Posted: October 28, 2022 Filed under: just because | Tags: Elon Musk, Nancy Pelosi, Trumpist Vote Manipulation Plans, voter suppression
Witches’ Sabbath, 1789. Goya’s depictions of witchcraft mocked what he saw as medieval fears exploited for political gain.
Good Day Sky Dancers!
I had a late night since my block was shut down to film a new AMC series last night. I’m somewhat out of it. They filmed on our neutral ground, and there were a lot of flash bangs, police lights, extras wearing black, two big bucket trucks with lights, and a helluva lot of fog. The actor who was supposedly shot had the tough lines of a series of nos with a lot of coughing and emoting. There was even a fire truck. I was certain there were more police out there than usually patrol my entire district. It was like watching a lot of men play with toys and shoot out like they did when they were in grade school.
Anyway, trying to get back to normal, and at least I got a check for the disturbance and being on standby to open a neighbor’s house if needed. I forget how boring and repetitive the entire process is. I’ve wondered how we live in a society where adults that play make-believe and dress up and a bunch of muscled-up men playing with balls make so much money when teachers, healthcare workers, and others can barely eke a life out. Same as it ever was.
Speaking of the plethora of manchildren and toys, today we recognize Twitter will never be the same as the Chief Twit took over last night. BB wrote about the deal yesterday. The headlines today are precursors to what chaos may ensue. This is from the Washington Post: “Racist tweets quickly surfaced after Musk closed Twitter deal. A wide range of anonymous Twitter accounts celebrated Musk’s takeover and argued it meant the old rules against bigotry no longer applied.” What was that the Who sang about new bosses and old bosses?
An emboldened cast of anonymous trolls spewed racist slurs and Nazi memes onto Twitter in the hours after billionaire industrialist Elon Musk took over the social network Thursday, raising fears of how his pledge of unrestricted free speech could fuel a new wave of online hate.
Twitter has struggled to enforce its rules against harassment and extremism, and the company has not yet published any broad-scale changes to its content-moderation policies.
But Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist,” has fiercely criticized the company’s previous leaders as overly rigid and suppressive and said he would work to overturn some of the company’s main enforcement mechanisms, such as indefinitely suspending accounts.
A wide range of anonymous Twitter accounts celebrated Musk’s takeover and argued it meant the old rules against bigotry no longer applied.
New Orleans’ Marie Laveaux, voodoo priestess
This is an interesting take from Nilay Patel at the Verge: “Welcome to hell, Elon. You break it, you buy it.”
You fucked up real good, kiddo.
Twitter is a disaster clown car company that is successful despite itself, and there is no possible way to grow users and revenue without making a series of enormous compromises that will ultimately destroy your reputation and possibly cause grievous damage to your other companies.
I say this with utter confidence because the problems with Twitter are not engineering problems. They are political problems. Twitter, the company, makes very little interesting technology; the tech stack is not the valuable asset. The asset is the user base: hopelessly addicted politicians, reporters, celebrities, and other people who should know better but keep posting anyway. You! You, Elon Musk, are addicted to Twitter. You’re the asset. You just bought yourself for $44 billion dollars.
The problem when the asset is people is that people are intensely complicated, and trying to regulate how people behave is historically a miserable experience, especially when that authority is vested in a single powerful individual.
What I mean is that you are now the King of Twitter, and people think that you, personally, are responsible for everything that happens on Twitter now. It also turns out that absolute monarchs usually get murdered when shit goes sideways.
Here are some examples: you can write as many polite letters to advertisers as you want, but you cannot reasonably expect to collect any meaningful advertising revenue if you do not promise those advertisers “brand safety.” That means you have to ban racism, sexism, transphobia, and all kinds of other speech that is totally legal in the United States but reveals people to be total assholes. So you can make all the promises about “free speech” you want, but the dull reality is that you still have to ban a bunch of legal speech if you want to make money. And when you start doing that, your creepy new right-wing fanboys are going to viciously turn on you, just like they turn on every other social network that realizes the same essential truth.
The Love Potion, Evelyn De Morgan, 1903
I can only imagine our fates when Orange Caligula returns to do his dance of the veils. This is a sad headline today. It’s what demons like Musk and Trump have wrought, unleashing spoiled and violet manbabies everywhere. Speaker Pelosi’s husband was assaulted in their home. His target was the powerful and effective Speaker. Her husband was beaten with a hammer during an early morning break-in.
This is from CNN Politics: “First on CNN: Assailant tried to tie up Paul Pelosi in home attack, sources say.”
Pelosi was attacked with a hammer at the couple’s home in San Francisco by a male assailant early Friday morning, law enforcement sources told CNN. The assailant who attacked Paul Pelosi was searching for the speaker of the House, according to a source briefed on the attack. The intruder confronted the speaker’s husband in their San Francisco home shouting, “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?” according to the source.
Pelosi, 82, was hospitalized but is expected to make a full recovery, the Democratic speaker’s office said in a statement.
The attack sent shock waves through Washington and sparked an outpouring of condolences and condemnation from congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle. It comes as fears of political violence directed toward lawmakers remain high in the wake of the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol as well as other high-profile violent incidents that have targeted members of Congress in recent years.
The US Capitol Police released a statement saying that they are assisting the FBI and the San Francisco Police “with a joint investigation” into the break-in at the Pelosi residence in California.
The statement provides further information on how law enforcement responded, saying that special agents with the USCP’s California Field Office “quickly arrived on scene, while a team of investigators from the Department’s Threat Assessment Section was simultaneously dispatched from the East Coast to assist the FBI and the San Francisco Police with a joint investigation.”
William Blake, Triple Hecate or The Night of Enitharmon’s Joy, 1795, Tate Gallery, London, UK.
Meanwhile, other Trumpist Droogies are after our election results. Here’s some information on Georgia’s elections from the Washington Post: “Inside the secretive effort by Trump allies to access voting machines. How rural Coffee County, Ga. became an early target in the multistate search for purported evidence of fraud after the 2020 election.” This is some scary stuff.
Claims of widespread election fraud have been rejected over and over by local, state and federal officials as well as by computer science experts and numerous judges, including those appointed by Trump. They have nevertheless become an article of faith — or at least a professed belief — for many Republican voters, activists and politicians.
Experts say the events in Coffee County are a potent example of the rising threat posed by insiders who undermine election security in the name of protecting it. While elections officials say security protocols would make it difficult for bad actors to manipulate votes, some experts say the data — circulated beyond a limited number of authorized officials — could give hackers a powerful tool to simulate voting machines and probe for weaknesses.
The operations not sanctioned by courts or lawmakers were clandestine affairs. In Mesa County, Colo., an outsider was allegedly smuggled into the elections office under an alias to copy data. In Michigan, a pro-Trump state lawmaker allegedly persuaded clerks in two counties to hand over equipment for a House investigation that, according to the office of the House speaker, did not exist. In Coffee County, a local elections official invoked his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination more than 200 times when questioned under oath recently for a long-running lawsuit that voting activists brought against state officials.
Coffee County was home to the most extensive of the early covert efforts that have come to light. In January 2021, forensics experts copied data from virtually every component of the voting system there, records show. The incursion provided pro-Trump election deniers with copies of sensitive election software used across Georgia, a state widely seen as a linchpin in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate in 2022 and the White House in 2024.
You may read the details of the plot at the link. Meanwhile, we have folks in Nevada thinking hand-counted ballots might do the trick for Trump. What could possibly go wrong? Should we ask Al Gore?
This is from the above Twitter link. I wonder how long legitimate news organizations stay there?
Jay Goldberg, a retired electrician who enjoys four-wheeling with his wife, Bonnie, in the dusty hills that loom over this desert town, sat in a tiny government office here this week counting ballots by hand because he believes the 2020 vote was rigged against Donald Trump.
“If something can be manipulated, it eventually will be,” said Goldberg, 70, referring to unproven claims that tabulation machines made by Dominion Voting Systems threw the presidency to Joe Biden. “It’s that simple.”
And to Goldberg, there’s a simple answer: Go back to hand counts. It’s a solution being embraced this fall in Nye County, a rural outpost of 53,000 where officials who deny the results of the 2020 election hold sway. Should Republicans prevail statewide in November, officials could be pushing it across Nevada next year. Like-minded GOP candidates nationwide have offered similar proposals, even as election experts and Democratic candidates have argued that such steps are only likely to further undermine faith in American democracy.
The rejection of voting machines and embrace of 2020 conspiracy theories make Nye County — a vast area that boomed, then busted, on the back of gold and silver mining more than a century ago and today thrives in part thanks to legal prostitution — a harbinger of the country’s future should election deniers take charge.
It depresses me whenever we find such a weird juxtaposition of strange Republican bedfellows. I’m sure the Christian Right has no problem with legalized prostitution, right? So, I may have another cup of tea or a good rest. I’m not sure I want to do reality today. It must be the Season of the Witch.
Whats on your reading and blogging list today?
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: November 4, 2021 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Economy, U.S. Politics | Tags: academic freedom, Charlottesville rally, Deborah Lipstadt, Donald Trump, Federal Reserve, Igor Danchenko, inflation, January 6 Committee, John Durham, Neo-Nazis, Steele Dossier, voter suppression, Voting Rights Act, witch hunt
Peter Saul, Washington Crossing the Delaware, 1975
The mainstream media, led by The New York Times, is writing the Democrat’s obituary after Terry McAuliffe’s loss in the Virginia gubernatorial race, but I don’t feel like writing about that. I have no idea whether the loss will affect the 2022 midterms. I don’t really want to think about it, except that I hope the Democrats will finally do something about the filibuster. There has been some talk of changing Senate rules for voting rights legislation, after Republicans once again blocked debate on the Voting Rights Act.
The New York Times: Republicans Block a Second Voting Rights Bill in the Senate.
Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked legislation to restore parts of the landmark Voting Rights Act weakened by Supreme Court rulings, making it the second major voting bill to be derailed by a G.O.P. filibuster in the past two weeks.
Despite receiving majority support, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, named for the civil rights activist and congressman who died last year, fell nine votes short of the 60 required to advance over Republican opposition.
In the aftermath of the defeat, Senate Democrats said they would intensify internal discussions about altering filibuster rules or making other changes to allow them to move forward on voting rights legislation despite deep resistance by Republicans, who have now thwarted four efforts to take up such measures.
“Just because Republicans will not join us doesn’t mean Democrats will stop fighting,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, after the vote. “We will continue to fight for voting rights and find an alternative path forward.”
Yesterday the Federal Reserve announced plans to deal with inflation. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been affected by the rising food prices. Even though we’re getting the biggest Social Security increase in a very long time, it isn’t going to be enough. The New York Times: Fed Takes First Step Toward End of Pandemic Measures.
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday took its first step toward withdrawing support for the American economy, saying that it would begin to wind down a stimulus program that’s been in place since early in the pandemic as the economy heals and prices climb at an uncomfortably rapid pace.
Peter Saul’s Columbus Discovers America, 1992-1995, points the way to the painter’s mature work, distinguished by provocative subject matter and a cartoon-based style.
Central bank policymakers struck a slightly more wary tone about inflation, which has jumped this year amid booming consumer demand for goods and supply snarls. While officials still expect quick cost increases to fade, how quickly that will happen is unclear.
Fed officials want to be prepared for any outcome at a time when the economy’s trajectory is marked by grave uncertainty. They are not sure when prices will begin to calm down, to what extent the labor market will recover the millions of jobs still missing after last year’s economic slump, or when they will begin to raise interest rates — which remain at rock-bottom to keep borrowing and spending cheap and easy.
So the central bank’s decision to dial back its other policy tool, large-scale bond purchases that keep money flowing through financial markets, was meant to give the Fed flexibility it might need to react to a shifting situation. Officials on Wednesday laid out a plan to slow their $120 billion in monthly Treasury bond and mortgage-backed security purchases by $15 billion a month starting in November. The purchases can lower long term interest rates and prod investors into investments that would spur growth.
Assuming that pace holds, the bond buying would stop altogether around the time of the central bank’s meeting next June — potentially putting the Fed in a position to lift interest rates by the middle of next year.
John Durham’s “investigation” into the origins of the FBI/DOJ investigation of Trump’s ties to Russia is beginning to look like a real witch hunt. The New York Times: Authorities Arrest Analyst Who Contributed to Steele Dossier.
Federal authorities on Thursday arrested an analyst who in 2016 gathered leads about possible links between Donald J. Trump and Russia for what turned out to be Democratic-funded opposition research, according to people familiar with the matter.
The arrest of the analyst, Igor Danchenko, is part of the special counsel inquiry led by John H. Durham, who was appointed by the Trump administration to scrutinize the Russia investigation for any wrongdoing, the people said.
Mr. Danchenko, was the primary researcher of the so-called Steele dossier, a compendium of rumors and unproven assertions suggesting that Mr. Trump and his 2016 campaign were compromised by and conspiring with Russian intelligence officials in Moscow’s covert operation to help him defeat Hillary Clinton.
The people familiar with the matter spoke on condition of anonymity because the indictment of Mr. Danchenko had yet to be unsealed. A spokesman for Mr. Durham did not respond to a request for comment.
Peter Saul, Quack-Quack, Trump, 2017
So this information was leaked without any indication of what the basis of the arrest was. What laws did Danchenko break? The last Durham arrest was hinky too.
The charges against Mr. Danchenko follow Mr. Durham’s indictment in September of a cybersecurity lawyer, Michael Sussmann, which accused him of lying to the F.B.I. about who he was working for when he brought concerns about possible Trump-Russia links to the bureau in September 2016.
Mr. Sussmann, who then also worked for Perkins Coie, was relaying concerns developed by data scientists about odd internet logs they said suggested the possibility of a covert communications channel between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, a Kremlin-linked financial institution. He has denied lying to the F.B.I. about who he was working for.
Today is the hearing about whether Trump has any right to claim executive privilege over documents related to the January 6 insurrection. CNN: High-stakes hearing Thursday in Trump effort to block release of presidential documents.
Posted: June 25, 2021 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: DOJ, The Big Lie Tour, voter suppression
Charles Burchfield, The East Wind,1918
Good Day Sky Dancers!
Yes. More rain for New Orleans. It’s keeping the temps in the 70’s and 80’s so I’m not going to complain. Temple, however, hates thunder and has glued herself to my leg for the time being. The weather certainly is wild this summer with a major heatwave on the west coast and even Moscow appears to be setting record temperatures. My Seattle Doctor Daughter who has firmly entered her third trimester with the twins was not happy about the heat. Portland and Seattle are both heading into the 100s. There’s also another disturbance in the Gulf to be investigated so what can I say? Let’s tackle Climate change while we can!!!
That infrastructure bill better start up fast! We’re still living with 1910 sewage systems here and it ain’t pretty. They’re out tearing up Dauphine Street which intersects with my part of Poland Avenue. I’ve been keen to see the old pipes and keep trying to get a peep at them. Saw one brought out today and it was a huge old iron thing that was probably studded with lead by now. Meanwhile, here’s uptown! Thar she blows!!
So, speaking of blowhards, prepare yourself to avoid the news coverage of Trump’s Revenge Rallies which are starting up this weekend. This is from The Bulwark and was written by Daniel McGraw. “Brace Yourself: Trump Starts Up His Rallies Again This Weekend. He’s bringing the MAGA circus to Ohio. Here’s why.” I generally take a newsbreak over the weekend and this reinforces that habit for me.
Then former president Donald Trump announced he was relaunching his rally roadshow—with the first stop being in Wellington, Ohio tomorrow—the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram had this reaction in an op-ed: “Why us? . . . It’s enough to inspire both anticipation and dread.”
While Trump supporters will dismiss such expressions with their usual disdain for the media, his appearance in Ohio should, indeed, inspire some dread. It is very much a singular act, focused on targeting one GOP member of Congress.
Rep. Anthony Gonzalez was one of ten Republicans to vote for Trump’s second impeachment, and his district runs close to this part of Ohio. For that reason, Trump is going to take over the Lorain County Fairgrounds tomorrow to blast a sitting congressman who won his district in 2020 by more than 25 percent, and even ran ahead of Trump by 15,000 votes.
“No, I just don’t think Gonzalez is good. I don’t think he represents the people. I think he’s not somebody that thinks the way I do and others do,” Trump said in a recent podcast, explaining his rationale for the rally.
With a stage set up in the fairgrounds of a small town that is little more than an intersection in farm country, what should we expect?
“Of course, he’s going to talk about some of the Republicans he thinks stabbed him in the back, starting with Anthony Gonzalez in Ohio, Liz Cheney [of Wyoming], Adam Kinzinger [of Illinois], and the people who voted against him in the House during the impeachment,” predicted David B. Cohen, a political scientist at the University of Akron in a recent interview. “I think it’s mostly going to be a Donald Trump pity party.”
Lee Krasner, The Seasons (1957). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Photograph by Sheldan C. Collins. © 2015 Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
The Big Lie Tour happens as the DOJ takes aim at the Georgia Voter Suppression Law aimed at letting state government overturn the elections threatens this year’s elections. This is from WAPO: “Justice Dept. to file lawsuit against state of Georgia over new voting restrictions” It’s authored by David Nakamura.
The Justice Department will file a federal lawsuit Friday against the state of Georgia for its efforts to enact new voting restrictions that federal authorities allege discriminate against Black Americans, according to people familiar with the matter.
The legal challenge takes aim at Georgia’s Election Integrity Act, which was passed in March by the Republican-led state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp (R). The law imposes new limits on the use of absentee ballots, makes it a crime for outside groups to provide food and water to voters waiting at polling stations, and hands greater control over election administration to the state legislature.
This is from ABC News covering the announcement of the action: “Justice Department to sue Georgia over voting rights law. AG Merrick Garland said the law seeks to disenfranchise Black voters.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Friday that the Justice Department is filing suit against the state of Georgia over its sweeping election law recently passed by Republicans, alleging it violates the federal Voting Rights Act by seeking to disenfranchise Black voters.
“Our complaint alleges that recent changes to Georgia’s election laws were enacted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color, in violation of Section Two of the Voting Rights Act,” Garland said.
Garland said the bill signed into law earlier this year by Gov. Brian Kemp includes provisions that “make it harder for people to vote,” and the complaint being filed by the department alleges the restrictions were passed “with the purpose of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color.”
For months, President Joe Biden and other Democrats have been heavily critical of Georgia Republicans and Kemp for signing Georgia’s voting bill into law, equating it to “Jim Crow-era” segregation laws while arguing it’s premised on the lie that widespread fraud tainted the 2020 election.
The department’s lawsuit will be separate from seven other lawsuits that have been filed against the state of Georgia since the election bill was signed into law in March.
Vasily Kandinsky Landscape with rain Guggenheim
Republican-biased media outlets are howling about the bi-partisan section of the infrastructure bill. I’m not going to quote the crazy but Politico is close enough with pearl-clutching Lady Lindsey chasing her skirt around the room. “POLITICO Playbook: Graham: Biden made GOP look like ‘f—ing idiots’” Really, they don’t need President Biden to point that reality out.
The gist is this: If Biden’s proposal for “family infrastructure” and climate change doesn’t pass, then neither will the bipartisan infrastructure deal that senators just struck. Think of this as a Plan B after Sens. JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.) and KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-Ariz.) refused to promise they’ll support Part 2, Democrats’ multitrillion-dollar reconciliation package.
But the Biden-Schumer-Pelosi playbook also has the makings of a serious legislative cluster — and high drama over whether Democrats can actually pull this off — this summer and possibly into the fall.
Here’s your new timeline, according to Hill sources, and bear with us for a bit of procedural wonkery:
1) The Senate will turn the bipartisan agreement into legislative text in the coming days so it can pass it out of the chamber in July. The House will likely have its own version. But instead of conferencing and approving a combined bill for Biden’s signature before the August recess, leaders will put infrastructure on ice until the Democrats-only bill catches up.
2) Schumer and Pelosi plan to have both their chambers pass their respective budget resolutions before the August recess, enabling Democrats to unlock the fast-tracking reconciliation tool.
3) That budget will include instructions for each committee to tackle everything from corporate tax hikes to climate change, education, paid family leave and the like — in other words, everything Democrats want that’s not included in the bipartisan infrastructure package. The panels will work over the August recess to draft the massive reconciliation bill, which Sen. BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vt.) hopes will top $6 trillion.
4) When lawmakers return in September from the August recess, they’ll have a few weeks to clear both bills at the same time. The new deadline for getting both to Biden’s desk, per Democratic leaders, is Sept. 30, when a bunch of surface transportation programs expire.
Now, the pitfalls: First off, getting all Democrats to agree on a budget resolution in July is going to be hellish for Schumer and Pelosi. They have virtually no wiggle room due to their slim majorities, and their conferences are divided over how big this Democrats-only bill should be. Expect more Manchin and Sinema flexing.
Going to church in the rain, Wasdale Head (1937) Chiang Lee
Stock up on popcorn.
I was really happy to read this from HuffPo. It’s written by Jennifer Bendry. “Joe Biden Is Confirming Judges Faster Than Decades Of Past Presidents. Five months in, the president has quietly hit a milestone in filling lifetime seats on federal courts.”. Go Joe Go!
President Joe Biden quietly hit a milestone on Thursday: With the help of Senate Democrats, he has confirmed more lifetime federal judges than any president has done in more than 50 years by this point in their first six months in office.
With the Senate’s latest confirmation of Candace Jackson-Akiwumi to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, Biden has confirmed a total of seven judges. These are specifically Article III judges, who hold lifetime appointments on federal district courts, appeals courts and on the Supreme Court.
Broken down, Biden has confirmed five district court judges and two appeals court judges so far.
By this point in their presidencies, Donald Trump had confirmed two lifetime federal judges (one of whom was a Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch), Barack Obama had confirmed zero, George W. Bush had confirmed zero, Bill Clinton had confirmed zero, George H.W. Bush had confirmed four, Ronald Reagan had confirmed zero, and Jimmy Carter had confirmed four.
Going back even further, the comparison isn’t really applicable to President Gerald Ford, who took over for Richard Nixon in 1974 along with his pending judicial nominees.
The last time a president moved this quickly to confirm judges was in 1969, more than 50 years ago, when Nixon had confirmed seven judges by this point in his first year in the White House.
It’s still early in Biden’s presidency. A rapid start to confirming judges doesn’t necessarily mean he will surpass the massive number of judges that Trump ultimately confirmed, for example. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) helped Trump confirm more than 230 lifetime federal judges during his four years in the White House.
illustration by Fruszy
Hope he can keep this up!
This Pro Publica piece has me worried about the Revenge Rallies. “New Details Suggest Senior Trump Aides Knew Jan. 6 Rally Could Get Chaotic. Text messages and interviews show that Stop the Steal leaders fooled the Capitol police and welcomed racists to increase their crowd sizes, while White House officials worked to both contain and appease them.”
On Dec. 19, President Donald Trump blasted out a tweet to his 88 million followers, inviting supporters to Washington for a “wild” protest.
Earlier that week, one of his senior advisers had released a 36-page report alleging significant evidence of election fraud that could reverse Joe Biden’s victory. “A great report,” Trump wrote. “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”
The tweet worked like a starter’s pistol, with two pro-Trump factions competing to take control of the “big protest.”
On one side stood Women for America First, led by Amy Kremer, a Republican operative who helped found the tea party movement. The group initially wanted to hold a kind of extended oral argument, with multiple speakers making their case for how the election had been stolen.
On the other was Stop the Steal, a new, more radical group that had recruited avowed racists to swell its ranks and wanted the President to share the podium with Alex Jones, the radio host banned from the world’s major social media platforms for hate speech, misinformation and glorifying violence. Stop the Steal organizers say their plan was to march on the Capitol and demand that lawmakers give Trump a second term.
ProPublica has obtained new details about the Trump White House’s knowledge of the gathering storm, after interviewing more than 50 people involved in the events of Jan. 6 and reviewing months of private correspondence. Taken together, these accounts suggest that senior Trump aides had been warned the Jan. 6 events could turn chaotic, with tens of thousands of people potentially overwhelming ill-prepared law enforcement officials.
Rather than trying to halt the march, Trump and his allies accommodated its leaders, according to text messages and interviews with Republican operatives and officials.
Katrina Pierson, a former Trump campaign official assigned by the White House to take charge of the rally planning, helped arrange a deal where those organizers deemed too extreme to speak at the Ellipse could do so on the night of Jan. 5. That event ended up including incendiary speeches from Jones and Ali Alexander, the leader of Stop the Steal, who fired up his followers with a chant of “Victory or death!”
Read more at the link. That’s enough for me. Have a good weekend!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: October 31, 2020 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, just because, U.S. Politics | Tags: 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump, U.S. Postal Service, voter suppression
Only three days until the election, and I wish I could go to sleep and wake up in the late afternoon on November 3. Unfortunately, I can’t get to sleep at night. I usually end up getting about 4-5 hours and then I make up for it some days with afternoon naps. I can’t wait until Trump is gone; then maybe I’ll be able to sleep normally again. I only we can get rid of him!
Trump and his thugs are working overtime either to prevent people from voting or to prevent votes from being counted. It’s their only hope to keep him in the White House. Here’s the latest on voter suppression:
Bloomberg: USPS Says Timely Vote Delivery Isn’t a Constitutional Right.
Delivery delays during an election can’t be unlawful, because the Constitution doesn’t guarantee states any particular level of service when it comes to mail-in ballots, the U.S. Postal Service told a federal judge.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and President Donald Trump are seeking dismissal of a lawsuit brought by New York and other states that claim disruptive changes at the USPS over the summer are violating the Elections Clause of the Constitution by putting election mail at risk.
The Justice Department argued in a court filing Tuesday in Washington that the clause can’t restrict government agencies from carrying out operational changes or other activity that “may have an incidental impact” on voting.
The states’ theory “assumes that because the plaintiff states crafted their election laws with the expectation that USPS will provide a certain level of service, they now have a constitutional right to expect that level of service,” the U.S. said. The clause “does not shield states from any and all external circumstances that may impact state elections.”
The Washington Post: Judges nominated by President Trump play key role in upholding voting limits ahead of Election Day.
Federal judges nominated by President Trump have largely ruled against efforts to loosen voting rules in the 2020 campaign amid the coronavirus pandemic and sided with Republicans seeking to enforce restrictions, underscoring Trump’s impact in reshaping the judiciary.
An analysis by The Washington Post found that nearly three out of four opinions issued in federal voting-related cases by judges picked by the president were in favor of maintaining limits. That is a sharp contrast with judges nominated by President Barack Obama, whose decisions backed such limits 17 percent of the time.
The impact of Trump’s court picks could be seen most starkly at the appellate level, where 21 out of the 25 opinions issued by the president’s nominees were against loosening voting rules.
The pattern shows how Trump’s success installing a record number of judges in his four years in office has played a critical role in determining how people can vote this year and which ballots will be counted. The president’s imprint on the courts culminated this week with the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, the third justice he has successfully nominated to the Supreme Court.
Mark Joseph Stern at Slate: Judges Are Already Testing How Far Amy Coney Barrett Will Go for Republicans.
Over the last week, four conservative justices on the Supreme Court have signaled their desire to throw out mail ballots that arrive after Election Day. The court will remain deadlocked on this momentous issue—which could affect the outcome of countless races—until Amy Coney Barrett casts her first vote. And the lower courts are taking bets on which side she’ll take. On Thursday night, two far-right judges in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a lawless order claiming that Minnesota’s extension of the ballot deadline is likely unconstitutional. Their decision radiates partisan bias and flouts Supreme Court precedent, risking chaos and confusion by altering the rules of Minnesota’s election just five days before Nov. 3.
This is no fluke. It is the Barrett effect: Lower court judges are beginning to test the limits of the Supreme Court, trying to figure out how far right they can go without getting reversed. It is an especially dangerous time for federal courts to fabricate a new rule that prevents states from counting lawful ballots. But with no clear check to rein in the judiciary’s accelerating radicalism, some judges have decided it’s time to go all-in for Donald Trump and dare SCOTUS to stop them.
Thursday’s decision involved yet another dispute over state election law—a dispute that should never have landed in any federal court in the first place. A Minnesota statute requires voters to return mail ballots by Election Day. In May, a voting rights group sued the state to block this rule; it alleged that the deadline is unconstitutional in light of the pandemic, which has placed extraordinary pressure on the state’s vote-by-mail system. Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon chose not to fight the lawsuit. Instead, he entered into a consent decree (essentially a settlement) with the plaintiffs, approved by a state court, that halted enforcement of the Election Day deadline. The Minnesota Legislature has expressly authorized the secretary of state to “adopt alternative election procedures” whenever a law “cannot be implemented as a result” of a court order. Pursuant to that law, Simon extended the ballot deadline by one week and informed every voter that their ballot would be counted so long as it is mailed by Election Day and received by Nov. 10.
Read more at Slate.
By Maggie Vandewalle
The Washington Post: Republicans shift from challenging rules to preparing to challenge individual ballots.
In Nevada, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit this week seeking images of the signature of every registered voter in Democratic-leaning Clark County — a potential first step toward challenging individual votes on grounds that the signed ballots don’t match the signatures on file.
In Texas, Republican officeholders and candidates sued this week to have more than 100,000 votes invalidated in the Houston area because they were cast at drive-through voting centers the GOP has asked a judge to declare illegal.
And in Minnesota and Pennsylvania, election officials will set aside any mail-in ballots that arrive after Election Day — even if they were mailed before the polls closed — to facilitate potential court challenges.
For months, Republicans have pushed largely unsuccessfully to limit new avenues for voting in the midst of the pandemic. But with next week’s election rapidly approaching, they have shifted their legal strategy in recent days to focus on tactics aimed at challenging ballots one by one, in some cases seeking to discard votes already cast during a swell of early voting.
Head over to the WaPo to read the rest.
Quite a few writers are speculating about what Trump will do after the election–win or lose. These are long articles, so I can’t provide the gist of each one here. You’ll need to explore the links to learn more details.
Pumpkin Tree, by Tom Shropshire
Fred Hiatt at The Washington Post: Yes, Trump has an agenda for a second term. It’s all about him.
…to an extraordinary degree, Trump’s actions in the closing days of his first presidential term tip us off to how he hopes to reign — yes, reign — in a second. If we return him to office, we won’t be able to say we didn’t see it coming….
[W]hat Trump is openly showing us is his intention to reshape the U.S. government from an institution designed to serve the nation and its people to one that caters to one man’s whims, prejudices, grudges, vanity and profit.
The most significant tell comes in an executive order that Trump issued on Oct. 21 creating a “Schedule F” for government workers. It would remove civil-service protections from potentially tens of thousands of civil servants, allowing Trump to fire them at will.
How would he use this power? We have seen his willingness to fire those already without protection simply for doing their jobs in an honest way — intelligence community leaders who wouldn’t lie about Russia and Ukraine, for example. We have heard him disparage those he can’t yet fire — the “idiot” scientists who won’t echo his claim that covid-19 is going away.
Schedule F would let the president fire those scientists and anyone else who might stand in his way — who respect facts and data, who resist his efforts to wield government as a weapon.
Tom McCarthy at The Guardian: ‘Red mirage’: the ‘insidious’ scenario if Trump declares an early victory.
Scenarios for how an election disaster could unfold in the United States next week involve lawsuits, lost ballots, armed insurrection and other potential crises in thousands of local jurisdictions on 3 November.
But there is one much simpler scenario for election-night chaos, centering on a single address, that many analysts see as among the most plausible….
Known as the “red mirage”, the scenario could develop if Trump appears to be leading in the presidential race late on election night and declares victory before all the votes are counted.
The red mirage “sounds like a super-villain, and it’s just as insidious”, the former Obama administration housing secretary Julían Castro says in a video recorded as a public service announcement to voters this week.
“On election night, there’s a real possibility that the data will show Republicans leading early, before all the votes are counted. Then they can pretend something sinister’s going on when the counts change in Democrats’ favor.”
In the scenario, Trump’s declaration of victory is echoed on the conservative TV network Fox News and by powerful Republicans across the US. By the time final returns show that in fact Joe Biden has won the presidency, perhaps days later, the true election result has been dragged into a maelstrom of disinformation and chaos.
There’s much more detail about this scenario at The Guardian.
Politico: Trump may just keep campaigning after Election Day.
Top surrogates for the Trump campaign have been told to keep their Novembers clear for potential campaign events. And Trump campaign advisers said not to rule out the possibility Trump continues his rallies even as election officials continue to count ballots after the Nov. 3 election, according to a campaign surrogate and two Trump advisers.
With the possibility that there might not be a clear winner on election night in key swing states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina, the campaign has discussed putting Trump and his family on the road to give a morale boost to supporters and let the president fire off about the election to crowds….
“There’s been discussions about travel opportunities for Trump and his family if we don’t have a result on election day, but nothing definitive on where he would go or how many people we would deploy,” said one campaign aide. “If we still don’t have results in Michigan and North Carolina or Pennsylvania and Nevada on Nov. 4, he might hit those states individually.”
Ron Suskind at The New York Times: The Day After Election Day. Current and former Trump administration officials are worried about what might happen on Nov. 4.
America will probably awaken on Nov. 4 into uncertainty. Whatever else happens, there is no doubt that President Trump is ready for it.
I’ve spent the last month interviewing some two dozen officials and aides, several of whom are still serving in the Trump administration. The central sources in this story are or were senior officials, mainly in jobs that require Senate confirmation. They have had regular access to the president and to briefings at the highest level….
Several of them are in current posts in intelligence, law enforcement or national security and are focused on the concurrent activities of violent, far-right and white supremacy groups that have been encouraged by the president’s words and actions. They are worried that the president could use the power of the government — the one they all serve or served within — to keep himself in office or to create favorable terms for negotiating his exit from the White House. Like many other experts inside and outside the government, they are also concerned about foreign adversaries using the internet to sow chaos, exacerbate divisions and undermine our democratic process.
Many of the officials I spoke to came back to one idea: You don’t know Donald Trump like we do. Even though they can’t predict exactly what will happen, their concerns range from the president welcoming, then leveraging, foreign interference in the election, to encouraging havoc that grows into conflagrations that would merit his calling upon U.S. forces. Because he is now surrounded by loyalists, they say, there is no one to try to tell an impulsive man what he should or shouldn’t do.
“That guy you saw in the debate,” a second former senior intelligence official told me, after the first debate, when the president offered one of the most astonishing performances of any leader in modern American history — bullying, ridiculing, manic, boasting, fabricating, relentlessly interrupting and talking over his opponent. “That’s really him. Not the myth that’s been created. That’s Trump.”
None of Suskind’s sources claimed to know what Trump will do. Read more about what they told him at the NYT link.
Batmolbile by Maggie Vandewalle
One more by Garrett Graff at Politico Magazine: ‘There Are No Boundaries’: Experts Imagine Trump’s Post-Presidential Life if He Loses.
In interviews, historians, government legal experts, national security leaders and people close to the administration have a prediction that will disquiet his critics: The Trump Era is unlikely to end when the Trump presidency ends. They envision a post-presidency as disruptive and norm-busting as his presidency has been—one that could make his successor’s job much harder.They outline a picture of a man who might formally leave office only to establish himself as the president-for-life amid his own bubble of admirers—controlling Republican politics and sowing chaos in the U.S. and around the world long after he’s officially left office.
“Can he continue to make people not trust our institutions? Can he throw monkey wrenches into delicate negotiations? Absolutely,” one former Trump administration official says. “He can be a tool. He’ll be somewhere between dangerous and devastating on that extent.”
A president unwilling to respect boundaries in office is almost certain to cross them out of office. Experts envision some likely scenarios—a much-rumored TV show and plans to use his properties to profit off his lifetime Secret Service protection, perhaps even continuing to troll the Biden administration from his hotel down Pennsylvania Avenue—and some troubling if less certain ones, like literally selling U.S. secrets or influence to foreign governments.
Click the link to read the rest.
Have a great Halloween, Sky Dancers!!