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!!
Posted: August 24, 2020 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: hurricane laura, hurricane lil marco, Russian Collusion, Trump Family Crime Syndicate, voter suppression
Good Day Sky Dancers!
It’s really a gorgeous morning here and last night was great but it’s the proverbial calm before the storm is here. Temple and I had a great walk at 7:30 to beat the first of the rain bands. It was in the 70s with a cool breeze. But, like everything 2020, here comes the turbocharged change!
Fortunately for those of us in the central and western Gulf Coast, Little Hurricane Marco just never quite got going. He is going to swipe us before puttering along towards Texas. As long as he doesn’t slow down, he’ll have some water but only enough to dampen the day.
Hurricane Bahamas, Homer Winslow 1937
Hurricane Laura, however, is going to pack a punch! She is strengthening and likely to cause some problems. My only solace is that this is a big news event which is likely to somewhat drown out the four nights of Klanfest. The RNC is evidently in disarray because of all Trump’s interference including 4 nights of him giving speeches which is irregular to say the least. From Vox’s Aaron Rupar: “The RNC disarray is a microcosm of everything Trump did wrong with the coronavirus. He had no plan. The result is chaos.”
The day it’s set to begin, there is still much we don’t know about what will be happening at the 2020 Republican National Convention. But what we do indicates it’ll have a circus-like quality.
Confirmed speakers include Patricia and Mark McCloskey, the St. Louis couple best known for brandishing firearms at protesters earlier this year, and former Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann, who became a symbol of white grievance last year after he was filmed in a viral video of a confrontation with Native American demonstrators. President Trump will likely deliver his convention-closing speech from the White House, flouting ethical concerns and laws prohibiting the use of government property for political gain, with other events set to take place on government property located conveniently near the downtown DC hotel he still owns and profits from. On Sunday, the RNC released a speaker list — with Trump scheduled to appear every day.
My TV will be firmly tuned to the Weather Channel if we have power through the week. It’s generally on mute but on constantly during hurricane times here.
The disaster of a Post Office General is also on full display today.
After the Hurricane, Winslow Homer 1899
We also know that Trump handpicked folks for the UPS positions that evidently have a habit of supporting voter suppression. This from Mary Redden writing for HuffPo: ” Trump’s Handpicked Postal Service Chair Has A Long History Of Voter Suppression. Robert Duncan chaired the RNC during the party’s unprecedented escalation of voter disenfranchisement efforts in swing states.”
President Donald Trump’s selection for a key Postal Service position, Robert M. Duncan, once had a very different job: steering the Republican Party while it undertook some of its most brazen voter suppression schemes.
Duncan is now the chair of the Postal Service board of governors, but he previously served as general counsel and then chair of the Republican National Committee from 2002 to 2009, a time when the committee and its state counterparts oversaw an unprecedented escalation of voter disenfranchisement efforts in swing states.
From 2004 to 2006, when Duncan was the committee’s general counsel, party officials challenged the eligibility of at least 77,000 voters, a 2007 report by the nonpartisan group Project Vote found.
As it happens, one of the party’s favored tactics relied on the U.S. mail. In 2004, Republicans in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania sent thousands of nonforwardable letters and postcards to select voters — particularly minority voters — and used the mail returned as undeliverable to come up with voter registration challenge lists.
Duncan’s history is the latest alarm bell for those fearful that Trump is attempting to undermine the U.S. Postal Service in order to win reelection.
We’ve had yet another senseless shooting of an unarmed black man by the police. This time it is in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The man is in serious condition.
This is from the Kenosha News: “State DOJ will probe officer-involved shooting; man in serious condition”.
Dozens of squad cars from the Kenosha Police and Kenosha County Sheriff’s department and Wisconsin State Patrol converged in the Wilson Heights neighborhood, lining the streets approaching the scene.
The incident was being turned over to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation, which will be investigating the officer involved shooting.
At least a half dozen witnesses said that the man had tried to break up a fight between the two women outside a home at 2805 40th St. and that police had attempted to use a Taser on the man prior to the shooting. Then, they heard at least seven gunshots ring out.
Witnesses said he was unarmed and shot in the back.
A video that has since gone viral on social media shows the man walking away from officers and going around the vehicle to get inside. While the man is entering the vehicle the video shows an officer firing a gun at the man inside the vehicle. A woman in the video is screaming as he is being shot.
It was not immediately known whether the man had a weapon.
Residents who live across the street from the residence said while they have heard gunfire in the neighborhood before, never that close until Sunday.
“We’ve never had anything like this happen before,” said Juventino Camputano who has lived in the neighborhood for 40 years.
Annie Louise Hurst, a 50-year resident of the neighborhood, just shook her head.
Fear Of Hurricane Painting by Peter Kallai
So, it continues to be a week where we find out more about the Trump/Kushner family crime syndicate activities too. This is from The Daily Beast: “Revealed: Jared Kushner’s Private Channel With Putin’s Money Man”.
On a late afternoon in March, a large military aircraft bearing the Russian Federation insignia descended into John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. Its mission: to deliver personal protective equipment and ventilators to nearby hospitals scrambling to treat patients during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo had pleaded for weeks with the federal government for additional resources, particularly ventilators, to treat the thousands of COVID-19 patients across the state. Yet news of the Russian delivery surprised those in the governor’s office working to obtain additional medical equipment. They’d thought the ventilator support would come from the U.S. stockpile or from an American company.
Officials in the U.S. State Department were surprised, too. Despite a department press release announcing the delivery, several senior officials working on the Russia portfolio in the department and elsewhere in the national security apparatus were unaware exactly how the 45 ventilators had ended up on American soil. Half of the shipment was paid for by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), one of the country’s sovereign wealth funds, which is under U.S. sanctions. (The sanctions do not prohibit all transactions between U.S. entities and the firm, but they have limited the fund’s interactions with American businesses.) And the fund’s CEO, Kirill Dmitriev, had been scrutinized by Congress and former special counsel Robert Mueller for his communications with Trump transition officials shortly after Moscow had meddled in the 2016 election.
For years, the Trump administration had attempted to find ways to cooperate with Russia on the world stage but largely failed in those efforts because Moscow has continued to engage in activity that threatens U.S. national security, from hacking operations to reportedly offering bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan. A public display of Russian supplies being offloaded caught some officials in the Trump administration off guard.
But there was a simple answer to the whodunit. The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) told The Daily Beast it had assigned the State Department “to represent the U.S. in the transaction with the Government of Russia.” But it was President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who helped facilitate the ventilator delivery, according to two senior administration officials. During the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, Kushner headed “Project Airbridge”—the medical supply delivery program that worked to fast-track the delivery of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies by using federal funding to underwrite the cost of shipping. In an effort to supply New York City hospitals with the medical equipment they needed, Kushner looked in multiple places for the equipment and found a safe bet in Moscow, those officials said. While the State Department had been involved in the logistics of the onboarding and offloading, it was Kushner who helped strike the deal.
The ventilators turned out to be faulty and were cast aside by officials in New York and New Jersey, according to local officials who spoke with The Daily Beast. During that same time period, the city of Los Angeles was told by representatives of the federal government that it had lost a bid for N95 masks to a Russian entity, according to two people familiar with the matter. The L.A. officials were never told the Russian outfit’s name.
Kushner held the details of the New York shipment closely and accelerated the order by leaning on his personal relationship with Dmitriev, a confidant of President Vladimir Putin who’d been dispatched to make inroads with the inexperienced 2016 Trump transition team.
So, I’m off to try to get some more things cooked just in case the heat goes off. Don’t want any perishables lying around in a powerless refrigerator and at least the cooked stuff lasts a bit longer.
Take care! Be safe! Be kind and gentle with yourself!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: August 15, 2020 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Donald Trump, Elizabeth Warren, Jr., Louis DeJoy, Post Office, Rep. Bill Pascrell, U.S.P.S., voter suppression
On Thursday and Friday, Dakinikat and I wrote about Trump’s assault on the U.S. Postal Service, in hopes of suppressing Democratic votes in November. Last night the story began building into a five alarm fire of public outrage. Rachel Maddow focused on the story on her show last night.
Media columnist Margaret Sullivan at The Washington Post: Trump’s attacks on the Postal Service deserve sustained, red-alert coverage from the media.
Listen to President Trump long enough, and, despite his penchant for falsehood, you’ll eventually hear some unvarnished truth.
That happened Thursday when he stated his intentions clearly in an interview with Fox Business Network. He doesn’t want to approve billions in emergency funding for the cash-strapped and struggling U.S. Postal Service for a simple reason: Democrats want to expand mail-in voting during the pandemic.
His words were stark: “Now, they need that money in order to have the Post Office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots.” He added that holding back funding means “they can’t have universal mail-in voting, they just can’t have it.”
In other words, he doesn’t want American citizens, fearful of exposure to the coronavirus, to have every opportunity to vote in November.
It’s not his first effort to cripple the Postal Service, one of the most essential — and popular — institutions in America. His statements Thursday came after he installed a Republican megadonor, Louis DeJoy, as the new postmaster general. In turn, DeJoy has unseated dozens of veteran postal officials. He and his minions have banned overtime and told carriers to leave mail behind at distribution centers, letting it pile up for days. Sorting machines that speed mail processing have been removed.
“Things are already going wrong,” Philip F. Rubio, an expert on the Postal Service and history professor at North Carolina A&T State University (and a former letter carrier himself), told Politico. There are “widespread mail slowdowns of all kinds of mail — first-class, marketing mail, parcels. Even the Veterans’ Administration has complained that veterans are not getting their medications on time.”
Read Sullivan’s commentary on the media coverage and why they need to “turn up the heat” at the WaPo link.
Today the news is full of stories about Trump’s attempted sabotage of a beloved American institution that is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. As Maddow said last night, “pressure works.
CNN: USPS will stop removing letter collection boxes in Western states until after the election, spokesman says.
In a statement Friday night, Rod Spurgeon — a USPS spokesperson for the service’s the Western region — told CNN that the service will stop the removal of letter collection boxes in 16 states and parts of two others until after the election.
That means, according to Spurgeon, the USPS will stop collecting the letter collection boxes only in: Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Iowa, Alaska, Nebraska and small parts of Wisconsin and Missouri.
It’s not clear if the removal freeze would go into effect across the nation. Kim Frum — a spokeswoman for USPS based at headquarters — could not say if the freeze would go into effect across the country and would not comment on the freeze in the Western region.
Officials say that in the last week the USPS has removed letter collection boxes in at least four states: New York, Oregon, Montana and Indiana. The USPS has also begun notifying postal workers in at least three states — West Virginia, Florida and Missouri — that they will start to reduce their retail operating hours, according to union officials.
Montana Senator John Tester appeared on Maddow’s show last night to discuss the removal of mailboxes in his state. KLUR 8.com: Montana officials ask for answers from USPS Postmaster General following removal of blue mail drop-off boxes.
BIG SANDY, Mont. – U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, Sen. Steve Daines, Rep. Greg Gianforte and Gov. Steve Bullock asked for answers from the U.S. Postal Service Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, after the USPS removed blue mail drop-off boxes in some Montana towns.
Sen. Tester confirmed the reports of the U.S. Postal Service’s removing of the blue mail drop-off boxes throughout Montana on Friday, releasing the following statement:
“Since ringing the alarm on the removal of collection boxes from communities across Montana, it has become clear that these reports are accurate. These actions set my hair on fire and they have real life implications for folks in rural America and their ability to access critical postal services like paying their bills and voting in upcoming elections. Postmaster General DeJoy must immediately provide Montanans with an explanation for the actions of the USPS, or he can do it under oath before a Senate Committee.”
Sen. Tester and Sen. Daines also sent out statements saying the USPS has paused its removal of mail collection boxes in towns across Montana.
New Jersey Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. made a criminal referral to the New Jersey Attorney General last night. Pascrell appeared last night on MSNBC’s The Eleventh Hour with substitute host Ali Velshi.
The Daily Beast: NJ Rep, Inspector General Investigate What the Hell Is Going On With USPS.
Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) made a criminal referral to the New Jersey Attorney General on Friday night, asking him to impanel a grand jury to look at possible breach of state election laws by President Trump, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and others for “their accelerating arson of the post office,” he said. Alarming headlines have emerged in recent days as many states prepare to facilitate widespread mail balloting due to the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump openly admitted he was withholding federal aid from the postal service to prevent mail-in voting, and USPS has notified 46 states and D.C. that it will struggle to deliver some mail ballots on time.
Pascrell’s announcement came after USPS’s internal watchdog said it would review policy changes and potential ethical conflicts under DeJoy, a Trump donor who owns a $30 million stake in a competitor to USPS. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and other Democratic lawmakers requested a review into DeJoy’s actions, like eliminating overtime and slowing certain types of mail delivery, and whether he “met all ethics requirements.”
Attorneys General from several other states, including Washington, Connecticut, Arizona, and Maine, are considering taking action on the issue and the Post Office inspector general is getting involved. CNN: Exclusive: Postal service inspector general reviewing DeJoy’s policy changes and potential ethics conflicts.
The internal watchdog at the United States Postal Service is reviewing controversial policy changes recently imposed under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, and is also examining DeJoy’s compliance with federal ethics rules, according to a spokeswoman for the USPS inspector general and an aide to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who requested the review.
Lawmakers from both parties and postal union leaders have sounded alarms over disruptive changes instituted by DeJoy this summer, including eliminating overtime and slowing some mail delivery. Democrats claim he is intentionally undermining postal service operations to sabotage mail-in voting in the November election — a charge he denies.
Agapi Doulaveris, a spokeswoman for the USPS watchdog, told CNN in an email, “We have initiated a body of work to address the concerns raised, but cannot comment on the details.”
Last week, Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, and eight other Democratic lawmakers asked the inspector general to launch an inquiry into DeJoy on a number of fronts, including the nationwide policy changes he’s made since taking over in June, as well as whether DeJoy has “met all ethics requirements.” [….]
It’s unclear if the inspector general has launched a full-scale investigation into possible politicization at USPS by DeJoy, a Trump ally and Republican donor, or if it’s just reviewing the matter for Congress.
CNN first reported earlier this week that DeJoy still owns at least a $30 million equity stake in his former company — a USPS contractor — and that he recently bought stock options for Amazon, a USPS competitor. These holdings likely create a major conflict of interest, ethics experts told CNN, though DeJoy and USPS maintain that he has complied with all federal requirements.
At The Week, Ryan Cooper writes: Trump’s Post Office meddling is plainly illegal.
Trump now openly admits he is sandbagging the Post Office to prevent Americans from voting by mail. Obstructing the ability to vote of the American people is a crime at the federal level and in every state. Not for the first time, the president has confessed to criminal acts on television.
First, the president does not get to prevent certain kinds of voting just because he alleges there is fraud happening. Election administration is largely governed at the state level, and several states — like Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Utah — have had universal mail-in voting as the foundation of their systems for years (where it has worked just fine). Trump’s throwing a monkey wrench into the gears of the Post Office is a likely unconstitutional infringement of state authority to run their own elections, in addition to being directly criminal (see below).
Second, Trump is lying. We know he’s lying because countless studies have found mail-in voter fraud to be virtually nonexistent compared to the number of ballots cast, because it doesn’t even make sense as a way to commit election theft, and most of all because Trump himself has voted through the mail repeatedly — in 2017 and 2018 in New York, and just this week for the primary election in Florida. His argument is a scam and obviously so.
Third, we can also see what the game is by how new postmaster general Louis DeJoy, who met with Trump last week and is undeniably a partisan lackey, is slashing the Post Office’s baseline capacity. As David Dayen argues at The American Prospect, even 100 percent mail-in voting would barely burden the agency at all, given that it delivers 182 million pieces of mail every day (or used to, anyway), and most ballots have a very short transit route — from county election offices to homes and back again. That is why DeJoy is ending postal carrier overtime, destroying automated letter-sorting machines that cost millions of dollars, and pulling up hundreds of outdoor mailboxes. Voting by mail is so trivial for the USPS that it is necessary to seriously damage the agency to render it incapable of carrying it out. Sure enough, the agency has already warned that mail-in ballots could fail to be delivered in time in nearly every state….
The point of hamstringing the Post Office is to prevent as many people from voting by mail as possible, because 72 percent of Democrats say they are likely to vote by mail, as compared to 22 percent of Republicans. Trump and his stooge are using their federal power to forcibly disenfranchise American citizens. We have it straight from the horse’s mouth.
Let’s compare that behavior to 18 U.S. Code § 594, which states: “Whoever intimidates, threatens, coerces, or attempts to intimidate, threaten, or coerce, any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other person to vote or to vote as he may choose” in a federal election faces fines and up to a year in prison. (By the way, someone who “knowingly and willfully obstructs or retards the passage of the mail” also faces fines and up to six months in prison.)
Cooper writes that there are also state laws against “stealing elections.” Read the whole thing at the link.
Charles Pierce writes that Trump is violating his oath of office:
Let’s all not sprain something pretending that this is simply some “sweeping organizational and policy overhaul” wha-dee-doo-dah. It’s ratfcking under color of law, pure and simple—a more complicated version of the “accidental” Election Day water-main break in front of the mayoral challenger’s headquarters. (Hi, Jim Curley!) Except, of course, this little monkey-wrenching keeps veterans from getting their prescription medicines, and rural customers from sending or receiving their packages. It also is a clear violation of the president*’s oath of office. He promised to take care that even the postal laws are faithfully executed. That doesn’t mean having your fat-cat apparatchik slow-walk the U.S. Mail to get you re-elected. Impeachable offenses are exhausting to carry around.
Read the rest at Esquire.
Protesters were outside DeJoy’s home this morning, according to WUSA9.
A group of protesters staged a “noise demonstration” Saturday morning outside of United States Postal Service Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s home in Northwest D.C. amid allegations of limiting mail-in voting for the 2020 Presidential election.
The demonstration was organized by the direct action group Shut Down D.C. They gathered in Kalorama Park in Adams Morgan on the corner of Kalorama Road and 19th Street and marched towards DeJoy’s home.
Members of the group came together to protest against DeJoy’s leadership ahead of mail-in voting for the 2020 Presidential election.
The organization believes DeJoy is “dismantling” the U.S. Postal Service in favor of President Donald Trump’s re-election. They said his actions contribute to voter suppression.
“DeJoy has fired or reassigned much of the existing USPS leadership and ordered the removal of mail sorting machines that are fundamental to the functioning of the postal service. Meanwhile, mail delivery is slowing down under other decisions made by DeJoy, such as eliminating overtime for postal workers,” the group said in a statement.
Let’s hope all this outrage will continue until Trump and DeJoy are forced to back down and/or are prosecuted. Of course that won’t stop Trump from trying to steal the election. Democrats are going to have to fight back like never before.
Have a great weekend, Sky Dancers!! Take care and be kind to yourselves, other people, and animals.