW Luna says:

      He probably can’t believe that a trivial amount of hush money can get him in trouble. I don’t think the hush payoffs will be enough to get him out of office with the Republican majority in the Senate, even though impeachment proceedings begin in the House where we now have a majority.

  4. bostonboomer says:

  5. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      The results so far show that the other Republican Party candidate — oh, excuse me, the Green Party candidate — got votes enough to make a difference between a narrow loss and a definite win. Damn the 3rd party voters.

      • Gregory P says:

        Well, we need to change the laws so that we can have more than 2 parties and people can vote for and belong to parties that match their ideals. Voting 3rd party doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is people who don’t vote or when they do vote are uninformed. Elections and platforms used to be important. Now, not so much. I also find it pretty annoying when people who should know better don’t get properly registered and then vote with a provisional ballot or when people vote absentee. Neither are likely to get counted with the current power structure in place. I think a failure to participate in our democracy is probably the biggest sin someone could do.

        • NW Luna says:

          There aren’t any laws prohibiting more than 2 parties. People can “vote their conscience” now.

          The problem with that is that there’s usually little chance for the 3rd-party candidate to win, so votes for that 3rd-party candidate mean less votes for the candidate who may be the least bad of the top two candidates. Ideals are great, but the perfect can be the enemy of the good.

          On the other hand, in a parliamentary system such as in U.K. or Germany you can have several parties represented according to the % of votes received. In this case, voting 3rd- or 4th-party makes sense.

          Instant run-off voting is a good idea. With this you indicate your 1st and then 2nd choice. If your first choice doesn’t get enough total votes to win, your vote then goes to your 2nd choice.

  6. NW Luna says:

    • Gregory P says:

      People are so odd in this country. Handwriting analysis isn’t a real science and couldn’t possibly be done but by someone who is an expert in the field. Polygraph’s aren’t scientifically valid either and not even permissible in a court of law. There are a lot of dubious if not out and out fraudulent things that are accepted in this country as fact. It just baffles me that something like this could take place in the USA when the facts are available. If something has no validity but the government allows it anyway then it all becomes an exercise in corruption.

      • NW Luna says:

        Exactly. That above tweet is from a former Representative, too. Another voter tweeted that she was asked to sign on a touchpad with her finger. (!) The “lie detector” tests only show measures of physiological anxiety or arousal.

        • Gregory P says:

          Wow! A touch pad? Nobody can make any kind of decent signature on one of those things. Practically impossible.

  7. NW Luna says:

  8. dakinikat says:

    • quixote says:

      I ought to know, from living in SoCal, but I didn’t realize you were better off running from a forest fire on foot. Seems counterintuitive, unless there’s enough fire to make the car explode, in which case running on foot wouldn’t be a good option either.

      Anybody know what the situation was? Why did they abandon cars in order to run?

      • NW Luna says:

        No idea what the situation was. If there was a clear road away from the fire I’d be gunning the engine. I’d only run on foot if there was a close-by nice wide river or lake to hunker down in.

        • quixote says:

          I tried to look it up. At least in the Camp fire, it was because the cars were gridlocked on the road.

          In that case, God yes, getting the hell out and running makes all kinds of sense.

          What an awful situation.

  9. NW Luna says: